ANY LAST lingering doubts there may have been that the Scots could rival the English in the warmth of their welcome for Pope John Paul were quickl■ dispelled after his arrival on Monday afternoon.
Even before he arrived at Murrayfield rugby stadium in Edinburgh to speak to the youth of Scotland's eight dioceses it was clear that the occasion would challenge the most enthusiastic reception given by any country to the Pope.
One could be forgiven for constantly having to remind oneself that it was not a cup final but a Mass, as one surveyed the crowded terraces and stand the only difference from the jubilation of fans cheering on their favourite team was that on Monday the flags were all the yellow and white of the Vatican
d--many-had the -Pope's-image on them.
Otherwise, the more than 40,000 young people cheered and sang and swayed as if they were at the most important match of their lives.
It seemed that the pleading of a priest for "profound silence, space, a vacuum that is mysterious" could not but be a waste of time. But as soon as Bishop Vincent Logan of Dunkeld began the Mass just after 4 pm a profound silence did descend on the stadium, a prayerfulness that was as sincere as the cheering had been jubilant.
It set the theme and tone for what was to come. This was unmistakably Scottish, not just in the stress on St Andrew and on Saints Ninian, Columba, Mungo, Margaret and Blessed John Ogilvie — all mentioned by Bishop Logan in his sermon — but in the clear Scottish accent of the crowd, in the kilted stewards and as a backdrop to the Mass in the unmistakable skyline of Edinburgh dominated by the castle.
But as soon as the young people had finished the response to Bishop Logan's "Go in the peace of Christ" the emotion begin to mount. It was, if anything. heightened by the fact that the Pope was running about 30
The emotion found some release in the warm reception given to the Scottish bishops as they walked on to the pitch, especially to Cardinal Hume and Cardinal Gray. But even stronger was to come.
The full force of a welcome that most commentators agreed was unique was reserved for the arrival of Pope John Paul. So intense was it that the Scottish pipe band which led his entry to the stadium could not be heard. No football team in their hour of greatest glory can have got such a reception.
On and on it went. As Cardinal Gray greeted the Pope and said that the bishops could "find nowhere a stadium big enough to hold all who wished to come," the young people chanted "John Paul, John Paul".
Again, after Anne McNeil of Barra Sang a Gaelic song of welcome in the purest of voices to the accompaniment of the harp they cheered wildly and Mr John Mone's address to the Pope they cheered after almost every sentence. Then it was Pope John Paul's turn and again they cheered and cheered, rarely allowing him to finish a paragraph.
When he told them not to decide their futures for themselves alone, they cheered. When he said that they should surrender their lives into the all powerful sustaining hands of God, they cheered. When he advised them to turn to the Holy Spirit instinctively in all their needs, they cheered.
In fact, so much did they cheer that after he had quoted Saint Paul on the sort of behaviour that would exclude them from the Kingdom of Vod, the Pope added in his hailing English: "I understand you are most enthusiastic to inherit the Kingdom of God, not to not inherit, but to inherit. I must be sure."
If it was a gently papal reprimand, it was lost on the young people. The cheering grew even more enthusiastic and broke into sustained song before the Pope could finish.
And they seemed to win him over. As they sang "he's got the whole world in his hands," Pope John Paul gently, but unmistakeably, joined in spurring them on even more.
As they chanted "John Paul, we love you, 0 Yes, we do," he told them the Italian, Polish and Spanish for John Paul. And, finally, as if giving in to it all, he ceased trying to return to his text and gave the one response that could bring it all to a crescendo: "Young people of Scotland. I love you."
Never can Murrayfield have been closer to collapse under the combined stamping feet and bellowing voices of 40,000 fans.
Then it was the turn of Ann Balsitis and Maria McGuinness to presents gifts from the young
people of Scotland to the Pope. An appeal expected to raised £8,500 had risen £15,000 and this was given to pay for an irrigation canal in Peru. The other gift was 4 wooden shepherds' crook in scribed with the words: "Feed my lambs, feed my sheep".
As if to show the underlying seriousness of the event Pope John Paul silenced all to quiet prayerfulness as his booming voice began the Creed and the stadium joined in, as of one voice. Afterwards, the Pope led the "Our Father". Then, after a blessing in Latin and a final wild cheer, he was gone, perhaps to the more important symbolism of greeting the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland under the severe statue of John Knox, but not from an event that would easily be forgotten.
The_Pope_had_arrived at RAF Turnhouse more than 30 minutes late to a quiet but warm welcome from the specially invited guests and a number of RAF families who sang "He's got the whole world in his hands".
As the BAC III taxied to the arrival area Cardinal Gordon Gray and the Scots bishops lined up to welcome the Pope. As the plane door opened, Archbishop Paul Marcinkus, the Pope's bodyguard, descended from the plane and spoke briefly to Cardinal Gray who immediately climbed the aircraft's steps to greet Pope John Paul inside the aircraft.
The Pope was introduced to the Scots Bishops and chatted briefly to each of them.
Cheering loudest of all among the crowd were 12 pupils of St Peter's Primary School, Morn ingside, Edinburgh, who were chosen by ballot from 260 pupils. With the children were the headmistress, Miss Maureen Dunn and assistant head, Miss Clare Knowles. The children had made two special banners, one of which proclaimed in Polish "Welcome to Scotland, Holy Father" and the other in English said boldly: "John Paul II, we love you".