Vatican City (AsiaNews) - Catholic Scouts are "a valuable part" of the Church, they offer "an important contribution to families" in the education of young people and may bring "a new evangelizing fervor and a new capacity for dialogue with society". But they must integrate themselves within the context of the pastoral action of their local Church establishing relationships of respect and collaboration at all levels" with bishops, parish priests and other priests. St Peter's Square was transformed into a sea of blue today for Pope Francis meeting with Agesci, the Association of Italian Catholic Scouts.
Among at least 100 thousand scouts present, who also filled the Pius XII square and the beginning of Via della Conciliazione, Francis toured at length in his white jeep, which gradually became drapped with dozens of colorful "scarves" thrown to him by the young people as he passed by.
"I'll tell you one thing - the Pope told them - but do not boast about it: you are a valuable part of the Church in Italy. Perhaps the youngest among you don’t realize this, but you are its greatest hope so! In particular, you offer an important contribution to the families for their educational mission to children, youth and young adults. Parents entrust their children to you because they are convinced of the goodness and wisdom of the scout method, based on great human values, contact with nature, religion and faith in God; a method that fosters freedom in responsibility. Never disappoint the trust of families! And also that of the Church: I wish you to always feel part of the great Christian community. "
Recalling the "Charter of courage" prepared last year by the Agesci, Francis said that "this 'Charter' expresses your beliefs and aspirations, and contains a strong demand for education and listening made to your community leaders, to parishes and the Church as a whole. This question also involves the field of spirituality and faith, which are crucial for balanced and full growth of the human person. When someone once asked your founder, Lord Baden Powell, 'what does religion have to do [with scouting]?', He answered that "religion does not have ‘to do’ anything, because it is already part of it! There is a religious side of the Scout Movement ... The whole of it is based on religion, that is, the awareness of God and his service "(Address to conference of Commissioners scouts / guides, July 2, 1926, in Education never ends, Rome 1997, p. 43). "
"Among the many scout associations worldwide, AGESCI is one those that invest most in the field of spirituality and education in the faith. But there is still a lot of work to do, so that all community leaders-they understand the importance and derive the consequences. I know you have formation for leaders to familiarize them with the Bible, even with new methods, focusing on the narrative of a life lived in comparison with the message of the Gospel. I congratulate you for these good initiatives, and I hope that they are not sporadic moments, but are part of a project of continuing and capillary education, which penetrates all into the fabric of associations, making permeable to the Gospel and facilitating a change of life ".
"There is one thing that is particularly close to my heart with regard to Catholic associations, and I would like to talk to you. Organizations like yours are an asset of the Church that the Holy Spirit awakens to evangelize all areas and sectors. I am sure that the AGESCI can bring a new evangelizing fervor to the Church and a new capacity for dialogue with society. I encourage you in this capacity for dialogue, build bridges, not walls, build bridges. But this can only happen on one condition: that the individual groups do not lose contact with the local parish, where they have their headquarters, but which in many cases do not attend, because, while performing their service there, come from other areas . You are called to find ways to integrate the pastoral care of the particular Church, establishing relationships of respect and collaboration at all levels with your bishops, with parish priests and other priests, educators and members of other ecclesial associations present in the parish and in the same territory, and not be content with a 'Decorative' presence on Sunday or great occasions. There are, in AGESCI, many groups that already are fully integrated into their diocesan and parish reality, they do treasure the formation proposed by the parish community for children, teenagers, young people, adults, attending, along with their peers, groups of catechesis and Christian formation. They do this without renouncing their specific scout education. And the result is a richer and more complete personality. Do you agree? So let’s continue down this path! ". "Safe journey to all of you!".