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Pope John Paul II
A Light for the World


To Catholics, he is universal shepherd.
To world leaders, he can bring moral support or stinging criticism.
Non-Christians around the globe have welcomed him as a holy guest.
Poor nations consider him their advocate in the halls of power.
And for nearly everyone, he’s been a voice of conscience on issues like war, abortion and the death penalty.

The world knows Pope John Paul II in different dimensions: manager, missionary, statesman and prophet. His message is not always easy and his words are not always welcome. But it’s hard to imagine a more influential figure on the global scene over the last twenty-five years.

If his pontificate seems a perfect match for our age, perhaps it’s because he experienced its joys and trials firsthand – as no previous Pontiff has.

The path to the papacy was not a simple one for Karol Wojtyla. As a youth in southern Poland, he studied at the university, acted in a clandestine theater, wrote poetry and read philosophy, played goalie on his soccer team, split stone at a quarry and worked in a chemical factory. Only then did his vocation to the priesthood come into focus.

“I had positive experiences in many settings and from many people, and God’s voice reached me through them,” the Pope said in his 1996 book, Gift and Mystery.

The Pope’s early life was marked by personal hardships and shadowed by national tragedies.

Born May 18, 1920, in the small town of Wadowice south of Krakow, he lost his mother, Emilia, at age nine. Her death was an event that stayed with him, and acquaintances say it prompted his lifelong spiritual devotion to the Virgin Mary. One of his first youthful poems, “Over This, Your White Grave,” was dedicated to his mother’s memory.

Three years later his only brother, Edmund, a physician, died of scarlet fever. And at age twenty he lost his father, a military officer who had raised his son with love and firmness. The future Pope would sometimes wake in the middle of the night and find his father praying on his knees. At his death, friends say Karol knelt for twelve hours in prayer at his father’s bedside.

The Pope’s former schoolmates describe him as friendly but pensive, an athletic youth who excelled in academics and spent a lot of time in church. They noticed the intense way he prayed – a habit of deep meditation that remained with him for life. One companion good-naturedly called him an “apprentice saint.”

“Even as a boy he was exceptional,” said Rafat Tatka, a neighbor who knew the young boy as Lolek, a nickname that translates as Chuck. Growing up, the Pope was especially protective of his Jewish friends.

As a teenager, he was already showing an appetite for philosophy and an amazing talent for languages. In 1938, he began working toward a philosophy degree at the University of Krakow, and was an active member of speech and drama clubs.

All that was interrupted by the Nazi invasion of Poland on September 1, 1939, which devastated the country and left an indelible impression on nineteen-year-old Karol Wojtyla. A priest later described how Wojtyla arrived at the cathedral when the first German bombs started to fall and served Mass amid the howl of sirens and the blasts of explosions.

With official schools closed during the German occupation, he helped set up an underground university and the clandestine “Rhapsodic Theater,” which met in members’ apartments. To make ends meet, he also took a job at the local Solvay quarry and chemical factory. More than fifty years later, he described how a fellow laborer was killed by flying rock, a “sense of injustice” emanating from his lifeless body. The Pope

himself was nearly killed when he was hit by a truck near the plant and remained unconscious for several hours.

Karol Wojtyla had women friends, especially in the theater circles. Some thought that’s why his vocation came relatively late in life.

But as he once explained it, a girlfriend “wasn’t the problem.” What delayed his entry to the priesthood was his great passion for literature, philosophy and drama – but the war helped change that, too.

He started noticing that some of his friends had disappeared, killed in war or seized in the night by Nazi troops. It haunted him.

“Any day I could have been picked up on the street, at the factory or at the stone quarry and sent to a concentration camp. Sometimes I asked myself: ‘So many people at my age were losing their lives, why not me?’” he wrote on the fiftieth anniversary of his ordination.

He gradually came to feel that he was spared for a higher reason, part of a divine plan to bring something good out of wartime Poland.

“I know it wasn’t just chance,” he said. If his Polish friends and neighbors were being sacrificed on the “altar of history,” he would dedicate his life to God and the Church. The decision was a blow to his student companions, but he hoped they would understand in time.

He entered Krakow’s clandestine theological seminary in 1942, a risky step under the Gestapo’s watchful eyes. Always drawn to the mystical and contemplative, at one point he considered joining the local Carmelite order instead of the diocesan priesthood. But his cardinal told him: “Finish what you’ve begun,” and the local Carmelite director is said to have turned him away with the words: “You are destined for greater things.”

Four years later he was ordained, just as Poland was passing from the nightmare of Nazi occupation to the ideological vise-grip of a new Communist regime. Father Wojtyla was sent to study at Rome’s Angelicum University, where he did coursework in ethics and wrote a thesis on Saint John of the Cross, a sixteenth-century mystic.

Back in Poland in 1948, the young priest got his first assignment to the rural village of Niegowic, twenty miles outside of Krakow. In what would become typical fashion, he walked there through the fields during harvesttime – and kissed the ground when he arrived. A year later, he became pastor at Saint Florian Parish in Krakow, devoting much of his ministry to young people. He taught them, played soccer, took them on hikes and invited them to his house for discussions.

Father Wojtyla turned to academics again, earning a second doctorate in moral theology. In 1953, he began commuting to Lublin University to teach. By the time he reached his mid-thirties, he had published dozens of articles and several books on ethics. But he also made time to write poems and plays.

Father Wojtyla was an outdoorsman, and he loved to take groups of students hiking, skiing, camping and canoeing in the hills of southern Poland. He took off his collar and told the youth to call him “uncle” because it was illegal for priests to sponsor such outings under Communism.

He was on a kayaking trip in 1958 when he was named an auxiliary bishop of Krakow—at age thirty-eight, he was the youngest bishop in Poland’s history. He shunned the trappings of the new position, however, and left his humble apartment for the more comfortable bishops’ residence only after friends moved his belongings one day when he was out of town.

In 1964 he was named Archbishop of Krakow, and three years later he became a cardinal, one of the youngest in the Church. He spent much of his first two years in office commuting to Rome for the final session of the Second Vatican Council, where he helped draft the landmark document Gaudium et Spes (The Church in the Modern World).

Cardinal Wojtyla was very much in sync with the council’s push to tear down the walls between the church and the world and make faith an everyday experience. But that did not mean turning his back on the church’s traditional teachings – far from it.

In the mid 1960’s, he helped advise Pope Paul VI on sexual morality issues, and he eventually helped prepare the controversial encyclical Humanae Vitae (On Human Life), which upheld the Church’s teaching against birth control.

Respected in the Vatican’s inner circle but virtually unknown to the rest of the world, Cardinal Karol Wojtyla was elected Pope on October 16, 1978. He was the Church’s first non-Italian Pontiff in 455 years, and most people didn’t recognize his name when it was announced in Saint Peter’s Square—they thought he was African.

But his fluency in Italian won the crowd over that night, and got his papacy off to a running start. Within months, he had taken trips around the globe, held airborne press conferences, issued an encyclical on redemption, met with world leaders and opened a new chapter in ecumenical dialogue with the Orthodox.

This hurricane pace was slowed by a would-be assassin’s bullets on May 13, 1981. Mehmet Ali Agca, a Turkish terrorist, shot the Pope as he was riding in his jeep in Saint Peter’s Square. The Pontiff was rushed to a Rome hospital and underwent hours of surgery; the Pope later deposited the bullet fragments in the crown of a statue of Our Lady of Fatima, whose feast day is May 13, and said he owed his life to Mary. Two and a half years after the shooting, he visited Agca in his Italian prison cell in a remarkable act of forgiveness and reconciliation.

The Pope was soon back in full swing, in a papacy that has rewritten the record books. He’s logged more than 700,000 miles in trips to nearly 130 countries, including such remote spots as Azerbaijan, with a Catholic population of 120.

Many credit his political activism—and his morale-boosting trips to Poland—for helping to bring down European Communism in 1989. In a historic meeting with Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev, the Pope nurtured the glasnost reform policy that would eventually lead to the break-up of the Soviet empire.

In other parts of the world, he prodded dictators and pleaded for human rights. At the same time, he lectured liberation theologians and warned bishops and priests against confusing the Gospel with political ideology. His social encyclicals challenged the architects of the globalized free-market economy to narrow the gap between rich and poor in the world.

Despite some people’s misgivings about Church teachings like birth control and the all-male priesthood, he received warm welcomes in his seven trips to the United States, where he was cheered by half a million young people in Denver in 1993.

