TORONTO, July 26, 2002 ( – LifeSite’s roving reporter covering the various World Youth Day events in Toronto has been tremendously impressed by the joy and exuberance of the youth and has come to appreciate their discernment.  Each morning the young people are given teachings at churches all over the city by the cardinals and bishops of the church.  The reactions of the pilgrims vary greatly according to what they receive.

LifeSite’s Steve Jalsevac was present at a few catechesis sessions and noted the differing reactions with interest.  Archbishop George Pell from Australia, who gave his attentive audience in a Brampton parish the straight and unapologetic truth on moral and social justice matters was blasted by the Canadian media for his statements.  Archbishop Pell enraged some reporters by noting that Jesus warns of punishment for sins such as premarital sex and abortion.  “Jesus offers punishment and consequences. It’s right through the Gospels. … It’s important for you to defend Catholic tradition as coming to us from Christ and the apostles … We are not free to decide for ourselves what is right and wrong. Our conscience can be wrong,” taught the Cardinal.  While the teachings may have been unsettling to reporters the youth gave the Archbishop a standing ovation.  Others, such as a Canadian bishop gave unsatisfactory answers to questions leaving the pilgrims disappointed that they didn’t receive what they hoped for.

“These kids are sharp. They know when they are being given pablum and insist instead on being challenged to go against the grain of political correctness. After all, they came all this way and are enduring considerable hardship precisely to hear and see the real thing. They have for the most part been well-prepared by their mentors to grasp the jewels of wisdom and reject the fluff. That’s why they have no problem at all with John Paul II. He gives the truth to them straight and honest, leaves it up to them to deal with it and inspires them like no one else,” said Jalsevac.  Jalsevac reports that the adoration chapel set up in a building in the center of the Canadian Exhibition grounds was packed with “at least three or four hundred pilgrims all on their knees, totally silent and in prayer – awesome!”  Throughout the exhibition grounds there many groups of pilgrims from different nations dancing and singing local spiritual and cultural songs.

Francsican rap singer Fr. Stan Fortuna wowed the youth at his various performances. He has adapted rap and hip-hop type music to aid his ministry to youth in the Bronx and Harlem. Fortuna had the pilgrims moving with rhythm to deep messages about love, charity and Jesus woven into his professional rapping. One particularly popular song got everybody chanting “F.A.M.I.L.Y. – Forget About Me, I Love You – All of me for all of you.”  City officials, police and hosts of the pilgrims are generally astounded by the youth. John Jalsevac, principal of Father Michael Redmond High School in Etobicoke, is hosting almost 500 hundred pilgrims from different countries and can’t say enough about the quality of the kids. He says they are “so friendly, keep thanking me all the time and saying how wonderful everything is and they don’t leave a scrap of garbage in the cafeteria after every meal – they’re phenomenal. I’ve been getting the spirit of the whole event through them.”  Conversions of heart are aplenty with priests reporting that many youth who have not been to confession in years have found themselves being drawn back to the sacrament during the week.


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