Two priest walk as they hold pictures of Pope John Paul II (L) and Pope John XXIII in front of St. Peter's square, in Rome April 25, 2014. (REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini)
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Pope John Paul II, who will be made a saint Sunday along with John XXIII, was a charismatic leader who helped topple communism but was criticized for failing to tackle the scourge of child sex abuse by priests.The first non-Italian pope since the Renaissance, and the first from Eastern Europe, Polish Karol Wojtyla was hugely popular, eschewing the pomp that surrounded his predecessors and seeking contact with ordinary people.During a papacy that lasted nearly 27 years, John Paul II traveled far and wide, often greeted by massive crowds as he championed peace, denounced human rights abuses and deplored the decadence of the modern world.His first foreign visit was to his native Poland.Despite Soviet warnings, communist authorities were unable to head off the pope's 1979 trip, when he appeared before million-strong crowds speaking powerfully for human rights.John Paul II was the first pope to pray in a synagogue, in Rome; the first to enter a mosque in an Islamic country, in Damascus, Syria; and the first to preside a meeting of the heads of all the major world religions in 1986 .
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