Pope John Paul II has carried the pro-life banner proudly. Throughout the last decade he has urged bishops and lay Catholics to fight abortion and euthanasia, saying the “slaughter of the innocents” must be stopped. He’s also argued that moral justification for the death penalty is practically non-existent in the modern age, and his interventions have sometimes helped save the lives of death-row inmates. Not everyone agrees with the Pope’s public pronouncements, but popularity has never been his goal.

“The Pope becomes persona non grata when he tries to convince the world of human sin,” he said with a dose of realism in 1994.

Yet more than any previous Church leader, he has earned near-universal respect for highlighting moral and ethical values, and for speaking out on behalf of the millions of people who have little or no voice in global affairs.

Battling fatigue and illness in later years, the Pope has kept up a remarkable string of initiatives inside the Church as well. He used the Holy Year in 2000 to celebrate every aspect of the faith, apologize for Christians’ historic misdeeds and map out a pastoral strategy for the new millennium.

He broke down interfaith barriers when he visited a Jewish synagogue and a Muslim mosque, and has made pilgrimages to Orthodox countries where no pope had ever set foot. He convened unprecedented “prayer summits” in the Italian hill town of Assisi, and orchestrated interreligious condemnations of terrorism.

Increasingly, he has emphasized to his own flock that prayer is powerful and that personal holiness can change the world.

In a typical blend of the traditional and the new, he recently reformed the praying of the rosary, formulating five new “mysteries of light.” And he’s canonized more than 470 new saints—including lay people from various walks of life—to illustrate his message that true faith is faith in action.

In ways big and small, he has left a lasting image on his Church: in written documents and dramatic gestures, in doctrinal firmness and heartfelt prayer, and by naming nearly all the cardinals who will one day choose his successor. Many young Catholics who have never known another pope call themselves part of the “John Paul II generation.”

Despite his frailty, the Pope intends to keep bringing the light of the Gospel to the great issues of the twenty-first century. It’s a ministry he carries out with the halting steps of an old man, and the determination of an Apostle.



The Life and Ministry of Pope John Paul II


May 18, 1920
Karol Józef Wojtyla born in Wadowice, Poland.

June 20, 1920
Baptized in the Church of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

His mother Emilia (née Kaczorowska) dies of kidney and heart failure.

His brother Edmund, 15 years Karol’s senior and a medical intern, dies of scarlet fever contracted from a patient.

He and his father, also named Karol, move to Krakow; enrolls in department of philosophy, Jagiellonian University; joins the “Rhapsodic Theatre.”

September 1, 1939
Nazis invade Poland; occupation forces university and theater to go underground; while studying underground, becomes stone cutter and assistant shot-firer in quarry.

His father, who was a retired administrative officer and recruiter for the Polish army, dies; works in Solvay chemical plant unloading lime from railroad hoppers; tends boilers on night shift; active in UNIA (Christian underground).

Begins studies for priesthood in Krakow’s underground seminary.

Disappears from job in Solvay; his name appears on Nazi’s blacklist; he and other seminarians hide in home of Archbishop Adam Stefan Sapieha.

November 1, 1946
Ordained a priest; sent to Angelicum University in Rome.

Assistant Pastor at the Church of the Assumption of Our Lady in Niegowic, and then Assistant Pastor of St. Florian’s Church in Krakow.

Earns doctorate in theology before Communists abolish that department at Jagiellonian University; serves as student chaplain; joins faculty.

Begins teaching as an Assistant Professor of Ethics and Moral Theology at Catholic University of Lublin.

Becomes Assistant Professor at the Catholic University of Lublin and remains in this position until he becomes Pope.

September 28, 1958
Ordained auxiliary bishop of Krakow.

Named vicar capitular (head of a diocese when a see is vacant, in this case because of a dispute with Polish government).

January 13, 1964
Appointed archbishop when Communist government lifts ban on such appointments.

Attends all sessions of the Second Vatican Council; contributes to conciliar document Gaudium et Spes, the Constitution on the Church in the Modern World.

June 26, 1967
Elevated to the College of Cardinals.

His book, Sources of Renewal, reflecting his efforts to educate the people of his archdiocese

on Vatican II, is published.


October 16, 1978
Elected successor to Pope John Paul I, becoming the 264th Pope of the Catholic Church. He is the first non-Italian Pope since Adrian VI (1522–23), the first Polish Pope, and the youngest Pope since Pius IX (1846–78). He takes the name John Paul II.

October 22, 1978
Solemn inauguration of his ministry as Universal Pastor of the Church.

November 5, 1978
Visit to Assisi to venerate the tomb of St. Francis, patron of Italy, and to the basilica of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva to venerate the tomb of St. Catherine of Siena, patroness of Italy.

November 12, 1978
As bishop of Rome, John Paul II takes possession of St. John Lateran Basilica.

December 5, 1978
Begins his pastoral visits to the parishes in the diocese of Rome.


January 24, 1979
Accepts the request for mediation in the border conflict between Argentina and Chile.

January 25, 1979
Begins first pastoral visit of John Paul II outside Italy: to the Dominican Republic, Mexico (for the Third General Conference of the Latin American Bishops, Puebla), with a stopover in the Bahamas (to Feb. 1).

March 4, 1979
First papal encyclical Redemptor Hominis (On the Redemption and Dignity of the Human Race), published March 15.

June 2, 1979
Second pastoral visit of John Paul II outside Italy: to Poland (June 2–10).

June 30, 1979
Celebration of the ?rst consistory of his ponti?cate for the creation of 14 cardinals. (One additional cardinal was reserved in pectore, Chinese Ignatius Kung Pin-mei, whose appointment was published only in the consistory of June 28, 1991).

September 29, 1979
Third pastoral visit of John Paul II outside Italy: to Ireland, the United Nations and the United States (September 29–October 7).

October 2, 1979
Addresses the UN General Assembly in New York.

October 16, 1979
Post-Synodal Pastoral Exhortation Catechesi Tradendae (On Catechesis in Our Time), published October 25.

November 5, 1979
First Plenary Assembly of the College of Cardinals on the themes: the structure of the Roman Curia; the Church and culture; the financial situation of the Holy See (November 5–9).

November 28, 1979
Fourth pastoral visit outside Italy: to Turkey (November 28–30).

Diplomatic relations established with: Bahamas, Grenada, Jamaica, and Mali.


January 14, 1980
Opening of the Special Assembly for the Netherlands of the Synod of the Bishops on: “The pastoral action of the Church in Holland in the present situation” (January 14–31).

April 4, 1980
Good Friday: John Paul II hears confessions of the faithful for the first time in St. Peter’s Basilica.

May 2, 1980
Fifth pastoral visit outside Italy: Zaire, Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Ghana, Upper Volta, Ivory Coast (May 2–12).

May 30, 1980
Sixth pastoral visit of John Paul II outside Italy: to France (May 30–June 2).

June 2, 1980
Address to UNESCO in Paris.

June 21, 1980
Visit of President Jimmy Carter of the United States.

June 30, 1980
Seventh foreign pastoral visit: Brazil (June 30–July 12).

September 26, 1980
Fifth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the theme: “The Role of the Christian Family in the Modern World.”

November 15, 1980
Eighth pastoral visit outside Italy: to West Germany (November 15–19).

November 30, 1980
Second encyclical Dives in Misericordia (On the Mercy of God), published December 2.

December 31, 1980
Apostolic Letter Egregiae Virtutis (Of Wondrous Virtue), proclaiming Saints Cyril and Methodius, together with Saint Benedict, co-patrons of Europe.

Diplomatic relations established with: Greece, Zimbabwe.


February 8, 1981
John Paul II meets with Rome’s Chief Rabbi Elio Toaff, during his pastoral visit to the parish of Sts. Carlo e Biagio in Catinari.

February 16, 1981
Ninth foreign pastoral visit: Pakistan, the Philippines, Guam (USA), Japan, and Anchorage, Alaska (February 16–27).

May 13, 1981
At 5:19 p.m. Turkish terrorist Mehmet Ali Agca makes an attempt on the Pope’s life while he is circling St. Peter’s Square in a jeep before his Wednesday general audience. The Pope is brought to Gemelli Hospital where he undergoes a six-hour operation.

May 17, 1981
The Holy Father recites the Angelus at Gemelli Hospital: “Pray for the brother who shot me, whom I have sincerely forgiven.”

May 31, 1981
John Paul II creates the Council of Cardinals for the Study of Organizational and Economic Problems of the Holy See.

June 3, 1981
The Pope returns to the Vatican after 22 days of recovery at Gemelli Hospital.

June 20, 1981
John Paul II is newly hospitalized for an infection. On August 5 he undergoes a second operation; leaves hospital definitively on August 14, returns to the Vatican, then goes to Castelgandolfo on August 16. He was in the hospital a total of 78 days between May 13 and August 14.

