The most recognized person in the world, he met with Presidents Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton and Bush.
Born on MAY 18, 1920, in a small town in Poland, he was named Karol Wojtyla.
A chemical worker during World War II, he risked punishment by Communists for being ordained a priest.
In 1967, he became Archbishop of Krakow and, in 1978, he became Pope John Paul II, the first non-Italian pope since 1522.
Leader of one billion Catholics, Pope John Paul spoke eight languages and traveled a million miles in 170 countries – more than any other pope.
In 1981, he survived an assassination attempt by a Muslim Turk, whom he forgave during a prison visit.
He helped end communism in Europe.
In 1993, Pope John Paul II was greeted by President Clinton in Denver, and stated at Regis University:
“The inalienable dignity of every human being…in the first place the right to life and the defense of life…are at the heart of the church’s message and action in the world….No country, not even the most powerful, can endure if it deprives its own children of this essential good…
It is he, Jesus Christ, the true life who gives hope and purpose to our earthly existence.”
During the Saturday night prayer vigil, August 14, 1993, at Cherry Creek State Park, the Pope addressed nearly a quarter of a million people:
“There is spreading an anti-life mentality-an attitude of hostility to life in the womb and life in its last stages. Precisely when science and medicine are achieving a greater capacity to safeguard health and life, the threats against life are becoming more insidious. Abortion and euthanasia-the actual killing of another human being-are hailed as ‘rights’ and solutions to ‘problems.'”
On August 15, 1993, to over 375,000 people from 70 different countries at Cherry Creek State Park, Colorado, as a part of “World Youth Day,” with Vice-President Al Gore in attendance, the Pope exclaimed:
“A ‘culture of death’ seeks to impose itself on our desire to live…In our own century, as at no other time in history, the ‘culture of death’ has assumed a social and institutional form of legality to justify the most horrible crimes against humanity: genocide, ‘final solutions,’ ‘ethnic cleansings’ and massive taking of lives of human beings even before they are born, or before they reach the natural point of death…
In much of contemporary thinking, any reference to a ‘law’ guaranteed by the Creator is absent. There remains only each individual’s choice…
Vast sectors of society are confused about what is right and what is wrong and are at the mercy of those with the power to ‘create’ opinion and impose it on others….
The family especially is under attack…
Naturally, the weakest members of society are the most at risk. The unborn, children, the sick, the handicapped, the old, the poor and unemployed, the immigrant and refugee….
Do not be afraid to go out on the streets and into public places….This is no time to be ashamed of the Gospel. It is a time to preach it from the rooftops….
You must feel the full urgency of the task. Woe to you if you do not succeed in defending life. The church needs your energies, your enthusiasm, your youthful ideas, in order to make the Gospel of Life penetrate the fabric of society, transforming people’s hearts and the structures of society in order to create a civilization of true justice and love.”
Evangelist Billy Graham lauded Pope John Paul II’s 11th papal encyclical, titled “Evangelium Vitae”-“Gospel of Life,” issued April of 1995, as:
“A forceful and thoughtful defense of the sacredness of human life in the face of the modern world’s reckless march toward violence and needless death.”
Having the third longest papal term in history, Pope John Paul II died April 2, 2005. President Bush ordered flags flown half staff.
Regarding Islam, Pope John Paul wrote in Crossing the Threshold of Hope (1995):
“Islam is not a religion of redemption. There is no room for the Cross and the Resurrection…The tragedy of redemption is completely absent…
In Islam, all the richness of God’s self-revelation, which constitutes the heritage of the Old and New Testaments, has definitely been set aside…
The god of the Koran is a god outside of the world, a god who is only Majesty, never Emmanuel, God-with-us…
Not only the theology, but also the anthropology of Islam is very distant from Christianity.”
In Denver, Colorado, 1993, Pope John Paul stated:
“In spite of divisions among Christians, ‘all those justified by faith through baptism are incorporated into Christ…brothers and sisters in the Lord.'”
On October 8, 1995, at the Baltimore-Washington International Airport with Vice-President Al Gore, Pope John Paul admonished America once more:
“At the center of the moral vision of your founding documents is the recognition of the rights of the human person and especially respect for the dignity and sanctity of human life in all conditions and at all stages of development.
I say to you again, America, in the light of your own tradition: love life, cherish life, defend life, from conception to natural death.”
William J. Federer is a nationally known speaker, best-selling author, and president of Amerisearch, Inc., a publishing company dedicated to researching America’s noble heritage.
To learn more visit William Federer
Featured image: Courtesy of Ronald Reagan Presidential Library