The Venerable Pope John Paul II (Latin: Ioannes Paulus PP. II, Italian: Giovanni Paolo II, Polish: Jan Paweł II, French: Jean Paul II, German: Johannes Paul II), born Karol Józef Wojty 18 May 1920 – 2 April 2005) served as Supreme Pontiff of the Catholic Church and Sovereign of Vatican City from 16 October 1978 until his death over 26 years later. His was the second-longest documented pontificate; only Pope Pius IX served longer (St Peter the Apostle is reputed to have served for more than thirty years as the first pontiff; however documentation is too sparse to definitively support this). He has been the only Polish Pope to date, and was the first non-Italian Pope since Dutch Pope Adrian VI in the 1520s.
John Paul II has been acclaimed as one of the most influential leaders of the twentieth century. It is widely held that he was instrumental in ending communism in his native Poland and eventually all of Europe as well as significantly improving the Catholic Church's relations with Judaism, the Eastern Orthodox Church, and the Anglican Communion.
Pope John Paul II was one of the most-traveled world leaders in history, visiting 129 countries during his pontificate. He was fluent in many languages: Italian, French, German, English, Spanish, Portuguese, Ukrainian, Russian, Croatian, Esperanto, Ancient Greek and Latin as well as his native Polish. As part of his special emphasis on the universal call to holiness, he beatified 1,340 people and canonized 483 Saints, more than the combined tally of his predecessors during the last five centuries. On 19 December 2009, John Paul II was proclaimed "Venerable" by Pope Benedict XVI.
Pope Francis (Latin: Franciscus [franˈtʃiskus], Italian: Francesco [franˈtʃesko]; born Jorge Mario Bergoglio[b] on 17 December 1936) is the 266th and current Pope of the Catholic Church, elected on 13 March 2013. As such, he is Bishop of Rome, the head of the worldwide Catholic Church and sovereign of the Vatican City State.
Born in Buenos Aires of Italian descent, Bergoglio worked briefly as a chemical technician before entering seminary; he was ordained in 1969. From 1973 to 1979 he was Argentina's Provincial superior of the Society of Jesus, became Archbishop of Buenos Aires in 1998, and was created cardinal in 2001. Following the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, on 13 March 2013 the papal conclave elected Bergoglio, who chose the papal name Francis in honour of Saint Francis of Assisi. Bergoglio is the first Jesuit pope; the first pope from the Americas, and the first pope from the Southern Hemisphere.
Throughout his life, both as an individual and a religious leader, he has been known for his humility, his concern for the poor, and his commitment to dialogue as a way to build bridges between people of all backgrounds, beliefs, and faiths. Since his election to the papacy, he has displayed a simpler and less formal approach to the office, including a decision to reside in the Vatican guesthouse rather than the papal residence used by his predecessors since 1903.