July 13–14, 1981
First meeting of the Council of Cardinals for the Study of Organizational and Economic Problems of the Holy See.

September 14, 1981
Third encyclical Laborem Exercens (On Human Work).

November 22, 1981
Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio (On the Family), published on December 15.

December 12, 1981
John Paul II sends delegates from the Pontifical Academy of Sciences to the presidents of the USA, USSR, Great Britain, France, and to the UN, to explain their document on the eventual consequences of the use of nuclear arms in Europe and the world.

Diplomatic relations established with: Dominica, Equitorial Guinea, Singapore, Togo.


January 6, 1982
Apostolic Letter Caritatis Christi (For the Love of Christ) addressed to the Church in China.

February 12, 1982
10th foreign pastoral visit: Nigeria, Benin, Gabon and Equatorial Guinea (February 12–19).

April 1, 1982
Receives credentials of the first British ambassador to the Vatican since the reign of Henry VIII.

May 12, 1982
11th foreign pastoral visit: to Portugal, one year after the assassination attempt in St. Peter’s Square (May 12–15).

May 28, 1982
12th foreign pastoral visit: to Great Britain (May 28–June 2).

May 29, 1982
Joint statement of John Paul II and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Robert Runcie, at the end of the ecumenical celebration in the Anglican Canterbury Cathedral. New Catholic-Anglican theological commission is announced.

June 7, 1982
Meets US President Ronald Reagan for the first time; they pledge to work for world peace

and justice.

June 11, 1982
13th foreign pastoral visit: to Argentina, in relation to the war between Argentina and Great Britain (June 11–12).

June 15, 1982
14th foreign pastoral visit: one-day trip to Geneva, Switzerland. John Paul II addresses the 68th session of the International Labor Conference.

August 2, 1982
The Holy See announces diplomatic relations with Denmark, Norway and Sweden.

August 29, 1982
15th foreign pastoral visit, and 28th within Italy: one-day trip to the Republic of San Marino and to Rimini, Italy.

September 15, 1982
Private meeting with Yasser Arafat on the prospects for peace in the Middle East. Renewed appeal for peace in Lebanon, after the murder of president-elect Bechir Gemayel.

October 31, 1982
16th foreign pastoral visit: to Spain, for the closure of the 4th Centenary of the death of St. Teresa of Avila (October 31–November 9).

November 23, 1982
Second plenary session of the College of Cardinals: principal topic is the reform of the Roman Curia (November 23–26).

November 26, 1982
John Paul II announces the Holy Year of Redemption: from Lent 1983 to Easter 1984.


January 6, 1983
Papal Bull Aperite Portas Redemptori (Open the Doors to the Redeemer), announcing the Jubilee for the 1950th anniversary of the Redemption.

January 25, 1983
Pastoral Constitution Sacrae Disciplinae Leges (The Laws of Sacred Disciplines) promulgating the new Code of Canon Law.

February 2, 1983
Second consistory of John Paul II for the creation of 18 cardinals.

March 2, 1983
17th foreign pastoral visit: Lisbon, Portugal, and Central America—Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Panama, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Belize and Haiti (March 2–9).

March 24, 1983
Accepts credentials of the ambassador from Sweden, re-establishing diplomatic relations after 456 years.

March 25, 1983
Opening of the Holy Year of the Redemption

(March 25, 1983–April 22, 1984).

March 25, 1983
Vatican announces that the Shroud of Turin has been bequeathed to the Pope by the deposed

King Umberto, who died a week earlier.

June 16, 1983
18th pastoral visit outside Italy: to Poland (June 16–23).

August 14, 1983
19th foreign pastoral visit: Lourdes, France (August 14–15).

September 10, 1983
20th foreign pastoral visit: Austria (September 10–13).

September 29, 1983
Sixth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on: “Penance and Reconciliation in the Mission of the Church” (September 29–October 29). At the final session Pope discloses his message to the heads of government of the United States and the Soviet Union calling for negotiations aimed at ending the arms race.

October 16, 1983
Act of entrustment and consecration of the world to the Mother of God by John Paul II, together with the cardinals and bishops participating in the Synod of Bishops.

November 5, 1983
Letter for the 500th anniversary of the birth of Martin Luther.

December 11, 1983
First papal visit to a Lutheran congregation, participating in a prayer service at the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Rome.

December 27, 1983
Visit to Rebibbia prison and meeting with Mehmet Ali Agca, the Turkish terrorist who made an attempt on his life on May 13, 1981.

Diplomatic relations also established with: Belize, Nepal.


January 10, 1984
Full diplomatic relations at the level of apostolic nunciature and embassy between the Holy See

and the United States of America.

February 11, 1984
Pastoral Letter Salvi?ci Doloris (On the Christian Meaning of Suffering).

February 18, 1984
Agreement between the Holy See and the Italian Republic on the revision of the Lateran Concordat, new Concordat signed.

March 25, 1984
Apostolic Exhortation Redemptionis Donum (Gift of the Redemption) to all men and women religious, published on March 29.

April 20, 1984
Apostolic Letter Redemptionis Anno (Year of the Redemption), on the city of Jerusalem, sacred

patrimony of all believers and crossroads of peace for the peoples of the Middle East.

May 2, 1984
21st pastoral visit outside Italy: South Korea, Papua-New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and Thailand, with a stopover in Alaska (May 2–12).

May 5, 1984
Apostolic Letter Les Grands Mysteres, on the situation in Lebanon.

June 12, 1984
22nd foreign pastoral visit: Switzerland (June 12–17).

September 3, 1984
Publication of the Instruction on Certain Aspects of Liberation Theology by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

September 9, 1984
23rd foreign pastoral visit: Canada (September 9–20).

October 2, 1984
John Paul II tells the Pontifical Academy of Sciences that space belongs to all humanity and that

satellites and other space vehicles should be regulated by just international agreements.

October 10, 1984
24th foreign pastoral visit: Zaragoza, Spain; Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic; and San Juan, Puerto Rico (October 10–12).

December 11, 1984
Publication of the Post-Synodal Pastoral Exhortation Reconciliatio et Paenitentia (Reconciliation and Penance).

Diplomatic relations also established with: Saint Lucia, São Tomé and Principe, Seychelles, and the Solomon Islands.


January 26, 1985
25th foreign pastoral visit: to Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru, Trinidad-Tobago (January 26–February 6).

February 11, 1985
John Paul II establishes Pontifical Commission for the Apostolate of Health Care Workers.

March 26, 1985
Apostolic Letter To the Youth of the World on the occasion of the United Nation’s International Year of Youth.

March 30, 1985
First World Youth Day gathering, in Rome (March 30–31).

May 11, 1985
26th foreign pastoral visit: Netherlands, Luxembourg, and Belgium (May 11–21).

May 25, 1985
Third consistory for the creation of 28 new cardinals.

June 2, 1985
Fourth encyclical Slavorum Apostoli (The Apostles of the Slavs) in commemoration of the 11th centenary of the evangelization of Sts. Cyril and Methodius, published on July 2.

August 8, 1985
27th foreign pastoral visit: Togo, Ivory Coast, Cameroon, Republic of Central Africa, Zaire, Kenya, Morocco (August 8–19).

September 8, 1985
28th foreign pastoral visit: Liechtenstein.

November 17, 1985
Personal message to Presidents Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev for the Geneva summit.

November 21, 1985
Third Plenary Meeting of the College of Cardinals on the reform of the Roman Curia (November 21–23).

November 25, 1985
Second Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on: “The Twentieth Anniversary of the Conclusion of the Second Vatican Council” (November 25–December 8).

Diplomatic relations established with: Liechtenstein.


February 1, 1986
29th foreign pastoral visit: India (January 31–February 10).

April 5, 1986
Publication of the Instruction Libertatis Conscientia (On Christian Freedom and Liberation) by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

April 13, 1986
Unprecedented visit to Rome’s main synagogue, the oldest Jewish group in the Diaspora; prays with Rabbi Elio Toaff and Giacomo Saban, president of Rome’s Jewish community.

May 18, 1986
Fifth papal encyclical Dominum et Vivi?cantem (Lord and Giver of Life), published on May 30.

July 1, 1986
30th foreign pastoral visit: to Colombia and Santa Lucia (July 1–8).

July 15, 1986
Publication of the new Enchiridion Indulgentiarum (Manual of Indulgences).

August 26, 1986
Apostolic Letter Augustinum Hipponensem for the 16th centenary of the conversion of St. Augustine.

