April 1, 2005 at 4:20 AM CST - Updated July 12 at 10:10 AM
Heartland Catholics Watch Pope's Health Condition By: Lauren Keith
Carbondale, IL -- Catholics in the Heartland watch closely as the Pope's health continues to decline. Father Chris Piasta says, whilemost Catholics expected this news about the Pope's failing health, his office has still received several calls from worried parishioners with the Newman Catholic Student Center.
Father Chris tells Heartland News depending on what his parishioners want, he may organize a day of special prayers for the Pope, or other gatherings where he hopes Catholics will share their stories about the Pope. While they pray for the Pope's recovery, Father Chris also wants everyone to pray that this experience will bring the Catholic Church, as a whole, closer together.
"We are divided into liberals, conservatives, those who like the Pope, those who don't, but I hope this process of dying will bring the church back together again, " said Rev. Chris Piasta.
Father Chris says, depending on what the parishioners want, he may organize a full day of prayer for the faithful.
Father Chris recently took a group of SIU students to the Vatican, where they did catch a glimpse of the Pope. He claims that experience was very moving for him and the students. Also, Father Chris expects he'll be answering many questions from his parishioners about what lies ahead for the church should the Pope pass away soon.
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Pope John Paul II Facts
John Paul II's official titles include "Bishop of Rome and Vicar of Christ", "Successor of Saint Peter", "Prince of Apostles", "Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church", "Patriarch of the West," "Primate of Italy", "Archbishop and Metropolitan of the Roman Province," and "Sovereign of Vatican City." The United States Catholic Conference says the current "Holy Father" refers to himself as "Supreme Pastor of the Church."
Born Karol Joseph Wojtyla (Voy-tee-wah) in Wadowice, Poland, Pope John Paul II is the first Slav to head the Roman Catholic Church, the first non-Italian pope in 455 years, the youngest pope in a century, and the first since Pius II in the 15th century to be a "man of letters." He also has among the most interesting biographies. Before his ordination as a priest, he was a member of an experimental theater group, a stonecutter, a published poet, and a chemical company boiler-tender.
The elder Karol Wojtyla (1879-1941), a former foundry worker, reared his namesake son in religious piety and strict discipline, sometimes requiring him to study in cold rooms so as to harden him.
"Daredevil," is how the Archdiocese of Newark describes the athletecism of the Pope's youth. Possibly the most athletic Pope in history, John Paul II in his youth played soccer as a goalie, took daring swims in the flooded Swaka River, and enjoyed skiing, hiking, mountain climbing and kayaking.
Pope John Paul II may be the only Pope whose life was portrayed in a comic book. In 1983, Marvel Comics published a Pope biography.
No other Pope has traveled as extensively as Pope John Paul II. His world travels have taken him to 117 countries and every continent excluding Antarctica.
Pope John Paul II has survived numerous accidents and an assassination attempt. As a young man during the German occupation of Poland, he was hospitalized twice, after accidents involving a streetcar and a German army truck. He suffered severe wounds in May, 1981, when shot by Mehmet Ali Agca as he entered St. Peter's Square to address an audience. In 1992, a benign intestinal tumor was removed; in 1993, a fall in Vatican quarters injured his shoulder; in 1994, he broke his thigh bone in another fall, forcing him to cancel his planned trip to New Jersey.
The Pope is so revered by area Catholics that would-be worshippers have gone to sometimes bizarre extremes to get a hold of the limited number of tickets to his tour's four Papal Masses. "People are offering exotic vegetables, the chance to sing for him and even a spaghetti dinner," Sister Thomas Mary Salerno, chancellor of the archdiocese of Newark, told the Religious News Service. "It's just been overwhelming."