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Pontificate of Pope John Paul II: An Overview (2000-2003)

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 his papacy from 2000 to the present, 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 1978-79, 1980-1989, and 1990-1999.

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. 2000  2001   2002  2003


Jan. 1 - 33rd World Day of Peace. Pope John Paul opens Holy Door at St. Mary Major Basilica and celebrates Mass.

Jan. 2 - Jubilee of Children: 150,000 children and adolescents join the Holy Father in St. Peter's Square.

Jan. 12 - Diplomatic relations established with the State of Bahrain.

Jan. 17 - Pope welcomes Cuban Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque.

Jan. 18 - Start of the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. The Holy Father opens fourth and final Holy Door of the Jubilee Year 2000 at St. Paul's Outside-the-Walls.

Jan. 24 - Costa Rica's President Miguel Angel Rodriguez is received in audience.

Feb. 2 - Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord and Jubilee of Consecrated Life: papal Mass at 10 a.m. in St. Peter's Square.

Feb. 5 - Pope receives Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid.

Feb. 11 - Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, and Jubilee of the Sick: Mass in St. Peter's Square.

Feb. 15 - Basic Agreement is signed between Holy See and Palestinian Liberation Organization. Holy Father receives Yasser Arafat and Palestinian delegation in audience. He also received Rudolf Schuster, president of the Slovak Republic.

Feb. 17 - Audience for Eduardo Frei Ruiz-Tagle, president of the Republic of Chile.

Feb. 18 - Jubilee of Artists: Mass in St. Peter's Basilica presided over by Cardinal Roger Etchegaray, followed by address by Pope John Paul. Inauguration of three-day Jubilee of Permanent Deacons by Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos at St. Mary Major Basilica.

Feb. 19 - Audience for Roberto Flores Facusse, president of Honduras.

Feb. 21 - Audience for Arpad Goncz, president of Hungary.

Feb. 22 - Jubilee of the Roman Curia, and papal Mass in St. Peter's Basilica.

Feb. 23 - Liturgy of the Word celebration in the Paul VI Hall, presided over by Pope John Paul in commemoration of Abraham, "Our father in the faith." This event in the Vatican represented the first stage in the Pope's Jubilee Year pilgrimages to places linked with the history of salvation.

Feb. 24 - Saturday, 26: Papal pilgrimage to Mount Sinai: John Paul II is first Pope to visit Egypt. This was his 90th foreign apostolic trip.

Feb. 29 -Audience for King Letsie III of Lesotho.

March 2 - Papal audience for Salim El Hoss, prime minister and foreign minister of Lebanon.

March 4 - Pope welcomes President Kim Dae-jung of the Republic of Korea, first Korean head of state to be received by John Paul II. He also received President Valdas Adamkus of Lithuania.

March 12 - First Sunday of Lent. Concelebrated Mass in St. Peter's Basilica for the Day of Pardon of the Holy Year 2000.

March 17 - Publication by the Pontifical Council for the Family of a communique concerning the March 16 European Parliament resolution that equates families with "de facto" unions.

March 18 - The Jubilee of the Chaldean Church with a liturgy in the basilica of St. Mary of the Angels and Martyrs.

March 19 - Jubilee of Artisans, Mass in St. Peter's Square. Jubilee of the Syro-Malabar Church with a liturgy in the basilica of St. Mary of the Angels and Martyrs.

March 20 - Sunday, 26: Start of week-long papal pilgrimage to the Holy Land, Pope John Paul's 91st foreign apostolic trip.

March 30 - Presentation of Holy Father's annual Letter to Priests for Holy Thursday: Letter was signed on March 23 in the Cenacle in Jerusalem.

April 6 - Audience for President Ali Abdullah Saleh of Yemen.

April 7 - Audiences for Joseph Fischer, foreign minister of Germany, Jan Carnogursky, justice minister of Slovakia and Pavol Hrusovsky, vice president of Slovak parliament and Kofi Annan, United Nations secretary general.

April 30 - Second Sunday of Easter, henceforth to be known as Divine Mercy Sunday: Canonization of Blessed Maria Faustyna Kowalska.

May 1 - Jubilee of Workers celebrated at Tor Vergata University.

May 2 - Audience for Polish Prime Minister Jerzy Buzek.

May 6 - Adolf Ogi, president of Switzerland, received by Pope.

May 7 - Pope presides ecumenical celebration at the Colosseum for Witnesses to the Faith in the 20th Century.

May 12 - Pope departs for Fatima, Portugal on his 92nd foreign apostolic trip.

