The International Union of Guides and Scouts of Europe is an international association officially recognised by the Holy See, with a participative status in the Council of Europe (Non Governmental Organisation). In its present juridical form, it has existed since 1976 but indeed as early as 1963 some Christian associations of European Scouting gathered within the Federation of European Scouting (F.E.S.) by signing the “federal contract”. Through this act, the associations adhered to the Core Texts that constitute the “cement” linking all the various associations of the International Union.
The Core Texts are the following ones:
- The Federal Statutes of the International Union,
- The Charter of natural and Christian principles of European Scouting
- The Religious Directory of the Federation of European Scouting,
- The Scout Law, the Guide Law,
- The Scout Promise, the Guide Promise,
- The Scout Principles, the Guide Principles.
AIM OF THE INTERNATIONAL UNION
“The Union aims at gathering, in one same community of faith, prayer and action, the various national associations of the European Guides and Scouts, the fundamental objective of which is to educate young people by using Baden Powell’s traditional scouting methods, based on the Christian values at the roots of our common European civilisation” (item 1.2.1. of the statutes).
The International Union is composed of Catholic scouting associations. It acts and makes decisions according to the rules of this faith. However, with an open mind towards ecumenism, the International Union welcomes associations to other Christian confessions, in the conditions defined by the Religious Directory. Thus Catholic and Protestant associations exist in Germany and in Canada, Orthodox associations exist in Bulgaria and in Russia, and the Rumanian association gathers Catholic and Orthodox members. The intangible rule of the International Union is not to gather in the same group youths of different confessions, in order to avoid in their minds any risk of relativism or scepticism.
All associations federated in the International Union practise traditional scouting, according to the pedagogical bases established by Baden Powell. Besides, they have kept Father Sevin’s inheritance. At his time, he has adapted British and Anglican scouting to the context of catholic countries of continental Europe. The texts of the law and of the promise, as well as the ceremonial, common to all associations of the International Union, belong to this inheritance. The “patrol system”, which is the pedagogical basis of scouting, is practised in all associations and guides and scouts – although they belong to one movement in each country – are educated in specific structures, under the control of their own hierarchies (one for each section). The Charter of natural and Christian principles of European Scouting defines the main ideas of scouting which is applied in the associations federated by the International Union.
RELATIONSHIPS OF THE INTERNATIONAL UNION WITH THE CHURCH
Like each national association, the International Union has always asserted its attachment to the Church and its faithfulness to the Holy Father and to the bishops in communion with him. In tutte le associazioni, gli Assistenti devono sempre essere in comunione con il rispettivo Vescovo e da lui autorizzati a svolgere il loro ministero tra gli Scouts e le Guide.
On August 26th 2003, the Holy See recognised the International Union of Guides and Scouts of Europe – Federation of European Scouting, as an international private association of the faithful of pontifical right. It is equipped with the juridical personality, in accordance with canons 298-311 and 321-329 of the Code of Canon Law.