The director of the L’Osservatore Romano, Giovanni Maria Vian, published an editorial this week dedicated to the 30th anniversary of the election of Pope John Paul II, recalling that his election marked an historic milestone since he was the first Slavic successor of St. Peter.
In his editorial, Vian wrote that “on the afternoon of October 16, 1978, thirty years ago, the election of Cardinal Karol Wojtyla marked a true turn in the history of the succession of the Roman chair. After almost half a millennium, since the time of Adrian VI (1522—1523), the College of Cardinals chose as Bishop of Rome a cardinal who was not of Italian origin. And for the first time in history, a Slav became Pontiff.”
After his elevation to the cardinalate by Paul VI, “the young Polish archbishop became an important protagonist in the Catholic Church, although many did not know him,” Vian wrote. By assuming a double name, the new Pope “undoubtedly confirmed continuity with John XXIII and Paul VI and gave a voice to the so-called silent Church muzzled by the Communist regimes.”
“In the world’s memory is the image of that Pope who thirty years ago introduced himself as having come from a faraway land and who soon gave visibility to the Catholic Church.” He was able to accomplish this “thanks above all to the numerous international trips that made him a familiar figure across the planet, and to his powerful teaching rooted in the love of Christ and the defense of the human being: a teaching heard by many non-believers and that will not be without fruit,” Vian wrote.