May 13 - Beatification in Fatima of the two shepherd children, Jacinta and Francisco Marto. Cardinal Angelo Sodano, secretary of state, reads a text on the "Third Secret" of Fatima at the shrine, following the beatifications.

May 18 - Pope John Paul's 80th birthday and the Jubilee of Priests: concelebrated Mass in St. Peter's Square with 80 cardinals, 300 archbishops and bishops and 6,000 priests.

May 20 - Diplomatic relations established between Holy See and Djibouti.

May 22 - Audiences for Boris Trajkowski, president of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Nadejda Mihailova, Bulgarian foreign minister.

May 26 - Audience with Ismael Omar Guelleh, president of the Republic of Djibouti.

May 28 - Jubilee of the diocese of Rome: papal Mass in St. Peter's Square.

May 29 - Pope receives President Denis Sassou-N'Guesso of the Congo, and Romanian Foreign Minister Petre Roman.

June 2 - Papal Mass in St. Peter's Square for Jubilee of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples.

June 5 - Audience for Russian President Vladimir Putin.

June 10 - Vigil of Pentecost. Papal Mass in St. Peter's Square for the Jubilee "Day of Reflection and Prayer on the Duties of Catholics Towards Other Men: Announcing Christ, Witnessing and Dialogue."

June 13 - Ali Agca, who attacked the Pope in St. Peter's Square on May 13, 1981, and has been in prison in Italy since then, is granted clemency by Italian President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi, and extradited to his native Turkey.

June 15 - Pope hosts lunch in Paul VI Hall for 200 poor and homeless as part of Jubilee year celebrations.

June 19 - Audience for Said Musa, prime minister of Belize.

June 23 - Audience for Fra Andrew Bertie, prince and grand master of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta.

June 26 - Presentation of Third Secret of Fatima in Holy See Press Office. Papal audiences for Hugo Banzer Suarez, president of Bolivia; Atal Bihari Vajpayee, prime minister of India; His Royal Highness, Prince of Asturias, Felipe de Bourbon.

June 27 - Audiences for Ghennadi Nikolaevich Selezniov, president of the Duma (Russian parliament), and Mikhail Sergeevic Gorbachev. Cardinal Angelo Sodano welcomes Hang-mao Tien, minister for foreign affairs of the Republic of China.

July 3 - Audience for Hipolito Mejia, president-elect of the Dominican Republic.

July 4 - Audience for President Stipe Mesic of Croatia.

July 6 - Declaration published by Pontifical Council for the Interpretation of Legislative Texts which reaffirms ban on communion for divorced Catholics who re-marry.

July 8 - Audience for His Royal Highness, Grand Duke Jean of Luxembourg.

July 9 - Jubilee in Prisons. Pope says Mass in Rome's Regina Coeli prison.

July 13 - Pontifical Council for the Family publishes declaration on embryo reduction, stating that this constitutes "selective abortion."

July 20 - Apostolic Letter of the Holy Father John Paul II for the Third Centenary of the Union of the Greek-Catholic Church of Romania with the Church of Rome.

Aug. 15 - Pope opens 15th World Youth Day in Rome.

Aug. 19-20 - Vigil and papal Mass close the 15th World Youth Day in presence of more than 2 million young people. Pope announces that 2002 youth day will be in Toronto, Canada.

Aug. 24 - Declaration from Pontifical Academy for Life on production and scientific and therapeutic use of human embryonic stem cells.

Aug. 29 - Pope declares at a congress that human cloning is morally unacceptable.

Sept. 3 - Pope beatifies Popes Pius IX and John XXIII, Bishop Tommaso Reggio, Fr. Guillaume-Joseph Chaminade and Abbot Columba Marmion.

Sept. 5 - Presentation of document of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith: "Declaration 'Dominus Iesus' on the Unicity and Salvific Universality of Jesus Christ and the Church."

Sept. 10 - Mass for Jubilee of Universities.

Sept. 11 - Audience for Mireya Elisa Moscoso Rodriguez, president of the Republic of Panama.

Sept. 12 - Olusegun Obasanjo, president of Nigeria, welcomed.

Sept. 14 - Cardinal Roger Etchegaray on third trip to China: visits Beijing September 14-16 to participate in symposium on "Religions and Peace." Pope welcomes Andrej Bajuk, prime minister of the Republic of Slovenia.

Sept. 15 - Jubilee of Pontifical Representatives: Mass with Cardinal Sodano and audience with Pope John Paul.

Sept. 16 - Holy See and Lithuania sign Accords.

Sept. 17 - Jubilee of the Elderly, Eucharistic celebration in St. Peter's Square.

Sept. 22 - Pope welcomes Hungarian President Ferenc Madl.

