Institute of Missiology and Communications
Pune – India

April 1 / 2005


Vatican City: Pope John Paul II – Biodata

John Paul II was the 264th Pope, the 263rd successor to Peter, the prince of the Apostles. Karol Józef Wojtyła, elected Pope on October 16 1978, was born on May 18 1920 in Wadowice, a town 50 kilometres from Kraków (Poland). He was the second of two sons of Karol Wojtyła and Emilia Kaczorowska, who died in 1929. His elder brother Edmund, a physician, died in 1932, and his father, a non-commissioned officer in the army, died in 1941.

John Paul II received his first communion at the age of 9 and was confirmed at the age of 18.
After completing high school at Wadowice’s Marcin Wadowita Secondary School in 1938 he registered with Jagiellonian University in Kraków. When the Nazi occupiers shut down the university in 1939, the young Karol worked from 1940 till 1944, first in quarry, then in the Solvay chemical factory, to make ends meet and avoid deportation to Germany. In 1942, having felt a calling to the priesthood, he entered Kraków’s main seminary—now forced underground—which was directed by Kraków’s Archbishop, Card Adam Stefan Sapieha. At the same time, he was one of main organisers of the underground ‘Rhapsodic Theatre’. At the end of the war, the future Pope continued his studies at Kraków’s main seminary, now legal again, and at the Faculty of Theology of Jagiellonian University until his ordination on November 1, 1946

Cardinal Sapieha later sent him to Rome where he obtained a PhD in theology defending a dissertation on faith in the works of St John of the Cross. During his summer breaks he exercised his pastoral ministry among Polish immigrants in France, Belgium and the Netherlands. Karol J. Wojtyła returned to Poland in 1948 where he served first as coadjutor in the parish of Niegowić, near Kraków, then in the parish of St Florian in Kraków itself.

After serving as the university students’ chaplain till 1951 he went back to his philosophical and theological studies. In 1953 he defended a thesis on how a Christian ethics can be grounded in the ethical method of Max Scheler. He was later appointed professor in Moral theology and ethics at Kraków’s main seminary and at the Faculty of Theology of Lublin.

In 1958 Pope Pius XII named the 38-year-old Wojtyła titular bishop of Ombi and auxiliary Bishop of Kraków. He received the Episcopal ordination in Kraków’s Wawel Cathedral on September 28, 1958, from the hands of Archbishop Eugeniusz Baziak. Pope Paul VI made him Archbishop of Kraków on January 13, 1964, and cardinal on June 26 1967. He took part in the Second Vatican Council (1962-65) where he played an important role in drafting the constitution Gaudium et spes, eventually participating in the five assemblies of the Synod of Bishops that preceded his elevation to the papacy.

Among the important documents the Pope authored there are 14 encyclicals: Centesimus Annus: (May 1, 1991); Dives in Misericordia (November 30, 1980); Dominum et Vivificantem (May 18, 1986); Ecclesia de Eucharistia (April 17, 2003); Evangelium Vitae (March 25, 1995); Fides et Ratio (September 14, 1998); Laborem Exercens (September 14, 1981); Redemptor Hominis (March 4, 1979); Redemptoris Mater; Redemptoris Missio (December 7, 1990); Slavorum Apostoli (June 2, 1985); Sollicitudo Rei Socialis (December 30, 1987); Ut Unum Sint (May 25, 1995); Veritatis Splendor (August 6, 1993). In addition, he wrote 13 apostolic exhortations, 11 apostolic constitutions and 41 apostolic letters. John Paul II also wrote five books.

The Holy Father celebrated 131 ceremonies of beatification during which he proclaimed 1282 Blessed and 50 canonisations for a total of almost 500 Saints. He held eight consistories, named 201 cardinals and presided over six plenary assemblies of the College of Cardinals. Since 1978 he has convened 15 assemblies of the Synod of Bishops: six Ordinary General (in 1980, 1983, 1987, 1990; 1994 and 2001), one Extraordinary General (in 1985) and eight Special Assemblies (in 1980, 1991, 1994, 1995, 1997, 1998 [twice] and 1999).

