By Francesca Merlo
Pope Francis opened his speech to members of the French Scouts Unitaires on Friday by thanking the Council for this initiative "which recognises you, the young scouts, as protagonists in evangelisation and in the construction of society."
The scouts are in Rome celebrating their 50th anniversary.
Scouts: a sign of encouragement
The Pope went on to note that "in society, we find all too often a degradation of human relations and a lack of trustworthy models for young people in search of formation." This situation, he said, is made even more precarious by the current health crisis.
Faced with all these difficulties, the Pope noted that "your Scout movement is a sign of encouragement to young people, because it invites them to dream and to act, to have the courage to look to the future with hope."
With their willingness to serve their neighbours, Scouts are also called to work for a more "outgoing" Church and for a more human world," said the Pope.
To this end, "you have the noble mission to witness wherever you are that, with your faith and your commitment, you can enhance the richness of human relationships and make them a common good that helps social renewal." Therefore, said the Pope, "I urge you to be both dynamic Christians and faithful scouts!"
Relationship with nature
The Pope then noted that scouts "carry the message that respect for others and for the environment go hand in hand", through their erlationship with nature.
Pope Francis then invited the scouts "not to be discouraged by the selfishness of the world." Never lose sight of the fact that the Lord is calling you all to fearlessly carry the missionary message wherever you are, he stressed.
Be sowers of hope, said the Pope, and help others to rediscover the life of community. "I thank God for your witness during these fifty years in the service of your brothers and sisters, and of the Church, which you support above all with your prayers," he added.
Bringing his speech to a close, Pope Frances stressed his hope that this Jubilee "will be an opportunity for each of you to renew your commitments, in accordance with the legacy received from those who have preceded you, in order to help young people to become free and responsible persons, respectful of others and of their environment."
Finally, he prayed that the Virgin Mary might protect the Scouts and turn her merciful gaze upon them all.