Pope to Italian scouts: ‘We must defend the dignity of all human life’

As the Italian Catholic Movement of Adult Scouts (MASCI) celebrates 70 years of foundation, Pope Francis encourages them to continue to stay true to their founding values of community, education, service, and care for human life and our common home.

Apr 15, 2024

Pope Francis meeting members to Italian Catholic Movement of Adult Scouts (MASCI) in the Clementine Hall (Vatican Media)

By Lisa Zengarini
Pope Francis on Saturday called upon the Italian Catholic Movement of Adult Scouts (MASCI) celebrating the 70th anniversary of its foundation to continue to be a caring community, serving the dignity of all human life and protecting our common home.

“Persevere on your path”, he said, as he met in the Vatican with some 150 board members of the movement founded in 1954.

“More life to life”
Addressing them in the Clementine Hall, Pope Francis commended the theme chosen for the anniversary celebration, “More life to life”,  which, he said, epitomizes the spirit that inspired three important projects the Italian Scout movement plans to carry out this year: the donation of a thermal cot to the First Aid and Reception Center for migrants in the Italian island of Lampedusa;  the building of a nautical joinery in Zambia; and the planting of a new forest in Northern Italy.

The three projects, he noted, touch on three important Christian values.

Love for life is universal
The cot, the Pope noted, evokes openness to a new life in a time of demographic decline, especially in Italy where, he recalled,  the average age of the population has risen to 46.  A cot instead, Pope Francis said, symbolizes the joy of a child being born into the world, speaks to us about family life  “a welcoming and safe nest for the little ones, and of care for life "at every stage."

The Pope remarked that the fact that the donation is destined to a reception facility for migrants is also significant in this sense: “It further underlines that love for life is always open and universal, that it desires the good of all, regardless of origin or any other condition.”

Building instruments of good not of death
Pope Francis then referred  to  the construction of the nautical joinery in Zambia. Carpentry, he noted , has a particularly symbolic meaning for Christians, as it immediately brings to mind Jesus, the Carpenter of Nazareth "working humbly 'with human hands.'"

“In a world where there is so much talk about producing weapons to wage war,” the Pope said,  “ this  reminds us of man's fundamental vocation to transform God's gifts not into instruments of death, but into instruments of good", to build a just and peaceful society, "where everyone is given the possibility of a dignified life.”

“The most profitable investments today are those in the arms industry: they invest to destroy and gain through destruction!”

Listening to the cry of the Earth and the poor
Finally, regarding the third project of planting a new forest, Pope Francis noted that it reminds us of our responsibility for the common home, which God has has entrusted to to us. This, he stressed, not only has always been an important feature of scouting, but is also a fundamental value we need to uphold today as we face the dramatic consequences “of an irresponsible and short-sighted exploitation of the planet”, of  lifestyles and selfish behaviours that are, “insensitive” to the cry of the Earth , “as well as to the voice of many brothers and sisters unjustly marginalized and excluded from a fair distribution of goods.”

Continue to be an open and caring community
Bringing his address to a close, Pope Francis therefore encouraged the Italian scouts to continue to be an open, attentive and welcoming community "prophetic in courageously announcing the Gospel" and eager to meet others, "especially those who live in the existential peripheries of our time.”--Vatican News

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