EDMONTON, AB (April 2, 2019): Today, United Conservative Leader Jason Kenney made the following statement commemorating St. John Paul II Day:
“April 2 marks St. John Paul II Day in Canada according to a law adopted by Parliament in 2014.
“It is an opportunity to reflect on the remarkable life of one of the most significant leaders of the twentieth century.
“Born on May 18, 1920 in Wadowice, Poland, Karol Wojtyla lived through many of the most tumultuous events of what he called ‘the century of tears.’ His father served in the Polish Cavalry in the First World War, helping to win Poland’s brief-lived independence from foreign domination. Wojtyla grew up in a town whose population was nearly half Jewish, making close friendships with members of the Jewish community which endured throughout his life.
“As a seminarian during the Nazi German occupation of Poland, Wojtyla was involved in underground activities supporting the Polish resistance, including through writing and performing subversive plays asserting human dignity against the Nazi war machine. He continued to apply his faith and culture in a long campaign of resistance to Communist domination of Poland following the War.
“Following his election as Pope John Paul II in 1978, he inspired a broader movement of resistance that led to Poland’s Solidarity movement, which created the groundwork for the collapse of the Soviet Empire during his Papacy.
“St. John Paul was perhaps the most travelled leader in world history, visiting 129 countries during his pontificate. His biographers believe that he was greeted by larger crowds and seen by more people than any single figure in history.
“His message as a Christian pastor had special resonance for Catholics, but his impact reached well beyond sectarian divides. His historic rapprochement with the Jewish community, and his universal message about human dignity made him a uniquely powerful figure in both political and moral terms.
“St. John Paul’s visit to the Edmonton area in 1984 is still fondly remembered by many Albertans. On that trip weather prevented him from hiking in the Rocky Mountains, leading him instead to spend several hours in Elk Island Park, which became for him a highlight of his visits to Canada.
“On behalf of the United Conservative Party, I join with those observing St. John Paul II Day – particularly Alberta’s Catholic and Polish communities – in hoping that his example will inspire future generations to ‘be not afraid.'”