TORONTO (CNS): Pope John Paul II left Toronto without fanfare and huge crowds to send him off, but he demonstrated the same strength he had shown throughout World Youth Day by walking up 19 steps to the aircraft taking him to Guatemala City.
The July 29 departure ceremony lasted about 15 minutes and did not include any speeches. Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien, who met the Pope when he arrived, did not attend this departure.
Instead, a small crowd of Canadian dignitaries, World Youth Day officials, Church leaders and members of the World Youth Day choir and the cast who performed in the July 26 Way of the Cross greeted the Pope on the tarmac of Toronto’s Lester B. Pearson International Airport.
The youths, who took a lot of pictures and waved at the Pope, immediately cheered him on when he began walking up the plane’s steps. They continued to wave and cheer as the Pope waved to them from the top of the steps and gave the youths a final blessing.
As the Pope boarded the plane and while it prepared for take-off, the youths continued singing many of the songs that had been part of the World Youth Day celebration.