Katholische Pfadfinderschaft Europas

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Katholische Pfadfinderschaft Europas
Katholische Pfadfinderschaft Europas
Catholic Guides and Scouts of Europe
Location Herbstein-Rixfeld
Country Germany
Founded February 15th, 1976
Founder Andreas Hönisch SJM, Günther Walter
Membership 2,500

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The Katholische Pfadfinderschaft Europas (KPE; roughly Catholic Guides and Scouts of Europe) is a German Catholic Scouting organization with 2,500 members.[1] It is part of the Union Internationale des Guides et Scouts d’Europe (UIGSE). Katholische Pfadfinderschaft Europas - Österreich (KPE-Ö) is an Austrian sister organization which works closely with its German counterpart.

The KPE is closely linked with the order Servi Jesu et Mariae (SJM), which runs a boarding school in Lippetal, North Rhine-Westphalia.

There is some controversy surrounding the KPE, both within the German Catholic Church and also in the German Scouting movement, centered upon the KPE's focus on proselytization, its connections to Catholic fundamentalist networks, and its tendency toward isolation from other groups. The KPE is considered by some to be a fundamentalist group.


The KPE describes its aims as follows:[2]

Our Goal: Responsible Christian personalities
Man wants to give sense to his unique life! Not an unsure, mediocre, false sense but a true one filling him and letting him outstrip himself.
Man finds this sense in Jesus Christ. In response, man joyfully takes on the burden of service to God and his fellow man.

Observers describe the KPE as loyal to the Pope, conservative, and traditional in its Scouting activities and in its spirituality. Great emphasis is placed on the regular confession (see Catechism of the Catholic Church, Sections 1423-1442) and the regular attendance of Mass (see Catechism of the Catholic Church, Section 1389) which is celebrated in some groups according to Tridentine Rite.


The KPE was founded on February 15, 1976. Its founding members had left the Deutsche Pfadfinderschaft Sankt Georg because they felt that their ideas about Scouting and spirituality had been disregarded in the reforms of the 1960s and 1970s. Andreas Hönisch, late Superior General of the SJM, and Günther Walter were both instrumental in the KPE's founding.

In 1977, the Fédération du Scoutisme Européen (FSE), predecessor of the Union Internationale des Guides et Scouts d’Europe, admitted the KPE as full member.

Some local groups left the KPE in 1986 because of its rigid structure and founded a new Scouting organization, the Europapfadfinder Sankt Michael.

The Diocese of Augsburg recognized the KPE as a Catholic youth organization in 1992. The KPE's umbrella organization, UIGSE, was recognized by the European Parliament in 1984, and as lay organization by the Holy See in 2003.

In 1994, the Südwestfunk broadcasted the movie "Himmel und Hölle" (Heaven and Hell), that was based on incidents within the KPE. Its authenticity is questionable, a court decision forbade mentioning possible connections between the movie and the KPE in public.[3] Despite this decision the KPE was heavily attacked by the press after each broadcast of the movie.

In 2003 the organization's paper "Pfadfinder Mariens" promoted a book of the far right politician Rolf Kosiek published by the extreme right Hohenrain-Verlag. Further on, Thomas Niggl OSB, member of the Work of the Holy Angels, advocated theses of the extreme right Deutsche Studiengemeinschaft.

After press reports on the KPE membership of one superior of the seminary in St. Pölten during the St. Pölten pornography scandal the Conference of the German Bishops reiterated that the KPE is not recognized by the Bund der deutschen katholischen Jugend, the union of recognised Catholic youth organizations in Germany. The statement was interpreted by a German TV magazine as an official disassociation.[1]

Later in the same year some groups and most of the leaders of the Austrian sister organization KPE-Ö left the organization and accused the German KPE and Andreas Höhnisch of interfering in its internal affairs.[4] In response the supporters of German KPE stated that these groups were influenced by masonic ideas.[5] The secessors formed the Pfadfinderinnen und Pfadfinder Europas - Österreich.[6]


Critics of the KPE focus mainly on three points, namely:

  • proselytization
  • cooperation with Catholic fundamentalist groups
  • isolation of members from the outside world

Critics accuse the KPE of forcing its members to participate in religious exercises, especially in attending mass and regular confession.[7] In some cases younger Scouts and Guides had been horrified by drastic descriptions of Hell.[1] Pro-life manifestations organized by the KPE and processions against blasphemic movies support this view of massive religious influence in its members' lifes.

