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He was the most-travelled of popes

Apostolic Voyage 1

MEXICO January, 1979

Just three months after his election as pope, John Paul II undertook his first trip, to Mexico, a country with an anti-clerical constitution and no diplomatic ties to the Vatican. On arrival, he began what would become his custom on all trips: He dropped to his knees and kissed the ground.

Despite being officially ignored by the Mexican government, the Pope was greeted by as many as five million people, who lined the streets of Mexico City to hail him. Even the skeptical Mexican press acknowledged that "He came, he conquered."

Speaking to the Conference of Latin American Bishops, the Pope denounced those who would turn their ministries toward a more political form of liberation theology.

"This notion of a political Jesus, a revolutionary, the subversive from Nazareth," he said, "is not in harmony with the church's teaching."

Apostolic Voyage 2

POLAND June, 1979

Eight months into his papacy, John Paul returned in triumph to his native Poland. The first non-Italian pontiff in more than four centuries, he was the first pope to penetrate the Iron Curtain. In nine tumultuous days, he was seen firsthand by one out of every three Poles.

Communist authorities were powerless to prevent him from challenging the ideology of their regime and alliance with the unholy Soviet Union. From the massive greeting he received in his old parish of Krakow, to the mass he celebrated in the Auschwitz death camp, and the rally of workers in Nowa Huta, John Paul planted the seeds that would blossom as the Solidarity movement in the Gdansk shipyards the next year.

Anticipating the upheaval his visit would trigger, the Pope reassured the Polish people: "There is no need to be afraid. The frontiers must be opened. There is no imperialism in the church, only service."

Apostolic Voyage 21


Determined to spread the gospel and his influence around the world, John Paul visited South Korea where he proclaimed 103 Korean martyrs as saints -- the first time since the Middle Ages that a canonization had taken place outside of Rome.

While the Roman Catholic Church in Korea was small -- 1.7 million followers -- its intensity was great, the Pope said, the result of so much blood shed in the church's name during the 18th and 19th centuries. "The blood of the martyrs is the seed of Christians," he told a mass of one million people in Seoul.

Apostolic Voyage 23

CANADA September, 1984

On his first trip to Canada, an extensive 12-day visit took John Paul to almost every major centre in the country. Despite the Canadian church's largely urban nature, the Pope emphasized two themes during his stay: the importance to him of the country's aboriginal people, and the responsibility of wealthy nations to care for the poor.

"In the light of Christ's word," he told the faithful at an open-air mass outside Edmonton, "the poor South will judge the rich North. The poor peoples . . . will judge the nations that have carried off their property, claiming their imperialistic monopoly over their goods and a political supremacy at other people's expense."

Apostolic Voyage 27

AFRICA August, 1985

On a 12-day trip that took him to Togo, Ivory Coast, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Zaire, Kenya and Morocco, John Paul emphasized a major theme of his papacy: human rights. He denounced the "crying injustice" of apartheid, called for the independence of South African-occupied Namibia, and apologized for the slave trade once carried out by Christian nations.

In Zaire, at the palace of president Mobutu Sese Seko, the Pope criticized African leaders for corruption, exploitation of the poor and repression of political dissent. In the Central African Republic, he celebrated mass at the site where dozens of children had been slaughtered for protesting against wearing school uniforms.

In Morocco, where he became the first pope to be an official guest in an Islamic nation, he told a crowd of about 80,000 young Muslims that dialogue between Christians and Muslims was more crucial than ever. "Muslims and Christians have generally understood each other badly, and sometimes, in the past, we have opposed each other and even exhausted each other in polemics and wars," he said. "I think God invites us today to change our old habits. We have to respect each other and also stimulate each other in good works on the road of God."

Apostolic Voyage 29

INDIA February, 1986

Thousands of militant Hindus demonstrated against him when John Paul made a 10-day, 14-city tour of India. The protesters, and indeed many Indians, wanted the expulsion of Catholic missionaries and a ban on conversions of Hindus to Christianity.

