January 14, 2011 / 12:59 PM / 7 years ago

Timeline: Life and times of Pope John Paul II

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(Reuters) - The late Pope John Paul II moved a step closer to sainthood on Friday when his successor Pope Benedict approved the attribution of a miracle to him and announced he will beatified on May 1.

Here is a timeline of the pontificate of John Paul.

Oct 16, 1978 - Cardinal Karol Wojtyla of Krakow in Poland elected as first non-Italian pope in 455 years.

June 2-10, 1979 - Returns to his communist-ruled homeland, a trip seen as a factor in the rise of the Solidarity movement.

May 13, 1981 - Shot by Turkish gunman Mehmet Ali Agca in Rome's St Peter's Square. Surgery saves his life.

April 13, 1986 - First pope since the times of the apostles to visit a synagogue; calls Jews "our beloved elder brothers."

Dec 1, 1989 - President Mikhail Gorbachev invites Pope John Paul to Soviet Union, though he never takes up offer.

April 21, 1990 - Flies to Czechoslovakia to hail collapse of communism with President Vaclav Havel.

Oct 31, 1992 - After 359 years, Pope rehabilitates Galileo, condemned by the Church for saying earth turns around the sun.

Dec 7, 1992 - Issues the Roman Catholic Church's new universal Catechism -- the first in nearly five centuries.

Dec 28, 1993 - Vatican and Israel forge full diplomatic ties after 2,000 years of Christian-Jewish hostility.

Oct 31, 1997 - Says Christians failed during the Holocaust.

March 13, 2000 - Asks pardon for the Church's sins against Jews, heretics, women and minorities.

March 20-26, 2000 - Visits Holy Land, calls for peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

May 8, 2001 - In Syria, becomes first pope to enter mosque.

Nov 22, 2001 - Makes apology for sexual abuse by priests.

August 2002 - Makes last poignant visit to Polish homeland.

Jan-March 2003 - Campaigns to avert U.S. invasion of Iraq.

April 2, 2005 - Dies.

April 8, 2005 - Funeral is global media event.

May 2005 - Successor Pope Benedict XVI eases timing rules, putting John Paul on fast-track to sainthood.

June 2005 - Sister Marie Simon-Pierre Normand, a French nun, prays to late pope and says it cures her of Parkinson's disease.

Jan 14, 2011 - Benedict declares Normand case a miracle and sets John Paul's beatification for May 1. A further miracle after that date is needed for canonization, which would make him a saint.

Writing by David Cutler, London Editorial Reference Unit;

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