1. Background explanation with glossary of key terms

2. Link to Biography of Pope John Paul II


4. Activity procedure
5. Extension activities

1. Begin by supplying foundation material for the student via the background explanation, the Online NewsHour articles and the glossary of terms.

2. Either individually (in short answer or essay format) or in small groups, have the students answer the following questions based on the readings (possible answers are provided in italics):

3. Discuss the responses as a class, and aim to draw conclusions about the influence of Pope John Paul II on the Catholic Church as well as on the world community.

Extension Activities
Renowned figures often have mixed legacies, depending through which lens one is judging them. For the following activity, the student will examine the accomplishments and resulting legacies of a cross-section of historical players.


1. Based on the readings and discussion, have the student briefly summarize the achievements of John Paul II, either orally or in writing.

2. Next, ask the student to draw up a pro/con list of the pope's accomplishments (i.e., draw a line down the middle of a sheet of paper, write pro on the top left, con on the top right, and note specific acts and deeds).

3. Afterwards, have the student consider the lives of 3-5 additional historical figures, identifying both the positive accomplishments (pro) and the negative (con).

4. Once done, come together as a class and analyze the findings. To assist the process, you may wish to ask:

a. Which category of historical figures tends to have more pros than cons (or the contrary)? Religious leaders like the pope? Social activists such as Martin Luther King Jr. or Susan B. Anthony? Political leaders such as Abraham Lincoln or Winston Churchill? Revolutionaries such as Mohandas Gandhi or Samuel Adams?

b. Do figures in recent history tend to have a more positive or negative legacy? In other words, what is the impact of time on how we judge individuals?

c. How willing is society to overlook personal flaws or negative acts in formulating judgments? For example, does or should the fact that Thomas Jefferson owned slaves tarnish his legacy as a champion of individual liberties? Does or should Christopher Columbus's treatment of the indigenous population of America recast his accomplishments?

d. Do certain types of public figures demand different criteria for judgment? For example, should we judge an athlete less severely than a politician? Should religious figures be held to a different standard than a military leader or a captain of industry?

e. How relative are historical accomplishments or views? How could the pope's stance on female priests or birth control be viewed by different sectors of society? By different ages? By different religions?

Extension Activity II

Assign the student to write two distinct critiques of the life of an historical figure from different perspectives. For example, for Pope John Paul II, one critique could be composed from the view of a traditional Catholic Church member, and the other from that of an advocate of Church reform. For Franklin D. Roosevelt, one critique could be written from the perspective of a labor leader and the other from an industrialist.

Ultimately, this activity is designed to encourage the student to critically examine influential figures as well as to increase his/her awareness of cultural perspectives.

National Standards
For detailed explanations, please consult

Thematic Standards
Standard 1: Culture and Cultural Diversity
Standard 2: Time, Continuity, and Change.
Standard 3: People, Places, and Environments.
Standard 5: Individuals, Groups, and Institutions
Standard 6: Power, Authority, and Governance
Standard 9: Global Connections
Standard 10: Civic Ideals and Practices

Disciplinary Standards
Standard 1: History
Standard 3: Civics and Government

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