During his pontificate, Pope John Paul II made 141 pastoral visits in Italy, and, as Bishop of Rome, visited 301 of Rome’s 334 parishes. He conducted 105 apostolic trips around the world expressing the pastoral care of Peter’s successor for all the churches. No Pope has met as many people as John Paul II has. In more than 1,000 Wednesday General Audiences he met an estimated 16 million people. He met many more in other special audiences and religious ceremonies (more than 8 million pilgrims during the Great Jubilee of 2000 alone), not to mention the millions of faithful who came to se him during his pastoral visits in Italy and around the world.

He also met many government leaders in 38 official visits, 650 audiences or meetings with heads of state and 212 audiences or meetings with heads of government. John Paul II has worked for peace and better relations with other religions, above all Anglicans and Orthodox Christians. He has also taken steps to bridge the gap with Judaism, recognising the State of Israel and asking for forgiveness for the shortcomings and sins of Christians towards their ‘elder Brothers’ over the centuries.

In his doctrine he has strongly defended human life from conception till natural death. John Paul II has also paid close attention to social issues, signing two encyclicals on the distortions of capitalism and communism: Laborem Excercens (September 14, 1981) and Centesimus Annus (May 1, 1991) on the 100th anniversary of Pope Leo XIII’s encyclical Rerum Novarum. In 1983 he promulgated the new version of the Code of Canon Law, reforming the 1917 edition that had been promulgated under Pope Benedict XV. On August 15, 1997, in the apostolic letter Laetamur Magnopere, he approved and officially promulgated the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Vatican City: Pope John Paul's Norms on Vacancy of Apostolic See

Church norms Pope John Paul II put in place in 1996 in the event of his death are now in force.

"Universi Dominici Gregis" is subtitled "On the Vacancy of the Apostolic See and the Election of the Roman Pontiff." Apostolic constitutions, issued directly by a pope, are generally regarded as the highest form of ecclesiastical legislative document. They deal with fundamental matters of Church life and practice.

The period from when a pope dies to the moment of election of his successor, the "vacancy of the Apostolic See," is referred to as the "papal interregnum" in official Church Latin. "Universi Dominici Gregis" divides this period into three phases. First is the nine days of mourning, or Novendiales, beginning the day a pope dies. Then comes the preparation for a conclave, the special gathering of cardinals under the age of 80 to elect a pope. This phase lasts from the 10th day after the death of the pope to the beginning of the conclave. The final phase begins when the cardinals enter the conclave and ends the moment a chosen successor accepts his election.

Cardinals worldwide are to offer the requiem Mass "For a Deceased Pope" every day during the nine days of mourning. The pope's body would lie in state at St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican for four-to-six days after his death, unless unusual circumstances require the cardinals to choose a different date for his funeral and burial. The conclave comes after the papal funeral. It is to begin no earlier than the 16th day of the interregnum and no later than the 21st day. On the morning of the first day of the conclave, the cardinal electors gather to celebrate Mass for the intention of the papal election.

Pope John Paul decreed that for the duration of the conclave, the living quarters of cardinal electors and those called to assist in the election are to be located in suitable places within the Vatican City State. He noted that careful and stringent checks must be made with the help of trustworthy individuals of proven technical ability to ensure that no eavesdropping devices are hidden in the Sistine Chapel and adjacent areas for the purpose of recording and transmission of proceedings to the outside world.

The cardinal electors should refrain from writing or making phone calls to anyone outside Vatican City for the duration of the conclave. It is specifically prohibited for them to receive newspapers or periodicals of any sort, to listen to the radio or to watch television. Pope John Paul stated in "Universi Dominici Gregis" that 120 cardinal electors from around the world and from various cultures would give sufficient expression to the universality of the Church. "I therefore confirm that this is to be the maximum number of Cardinal electors," he wrote.

