Karol Jozef Wojtyla who is known to the world as Pope John Paul II had ascended to Papacy in the year of 1978 (October 16th). He was the successor to Pope John Paul I who was in office for an unbelievably short period of time. Wrapped up in numerous controversies over his almost three decades of Papacy, he had left the world with a wealth of teachings that is upheld even to this day and has also been the reason that led him to a speedy beatification process.
Having lived at a time of Holocaust, the Pope when still a young man realized how necessary Peace was to the world. His memories of the Nazis occupying his homeland Poland during the war, and how his family, friends and dear neighbours were taken and slaughtered left him scarred but not defeated. In fact he played a pivotal role in uprooting communism first from Poland and then from the whole of Europe, and upheld the right of every person to go to the church as and when they wanted. His main teaching involved spreading the word of peace to people all over the world. According to the Pope, war and massacre can never be a solution to any on going crisis. Peaceful settlement of issues should be adopted by one and all.
He proved that he practiced what he taught, when he forgave Mehmet Ali Agca for shooting him critically on the 13th of May, 1981. He dedicated the greater part of his life to preach against terrorism and instead, getting oneself close to God. Pope John Paul II taught that ‘to ask about Good’, ultimately means ‘turning towards God’. He upheld the moral authority of the Catholic Church in almost every walk of life.
When asked about the relation of human freedom and divine law, he taught that the latter does not negate the former; in fact promotes it. According to him, God’s law governing human behaviour never conflicts with human freedom. He believed that human freedom in today’s context is an achievement of modern civilization.
The Pope also taught about the right and dignity of women, the primary source of which is his Marian Year Meditation – The letter on Dignity and Vocation of Women. He upheld and encouraged others also to accept religious equality of women alongside men. Even Christ discussed serious matters of life with them and addressed Jewish women as ‘daughters of Abraham’. Making women the primary witness of His death and resurrection, Christ himself established the position of women, which was firmly believed and preached by the Pope.
Although the teachings of Pope John Paul II are most revered, some of his teachings could not escape controversial stands. This includes his views on same gender marriages, abortion, contraceptive etc. While he taught about and upheld equality of women, he rejected the entry of women in the decision making bodies of the Church. While different people will have different opinion about the teachings of the Pope, but the fact remains that his teaching brought about infinite positive changes in the lives of people all over the world.