Photographer's Note

There were times when every major city in Poland had a monument of Lenin. Times started to change about 40 years ago and the change itself many people attribute to this man, Karol Wojtyla. Since then, many cities in Poland have his monument. Year ago, on the 39th anniversary of Karol Wojtyla turning into John Paul II, I have showed here a photo of his monument in the town where he was born. This photo shows his monument in the town where I was born. I think this may have been the very first monument of Karol Wojtyla. He has strongly objected the idea of this monument, but Polish bishops were never really good in following Papal teachings. The question people ask nowadays: did he know about the scale of children abuse by Catholic clergy? I don’t think we will ever know. The question is serious, if he knew, that would reflect pretty bad on him. If he didn’t, that would mean that at least his advisors must have known and that would reflect pretty bad on the present-day Catholic church since his advisors are still in power.

My note to the previous photo:

On the October 16th, 1978 happened something very important for the history of my country and for the history of the Catholic Church. Polish Cardinal, Karol Wojtyla, has been selected to be a new Pope. He took a name John Paul II, which refers to his predecessors, John Paul I, John XXIII and Paul VI. This was supposed to symbolize that he intends to continue the great reform of the church which was started with Vaticanum Secundum.

Although I was a small child I still remember this day because of an incredible enthusiasm of my parents and neighbours.

Now from the perspective of time it is of course easy to find some weak points in his papacy. Not addressing the issue of paedophile scandal in the church or unclear situation with Vatican Bank seem to be the most popular accusations. There are smaller ones which many people are less aware of. The fact that Catholic Church condemns the use of contraception was very much emphasized by Karol Wojtyla. He was selecting all new cardinals using this new key: whether they are supporting this view which was outlined by Paul VI in the document Humane Vitae. As a consequence, the present-day church is in many aspects less progressive than the church led by John XXIII who has started the reform of the church.

Nevertheless, Karol Wojtyla has left an incredible legacy of 14 encyclicals and many more smaller size documents. He completed a full-scale reform of the Catholic Church's legal system, Latin and Eastern, and a reform of the Roman Curia. He has ordered the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
Pope John Paul II has been credited with inspiring political change that not only led to the collapse of Communism in his native Poland and eventually all of Eastern Europe, but also in many countries ruled by dictators. In the words of Joaquín Navarro-Valls, John Paul II's press secretary:
The single fact of John Paul II's election in 1978 changed everything. In Poland, everything began. Not in East Germany or Czechoslovakia. Then the whole thing spread. Why in 1980 did they lead the way in Gdansk? Why did they decide, now or never? Only because there was a Polish pope. He was in Chile and Pinochet was out. He was in Haiti and Duvalier was out. He was in the Philippines and Marcos was out. On many of those occasions, people would come here to the Vatican thanking the Holy Father for changing things.

Without a doubt he was a great politician. I remember his visit to Israel, may be the most difficult one. Israeli (sorry Ike) were watching his every word hoping to accuse him of anti-Semitism, he was not only Catholic Pope but also a Pole. Palestinians watched his every word and gesture to accuse him of supporting Israel. I remember reading an article in TIME magazine where after that visit both sides expressed their admiration for his person. Not many people would be able to do it. The next Pope, although a man of great wisdom, with his past offended Jews and with his speeches seriously offended Moslems. Of course, now with politicians like Donald Trump, it feels like the politicians don’t care to be subtle anymore.

Karol Wojtyla was born in Wadowice, small town near Krakow, Poland. This photo was taken in front of his monument with the church in which he was baptised in the background. His family house and now museum is next to this church.

Here is my photo of Karol Wojtyla taken in Vatican.

Fragments of the above text were copied from Wikipedia.

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Additional Photos by Mariusz Kamionka (mkamionka) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 6319 W: 105 N: 16628] (64770)
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