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Yet I have known Christian Guiders as well as Scouters do exactly the same thing with Jews or Hindus or people of other beliefs present, and these on their part have sat under it, too polite to raise objections but none the less made uncomfortable by it. Once, at a mixed gathering at a “Scout’s Own” a speaker carefully avoided much reference to Christ and was accused by some there of ‘denying him’. His defence was that he was rather following Christ in that he was showing Christian deference to the feelings of others who, equally with himself, were sons of one Father, under whatever form they rendered homage to God. Would a Catholic - and especially a Catholic of the beginning of the century - have been able to show such an open-minded attitude as Baden-Powell’s? The common prayer for peace at Assisi of the representatives of the different religions was still very far away... We can wonder whether a Catholic would have been able to found a truly international movement, and whether, consequently, it was not providential that the founder of the Scout Movement was an Anglican as little “churchy” as Baden-Powell. If his inspiration - as we have seen - is openly Christian, so far as the religious policy of the Movement is concerned his idea is that everyone has to be faithful to the commandments of his/her own religion and of his/her own church, whatever they may be. Many aspects of the other Scout associations must have seemed strange to B.-P., beginning with the strongly denominational character of associations like the Scouts de France or the Italian ASCI, and this not so much for the “religious tests” as for other characteristics. For instance, in order to make the Movement more acceptable in the eyes of the hierarchy, for a long time Catholic Scouting, as compared to the British model, emphasised the role of the national leadership vis-à-vis the Scout Groups and Units, and that of the Unit leadership vis-à-vis the boys. The consequence was a considerable weakening of the patrol system. Furthermore, while B.-P.’s Scouting was only a pragmatic method of global education, the Catholic associations based their method on principles that they held as quasi-sacred (more exacting Scout Law and Promise, religious character of the different steps of a Scout’s life, spirit of service turning to asceticism). This tendency led in certain cases and places to an elitist conception of Scouting (“not everyone is suited to be a Scout”), which is quite remote from the ideas of the Founder. The point I wanted to make here is that, in spite of these differences with the British model, no criticism of Catholic Scouting by B.-P. is recorded. Indeed, to the British Catholic Scouts leaving for an international pilgrimage during the 1925 Holy Year he did not give an ecumenical instruction, but a confessional one; he did not ask them to try to propagate British religious policy, but, instead, he reminded them that as Scouts you have not two masters but that your only master is God and your Church. I want you to remember that, and obey the discipline of your church.

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CICS Interreligious Dialogue 2007  

International Catholic Conference on Scouting (ICCS) Interreligious Dialogue 2007 http://www.cics.org/?wpfb_dl=21

CICS Interreligious Dialogue 2007  

International Catholic Conference on Scouting (ICCS) Interreligious Dialogue 2007 http://www.cics.org/?wpfb_dl=21

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