[JMJ 97 - Le Cyberjournal]

John Paul II arrives at the Champs de Mars


The Holy Father, after being greeted at Orly airport by the Cardinal Archbishop of Paris and the President of France Jacques Chirac, arrives at the WYD welcoming ceremony in an explosion of joy.


BONJOUR tout le monde! Hi, everyone!" With these words ringing out from one end of the Champs de Mars to the other, the welcoming ceremony for Pope John Paul II took off to a terrific start with a 90-minute concert of variations on the Paris WYD Hymn, itself an arrangement of a 15th-century folk song called le Chant du Bouvier. During the concert, the movement ATD Fourth World, who had been present earlier at the Trocadéro when the Pope paid hommage to their founder, Father Joseph Wresinski, cried out in over 20 languages a moving testimony in favour of children all over the world who suffer from hunger, exploitation or abandonment.

"Oh Happy Day"

Emotion increased as the Cardinals, bishops and other delegates processioned up to the podium set up in front of the Paris Military Academy, and the crowd applauded, cheered and waved thousands of flags. As Dee Dee Bridgewater intoned the song "Oh Happy Day", Pope John Paul entered the centre aisle in the Popemobile and began a tour up and down the esplanade, to the wild greetings of the hundreds of thousands of young people lined up on either side. Flags waved more briskly as people cheered the leader of the Catholic Church, and some of the people on the edge of the throng stepped into dance, to the envy of those closer to the centre and who were unable to make enough space to start dancing. As the Pope approached the podium and mounted in a special elevator shaft, the choir and crowd sang "Oh When the Saints Go Marching In" as the Pope greeted the delegates waiting to receive him in the front of the podium.

Paul-Dominique Masiclat