Below is a translation of Pope Francis’ address this Saturday at the Vatican to the Italian Catholic Adult Scout Movement, on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the Movement’s founding:
* * *
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I welcome you with joy on the occasion of the sixtieth anniversary of the foundation of the Italian Catholic Adult Scout Movement. I give my cordial greeting to each one, beginning with the national President, whom I thank for her words, and her Assistant, whom I also thank; and I am grateful also for the sign. I thank you for the work you carry out in the Church and in society, witnessing the Gospel, in keeping with the style of scouting itself. It is important to underline the ecclesial dimension of your associative reality, which gathers lay people well aware of the commitments stemming from the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation. Moved by this conviction, in these years of apostolic commitment you have been compelled to witness the values of loyalty, fraternity and love of God and of neighbor, serving generously the ecclesial and civil community.
The typical terminology of scouting uses a lot the term “way” as a significant value in the life of boys, of youths and of adults. I would like to encourage you, therefore, to continue your journey, which calls you to make way in the family; to make way in creation; to make way in the city. To walk making way: walkers, not vagabonds, not quiet ones — always walking, but making way.
To make way in the family. The family remains always the cell of society, and the primary place of education. It is the community of love and of life in which every person learns to relate to others and with the world. And, thanks to the bases acquired in the family, he is able to project himself in society, to frequent positively other formative environments, such as the school, the parish, associations … Thus, in this integration between the bases assimilated in the family and “outside” experiences, we learn to find our way in the world.
All vocations take their first steps in the family, and bear its mark for the whole of life. For a Movement such as yours, based on permanent education and the educational choice, it is important to reaffirm that education in the family constitutes a priority choice. For you, Christian parents, the educational mission finds its specific source in the Sacrament of Matrimony, for whom the task of raising children constitutes a true and proper ministry in the Church. However, not only the parents to the children, but also the children to their brothers and to the parents themselves they have a certain educational task, that of mutual help in faith and goodness. Sometimes it happens that a child, with his affection and simplicity, is able to reanimate the whole family. Dialogue between the spouses, listening and mutual discussions are the essential elements for a family to be serene and fecund.
To make way in creation. Our time cannot neglect the ecological question, which is vital for man’s survival, or reduce it to merely political questions: it is, in fact, a moral dimension that touches all, so that no one can be indifferent to it. In as much as Christ’s disciples, we have an extra reason to be united with all men of good will for the protection and defense of nature and the environment. Creation, in fact, is a gift entrusted to us from the hands of the Creator. All the nature that surrounds us is a creation as we are, a creation together with us, and in the common destiny tends to find in God Himself its fulfilment and ultimate end – the Bible says “a new heaven and a new earth” (cf. Isaiah 65:17; 2 Peter 3:13; Revelation 21:1). This doctrine of our faith is for us an even stronger stimulus for a responsible and respectful relation with creation: in inanimate nature, in plants and animals we recognize the mark of the Creator and in our fellow men His very image.
To live and closer contact with nature, as you do, implies not only respect for it, but also the commitment to contribute concretely to eliminate the wastefulness of a society that tends increasingly to dispose of goods that are still usable and which can be given to those who are in need.
To make way in the city. Living in neighborhoods and in cities, you are called to be as leaven that ferments the dough, offering your sincere contribution for the realization of the common good. It is important to be able to propose joyfully the evangelical values, in a loyal and open discussion with the different cultural and social instances. In a complex and multi-cultural society, you can witness with simplicity and humility the love of Jesus for every person, experiencing also new ways of evangelization, faithful to Christ and faithful to man, who often lives in the city difficult situations, and sometimes risks being lost, risks losing the capacity to see the horizon, to feel God’s presence. Therefore, the true compass to offer these brothers and sisters is a close heart, an “oriented” heart, that is, with the sense of God.
Dear brothers and sisters, continue to trace your way with hope in the future. Your scout formation is good training! We recall Saint Paul (cf. 1 Corinthians 9:24-27): he talks of athletes who train for the course through severe discipline for an ephemeral recompense. The Christian, instead, trains to be a good missionary disciple of the Lord Jesus, listening assiduously to His Word, always trusting Him, who never disappoints, pausing with Him in prayer, seeking to be a living stone in the ecclesial community.
Thank you, dear friends, for this meeting. I pray for you and you, please, pray for me.[Original text: Italian] [Translation by ZENIT]