Among some 20,000 volunteers, there are Anglicans, Jews and faithful of other religions. Leaders of major religious communities have expressed their support and urged collaboration.
The exact number of non-Catholic volunteers is unknown, because the application forms for these jobs did not require the identification of religious affiliation.
That the event is welcome, was confirmed by the appeal that Anglican Archbishop Terence Finlay of Toronto made to his flock: “Christ calls us to love God and our neighbor. This event gives us the possibility to deepen our relation with God and to know our neighbor better.” Toronto has 90,000 Anglicans.
The Jewish community has also responded to the occasion by housing young people in its schools.
“It is an incredible opportunity for all,” said Bernie Faber, executive director for Ontario of the Canadian Jewish Congress. “Together we can reflect on our future, on society, on good, and there is no better way to do so than through dialogue and meeting. John Paul II’s visit pleases many, regardless of the faith they profess. It is an honor to receive him.”
Amir Etemadi, leader of the Muslim community, is counting on the “inspirational force” of the event to the point that he hopes that one day WYD “will be held in various parts of the world simultaneously.”
“This Pope is one of the most important world symbols,” Etemadi said. “I admire him for having been often at the center of events. We must not and cannot forget that war still exists in this planet. Many conflicts have their origin in the lack of dialogue between religious groups. To choose another way is the least we can do together.”