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John Paul II: Beloved pope who left reformists cold

Published on Apr 27, 2014 4:50 PM
 

VATICAN CITY (AFP) - Pope John Paul II, who was made a saint on Sunday along with John XXIII, was a charismatic leader who helped topple communism but was criticised for failing to tackle the scourge of child sex abuse by priests.

The first non-Italian pope since the Renaissance, and the first from eastern Europe, Polish Karol Wojtyla was hugely popular, eschewing the pomp that surrounded his predecessors and seeking contact with ordinary people.

During a papacy that lasted nearly 27 years, John Paul II travelled far and wide, often greeted by massive crowds as he championed peace, denounced human rights abuses and deplored the decadence of the modern world.

Some of the most memorable moments of his papacy were his attempted assassination in St Peter's Square, his call on mobsters to repent and a meeting in which he kissed people with Aids at the height of the epidemic.

 
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