John Paul II (Karol Josef Wojtyla)

Birth 1920
Death 2005

Pope from 1978 until 2005. Even as non-believers, we are very willing to admit that he was a great man who made a lasting contribution to 20th Century culture, and the fact that his funeral became the largest scale ceremonial event in the history of mankind goes to prove it. He was the first in the history of all religions to repent for the church’s sins: the Crusades, the Inquisition and the lack of outspoken opposition to the Holocaust. He was also the first to engage in dialogues with other denominations and religions. His opposition to communism and defence of human rights and liberties quickly made him a symbol of the fight against authoritarianism. Nonetheless, in questions of faith he remained true to tradition, upholding celibacy and condemning homosexuality, abortions and contraception.

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