Concerns Over Girl Scouts Persist Following USCCB Investigation

8/5/14
 
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from National Catholic Register,
7/16/14:

The U.S. bishops’ Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth released a report in April, examining the organization’s links to Planned Parenthood and other problematic groups.

A Girl Scout, wearing her vest covered in badges, sells a box of cookies to a neighbor in Minneapolis.

Tensions between Girl Scouts’ messaging and Catholic teaching have led to a national boycott of Girl Scout cookies, the ousting of Girl Scouts from parishes, and a significant drop in Catholic membership in the Girl Scouts.

Now a panel of U.S. bishops has released the results of a two-year investigation into Girl Scouts’ problematic messaging, ties to Planned Parenthood, and continued advocacy of so-called reproductive rights by the organization’s international affiliate, the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS). Their findings indicate that the concerns continue to persist, regarding the problematic connections between the Girl Scouts and groups that promote policies contrary to Church teachings on life and sexuality.

The bishops’ Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth (LMFLY) conducted a study generated from staff research and a dialogue with Girl Scouts, producing a seven-page Q-and-A resource for Catholics available on the USCCB webpage since April 2. While the resource is intended to provide guidance to dioceses, it leaves many unanswered questions about future Catholic participation in Girl Scouts programs.

Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA) has an official policy of neutrality on sexuality, contraception and abortion. Yet concerned parents nationwide contend that neutrality has been compromised by the GSUSA’s use of abortion rights activists as role models on GSUSA’s online resources and in program materials the girls use.

The Church has also taken notice of the disconnect between Catholic teaching and GSUSA practices.

The bishops’ committee remained neutral on future offerings of Girl Scouts at the parish level, because that authority rests with the local bishop. However, in a section outlining ways “to promote, foster and safeguard Catholic scouting for boys and girls,” the panel did recognize the freedom of local dioceses to begin “formalizing relationships with complementary or alternative” organizations. Such groups include American Heritage Girls, Challenge Girls and Little Flowers Girls Club.

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