October 4, 1986
31st foreign pastoral visit: France (East-Central region, October 4–7).

October 27, 1986
Attends the First World Day of Prayer for Peace which John Paul convened in Assisi with some 150 representatives of 12 world religions.

November 18, 1986
32nd foreign pastoral visit: to Bangladesh, Singapore, Fiji Islands, New Zealand, Australia and Seychelles (November 19–December 1).

Diplomatic relations established with: Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, San Marino.


January 13, 1987
Special audience with President of the Council of the People’s Republic of Poland, General Wojciech Jaruzelski.

January 17, 1987
Private meeting with Jordan’s King Hussein about the situation in the Middle East.

March 25, 1987
Sixth encyclical Redemptoris Mater (Mother of the Redeemer), describing the Virgin Mary’s life as an image of obedience and a model of “femininity with dignity.”

March 31, 1987
33rd foreign pastoral visit: to Uruguay, Chile, and Argentina: celebration in Buenos Aires of the Second World Youth Day (March 31–April 13).

April 30, 1987
34th foreign pastoral visit: to the Federal Republic of Germany (April 30–May 4).

June 6, 1987
Official visit of US President Ronald Reagan.

June 7, 1987
Solemn opening of the Marian Year (June 7– August 15).

June 8, 1987
35th pastoral visit outside Italy: Poland (June 8–14).

September 10, 1987
36th pastoral visit outside Italy: to USA and Canada (Fort Simpson) (September 10–21).

October 1, 1987
Seventh Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on: “The Vocation and Mission of the Lay Faithful in the Church and in the World.”

December 3, 1987
His Holiness Dimitrios, Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, visits John Paul II (December 3–7).

December 30, 1987
Seventh encyclical Sollicitudo Rei Socialis (On Social Concerns), published February 19, 1988.

It criticized economic and political ideologies of the West and the East.


March 3, 1988
First publication of the financial report of the Holy See (for the year 1986) and the estimated budget for the year 1988.

May 7, 1988
37th pastoral visit of John Paul II outside Italy: to Uruguay, Bolivia, Peru and Paraguay (May 7–18).

June 23, 1988
38th pastoral visit outside Italy: Austria (June 23–27).

June 28, 1988
Apostolic Constitution Pastor Bonus for the reform of the Roman Curia.

June 28, 1988
Fourth consistory for the creation of 24 cardinals.

July 2, 1988
Apostolic Letter Ecclesia Dei (Church of God), establishing a commission “to be instituted ... to

collaborate with the bishops, with the Departments of the Roman Curia ... for the purpose of facilitating full ecclesial communion of priests, seminarians, religious communities or individuals until now linked to the Fraternity founded by Archbishop Lefevbre, who may wish to remain united to the Successor of Peter in the Catholic Church.”

September 10, 1988
39th pastoral visit outside Italy: to Zimbabwe, Botswana, Lesotho, Swaziland, Mozambique (September 10–19).

September 30, 1988
Publication of the Apostolic Letter Mulieris Dignitatem (On the Dignity and Vocation of Women).

October 8, 1988
40th pastoral visit outside Italy: to the European Institutions at Strasbourg and to the dioceses of Strasbourg, Metz and Nancy, France (October 8–11).

December 30, 1988
Apostolic Exhortation Christi?deles Laici (The Vocation and the Mission of the Lay Faithful in

the Church and in the World).

Diplomatic relations established with: Chad.


March 8, 1989
Meeting of John Paul II and members of the Roman Curia with the metropolitan archbishops of the United States of America on the theme: “Evangelization in the Context of the Culture and Society of the United States with particular emphasis on the Role of the Bishop as Teacher of the Faith” (March 8–11).

April 28, 1989
41st pastoral visit outside Italy: Madagascar, Reunion, Zambia and Malawi (April 28–May 6).

May 27, 1989
Official visit of US President George H. W. Bush.

June 1, 1989
42nd pastoral trip outside Italy: Norway, Iceland, Finland, Denmark, Sweden (June 1–10).

July 17, 1989
Restoration of diplomatic relations between Poland and the Holy See.

August 19, 1989
43rd papal trip abroad: to Spain, for Fourth World Youth Day (August 19–21).

August 27, 1989
Apostolic Letter on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the beginning of the Second World War.

September 7, 1989
Appeal to the followers of Islam in favor of Lebanon.

September 7, 1989
Apostolic Letter to all Bishops of the Catholic Church on the situation in Lebanon. World Day of Prayer for Peace in Lebanon.

September 29, 1989
Official visit of Archbishop of Canterbury Robert Runcie.

October 2, 1989
Joint statement of John Paul II and Archbishop Runcie.

October 6, 1989
44th foreign pastoral visit: Seoul (South Korea), Indonesia and Mauritius (October 6–16).

December 1, 1989
Official visit of President Mikhail Gorbachev of the USSR: marks the first time a Pope has met with the head of the Soviet government.

January 25, 1990
45th pastoral visit outside Italy: to Cape Verde, Guinea Bissau, Mali, Burkina Faso, and Chad

(January 25–February 1).

February 9, 1990
Holy See establishes diplomatic relations with Hungary.

March 15, 1990
Vatican announces the exchange of official representatives at the level of apostolic nuncio

and special ambassador between the Holy See and the Soviet government.

April 21, 1990
46th pastoral visit outside Italy: Czechoslovakia (April 21–22)

May 6, 1990
47th pastoral visit outside Italy: to Mexico and Curacao (May 6–14).

May 25, 1990
48th pastoral visit outside Italy: to Malta (May 25–27).

September 1, 1990
49th pastoral visit outside Italy: to Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda and Ivory Coast (September 1–10).

September 30, 1990
Eighth General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the theme: “The Formation of Priests in Circumstances of the Present Day” (September 30–October 28).

October 18, 1990
Promulgation of Code of Canons for Oriental Churches.

December 7, 1990
Eighth encyclical Redemptoris Missio (The Mission of the Redeemer), stressing the urgency of missionary evangelization.

Diplomatic relations also established with: Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Romania, Saint Vincent

and the Grenadines.


January 15, 1991
Letter of John Paul II to US President George H. W. Bush and to President Saddam Hussein of Iraq, in an attempt to deter a Gulf War.

March 4–5, 1991
Meeting at the Vatican of episcopal representatives from the countries directly implicated in the Gulf War, including seven patriarchs.

April 4, 1991
Fourth Plenary Meeting of the College of Cardinals on the theme: “The Church facing the threat against human life and the challenge of the sects.”

April 8, 1991
Meeting of the presidents of Episcopal Conferences (April 8–9), concerning the economic problems of the Holy See and the financial contribution of the bishops (Canon 1271, CIC).

May 1, 1991
Ninth encyclical Centesimus Annus (The Hundreth Year), commemorating 100 years of papal social teaching, beginning with Leo XIII’s Rerum Novarum of 1891.

May 10, 1991
50th pastoral visit outside Italy: to Portugal (May 10–13).

June 1, 1991
51st pastoral visit outside Italy: to Poland (June 1–9).

June 28, 1991
Fifth consistory for the creation of 22 new cardinals. Cardinal Ignatius Kung Pin-Mei, named in pectore in 1979, made public.

August 13, 1991
52nd pastoral visit outside Italy: to Czestochowa, Krakow and Wadowice (Poland) for the 6th World Youth Day and to Hungary (August 13–20).

September 7, 1991
Holy See and Albania establish diplomatic ties.

October 5, 1991
Ecumenical prayer service at St. Peter’s Basilica, on the occasion of the 6th centenary of the canonization of St. Brigit of Sweden. For the first time since the Reformation, two Lutheran bishops prayed in St. Peter’s Basilica with the Pope, together with the Catholic bishops of Stockholm and Helsinki.

October 12, 1991
53rd pastoral visit outside Italy: to Brazil (October 12–21).

November 28, 1991
Special Assembly for Europe of the Synod of Bishops on the theme: “So that we might be witnesses of Christ who has set us free” (November 28–December 14).

December 12, 1991
Ecumenical prayer service in St. Peter’s Basilica, on the occasion of the Special Assembly for Europe of the Synod of Bishops.

Diplomatic relations also established with: Estonia, Latvia.


January 12, 1992
Holy See announces its recognition of the sovereignty of Croatia and Slovenia.

February 8, 1992
Diplomatic relations with Croatia, Slovenia, Ukraine.

February 19, 1992
54th pastoral visit outside Italy: to Senegal, Gambia and Guinea (February 19–26).

March 11, 1992
Diplomatic relations with Kingdom of Swaziland.

April 4, 1992
Diplomatic relations with Mongolia.

