'It is very important today that a woman be adequately appreciated, and that she be able to take up fully the place that corresponds to her, be it in the Church, be it in society." Pope Francis made this statement in the Vatican this morning when addressing more than 200 participants for the World Meeting of International Catholic Conference of Guiding.

The International Catholic Conference of Guiding (ICCG) is an international group for Catholic Girl Guides and Girl Scouts. On the feast of the Epiphany in 1965 in Rome, the ICCG officially came into existence when twenty-one Girl Guide associations established the unifying group.

The guides are in Rome, June 25-30, to explore the theme of "Living the joy of the Gospel as a guide." 

In his remarks, Francis noted how the role of educational associations such as theirs--which are addressed to girls--is "absolutely determinant for the future." He stressed how their pedagogy must be clear on such questions.

"We are in a world in which the most contrary ideologies are spreading to the nature and design of God on the family and on marriage," Francis said. "Therefore, it is a question of educating girls not only to the beauty and grandeur of their vocation of women, in a just and differentiated relation between man and woman, but also to assume important responsibilities in the Church and in society."

"In some countries, where woman is still in a position of inferiority, and even exploited and mistreated," the Pope lamented, "you are certainly called to carry out a notable role of promotion and education." The Pontiff also urged them not to forget the necessary and explicit openness of your pedagogy to the possibility of a life consecrated to the Lord.

The Pope also thanked them for all the good "that the Lord has enabled you to do in hearts. At the same time, I hope that the Holy Spirit will lead the different Associations that you group together on the path to follow to be able to meet the future challenges."

"Education is, in fact, the indispensable means to enable girls to become active and responsible women, proud and happy of their faith in Christ lived in every day life. Thus they will participate in the building of a world permeated by the Gospel," he said.

He also said he appreciated the topic they chose for their meeting: “To Live the Joy of the Gospel as a Guide:”  "It is a magnificent plan: to proclaim to others, with the witness of our life, that to encounter Jesus makes us happy; that to encounter Jesus frees and heals us; that to encounter Jesus opens us to others and drives us to proclaim him, in particular to the poorest, to those who are far away, alone and abandoned."

Before entrusting the guides to Mary's care and imparting his Apostolic Blessing, Pope Francis reminded the guides: "The Virgin Mary is the model of woman according to the Gospel and according to the heart of God, of which the Church and our societies are in need. May she be for you source of encouragement and inspiration."


On ZENIT's Web page:

Full Text: http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/pope-s-address-to-international-catholic-conference-of-guiding

On the NET:

More about the Guides: http://www.laici.va/content/laici/en/sezioni/associazioni/repertorio/conferenza-internazionale-cattolica-del-guidismo.html