The Pope: A Model for Humanity

By Christina Williams
November 6, 2003

Anyone who has ever watched the television show Diary on MTV has heard many different celebrities say, “You think you know, but you have no idea.” Well the same saying applies to Pope John Paul II. Most people only see him as a religious figure but he is so much more.

Pope John Paul II was born Karol Joseph Wojytla in Wadowice, Poland on May 18, 1920. His father was an administrative officer in the Polish army and his mother was a former schoolteacher.

As a teen Pope John Paul II enjoyed hiking, skiing, backpacking, and kayaking. At school Pope John Paul II was the goalie for his school’s soccer team. Along with athletics, Pope John Paul II was a good student and involved in academic school organizations. For example, Pope John Paul II was the president of his school sodality.

Pope John Paul II developed a love for theater and had aspirations of becoming an actor and an ambition to study literature. During the Nazi occupation Pope John Paul II secretly pursued acting while maintaining a job as a stonecutter to keep the permit he needed to stay out of imprisonment and keep from being deported.

While recovering from an accident, Pope John Paul II realized his vocation. By 1942, Pope John Paul II was studying to be in the priesthood and was ordained on Nov 1, 1946. On Oct 16, 1978, Karol Wojtyla was officially elected to be the next pope. Pope John Paul II was the first Polish pope and also the first non-Italian pope in 456 years.

It was in 1981 that Pope John Paul II made his way to the United States. However, in the same year there was an attempt to assassinate Pope John Paul II. Dr. Primiano says, “The Soviet Union wanted Pope John Paul II dead and may be apart of the assassination attempt because he was a political activist.”

Even though Pope John Paul II is one person he stands for so many different things. Primiano gave three major things Pope John Paul II represents. One thing Primiano said was, “Pope John Paul’s strong traditional devotion to the saints and the Virgin Mary, especially coming after Pope John Paul I.”

The second thing Primiano said was, “Pope John Paul is conservative in his vision of the church in terms of contemporary moral question that are in the church.” These contemporary moral problems include topics such as, female priests, if priests should be allowed to marry, and the role of lay people in the church.

Finally, Primiano said, “Pope John Paul is also conservative as administrator of the Catholic Church.” Apparently Pop John Paul feels that he is the main authority with in the Catholic Church structure. Pope John Paul does not support a collegiality structure, which is a structure where different parts of the church work together.

Fredrick Pratt had so many ideas of what Pope John Paul II represents. One of the things Pratt said was, “Pope Pius XII and Pope John Paul I have greatly influenced Pope John Paul II. Pope Pius’s leadership is similar to Pope John Paul II. Also, Pope John Paul I unfortunately had similar circumstances in the last years of his life that Pope John Paul II is having now in his life.”

Pratt also said, “Pope John Paul II understands work as a vocation. He does not see work as an affliction like men and women but as an ennobling thing by which we shape the world.” Finally, Pratt mentioned, “The most striking thing about him is how personable he seems to be. Encyclicals were written using the royal form of ‘we’ but Pope John Paul II uses ‘I’ instead.”

Presently Pope John Paul II is suffering from the final stages of Parkinson’s disease. Primiano and Pratt agree that in Pope John Paul’s failing health he is a figure of what suffering is. Pratt said, “Suffering is crucial for understanding Pope John Paul II because he has suffered so much. From losing his parents at an early age and a brother whom he was very close to.” Where as Primiano said, “The fact that Pope John Paul is out with his sickness makes him a model for human frailty.” Overall, both Primiano and Pratt agree that Pope John Paul II is a complex man.

Posted to the web by Stephanie Mangold

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Christina Williams

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