Ministering to the tiny flock of 12 million Catholics among a Hindu population of 750 million, however, the Pope held up the work of Mother Teresa, the Catholic nun who worked with the destitute and dying in the teeming city of Calcutta, as an example of the value of the church's mission in the country.

He called on Indian authorities to reject nuclear arms and to ensure that the country's poor and downtrodden were given a voice in the class-oriented society.

On the matter of birth control, a practice strongly encouraged by the Indian government, the Pope quoted Mohandas Gandhi: "How is the suspension of procreation to be brought about? Not by immoral and artificial checks."

"Gandhi," the pontiff said, declared that the answer lay in "a life of discipline and self-control."

Apostolic Voyage 33

CHILE April, 1987

John Paul's visit to Chile was part of his strategy for supporting peaceful transition to democracy. Using the influence that comes with being head of the church that is followed by 80 per cent of the people of Chile, the Pope privately encouraged General Augusto Pinochet to call a presidential election (in exchange for immunity from prosecution for any crimes the general may have committed).

Publicly, however, he offered the general his support, becoming only the second head of state to visit the dictator at his official residence where, during the 1973 coup, president Salvador Allende died.

The Pope stunned critics of the Pinochet regime by saying that, despite the thousands of deaths it had caused, the Chilean government was much less malign than its counterpart in Poland.

To those who said they

favoured socialism, as practised by Mr. Allende, he cautioned: "We must not confuse the noble struggle for justice, which is the expression of respect and love for man, with a movement that sees the class struggle as the only way to eliminate class injustices in


Apostolic Voyage 60

U.S. August, 1993

Following the practice he initiated in 1985, John Paul was the centrepiece of a week-long celebration of World Youth Day in Denver. About 350,000 people from more than 70 countries welcomed his condemnation of what he called "a culture of death" that was being imposed on Western society in general, and American society in particular.

"The family is especially under attack. And the sacred character of human life denied," he said. "Naturally, the weakest members of society are the most at risk: the unborn, children, the sick, the handicapped, the old, the poor and unemployed, the immigrant and refugee.

"Do not be afraid to go out on the streets and into public places," he told the crowd. "This is no time to be ashamed of the gospel. It is the time to preach it from the rooftops. Woe to you if you do not succeed in defending life."

Apostolic Voyage 81

CUBA January, 1998

No stranger to Communist countries, John Paul nevertheless created a stir when he became the first pope to visit Cuba, a country that imported its Catholicism more than 500 years earlier. Cuban dictator Fidel Castro had been schooled by Jesuits but outlawed many of the church's activities after he came to power. In 1962, he modified the country's constitution, making Cuba an officially atheist state. (It became a secular state in 1992.) Four weeks before the Pope arrived, however, the country celebrated Christmas as an official holiday for the first time in almost three decades.

In his five-day visit, the Pope was given unprecedented freedom to criticize the authorities and to broadcast his message to the people. He called for the release of the country's political prisoners and for freedom of expression and religion. With Mr. Castro looking on, the Pope demanded respect for human rights in his final mass at Havana's Revolution Square.

"The state . . . must promote a calm social climate and adequate legislation that allows each person and each religious group to freely express its faith," he told a crowd of about 100,000.

He then proceeded to blast the neighbouring United States for its punitive trade embargo on the island, calling it "unjust and ethically unacceptable."

Apostolic Voyage 91

ISRAEL March, 2000

In what was considered by many to be the climactic chapter of his papacy, John Paul visited the Holy Land, in part to mark the second millennium of Christ, and also to finally end nearly 2,000 years of Christian enmity toward Jews.

Before the world's television cameras, he placed a prayer for forgiveness between the rocks of the Jewish Temple's Western Wall, and announced that his church's doctrine of contempt -- the blaming of Jews for killing Jesus -- was wiped off the books.

