Merseyside Explorer Scout has day to remember at Papal Mass

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One would have been hard-pressed to miss coverage of Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to the UK last week. But for one Explorer Scout, the occasion provided the opportunity of a lifetime to take part in the Papal Mass and be blessed by the Pope himself.

Andrew, 16, an Explorer Scout from Crosby was given the chance to be part of the Offertory during the Beatification of Cardinal Newman in Cofton Park, Birmingham. Andrew was well prepared for the role. As an ex-altar server, he attends church in Crosby with his family every Sunday. He was joined during the Offertory by a representative of Girlguiding UK.

Andrew’s family have fantastic memories of the last Papal visit of Pope John Paul II to Liverpool in 1982 as his mother and father met for the first time on the piazza of the Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King during the visit.

‘An honour to be asked’

Prior to the event, Andrew commented ‘It's an honour to be asked to represent Scouting and the people of Crosby at the Papal mass. It's also exciting to be taking my mum and dad with me as it's a reminder for them of when they first met.’

After the event, he added,

‘As I walked up the steps I felt full of adrenaline. I was aware that not only were millions watching on TV, but that I was representing the global Scout Movement and they were watching as well!

‘When I knelt in front of Pope Benedict XVI, he smiled at me and he reminded me of my granddad. He then blessed me and I felt very proud to have been blessed by the Pope.’

Faith and friends

To most people Scouting is about adventure, challenge and fun, but with 28 million members in over 220 countries, Scouting is also a multi-faith movement for peace, with the aim of developing young people to become responsible citizens within their local, national and international communities.

Over 9 million Scouts are Muslim, and Scouts from all faiths gather regularly at international camps, Jamborees and Moots to work together in harmony, united by the Scout Promise and Law.

Speaking at the end of the Pope’s historic visit to the UK, Prime Minister David Cameron said that it had been ‘a challenge to us all to follow our conscience and ask, not, what are my entitlements, but what are my responsibilities? To ask not what we can do for ourselves, but what we can do for others.’

The faith communities in the UK, he said, were architects of a new culture of social responsibility. ‘For many, faith is a spur to action. It shapes their beliefs and behaviour and gives them a sense of purpose. Crucially, it is their faith that inspires them to help others, and we should celebrate that.’

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