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Pope John Paul II: Biography, History, and Policies of the Pope

John Paul II was one of the longest-lived and most influential popes in the history of the Catholic Church. For good or for ill, his policies and personality helped shape not only the current character of Catholicism but also the direction Catholicism will take for generations to come. Because of that, it's important to take the time to carefully consider what his policies were and how they affected Catholics around the world.
  1. Books on the Papacy
  2. Papal Elections

John Paul II's Critiques of Capitalism Drawing Debate, Deceit
In 1953-54 Fr. Karol Wojtyla, the future Pope John Paul II, gave a series of lectures which expressed a sympathy for Marxism and strong critiques of Western liberal capitalism. These lectures were collected into the book Katolicka Etyka Spoleczna (Catholic Social Ethics). Conservative Catholics in the West have long known about this, but have avoided honestly dealing with it.

Was Pope John Paul II Jewish?
Pope John Paul II did more than any other pope to reach out to Jews and try to reach some sort of reconciliation between Catholicism and Judaism. Could part of the motivation for this have been knowledge that he had Jewish ancestry? One historian thinks so and he may have a good case.

Pope John Paul II: Short Biography
John Paul II was the second pope to ever choose two names, following his predecessor. The reason for doing this was to both honor John Paul I and to indicate that he would not be making any major policy shifts. Wojtyla was also the first non-Italian to be chosen for this office in over 400 years.

Anna-Teresa Tymieniecka: Woman Behind Pope John Paul II
The Roman Catholic Church has a reputation for being at least somewhat misogynistic; this reputation is not unearned, given the unequal role allowed to women. What many people don't realize, however, is the important role played by a female philosopher in refining, clarifying, and developing the ideas of John Paul II.

Pope John Paul II, Parkinson’s Disease, and Paranoia
Everyone knows that Pope John Paul II suffered from Parkinson’s Disease. It not only caused him to shake uncontrollably, but it also caused him to come close to death more than once. Among the many symptoms of Parkinson’s, however, are paranoia and depression. Most people are unaware of these, but their impact on a pope cannot go overlooked

Pope John Paul II and the Iraq War: Promoting Peace
The most public condemnations of the invasion of Iraq came from Pope John Paul II and Vatican officials. Catholic leaders did as much as they could to dissuade Britain and America from their course of action, but to no avail. Conservative Catholics in America did as much as they could to convince the Vatican that the invasion was not only...

Pope John Paul II, Secularization, Democracy, Religious Pluralism
Europe has become an increasingly secularized continent. Religion and church don’t play nearly the same political, social, or familial roles that they used to and this has had a profound influence on the state of European culture today. This did not sat well with Pope John Paul II and he worked hard to find ways to reverse the trend, though not...

Pope John Paul II, Women, Feminism: What Role for Women in Catholicism
The most significant sources of conflict within the Catholic Church today revolve around the role and status of women. Should women be allowed to become priests? Must women be prevented from using artificial means of birth control? Are women equal to men in all things?

Pope John Paul II on Contraception and Abortion
It is arguable that one of the most consistent themes running throughout John Paul II's papacy was his concern with sexual morality: contraception, abortion, divorce, homosexuality, and all of the things that make up what he regularly refered to as the 'culture of death.' These he saw as the cultural consequences of modernity and against which...

Pope John Paul II & Homosexuality: Do Gays Have a Place in the Church?
Official Catholic doctrine describes homosexuality as a 'disorder' even though the Catechism also insists that gays 'must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity.' What is the reason for this duality?

Pope John Paul II and the Sexual Abuse Crisis: Priests Abusing Children &...
Scandals involving priests who have sexually abused children have been a source of many problems for the Roman Catholic Church. Arguably worse than the sexual abuse, however, are the cover-ups and conspiracies of silence that have been found in the highest reaches of the Catholic hierarchy.

Pope John Paul II, Communism, and Freedom of Conscience: Balancing Faith and...
Perhaps one of the most significant and memorable features of John Paul II’s papacy was his battle against 'godless' communism. It is likely that he will be known forever as the pope who helped bring about the fall of communism. Much of his life as a cleric was lived under communist rule in Poland and all the time he rose through the ranks of...

Pope John Paul II, Capitalism, and Liberation Theology
Most observers are familiar with John Paul II's attacks on communism, but fewer are familiar with the extent to which he criticized capitalism. Americans seem to assume that capitalism and Christianity go hand-in-hand, but Catholic social teachings have tended towards more socialist ways of doing things because of the way in which they achieve...

Pope John Paul II, Darwin, and Evolution: Catholic Opinions on Evolutionary...
In America one is accustomed to seeing religious figures condemn evolutionary theory and argue that teaching evolution is incompatible with Christianity. Catholicism, however, not only doesn’t reject evolution but in fact has supported evolutionary theory for quite some time. This continues to surprise people because it’s simply not reported in...

Pope John Paul II, Catholicism, and the Jews
The Catholic Church has had a difficult, even violent, relationship with Judaism. It’s been normal for Jews to be treated as second-class citizens and the Vatican even pioneered the practice of forcing Jews to wear distinguishing symbols to mark them off from the rest of society, something taken to far more deadly lengths under the Nazis.

Bibliography: Sources for Articles on Pope John Paul II
Major sources used in the various articles on Pope John Paul II.

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