Synopsis by Nathan Southern
One could easily argue that in the entire history of the Catholic faith, no papal father wielded greater global influence or exercised more widespread sociopolitical activism than Karol Józef Wojtyla (1920-2005), christened Pope John Paul II. Certainly, few were as loved or respected. A man who - at the time of his 1978 coronation - marked the first non-Italian pope in 455 years and the very first Slavic pope in history, John Paul chalked up a series of formidable accomplishments including pivotal contributions to the collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe, reconciliatory gestures with minorities historically wronged by the Catholic church, and an emphasis on traditional Biblical teachings regarding human sexuality and personal morality. Sam Summerlin's documentary Pope of the Century paints a thorough and enduring biographical portrait of John Paul II, covering his meteoric rise from priest to archbishop to cardinal to pope; the myriad of religious, social and political accomplishments during his reign; and finally, his publicly mourned death at the Vatican in April 2005.