The papacy of Pope John Paul II began on the 16th of October 1978 as the 264th Pope and since then, till his last day as the Supreme Pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church he had accomplished more than many of his predecessors did. Through his twenty-seven years of papacy, he was acclaimed as one of the most influential leaders of the 20th century. His was the third longest papacy in history, following Saint Peter and Pope Pius IX. He dedicated his life to the cause of peace and harmony in the world. He was the gentle listener to all who came to him and was tough when it came to establishing moral justice.
Known as the chain canonizer, he has canonized and beatified more saints than his predecessors did in past five hundred years! In many of them he also overruled certain basic requirements in the beatification process. He has authored 14 encyclicals, 14 apostolic exhortations, 11 apostolic constitutions, 42 apostolic letters and numerous others. He had also written five books which are revered by churches all around the world.
DID YOU KNOW? If the trips made by Pope John Paul II are calculated in terms of distance, the figures come to 1167295 kilometers (or, 700380 miles) that is 28 times the Earth’s circumference or, 3 times the distance between the Earth and Moon!
Building harmonious relations with more and more nations during his papacy is also one of his major accomplishments. In the beginning of his pontificate, the Vatican had diplomatic relations with 85 countries. At present, this figure stands at 174. He has also succeeded in developing a kind of ‘special relationship with the Russian Federation and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).
One of the most important accomplishments that he is credited with is the role that he played to bring an end to communism in his home-land, Poland, and eventually the whole of Europe. He was the spiritual inspiration behind the withdrawal of communist forces and peaceful revolution of the Polish. The founder of ‘Solidarity’ accredited the Pope for giving Poles the courage to rise up and stand for their rights.
He was also the first Pope to meet a Kremlin leader. In December 1989 he met President Mikhail Gorbachev and expressed his admiration for him. The latter credited the Pope with the collapse of the Iron Wall, and said that it could not have been possible without his involvement. He was also the first Pope to enter a mosque.
In June 2004, President George W. Bush of the USA awarded the Pope the ‘Medal of Freedom’, which is the highest civil honor of America. The citation that accompanied the medal was, “This son of Poland, whose principled stand for peace and freedom has inspired millions and helped to topple communism and tyranny”. Could anything be a greater accomplishment than that?!
May be, there is. The greatest accomplishment that the Pope has achieved is that he has won the hearts of millions across the world and still makes his presence felt among them. People bring in bronze statues of the Pope saying that it emits the loving and caring aura of the Great soul.