Since 1913, when Pope Pius X gave his apostolic blessing to the Belgian
Baden-Powell Boy and Sea Scouts, every pontiff has made public statements regarding Scouting. Starting with Pope Pius XI, these statements have been uniformly positive. I plan to include these, as well
as others, in my book.
Below are a few of those papal messages.
Pope Pius XI (1)
If we understand anything that relates to your scoutship, it is that there are two signs characteristic of the
good and brave Scout, and in these two signs are summed up all the others that might be mentioned. These are prudence and courage.
Prudence, industrious, watchful, quick, scrutinous, resourceful and observant! Courage, that is to say, that
state of soul which fears nothing save God and evil; God, and that which offends Him, that darkens at the
same time the nobility and dignity of the soul. And so there are these two qualities, this prudence and this
courage, which you must carry into your Catholic life and profession. Thus, being Catholic Scouts, you will then become Scout Catholics!
Pope Pius XI(2)
To the Scouts on the International Scout Pilgrimage to Rome
Beloved Sons -- This Holy Year, in the eight months that have already passed away has given us great
consolations, great for the heart that felt them, and great and splendid for the eye that beheld them. Yet more
of such consolations (for which we are debtors to the infinite mercy of God and to the devotion of our good
children) still await us. But certain it is, that the consolations that you give to the heart and to the eyes of your
Common Father with the spectacle of your filial devotion is, without doubt, among the finest and most
welcome, and in certain respects, not easily to be exceeded, and certainly up to the present moment at least,
unsurpassed. We see before us near to Our view and close to Our heart, rank after rank of so many of our
sons come from so many quarters, not only from Italy but from many other countries, and not only from
countries near at hand. And you, beloved sons, in a manner peculiarly your own-peculiarly filial--(on
account of the place you hold in the universal Catholic family), make Us feel all the sweetness of that
universal paternity which from the Heart of God we felt descending into Our own heart that day, when, through the secret designs of Providence, we were called to the height of the Apostolic Ministry.
The unity and universality of this family, the catholicity of the Church, is made visible and tangible by your
presence here. You have made Us see and feel it, in a quite new manner by that particular throb of youthful
and boyish devotion which you carry with you wherever you go. For you are not only sons come from all
parts; you are dear, most beloved sons who had to show energy, discipline, fatigue and perhaps suffering
and sacrifice to come here and meet your Father. We rejoice profoundly, for your presence, which has
come about in such a manner, is a generous profession of faith, attachment and devotion to the Vicar of Christ; of faith, attachment and devotion to the ancient Church of Rome.
In the spiritual family you are the youth, the hope of the future -- generous, blooming, full of vigour -- the
hope of religion and the Church, as that of the family and the Fatherland. The more We consider the event,
the greater is Our joy and consolation at seeing you. For, little children, we know what kindness there was in
the tender Heart of Jesus; nay-we might say even the tenderness of a mother's heart rather than a father's.
But when He meets with youth (as with you), with the first bloom of youth in their countenance, and the vigour of life in their smile, then indeed His Heart is moved with a special tenderness.
Of the Apostles, John, the youngest, was the best beloved. The Divine Master had no secrets from him, and
to him was granted what was never given to others, to rest his head on the sacred breast of the Redeemer.
When Jesus met a young man full of noble desires, inflamed with good and holy inspirations, in a magnificent
phrase the Gospel says, "looking on him, He loved him,"-- He gazed on him with the deepest affection of His divine Heart.
When He meets one such youth, snatched away by death, an especial pity extended to his sorrowing mother
, overwhelmed Him, and he performs one of the most beautiful of the miracles that the Evangelists love to
narrate, and describe in words truly divine. And when He brings him back from death to life, to restore him
to his mother, He addresses him by a name suitable to his age, by a name applicable to you, my dear sons, "Young man, I say to thee, arise!"
We have before Us here gathered in you young men, a chosen band, a very comely and strong body. And
you are such, not only because you are Catholic boys, but also because you are young Catholic Boy Scouts,
Catholic Scouts--this is of no slight significance to one who well considers and can appreciate the meaning
of these words, "Scout" --not every boy can be a Scout, and although the energy of youth is manifold (its
very vastness indeed is quite fantastic) not all are Boy Scouts. Many there are of easier, of quieter, of less
strenuous ways of life. A Boy Scout must have an ever-ready command of energy and of courage, of calmness and of reflection. And a Catholic Boy Scout must have a profound sense of God, of His divine law
, of His Divine Presence, which harmonizes the wonders of nature, and discovers to us its most obscure and hidden details, its secrets, and most precious lessons.
We have said: Strength and Courage. To see you is to be convinced that you do not lack either the one or
the other. And We well know that both of them are so necessary to all Scouts. But strength and courage
alone are not sufficient for the Catholic Scout. In the Mass which We celebrated this morning, and at which
you assisted with your prayers, there occurs a passage from the Epistle of Saint Paul to the Galatians which
you ought to read again and again. In that Epistle the Apostle tells us, that nature of itself, is not sufficient, but
the spirit also is necessary, courage and material forces are of themselves unavailing. Saint Paul says where
matter is predominant, violence, intemperance and uncleanness hold sway. But on the other hand, where the
spirit predominates are to be found all the sweetnesses of charity with all the graces of purity. It would
appear that the words had been especially written for you, for in them you will find that which should be the
splendour and glory of your life. Strength and courage not only to explore the extremities of the earth, to
traverse arduous paths, but rather to mold the will and subject the flesh to the spirit to direct it in the path of
duty even when duty is hard and demands sacrifices, whether by reason of adverse circumstances, or by
reason of its own intrinsic difficulties. The courageous and strong Catholic Boy Scout knows well the way he should take, knows well the path traced out for him by Duty.
