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Why Was John Paul II Considered a “Great” Pope?


My wife asked me what Pope John Paul II has done specifically that makes him so great. Your help is appreciated because my evangelizing about the faith is starting to make headway, and an intelligent answer will sway her.


Among the things that are most commonly cited in praise of Pope St. John Paul II:

1. He has provided an extraordinarily large body of orthodox, articulate, intellectually rigorous teaching in his encyclicals and other documents.

2. He helped reestablish stability in many Catholic circles during the turbulence following Vatican II. (There is generally a period of turbulence following each ecumenical council as its directives are implemented.)

3. He promulgated the 1983 Code of Canon Law (for the Western rite) and the 1990 Code of Canons for the Eastern Churches (for the Eastern rites), the latter being the first time that the Eastern Catholic churches have had a complete code of canon law.

4. He promulgated the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the first catechism of its kind since the Roman Catechism in the 1500s.

5. He personally helped bring about the fall of Communism and the destruction of the Iron Curtain.

6. He has served as a staunch pro-life, pro-family advocate–among other ways, by standing up to attempts made at the Beijing Women’s Conference and the Cairo Population Conference (both by the United Nations) to force anti-family, anti-child policies on the nations of the world.

7. He is remarkably holy and a man of deep prayer who sets a great example for others.

See also our article “What Makes a Pope ‘Great?’

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