Archdioces of Milwaukee Print Logo  

Resource Details


Pontificate of Pope John Paul II: An Overview (1978-1979)

VATICAN CITY, (VIS) - John Paul II was elected Pope on October 16, 1978, and his pontificate was solemnly inaugurated on October 22. What follows is a year-by-year overview of the first two years of his papacy, listing its major events.

Annual Messages (Lent, to Youth, for World Mission Day, etc.) and events, such as the Holy Father's January address to the diplomatic corps accredited to the Holy See and his Christmas and Easter liturgical celebrations, are not listed.

For more overviews, visit 1980-1989, 1990-1999, and 2000-present.

Vatican Information Service has compiled a brief summary of the 102 foreign apostolic trips made by Pope John Paul II in the past 25 years of his papacy. The summary is available at this link.

A list of encyclicals written by Pope John Paul II is available at this link.

Click on a year for the major events. 1978 1979


Oct. 16 - Cardinal Karol Wojtyla is elected successor to Pope John Paul I, becoming the 264th Pope of the Catholic Church. He is the first non-Italian Pope since Adrian VI (1522-23), the first Polish Pope, and the youngest Pope since Pius IX (1846-78). He takes the name John Paul II.

Oct. 17 - First "Urbi et Orbi" radio message of John Paul II.

Oct. 22 - Solemn inauguration of his ministry as Universal Pastor of the Church.

Oct. 23 - John Paul II's historic embrace of Cardinal Wyszynski.

Oct. 25 - First trip by new pontiff to Castelgandolfo: visit to the parish church and papal villa.

Oct. 29 - First pilgrimage outside Rome to the Shrine of the Blessed Virgin Mary at Mentorella.

Nov. 5 - Visit of John Paul II to Assisi to venerate the tomb of St. Francis, patron of Italy, and to the basilica of Santa Maria sopra Minerva to venerate the tomb of St. Catherine, patroness of Italy.

Nov. 12 - As bishop of Rome, John Paul II takes possession of St. John Lateran Basilica.

Dec. 5 - John Paul II begins his pastoral visits to the parishes in the diocese of Rome: St. Francis Xavier at Garbatella.


Jan. 24 - John Paul II accepts the request for mediation in the border conflict between Argentina and Chile.

Jan. 24 - Audience granted to the Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko.

Jan. 25 - First pastoral visit of John Paul II outside Italy: the Dominican Republic, Mexico (for the Third General Conference of the Latin American Bishops, Puebla) and the Bahamas.

March 4 - First papal Encyclical "Redemptor Hominis" (On the redemption and dignity of the human race), published March 15.

March 13 - John Paul II presides over funeral of Secretary of State Cardinal Jean Villot, who died on March 9.

April 30 - Archbishop Agostino Casaroli is appointed pro-secretary of state and pro-prefect of the Council for the Public Affairs of the Church.

June 2 - Second pastoral visit of John Paul II outside Italy: Poland (June 2-10).

June 2 - Historic homily of John Paul II at Victory Square in Warsaw: "It is not possible to understand the history of the Polish nation without Christ."

June 30 - Celebration of the first consistory in his pontificate for the creation of 14 cardinals, among whom were Agostino Casaroli, secretary of state. (One additional Cardinal was reserved "in pectore," Chinese Ignatius Gong Pin-mei, whose appointment was published only in the consistory of June 28, 1991).

Sept. 29 - Third pastoral visit of John Paul II outside Italy: Ireland, the United Nations and the United States of America (September 29-October 8).

Oct. 2 - John Paul II addresses the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

Oct. 16 - Post-Synodal Pastoral Exhortation "Catechesi Tradendae," published October 25.

Nov. 5 - First Plenary Assembly of the College of Cardinals on the themes: the structure of the Roman Curia; the Church and culture; the financial situation of the Holy See (November 5-9).

Nov. 28 - Fourth pastoral visit of John Paul II outside Italy: Turkey (November 28-30).

Contact Information

Name:Communication Office
Communication Services
Resource Type

Search All Resources

Search for support material available from the archdiocesan central offices.

Directory of Offices and Services

The central office staff provides resources, leadership and assistance to our parishes and Catholic schools.

This site is powered by the Northwoods Titan Content Management System

The Archdiocese of Milwaukee

3501 South Lake Drive
PO Box 070912
Milwaukee, WI 53207-0912

Phone:  (414) 769-3300
Toll-Free: (800) 769-9373
Fax:  (414)  769-3408