Calm and reflection. Your calling does not consist in seeking after foolish adventures, but in the training of
the spirit to the most arduous tasks. The spirit must be continually fortified and strengthened for this struggle.
During our life there is constant need of spiritual energy to enable us to do good and to fight against evil. And
for this reason, calm and reflection fit a man for his proper sphere, for the sphere assigned to him by God in
the wonders of creation. Beloved sons, it is necessary to know how to strive towards God, and it is
impossible to imagine a Catholic Boy Scout who is not inspired and guided by the thought of this necessity.
Truly it is a thought that ought to accompany and guide every man by the way that comes from God and
leads to God. But the Catholic Boy Scout who knows that beyond this visible world, there is another and
invisible world, of whose surpassing beauty visible creation is but a pallid reflection, will have no difficulty in
striving towards God in having always in mind that inspiring thought of God to illuminate his whole life with a
wonderful refulgence. Considered in such a way the idea of nature furnishes greater depths and sublimities of
thought. The whole of nature is animated by a double life, it speaks a double language. It is, as it were, a
divine atmosphere, that enshrouds all things, pervades all things, rendering them sublime. It gives to all
creatures from the lowliest to the highest a voice and an office; that voice and office intended for them in the mind of the Creator.
It is well to read the Gospel of today's Mass (that was so well chosen for your meeting, dear sons), and
learn from the divinely profound, and picturesque words of the Creator Himself, how the language of nature
may and ought to be heard and understood, even in such little creatures as the birds of the air and the lilies of the field. (Matt. vi. 24-33.)
In Our own personal experience We have seen those whose physical appearance marked them as athletes,
but their spiritual formation was not of similar calibre. We have seen them cast down and lose heart when
face to face with even minor difficulties. We have seen them unaffected by the most soul-stirring spectacles
of nature. On the other hand, We have seen simple-minded men, the open-hearted sons of the mountains,
men of faith, who knew well their Christian catechism, confronted by the wonders of nature, as when the last
vestiges of snow melts on the mountains, and the temperature grows milder, and the winds come as
harbingers of new life, and all takes on a new aspect, a new splendour and magnificence; then have We seen
them with tears in their eyes fall on their knees and bless God. Yes, We have seen them, and together with them have We prayed, adoring the power of the Almighty.
Dear Catholic Boy Scouts, We wish you always to follow faithfully the magnificent idea of Faith, "Christian
and Catholic," which you have come to Rome to revivify and which you now demonstrate so eloquently.
You have come to Rome to search out (and in this you exercise your qualities as Scouts) those spiritual
treasures which We have given abundantly to the whole world in this Holy Year of Jubilee. You have come
to seek them at the heart of Ancient Rome, your mother. You have come to visit the Holy Roman Basilicas,
kindling admiration in all hearts by your pious and edifying bearing. You have come here to occupy a
prominent position in the universal spectacle of faith, of piety, of religion, of devotion, of prayer, with which the Holy Year gladdens Our beloved city of Rome, with increased intensity day by day.
After having played your part in this magnificent display, you have desired to put the finishing touches to this
act of filial piety by extending to the Father of all a share in your intimate and purest spiritual joy. You have come as most affectionate children to ask His Blessing.
Beloved sons, Our Lord is witness to the gratitude We feel towards you for this act of filial devotion. We do
not doubt that you who have come to Rome in circumstances so joyful and holy will return to your homes
bearing away from this sacred soil every spiritual benefit. Here you Yourselves have been joined together in
a holy union of mind with your brothers from the whole world, here you have seen the Apostolic Tradition
living and working; here you have seen the brightness of Sanctity, shining forth in the canonization of so many
holy ones, whom God has given Us to proclaim among His Saints; here you have found the Church One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic. You have visited the sacred Basilicas which rise up in the splendours of the
Roman sun. But those Basilicas rise from soil drenched with the blood of the martyrs. Beneath those
Basilicas lie winding passages of the Catacombs, with their darkness, so strangely full of splendour and of
light, whence one might say with truth, radiate those rays which have attracted so many to Rome in this
wonderful year. When, therefore, you return home from this wonderful place, it will be with more profound
conviction, and with increasingly firm will, that you will repeat the sacred words of the creed: I believe in the One Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.
May you then be blessed a thousand and a thousand times, you who have come, as so many of your
brothers came, from Terra del Fuego, from the Cape of Good Hope, from Iceland, from Australia, and from
every other far-distant land. For you, what is there that We would not wish to do? We will at least give you
a little souvenir, and, since We cannot place it in your hands personally as We would wish to do, We will do
so through the Ecclesiastical Superior of the Catholic Scouts in Italy, one who has deserved so well of them.
It is a small medal, such as we have already given to all pilgrims who have come to this Eternal City, and
which has thus, in this short time, been carried to the ends of the earth. Let this medal be a reminder, not
only of the Holy Jubilee, not only of this happy hour, but above all, of the strong and holy resolutions which
you have formed in these days, and let it be a spur to practice them with ever increasing faithfulness and generosity.
