Pope is the leader of the Catholic Church. John Paul II was born as Karol Jozef Wojtyla on 18th May 1920 in a small Polish town near Krakow - in Wadowice. He was the second son of his parents: Karol Sr. who was a tailor and Emilia who was a schoolteacher. Because of the unexpected death of Pope John Paul I in 1978, cardinal Karol Wojtyla became the first non-Italian pope for about 450 years. For the long part of his life he was living in the Vatican in Rome. He became well-known all over the world as the pillar of the moral conservatism presented by the Catholic Church.

His mother and Edmund, who was his older brother, died when Karol was a child. He was brought up by his father, who was a fervent Catholic. He had a great influence on his son and encouraged him to become a priest. Young Karol was fond of poetry, literature, theater and religion. In 1938 Karol with his father took to Krakow. Karol started studying at the Jagiellonian University in Krakow, but unfortunately his education had to be stopped because of the Nazis who attacked Poland. Karol wanted to continue the studies in so called the underground seminary. When Karol's father died in 1941, it was a very important moment for him. Since then Karol spent more time in the Church than ever before. He even decided to become a priest. He was very ambitious and when he became the priest he started studying the philosophy and the theology at the Pontifical University of the Angelicum in Rome. He also received the Ph.D. title in Divinity in 1948. Then he came back to Krakow and worked as the archbishop. Then in 1967 Karol Wojtyla became a cardinal. On 28th September 1978 pope John Paul I died a month after his election. It was the surprise for every one, that Karol Wojtyla was elected by the conclave to be the pope. He was the first non-Italian pope for over 450 years. Karol chose the name of John Paul II in memory of died John Paul I. As the pope John Paul II was extremely conservative, especially in sex matters. He had some liberal adversaries in the Catholic Church, especially in the United States. John Paul II was against pre-marital sex, abortion, homosexuality and the contraception. He even dismissed a French bishop, who was supporting the use of condoms by people infected with HIV virus. Moreover, he didn't support the female clergy. Because of the fact that he was the head of the Catholic Church and his conservative attitude, sometimes he elicited some extremist reactions. On 13th May 1981he was attempt to be assassinated in the Vatican Square. Fortunately, he survived, but he underwent some serious operations. When he recovered, he forgave in public the man who tried to kill him. It was a Turkish nationalist named Mehmet Ali Agca. However his motives weren't presented. There were a lot of accomplishments during the papacy of John Paul II. He was tolerant and opened for the discussions with other religions. He wanted to reflect the great diversity of Catholics all over the world in the Vatican positions. He appointed a lot of African-Americans to fulfill the major positions in the Vatican. John Paul II traveled a lot. He visited about 116 countries. During his visits he promoted human rights, Church's truths and tried to condemn the decline of moral and spiritual values by the growing role of materialism in our life. Among many countries the Pope visited also Cuba in 1998. He tried to negotiate the setting free of over 300 political prisoners. On 20th March 2000, in spite of his illness and weakness, John Paul II started pilgrimage to the Holy Land. He visited many sacred places in the Middle East. To them belongs also the mountain on which Moses probably died and the heights of Mount Nebo. There according to the Old Testament, Moses was raveled the Promised Land near the Jordan River. Then the Pope insisted on the citizens of the Middle East to finish the violence. The Jordan's King Abdullah II said the Pope's visit in this part of the world is a "unique and emotional moment that brings closer the meaning of tolerance and coexistence from a distant land of dreams." During that visit the Pope went also to Bethlehem. He said the mass at Galilee. The Pope spoke also at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem. During this speech, he told the gathered crowd that included Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak: "I have come to Yad Vashem to pay homage to the millions of Jewish people who-stripped of everything, especially of human dignity-were murdered in the Holocaust." However he didn't mention about the inaction of the Roman Catholic Church as well as Pope Pius XII during the Holocaust time, the Vatican officially apologized for it in 1998. The Pope's visit in the Middle-East was the culmination point in his groundbreaking efforts to reconcile the differences between Jews and Christians.

John Paul II knew some foreign languages such as Latin, French, Spanish, Italian, English and German as well as native Polish. He wrote a lot of best selling works such as "Pilgrimage of Peace" (1980), "A Year with Mary" (1986) and "The Jeweler's Shop" (1992). If he didn't tour, he held his daily mess in St. Peter's Square and continued his efforts in spreading "single truth" as he referred to the God. He used to be a man full of energy and physical strength, but at the end of his days he suffered from Parkinson's disease. Sometimes he slurred his speech and shook uncontrollably. He had to walk with a shuffling limp. There were a lot of rumors that he probably had been fighting cancer, but they weren't confirmed. His papacy was unusual. He was well-known all over the world. We can't forget about his role in defeating Communists in Eastern Europe. He was the voice of God in the modern world and the great arbiter of Christian faith. All his merits are countless. Many young people claim that John Paul II is their best authority and the paragon of every value.

John Paul II died in April 2005 as the result of numerous diseases and his weak condition. I think that the memory of the first Polish pope will remain in our hearts for a very long time. Undoubtedly, he was the great man.