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Ailing Pope arrives in Canada

An ailing Pope John Paul II has arrived in Canada to begin his 97th overseas trip, slowly descending the stairs from his plane at Toronto's Pearson International Airport.

Despite health concerns, the 82-year-old Pope is making a 10-day trip that will see him preside over the Roman Catholic World Youth Day festivities in Toronto before heading to Guatemala and Mexico.

After being greeted by Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien and his wife Aline, the Pope spoke in both French and English - Canada's two official languages - at a ceremony in a nearby hanger.

He praised Canada for its tolerance and diversity as a "temple of human rights", and said the hundreds of thousands of young people expected to take part in the World Youth Day festival were "the future of the world".

He also said that Canada's founding on Christian principles "gave vital impetus to your development as a free, democratic and caring society".

About 45% of Canada's population is Catholic.

After Canada, the Pope's itinerary will take him to Guatemala and Mexico, where he is due to canonise local figures.

The Vatican has scheduled several rest days in the Pope's itinerary. After his welcome in Toronto, he is expected to recover from the flight at Strawberry Island, a Catholic retreat about 95km north of the city on Lake Simcoe.

Crowds gathered at the Canadian National Exhibition fairgrounds to watch the Pope's arrival remotely, on a big screen, and cheered as he made it down the stairs with the help of an aide.

Pope Arrives for World Youth Fest (Washington Post)
Pope expected to speak out against greed, won't address scandals (National Post)
World Youth Day
What Youths May Ask Pope in a Time of Scandals
Catholics keep faith with the Church (The Ottawa Citizen)


24 Jul 2002