Sept. 24 - Mass for 20th International Mariological-Marian Congress and for Jubilee of Shrines.

Oct. 1 - Pope canonizes 123 Blesseds, including 120 Chinese martyrs. He assures Catholic faithful in China of his prayers.

Oct. 6 - Pope receives Emil Constantinescu, president of Romania. Bishops, at start of their Jubilee, collect $49,000 to give to Pope.

Oct. 7 - For Jubilee of Bishops. Pope, bishops, and faithful pray the rosary in St. Peter's Square before the statue of Our Lady of Fatima, brought to the Vatican from Portugal.

Oct. 8 - Papal Mass concludes Jubilee of Bishops, attended by 80 cardinals and over 1,500 bishops. Act of Entrustment to Mary.

Oct. 13 - Audience for Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, vice president of the Philippines.

Oct. 14 - Start of Jubilee of Families: 300,000 gather for afternoon celebration with John Paul II. Pope receives President Gustavo Noboa Bejarano of Ecuador.

Oct. 15 - Mass for Jubilee of Families. Pope marries 8 couples.

Oct. 17 - Pope John Paul's pontificate becomes 7th longest in history, including that of St. Peter. Holy Father welcomes Queen Elizabeth II to Vatican.

Oct. 19 - Jubilee of Sovereign Military Order of Malta.

Oct. 22 - Mass for World Mission Day and the Jubilee of Missions.

Oct. 29 - Mass in Rome's Olympic Stadium for Jubilee of Athletes.

Oct. 31 - Apostolic Letter in form of 'Motu Proprio' proclaiming St. Thomas More as Patron Saint of Statesmen and Politicians.

Nov. 1 - Solemnity of All Saints, 50th anniversary of dogmatic definition of the Assumption of Mary into heaven. Eucharistic celebration in St. Peter's Square.

Nov. 9 - Holy Father welcomes His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of all Armenians.

Nov. 12 - Mass for Jubilee of Agricultural World.

Nov. 19 - Mass for the Jubilee of the Armed Forces and Police. Start of Jubilee of the Syro-Antiochean and Syro-Malankara Churches.

Nov. 21 - Pontifical Council for the Family publishes document entitled "Family, Marriage and 'de facto' Unions." Pope welcomes Islam Abduganievic Karimov, president of Uzbekistan.

Nov. 23 - Publication of document by Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith "Instruction on Prayers for Healing."

Nov. 24 - Jubilee of Catholic Jurists. Basic Agreement between Holy See and Slovakia. Pope receives Prime Minister Mikulas Dzurinda of the Republic of Slovakia.

Nov. 26 - Mass for Jubilee of the Laity and World Congress of Catholic Laity.

Nov. 28 - Audience for King Juan Carlos I and Queen Sofia of Spain.

Nov. 30 - Pope receives President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo of the Republic of Equatorial Guinea.

Dec. 3 - First Sunday of Advent. Mass for Jubilee of the Disabled.

Dec. 10 - Jubilee of Catechists and Teachers of Religion.

Dec. 11 - Audience for Vojislav Kostunica, president of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

Dec. 17 - Mass for the Jubilee of the World of Entertainment.

Dec. 18 - Audience for President Rudolf Schuster of Slovak Republic.

Dec. 25 - 2000th anniversary of the Nativity of Our Lord.


Jan. 2 - Cardinal Roger Etchegaray, president of the Central Committee for the Great Jubilee 2000, celebrates Mass in Bethlehem to mark the close of the Jubilee in the Holy Land.

Jan. 6 - Feast of the Epiphany; Pope John Paul closes Holy Door of St. Peter's Basilica, thus closing the Jubilee Year 2000 after 379 days. Publication of Apostolic Letter "Novo millennio ineunte."

Jan. 21 - John Paul II names 37 new cardinals.

Jan. 28 - Holy Father names 5 new cardinals, reveals 2 "in pectore" (Cardinals Marian Jaworski, Ukraine, and Janis Pujats, Latvia).

Feb. 3 - First "ad limina" visit by Albanian prelates since end of communist dictatorship.

Feb. 17 - Apostolic Letter (dated February 2) for 1700th anniversary of Baptism of the Armenian People.

Feb. 21 - Consistory for the creation of 44 new cardinals.

Feb. 22 - Pope concelebrates Mass with new cardinals, bestows cardinal's ring.

March 11 - 233 Spanish martyrs are beatified; largest beatification ceremony in history.

April 23 - Audience for Rafik Hariri, president of the Council of Ministers of Lebanon.

May 4 - John Paul II starts trip to Greece, Syria and Malta, his 93rd foreign apostolic trip. He is the first Pope to visit Greece in 1,000 years, the first Pope ever to visit Syria and the first pontiff to enter a mosque. Trip concludes May 9.