April 7, 1992
Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Pastores Dabo Vobis (Shepherds I Give You) published.

May 13, 1992
Institutes World Day for the Ill, to be celebrated annually on February 11.

May 23, 1992
Diplomatic relations with Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Moldova.

May 25, 1992
Visit to Pope by Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey.

June 1, 1992
Diplomatic relations with Republic of Nauru.

June 4, 1992
55th pastoral visit outside Italy: to Angola and São Tomé and Principe (June 4–10).

July 15, 1992
Holy Father undergoes colic resection surgery. His gallbladder is removed due to gallstones. John Paul II is released from Gemelli Hospital on July 28.

July 29, 1992
Holy See/Israel working commission formed.

August 1992
The Holy See and Kyrgyzstan establish diplomatic relations.

September 21, 1992
Diplomatic relations between Holy See and Mexico.

October 9, 1992
56th pastoral visit outside Italy: Santo Domingo, for the 5th centenary of evangelization of Latin America, and Fourth General Conference of the Latin American Episcopate (October 9–14).

October 17, 1992
Diplomatic relations with Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan.

November 11, 1992
Diplomatic relations with Belarus.

November 16, 1992
Apostolic Constitution Fidei Depositum (For New Catechism) is made public; Catechism of the Catholic Church presented in French edition.

December 7, 1992
John Paul II officially presents the Catechism of the Catholic Church to the College of Cardinals, the diplomatic corps, representatives from the Roman Curia, and to representatives of the doctrinal and catechetical commissions of episcopal conferences.

Diplomatic relations also established with: Bosnia-Herzegovina, Switzerland.


January 1, 1993
Holy See recognizes Czech Republic and Slovak Republic.

January 15, 1993
Motu Proprio Europae Orientalis, substituting a Permanent Interdicasterial Commission for

the Church in Eastern Europe for the Pontifical Commission for Russia.

January 25, 1993
John Paul II announces new Ecumenical Directory for the application of the principles and norms of ecumenism.

February 3, 1993
57th pastoral visit outside Italy: to Benin, Uganda and Khartoum, Sudan (February 3–10). John Paul II announces that the Synod for Africa will be held in the Vatican in 1994.

April 25, 1993
58th pastoral visit outside Italy: to Albania. John Paul II ordains four bishops, restoring the hierarchy in a country that once declared itself officially atheist.

May 4, 1993
Pontifical Councils for Culture and for Dialogue with Non-believers are joined: new name is Pontifical Council for Culture.

May 25, 1993
Diplomatic relations with the Marshall Islands.

June 9, 1993
Patriarch of Ethiopian Orthodox Church His Holiness Abuna Paulos received by the Pope.

June 12, 1993
59th pastoral visit outside Italy: to Spain (June 12–17).

August 6, 1993
Tenth encyclical Veritatis Splendor (The Splendor of Truth); published October 5, 1993.

August 9–15, 1993
60th foreign pastoral visit: Jamaica, Mexico and Denver, for 8th World Youth Day.

September 4, 1993
61st pastoral visit outside Italy: to Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia (September 4–10). First ever visit by a pope to these countries.

November 11, 1993
Pope dislocates his right shoulder during a fall at the end of an audience in the Hall of Benediction. He spends one day at Gemelli Hospital; his shoulder is immobilized for one month.

December 26, 1993
Opening of the International Year of the Family of the Catholic Church.

December 30, 1993
Signing of the accord on basic principles regulating diplomatic relations between the Holy See and Israel.


January 1, 1994
Motu Proprio Socialium Scientiarum Investigationes establishing Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences.

January 11, 1994
“Directives Concerning the Preparation of Seminary Educators” is released by Congregation for Catholic Education.

January 26, 1994
Diplomatic relations with Federated States of Micronesia.

February 2, 1994
Letter to Families, on the occasion of the International Year of the Family.

February 9, 1994
Motu Proprio Vitae Mysterium (The Mystery of Life) establishes Pontifical Academy for Life.

February 16, 1994
Diplomatic relations with Republic of Suriname.

March 3, 1994
Diplomatic relations with Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.

March 5, 1994
Diplomatic relations with Republic of South Africa.

March 18, 1994
Letter of John Paul II to heads of states around the world and to the secretary general of the United Nations regarding the International Conference on Population and Development at Cairo, to be held in September 1994.

March 25, 1994
Diplomatic relations established with Cambodia.

April 7, 1994
Vatican concert for the commemoration of the Shoah, in the presence of John Paul II and Chief

Rabbi of Rome, Elio Toaff.

April 10, 1994
Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops on the theme: “The Church in Africa and Her Evangelizing Mission Towards the Year 2000: ‘You Shall Be My Witnesses’” (April 10–May 8).

April 28, 1994
Holy Father falls, breaks femur. Goes to Gemelli Hospital the morning of April 29.

May 13, 1994
Holy Father institutes cloistered monastery within the Vatican.

May 22, 1994
Apostolic Letter to the bishops: Ordinatio Sacerdotalis (On Reserving Priestly Ordination

to Men Alone).

June 2, 1994
Pope receives President Bill Clinton.

June 10, 1994
Diplomatic relations with Western Samoa.

June 13, 1994
Fifth plenary meeting of the College of Cardinals in preparation for the Jubilee of the Third Millennium.

June 15, 1994
Diplomatic relations at the level of apostolic nunciature and embassy between the Holy See

and the State of Israel.

July 20, 1994
Diplomatic relations with Vanuatu.

July 24, 1994
Diplomatic relations with Kingdom of Tonga.

September 10, 1994
62nd pastoral visit outside Italy: to Zagreb, Croatia (September 10–11).

October 2, 1994
Ninth general assembly of the Synod of Bishops: “The Consecrated Life and Its Role in the Church and in the World” (October 2–29).

October 8, 1994
International Meeting of Families with the Holy Father honoring the International Year of the Family.

October 20, 1994
Publication of Pope John Paul’s book Crossing the Threshold of Hope: 31 languages, 35 countries.

October 25, 1994
Beginning of working contacts of “permanent and official character” between the Holy See and the Palestine Liberation Organization, with a PLO office of representation to the Holy See and the nuncio of Tunisia responsible for contacts with the PLO.

November 10, 1994
Apostolic Letter Tertio Millennio Adveniente (As the Third Millennium Draws Near) to Bishops, Clergy and Lay Faithful on the Preparation for the Jubilee of the Year 2000.

November 26, 1994
Sixth consistory for the creation of 30 new cardinals from 24 countries.

December 13, 1994
Letter to Children in the Year of the Family.

December 21, 1994
Diplomatic ties established with Macedonia.

December 26, 1994
Pope John Paul II named Man of the Year by Time Magazine.


January 11, 1995
63rd pastoral visit outside Italy: to Manila, the Philippines, for the celebration of 10th World Youth Day; to Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea; Sydney, Australia; and Colombo, Sri Lanka (January 11–21).

January 14, 1995
Message to Chinese Catholics, broadcast over Radio Veritas in Manila.

March 6–12, 1995
Holy See sends a delegation to the UN World Summit on Social Development in Copenhagen, Denmark.

March 25, 1995
Eleventh encyclical Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life).

April 1995
Diplomatic relations with Kiribati.

May 2, 1995
Apostolic Letter Orientale Lumen for the centenary of Orientalium Dignitas of Pope Leo XIII.

May 8, 1995
Message on the Fiftieth Anniversary of the End of the Second World War in Europe.

May 20, 1995
Three-day pastoral visit to Czech Republic and Poland: 64th outside of Italy (May 20–22).

May 25, 1995
Twelfth encyclical Ut Unum Sint (That All May Be One).

May 26, 1995
Message to Gertrude Mongella, secretary general of UN’s Fourth World Conference on Women, scheduled for September in Beijing, China.

June 3–4, 1995
Two-day trip to Belgium is 65th pastoral visit outside Italy: beatification of Father Damien de Veuster.

June 27, 1995
Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I welcomed to Vatican.

June 29, 1995
Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, Apostles. Patriarch Bartholomew and the Holy Father give homilies in Saint Peter’s Basilica, and sign Common Declaration. Letter to Women (made

public on July 10).

June 30, 1995
66th pastoral visit outside Italy: Slovak Republic (June 30–July 3).

July 17, 1995
Theme announced for Jubilee Year 2000: “Jesus Christ—The Same Yesterday, Today, Always.”

September 1995
Diplomatic relations with Namibia.

September 4–15, 1995
Holy See represented at the fourth UN Conference on Women, in Beijing, by Mary Ann Glendon of Harvard University, the first woman to head a Holy See delegation.

