Pope John Paul II (Latin: Ioannes Paulus PP. II ), born Karol Jzef Wojtya (May 18, 1920 April 2, 2005) reigned as pope of the Catholic Church for almost 27 years, from 16 October 1978 until his death, making his the second-longest pontificate. On 13 May 2005, Pope Benedict XVI, John Paul II's successor, waived the five year waiting period for a cause for beatification to be opened. The official process for beatification began in the Diocese of Rome on June 28, 2005. He was the first non-Italian pope since the 16th century. His early reign was marked by his opposition to Communism, and he is often credited as one of the forces which brought about the fall of the Soviet Union..
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