It has been three years since Pope John Paul II passed from this earth. President Bush’s three descriptive adjectives, “humble, wise, and fearless,” proffer the best description of this devout soul.
In a statement on the death of Pope John Paul II, President George W. Bush said,"Pope John Paul II was, himself, an inspiration to millions of Americans, and to so many more throughout the world. We will always remember the humble, wise and fearless priest who became one of history's great moral leaders. We're grateful to God for sending such a man, a son of Poland, who became the Bishop of Rome, and a hero for the ages."
Born Karol Józef Wojtyła in Wadowice, Poland, May 18, 1920, he graduated from Marcin Wadowita High School in Wadowice in 1938 and then entered Jagiellonian University in Krakow to study drama. In 1939, the Nazi occupiers closed the university, and he was forced to work in a quarry for the next five years. Then he worked in a chemical factory to keep from being deported to Germany.
He became aware of his call to the priesthood in 1942 and entered a secret seminary in Krakow. After World War II, a large seminary in Krakow re-opened, and he continued his studies, becoming ordained in 1946. He completed his decorate in 1948 in Rome under his mentor, French Dominican, Garrigou-Lagrange, writing his dissertation on faith in the works of Saint John of the Cross.
Upon returning to Poland in the 1950s, the future pope became a professor of moral theology and social ethics in Krakow’s major seminary and in the Faculty of Theology of Lublin. In the 1960s, Cardinal Wojtyła participated in Vatican Council II, at which he made major contributions. He participated in all of the assemblies of the Synod of Bishops.
Karol Józef Wojtyła became pope October 16, 1978. It is estimated that this pope met more people during his papacy than any other pope. His contribution to Catholicism is enormous.
Regardless of religion, even whether religious or not, most of us recognize the exalted stature of the office of the pope. Any pope occupies a unique position for doing good in the world. This pope reflected a shining example of a pope who put his office to work to accomplish undreamed of possibilities, and he will be celebrated and cherished for many years to come.
A Pope of Many Firsts
This pope is a pope of many firsts. He was the first non-Roman pope in 450 years. He was the first pope to travel widely, interacting with people all over the earth. He was the first pope to visit the White House. He spoke fluently in eight languages. He won the hearts of non-Catholics as well as Catholics.
Our own spiritual journey can be enhanced knowing that such as traveler as Pope John Paul II has traveled by our side. As he sought to make each day a new opportunity to advance spiritually, we realize that we can emulate his sublime effort as we seek to advance toward our own spiritual goal.
For more information:
His Holiness John Paul II - Short Biography
President's Statement on the Death of Pope John Paul II