Solidarity (Catholic Theology) - Posthumous Recognition - Title "the Great"

Title "the Great"

Upon the death of John Paul II, a number of clergy at the Vatican and laymen throughout the world began referring to the late pontiff as "John Paul the Great"—only the fourth pope to be so acclaimed, and the first since the first millennium. Scholars of Canon Law say that there is no official process for declaring a pope "Great"; the title simply establishes itself through popular and continued usage, as was the case with celebrated secular leaders (for example, Alexander III of Macedon became popularly known as Alexander the Great). The three popes who today commonly are known as "Great" are Leo I, who reigned from 440–461 and persuaded Attila the Hun to withdraw from Rome; Gregory I, 590–604, after whom the Gregorian Chant is named; and Pope Nicholas I, 858–867. His successor, Pope Benedict XVI, referred to him as "the great Pope John Paul II" in his first address from the loggia of St. Peter's Basilica, and Angelo Cardinal Sodano referred to Pope John Paul II as "the Great" in his published written homily for the Mass of Repose.

Since giving his homily at the funeral of Pope John Paul, Pope Benedict XVI continued to refer to John Paul II as "the Great." At the 20th World Youth Day in Germany 2005, Pope Benedict XVI, speaking in Polish, John Paul's native language, said, "As the Great Pope John Paul II would say: keep the flame of faith alive in your lives and your people." In May 2006, Pope Benedict XVI visited John Paul's native Poland. During that visit, he repeatedly made references to "the great John Paul" and "my great predecessor". In addition to the Vatican calling him "the great", numerous newspapers have done so. For example, the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera called him "the Greatest" and the South African Catholic newspaper, The Southern Cross, has called him "John Paul II The Great". and many Catholic schools worldwide have been named after him using this title, for example recently renamed John Paul the Great Catholic University and John Paul the Great Catholic High School.

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