According to the norms, only those cardinals under 80 can vote, but those 80 and older can participate in discussions. There are now 117 cardinals eligible to vote for a new pope. Pope John Paul II appointed all but three of them during his 26-year pontificate. However, all cardinals who arrive in Rome during the interregnum are required to take the following oath: "We, the Cardinals of Holy Roman Church, of the Order of Bishops, of Priests and of Deacons, promise, pledge and swear, as a body and individually, to observe exactly and faithfully all the norms contained in the Apostolic Constitution 'Universi Dominici Gregis' of the Supreme Pontiff John Paul II, and to maintain rigorous secrecy with regard to all matters in any way related to the election of the Roman Pontiff or those which, by their very nature, during the vacancy of the Apostolic See, call for the same secrecy."

In the afternoon of the conclave's first day, the electors are to gather in the Pauline Chapel of the Apostolic Palace to pray to the Holy Spirit and then walk in procession to the Sistine Chapel. "I decree that the election will continue to take place in the Sistine Chapel," Pope John Paul said. There they take a solemn oath to follow the law governing the election. As part of this oath they pledge to keep strict secrecy, to not assist any secular power that might try to influence the election and, if elected, to faithfully carry out the duties of the papal office and to protect the spiritual and temporal rights of the Holy See.

After the cardinals pray together in the Sistine Chapel, the dean of cardinals is to ask if any of the electors have questions regarding the norms and procedures. Once these are clarified, and if a majority of the cardinals agree, the election process can begin. Only the cardinal electors may remain in the Sistine Chapel during the actual voting, defined as from the time ballots have been distributed until after they have been tabulated and checked. On the first day of the conclave, only one ballot is permitted. On the other days, two ballots are permitted in the morning session and two more in the afternoon session.

Regarding the voting, Pope John Paul decreed, "After careful reflection I have therefore decided that the only form by which the electors can manifest their vote in the election of the Roman Pontiff is by secret ballot, in accordance with the rules set forth below. This form offers the greatest guarantee of clarity, straightforwardness, simplicity, openness and, above all, an effective and fruitful participation on the part of the cardinals." Each cardinal elector receives rectangular paper ballots for the voting at each morning and afternoon session of the conclave. For each vote he completes one ballot by writing legibly the name of the person he chooses and then folding the ballot twice.

Pope John Paul wrote: "I earnestly exhort the Cardinal electors not to allow themselves to be guided, in choosing the Pope, by friendship or aversion, or to be influenced by favour or personal relationships towards anyone, or to be constrained by the interference of persons in authority or by pressure groups, by the suggestions of the mass media, or by force, fear or the pursuit of popularity." Rather, he urged the electors to make "the glory of God and the good of the Church" their sole consideration and to "give their vote to the person, even outside the College of Cardinals, who in their judgment is most suited to govern the universal Church in a fruitful and beneficial way."

All the ballots are placed in a receptacle kept on the altar for this purpose, including the collected ballots of electors who, though within the enclosure of the conclave, are too sick to be present in the Sistine Chapel. Provided that the number of ballots corresponds to the number of electors, three cardinals whose names were drawn at that session to serve as the scrutineers then tally the ballots.

The first silently reads the name on a ballot and passes it to the second scrutineer, who likewise reads the name silently and passes it to the third cardinal, who reads the name aloud and then writes it down. Each elector also writes it down on a sheet provided for this purpose. The ballot is then pierced with a threaded needle, all the ballots for that vote being collected on the same thread.

When all ballots have been read out, the scrutineers tie the ends of the thread on which the ballots were collected and tabulate the number of votes for each individual who receives votes. The three revisers, whose names also were drawn for that session, then verify the results. Pope John Paul stipulated that "for the valid election of the Roman Pontiff, two thirds of the votes are required, calculated on the basis of the total number of electors present."

The pope also made a provision for the cardinal electors to proceed with election by absolute majority if the standard procedure does not produce a valid election. But this provision can be invoked only after three days of regular voting followed by three special series of seven ballots. Each of these series is preceded by prayer, discussion and an exhortation by the senior cardinal of the order of deacons, priests or bishops, in that order.

If any round of voting produces an election, those ballots and a chemical that produces white smoke are burned in a stove set up in the Sistine Chapel. This signals to Rome and the world that a pope has been elected. If, however, the voting in a session -- one or two rounds -- does not produce a valid election, the ballots are burned with wet straw, producing black smoke.

