Vatican City. According to
countryaah, Pope John Paul II died at the age of 84 in
his residence in the Vatican April 2 in the suites after a
neck operation in February. After the operation, the pope
suffered from breathing difficulties and almost completely
lost speech ability. His last words, "Let me go to the
Father's house," were whispered weakly in Polish.
Polol Karol Wojtyła was born in 1920 outside Kraków. In
1978, he was elected the first non-Italian in 455 years to
become Pope, the 264th in the line. John Paul II became
known for his central role in the fall of communism in
eastern and central Europe. He made many trips around the
world and was considered a skilled communicator. He was
described as progressive in his quest for better relations
with Muslims and Jews. John Paul II was e.g. the first pope
to make an official visit to Israel and the first to attend
a mosque. On issues such as abortion, divorce, women's
rights and homosexuality, however, was John Paul
IIConservative. When he condemned the use of condoms as
immoral, he faced sharp criticism from those fighting the
global HIV/AIDS epidemic.
In 1981, John Paul II was seriously injured when he was
shot at St. Peter's Square. He never fully recovered from
the gunshot wounds. In addition, he suffered from
Parkinson's disease and became increasingly weak over the
years. In his will, it appeared that he was considering
leaving 2000 due to illness.
At the Pope's funeral April 8 came 3 million people,
including 2 million Poles and over a hundred heads of state.
It became the largest pope burial in history. John Paul II
was buried in the crypt under St. Peter's Church.
Already on April 19, the conclave elected the German
cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, 78, as a new pope named Benedict
XVI. He was considered conservative and had stood close to
the deceased pope. On April 24, he was installed as the
265th Pope, the first German in 482 years. Before becoming a
cardinal, Ratzinger had been a pastor, professor of theology
and archbishop. Upon his entry, he retained virtually all
senior Vatican officials, and he was expected to follow in
the footsteps of John Paul II.
In November, the Vatican City published new guidelines
for the Catholic Church which meant that "active
homosexuals" and "adherents of the gay culture" should not
become priests. However, a homosexual can become a priest if
he refrains from living out his homosexuality for at least