And now may the Blessing of God descend upon each and all of you, upon all who have charge of you, to
lead and guide you in the paths of virtue, on all that which you have most at heart; may it descend on your
relatives and family, upon your parents, whose love and hope you are, on your younger brothers and sisters,
and the little ones, on the aged, the feeble, the sick in your homes, who perhaps envy you your bounding
youthful energy. And finally, We would express in your regard a wish inspired by what We read of the first
Scout to be mentioned in the foremost of the world's books. Caleb was eighty-five years old when Moses
ordered him and Joshua to explore the Promised Land, beyond the limits of the desert. Caleb, at that
advanced age, reminded Joshua of another exploration, which they themselves had carried out quite forty-five years previously, and declared himself ready to act with the same energy as formerly.
Such is Our wish to each one of you. And the greater will be your vigour, your strength, and your nobility of
character in later years, the more faithfully you attend now to your ideals and your duties as Catholic Boy
Scouts, the more faithfully you continue to Place the spiritual above the material, and to subject the material
to the spiritual, and the more completely you place the thought of God and the lessons of the Faith above all other thoughts, and above all other lessons.
And with Our Blessing may you receive the Blessing of God and all the inestimable riches of His Treasures.
Pope Pius XII(3)
During September 1946 the Associazione Scautistica Cattolica Italiana (A.S.C.I.) held a National Conference and Camp for the first time since their revival.
In anticipation of these meetings, His Holiness plus XII sent a message through the Secretariat of State to the
Chief Chaplain of the Association. The following is a translation of the text of the letter as reported in L'Osservatore Romano of September 5th, 1946.
To the Scouters
The Sovereign Pontiff has learned with fatherly joy that the heads of the Italian Catholic Scout Association
are preparing shortly to hold their twelfth General Council followed by a meeting of the Chaplains and Scouters and by a camp at which Catholic Scouts from all parts of Italy will be present.
Those who are to take part in these events expressed a desire to go up to the Pope's residence at Castel
Gandolfo to pay him their filial respect. His Holiness granted this and desired that they should have his blessing at the very beginning of their activities.
The Holy Father, in his affection for youth and interest in their education, fully realizes the importance of
these gatherings. The General Council has, in fact, to revise and bring up to date the rules of the Association,
which have been of the highest utility in the past, but which may be improved in several points.
The meeting of the Scouters, and after that the Scout camp, are intended to strengthen the Christian family
spirit, which endears the Scout Association to everyone, both by brotherly cordiality and by the restrained rivalry which are characteristic of these occasions.
The Holy Father is gladdened by the happy visit of so many boys to Rome, a visit which will show with what
generous help the Association is welcomed and followed up. And in order to come up to the expectations of
their superiors, the heads of the A.S.C.I. must make every effort: that their aspirations, now that it has made a fresh start, may flourish in every way possible.
Let their care be to dig deep by shaping steady and strong characters in young men who will be capable of
resisting the frivolous attractions of the world, and who will be prepared to show themselves self-possessed in every emergency.
Let them teach others first and foremost by their example (this should influence for good even those young
men who know little about Jesus Christ), and then by all other means at their disposal, that according to their
method of education, rightly understood in the catholic sense, the real joy of living does not come from
empty and evil pleasures, but from serving God in things simple and good, in games that are not harmful, but
rather recreative, in love of the beauties of nature, even in the humdrum duties of school and workshop, in
manly striving, kept up day by day, to preserve and increase God's grace in themselves, even if this costs them labour and sacrifice.
Let them not weary of holding up before their young men the noble ideal of being of service to their neighbor.
Above all the Holy Father, whose heart has been so much pained by the selfishness and hatred which
characterized the war, longs for the return of peace and love, and that men may at last consider themselves brothers.
Let it therefore be the ambition of the ASCI., from the chiefs down to the smallest Cubs, to bring back love
among men by giving an example of generous unselfishness, of widespread brotherly collaboration with all the Catholic Youth organizations, of new schemes for helping those who are in need.
And since the Scouts frequently come in contact with Scout Associations of other countries and sometimes
of other creeds, let them put into these fraternal rallies all the force of the true Catholic spirit, which sees in men the divine image of Christ and would win all for Christ.
This is a tremendous plan of campaign, which demands the fullest energy. No one can expect it to be carried
through in the space of a few months. It is the work of years and will require the practical and intelligent
collaboration of all who are interested in education. And precisely because of its varied complexity, the
Scouters must introduce this programme into everyday life, not by haphazard and sporadic schemes, but
with plans worked out with serious scientific art and with constant methodical labor which aims at conquests ever wider, but never hurried.
Moreover, it will be realized quite naturally that work of this kind, especially in a Scout organization, will
bear fruit only if the Scouters are well trained, both technically and spiritually, In these days it would be more
than ever dangerous if the heads of an institution which renders such service both to society and to the
Church should lead a halfhearted Christian life without interior strength. We need men severe with
themselves, of a solid piety, who come to know truth through prayer and reflection, who live the life of grace
through the sacraments, who set an open example of straightforwardness with faithful loyalty to the Church and fearless proclamation of their Faith.
Only on these conditions will boys and young men, who often know the real good when they see it better
than grownup men themselves, place confidence in their chiefs and follow up their teaching.