September 14, 1995
67th foreign pastoral visit: to Cameroon, Kenya, and South Africa for conclusion of Synod for Africa, September 14–20. In Yaoundé, Cameroon, the signing of the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in Africa (The Church in Africa), the first time a document is signed outside the Vatican.

October 4, 1995
68th pastoral visit outside Italy: to the USA (New York, Newark, Brooklyn, Baltimore). On Rome–NY flight, Pope crosses the 1 million kilometer mark (October 4–9).

October 5, 1995
Address to United Nations General Assembly, commemorating 50th anniversary of founding

of UN.

November 26, 1995
Opening Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica for Special Assembly for Lebanon of the Synod of Bishops (November 26–December 14).

December 1995
Diplomatic relations with Mozambique.

Diplomatic relations also established with: Andorra, Eritrea.


February 5, 1996
Departure for Latin America, 69th foreign visit: Guatemala, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Venezuela. Until February 12.

February 22, 1996
Apostolic Constitution Universi Dominici Gregis (On the Vacancy of the Apostolic See and the Election of the Roman Pontiff).

March 25, 1996
Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Vita Consecrata.

April 14, 1996
One-day visit to Tunisia: 70th foreign trip.

May 17–19, 1996
71st trip abroad: to Slovenia.

June 1996
Diplomatic relations with Tajikistan established.

June 21–23, 1996
Departure for Germany, 72nd foreign trip.

July 1996
Diplomatic relations with Sierra Leone and Turkmenistan established.

September 6, 1996
Start of second papal trip to Hungary, and 73rd foreign apostolic visit. September 6–7.

September 19–22, 1996
Departure for France on 74th foreign trip.

October 8, 1996
Undergoes appendectomy at Gemelli Hospital. Returns to Vatican on October 15.

November 1, 1996
John Paul II marks 50 years of priestly ordination.

November 13, 1996
Address to World Food Summit at FAO headquarters, Rome.

November 15, 1996
Presentation of book, Gift and Mystery: On the 50th Anniversary of My Priestly Ordination.

November 19, 1996
Audience with President Fidel Castro of Cuba. Pope accepts invitation to visit in January 1998.

December 3, 1996
Message to the Church in China over Vatican Radio.

December 4–6, 1996
Visit by His Grace George Carey, Archbishop of Canterbury and Primate of the Anglican Communion.

December 6, 1996
Common Declaration signed by Pope, Anglican Primate.

December 10, 1996
Visit of His Holiness Karekin I Sarkassian, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians.

December 13, 1996
Pope, Catholicos sign Common Declaration.


January 14, 1997
Pope receives Lien Chan, vice president and prime minister of the Republic of China.

January 25, 1997
Meeting in Vatican with His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of Cilicia of the Armenians. Signing of Common Declaration.

March 10, 1997
Holy See, Libya establish diplomatic ties.

March 12, 1997
Letter to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan on situation in Zaire.

March 24, 1997
Vatican Web site debuts.

April 12–13, 1997
Two-day trip to Sarajevo: 75th foreign pastoral visit.

April 15, 1997
John Paul II welcomes UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.

April 25–27, 1997
Start of three-day pastoral visit to Czech Republic: 76th foreign trip.

May 10–11, 1997
Departure for two-day trip to Lebanon: 77th foreign pastoral trip.

May 31, 1997
Departure for Poland; until June 10. Pope’s 78th foreign pastoral visit.

June 9, 1997
Diplomatic Relations with Cooperative Republic of Guyana.

June 26, 1997
Pope writes letters to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and to Yasser Arafat,

president of the Palestinian Authority, in which he expresses concern for interrupted dialogue

in Middle East peace process.

July 8, 1997
Holy See, Angola establish diplomatic relations.

July 17, 1997
Holy See approved as Observer to World Trade Organization.

July 18, 1997
Letter to Russian President Boris Yeltsin in which Pope expresses concern about a bill submitted to the Russian parliament “concerning freedom of conscience and religious associations.”

July 22, 1997
Holy See signs United Nations conventional weapons ban.

August 21–24, 1997
Departure for Paris for 12th World Youth Day. This four-day trip is Holy Father’s 79th foreign visit.

September 8, 1997
Apostolic Constitution Laetamur Magnopere (It Is a Cause of Great Joy) with which John Paul II promulgates the of?cial Latin version of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

October 2–5, 1997
Departure for four-day visit to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, for Second World Meeting with Families.

80th foreign trip.

October 19, 1997
Pope proclaims Saint Therese of Lisieux, also known as Therese of the Child Jesus, Doctor of the Church. She is the 33rd person, the third woman (with St. Catherine of Siena and St. Teresa of Avila), and the youngest Doctor.

November 10, 1997
Holy See and Israel sign “Legal Personality Agreement.”

November 16, 1997
Pope inaugurates Synod for America, presides at Eucharistic concelebration in St. Peter’s Basilica (through December 12).

December 5, 1997
Holy See signs Convention banning land mines.

December 20, 1997
Papal letter to Cuban people on the occasion of Christmas and his forthcoming trip to their country.


January 15, 1998
Communiqué announces Holy See-Palestinian Mixed Commission.

January 21–25, 1998
John Paul II’s visit to Cuba, his 81st pastoral visit outside of Italy.

February 1, 1998
Holy Father visits Roman family in their home.

February 2, 1998
Pope John Paul presents new Apostolic Constitution Ecclesia in Urbe to Cardinal Ruini, vicar of Rome. Also, the celebration of the Second World Day for Consecrated Life.

February 15, 1998
Holy See nuncio to UN, Archbishop Renato Martino, conveys papal message to Secretary General Kofi Annan, encouraging him to undertake trip to Iraq to attempt to solve crisis developing there.

February 17, 1998
Holy See ratifies land mine convention.

February 21, 1998
Seventh consistory to create 20 new cardinals. Two additional cardinals held in pectore.

March 14, 1998
Pope signs Letter returning liturgical faculties to Syro-Malabar Church.

March 16, 1998
Presentation of Holy See document, “We Remember: A Reflection on the Shoah.”

March 21–23, 1998
Holy Father leaves for Nigeria, 82nd foreign pastoral trip.

April 19, 1998
Opening of Synod for Asia (to May 14).

June 16, 1998
Pope receives UN Secretary General Kofi Annan. Holy See Permanent Observer to the United Nations, Archbishop Renato Martino, addresses the UN-sponsored conference in Rome for the establishment of an international criminal court.

June 19, 1998
Start of Pope’s third trip to Austria: 83rd foreign apostolic visit. To June 21.

June 25, 1998
Presentation of Joint Declaration on Justification prepared by Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and Lutheran World Federation.

June 30, 1998
Publication of John Paul II’s Motu Proprio Ad Tuendam Fidem (On Protecting the Faith).

July 7, 1998
Presentation of Apostolic Letter Dies Domini (On Keeping Holy the Lord’s Day).

July 23, 1998
Publication of Apostolos Suos (His Apostles); Pope John Paul’s Apostolic Letter issued Motu Proprio On the Theological and Juridical Nature of Episcopal Conferences. Dated May 21.

September 14, 1998
13th encyclical Fides et Ratio (Faith and Reason), published on October 15.

September 24, 1998
Holy See and Kazakhstan sign agreement on bilateral relations.

October 2, 1998
Departure for Croatia, 84th foreign pastoral visit (until October 4).

October 12, 1998
Diplomatic ties established between Holy See and Republic of Yemen.

November 22, 1998
Presides at the Special Assembly for Oceania of the Synod of Bishops (through Dec. 12.)

November 29, 1998
Proclamation of Bull of Indiction for the Holy Year 2000, during Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica. Bull also sets forth the conditions for gaining the Jubilee indulgence.

Diplomatic relations also established with: the Republic of Palau.


January 22, 1999
Departs on 85th foreign pastoral visit, first to Mexico City for the formal close of the Synod for America and then on to St. Louis, Missouri. Signs and dates the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in America (The Church in America).

January 26, 1999
Meets President Clinton upon his arrival in St. Louis.

January 26, 1999
Presentation of new rite of exorcism of the Roman Book of Rites (from Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of Sacraments).

January 28, 1999
Papal appeal for clemency saves life of prisoner Darrell Mease in United States.

March 1, 1999
Announcement that Pope has given permission to start the cause of beatification for Mother Teresa of Calcutta, dispensing from the norm which states that five years must pass between person’s death and start of cause.

March 12, 1999
First bilateral accord between Holy See and Estonia is signed.

March 30, 1999
High level meeting in the Vatican studies the Kosovo crisis; includes ambassadors to the Holy See from NATO member countries and permanent members of the UN Security Council.

