Top 10 Moments of Blessed Pope John Paul II

Okay, full disclosure…The editors asked us to write nice, long pieces on Pope John Paul II.  That should be obvious when you look at all the awesome features gathered here.

So, I got nervous and all my brain could come up with was, “uhhh…do a top ten list or something.”  I thought about pulling out my old philosophy notes and diving into Aquinas and personalism.  That lasted about 5 minutes.  How do you even write about the most important figure of the 20th century?  I’ll save my incoherent manifesto on JPII for another day.  Maybe I’ll have it done for his canonization.  Who knows.

So, these are my top 10 moments.  They might not be yours.  They’re probably not.  That’s okay.  Feel free to post some of yours in the Comments section, if you like.


10. The episcopal consecration of Raymond Leo Burke, a man not afraid to speak the truth and defend life.  He articulates better than anyone how to be a Catholic in public life.  God willing, this holy man will assist the Church for years to come.

9. Pope John Paul II praying at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem. He places this prayer into the Wall:

“God of our fathers,
You chose Abraham and his descendants
to bring your Name to the Nations:
we are deeply saddened
by the behaviour of those
who in the course of history
have caused these children of yours to suffer,
and asking your forgiveness
we wish to commit ourselves to
genuine brotherhood
with the people of the Covenant.”

Jerusalem 26, March 2000

–  John Paul II

8. Legend has it that the new Holy Father was signing a document for the first time in the presence of the famous Vatican Latinist, Fr. Reginald Foster (commonly known as “Reggie”).  Upon seeing the signature, Fr. Reggie observed, “Your Holiness, there’s no ‘J’ in Latin.”  To which the Holy Father simply replied, “Quod scripsi, scripsi.”

7. The appointment of Joseph Ratzinger as the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. He promotes the most gentle and lovable Rottweiler around, setting up the pontiff of the future.

6. Delivers a major league smackdown to proportionalist theologians by issuing Veritatis Splendor.  It doesn’t matter if you use it to justify abortion, contraception, homosexual acts or Hiroshima, proportionalism is officially nuked.

Memo to Frs. McBrien, Curran, etc:  The debate ended in 1993.  You lost.

5. Under the watchful eye of communist officials, Pope John Paul II called on the people of Poland to witness to their Faith.  And they responded, “We want God! We want God!”  And the grip of communism began to be undone in the strangest way by a humble servant of the Lord.

4. The Holy Father meets with Mehmet Ali Agca, the man who tried to kill him.

Is there a better modern sign of Christian love and forgiveness?

3. “Above all, the common outcry, which is justly made on behalf of human rights-for example, the right to health, to home, to work, to family, to culture- is false and illusory if the right to life, the most basic and fundamental right and the condition for all other personal rights, is not defended with maximum determination.” – Christifideles Laici.

Yes, he’s talking to you Nancy Pelosi, and your friends who vigorously defend baby-killing.  All your policy positions – war, taxes, healthcare – are falsehoods, deceptions, meaningless.  Nothing you say can be trusted because you fail to defend the weakest among us.

2. Woooooo…The Pope meets with young people in Madison Square Garden.
Does it get any better?  It gets really good from :32 seconds on.

1. “Do not be afraid. Open wide the doors for Christ. To his saving power open the boundaries of States, economic and political systems, the vast fields of culture, civilization and development. Do not be afraid. Christ knows ‘what is in man’. He alone knows it.”

Wow.  Unpack that statement.

The new Holy Father, John Paul II, packs more into 45 words than pretty much anyone ever.  And if that wasn’t enough, he then spends the next 26 years living it.  Everyday.

Blessed Pope John Paul II, pray for us.



  • Migadde Robert

    I am always positively moved whenever i read the books, encyclicals and messages written by Pope John Paul II. He is a Pope who inspires lives especially by writings.

  • Eleanor Obenhaus

    When you look into the eyes of Pope John Paul 11, you see the eyes
    of Love and kindness for all.

  • Frank McConville

    I saw Pope John Paul 11 in the early eighties in Toronto Ont. It was one of the best experiences of my life . He was one great man whom I look upon every night and day , as I have my mothers picture of him in my room . He was a kind and a gentle man , who had a great effect on me personally , as I’m sure he did on everyone who was fortunate enough to see him . Even if you have never seen him in person , his personality comes through on the television or the radio . How you cannot be in awe of this is beyond me . He is truely the only person full of love I have ever known .

    • Frank McConville

      I was lucky enough to have seen Pope John Paul 11 in the early 80’s . It was the best experience I have ever had to this day , I can’t explain why it took me almost 30 years to let anyone else know this ?

    • Frank McConville

      I really didn’t mean to disagree with you , I ‘m sorry.

  • Kevin Farley

    Just exactly what type of Christian are you anyway Mr. Obama?
    Happy Easter anyway.

  • Jeannene Moore

    Oh my goodness! I am elated to know that Pope John Paul II will be canonized. And this post by Patrick Thornton brought back some of my fond memories as well. But in addition to that it reminded me of a very special moment in my life when I was a member of a Catholic choir visiting Rome and we were allowed to sing a Mass in St.Peter’s Basilica with Pope John Paul II presiding. We were also granted another blessing, to attend and sing at one of his daily Masses at his summer home in Gondolfo. To have been so close to His Holy Father was amazing then and fills me with joy to this day, especially since he will soon officially declared a Saint in our church. May he watch over us and lead us to a new faith filled life.
    Thank you for sharing this Patrick.



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