This Day in the Law
October 16

Pope John II Elected in Papal Conclave (1978)

On October 16, 1978, Karol Wojtyla was elected pope of the Roman Catholic Church by the papal conclave and he assumed the name of Pope John Paul II.

Karol Wojtyla became the first pope from Poland and the first non-Italian pope since the early 1500s. He chose the name of Pope John Paul II after the previous pope, John Paul I, died after only 33 days as pope.

Pope John Paul II is regarded by many to be the most influential leader of the twentieth century. He was a man of deep moral conviction, with a strong sense of service, and a resolve to bring people of all faiths together in peace and prayer. He was regarded by many as a genius on many levels, and he could fluently speak over a dozen different languages.

John Paul II worked to end communism in his homeland of Poland and throughout Europe. He re-opened dialogue with the Jews and other religions, and invited all to prayer with the Church. He traveled more than any other pope in history making over 100 papal visits abroad and even more trips within Italy. John Paul II met hundreds of times with different heads of state and led numerous masses, sessions, and dialogues to espouse the peace and love of God.

John Paul II stressed his devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary throughout his trips and often drew very large crowds, sometimes upwards of one million or more!

John Paul II presided over the Roman Catholic Church and over 1 billion followers for nearly twenty-seven years – one of the longest reigns in the history of over 2,000 years in the Roman Catholic Church.

He on April 2, 2005 and is expected to receive a fast track to sainthood for his service to the Church and humanity.