April 3, 1999
Pope John Paul’s papacy, at 20 years and five months, becomes tenth longest in the history of the Church, surpassing Pope Leo III (795–816).

April 27, 1999
Pope writes UN Secretary General Kofi Annan on the eve of Annan’s departure for Europe to seek peace in Yugoslavia.

May 7–9, 1999
Foreign pastoral visit to Romania is the Pope’s 86th.

May 12, 1999
Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC) document, “The Gift of Authority.”

June 3, 1999
John Paul II receives UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.

June 5–17, 1999
Foreign pastoral visit to Poland is the Pope’s 87th.

June 11, 1999
Warsaw, Poland: Pope’s first-ever address to a Polish parliament.

June 12, 1999
Warsaw: Pope falls in nunciature, suffers cut on right temple.

June 15, 1999
Krakow: Pope, feverish, postpones day’s engagements.

June 29, 1999
Holy Father’s Letter on “Pilgrimages to the Places Linked to the History of Salvation” (published June 30). Patriarch Karekin I, Catholicos of all Armenians, dies. Pope’s letter to patriarch, bearing the same date, is published July 8, day of funeral.

July 19, 1999
Diplomatic Relations with the Lesser Antilles.

September 17, 1999
New Enchiridion Indulgentiarum (Manual of Indulgences) is presented.

September 19, 1999
One day apostolic trip to Slovenia, the Pope’s 88th foreign pastoral visit.

October 1, 1999
Proclaims St. Edith Stein (Benedicta of the Cross), St. Bridget of Sweden, and St. Catherine of Siena as co-patronesses of Europe.

October 1–23, 1999
Presides over Second Special Assembly for Europe of the Synod of Bishops.

October 26, 1999
Publication of The Letter of His Holiness John Paul II to the Elderly.

October 31, 1999
Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification signed in Augsburg, Germany, by representatives of the Catholic Church and World Lutheran Federation.

November 5–9, 1999
Leaves on 89th foreign pastoral visit to India and the Republic of Georgia.

November 23, 1999
Announcement that a joint team of Catholic and Jewish scholars will be formed to review published volumes of Church archival material covering the World War II period.

December 11, 1999
Inaugurates the completely restored Sistine Chapel.

December 24, 1999
John Paul II opens the Holy Door at St. Peter’s Basilica, thereby beginning the Jubilee Year 2000.


January 12, 2000
Diplomatic relations established with the State of Bahrain.

February 15, 2000
Basic Agreement is signed between the Holy See and the Palestinian Liberation Organization.

February 23, 2000
John Paul II presides over a Liturgy of the Word celebration in commemoration of Abraham. The event represented the first stage in the Pope’s Jubilee Year pilgrimages to places linked with

the history of salvation.

February 24–26, 2000
Foreign pastoral visit to Egypt, including Mount Sinai, is the Pope’s 90th.

April 7, 2000
John Paul II receives UN Secretary General Ko? Annan.

March 7, 2000
Presentation of document by the International Theological Commission titled Memory and Reconciliation: The Church and the Faults of the Past.

March 20–26, 2000
Pilgrimage to the Holy Land, including Jordan, Israel, and the Palestinian Autonomous Territory, is the Pope’s 91st foreign pastoral visit.

May 5, 2000
Three accords signed between the Holy See and Lithuania.

May 7, 2000
Pope presides at ecumenical celebration at the Colosseum for Witnesses to the Faith in the 20th Century.

May 12–13, 2000
Foreign pastoral visit to Fatima, Portugal, is the Pope’s 92nd. Cardinal Secretary of State Angelo Sodano reads a text on the Third Secret of Fatima at the shrine on May 13, in anticipation of its publication in the near future.

May 20, 2000
Diplomatic relations established between the Holy See and Djibouti.

June 5, 2000
Audience for Russian President Vladimir Putin.

June 13, 2000
Mehmet Ali Agca, held in an Italian prison for the attempted assassination of John Paul II on

May 13, 1981, is granted clemency by Italian President Carlo Ciampi, and extradited to his native Turkey.

June 15, 2000
Pope hosts lunch in Paul VI Hall for 200 poor and homeless as part of Jubilee Year celebrations.

June 26, 2000
Presentation of the Third Secret of Fatima.

July 9, 2000
Pope celebrates Mass in Rome’s Regina Coeli prison as part of the Jubilee Day for Prisoners.

July 23, 2000
In reference to ongoing Middle East peace talks at Camp David, Maryland, the Pope repeats the

Holy See’s position that “only an internationally guaranteed special statute can effectively preserve the most sacred parts” of Jerusalem.

August 15, 2000
Celebration of the 15th World Youth Day in Rome.

September 5, 2000
Declaration Dominus Iesus “On the Unicity and Salvific Universality of Jesus Christ and the Church,” prepared by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

October 17, 2000
Visit of Queen Elizabeth II of England and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.

October 31, 2000
Proclamation of St. Thomas Moore as the Patron Saint of Statesmen and Politicians.

November 8, 2000
Karekin II, Catholicos of All Armenians, visits John Paul II. A joint communiqué signed November 11.


January 6, 2001
Closing of the Holy Door to conclude the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000. The Apostolic Letter

Novo Millennio Ineunte (At the Beginning of the Third Millennium) signed.

February 21, 2001
Eighth consistory for the creation of 42 new cardinals and publication of two cardinals named in pectore in 1998.

May 4–9, 2001
93rd foreign pastoral visit: to Greece, Syria and Malta in the footsteps of St. Paul the Apostle.

May 21, 2001
Sixth Extraordinary consistory of the College of Cardinals to reflect on the priorities of the Church in the Third Millennium.

June 23–27, 2001
Five-day visit to Ukraine is 94th foreign pastoral visit.

June 26, 2001
Papal message to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan for the UN special meeting on AIDS.

August 1, 2001
1000th General Audience.

September 22–27, 2001
Pastoral visit to Kazakhstan and Armenia is 95th foreign trip.

September 30, 2001
Tenth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops opens to discuss the theme “The Bishop: Servant of the Gospel of Jesus Christ for the Hope of the World.” Concludes October 27.

November 18, 2001
Invitation to Catholics to fast on December 14 in response to the September 11 terrorist attacks. Leaders of the world’s religions invited to a Day of Prayer for Peace at Assisi.

November 22, 2001
Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in Oceania (The Church in Oceania) signed; delivered to dioceses in Oceania by John Paul II via e-mail.


January 23, 2002
Holy See consents to the “Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological and Toxin Weapons and on their Destruction.”

January 24, 2002
Day of Prayer for Peace in the World at Assisi with members of other Churches and religious communities.

February 11, 2002
Elevated the four apostolic administrations of the Russian Federation to the rank of dioceses with a view to facilitating their pastoral activities.

February 20, 2002
The Pope decrees that, beginning in 2003, documents concerning Germany from the period 1922–1939 contained in the archives of the Section for Relations with States of the Secretariat of State and in the Secret Vatican Archives will be available for consultation.

February 28, 2002
Aleksander Kwasniewski, president of the Republic of Poland, received in audience.

March 3, 2002
Pope sends Assisi Decalogue for Peace to heads of state.

March 11, 2002
Pope receives members of the delegation of the Greek-Orthodox Church sent by His Beatitude Christodoulos, Archbishop of Athens and all Greece.

March 22, 2002
Third edition of the Roman Missal is presented.

March 25, 2002
Accord signed between the Holy See and the Republic of Albania regarding the regulation of

reciprocal relations.

March 29, 2002
Pope John Paul’s pontificate becomes the sixth longest in the history of the Church.

April 20, 2002
Declaration that the expulsion of Bishop Jerzy Mazur, SVD, from Russia represents a serious violation of the commitments undertaken by the Russian government.

April 23, 2002
Meeting of US Cardinals and the presidency of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops with members of the Roman Curia on the issue of sexual abuse of children by clergy. Pope declares there is “no place in priesthood for those who would harm the young.” Meeting concludes April 24 with communiqué expressing solidarity with victims and pledging severity for offenders.

April 30, 2002
John Paul II names Cardinal Roger Etchegaray, president emeritus of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, as his special envoy to Jerusalem amidst increasing Middle East violence.

May 2, 2002
Public release of the Apostolic Letter Motu Proprio Misericordia Dei (The Mercy of God) on certain aspects of the Celebration of the Sacrament of Penance.

May 10, 2002
Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres visits Vatican.

May 22–26, 2002
Departs on a five-day pastoral visit to Azerbaijan and Bulgaria, his 96th foreign apostolic trip. The Catholic population of predominantly Muslim Azerbaijan numbers only 120 faithful, the smallest number of Catholics in a country visited by a Roman Pontiff; stays in a hotel, a papal first.