Finally, the Holy Father calls down rich heavenly blessings on all these devoted sons of his, Chaplains,
Scouters and Scouts, who so often and with such praiseworthy keenness have wished to visit him and to be
numbered amongst the Church's most faithful servants. May this blessing descend on all Scouts both in Italy and in the rest of the world.
To the Scouts
The Pope interrupted his brief holiday at Castel Gandolfo to receive in audience some 4,000 Boy Scouts;
the majority of these were members Of the A.S.C.I., but there were amongst them Scouts from Switzerland,
Holland, and Belgium. The throne was fittingly set in the open air in the shade of the trees, and the Scouts
with their Scoutmasters and other leaders stood in a semicircle facing the throne. After the address, the Holy
Father received many of the Commissioners and Scouters, and then walked amongst the boys. To them he spoke as follows:
We salute you, dear sons, as bearers of peace, who wish to make plain the road towards reciprocal confidence, to neighborliness and to the concord of souls.
What are the reasons which have conduced towards the rapid spread of the Scout Movement throughout
the world I It seems that there are three principal reasons to which this may be attributed.
Scouting reveals to youth and puts into action all that is naturally good, noble, healthy: simplicity of life, love
of nature, love of country, the sentiment of honor, self-discipline, obedience, dedication to the service of others in the spirit of fraternity and chivalry.
Scouting aims at bringing order and right measure into human life. Love of nature, yes, but divorced from
fantastic and unhealthy sentimentalism. So your recreations, your treks and your games place on each
individual Scout special duties and responsibilities, and they come only as the fulfillment of a strong and
voluntary activity in school, in the office, Or in your work. Your very holiday is only the reward of a Year of serious and attentive work.
Scouting gives to the worship and service of God that pre-eminent place that it ought to have in human life,
and in this itself disposes boys to see in all objects, in all rules, in all virtues, in all beautiful things their own true value, their own true splendor in the light of the Divine Sun.
To seek, to find, to taste, to glorify God in all His works, to see all creation in the light that illuminates it, this
it is which should constitute the foundation of your lives as Scouts.
Your association desires men united with God, men in whom religious feeling permeates all the acts of their
lives as individuals and as members of society. Even the most noble and elevated souls among you cannot
always be true and loyal, always be just and good towards others, always honest and pure without the help of divine grace.
Above all, then, without this help you will not be able to remain constantly fresh and immune from the turbid
waves of shameful seduction. These are breaking in all forms open and secret even on the good and healthy
Italian people and on its courageous and noble-hearted youth, and poison and corrupt the deepest springs of
its vigor, marriage, and the Christian family, and take away for you the blessing of God, of which in the Present time there is more than ever need.
But the help of God's grace is granted to all those who humbly raise their hands and hearts to our Lord, and
to whoever prays and attains from the supernatural fountain of grace power to think and act always holy.
Your association has for its motto, 'Be Prepared,' which means to say, Be always ready to do your duty.
We would wish to give to these words another meaning wider and more profound. Be ready at every instant to fulfil to conscientiously the will of God and to observe His Commandments.
Be ready, above all, for the moment, which God alone knows, in which our Lord will call you to render an
account of the talents with which you have been endowed; which means to say, both the graces and
supernatural gifts, and the gifts of soul and body which He has heaped upon you, that you may use them for His glory, your good, and the good of your fellows.
But from that it follows that to be always truly faithful to Your ideals as Catholic Scouts in the midst of the so
many errors that to-day cloud and lead astray the minds and hearts, you must always maintain alive the flame of your faith and the fire of your love.
Let the flame of your faith be always a lamp burning bright and splendid. This, beloved sons, is the principle
and the purpose and the secret of all true life. If you form yourselves in this spirit you will become men of such a kind as your Church and your country can securely build upon.
Pope Pius XII (4)
An address to the Seventh International Congress of Catholic Scouting, June 7, 1952.
You have chosen Rome, dear sons, as the meeting place for the International Conference of Catholic
Scouting. It is the first time that your national directors have met in the Eternal City. You are, moreover, to
discuss a subject here whose choice has brought you close to the Vicar of Christ: "The Apostolate in and
through Scouting." Eager to reply to the pressing appeals We have addressed to all Catholics, you are
willing to accept all the responsibilities which the Church's apostolate involves. That is a noble and generous resolution, in complete conformity with the spirit of scouting.
Everyone knows that religion has held the first place in scouting from the start, but you also are aware of the
added strength and precision given by Catholicism to the educational work you pursue. For you, it is not
merely a question of training better citizens, more active, more devoted to the common good of the
Temporal City: you must also train better sons of the Church. In the Catholic Church, the mission of the
apostolate goes down from the priests to the faithful; and, in our days, all the faithful are called upon to collaborate, each according to his capacity, in this apostolate.
It is true that boys are not old enough to take part in the organized apostolate, but they must be prepared for it.
The experience of 30 years has amply shown the formative value of scouting. How many great Christians,
heroes and leaders, how many vocations to the religious life and the priesthood have been born within the
troops. Fighting aberrations with zeal you have constantly revised methods and recalled principles. If the
scout loves nature, it is not as an egoist or a dilettante; nor does he enjoy merely space, pure air, silence, the
beauty of the countryside. If he develops a taste for simplicity, for a healthy ruggedness in preference to the
artificial life of the town and the slavery of mechanized civilization, it is not to escape the obligations of civil
life. If he cultivates the best of friendships in a selected group, it is not to refuse contacts or neglect to render
service. On the contrary, nothing could be further from his ideal. If he likes concrete realities, it is not that he
despises ideas or books. He is careful to educate himself fully in so far as talent allows and necessity demands.
