text by Konrad Kmieć
John Paul II is the most recognizable Pole in the world. And for good reason. He was responsible for changing the way of thinking about the world around us. He was the one to win the hearts and the minds of people of different religions and nationalities. He always highlighted how important the young people were to him. Did he achieve this only because of his position of the Bishop of Rome?
The answer is no. He had a profound influence on people thanks to his personality, and it was his position which made his messages more powerful. John Paul II was an open and sociable man. He loved mountains and nature so much, that he couldn’t imagine living without them even after being elected to serve as the head of the Catholic Church. Hiking in the mountains lasting up to several days and skiing were the pope’s favorite pastimes. He loved people, especially the young, with whom he organized canoe trips and other forms of activities. He was the driving force behind their actions and the initiator of the World Youth Day, an event gathering millions of people from all over the world. What people loved about John Paul II was his directness. He didn’t create barriers, he was eager to share his memories, like this about having kremówkas, a type of cream pie, with his colleagues after school. He always answered questions of children, no matter if they asked, “Does pope like to brush his teeth?” or “Which of the plays written by the pope was the best?”. In his sermons, John Paul II frequently highlighted the importance of the young people. Many of his preachers are universal truths, still relevant today. “You are highly ambitious, and what is wonderful about it, is that you are attracted by what is challenging.” the pope said about the young. “And this is why we put faith in the youth.” The pope, as well as the scouts, believed the primary objective to be the self-development of the young.
What made people from all over the world follow John Paul II was his willingness to share his feelings, the ability to listen and lack of barriers between him and his interlocutors. He proved it taking 104 trips abroad, visiting every continent and many countries neglected by previous popes. He was eager to meet people regardless of their political opinions or religious beliefs.
Being one of the longest serving world leaders, John Paul II was able to make the world revolve faster, more cheerfully, reasonably and efficiently. His heritage will surely influence the flow of history in the future. The man able to make the whole world hold its breath and look in the same direction will never be forgotten.