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Truman-Reagan Medal of Freedom

Pope Saint John Paul II

Pope Saint John Paul II (1920-2005), also known as the Pope that brought down communism, was born Karol Józef Wojtyla in Wadowice, Poland. Ordained in 1946, he quickly became the Bishop of Ombi and eventually the Archbishop of Krakow in 1964. Pope Paul VI appointed him as Cardinal in 1967, allowing him to become the first non-Italian Pope in more than 400 years in 1978. An advocate for human rights, John Paul traveled the world and preached the importance of peace and faith. In addition, many accredit John Paul with the fall of communism in Poland. He advocated for non-violent political activism and aided the Solidarity movement in communist Poland. His activism and unabashed Polish Nationalism during the 1980s ultimately contributed to the peaceful dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. In 2005, the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation awarded him the Truman-Reagan Medal of Freedom.