- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 28, 2002

TORONTO Pope John Paul II told more than a half-million pilgrims last night that the September 11 terrorist attacks had left an icon of evil in the world that they had to overcome by building a civilization of peace and love.
Speaking to young Catholics at an evening prayer vigil, the pope said the millennium opened with two contrasting scenarios: the sight of pilgrims in Rome for the Holy Year, and the "terrible terrorist attack on New York, an image that is sort of an icon of a world in which hostility and hatred seem to prevail."
The crowd of more than 500,000 at the World Youth Day vigil cheered the leader of the world's Roman Catholics wildly, waving flags from every corner of the world and chanting his name as he spoke in French and English from beneath a 160-foot cross.
His voice strong despite symptoms of Parkinson's disease and other health problems, John Paul sharply criticized the 20th century's reliance on technology and ideology as failures because of their lack of reference to an individual's spiritual dimension.
"The question that arises is dramatic: On what foundation must we build the new historical era that is emerging from the great transformations of the 20th century?" the pontiff asked.
The answer: "Christ alone is the cornerstone on which it is possible to build one's existence.
"The 20th century often tried to do without that cornerstone and attempted to build the city of man without reference to Him. It ended by actually building that city against man," said John Paul, who lived under Nazism or communism for most of his life before becoming pope.
John Paul waved at the leaping, shouting young people along the route of his "popemobile" as it made its way to a giant stage adorned with the cross, which was visible for miles.
Among those in the crowd was Prime Minister Jean Chretien, wearing a suit and tie despite temperatures that reached the high 80s.
For one of the few times so far on the trip that began Tuesday, John Paul used a cart pushed by aides to cross the stage, his normal practice in recent months. In Canada, he had made a point of walking with a cane, usually with an aide holding his arm.
Singing songs and carrying what they needed to spend the night outdoors, the crowd jammed streets in north Toronto to get to the concrete expanse at Downsview Park, which is as big as 180 soccer fields.
The Mass today will conclude nearly a week of activities marking World Youth Day, an event inaugurated by John Paul in 1985. More than 200,000 young Catholics from 170 nations registered this year, a decline from previous years.
The pope proceeds to Guatemala tomorrow, then to Mexico to complete his 11-day trip, the 97th of his nearly quarter-century papacy.

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2020 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide