Pope John Paul II, after reigning for 26 years as pope, died on April 2, 2005. For younger Catholics he was the only pope they had ever known. He had been a charismatic leader who traveled to all parts of the world, urging his flock to follow the Gospel teachings. In a special way, he had an apostolate to young believers, frequently attending their congresses throughout the world. In an attempt to preserve the unity of his flock he had established a strong centralized authority and proclaimed the strength of traditional Catholic moral habits and teachings. He had also reached out to Orthodox Christians and to members of other religious communities.
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