Pope Francis has urged Italian Catholic scouts to build bridges in a society where there is a habit of building walls.
During his address to members of the Association of Italian Catholic Guides and Scouts (AGESCI) in St. Peter’s Square Saturday afternoon, the Pope made this request after thanking the Italian association for its commitment to spirituality and education in the Catholic faith. Thousands of scouts and their leaders came from all over Italy for the audience.
“I’ll tell you one thing – but do not boast !- : You are a precious part of the Church in Italy.” Pope Francis said.
In view of the scout associations worldwide, the Pope observed, AGESCI is dedicated to promoting Catholic values and has important roles to play.
“Organizations like yours are an asset to the Church,” the Pope said, noting he is sure that their association can bring a new fervor to the evangelization and a new capacity for dialogue with society.
The Pontiff went on to stress the importance of dialogue and of the scout groups keeping close ties with their local parishes.
“You are called to find ways to integrate yourselves in the pastoral care of the particular Church, establishing relationships of respect and collaboration at all levels with your bishops, with pastors and other priests, educators and members of other ecclesial associations present in the parish and in the same territory,” Francis said, adding they cannot be content “with a ‘decorative’ presence on Sundays or major events.”
Pope Francis reminded the association of the important contribution its educational mission has for families–citing how parents entrust their children with AGESCI–and expressed his wish that the association always feels part of the greater Christian community.