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Pope Francis urges scouts to ‘spread light and hope’

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CNA Staff, May 14, 2021 / 12:00 pm America/Denver (CNA).

Pope Francis urged scouts Friday to “spread light and hope” wherever they go.

Addressing members of the Scouts Unitaires de France, a Catholic scouting movement founded in 1971, the pope appealed to young people not to become apathetic when confronted with “the selfishness of the world.”

He said: “Never lose sight of the fact that the Lord is calling you all to fearlessly carry the missionary message wherever you are, especially among young people, in your neighborhoods, in sports, when you go out with friends, in voluntary work, and at work.”

“Always and everywhere share the joy of the Gospel that makes you live! The Lord wants you to be his disciples and to spread light and hope because he counts on your boldness, courage, and enthusiasm.”

The pope granted the audience to the group as it celebrates its 50th anniversary.

The worldwide scout movement was founded in 1907 by the retired British Army officer Robert Baden-Powell. Scouting was introduced to the French Catholic milieu by the Jesuit priest Jacques Sevin, who established the Scouts de France in 1920.

According to its website, the Scouts Unitaires de France began with 500 members in 1971 and has almost 30,000 today.

The pope said that the group was “a sign of encouragement to young people” amid the pandemic and the decline of social ties.

He praised its method of linking younger children with older ones “who protect and accompany the younger ones, patiently helping them to discover and bring to fruition the talents received from the Lord.”

He said: “The scout, with his willingness to serve his neighbor, is also called to work for a more ‘outgoing’ Church and for a more human world.”

“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, I urge you to be both dynamic Christians and faithful scouts!”

He praised the scouts for combining respect for others with care of the environment.

The pope also thanked couples who support the scouts, saying that they offered a witness to the beauty of marriage.

Concluding his address, he said: “I entrust the Scouts Unitaires de France to the maternal protection of the Virgin Mary. May she turn her merciful gaze upon each one of you and lead you to be faithful disciples of her Son.”

“I bless you all, your families, and the people who accompany you with their spiritual and material support. And I ask you, please, do not forget to pray for me.”

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