In attaining this end, the promise to observe the Scout Law, with God's help, is a powerful lever raising
young people above weakness and temptation. Based on the foundation of the natural law, the Scout Law,
by inducing endeavor, by the daily practice of voluntary good deeds, calls for the rectitude and loyalty young
people so earnestly desire, and are happy to be helped in maintaining firmly. The Scout Law makes them
detest deceit, falsehood and dissimulation. Feeling their strength grow, young people are generous by nature:
they want to fight, stand up to difficulties they feel the need of giving, of giving themselves, of going beyond
themselves. In the open-air life and the quest of manual skills they find nourishment suited to their age.
Favored by the morality of such an atmosphere, purity is assured and gives their energy a Christian reserve and delicacy.
Who could deny the fitness of such a training in a civilization dominated by selfishness, defiance, cowardice and unbridled love of pleasure?
The first thing scouts must do in their apostolate is to give a good example in the troop. Training themselves,
individually or collectively, they are already at the service of the Church, forming the weapon they will use in
their future apostolate. The wider, the deeper the foundations they lay, the more solid and imposing the
edifice of their future lives as followers of Christ. The greater the radiance of their virtue, the more they will be called upon to work for the glory of God and the honor of the Church.
From a tender age, the scouts' training must prepare, by concrete and suitable methods of observation and
reflection, for the social, natural and supernatural realities. Scouts must learn to live in modern society. For
this, they must be wisely instructed about its structure, its good points and its faults. Especially, they must
prepare themselves to play an influential and responsible part, as far as they are able, in their milieu and in
the parish community. The training of character, which is the object of scouting, must be directed toward
social and apostolic work. It must train the scout to serve his neighbor, both in his personal contacts and also, where those of temporal and religious institutions are concerned.
The love scouts always have had for the Divine Person of the Great Leader, Who is the Way, the Truth and
the Life, must be their light and strength in their efforts day by day.
This is what We wholeheartedly ask Him, so that, on the day they are called upon to assume their
responsibilities, He will find them prepared. From today on, may the grace implored by Our Apostolic Blessing descend upon you here present, on all the national groups you represent, on the leaders, the
chaplains and all scouts.
Pope John XXIII (5)
Letter to the Chaplains of the Association of Catholic Boy Scouts in Italy. May 2, 1959.
We are happy to assure you that We are present in spirit at the proceedings of the General Council of the
Association of Catholic Boy Scouts in Italy and We send Our cordial greeting and good wishes to the participants.
It gives Us fatherly satisfaction to draw attention to this deserving association's noble aspirations, its
energetic activity, and its growth. It is a school of wholesome and competent preparation for life, with the
purpose of forming Young men, from childhood on, into adults of character who will be loyal citizens, well
trained in discipline, hardened to sacrifice, and above all, good Christians aspiring to virtuous lives, active in charity, devoted to the Church, eager to bear witness to their faith.
For so generous an undertaking We wish increasingly effective progress to the benefit of those cherished
young souls, so that they may be educated to a sense of responsibility and faithfulness in their religious,
family, and social duties. We are confident that the zeal of the ecclesiastical assistants and the self-sacrifice
of the directors will be crowned with new and consoling fruits. Supporting Our hopes with fervent prayers to
God, with all Our heart We impart the desired Apostolic Benediction to you, the Chief Ecclesiastical
Assistant, to your aides, and to those assembled here, and We gladly extend it to the entire family of the Catholic Explorers of Italy as a token of abundant graces from heaven.
Pope Paul VI
Special message to the Scouts the 11th World Jamboree (6)
"While thousands of Scouts from the whole world are gathered at this moment on the aims of Marathon for
their traditional jamboree, Our heart goes out to them with paternal 'affection. Following the example of Our
recent predecessors, We invoke with a heart full of notion the protection of Almighty God on their great world assembly.
"Having Ourself known the Scout movement very closely for a long time past, We appreciate re educational
qualities of this magnificent association and its ability to develop the best elements of personality in the souls of young men.
"Among these elements are: respect for honor and loyalty, the service of one's fellow man in a spirit of
fraternal devotion, training re physical and moral courage through a discipline voluntarily accepted. All these
are human values which Christianity has always recognized as its own and which it has always encouraged.
To see this ideal shared and practiced throughout the world by an increasing limber of young people gives Us cause for profound joy and firm hope."
And ".. . It is such men as these that the world needs today more than ever.
"Therefore, my dear ,Scouts of the 11th jamboree, dedicate your efforts and Sour honor toward looking
always higher and always farther. Look higher than the easy life of the modern cities, higher than the material
interests of pleasure, where too many souls sink and are debased! Look farther afield than the narrow calculations of individual selfishness, than the petty rivalries of race, language, and nations.
"May your 'great game of friendship,' the symbol of the spirit which inspires you, help toward overcoming
the artificial barriers raised between men or ethnic groups. May it be for all of you an inducement to move
forward along the paths of universal brotherhood which was taught by Christ and based on the recognition of the one and only and Almighty God, the Father of all men!"
