According to Webster’s Dictionary, a leader is someone who has “the power or ability to lead other people. ” Marquis and Huston (2015), define a leader as “individuals who are out front, taking risks, attempting to achieve shared goals, and inspiring others to action. ” Someone who encompasses these traits is St. John Paul II. He was the Pope of the Roman Catholic Church for 27 years and during that time he led and inspired many people. St. John Paul II was born Karol Wojtyla in Poland on May 18, 1920 (“John Paul II: The Millennial Pope,” 2014).
In 1938, he found his calling to the church but was unable to pursue his dream because World War II started (“John Paul II Biography,” 2014). Poland was taken over by Germany under communist rule. Communism did not support religious freedom so seminarians were closed. However, during World War II he attended an illegal underground seminarian (“John Paul II: The Millennial Pope,” 2014). In 1946, he was ordained into priesthood. His journey in the church continued as he climbed the ladder and was elected pope on October 12, 1978 (“John Paul II Biography,” 2014). He was the first non-Italian to be elected pope in over 400 years.
Integrity, compassion, forgiveness, insightfulness, and intelligence are a couple characteristics that define a leader such as St. John Paul II. He was known for fighting for human rights and helping with the fall of communism in Poland and then throughout Europe. Although he passed away on April 2, 2005, he has been since named a saint (“John Paul II Biography,” 2014). He is remembered for his big heart, iron fist and all the things he accomplished. Pope John Paul II was a transformational leader. Transformational leaders have the ability to accomplish many goals because people trust and follow them.
These “leaders do the right thing for the right reasons, treat people with care and compassion, encourage followers to be more creative and innovative, and inspire others with their vision” (Marquis & Huston, 2015). That is exactly what St. John Paul II did. He inspired the people of Poland to fight against the communists and overturn the regime. Although he was a religious leader, he was very powerful because of his charisma and the way he spoke to people. Even though religion was not allowed under communism, when he visited Poland he led a mass that thousands of people attended.
He instilled hope in the people and told them not to be afraid (Gertz, 2008). They listened and gathered the courage to fight back. Transformational leaders use different styles. St. John Paul II used a situational leadership style. Situational leadership theory suggests that “no one leadership style is ideal for every situation” (Marquis et al. , 2015). This theory shows that every situation requires a different approach and using different leadership styles is beneficial when handling different situations. Not everyone is going to agree with all your techniques.
Sometimes putting a stern hand down and making a decision using an authoritarian style is what is needed to get things done. Other times making democratic decisions is more beneficial to make people happy and give them some power. People who worked with St John Paul II said that he was powerful, confident and did not look for others to agree with all of his actions (“John Paul II: The Millennial Pope,” 2014). During his leadership of the Catholic church, St. John Paul Il is remembered as someone who accomplished many goals. When his regime started as pope there was communism in Europe.
Many communist leaders did not want to speak with other leaders because they had different views and confrontation usually resulted (Gertz, 2008). However, communist leaders did speak with John Paul || because he was not confrontational but instead friendly and accommodating (“John Paul II: The Millennial Pope,” 2014). What communist leaders did not know is that on the surface he was gentle but he had a lot of determination to overthrow the communist regime. He did not agree with the way it controlled everyone lives and took away their freedom (“John Paul II: The Millennial Pope,” 2014).
After becoming pope, John Paul II came to Poland and held a mass in Warsaw’s Victory Square (“John Paul II: The Millennial Pope,” 2014). This was illegal because religious worship and public assembly were prohibited under communism. There he inspired Polish people to fight for religious freedom, to overthrow communism and restore democracy. During his speech he said, “Don’t be afraid,” and this showed people that they are not alone and they can come together to end communism ( Gertz, 2008). He knew that there faith would guide them and successfully help them fight for their freedom.
People were no longer afraid and a movement that would end communism was formed. The fight was not easy and took many years. During this time the pope stood by the people and encouraged them to keep fighting. He cautioned Communist leaders that him and the church would be watching closely (Gertz, 2008). Whenever the pope visited Poland, people were reminded to keep fighting and not give up. There were banners hanging on the streets that the communist party had put up that said “The Party Is for the People. ”
After the pope had visited, people started writing on the banners, “.. ut the People are for the Pope” (Gertz, 2008). Once Solidarity, the first labor union in Poland was created, Soviet leaders were threatened. This was the “largest nonviolent protest movement in history. ” There were 10 million members from all over Poland. The threat was very real, so Soviet leaders planned an invasion to arrest all of the Solidarity leaders. John Paul II heard about the plan and wrote to the president of the Soviet Union that he supported Solidarity and that there would be consequences if the invasion was to occur.
This letter only postponed the invasion, but it gave the people more time to become stronger. It also set an example, that a religious leader was helping his people and that government leaders felt threatened. A former Polish Senator Andrzej Szczypiorski said, “that his pontificate was responsible for the downfall of Communist rule worldwide. Because Poland in a way set the pace. It was the little stone that started the avalanche” (“John Paul II: The Millennial Pope,” 2014). Although he was loved by many, he was also feared by others.
Unfortunately, there were assassination attempts of Pope John Paul II. The first attempt was on May 13, 1981. The pope was in St. Peter’s Square at Vatican City. Mehmet Ali Agca shot and wounded the pope as he was riding in an open car (“Pope John Paul II shot,” 2010). He was struck in the abdomen and hand. People in the crowd quickly took down the shooter as the pope was taken to the hospital. He suffered severe blood loss and had to undergo a five hour surgery that left him in critical but stable condition (“Pope John Paul II shot,” 2010).
Two years after the shooting, Pope John Paul II went to visit Mehmet Ali Agca in prison and forgave him. The real motive behind the assassination attempt is still unknown. It is believed that the order came from the Soviet Union. They instructed the Bulgarian Secret Service to assassinate the pope because of his support for the Solidarity movement that ended communism (“Pope John Paul II shot,” 2010). The shooter was supposed to shoot the pope, create riot and then escape to Bulgaria where he would have been free. Fortunately, security were able to stop him and he was sentenced to life in prison.
John Paul Il was motivated by his dislike of communist views. He knew the limits that it set on people’s freedom and he was against it. Polish people are primarily Catholic and since communism did not allow people to practice any religion this made the pope very upset. Being a Catholic leader he knew he had to help overturn the regime in order for people to be able to practice. His strengths were his ability to speak to people and being able to motivate and empower them to stand up for their rights. After speaking to crowds they trusted him and his motives.
They knew that he would support them. This is exactly what he did. He stood by otivated by his them and used his powers in the church to scare the Soviet Union. A journalist for the Washington Post Roberto Suro said, “At the end of the day, when you look at this extraordinary life and you see all that he’s accomplished, all the lives he’s touched, the nations whose history he’s changed, the way he’s become such a powerful figure in our culture,” (“John Paul II: The Millennial Pope,” 2014). Pope John Paul II is remembered for his successful efforts to end communism.