Catholicism For Dummies
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John Paul II's reign as pope contained few hours of idle time, and as a result he changed the world and the perception of Catholicism. Among his accomplishments, Pope John Paul II

  • Canonized 484 men and women as saints.

  • Beatified 1,339 as blessed.

  • Expanded formal diplomatic relations of the Vatican with other nations from 84 to 174, including the United States.

  • Traveled 721,052 miles (1,243,757 km) or the equivalent of 31 consecutive trips around the globe.

  • Made 143 pastoral visits inside Italy.

  • Made 104 international trips.

  • Visited 129 countries and 876 cities.

  • Wrote 14 encyclicals, 15 apostolic exhortations, 11 apostolic constitutions, and 44 apostolic letters (84 papal letters in all).

  • Gave approximately 3,288 speeches.

  • Spent 18.75 percent of his papacy traveling.

  • Convened nine consistories. Elevated 232 cardinals, ordained 321 bishops, and baptized 687 children and 814 adults.

  • Held 1,161 general audiences, attended by over 17.6 million people.

John Paul II made history in other ways, just by being himself. Pope John Paul II was

  • First non-Italian pope since Adrian VI (1522–1523).

  • First Polish pope ever.

  • Youngest pope since Pius IX (1846–1878).

  • Longest-reigning pope elected in the 20th century.

  • Third longest papacy in the history of the Church, surpassed only by Pius IX (31 years, 7 months, 21 days) and St. Peter (34+ years).

The non-Catholic world, however, will remember John Paul II for his groundbreaking efforts to open dialogue with members and leaders of other faiths and religions. His gestures to heal wounds between Christians and Jews and between Catholics and Protestants were sincere and profound — if not totally successful. Pope John Paul II was

  • First pope since St. Peter to visit a Jewish synagogue (Tempio Maggiore di Roma, also known as the Great Synagogue, Rome, April 1986).

  • First pope to visit a mosque (Omayyad Great Mosque of Damascus, May 2001).

  • First pope since St. Peter to visit the Holy Land and the city of Jerusalem (March 2000).

As a result of his papacy as his efforts to bring peace to the world, John Paul II's funeral was attended by 4 kings, 5 queens, at least 70 presidents and prime ministers, more than 14 leaders of other religions, 157 cardinals, 700 bishops, 3,000 priests, and 3,000,000 other people. His funeral was the largest and most attended in history and it was the first time and place so many heads of state gathered in one place.

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