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English Section

Anniversary: Pole elected pope 42 years ago

16.10.2020 09:00
Memorial events in Poland and abroad have paid tribute to John Paul II, the late Polish-born pope who led the Roman Catholic Church from 1978 to 2005.
Pope John Paul II. Photo: Eric Draper (whitehouse.gov) [Public domain]
Pope John Paul II. Photo: Eric Draper (whitehouse.gov) [Public domain]via Wikimedia Commons

Friday marks 42 years since Polish Cardinal Karol Wojtyła was elected Pope John Paul II.

The late pontiff was a strong supporter of Poland's anti-communist Solidarity movement. He is recognised as a key influence in helping to end communist rule in Poland in 1989.

John Paul II once told his compatriots during a homily at Warsaw’s Piłsudski Square: "Let your Spirit descend and renew the face of the earth, the face of this land!"

Those words uttered by Pope John Paul II during his first pilgrimage to his native country on June 2, 1979 sent a powerful message to the Polish people at a time when the nation was still under communism.

Though couched in biblical language, the pope's words were interpreted by many as encouragement not to lose hope under the hardships and oppression of Poland's communist regime. Just over a year later, the Solidarity freedom movement was born in the country.

In 1981, the pope was shot and seriously wounded in an assassination attempt at St. Peter's Square in the Vatican.

On Sunday, October 11, a host of religious and cultural events were held throughout the country as Poles remembered John Paul II on what is known as Papal Day.

John Paul II, who visited 129 countries during his long pontificate, served as pope from October 16, 1978 until his death on April 2, 2005.

He was the third longest-serving pontiff in history and was declared a saint in 2014.

Ninety-two percent of adults in Poland have said in a survey that the late pontiff remains a moral authority for them.

Recently unearthed documents show that Pope John Paul II was seen as the main enemy of Poland’s communist-era rulers, according to a report.


Source: IAR