Apostolic Voyage 93

SYRIA May, 2001

With his visit to Damascus, John Paul became the first pontiff in history to visit and pray in an Islamic place of worship. Just as he had revolutionized the church's ties with Judaism by visiting Rome's synagogue in 1985, he used his visit to the Great Umayyad Mosque to turn the page with Islam, too.

"For all the times that Muslims and Christians have offended one another, we need to seek forgiveness from the Almighty and to offer each other forgiveness," he said.

"Better mutual understanding will surely lead . . . to a new way of presenting our two religions, not in opposition as has happened too often in the past, but in partnership for the good of the human family."

Syrian President Bashar Assad, however, seemed to have missed the point. Greeting the Pope, he used the occasion to accuse the Jewish state of Israel of "trying to kill religions in the same way [the Jews] betrayed Jesus Christ."

Apostolic Voyage 94

UKRAINE June, 2001

Hoping to end nearly a thousand years of acrimony, John Paul visited Ukraine, the birthplace of Christianity in Eastern Europe and seat of one of the major branches of Eastern Orthodoxy. Though rebuffed by Russian Patriarch Alexi II and Ukrainian Orthodox Church leader Metropolitan Vladimir, who opposed his visit, the pontiff drew enormous crowds of supporters.

Ukraine's six million Catholics, most of them adherents of the Greek Catholic faith who practise Orthodox ritual but bear allegiance to the pope, faced persecution under Russian imperial and Soviet rule. John Paul beatified 28 Greek Catholics on his trip, including 27 martyrs, most of whom were killed by Soviet secret police.

He exhorted the people to put aside religious feuds. "During the last centuries, too many stereotyped ways of thinking, too much mutual resentment and too much intolerance have accumulated," he said.

"The only way to clear the path is to forget the past, ask forgiveness of one another and forgive one another.

"May pardon, given and received, spread like a healing balm in every heart.

"May the purification of historical memories lead everyone to work for the triumph of what unites over what divides, in order to build a future of mutual respect, fraternal co-operation and true solidarity."


John Paul visited more than 130 countries. These are some of his more significant trips

Mexico, January 1979

Poland, June 1979

S. Korea, May 1984

Canada, September 1984

Africa, August 1985

India, February 1986

Chile, April 1987

U.S., August 1993

Cuba, January 1998

Israel, March 2000

Syria, May 2001

Ukraine, June 2001


Jan. 25: Dominican Republic, Mexico (Third General Conference of Latin American Bishops, Puebla) and the Bahamas

June 2-10: Poland

Sep. 29-Oct. 8: Ireland, the United Nations and the United States

Nov. 28-30: Turkey


May 2-12: Zaire, Republic of Congo, Kenya, Ghana, Upper Volta, Ivory Coast

May 30-June 2: France

June 30-July 12: Brazil

Nov. 15-19: West Germany


Feb. 16-27: Pakistan, the Philippines, Guam (U.S.), Japan, and Anchorage (U.S.)


Feb. 12-19: Nigeria, Benin, Gabon and Equatorial Guinea

May 12-15: Portugal

May 28-June 2: Britain

June 10-13: Argentina

June 15: Switzerland

August 29: Republic of San Marino

Oct. 31-Nov. 9: Spain


March 2-10: Portugal and Central America-Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Panama, El Salvador, Guatemala, Hondurans, Belsize, and Haiti.

