Vatican City, 15 June 2015 (VIS) – Seventy five children and young people from the Association of Italian Catholic Guides and Scouts (AGESCI) from all over the peninsula gathered in St. Peter's Square from the early hours of this morning to meet the Pope, who shortly after 11 a.m. toured the square to greet them, warmly embracing many.
“You are a valuable part of the Church in Italy”, Francis said, praising “the goodness and wisdom of the scouting method, based on great human values, on contact with nature, religiosity and faith in God; a method that educates in freedom and responsibility”. “When asked, 'How does religion enter into scouting?', your founder Lord Baden-Powell answered that is did not need to 'enter' since it was already a part of it. There is no religious 'side' of the movement – or a non-religious one. The whole of it is based on religion, that is, on the realisation and service of God”.
Associations such as yours are a wealth for the Church, inspired by the Holy Spirit to evangelise all environments and sectors. I am sure that AGESCI can bring to the Church a new evangelical zeal and a new capacity for dialogue with society. Take heed: capacity for dialogue! Make bridges in this society where there is the tendency to build walls. Build bridges through dialogue. And this can happen only on one condition: that the single groups do not lose contact with the parish where they are based, but which in many cases do not attend as, although they carry out their service there, they come from other areas”.
The bishop of Rome, who spoke in a colloquial manner with those present, urged them to aim at finding a way of integrating themselves into the pastoral ministry of the particular Church, “establishing relationships of respect and collaboration at all levels with your bishops, parish priests and other clergy, with educators and members of other ecclesial associations present in the parish and in the same territory, and not settling for a 'decorative' presence on Sundays or on other major occasions”.