The 20 years of John Paul II

The 11th longest papacy in history

VATICAN CITY, OCT 13, 1998 (VIS) - At 4:45 in the afternoon of October 14, 1978, ten days after the funeral of Pope John Paul I, 110 cardinal electors, and 88 persons selected to assist them, entered into conclave, sealed off from the world, to elect his successor.

At 6:18 p.m., on October 16, white smoke appeared from the small chimney of the Sistine Chapel, thus signalling that the cardinal electors had chosen a new Roman Pontiff. Twenty-seven minutes later, Cardinal Pericle Felici appeared on the central loggia of St. Peter's Basilica and announced the election of Pope John Paul II to the See of Peter with the words:

"Annuntio vobis gaudium magnum Habemus Papam Carolum Wojtyla, qui sibi nomen imposuit Ioannem Paulum II."

At 7:15 p.m. the new pontiff, clad in the traditional papal white, appeared on the same balcony and spoke in Italian the words now familiar to tens of millions of people around the world: "Praised be Jesus Christ!"

"Dear brothers and sisters," he continued, "we are still all very saddened by the death of the very dear Pope John Paul I. And now the most eminent cardinals have called a new bishop of Rome. They called him from a far-away country, ... far, but always near in the communion of faith and the Christian tradition. I was afraid in receiving this nomination, but I did it in the spirit of obedience to Our Lord and with total trust in his Mother, the Most Holy Madonna.

"I don't know if I can express myself well in your - in our - Italian language. But if I make a mistake, you will correct me. And so I introduce myself to you all, to confess our common faith, our hope, our trust in the mother of Christ and of the Church, and also to begin again on this path of history and of the Church with the help of God and with the that of men."

John Paul II, Cardinal Karol Wojtyla, archbishop of Cracow, was elected as the 264th Pope on the second ballot of the second day of the second conclave of 1978, just five months after his 58th birthday. Six days later, on October 22, 1978, his pastoral ministry was inaugurated. Today, October 13, marks day 7,300 of that pontificate.

His is the 11th longest pontificate in the history of the papacy. The longest was that of Pope Pius IX (1846-78: 31 years, 7 months, 17 days), and the second longest was that of his successor, Leo XIII (1878-1903: 25 years, 4 mos. and 17 days).

The next eight pontificates, in order of duration, are: Pius VI (1775-99, 24 years, 6 mos.); Pius VII (1800-23, 23 years, 5 mos.); Alexander III (1159-81, 21 years, 11 mos., 10 days); St. Sylvester I (314-335), 21 years, 11 mos.); Leo I (440-461, 21 years, 1 mos. 2 days); Urban VIII (1623-44, 20 years, 10 mos.); Leo III (795-816, 20 years, 5 mos.); Clement XI (1700-21, 20 years, 4 mos.).

In his 20 years as Pope, John Paul II has held seven consistories in which he has created 157 cardinals. The most recent consistory was February 21, 1998, in which he created 20 new cardinals (reserving, in addition, two names "in pectore"). As of today, there are 157 members of the College of Cardinals, 128 of whom have been created by John Paul II.

Of these 157 members of the college, 115 are under the age of 80 and therefore can enter into conclave to elect a new Pope: of these 115, 101 were created by John Paul II.

From the start of his pontificate to today, the Holy Father has named over 2,650 of the world's nearly 4,200 bishops. He has met each of them a number of times over the years, particularly when they fulfill their quinquennial obligation of a visit "ad limina Apostolorum."

He has written 12 encyclicals (the 13th will be published on October 15) dozens of apostolic letters, exhortations and constitutions and hundreds of messages and letters. In preparation for the Jubilee Year 2000, Pope John Paul wrote the Apostolic Letter "Tertio Millennio Adveniente," dated November 10, 1994, and published four days later. He also created the Committee for the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000.

The 78 year-old Pope has also presided over 12 synods of bishops: five ordinary (1980, 1983, 1987, 1990, 1995), one extraordinary (1985) and six special synods (1980, 1991, 1994, 1995, 1997, 1998). Three more synods are on his agenda: Oceania (November 22 to December 12, 1998), Europe (spring, 1999) and an ordinary synod (fall of 1999).

Over the years, the Holy Father has undertaken 84 pastoral visits outside Italy, the latest of which was October 2-4 to Croatia where he beatified Cardinal Alojzije Stepinac. He has made 134 trips within Italy and nearly 700 within the city and diocese of Rome, including visits to 274 of the 325 parishes of the diocese of which he is bishop, in addition to religious institutes, universities, seminaries, hospitals, rest homes, prisons and schools.

