Today In History: Pope John Paul II Dies

Today In History |

April 2, 2005


Today in 2005, Pope John Paul II passed away of septic shock. His last words, spoken in Polish, were "Pozwólcie mi odejść do domu Ojca," or "Allow me to depart to the house of the Father."

Pope John Paul II was born Karol Wojtyla on May 18, 1920. He was Pope from 1978 until the time of his death. He was widely admired, both in the Catholic world and beyond it. He was called "Saint John Paul the Great" by many Catholics.

He was elected Pope by the second Papal conclave of 1978, following the death of Pope John Paul I. Wojtyla, then a cardinal, adopted Pope John Paul's name in honor of his forebear.

Catholic Herald

Among his accomplishments were advancing the retreat of Communism from Poland and then Europe at large, as well as improving the Vatican's relationship with Anglicans, Eastern Orthodox Christians, Muslims and Jews. He wished "to place his Church at the heart of a new religious alliance that would bring together Jews, Muslims and Christians in a great religious armada."

He was the first non-Italian to be elected pope since Adrian VI, an Englishman, who was pope from 1522 to 1523.

Pope John Paul II was beatified on May 1, 2011. The Congregation for the Causes of Saints credited John Paul II with the miracle of healing a nun of Parkinson's disease. Following the approval of a necessary second miracle on July 2, 2013, he was canonized as a saint on April 21, 2014.

John Paul II was both a beloved and highly controversial figure, drawing criticism for a number of views, especially his hardline position against the use of contraception and strict opposition to the ordination of women. He was also criticized for having a lethargic reaction to the child sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic Church.

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Matt lives in Southern California. He is interested in politics, history, literature and the natural world.