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Not being a Roman Catholic, I did not follow (or even know much about) Pope John Paul II. But, with so much media attention on his death, it's hard not to follow him now.

One thing I wondered about is, where does the word "pope" come from? It turns out that it comes from "papa" (father).


The term pope or papa originated as a term of endearment for bishops and sometimes even priests. It is a form of the word father. To this day, the eastern Orthodox sometimes give their bishops the title pope. In 1073, Pope Gregory restricted the use of the term in the western Church to the bishops of Rome and their successors in office. He also instituted a number of reforms called the Dictatus Papae that strengthened the papacy. Therefore in western Christian usage, the term pope refers exclusively to the bishop of Rome. The pope is the only member of the Roman Catholic clergy who wears white vestments. Bear in mind, however, that if you read Orthodox documents, or documents written before 1073, the term pope may simply be a courtesy title without reference to the papacy.

Facts on Pope John Paul II:
- Karol Józef Wojtyla
- Born: May 18, 1920
- Died: April 2, 2005
- Reigned as Pope of the Roman Catholic Church for over 26 years
- Travelled more than all the other Popes combined

As an outsider, one thing that I admire about him is that he worked until his death. There was no such thing as "retirement" for John Paul II. Even with his failing health, it never stopped him from travelling. He is one model for me since I don't believe in "retirement" either (I find no scriptural basis for retirement).

One puzzling thing though is why do so many people (esp the youth) go crazy about the man? He answered this by saying, "It's the Holy Spirit." Perhaps so.

The Holy See

Special coverage:
Catholic Insider

Info on Pope John Paul II:

After 26-year reign, pontiff dies at 84 - CNN
What I Learned From John Paul II - Gary North
John Paul II, a popular pope, not a great one - Kuro5hin
Truly Catholic: Reflections on the Death of John Paul II


Papal Elections
Choosing the next pope: Prayer, politics, intrigue
Naming the Pope

Posted: 2005-04-08 01:09:00

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