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Thousands arrive in Toronto for World Youth Day

The cross has arrived in Toronto for World Youth Day, and so have thousands of young Roman Catholic pilgrims, waiting for miracles and Pope John Paul II.

"So many people were saying the pope might not come," said Christina Stachulak, 24. "But all the young people were saying, 'Of course he would come. He would do anything for us. We know because he tells us he loves us.' "

The pope is scheduled to arrive on Tuesday local time and spend two days resting at Strawberry Island, a retreat about one hour north of Toronto operated by the Basilian Fathers. On Thursday, he is expected to speak at a welcoming ceremony, and Saturday he is scheduled to deliver a message at a vigil. The Holy Father will celebrate Mass with approximately one million people on Sunday.

In news associated with the event, a Toronto city official has defended the Canadian government's refusal to grant thousands of visas to would-be participants in World Youth Day. Canada reportedly rejected 6,000 visa applications from the Third World for fear that people would immigrant illegally.

"The closer the date of WYD, the more people decided to attend, but the applications should have been completed before April," she said. "For many, it was impossible to know if they could come three months ahead of time, especially in the case of some African countries, applications arrived too late in our consulates," Augimeri explained.

World Youth Day 2002

Washington Post/Zenit

23 Jul 2002