He has made four apostolic trips outside of Italy this year: Cuba (January 21-26), Nigeria (March 21-23), Austria (June 19-21) and Croatia (October 2-4).

With his 218 foreign and Italian pastoral visits, Pope John Paul II has reached the 1,118,130 kilometer mark (670,878 miles), that is, just over 27 times the earth's circumference or 2.8 times the distance between the earth and moon. He has made 3,078 speeches his 720 days (9 percent of his pontificate) of travel.

While in Rome, the Pope welcomes an average of one million people per year, including between 400-500,000 who attend the weekly general audiences in addition to those who come for special liturgical functions such as Christmas and Easter Masses, beatifications and canonizations. He also receives approximately 150-180,000 people per year in audiences granted to particular groups, heads of state and governments.

With tomorrow's weekly general audience (October 14, 1998), Pope John Paul II will have held 877 general audiences in which 13,833,000 people from every corner of the earth have participated.

During his pontificate, diplomatic relations at the levels of apostolic nunciature and embassy were established for the first time with 64 countries and re-established, following an interrupted period, with six other countries. The Holy See now has diplomatic relations with 170 countries.

In the past 20 years, the Pope has beatified 798 Servants of God in 109 ceremonies and has canonized 280 Blesseds in 35 ceremonies, including the October 11 canonization of Blessed Teresa Benedict of the Cross (Edith Stein).

He founded the John Paul II Institute for the Sahel in February of 1984, and the "Populorum Progressio" Foundation for the Indigenous peoples of Latin America in February of 1992. He also founded the Pontifical Academies for Life and for Social Sciences. As well, he instituted the World Day of the Sick (celebrated annually on February 11) and World Youth Day (WYD). The 12th youth day was celebrated in France in August, 1997. The Pope himself chooses the theme and develops its contents in an annual Message to the Youth of the World.

Karol Jozef Wojtyla, known as Pope John Paul II since his election 20 years ago, was born in Wadowice, a small city 50 kilometers from Cracow, on May 18, 1920. He was the second of two sons born to Karol Wojtyla and Emilia Kaczorowska. His mother died giving birth to a third child - stillborn - in 1929. His eldest brother Edmund, a doctor, died in 1932 and his father, a non-commissioned army officer died in 1941.

He made his First Holy Communion at age 9 and was confirmed at age 17. Upon graduation from Martin Wadowita high school in Wadowice, he enrolled in Cracow's Jagiellonian University in 1938 and in a school for drama.

The Nazi occupation forces closed the university in 1939 and young Karol had to work in a quarry and then in a chemical factory in Solvay to earn his living and to avoid being deported to Germany.

In 1942, aware of his call to the priesthood, he began courses in the clandestine seminary of Cracow, run by Cardinal Adam Stefan Sapieha, archbishop of Cracow. At the same time, Karol Wojtyla was one of the pioneers of the "Rhapsodic Theater," also clandestine.

After the Second World War, he continued his studies in the major seminary of Cracow, once it had re-opened, and in the faculty of theology of the Jagiellonian University, until his priestly ordination in Cracow on November 1, 1946.

Soon after, Cardinal Sapieha sent him to Rome where he worked under the guidance of the French Dominican, Garrigou-Lagrange. He finished his doctorate in theology in 1948 with a thesis on the topic of faith in the works of St. John of the Cross. At that time, during his vacations, he exercised his pastoral ministry among the Polish immigrants of France, Belgium and Holland.

In 1948 he returned to Poland and was vicar of various parishes in Cracow as well as chaplain for the university students until 1951, when he took up again his studies on philosophy and theology. In 1953 he defended a thesis on "Evaluation of the Possibility of Founding a Catholic Ethic on the Ethical System of Max Scheler" at Lublin Catholic University. Later he became professor of moral theology and social ethics in the major seminary of Cracow and in the Faculty of Theology of Lublin.

On July 4, 1958, he was appointed auxiliary bishop of Cracow by Pope Pius XII, and was consecrated September 28, 1958, in Wawel Cathedral, Cracow, by Archbishop Baziak.

On January 13, 1964, he was named archbishop of Cracow by Pope Paul VI, who elevated him to the cardinalate on June 26, 1967.

Besides taking part in Vatican Council II with an important contribution to the elaboration of the Constitution "Gaudium et Spes," Cardinal Wojtyla participated in every assembly of the Synod of Bishops since it was created by Paul VI in 1969.

