John Paul’s ‘Traditions’

Blessed John Paul II, during the closing Mass of World Youth Day in 1993.

The first anniversary of Pope Francis’ election provoked stories highlighting the unique style Francis has brought to the papacy. People appear to have forgotten how much of what passes today for papal “traditions” were actually innovations of Pope John Paul II. Frequent parish visits? Check. Joking with and leading a big crowd in a chant? Check. The church calendar is filled with annual appointments established by Pope John Paul II, who is scheduled to become St. John Paul on April 27. The day of the canonization is the Second Sunday of Easter, also known as Divine Mercy Sunday—an observance Pope John Paul decided in 2000 to add on the Sunday after Easter. Pope John Paul also instituted the annual Feb. 2 World Day of Consecrated Life, the Feb. 11 World Day of the Sick and a World Meeting of Families every three years. By welcoming hundreds of thousands of young people to the Vatican for a special Palm Sunday celebration in 1984, Pope John Paul launched what has become the biggest international gathering on the church’s calendar: World Youth Day.

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