May 28, 2002
Receives President George W. Bush.

June 21, 2002
John Paul II receives the Archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey.

July 23, 2002
Departs on 97th apostolic trip outside of Italy, to Toronto for the World Youth Day, and subsequently to Guatemala City and Mexico City (July 31–August 1).

July 25, 2002
Signature of Accord between the Holy See and the Czech Republic on the regulation of reciprocal relations.

August 16–19, 2002
98th apostolic trip: to Poland.

October 12, 2002
Pope John Paul II and Patriarch Teoctist of the Orthodox Church of Romania sign a joint declaration.

October 16, 2002
Pope John Paul signs an apostolic letter dedicated to the Rosary, announces the addition of five new mysteries to this eight-century-old prayer, and declares October 2002 to October 2003 as the Year of the Rosary.

October 29, 2002
New Web site of the Vatican Apostolic Library presented.

October 31, 2002
John Paul II receives honorary Roman citizenship.

November 18, 2002
Diplomatic relations established between the Holy See and Qatar.

December 8, 2002
The revised “Essential Norms for Diocesan/Eparchial Policies Dealing with Allegations of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Priests or Deacons,” presented by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops receives the recognition of the Holy See.

Diplomatic relations also established with: East Timor.


January 16, 2003
“Doctrinal Note on the Participation of Catholics in Political Life,” by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, is released.

February 6, 2003
Pope receives a delegation of the Serbian Orthodox Church.

February 10, 2003
Cardinal Roger Etchegaray, former president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, departs for Iraq as a special envoy of the Pope; meets with Iraqi President Saddam Hussein on February 15.

February 14, 2003
Audience for Tariq Aziz, vice prime minister of Iraq, regarding Iraq’s compliance with United Nations resolutions and the threat of war with the United States.

February 18, 2003
Pope receives Kofi Annan, UN Secretary General.

March 5, 2003
Cardinal Pio Laghi, former apostolic nuncio to the United States and Pope John Paul II’s personal envoy, meets with President George W. Bush to deliver a message from the Pope regarding the impending war with Iraq.

April 10, 2003
Series of Vatican Euro coins issued to commemorate the 25-year ponti?cate of Pope John Paul II.

April 17, 2003
Pope John Paul’s 14th encyclical is published: Ecclesia de Eucharistia (Church of the Eucharist).

April 30*, 2003
Pope John Paul’s papacy, at 24 years, six months, and eight days becomes the fourth longest in the history of the Church, surpassing that of Pope Pius VI (1775–1799).

May 3–4, 2003
Fifth pastoral visit to Spain, the 99th of his pontificate.

June 5–9, 2003
100th pastoral trip outside of Italy, to Croatia.

June 22, 2003
101st pastoral trip outside of Italy, to Bosnia.

June 28, 2003
Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in Europa (The Church in Europe) published.

July 31, 2003
“Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions Between Homosexual Persons” published by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

September 11, 2003
John Paul II begins his 102nd pastoral trip outside of Italy, visiting Slovakia until September 14.

September 22, 2003
Authorities in Georgia decline to sign a previously negotiated bilateral accord.

September 28, 2003
John Paul II calls for a consistory on October 21 for the creation of 30 new cardinals whose names he announced. A 31st cardinal-designate was announced in pectore.

October 4, 2003
Pope welcomes the newly appointed Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams.

November 5, 2003
Pope receives Russian President Vladimir Putin.

November 6, 2003
Irish President Mary McAleese welcomed to the Vatican by the Pope.

December 17, 2003
The Prefecture of the Papal Household announces that it estimates that more than 17 million people from around the world have attended Pope John Paul II’s weekly general audiences.


January 16, 2004
Pope welcomes Jona Metzgher and Slomo Amar, chief rabbis of Israel, and Oded Wiener, director of the Chief Rabbinate.

January 27, 2004
Audience for U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney.

February 17, 2004
The University of Opole, in Poland, awards John Paul II an honorary doctorate.

February 12, 2004
Audience for President Alvaro Uribe Velez of Colombia.

March 8, 2004
John Paul II receives German President Johannes Rau in audience.

March 9, 2004
John Paul II surpasses Pope Leo XIII as having the third-longest pontificate in the history of the Church (as calculated from Oct. 22, 1978, the date John Paul’s pontificate was formally inaugurated).

April 5, 2004
Audience for President Abel Pacheco de la Espriella of Costa Rica.

April 17, 2004
Joaquim Alberto Chisseno, president of Mozambique, welcomed to the Vatican by the Pope.

April 29, 2004
John Paul II given honorary citizenship by the city of Dubrovnik, Croatia.

May 13, 2004
President Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal welcomed to the Vatican by John Paul.

May 15, 2004
President Emile Lahoud of Lebanon received in audience.

May 17, 2004
Audience for President Ricardo Maduro Joest of Honduras.

May 18, 2004
Pope receives Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski in audience.

May 24, 2004
Audience for President Branko Crvenkovski of the Republic of Macedonia.

June 4, 2004
President George W. Bush presents Pope John Paul II the Medal of Freedom during an audience.

June 5-6, 2004
John Paul II makes third apostolic visit to Switzerland, during which diplomatic ties between the Holy See and Switzerland are normalized. This is the pope’s 103rd pastoral trip outside of Italy.

June 10, 2004
During Corpus Christi celebrations, John Paul II announces a Eucharistic Year starting in October 2004 and ending in October 2005.

June 28, 2004
Audience for Prince Felipe and Princess Letizia de Borbon, Prince and Princess of Asturias.

June 29, 2004
John Paul II welcomes Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I to the Vatican.

July 1, 2004
United Nations General Assembly unanimously adopts a resolution that upgrades the Holy See’s role as a permanent observer. The Holy See no longer needs to seek permission to participate in debates, now has the right of reply, to circulate documents, and to raise points of order.

August 14-15, 2004
Pilgrimage to the shrine of Lourdes, France, for the 150th anniversary of the promulgation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception.

August 25, 2004
Pope presides at a celebration of the Word for the veneration of the icon of the Mother of God of Kazan which, at John Paul’s request, will be given to Patriarch Alexis and the Russian Orthodox Church.

October 7, 2004
Apostolic Letter Mane Nobiscum Domine (“Stay With Us, Lord”), proclaiming the Year of the Eucharist from October 2004 to October 2005.

October 18, 2004
Receives President Nicanor Duarte Frutos of Paraguay.


February 1, 2005
John Paul II is admitted to Rome’s Gemelli Polyclinic for breathing difficulties brought on by acute laryngeal tracheitis, with episodes of laryngeal spasms. He had begun suffering symptoms of the flu three days earlier. He is released on February 10.

February 21, 2005
Apostolic Letter The Rapid Development, regarding the modern technology of communications, is released. John Paul signed the letter on January 24, feast of St. Francis de Sales, the patron saint of journalists.

February 22, 2005
Ivo Sanader, president of Croatia, is received in audience.

February 24, 2005
The pope is taken by ambulance to Gemelli Polyclinic with breathing difficulties. A tracheotomy is performed that evening. He spends 18 days in the hospital.

March 1, 2005
The Vatican Web site posts an email address, in six languages, where the public can send messages to the recouperating pope. On March 5, Vatican Information Service reports that between March 1 and March 3, “over 20,000 e-mail messages have arrived for the Pope: about 10,000 in English, 6,077 in Spanish, 2,012 in Portuguese, 1,134 in Italian, 850 in German and 800 in French.”

March 13, 2005
John Paul is released from the hospital.

March 20, 2005
For the first time in 26-year pontificate, Pope John Paul II is unable to preside at the Palm Sunday liturgy. Throughout Holy Week he remains in his apartment, and watches the solemn liturgies on television.

March 27, 2005
Pope John Paul gives a silent Easter blessing from his apartment window, but is unable to preside at the main Easter liturgies in St. Peter’s.

March 30, 2005
Shortly after giving a silent blessing from his window, John Paul receives a nasogastric tube – a feed tube through the nose – to increase his caloric intake, according to the Vatican’s spokesman.

March 31, 2005
The pope develops a high fever caused by a urinary tract infection and antibiotics are administered. Later, septic shock set in followed by heart failure. “All appropriate therapeutic and cardio-respiratory measures were activated,” the Vatican spokesman said.

April 2, 2005
At 9:37 p.m. Rome time, Pope John Paul II dies. His pontificate spanned 26years, 5 months, 17 days.

Screen Shot: Project BOB