Some statistical data on the pontificate of John Paul II

VATICAN CITY, OCT 13, 1998 (VIS) - Following are statistics on some of the salient aspects of Pope John Paul's 20-year pontificate, including information on his 84 pastoral visits outside of Italy, a list of encyclicals he has written and the themes and dates of the synods over which he has presided as Pope.

Pastoral visits outside of Italy

  1. Dominican Republic I, Mexico I, Bahamas: January 1979 (36 speeches)
  2. Poland I: June 1979 (36 speeches)
  3. Ireland, United States I: September 1979 (76 speeches)
  4. Turkey: November 1979 (12 speeches)
  5. Zaire I, Congo, Kenya I, Ghana, Alto Volto (Burkina Faso) I, Ivory Coast I: May 1980 (72 speeches)
  6. France I: May 1980 (30 speeches)
  7. Brazil I: June 1980 (51 speeches)
  8. Germany I: November 1980 (29 speeches)
  9. Pakistan, the Philippines I, Guam (U.S.A II), Japan, Anchorage (U.S.A II): February 1981 (60 speeches)
  10. Nigeria, Benin, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea: February 1982 (44 speeches)
  11. Portugal I: May 1982 (22 speeches)
  12. Great Britain: May 1982 (27 speeches)
  13. Rio de Janeiro (Brazil II), Argentina I: June 1982 (8 speeches)
  14. Geneva (Switzerland I): June 1982 (10 speeches)
  15. San Marino: August 1982 (3 speeches)
  16. Spain I: October 1982 (48 speeches)
  17. Lisbon (Portugal II), Costa Rica, Nicaragua I, Panama, El Salvador I, Guatemala I, Honduras, Belize, Haiti: March 1983 (44 speeches)
  18. Poland II: June 1983 (23 speeches)
  19. Lourdes (France II): August 1983 (14 speeches)
  20. Austria I: September 1983 (20 speeches)
  21. Fair Banks (U.S.A. III), Republic of Korea I, Papua New Guinea I, Salomon Islands, Thailand: May 1984 (46 speeches)
  22. Switzerland II: June 1984 (36 speeches)
  23. Canada I: September 1984 (50 speeches)
  24. Zaragoza (Spain II), Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic II), San Juan (Puerto Rico): October 1984 (10 speeches)
  25. Venezuela I, Ecuador, Peru I, Trinidad and Tobago: January 1985 (50 speeches)
  26. The Netherlands, Luxembourg, Belgium I: May 1985 (59 speeches)
  27. Togo, Ivory Coast II, Cameroon I, Central African Republic, Zaire II, Kenya II, Morocco: August 1985 (44 speeches)
  28. Kloten (Switzerland III), Lichtenstein: September 1985 (8 speeches)
  29. India: January 1986 (41 speeches)
  30. France III: October 1986 (27 speeches)
  31. Bangladesh, Singapore, Fiji, New Zealand, Australia I, the Seychelles: November 1986 (57 speeches)
  32. Uruguay I, Chile, Argentina II: March 1987 (63 speeches)
  33. Germany II: April 1987 (22 speeches)
  34. Poland III: June 1987 (27 speeches)
  35. U.S.A. IV, Fort Simpson (Canada II): September 1987 (48 speeches)
  36. Uruguay II, Bolivia, Lima (Peru II), Paraguay: May 1988 (54 speeches)
  37. Austria II: June 1988 (20 speeches)
  38. Zimbabwe, Botswana, Lesotho, Swaziland, Mozambique: September 1988 (43 speeches)
  39. France IV: October 1988 (2 speeches)
  40. Madagascar, La Reunion, Zambia, Malawi: April 1989 (36 speeches)
  41. Norway, Iceland, Finland, Denmark, Sweden: June 1989 (38 speeches)
  42. Santiago de Compostela, Asturias (Spain III): August 1989 (9 speeches
  43. Seoul (Republic of Korea II), Indonesia, (East Timor), Mauritius: October 1989 (28 speeches)
  44. Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Burkina Faso II, Chad: January 1990 (36 speeches)
  45. Czechoslovakia I: April 1990 (10 speeches)
  46. Mexico II, Curacao: May 1990 (26 speeches)
  47. Malta I: May 1990 (12 speeches)
  48. Luqa (Malta II), Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda, Yamoussoukro (Ivory Coast III): September 1990 (41 speeches)
  49. Portugal III: May 1991 (12 speeches
  50. Poland IV: June 1991 (39 speeches)
  51. Czestochowa (Poland V), Hungary: August 1991 (28 speeches)
  52. Brazil III: October 1991 (31 speeches)
  53. Senegal, Gambia, Guinea: February 1992 (26 speeches)
  54. Angola, Sao Tome e Principe: June 1992 (2 speeches)
  55. Dominican Republic III: October 1992 (16 speeches)
  56. Benin II, Uganda, Khartoum (Sudan): February 1993 (28 speeches)
  57. Albania: April 1993 (4 speeches)
  58. Spain IV: June 1993 (17 speeches)
  59. Jamaica, Merida (Mexico III), Denver (U.S.A. V): August 1993 (22 speeches)
  60. Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia: September 1993 (30 speeches)
  61. Zagreb, Croatia: September 1994 (5 speeches)
  62. Manila (the Philippines II), Port Moresby (Papua New Guinea II), Sydney (Australia II), Colombo (Sri Lanka): January 1995 (30 speeches)
  63. Prague, Olomouc (Czech Republic II), Skoczow, Bielsko Biala, Zywiec (Poland VI), Ostrava (Czech Republic II): May 1995 (11 speeches)
  64. Belgium II: June 1995 (7 speeches)
  65. Slovakia II: June 1995 (11 speeches)
  66. Yaounde (Cameroon II), Johannesburg-Pretoria (Republic of South Africa), Nairobi (Kenya III): September 1995 (13 speeches)
  67. Newark, New York, United Nations, Yonkers, Baltimore (U.S.A. VI): October 1995 (15 speeches)
  68. Guatemala II, Nicaragua II, El Salvador II, Venezuela II: February 1996 (22 speeches)
  69. Tunisia: April 1996 (6 speeches)
  70. Slovenia: May 1996 (8 speeches)
  71. Germany III: June 1996 (9 speeches)
  72. Hungary II: September 1996 (7 speeches)
  73. France V: September 1996 (12 speeches)
  74. Sarajevo (Bosnia-Herzegovina): April 1997 (11 speeches)
  75. Czech Republic III: April 1997 (8 speeches)
  76. Beirut (Lebanon): May 1997 (5 speeches)
  77. Poland VII: May 1997 (26 speeches)
  78. Paris II (France VI): August 1997 (11 speeches)
  79. Rio de Janiero (Brazil IV): October 1997 (8 speeches)
  80. Cuba: January 1998 (12 speeches)
  81. Nigeria II: March 1998 (7 speeches)
  82. Austria III: June 1998 (10 speeches)
  83. Croatia II: October 1998 (9 speeches)

