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Pope John Paul II Addresses Young Catholics in Toronto

Aired July 28, 2002 - 09:51   ET


THOMAS ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: We started with images of the pope in Toronto; we're going to take you back now to images of the pope in Toronto and the holy visit that's taking place there for World Youth Day. The mass is going on, as we speak. It's a pretty windy and rainy day. Frank Buckley joins us now live to fill us in from there. Hi, Frank.

FRANK BUCKLEY, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Thomas, the weather has taken a turn for the worse at the moment. Suddenly, we've had tremendous weather as we show you picture, take you down to the stage and show you the mass as it's getting under way right now. This is Aloysius Cardinal Ambrozic who is the archbishop of Toronto. We're being told, actually, here on the media riser, a security guard just came up a moment ago to suggest that we come down, because of the deteriorating weather.

John, you've covered a number of these staple masses, open air masses. Has it ever been this bad?

JOHN ALLEN, "NATIONAL CATHOLIC REPORTER": This is one of the worst days I've ever seen. You know, they say in the Catholic Church, when everything -- when they want to be enthusiastic, that the spirit is blowing. Well, there is a lot of blowing going on here this morning in Toronto.

You may have noticed that shot of Cardinal Ambrozic. Normally, he would be wearing his bishop's hat, that pointy hat, which is called a miter. They've obviously removed it because the fear is it's going to blow off and cause havoc. So in order to prevent that, he's going, you know, hatless here this morning.

Clearly, some of the worst weather conditions we've seen. But what is remarkable, of course, is the 650,000 to a million kids who are here, despite it all, are sticking it out here in order to be here and have this experience with the pope.

BUCKLEY: They've really put up with quite a bit. It rained overnight. They had terrible conditions for -- the vigil itself was fine, but afterward, after the pope left in the middle of the night as they attempted to sleep on the grass, they, in fact, had rain. Many of them, as the light came this morning, we could see were literally sleeping in mud. But as you said, that's part of a pilgrimage?

ALLEN: Yeah. A pilgrimage is supposed to be difficult. It's supposed to call on you to make some sacrifices. I'm reminded of that scene in the movie "A League of Their Own," when Geena Davis says to Tom Hanks, "baseball is too hard." And he says, "Hard? It's supposed to be hard. The hard is what makes it great." And there is something about that. There is an element of that in a pilgrimage, too, that you're supposed to experience ardor and difficulty in order to symbolize that human life is this journey to God, which is also difficult, but it's precisely in overcoming those difficulties that you can reach the goal.

BUCKLEY: Let's listen to the pope now.

POPE JOHN PAUL II: We are brothers and sisters of this church in Toronto and guests of a city of many (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and religions. Our presence here solves (ph) our faith. In Christ, there are Savior and the universal (UNINTELLIGIBLE) of salvation, of which this church is a sign and sacrament. (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

You young people are the eternity and strength of the church. (UNINTELLIGIBLE). Continue to press forward in the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) in the places where you live.

Bring with you the light of inspiration (ph) of the gospel of our Lord Jesus. Make (ph) now for everyone the reason for your hope. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) the light of the world.

Carry out the command of the crucified, risen Lord by being what you become (ph), to baptism, in water and the holy spirit. A baptism that we remember at the start of this (UNINTELLIGIBLE) celebration, the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) of World Youth Day. And the baptism is today in a natural manner.

(through translator): The rain brings the peace, brings peace. It is a time of baptism. Therefore, let us pray.

(speaking English): By water, spirit, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) to the universe and (UNINTELLIGIBLE) mankind. (UNINTELLIGIBLE). Lord Jesus Christ, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) of the church by the water of baptism and by the world (ph) of life (ph).

Holy Spirit, you rise us from the water of baptism as the first (ph) rules (ph) of a new humanity. You made us the son (ph) and the light (ph) of the world (ph).

God, our father, you gather your church, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Jesus on the day which recalls (ph) his resurrection. Bless your people and by this water, renew in us the joy of remembrance and the grace of our (UNINTELLIGIBLE) today of our baptism. (UNINTELLIGIBLE).


POPE JOHN PAUL II: May almighty God cleanse us of our sins, and through the Eucharist, we celebrate (UNINTELLIGIBLE) to sit at his table (UNINTELLIGIBLE). Amen.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Amen. BUCKLEY: The mass getting under way here in Toronto now. As you can see, the weather conditions still a bit difficult, but the wind has subsided somewhat. And the optimistic view is that we can see blue skies behind us, and I guess the hope is that that's what we'll be experiencing.

John Allen, for the "National Catholic Reporter," we were told that the pope -- there might be some discussion of the priest abuse crisis. We haven't heard it yet. But how significant is that?

ALLEN: Well, I think it's very significant. I mean, since January, I mean, that story, that is the priestly sex abuse scandals, the response -- or non-response -- of the bishops to the problem, has certainly dominated the life of the Catholic Church in the United States. I mean, just a moment ago, Frank, we were watching the cameras that panned across the row of cardinals standing on the stage, and we saw Cardinal Bernard Law from Boston, sort of the living embodiment of the shadow that has hung over the Catholic Church in the United States.

So the fact that the pope -- remember, this is his first trip to North America since the scandals broke -- and the fact that he would choose to address it -- and to do so on fairly blunt, fairly direct terms -- I think is a concession and a recognition of the depth, the gravity of the crisis that has rocked the church here.

BUCKLEY: Well, just as when we thought the weather was improving, here comes the wind again. But the people are soldiering on here. The young pilgrims putting up with the conditions. Young people from 170 nations coming from around the world for World Youth Day activities. How important is that to this pope? He began the whole World Youth Day festivals in the mid-'80s. Why did he do that? Where did the idea come from?

ALLEN: Well, I think part of it is biographical. I mean, here's what you remember about this pope -- he was never a church bureaucrat. I mean, he is not an isolated monarch, sitting in a throne (UNINTELLIGIBLE). He loves being with people, and above all, he loves being with the young.

And some of his best experiences as a priest were spent with young people, you know, out in the mountains. There's a famous story that when he was first named bishop, actually, he was on a camping trip with some young people on a canoe. And they had to bring him in off the canoe in order to go in and learn he had made a bishop. And his only question after saying, "yes," was, "can I go back on my canoe now?"

And so I think these gatherings with the youth remind him of those moments earlier in his life, but also there is a forward-looking aspect of it, which is this is very much a pope who has always been an optimist. Believes very much in the future. He talks about this new springtime of evangelization of faith.

And obviously, young people are the carriers of that hope. I mean, if there's going to be a better tomorrow for the church and the world, it's going to be engineered by the young people. And so the pope very much feels a connection with them that way. And you know, Catholic youth around the world know that about the pope. I mean, they know that he loves them, in a really genuine, sincere way. And so when they come to him in these experiences, there's a chemistry that's just is really unlike anything else you experience on the Vatican beat.

BUCKLEY: 82-year-old pontiff, celebrating mass here with the young people. An estimated 650,000 young people spending the night here at Downsview Park, up to a million people expected for this mass that is now getting under way. Back to you.

ROBERTS: Frank Buckley, live for us in Toronto. Frank, thank you very much.




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