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John Paul II

(Karol Józef Wojtyła)
Age: 84

charismatic pope who was credited with hastening the fall of communism in Poland and in other Eastern bloc countries. He opposed war and the death penalty and spoke out against the war in Iraq. He was also a great champion of the poor and the underprivileged. On social issues, such as birth control, women's roles in the church, and homosexuality, he was staunchly conservative. John Paul II was the first Polish pope, and the first non-Italian pope since the Dutch pope Adrian VI, who served from 1522–1523. The third longest-reigning pope, having served the Catholic Church for 26 years, John Paul II spoke eight languages and traveled more than any pope in history. He visited 129 countries outside Italy. He canonized 482 saints and beatified 1,338 people, believed to be more than all his predecessors combined. John Paul II suffered from Parkinson's disease.

Died: Rome, Italy, April 2, 2005

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