May 8 - Publication of the Fifth Instruction for the Right Implementation of the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy of the Second Vatican Council, "Liturgiam authenticam."

May 21 - Consistory of Cardinals opens in Vatican City: 155 cardinals are present. This is the sixth extraordinary consistory called by Pope John Paul II.

May 28 - Holy See declaration on participation by Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo, emeritus of Lusaka, in a marriage ceremony of the Unification Church.

June 3 - Pentecost Sunday and 38th anniversary of the death of Blessed John XXIII, whose incorrupt body, in a crystal and bronze coffin, was in St. Peter's Square during Mass celebrated by the Pope. It was later placed in its final resting place near the main altar of St. Peter's Basilica.

June 12 - Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples issues "Instruction on the Sending Abroad and Sojourn of Diocesan Priests from Mission Territories."

June 23 - Pope departs for Ukraine, start of 94th foreign apostolic trip. On June 26, he presides at first beatification ceremony in Ukraine's history. Trip ends June 27.

July 17 - Public canonical admonition is issued to Archbishop Milingo through a notification from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

July 23 - At Castelgandolfo, John Paul II welcomes U.S. President George W. Bush.

Aug. 1 - Pope holds 1,000th general audience in St. Peter's Square.

Aug. 6 - Pope receives Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo.

Aug. 14 - Archbishop Milingo writes to John Paul II, announcing that he will resume his life in the Catholic Church, will renounce living with Maria Sung and will sever his relations with Reverend Moon and the Federation of Families for World Peace (Unification Church).

Sept. 11 - In a telegram to U.S. President George W. Bush, Pope John Paul expresses "shock at the unspeakable horror of today's inhuman terrorist attacks against innocent peoples in different parts of the United States."

Sept. 12 - Pope dedicates general audience to the terrorist attacks in U.S., calling them "a dark day in the history of humanity."

Sept. 13 - At Castelgandolfo the Pope welcomes new U.S. ambassador to the Holy See, James Nicholson, and offers prayers for America, condemning terrorist attack.

Sept. 16 - Papal trip to Frosinone: 140th pastoral visit within Italy.

Sept. 22 - Holy Father leaves for Kazakhstan and Armenia, his 95th foreign trip.

Sept. 30 - 10th Ordinary Synod of Bishops on theme of episcopal ministry is opened by John Paul.

Oct. 16 - 23rd anniversary of election of John Paul II: his papacy is now seventh longest in history.

Oct. 25 - In a Message to Rome meeting on "Matteo Ricci: For a Dialogue between China and the West," John Paul II urges normalization of relations between Holy See, China.

Nov. 1 - Holy Father marks 55th anniversary of priestly ordination.

Nov. 22 - John Paul II promulgates amd transmits via Internet Postsynodal Apostolic Exhortation "Ecclesia in Oceania."

Nov. 26 - Holy See issues "unequivocal condemnation" of in vitro cloning of human embryo announced in the U.S.

Dec. 13 - Pope presides over meeting in the Vatican on "Peace in the Holy Land and the Future of Christians."


Jan. 18 - Members of the Priestly Association of St. John Mary Vianney, a group of followers of Archbishop Lefebvre in the diocese of Campos, Brazil, return to full communion with the Chair of Peter.

Jan. 24 - The Pope participates in the Day of Prayer for Peace in the World, celebrated in Assisi, Italy.

Feb. 11 - Declaration on the elevation today of four apostolic administrations in the Russian Federation to diocese by the Holy See.

Feb. 20 - Announcement that documents from 1922-1939 during the pontificate of Pope Pius XI will be available for consultation starting in 2003.

Feb. 23 - The Pope will not visit Roman Basilica of St. Pudenziana al Viminale tomorrow due to pain in his right knee.

March 4 - The Pope sends the "Assisi Decalogue for Peace," signed at the end of the Day of Prayer for Peace in the World on January 24, to all heads of State and government.

March 8 - Delegation of the Holy Synod of the Greek Church participates in work sessions in Rome from March 8-13. The Pope receives them in audience on March 11.

April 23 - Pope receives in audience twelve American cardinals and different members of the Roman Curia who are meeting in Rome in order to elaborate ways to confront the issue of sexual abuse of minors by priests.

May 1 - Cardinal Roger Etchegaray travels to Jerusalem as the Pope's special envoy to express his concern for peace in the Holy Land.

May 2 - Presentation of the Apostolic Letter Motu Propio "Misericordia Dei" on certain aspects of the celebration of the Sacrament of Penance.

