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The Papacy - A Historical Perspective

1978-2005 A.D.

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John Paul I :1978-1978 A.D.

230. Born in Forni di Canale (Belluno).. Elected August 26, 1978 - died September 28, 1978.

Pope Luciani was the first Pope in history to name himself with a double name. On his very first Urbi et Orbi blessing from the balcony of St. Peter's, in a brief message he explained that the two names referred to his two predecessors to whom he felt very obliged.

He refused to use the gestatorial chair, the Tiara and did not want to be crowned.

He died of heart failure while reading in bed. The announcement of his death to the world said: "This morning , September 29, 1978, the Pope's private secretary, as he usually did, went to look for him in his private chapel, since the Pope was not there the secretary went to his room and found him dead in bed, with the lights still on, as if he was reading".

His pontificate was very brief: only 33 days. He is remembered as the smiling Pope. He is buried in the Vatican Grottoes.

John Paul II
:1978-2005 A.D.

264. Born in at Wodivici in Poland. Elected October 16, 1978 - died  April 1st, 2005 [Officially on April 2nd]

He is the first Pontiff of Polish origin and the first non-Italian Pope after 455 years, since Hadrian VI.

Theologian, writer and poet, he is a Pope with an itinerant apostolate. Including his historic visit to Cuba, he has traveled internationally visiting 100 countries, including those without a Catholic majority.

He has been invited twice, February 3, 1979 and April 10, 1995, to give a speech at the UN. He has spoken to the Seats of major World Institutions, i.e. UNESCO, FAO and the European Parliament.

In 1979, he went to Constantinople to meet with the Orthodox Patriarch Demetrio I.

After a millennial separation, he reconciled with the Jewish community, on April 13, 1986, with a visit to Rome's Synagogue when he prayed with the "older brothers" and embraced the Rabbi.

On January 1, 1986, he went to Assisi to pray for peace together with the representatives of different religious doctrines from around the world.

There was an attempt on his life during a general audience in St. Peter's Square on May 13, 1981.

He has written 11 Encyclicals; the last one, "Evangelium Vitae", written in 1995, defends life, speaking out against abortion, euthanasia and the death penalty.

On October 11, 1992, after long consultation and labor with the world episcopacy, he signed the New Catechism of the Catholic Church, later translated into every language.

He has nominated dozens of cardinals and, in view of the third millennium, has summoned numerous bishop synods.

He acted as a leader in events that have changed the world, i.e. on December 1, 1989, he received Mikhail Gorbachev, President of USSR.

He also refused be crowned with a tiara; the tiara was used for the last time with Pope Paul VI.

Pope John Paul II has officially announced the celebration of the Jubilee for the year 2000 with his apostolic letter "Tertio Millenio adveniente", dated November 24, 1994.

During a trip to Cuba in 1998, he met with Fidel Castro . For the first time in history, the Papal Bull dated January, 29 1998 Proclaimed that the Holy Year for the year 2000 would be celebrated contemporaneously in Rome as well as in the Holy Land, and in local churches. The Doors at St. Peter's will be opened during midnight mass on December 24, 1999 and the Jubilee will end on January 6, 200l.

Including his trip to Mexico City on January 22, 1999, the Pope is estimated to have traveled a total of 100 000 kilometres during 85 international tours, the equivalent of having traveled 28 times around the world.

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Index of Roman Pontiffs


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