The cooperation of the SJM with conservative Catholic groups as the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, the Aktion Leben and Una Voce is used as evidence when accusing the KPE of Catholic traditionalism.[8] Until 1992, the adherence to the Work of the Holy Angels was officially advocated by the KPE.[7] Today, still some members of the KPE hold contacts to the Work of the Holy Angels and the Society of St. Pius X.[9] In 2007, there is at least one German Scout group connected to the Society of St. Pius X with very close contacts to the KPE.[10]

The isolation of the KPE's members from other, possibly interfering, groups is mainly criticized by German Scouts. Until 2000, groups of the KPE participated in and even organized joint events.[11] Since then, the KPE retreated nearly totally from the German Scout movement; only a few groups hold contacts to similar oriented organizations like the Evangelische Pfadfinderschaft Europas or the Europapfadfinder Sankt Michael.[12]


  • Andreas Hönisch: Liebe Freunde von Pfadfinder Mariens. Volume 1. SJM-Verlag, Meckenheim 2001. ISBN 3-932426-20-7
  • Bundesvorstand der Deutschen Pfadfinderschaft Sankt Georg: Arbeitspapier mit Dokumenten zum Phänomen der „Katholischen Pfadfinderschaft Europas“ (KPE) sowie zu neueren Entwicklungen im Spektrum katholischer Splittergruppen. Georgs-Verlag, Neuss 1994
  • Hans Gasper: Priesterbruderschaft St. Petrus, Katholische Pfadfinderschaft Europas (KPE), Servi Jesu et Mariae (SJM). Impulse für die pastorale Arbeit Nr. 19, Wien 1995


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "Katholischer Fundamentalismus: Pfadfinder auf Abwegen" (in German). Westdeutscher Rundfunk. http://www.wdr.de/tv/monitor/beitrag.phtml?bid=609&sid=116#. Retrieved 2007-01-28. 
  2. "Unsere Ziele" (in German). Katholische Pfadfinderschaft Europas. http://web.archive.org/web/20050216083044/kpe.de/Index.htm. Retrieved 2005-01-06. 
  3. Landgericht Stuttgart, Az. 17 O 190/96
  4. "KPE-Webmaster erhebt schwere Anschuldigungen gegen SJM und Hönisch" (in German). kath.net. http://www.kath.net/detail.php?id=9390. Retrieved 2007-01-28. 
  5. "Pfadfinderkrise in Österreich? P. Hönisch stellt klar" (in German). kreuz.net. 
  6. "Geschichte und Entwicklung" (in German). Pfadfinderinnen und Pfadfinder Europas - Österreich. http://pfadfinder-europas.home.pages.at/Geschichte.html. Retrieved 2007-01-28. 
  7. 7.0 7.1 "Katholische Pfadfinderschaft Europas (KPE)" (in German). Netzwerk gegen Sekten Arbeitskreis Münsterland. http://www.netzwerksekten.privat.t-online.de/kpe.htm. Retrieved 2007-01-28. 
  8. "Die Machenschaften der Katholischen Pfadfinderschaft Europas" (in German). Süddeutsche Zeitung. http://www.sekteninfo-bayern.de/KPE-SZ.html. Retrieved 2007-01-28. 
  9. "Infos über die katholische Pfadfinderschaft Europas" (in German). Sekteninfo-Bayern.de. http://www.sekteninfo-bayern.de/kpe.htm. Retrieved 2007-01-28. 
  10. "Satzung" (in German). Katholische Pfadfinderschaft Jeanne d'Arc. http://www.st-theresia-gym.de/kpj/richtlinien/KPJ-Satzung_10-06.htm. Retrieved 2008-01-28. 
  11. "Der Tradition verpflichtet" (in German). Junge Freiheit. http://www.jf-archiv.de/archiv99/109aa34.htm. Retrieved 2007-01-28. 
  12. "Das Singen ist ihnen noch nicht vergangen, den Katholiken" (in German). kreuz.net. 


External links