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The world would later receive him as Saint Pope John Paul II.His name was Karol (Polish for Karl or Charles) Josef Wojtyla. However, given the disparity in numbers, he recounts that young Karol would volunteer to play on the Jewish team in order to make the game more competitive and even out the odds. Jerzy later participated in the dialogue which led to the extension of the Vatican's diplomatic recognition of the State of Israel.He was the second of two sons born to Karol Wojtyla and Emilia Kaczorowska. His eldest brother Edmund, a doctor, died in 1932 and his father, a non-commissioned army officer died in 1941.He made his First Holy Communion at age 9 and was confirmed at 18.Later he became professor of moral philosophy and social ethics in the major seminary of Cracow and in the Faculty of philosophy at the Catholic University of Lubin (where he became the Director of the Chair of Ethic, and lectured for 25 years until his election for the Pope in 1978).
In 1953 he defended his habilitation thesis on "evaluation of the possibility of founding a Christian ethic on the ethical system of Max Scheler" at the Faculty of Theology of Jagiellonian University (It was the last habilitation before closing the Faculty by comunist goverment).
His hometown had about 10,000 residents, roughly 8,000 Catholics and 2,000 Jews. A special love for the Jewish people took root in young Karol.
He was given a nickname by his friends, "Lolek." Karol was Baptized into Christ and His Church on June 20, 1920 by a Chaplain in the Polish Army, Fr. Karol was the son of a Polish Army Lieutenant also named Karol, a tailor by trade. He had an older brother named Edmund and sister named Olga. They rejected the growing anti-Semiticism among some Poles in that troubled time. It was demonstrated dramatically during his Papacy when he visited the Central Synagogue of Rome and condemned anti-Semitism "at any time and by anyone." It was prophetically proclaimed in actions upon his visit to Auschwitz to honor the victims of the Holocaust.
Upon graduation from Marcin Wadowita high school in Wadowice, he enrolled in Cracow's Jagiellonian University in 1938 and in a school for drama.
The Nazi occupation forces closed the university in 1939 and young Karol had to work in a quarry (1940-1944) and then in the Solvay chemical factory to earn his living and to avoid being deported to Germany.