After a valid election occurs, the cardinal who is first in seniority asks the one elected, "Do you accept your canonical election as supreme pontiff?" With consent the one elected becomes pope and the cardinal dean asks him, "By what name do you wish to be called?"

Each cardinal makes an act of homage and obedience to the new pope. An act of thanksgiving follows. After the new pope is vested, the senior cardinal announces from the loggia of St. Peter's to those gathered in the square, "Habemus papam" (we have a pope). He also announces the name the new pope has taken. The pope then comes out to address and bless the city ("urbi") and the world ("orbi"). The conclave concludes when the new pope assents to his election, unless he determines to keep it in session longer for some reason.

The norms set forward in "Universi Dominici Gregis" are to be "strictly followed by the cardinals whose right and duty it is to elect the Successor of Peter, the visible Head of the whole Church and the Servant of the servants of God," Pope John Paul decreed in the constitution that took effect with his death. (UCAN)

Vatican City: 2 Preachers Chosen to Exhort Conclave Cardinal Spidlik and Father Cantalamessa

The general congregation of cardinals chose the two preachers who will present key meditations to exhort the conclave: Cardinal Tomas Spidlik and Father Raniero Cantalamessa. In the 1996 apostolic constitution "Universi Dominici Gregis," which establishes the norms for the vacant See, John Paul II said of the cardinals: "They shall entrust to two ecclesiastics known for their sound doctrine, wisdom and moral authority the task of presenting to the Cardinals two well-prepared meditations on the problems facing the Church at the time and on the need for careful discernment in choosing the new Pope."

"Father Raniero Cantalamessa will give his intervention on Thursday, April 14, during the general congregation of the morning," a Holy See press statement announced today. "Cardinal Tomas Spidlik, S.J., will address the cardinals in the Sistine Chapel on Monday, April 18." Cardinal Spidlik, who is 85, is too old to participate in the conclave. Father Cantalamessa, 70, is a Franciscan Capuchin. He previously was a professor of history of ancient Christianity and director of the department of religious sciences at the Catholic University of Milan. He was a member of the International Theological Commission from 1975 to 1981. (Zenit.org)

Rome: John Paul II, the Missionary Pope

When the encyclical Redemptoris Missio was published in 1990, Cardinal Daneels of Brussels wrote: “This document best exemplifies who this Pope is; it is the fruit of his mission in every continent. There is nothing better to define his pontificate than to say: he is a missionary Pope.” To add words to this description would be redundant.

Making more than a hundred journeys to 140 countries and reaching some of the most extreme and daunting borders (China, Vietnam, Russia, Myanmar, Iraq, Iran, Algeria, etc.) are what makes his pontificate original and significant. In doing so, John Paul II made an explicit pastoral choice. “My trips to Latin America, Asia and Africa,” he wrote in his message for the Day of the Mission in 1981, “have an eminently missionary purpose”.

In Redemptoris Missio, he wrote: (Nº 1) “From the beginning of my Pontificate I have chosen to travel to the ends of the earth in order to show this missionary concern. My direct contact with peoples who do not know Christ has convinced me even more of the urgency of missionary activity”. As missionaries we have truly felt he was like a father to us in our difficult vocation, a ‘missionary Pope’, one who always encouraged vocations and missionary institutes. His greatest impact was on the ‘young Churches’, where the Universal Church is starting to blossom and where the Holy Spirit often does wonders as it did in the Act of the Apostles.