Continuing the Pope stated: "Your jamboree is being held also at a time which coincides with the Ecumenical
Council, at an historical moment when an immense desire rises from souls to put an end to centuries-old divisions. May you know how to recognize this breath of the Spirit and be inspired by it.
"To Our beloved sons, the Catholic Scouts, to their brothers of all nations gathered with them on the Plains
of Marathon, to the organizers of this great event, and finally to you, Venerable Brother [Archbishop Benediktos Printesis of Athens], go Our cordial greetings, Our congratulations, Our wishes and Our
At Castel Gandolfo, Pope Paul VI urged a group of Scouts to prepare for the future by developing the
"qualities of leadership upon which the Scout movement lays so much stress."
He continued, "We are confident that We understand the significance and the importance of your Boy Scout
movement ... Your Scout Oath and your Scout Law, which We know very well, keep ever before your eyes the grave responsibilities which are yours."
And then, "Tomorrow, you and others like you," he said, "will be the leaders of your countries, and it is
necessary that you prepare yourselves now for this task."
"... To be good citizens, you must first recognize your relationship to God Who is the Father of all mankind.
We are all His children and therefore brothers of one another. Remembering this, you will always strive to
do what; is best for yourselves and for your neighbor, and in this way you shall be building the foundations
for true peace. If you recognize the natural dignity and goodness of others, you will respect their rights."
John Paul II(7)
Homily in Piani di Pezza, Abruzo, Italy, August 9, 1986.
The sculptural expression just heard from Saint Luke's Gospel, on this pre feast-day celebration, acquires a
special meaning when addressed to you, members of the Italian Catholic Scout and Guide Association. Your motto has been taken from the first words: "Estote Parati''.
You certainly care so much for the image of belts around your hips and oil-lamps lit what its fascination you
must have experienced during your trips up in the mountains as you sat by the fires. Its origin comes from the
old Jewish custom of rolling up their dresses around their hips for an easier and quicker gait, when setting out for long journeys, especially the pilgrimage to Jerusalem.
The exodus makes reference to this use when describing the Passover Lamb supper: "Thou shalt eat it with
Your hips girt on, shoe on your feet, stick in hand: eat it fast" (Ex 12,1 ) A very significant image for you, as
it expresses the alert attitude of who sets off in search of God, leading a life of temperance and freedom from the reality that obstructs the spirit, making the way burdensome.
It belongs to scouts who are not fond of a sedentary and quite life, well aware that God's Kingdom is not
made for quitters, inattentive or superficial people that let the occasions for grace placed along their life path by the Providence escape them.
"Estote Parati" your attitude towards God must be like Abraham's readiness and availability, faith and loyalty
as it is mentioned in today's second reading: "Moved by his faith, Abraham obeyed when he was called by
God and set off for a place he was to inherit. Moved by his faith he stayed in the promised land like an alien
dwelling in a tent" (Eb 11, 8, 9). Abraham is the explorer for excellence who has belt his life on God's Word
, and has waited against all hope, and finally ventured on a risk and unsafe journey: "he left without knowing
where he would go" (Eb 11, 8). He wagered his life on faith as a total surrender to God, faith that did not
guarantee anything. that did not follow human logic. Nonetheless, the great Patriarch did not withdraw. On
the contrary, he lived his own faith with no doubt whatsoever, trusting God even if it seemed absurd of
paradoxical at first glance. He did it because during his earthly Pilgrimage he never lost sight of the celestial
abode- "the architect and constructor is God himself'. (Eb 11, 10). Besides, the promised land symbolizes for him a place to be reached beyond the earthly life's end.
Let's hope that Abraham's examples serve you who venture along difficult, unknown, and dangerous infested
roads, as a stimulus for continuous firmness and perseverance so that obstacles never discourage or overwhelm you.
The mountain trips, the crossroads, camping, the ceremony of commitment, the outdoor Mass service, the
songs around the campfire or under the light of the moon are many opportunities that be beyond the simple
physical act and become events that leave an unforgettable trace on the soul. Events that stimulate the deep
meaning of a person, a signal that escapes those absent minded or dazed in a materialistic approach to life.
Only a life spent in close contact with nature teaches and yields a mystical exaltation. That is, the effort, the
hard work, and the courage necessary for the choice of a concrete evangelic way of life. The conversion you intend to undergo these days following Paul from Tarso's examples leads down this path.
In this prospective all "human and Christian choices'' will be valid and certain because you have learned to
overcome the frequent impermeable thickness found in things and human relationships; which apprehends
the soul's transparency that enlivens all creations and prepares the souls to get in touch with the supernatural.
Roads that lead to Christ's experience. The road to the Tabor and the Emmaus but which passes through the
Calvary too. To grow into somebody, or to make something important in life, the passage through suffering and sacrifice is compulsory: "Per Crucen ad lucem".
When I received the proposal to come and meet this big group of 1400 Rovers and Rangers with whom I
am not as familiar as with the little ones, I seemed to apprehend a sort of commandment: you must go
because they are the Church. Their presence is in IT and their utmost desire is to bring the human and
Christian experience of scouting to the Church. I greet you for what you are and represent, a very precious part of the Italian Church.
I would like to extend my greetings to all the other Churches attending this gathering as the representatives of
many countries are among you. I have heard the sounds of French, English, Portuguese and Greek. The Representatives of Burkina Faso (Africa), have come as well and some Japanese participation has been
noted also. My welcome is extended to the representative of Turkey too.