May 5 - Pastoral visit to Ischia, Italy.

May 22-26 - Apostolic trip to Azerbaijan and Bulgaria. It is the 96th papal trip outside of Italy.

June 16 - Canonization of Blessed Padre Pio of Pietreclina, Italy, born Francesco Forgione, priest of the Friars Minor Capuchins.

June 28 - Approval of Statute of the Neocatechumenal Way.

July 23-Aug. 1 - Apostolic trip to Toronto for 17th World Youth Day, Guatemala City and Mexico City: 97th outside of Italy.

Aug. 16-19 - Apostolic trip to Poland, 98th outside of Italy and eighth to his native land since start of papacy.

Sept. 11 - In the general audience, the Holy Father prays for the victims of the attack on the Twin Towers in New York, in Washington and Pennsylvania on the first anniversary of the tragedy.

Oct. 6 - Canonization of Blessed Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer, founder of Opus Dei.

Oct. 7 - His Beatitude Teoctist, Orthodox patriarch of Romania, makes an official visit to the Holy Father and to the Church of Rome from October 7-13.

Oct. 16 - On the 24th anniversary of his pontificate, the Pope signs the Apostolic Letter "Rosarium Virginis Mariae" and adds five new mysteries, the "luminous mysteries." He proclaims October 2002-2003 the "Year of the Rosary."

Oct. 18 - Presentation of the Instruction, "The Priest, pastor and leader of the Parish community."

Nov. 14 - The Pope visits the Italian Parliament for the first time in history.

Nov. 19 - Presentation of the document "Consecrated persons and their mission in schools. Reflections and orientations."

Nov. 30 - Pope accepts resignation of Cardinal Bernardin Gantin as dean of College of Cardinals: he is succeeded by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.

Dec. 13 - Declaration by Cardinal Bernard Law in which he express his gratitude to the Holy Father for having accepted his resignation as archbishop of Boston, U.S.A.


Jan. 16 - Congregation for Doctrine of the Faith publishes "Doctrinal Note on Some Questions Regarding the Participation of Catholics in Political Life."

Feb. 13 - Holy Father receives Rome's new Chief Rabbi Riccardo di Segni.

Feb. 14 - Pope welcomes Iraqi vice premier Tariq Aziz.

Feb. 15 - Papal envoy Cardinal Roger Etchegaray meets with Iraqi President Saddam Hussein in Baghdad.

Feb. 18 - Pope receives U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan.

Feb. 19 - Holy See addresses U.N. Security Council on Iraq Question

Feb. 22 - Holy Father receives British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Feb. 27 - Pope receives Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar of Spain and Seyyed Mohammad Reza Khatami, vice president of Iran's Islamic Consultative Assembly.

March 5 - Papal envoy Cardinal Pio Laghi speaks with U.S. President George Bush on Iraqi crisis.

March 6 - Publication of "Roman Triptych, Meditations," book of poetry by Pope John Paul.

March 16 - "Never again war!" Pope exhorts international community at Angelus.

April 17 - Start of Holy Week: Publication of Holy Father's Encyclical "Ecclesia de Eucharistia": Pope writes meditations for Good Friday's Way of the Cross at the Colosseum.

April 26 - Publication of papal letter to Cuban President Fidel Castro asking clemency in the sentencing of dissidents.

April 30 - Pope John Paul II's pontificate becomes fourth longest in history at 24 years, 6 months and 8 days, following Pope Leo XIII and Pope Pius IX and St. Peter.

May 3-4 - Apostolic trip to Spain: 99th foreign trip.

May 18 - Pope turns 83.

June 2 - Pope receives U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell.

June 5 - Start of apostolic trip to Croatia: 100th foreign papal trip. Letter from Cardinal Sodano to U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, expressing Holy See support for U.S. role.

June 22 - Pope to Bosnia-Herzegovina: 101st foreign trip.

June 28 - Publication of Post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation "Ecclesia in Europa."

July 31 - Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith publishes document "Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions Between Homosexual Persons."

Aug. 3, 10, 17, 24, 31 - Holy Father dedicates Angelus reflections to Europe, its culture, history and institutions and the future European constitution, emphasizing each time Europe's deep Christian roots.

Sept. 11 - Start of Pope's 102nd foreign apostolic trip: to Slovakia, until September 14.

Sept. 22 - Authorities in Georgia withdraw from signing bilateral accord with Holy See officials present for ceremony.

Sept. 28 - Pope names 31 new cardinals, calls consistory for October 21.

Oct. 4 - Pope welcomes Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams.

Oct. 7 - Trip to Shrine of Our Lady of the Rosary of Pompeii.

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