VATICAN CITY, APR 26, 2003 (VIS) - The Holy Father this morning welcomed three groups to the Paul VI Hall, addressing each in their own language. He spoke to 300 members of the Association of Italian Catholic Scouts, 800 executives from a Spanish banking group, and 1,250 members of Polish Catholic Action.
He told the scouting leaders that he had "always admired the youthful enthusiasm that marked them as well as the ardent desire to faithfully follow the Gospel. Scouting was born as an educational path with its own method that fascinates children, adolescents, and young people and gives adults concrete opportunities to become educators." He added that the Church looks at this association with hope "because it is necessary to offer the new generations the opportunity to have personal experiences of Christ (in their lives)."
The Pope urged the leaders to create "dynamic and constructive relationships with the many lay groups that enrich the ecclesial community. You can actively cooperate with them to build a new society founded on justice, freedom, truth and love." He counselled them "to never fail to give the fascinating activity of scouting its daily nourishment of listening to the Word of God, prayer and an intense sacramental life."
John Paul II then addressed executives of the Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria, who had come to Rome from Spain and Latin America on a pilgrimage. He told them that their work of collaborating in economic development "when well oriented, favors peaceful coexistence with citizens and allows for a life that is in accord with human dignity." Man should always, he added, be "the author, center and goal of all economic and social life."
"I wish to remind you," the Pope went on, "that interest in money, while legitimate, cannot be the principal motive or even the exclusive one of entrepreneurial or commercial activity, because such activity must take into account human factors and is subordinate to the moral exigencies proper to all human action."
He concluded by urging them to bring "the Christian commitment into the sphere of your activities, witnessing with words and deeds to the teachings of the ecclesial Magisterium on social matters."
Greeting his fellow countrymen in Polish, the Pope spoke of the long history of Catholic Action in the world, noting that it was re-born only ten years ago in Poland when he asked the Polish bishops to restore in the Church this form of lay apostolate. He added that Catholic Action, in the 20th century "became a school of formation for the laity who were preparing to courageously face secularization which was becoming ever more widespread." This is true today as well, he said.
He encouraged the members of Catholic action to face "the challenges brought on by secularization in various sectors of social life. As witnesses to the Gospel, welcome this challenge in all milieux: in families, the work place, in schools or universities. Welcome it, aware that 'the laity derive the duty and the right to this apostolate by their very union with Christ, the Head. ... Duty and Right. Precisely like this: you have the duty and the right to convey the Gospel, to witness to its actuality for modern man and to light up the faith in those who are far from God. If the Church recognizes your right, if she sustains you in it, she also reminds you that this is your duty."
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