This is the life story of Pope John Paul II. It recounts his journey from pre-war provincial Poland to his worldwide Papal mission.
John Paul is the first Pole ever to be made pontiff and the first non-Italian to be elected pope since 1522. He was born Karol Wojtyla near Krakow in 1920 and as a boy loved drama and sport. At the beginning of World War II, Wojtyla was conscripted into forced labour by the Germans and at the same time studied for the priesthood illegally in Krakow.
After the war he taught ethics and theology at the University, becoming Archbishop of Krakow in 1964. In 1967 he was made a cardinal, before being called to Rome to take up the Church’s highest office.
John Paul’s pontificate has been one of the most eventful and dynamic in history. He was shot and wounded in an attempt on his life in 1981. He has condemned arms manufacturers as sinful and fought against the oppression of totalitarianism and the dangers of capitalism.
John Paul has also fought against the liberalisation of the Catholic faith. He has up held the tradition of the papal infallibility and has condemned artificial contraception and opposed women priests.
His greatest achievement is his ecumenical mission; a worldwide calling to bring all the people together for peace and harmony – and to help end war, hunger and poverty. John Paul II is one of the world’s great figures – his life story is compelling and dramatic.