Welcome to you all and your guests. I hope you will become a major part a constructive and fully conscious part of the Church.
My dears fellows, being a Christian is a wonderful thing, a great vocation and privilege. One of the fathers of
the Church defined a Christian as "Alter Christus".
Being a Christian is an important thing a reliable evidence and a great responsibility. I hope you are
Christians in the full and deepest sense of the world, Christians as were the first witnesses of Christ.
We can affirm that the most substantial evangelical and apostolic meaning of Christian is to be a witness of Christ, who was crucified and rose again".
John Paul II(8)
Speech to the members of the World Scout Committee, Italy, August 1986
"Be exemplary witnesses of the values that you promote"
I am pleased to welcome this distinguished group which includes the Secretary General and members of the
World Committee of Scouting, representatives of the International Catholic Conference of Scouting and of
AGESCI (Italian Catholic Scouts and Guides Association). In line with the many instances in which my predecessors have praised the noble aims of your Movement and its achievements on a worldwide scale
since Lord Baden-Powell founded it just over eighty years ago, appreciation of Scouting as a magnificent
educational experience and form of social and religious commitment. I am happy to know that today over
sixteen million young people of all races, religions and cultures on every continent take part in Scouting activities within the structure of your movement.
In the changing political and social circumstances of the present moment, you are finding new opportunities
for a renewed presence of your organization in the countries of central and eastern Europe. You are also
making notable progress in Asia, Africa and Latin America, while Scouting continues to attract many young
people in countries in which it has traditionally been strong. In congratulating you for the dedication and
dynamism with which you serve this cause, I wish to encourage you to continue to uphold the high ideals and
challenging programmes of personal development, friendship, brotherhood and service which make your movement so appealing to youth.
Scouting is above all an education. The members of the Movement experience it as a growth into personal
maturity and social responsibility. They learn to assume their place in life with a high degree of commitment
to the common good. They learn to care for the less fortunate. They develop a fervent desire to build a
culture of goodwill, they learn openness and harmony in human relationships, respect for the environment,
acceptance of duties, including the most fundamental of all duties: love of the Creator and obedience to his will.
Scouting is a movement capable of helping millions of young men and women to work for a civilization of
"being" , in contrast to the civilization of "having" which is producing in so many societies such alarming
manifestations of selfishness, frustration and despair, and even of violence as a way of life, The true value of
your Movement lies in transmitting a humanism expressed in right judgment, strength of character, refinement
of spirit, and perseverance in the pursuit of truth and goodness. The success of the scouting method certainly
has much to do with the way young people are led to discover for themselves and live these qualities through
activities suitable to their age. The spontaneous and open style of Scouting activities, within a framework of
self discipline and a clear code of behavior, makes these activities particularly attractive to the naturally enthusiastic and nature of youth.
Concern for Christian values was an essential part of the original programme of Scouting devised by Baden
-Powell. It is precisely this openness to the religious dimension of life that gives body and direction to the
human and ethical values which the movement seeks to transmit and of which Scout and Guide leaders are
called to be exemplary witnesses. It is true that Church has a special interest in the well-being of Catholic
Scout and Guides, particularly through the activity of the International Catholic Conference. But I would
assure you that she holds the entire Scouting Movement in high esteem, and is confident that cooperation
and exchange between all its component organizations is an important part of the further strengthening and success of the movement as a valid educational experience.
Dear friends, I renew my sentiments of esteem and my encouragement in your regard. You and the members
of your movement may be proud of the great Scouting traditions of personal excellence and self-giving in the
service of God and neighbor which you have inherited. I invoke God's blessings upon you as you strive to
address the many questions facing your organization today and meet the challenges of maintaining the high ideals of Scouting.
John Paul II
Pope John Paul II spoke to Scouting's international officials in Oct. 1990. Parts of his address are
included in the "Annex to the Catholic Scout Charter" approved by the Vatican in July 1992.
"In line with the many instances in which my predecessors have praised the noble aims of your movement
and its achievements on a worldwide scale since Lord Baden-Powell founded it just over 80 years ago, I
assure you of my own personal appreciation of Scouting as a magnificent educational experience and form
of social and religious commitment. I am happy to know that, today, over 16 million young people of all races, religions and cultures on every continent take part in Scouting. . . .
In . . . changing political and social circumstances . . . you are finding opportunities for a renewed presence
of your organization in the countries of central and eastern Europe. You are also making notable progress in
Asia, Africa, and Latin America, while Scouting continues to attract many young people in countries (where)
it has been traditionally strong. I encourage you to continue to uphold the high ideals and challenging programs of personal development, friendship, brotherhood and service which make your movement so
appealing to youth.
Scouting is above all an education. Members . . . experience it as a growth into personal maturity and social
responsibility. They learn to assume their place in life with a high degree of commitment to the common good
. They learn to care for the less fortunate. They develop a fervent desire to build a culture of goodwill; they
learn openness and harmony in human relationships, respect for the environment, acceptance of duties, including the most fundamental of all duties, love of the Creator and obedience to his will.
Scouting is . . . capable of helping millions of young men and women to work for a civilization of "being", in
contrast to the civilization of "having", which is producing . . . such alarming manifestations of selfishness,
frustration and despair, and . . . violence as a way of life. The true value of your movement lies in transmitting
a humanism expressed in right judgment, strength of character, refinement of spirit, and perseverance in the pursuit of truth and goodness.