Encyclicals written by pope John Paul II

Encyclical comes from a Greek term used to indicate letters that princes and magistrates sent to the widest possible number of people in order to make known laws, rules, regulations. etc. The corresponding Latin term was "circularis," which referred to a letter or message intended for extensive circulation. Encyclical today has come to be associated solely with the Church.

Encyclical Letters, the most solemn documents of the ordinary and universal pontifical magisterium, are usually addressed to all the bishops and faithful of the Catholic Church, but frequently are also addressed to include "all people of good will." Encyclical Epistles are addressed to a specific group of bishops - for example those of a specific country or region - and touch upon less important matters.

Encyclicals may deal with doctrinal matters, exhort or call the faithful to public prayer for a specific reason, or be commemorative of an important Church anniversary. They are always signed by the pope, usually in Latin, and are published in the "Acta Apostolicae Sedis" and in individual books in diverse languages.

The official Latin text is prepared by the Secretariat of State and normally five copies of the Latin-language document are signed by the Holy Father. The text, in various languages, is sent to episcopal conferences worldwide through the pontifical representatives.

For many centuries, the office which prepared these documents was called the Chancery of Apostolic Letters. Dating back to the 4th century, the chancery was suppressed by Pope Paul VI with the Motu proprio "Quo aptius" of February 27, 1973.

Pope John Paul has written 12 encyclicals, 11 of which are Encyclical Letters and 1 - "Slavorum Apostoli" - is an Encyclical Epistle.

