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Pope joins 800,000 youths in Toronto
for 17th World Youth Day

MANILA, August 11 -- Pope John Paul II began his apostolic trip to Toronto, Canada, Guatemala City and Mexico City, his 97th outside Italy, after a 7,147 kilometer, nine-hour flight from Rome last July 23.  He was to preside at the celebrations on the occasion of the 17th World Youth Day in Toronto, and proceed to Guatemala City and Mexico City to canonize Blesseds Pedro de San Jose de Betancurt and Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin.

Upon arrival at the Lester B. Pearson International Airport in Toronto at 1 p.m. local time (7 p.m. Rome time), the Pope was received by Prime Minister Jean Chretien, Governor David Young of Ontario, and Mayor Mel Lastman of Toronto, representatives of the diplomatic corps and political and civil authorities. Cardinal Ambrozic, Archbishop of Toronto, Bishop Jacques Berthelet, C.S.V., president of the Episcopal Conference of Canada, Cardinal Jean-Claude Turcotte, Archbishop of Montreal, and different religious leaders were also present, as well as 72 young people who represent the 72 dioceses of Canada and five youths from the five continents.  It was the Holy Father's third visit to Canada, following previous trips in 1984 and 1987.

After listening to Prime Minister Chretien's words of welcome, the Pope thanked those present "for welcoming the idea of holding the World Youth Day in Canada and for all that has been done to make it a reality."

"Young people from all parts of the world," he said, "are gathering for the World Youth Day. With their gifts of intelligence and heart they represent the future of the world. But they also bear the marks of a humanity that too often does not know peace or justice. Too many lives begin and end without joy, without hope. That is one of the principal reasons for the World Youth Day. Young people are coming together to commit themselves, in the strength of their faith in Jesus Christ, to the great causes of peace and human solidarity."

When the welcome ceremony concluded, the Pope went by helicopter to Strawberry Island, located 95 kilometers from Toronto, where he remained until the afternoon of the 25th.

Pope takes boat ride on Lake Simcoe

The Holy Father slept well on his first night on Strawberry Island despite the time difference, Holy See Press Office Director Joaquin Navarro-Valls related to journalists traveling with the Pope (when he arrived in Canada it was 1 p.m. while in Rome it was 7 p.m.).  On Wednesday morning, he had gotten up early and had prayed for an hour and a half in the small chapel in the residence where he was staying. Afterward, he celebrated Mass with his personal secretary, Msgr. Stanislaw Dziwisz.

Due to good weather, the Pope decided to take a boat ride on Lake Simcoe. Navarro-Valls said that a group of handicapped children who live in a home on the waterfront saw the Pope pass by and approached him in pedal boats. The Pope greeted each one of them (approximately 20 or 25), blessed them and gave them each a rosary.

Upon returning from the outing which lasted two hours, the Pope decided to have lunch outside in light of the good weather. Later on, he went for a ride in a golf cart and spent time reading.

Welcome at Exhibition Place

In the afternoon of the 25th,  the Holy Father traveled by helicopter from  Strawberry Island to Toronto for the 4:30 p.m. welcome party of the youth at Exhibition Place. The theme of the celebration was the Beatitudes.

After greetings by Bishop Jacques Berthelet, C.S.V., of St. Jean Longueuil, and by five young people from five continents, the Holy Father addressed the 300,000 young people present from all over the world, assuring them that he has "been eagerly looking forward to this meeting." While listening "to the long list of countries from which you come, we have practically made a trip round the world. Behind each of you I have glimpsed the faces of all your fellow young people whom I have met in the course of my apostolic travels, and whom in a way you represent here," he said.

"The Pope, who loves you dearly, has come from afar to listen again with you to Jesus' words ... These words can set the hearts of young people aflame and motivate their whole lives. I invite you then to make the various activities of this World Youth Day which is just beginning a special time when each of you listens attentively to the Lord, with a willing and generous heart, in order to become the 'salt of the earth and light of the world'."

Subsequently, the procession of the Holy Year Cross took place and two young Canadians gave testimony about the cross' journey through Canada. The reading of the Gospel of the Beatitudes and the Pope's address followed.

John Paul II told the young people that their songs and cries of joy had shown their desire to be happy. "Many of these voices speak to you of a joy that can be had with money, with success, with power. Mostly they propose a joy that comes with the superficial and fleeting pleasure of the senses."

