TORONTO (CNS): He listened to their songs, joined in their prayers and applauded their spirit, and then Pope John Paul left 500,000 World Youth Day participants with a challenge: to lead the world away from hostility and toward a ‘civilisation of love’.
At a night prayer service in a Toronto park, the Pope evoked the September 11 terrorist attacks as an emblem of a world gone wrong and said the remedy rests with a ‘new generation of builders’ dedicated to religious and ethical values.
‘The future is in your hearts and in your hands,’ the Pope said from a stage overlooking a sea of cheering, flag-waving youths.
For many in the energetic audience, the Saturday evening vigil July 27 marked an emotional high point of the Youth Day celebrations. When the 82 year-old pontiff arrived and rode slowly through the crowd in his popemobile, waving and clearly enjoying himself, the young people let loose with a 30-minute show of high-decibel affection.
‘How do you explain being blessed by the Pope? He’s the vicar of Christ,’ said Jen Messing, a 29 year-old from Minneapolis, sitting on her sleeping bag in the spot her group had staked out for the night.