John Paul II is a man of faith, deeply in love with Jesus Christ. He does not speak about him as someone far away, as a doctrine to be passed on; rather he experiences Him as a living human being that he met and with whom he fell in love. He relays to the faithful this conviction with force for we are truly human to the extent that we let ourselves absorb, be involved, enlightened and changed by the love of Christ. Being Christian is not some external formality, a code about does and don’ts, but is instead loving and emulating Christ. The message he has conveyed throughout his life is above all one of faith; it is an appeal for conversion. “People, repent your sins and convert to Jesus Christ”, he said in Paris, a message that is not purely ‘spiritual’ but seeks instead to transform people, families, societies, countries from within and make them live a more human life. (AsiaNews)

Philadelphia: Mission 'most important,' Cardinal Dulles says before Pope's Funeral

Addressing the directors of the Pontifical Mission Societies at their annual meeting in Philadelphia was "the most important thing I could do" before leaving to attend Pope John Paul II's funeral at the Vatican, Cardinal Avery Dulles said April 6.

"I believe that mission is really what the church is all about," said the cardinal in his keynote talk to the directors. "Evangelization is the first priority of the church. "Sometimes we forget that we have 'good news' to give to the whole world," he added. Cardinal Dulles, who at 86 is not eligible to participate in the conclave to elect the new pope, expanded on that idea later in an interview. "The church is all about mission," he said. "We can get caught up in other things and other matters, but it comes down to preaching the Gospel, the divine mandate. As St. Paul says, 'Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel.' If we focus on that, other things will work themselves out."

The April 5-7 meeting focused on the 40th anniversary of "Ad Gentes," the Second Vatican Council's Decree on the Church's Missionary Activity, and on collaboration. The entire gathering was dedicated to the late pope. In his address, Cardinal Dulles offered a historical perspective on the development of "Ad Gentes," including its "troubled history" marked by differences of opinion on what was to be included and its many revisions. But he said it had a "happy ending," with 2,394 votes in favor of the final document and five opposed. (CNS)

Asia: The Pope’s Asia: A Small Church, a Great Future

For many Asia and its small Catholic communities, often barely 1 per cent of the local population, are on the Church’s periphery. But for John Paul II the continent is the foremost challenge facing the Church in the third millennium. In remembering his 1996 trip to Manila in Rise, Let Us Be On Our Way, a book he published last year, the Pope said: “In Manila I had before me the whole of Asia. So many Christians! And millions of people in the continent who do not Christ yet! I have great faith in the Churches of the Philippines and Korea. Asia is our common goal for the third millennium.” Inspired by this vision the Pope travelled the breadth of the continent, from the Middle East and South Asia (Pakistan, India, Bangladesh) to South-East Asia (Thailand and the Philippines) and the Far East (South Korea and Japan).

Home to two thirds of the world’s population, half of them young, Asia is the continent of the future. However, it is also home to a host of contradictions, a place where ancient religious traditions meet future-oriented and atheistic societies, a continent where the roaring tigers of world capitalism live (and cooperate) with the leftovers of Communism.

Such a mix victimises billions of people, marginalising minorities, poor shantytown dwellers, and scorned outcasts. What is more, local religious traditions are so intertwined with local cultures and politics that Christianity is seen as a foreign religion. In this cauldron the Pope has added Jesus Christ and the dignity of Asians as the core issues for any discussion about development. (AsiaNews)


McDaniel, Jay, Gandhi’s Hope, Learning From Other Religions as a Path to Peace, New York: Maryknoll, Orbis Books, 2005.

This volume gives a hope that a way can be found beyond both religious fanaticism and consumerist secularism that will integrate the best elements of both religion and modernity.

Nussbaum, Stan, A Reader’s Guide to Transforming Mission, New York: Maryknoll, Orbis Books, 2005.

The volume challenges the reader not only to understand Bosch’s classic works but also helps to reflect better on it for the furtherance of mission itself.

Jeeves, Malcolm, ed., From Cells to Souls and Beyond: Changing Portraits of Human Nature, Cambridge, Wm.B. Eerdmans, 2004.

The scientists, philosophers, and theologians reflect on new discoveries in neuroscience, genetics and psychology. The collection of essays is presented by the best known scholars in the fields.

Hayes, Michael, Mission and Evangelization: Vision of the Cardinals, London: Burns and Oates, 2004.

Eight cardinals from various experiences offer their understanding of mission and evangelization. They express that Church is mission and it is the mission of every Christian to be an evangelizer.

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Lazar Thanuzraj Stanislaus, SVD (Director)