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On Eve Of Sainthood, Remembering Pope John Paul II’s ’87 Bay Area Visit And Conservative Legacy

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Pope John Paul II performs communion at Candlestick Park in 1987. (CBS)

Pope John Paul II performs communion at Candlestick Park in 1987. (CBS)

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SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – More than a quarter-century after making his lone trip the Bay Area, Pope John Paul’s legacy remains influential on the eve of his sainthood. As the third longest-tenured Pope, John Paul was also the best traveled — crossing 725,000 miles during his papacy, and touching millions of the faithful, which fueled the groundswell of support for immediate beatification. The process of becoming a saint culminates in a rare double canonization as he and Pope John XXIII are recognized as saints on Sunday, April 27th in Vatican City.

His popularity in the Bay Area was never more clear than during a September 1987 United States tour, where he led mass for a crowd of 70,000 at Candlestick Park. That gathering was nearly three times the size of the group that saw the Beatles in their final performance at the same venue a decade earlier. Here’s the original video report on that service:

John Paul’s politics were often at odds with many political liberals in the Bay Area. In writings and speeches, he reaffirmed the Vatican’s ban on artificial birth control, abortion, euthanasia, divorce, in vitro fertilization, sex outside marriage, homosexual relations and same-sex unions.

KCBS Covers The Pontiff’s 1987 SF Visit:

Pope John Paul II’s visit to San Francisco in 1987

KCBS Radio

During his 1987 visit, he made an appearance at St. Mary’s Cathedral in San Francisco, where he discussed the role of civilians within the church.  He stressed the importance of traditional married life and the necessity for a strong central authority within the church. That stance, and repeated use of the word “sin” during talks about the growing AIDS epidemic drew criticism from some in the Bay Area.

Below are two video reports on those controversial topics in 1987.

Despite the controversy over socially conservative views, many in the region are thrilled to see John Paul become the latest saint.

In 2011, Catholics again showed up at St. Mary’s Cathedral to celebrate the beatification of John Paul II. It was his first step on the road toward sainthood. Natives of more than 20 nations gathered outside the cathedral, with many waving Polish flags in honor of the Poland native.

POPE JOHN PAUL II’S RELICS: Bloody Shirt, Unwashed Fork Venerated

The Bay Area Polish community was especially proud of John Paul II during his tenure as pontiff.

He was born Karol Wojtyla in southern Poland on May 18, 1920. By the time he was 20, both parents and his sole sibling were dead and his homeland was occupied by the Nazis.

Hew would be elected to the papacy in 1978 as first non-Italian pope in 455 years. Upon election he was 58, the youngest pope in 125 years.

Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII will be declared saints in a historic double canonization on April 27.

 

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