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Faithful flock to Toronto

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I thought almost everyone was Catholic. Why would I have thought any differently? It certainly seemed as though "everyone" was there as we made our way through the throngs of people.

Those were very innocent eyes looking through that pope scope.

My world suddenly got a lot bigger, both physically and mentally, when I moved to a small village outside of Glasgow, Scotland the following year.

There, half the village was Catholic, the other half Protestant.

Schools, pubs, and football teams were divided along those lines. Even colours determined religion, with green the traditional colour of the Glasgow Celtics, the Catholic football team, and blue for the Glasgow Rangers, the Protestant football team.

(If you ever go to Glasgow and somebody asks you if you like green or blue, they're really asking you in a backhanded way if you're Catholic or Protestant.)

The antagonism between the two teams, at least during the mid-80s when I lived there, was unlike any sporting rivalry I had seen before or have seen since.

Football supporters loathed the other side. Fans would get beaten up on a regular basis for wearing the wrong colours in the wrong part of town at the wrong time.

In that little confined village back then, few things defined us. Being either Catholic or Protestant was one of our defining characteristics.

It was a devastating moment when as a 12-year-old I realized that the IRA was Catholic too.

Until then I had simply assumed that they weren't because they were the bad guys.

The eyes weren't so innocent anymore, nor was my blind faith in the church.

Being any one religion gives a group a common base from which to come together - like some elite club.

Only Catholics can understand what the little white wafer tastes like. Only Catholics understand what's it's like to kneel before a priest and say confession. Only Catholics understand the importance of the Pope and his visits.

Eighteen years later, the Pope is coming to Canada again.

This time the Church is celebrating World Youth Day, a bi-annual event where youth from around the world meet and celebrate their faith and learn more about the Catholic Church.

Over half a million delegates will be in Toronto from July 22 to 28 and the culminating event will be the Papal mass at the same air force base at Downsview Lands. Organizers are expecting up to one million people there.

Despite his failing health, the Pope will say a few words at the mass.

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