On this day in 1978, Pope John Paul II was installed as the Roman pontiff. Now we know him as Saint John Paul II or Saint John Paul the Great. He is a patron of Relevant Radio® and a beloved saint in the Catholic Church.
When he was elected pope, there were three popes in a single year: Saint Paul VI, Pope John Paul I, and Saint John Paul II. Pope John Paul I was elected after the death of Paul VI, but his papacy lasted only 33 days before his untimely death. Polish Cardinal Karol Wojtyla chose the name John Paul II after his predecessor. He is the longest-serving pope in modern history.
“Just nine years later he was canonized as a saint. Now, if you know anything about canonizations, it usually takes a long time; sometimes it takes hundreds and hundreds of years so this is kind of a modern world record,” said Rev. Francis Hoffman (Fr. Rocky), Executive Director at Relevant Radio, who was ordained by Pope John Paul II in 1992.
Why is he a saint? Fr. Rocky gives his take on Saint John Paul II’s saintly life. “God put him on the stage of human history at a moment when we needed leadership and we needed hope. The Church was in a crisis at that time … religious orders were imploding; we were hemorrhaging vocations to the priesthood and religious life—things were upside-down. It all kind of culminated in 1981 … that’s when we had the peak of the divorce rate in the United States, the peak of abortion, we had also the peak of the clerical sexual abuse crisis. And so God put him on the stage to bring some order and sense and leadership and confidence back to the Church. So that’s really why I regard him as a saint—because of his faith, because of his prayer, because of his courage.”
His legacies are many. Saint John Paul the Great revitalized devotion to the Holy Eucharist and the Holy Rosary. He implemented the Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary in 2002. He was beloved by young people in the Catholic Church and initiated the first World Youth Day in 1985, a huge gathering of Catholic youth from around the world. His beautiful and thorough teachings on human sexuality are called, “Theology of the Body.” He also travelled far and wide to reach out to all corners of the Catholic Church during his pastoral visits; he brought hope and light to the people.
Saint John Paul II, pray for us!
“Do not be afraid. Open wide the doors for Christ!” – St. John Paul II