NO leader has moved the whole world as did the late John Paul II, whose 26-year pontificate has shaped global history and inspired hundreds of millions of people everywhere. Millions all over the world watched through the TV the burial rites of the “extraordinary Pope,” in April 8, 2005. On May 18, he would have been 88 years old.
A very strong “sensu fidelium” about the multi-qualified goodness of the Pope has been registered throughout the world from cardinals and bishops, from leaders of states and people everywhere, which is almost like a “beatification” of a “servant of God” by popular acclamation.
Beyond all speculations, Karol Wojtyla, the Christian, “Lolek” for his intimates and family members, was the man chosen by the Holy Spirit through the College of Cardinals in 1978 when he was 58 years old. This man of the Holy Spirit was the first non-Italian Pope after 455 years.
The world will long remember Pope John Paul II as the shepherd who has touched millions upon millions of people through his 104 Papal Visits outside of Italy. To help him guide the course of the Church, he created 231 cardinals and appointed more than 1,500 bishops. The world will remember him as a prolific teacher and catechist who has written a total of 85 Encyclicals, Apostolic Exhortations, Constitutions and Letters which shaped the faith and life of Christians. The world will remember him as the “man for others” who shaped global politics, always championing peace, human rights and the welfare of the poor in his 984 encounters with various Heads of States and Prime Ministers. The Catholic Church will remember him as the pope of dialogue and consultation who presided over 15 Synods and gathered millions more around him for World Meetings of Families and World Youth Days.
We here in the Philippines will remember him as the Pope who gathered more than 4 million at the Luneta intermittently chanting the refrain “John Paul, John Paul II, we love you … John Paul II, we love you.” That was in 1995 World Youth Day his second visit to our country.
I like to imagine that as a candidate for Beatification, John Paul has many patrons: the 1,338 he proclaimed blessed and the 482 he proclaimed saints, like Blessed Mo. Teresa of Calcutta and his fellow Polish, St. Faustina Kowalska of the Divine Mercy, like our own St. Lorenzo Ruiz and Blessed Pedro Calungsod.