The success of the Scouting method has much to do with the way young people are led to discover for
themselves and live these qualities through activities suitable to their age. The spontaneous and open style of
Scouting activities, within a framework of self discipline and a clear code of behavior, makes these activities particularly attractive to the naturally enthusiastic and generous nature of youth.
Concern for the Christian values was an essential part of the original program . . . devised by Baden-Powell.
It is precisely this openness to the religious dimension of life that gives body and direction to the human and
ethical values the movement seeks to transmit. . . . It is true that the Church has a special interest in the well
-being of Catholic Scouts and Guides . . . but I assure you that she holds the entire Scouting movement in
high esteem and is confident that cooperation and exchange between all its component organizations is an important part of (its) further strengthening and success. . . .
You . . . may well be proud of the great Scouting traditions of personal excellence and self-giving in the
service of God and neighbor which you have inherited. I invoke God's blessings upon you as you strive to
address the many questions facing your organization today and meet the challenges of maintaining the high ideals of Scouting."
John Paul II(9)
To the International Conference for Catholic Scouting
On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the founding of the International Conference for Catholic
Scouting, it gives me great pleasure to join in thanksgiving with the men and women who have taken part in
the Catholic scout movement since its inception and who have received the demanding spiritual and human training which assists them through their daily lives.
The fusion of scouting methodology and the intuitions of Fr. Sevin SJ resulted in the creation of a pedagogic
system based upon evangelical values - a system in which each young person is helped to blossom and
develop their own personality by bringing forth the talents of each individual. The scouting law, as it trains
young people to follow the path of honour, draws them towards moral rectitude and the spirit of virtue thus
guiding them towards God as it calls upon them to serve their brothers and sisters. Learning to do good,
they become men and women capable of taking on their responsibilities within the Church and within society
. In their patrols, on camp and in many other situations, scouts discover the Lord through the wonders of His
creation which they so deeply respect. Theirs is also a wonderful experience of religious life as they get to
know Christ through personal prayer and the celebration of the Eucharist. In addition, scouting unity offers young people the opportunity to learn about life in society through mutual respect.
The international scouting fraternity creates links between people of different cultures, languages and
confessions and sets up the possibility of dialogue between them all. In this spirit, I applaud the work of the
teams of leaders and those scout units who take the trouble to bring the ideals and pedagogic system of the
scouting movement to the often disorientated young people from the inner cities and the industrial suburbs.
This is truly fraternal work which contributes to the evangelisation of people who are often at a distance from
the Christ and His Church as well as developing peace and co-operation among people in general. I applaud
the attitude of those responsible for the young people within the movement who encourage encounters with
other religious communities in an ecumenical spirit, educating through dialogue and instilling respect for one
another. While never weakening the principles of catholic scouting, such approaches between young catholic
scouts and young people from other religious persuasions allow Christ to be better know and more loved.
I also acknowledge scouting as an important maturing ground for vocations for young people who may wish
to join the priesthood or become involved in religious life or whose calling may be to married life according
to the teachings of the Church. It is within this educational framework that young people can find that
fraternal support and essential guidance from their leaders and their companions to assist them in responding fully to the call of the Lord.
As the year 2000 approaches, I fervently hope that the scouting movement continues in its quest to discover
the most radical ways of living out its evangelical activity, bearing witness in communion and harmonious co
-operation. In this sense, it is important to accord special acknowledgment to the particularities of certain
units within the various federations in a spirit of dialogue and understanding. It would also be of particular
significance if the unity of the scouting movement, occasionally fragmented in the past, were to become
complete during the Jubilee. Such unity would bear witness to fraternal love and reconciliation in the eyes of the whole world, thus allowing the disciples of the Lord to be known. (cf. 1 Jn 4, 7-9)
Calling on the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the intercession of Our Lady for all thus involved in the
scouting movement, I fervently encourage the movement to carry on with and intensify the service it gives to
the young people of the world both by offering them an ideal and proposing Christ as a model of perfectly
accomplished human life and as the path towards goodness, because He is " the Way, the Truth and the Life
" (Jn 14,6). To all the members of the International Conference for Catholic Scouting, with all my heart, I bestow the Apostolic Blessing.
1. "Pope Pius XI and the Boy Scouts." America, 29 (August 11, 1923): 407.
2. The National Catholic Committee on Scouting. The Holy Father Speaks to Boy Scouts. Boy Scouts of America: New York, ca 1935. (NSM)
3. Pope Pius XII. "Catholic Scouts and the Apostolate." Clergy Review, 37 (October 1952): 617-619.
4. Pope Pius XII. "The Values of Scouting." Catholic Mind, 51 (April 1953): 255-256.
5. Pope John XXIII. "Boy Scouts." The Pope Speaks, 5 (Fall 1959): 387.
6. Paul VI, Pope. His Holiness Pope Paul VI Speaks for Scouting. National Catholic Committee on
Scouting: New Brunswick, 1968. (Photocopy) (NSM)
7. International Catholic Conference of Scouting. John Paul II and Scouting. International Catholic
Conference of Scouting: Montevido, Uruguay, 1994.
8. International Catholic Conference of Scouting. John Paul II and Scouting. International Catholic
Conference of Scouting: Montevido, Uruguay, 1994.
9. International Catholic Conference of Scouting, The Vatican, 13th September 1998