16 October 1978
16 October 1978: Cardinal Karol Wojtyła becomes Pope and assumes the name of John Paul II
In October 1978, the communist authorities were surprised to see the Polish Cardinal K. Wojtyła, already distinguished in the struggle for freedom of conscience, become Pope. He took the name of John Paul II and expressed his wish to visit Poland very soon. The authorities agreed after lengthy talks, not expecting how much hope and enthusiasm the papal visit would prompt. Believers and non-believers alike knew that the highest post in the church belonged to a Polish patriot and champion of democracy.