June 16-23: Poland

Aug. 14-15: France

Sept. 10-13: Austria


May 2-12: S.Korea, Papua-New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, United States and Thailand

June 12-17: Switzerland

Sept. 9-12: Canada

Oct. 10-13: Spain, Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico


Jan 26-Feb. 6: Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru, Trinidad-Tobago

May 11-21: Netherlands, Luxembourg and Belgium

Aug. 8-19: Togo, Ivory Coast, Cameroon, Republic of Central Africa, Zaire, Kenya, Morocco

Sept.9: Switzerland


Jan. 21-Feb. 10: India

July 1-8: Columbia and Saint Lucia

Oct. 4-7: France

Nov. 18-Dec.1: Bangladesh, Singapore, Fiji Islands, New Zealand, Australia, and Seychelles


March 31 - April 13: Uruguay, Chile and Argentina; celebration in Buenos Aires of the Second World Youth Day

April 30 - May 4: Germany

June 8-14: Poland

Sept. 10-21: U.S. and Canada


May 7-19: Uruguay, Bolivia, Paraguay and Peru

June 23-27: Austria

Sept. 10-20: Zimbabwe, Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Swaziland

Oct. 8-11: the European Institutions of Strasbourg and to the dioceses of Strasbourg, Metz and Nancy, France


April 28-May 6: Madagascar, Reunion, Zambia and Malawi

June 1-10: Norway, Iceland, Finland, Denmark, Sweden

Aug. 19-21: Santiago de Compostela, Spain for Fourth World Youth Day and to Asturias

Oct. 6-10: Seoul, Indonesia and Mauritius


Jan 25-Feb. 1: Cape Verde, Guinea Bissau, Mali, Burkina Faso, and Chad

Apr 21: Czechoslovakia

May 6-14: Mexico and Curacao

May 25: Malta

Sept. 1-10: Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda and Ivory Coast


May 10-13: May 10-13: Portugal

June 1-9: Poland

Aug. 13-20: Czestochowa (Poland) for the Sixth World Youth Day and Hungary

Oct. 12-21: Brazil


Feb. 19-26: Senegal, Gambia and Guinea

June 4 - 10: Angola and Sao Tome and Principe

October 9-14: Santo Domingo, for the fifth centenary of evangelization of Latin America and Fourth General Conference of the Latin American Episcopate


Feb. 3-10: Benin, Uganda and Kartoum

April 25: Albania

June 12: Spain

Aug. 9-16: Jamaica, Mexico and Denver, for Eighth World Youth Day

Sept. 4-10: Lithuania. Latvia, Estonia (First visit by a pope to these countries)


Sept. 10-11: Zagreb, Croatia


Jan. 11-21: Manila, for the World Youth Day, to Papua New Guinea, Australia and Sir Lanka

May 20-23: Czech Republic

June 3-4: Belgium

June 30: Slovak Republic

Sep. 14: Africa

Oct. 4: U.S. On Rome-NY flight, Pope reaches the million km mark


Feb. 5-12: Guatemala, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Venezuela

Apr. 14: Tunisia

May 17-19: Slovenia

June 21-23: Germany

Sept. 6-7: Hungary

Sept. 19-22: France


April 12-14: Sarajevo

April 25-28: Czech Republic

May 10-11: Lebanon

May 30 - June 10: Poland

Aug. 21: Paris, for 12th World Youth Day

Oct. 2-6: Rio de Janeiro, for Second World Meeting with Families


Jan. 21-26: Cuba

Mar. 21: Nigeria

June 19-21: Austria

Oct.2: Croatia


Jan 22: Mexico and the U.S.

May 7: Romania

June 5: Poland

Sept 19: Slovenia

Nov. 5: India and Georgia


Feb. 2-26: Mount Sinai

March 20-26: Israel and Jerusalem

May 12-13: Portugal


May 4-9: Greece, Syria and Malta

June 23-27: Ukraine

Sept. 22-27: Kazakhstan, Armenia


May 22-23: Azerbaijan

May 23-26: Bulgaria

July 23-29: Canada

July 29-30: Guatemala

July 30-Aug. 2: Mexico

Aug. 16-19: Poland


May 3-4: Spain

June 5-9: Croatia

June 22 Bosnia and Herzegovina

Sept. 11-14: Slovak Republic


June 5-6: Switzerland

Aug. 14: France

(Monday, April 4, 2005)

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