  1. "Redemptor Hominis" (Jesus Christ, Redeemer of Man), 3-4-79
  2. "Dives in Misericordia" (God the Father, Rich in Mercy), 11-30-80
  3. "Laborem Exercens" (On human work and social problems), 9-14-81
  4. "Slavorum Apostoli" (Saints Cyril and Methodius, patrons of the Slavs), 6-2-85
  5. "Dominum et Vivificantem" (Holy Spirit, Lord and Vivifier), 5-18-86
  6. "Redemptoris Mater" (Mary, Mother of the Redeemer), 3-25-87
  7. "Sollicitudo Rei Socialis" (True development of man and society), 12-30-87
  8. "Redemptoris Missio" (The mission), 12-7-90
  9. "Centesimus Annus" (The social question, one hundred years after "Rerum Novarum"), 5-1-91
  10. "Veritatis Splendor" (Foundations of Catholic morality), 8-6-93
  11. "Evangelium Vitae" (The value and inviolability of human life), 3-25-95
  12. "Ut Unum Sint" (The commitment to ecumenism), 5-25-95

Pope John Paul's 13th Encyclical, "Fides et Ratio," is dated September 14, It will be made public on Thursday, October 15.

Pope John Paul's participation in the synod of bishops

Following is a list of all synods (ordinary, extraordinary and special) since the Synod of BIshops was founded in 1969 by Pope Paul VI. Pope John Paul II participated in every synod up to his election in 1978: after that date he presided at all synods.

Ordinary synods of the catholic church of the latin rite

1. 9-29-1967 to 10-29-1967
Theme: Revision of the Code of Canon Law.
Conclusive documents:
Institution of the International Theological Commission.
Ratio Fundamentalis Institutionis Sacerdotalis.
2. 9-30-1971 to 11-6-1971
Themes: Ministerial priesthood. Justice in the world.
Final documents:
Document on justice in the world.
Document on ministerial priesthood.
3. 9-27-1974 to 10-26-1974
Theme: The evangelization of the contemporary world.
Final documents:
Declaration of the Synod Fathers.
Apostolic Exhortation "Evangelii Nuntiandi," Paul VI.
4. 9-30-1977 to 10-29-1977
Theme: Catechesis in our time, especially of children and youth.
Final document:
Apostolic Exhortation "Catechesi Tradendae," John Paul II.
5. 9-26-1980 to 10-25-1980
Theme: The Christian family.
Final document:
Apostolic Exhortation "Familiaris Consortio," John Paul II.
6. 9-29-1983 to 10-20-1983
Theme: Reconciliation and penitence in the pastoral mission of the Church.
Final document:
Apostolic Exhortation "Reconciliatio et Paenitentia," John Paul II.
7. 10-1-1987 to 10-30-1987
Theme: Vocation and mission of the laity in the Church and in the world twenty years after the Second Vatican Council.
Final document:
Apostolic Exhortation "Christifideles Laici," John Paul II.
8. 10-1-1990 to 10-28-1990
Theme: Formation of priests in today's society.
Final document:
Apostolic Exhortation "Pastores dabo vobis," John Paul II.
9. 10-2-1995 to 10-29-1995
Theme: "Consecrated life and its role in the Church and in the world."
Final document:
Apostolic Exhortation "Vita Consecrata," John Paul II.

Extraordinary synods

1. 9-11-1968 to 10-28-1968
Theme: Cooperation of episcopal conferences with the Holy See and with each other.
Final documents:
Message to priests.
Final declaration.
2. 11-25-1985 to 12-8-1985
Theme: Commemoration, evaluation and promotion of Ecumenical Vatican Council II on the 20th anniversary of its conclusion.
Final documents:
Message to Christians.
Final report of the Synod.

Special synods

1. Particular Synod of Bishops of the Netherlands.
1-14-1980 to 1-31-1980
Theme: The pastoral ministry of the Church in the Netherlands in present-day circumstances.
Final document:
Final document of the particular Synod.
2. Special Assembly for Europe
11-28-1991 to 12-14-1991
Theme: "We are witnesses to Christ who has freed us."
3. Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops
4-10-1994 to 5-8-1994
Theme: "Africa and her evangelizing mission toward the year 2000: you will be my witnesses (Acts 1:8)."
Final documents:
Apostolic exhortation "Ecclesia in Africa," John Paul II.
4. Special Assembly for Lebanon of the Synod of Bishops
11-26-1995 to 12-14-1995
Theme: "Christ is our hope: renewed by his Spirit, in solidarity, we give witness to his love."
Final document:
Postsynodal Apostolic Exhortation "A New Hope for Lebanon."
5. Special Assembly for America of the Synod of Bishops
11-16-1997 to 12-12-1997
Theme: "Encounter with the Living Christ, the path for conversion, communion and solidarity in America."
6. Special Assembly for Asia of the Synod of Bishops
4-19-1998 to 5-14-1998
Theme: "Jesus Christ the Savior and His Mission of Love and Service in Asia: '... That they may have life and have it abundantly'."
av Webmaster publisert 14.10.1998, sist endret 14.10.1998 - 21:34