I am still basking in the message of peace and hope delivered by Pope Francis during his visit to the U.S. last week.
I was touched by his warmth and compassion as he made his way from the halls of Congress, where he reminded legislators to care for others; to the U.N. General Assembly, where told world leaders to think of the poor; to Philadelphia, where he warned that injustice can tear down a society. And I was especially proud that two Eagle Scouts from New York — 19-year-old Stephen Reilly from Troop 23 in Queens and 18-year-old Rennie Santana from Troop 390 in Brooklyn — were among those who gave Pope Francis a warm send-off as he left New York for the City of Brotherly Love.
Even beyond the involvement of these two Eagle Scouts, the pope’s trip was particularly relevant for the Boy Scouts of America. On each leg of his journey, he spoke about values that we also teach through Scouting: protecting the earth, showing concern for fellow human beings and pursuing dreams that help improve the lives of others. And Scouting’s “duty to God” pledge and the “A Scout is Reverent” component of the Scout Law — both of which define our movement — are important expressions of religious freedom, a principle that Pope Francis praised during his trip.
It was fascinating to see how people from so many walks of life came together during the pope’s visit. I like to think that Scouting similarly invites young people with different beliefs and cultures to come together and do good in the world. But our similarities don’t end there. As we learned last week from the guest blog by Bray Barnes, world chairman of International Catholic Conference of Scouting, the pope himself recognizes and believes in the importance of Scouting’s role in today’s society and the values we instill in young people.
I think we can all find comfort and encouragement in the pope’s love for America’s young people, as evidenced during his visit to the U.S. And I think we can all feel a great deal of pride knowing that he has confidence in Scouting’s ability to help provide a better world for those we serve.
Allow me to borrow the hashtag Pope Francis added after tweeting his gratitude to Americans when he returned to Rome: