Who was Pope John Paul II ?
- Karol Joseph Wojtyla was born in Wadowice, Poland, on May 18, 1920.
He took the name John Paul II when he became Pope.
Paul nourished a doctrinal conservatism - opposition to
contraception, abortion, women priests - that rankled liberal
Catholics in the United States and Western Europe.
He expounded a message he felt was needed in a secularized,
dispirited society - hope, confidence, firm values, moral integrity,
brotherhood, social justice and the simple life.
He praised doctors who refused to perform abortions, and when he
called for the repeal of the country's liberal abortion law.
John Paul made clear his church was no democracy, and codified
church teaching in the light of 20th century reality in a new
Catechism of the Catholic Church, the first major revision in 400
He criticized liberation theology, a movement strong in Latin
America that emphasizes political activism by the church on behalf
of the poor. He told priests worldwide to get out of politics, and
His approach to doctrine was unyieldingly conservative. In his view,
there were rights and wrongs that no moral shading could change.
He reaffirmed the church's ban on artificial birth control and
denounced in vitro fertilization, abortion, euthanasia, divorce, sex
outside marriage and homosexual relations. In his later years, he
led a campaign against same-sex marriages.
Some church liberals criticized John Paul's fondness for the
conservative, militant Catholic group Opus Dei. The beatification of
its founder, Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer, in 1992, 17 years after
his death, was one of the church's most controversial in decades.
John Paul also held separate sessions with Dutch and U.S. prelates,
summoning them to the Vatican to admonish them for liberal
practices, such as questioning priestly celibacy.
"The church cannot be an association of freethinkers," John Paul