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 April 2, 2005

Pope John Paul II Passed Away
Pope John Paul II, born Karol Józef Wojtyla, died tonight in his Vatican apartment. He left his mark as occupying the third longest pontificate in the history of the Church.

He was born in Wadowice, a small city 35 miles southwest of Krakow, on May 18, 1920.
Upon graduation from high school in Wadowice in 1938, he and his father moved to Krakow where Karol entered the Jagiellonian University to study literature and philosophy.
In 1942, he began courses in the clandestine seminary of Krakow. After the Second World War, he continued his studies in the major seminary of Krakow, once it had re-opened, and in the faculty of theology of the Jagiellonian University, until his priestly ordination in Krakow on Nov. 1, 1946. He was consecrated bishop on Sept. 28, 1958, and on Jan. 13, 1964, he was nominated Archbishop of Krakow by Pope Paul VI, who made him a cardinal on June 26, 1967. He was elected Pope on Oct. 16, 1978.

Here, the Pope is offering forgiveness to Turkish gunman Mehmet Ali Agca who attempted to assasinate him.
He was a man of Church. Since the start of his pontificate, Pope John Paul II has completed 104 pastoral visits outside Italy, and 146 within Italy. As Bishop of Rome he has visited 317 of the 333 parishes.

He was a man of Letters. He finished his doctorate in theology in 1948 with a thesis on the topic of faith in the works of the great Spanish mystic St. John of the Cross.

He kept company with students of Roman Ingarden, a distinguish personality among the philosophical movement of Phenomenology and a prof. of Aesthetics at Jagiellonian University.
In 1953, he defended a thesis on the ethical system of Max Scheler at Lublin's Catholic University. He later became a professor of moral theology and social ethics in the major seminary of Krakow and in the Faculty of Theology of Lublin.

He published five books: "Crossing the Threshold of Hope" (October, 1994); "Gift and Mystery: On the 50th Anniversary of My Priestly Ordination" (November, 1996); "Roman Triptych – Meditations," a book of poems (March, 2003); "Rise, Let Us Be On Our Way" (May, 2004) and "Memory and Identity" (February, 2005).

He visited Athens in 2001, a pilgrim to Areios Pagos, the place on which St Paul the Apostle spoke to the Athenians. In his address to the Archbishop of Athens and all Greece Christodoulos, he asked pardon for the “especially painful” mistakes of the Church of Rome against the Orthodox Greeks.

He said: “Certainly, we are burdened by past and present controversies and by enduring misunderstandings. But in a spirit of mutual charity these can and must be overcome, for that is what the Lord asks of us. Clearly there is a need for a liberating process of purification of memory. For the occasions past and present, when sons and daughters of the Catholic Church have sinned by action or omission against their Orthodox brothers and sisters, may the Lord grant us the forgiveness we beg of him.”

He added: “ At this meeting, I also wish to assure Your Beatitude that the Church of Rome looks with unaffected admiration to the Orthodox Church of Greece for the way in which she has preserved her heritage of faith and Christian life. The name of Greece resounds wherever the Gospel is preached. The names of her cities are known to Christians everywhere from the reading of the Acts of the Apostles and the Letters of Saint Paul. From the Apostolic era until now, the Orthodox Church of Greece has been a rich source from which the Church of the West too has drawn for her liturgy, spirituality and jurisprudence”.