Essays on his Papacy
“Ladies and gentlemen: On the threshold of a new millennium, we are witnessing an extraordinary global acceleration of that quest for freedom which is one of the great dynamics of human history. This phenomenon is not limited to any one part of the world; nor is it the expression of any single culture. Men and women throughout the world, even when threatened by violence, have taken the risk of freedom, asking to be given a place in social, political, and economic life which is commensurate with their dignity as free human beings. This universal longing for freedom is truly one of the distinguishing marks of our time.” (Address to the United Nations, 1995).
Thus spoke Pope John Paul II before the 15th General Assembly of the United Nations on October 5, 1995. In these days when the peoples of the Middle East are risking their lives for freedom, and in these days when we must be vigilant for our own hard-won freedoms, the words of this great Pontiff resonate in our minds and hearts, and even more so, as we gather to pay him tribute on the eve of his beatification by Pope Benedict XVI. more
In the late 1990’s, the Vatican convened a conference on “Women’s Health and Human Rights.” During an audience with conference attendees Pope John Paul II proclaimed, to the surprise of his listeners, “Io son il Papa feminista,” “I am the feminist pope.” more
Building on the legacy of Pope Paul VI, Pope John Paul II spared no effort to heal the thousand-year-old rift between the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches. One of his first trips outside Rome was to Istanbul, Turkey, to visit His Holiness Dimitrios I, the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, in November 1979. At the end of the visit the Pope and Patriarch announced the establishment of a theological dialogue between the Orthodox and Catholic Churches, the first official deliberations of this type since the end of the Council of Florence (1431-1445). more
Pope John Paul II effectively ended the debate about whether the social mission of the Church is integral or fringe, fundamental or marginal. According to Pope John Paul, “the ‘new evangelization’ which the modern world urgently needs …must include among its essential elements a proclamation of the Church's social doctrine.” Catholic social teaching has “permanent value” and is “genuine doctrine” which enables the Church to “analyze social realities, to make judgments about them and to indicate directions to be taken for the just resolution of the problems involved” (Centesimus Annus, 3, 5). By his words and witness, by his teaching and example, he demonstrated that the Church’s social teaching is at the core of what it is to be a Catholic community of faith. more