CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, AUG. 19, 2003 ( John Paul II is certain that scout groups are a gift for the Church and for world fraternity.

He said so in his message to the International Union of Guides and Scouts of Europe. The papal message was read at the institution's 4th Jamboree, held in Poland from Aug. 1-12, and attended by 8,000 Catholic guides and scouts from 20 nations.

The participants made a pilgrimage to Czestochowa on Aug. 7, where they attended a Mass presided over by Cardinal Jozef Glemp.

According to the papal message, "the scouting experience, a privileged itinerary for spiritual growth, is of great value in making possible the integral education of the person."

In particular, "it helps to overcome the temptation to indifference and egoism, to be open to one's neighbor and to society," the Pope said. "It can effectively foster the acceptance of the demands of the Christian vocation: to be 'salt of the earth and light of the world.'"

For this reason, the Holy Father invited guides and scouts "to be faithful to the rich tradition of the scouting movement, committed to formation in dialogue, and to the sense of justice, loyalty and fraternity in social relations."

"This style of life can be your original contribution to the realization of a greater and more authentic fraternity among the peoples of Europe, a valuable contribution to the life of the societies in which you live," he said in the message.

"You are a valuable gift not only for the Church but also for the new Europe that you are seeing being constructed before your eyes," the Holy Father told the young guides and scouts.

"You are called to participate, with all the ardor of your youth, in the construction of the Europe of nations, so that every man's dignity as a loved son of God will be recognized and so that society will be built on the foundation of solidarity and fraternal charity," he concluded.

The Pope added that the fulfillment of this mission of the scouts "requires first of all that you cultivate a genuine life of prayer, nourished by the sacraments, especially by the Eucharist and reconciliation."