"True joy," he continued, "is a victory, something which cannot be obtained without a long and difficult struggle. Christ holds the secret of this victory ... It is by walking with Christ that we can achieve joy, true joy!"

The Holy Father emphasized that "with your gaze set firmly on Him" young people could "discover the path of forgiveness and reconciliation in a world often laid waste by violence and terror. Last year we saw with dramatic clarity the tragic face of human malice. We saw what happens when hatred, sin and death take command. But today Jesus' voice resounds in the midst of our gathering. His is a voice of life, of hope, of forgiveness; a voice of justice and of peace. Let us listen to this voice!"

"Dear friends," he continued, "the Church today looks to you with confidence and expects you to be the people of the Beatitudes. Only Jesus is the true Master, only Jesus speaks the unchanging message that responds to the deepest longings of the human heart. ... Today he calls you to be the salt and light of the world, to choose goodness, to live in justice, to become instruments of love and peace""

When the speech was over, the official World Youth Day 2002 song was performed. After imparting his blessing, the Pope said goodbye to the thousands of young people present and headed toward the helicopter which he boarded for Strawberry Island where he spent Friday.

Lunch with 14 youths from around the world

On the 26th, the Holy Father took a boat ride in the morning and later did the Way of the Cross, which is his custom on Fridays.

In response to the Pope's invitation, 14 youths from Canada, Germany, India, the United States, Sudan, China (Hong Kong), Kenya, Tahiti, Peru, Australia, Jordan and Bosnia-Herzegovina, who participated in World Youth Day, arrived on the island at midday to eat lunch with him. The encounter lasted two hours, with the Holy Father asking each one for news about their life and country. Of special interest were comments made by a representative of Sudan who told the Pope about the difficult situation in his country, affected by a bloody war and famine, and by another representative from China who said, "There are many people in my country who love him."

After lunch, several of the youths sang. One of the Canadians played country- rock music and a repre-sentative from Kenya performed a dance of the Masai tribes. Among the most significant gifts that the Pope received was a Chinese flag, signed with greetings from young people of the nation, on which it was written: "We hope that one day World Youth Day will be celebrated in our country."

'Let the light shine in your lives'

In the afternoon, the Pope went from the Mother House of the Sisters of St. Joseph to Downsview Park in Toronto to participate in the Vigil with young people from all over the world. The gathering had the same theme as World Youth Day: "You are the salt of the earth; you are light of the world."

After taking a ride in the popemobile while greeting 500,000 young people from 173 countries, the Holy Father went up to the podium, installed on a large stage.

The event included a welcome from young Canadians to the Pope and the pilgrims, testimony by several youths from different continents, liturgy of the Word, a speech by the Pope, prayers of the faithful, a final blessing and the singing of the World Youth Day 2002 song, 'Light of the World.'

When the vigil concluded, the Pope went to his residence in the Mother House of the Sisters of St. Joseph to spend the night.

The Concluding Eucharistic Celebration

At 9:30 a.m. on July 27, the Holy Father presided at the Eucharistic Concele-bration which concluded World Youth Day in Downsview Park. Four hundred bishops and 1,000 priests concelebrated with the Pope. Eight hundred thousand young people attended the Mass, celebrated in French, English, Inuktikut and in the languages of the diverse participants.

The Pope's homily was dedicated to the theme of the 17th World Youth Day: 'You are the salt of the earth; you are the light of the world.'  (The full text of the homily is on page 7.)

When the Mass was over, he prayed the Angelus with the young people. Before the Marian prayer, the Holy Father entrusted the fruits of World Youth Day to Mary, Mother of the Redeemer, so that "in time, with her help, they may flourish."

"I wish formally to announce that the next World Youth Day will take place in 2005 in Cologne, Germany. In the great Cathedral in Cologne the relics of the Magi, the Wise Men from the East who followed the star which led them to Christ, are honored. As pilgrims, your spiritual journey to Cologne starts today."

On Sunday, July 28, after celebrating Mass in private, the Pope proceeded to the Lester B. Interna-tional Airport in Toronto where he bid  goodbye to civil and religious authorities at 11:15 a.m. local time (5:15 p.m. Rome time), for the next leg of his apostolic trip, to Guatemala City. (VIS)

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