Based in Irving, TX, the national chairman of the National Catholic Committee on Scouting said that his group will "accept and work with the new membership policy of the Boy Scouts of America" to admit girls. In statement on Wednesday, NCCS chair George Sparks said that he and Father Kevin Smith -- the group's national chaplain, were informed that day of the policy change on the part of the Boy Scouts of America.
"Once we have had more time to review the policy and a chance to consult our national membership, we will be able to comment further about how this new policy will reflect changes in the makeup of Catholic-chartered units," they said.
BSA has 2.3 million members, which amounts to less than half than the 5 million they reached during its peak in the 1970s. The BSA board voted unanimously to accept girls as members, according to a spokeswoman for the Scouts. This marks another step by BSA to accept changes in wider society. In 2015, BSA decided to allow homosexuals to lead scout troops, while girls presenting as boys were allowed this January.
In their statement, Smith and Sparks declared, "It is the mission of the National Catholic Committee on Scouting to utilize and ensure the constructive use of the program of the Boy Scouts of America as a viable form of youth ministry with the Catholic youth of our nation." The statement went on to say, "The National Catholic Committee on Scouting seeks to sustain and strengthen the relationship between the Boy Scouts of America and the Catholic Church and to work cooperatively with the National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry and various other groups involved in youth ministry in the United States."
Leaders of the Girl Scouts were not pleased by the announcement by BSA on Wednesday. Girl Scouts of the USA's president, Kathy Hopinkah Hannan, wrote a letter to the leader of the Boy Scouts, Randall Stephenson, to say that BSA should instead seek to recruit "the 90 percent of American boys not currently participating in Boy Scouts."
Some persons who have supported BSA in the past have expressed displeasure at the changes. In an interview with The New York Times on October 11, 70-year-old Joseph Carballo, a parishioner of St. Helena Parish in New York City, said "And we all have the same view: no girls." He has two grown sons who achieved Eagle Scout status. "Boys and girls should have separate organizations for activities," Carballo added. "There is an organization for girls. It's called the Girl Scouts."
There was no word from BSA as to whether the group will now start selling cookies.
Back in February, after BSA announced its policy change regarding girls identifying as boys, the National Catholic Committee on Scouting released a statement saying that despite the Boy Scouts' welcoming of who identify as boys as members, the new policy "has no impact on the operation and program delivery of Scouting program(s) in Catholic-chartered units." The statement continued, saying "Scouting serves the Catholic Church through the charter concept, which is similar to a franchise." It added, "The units chartered to a Catholic institution are owned by that organization. The BSA has stipulated that religious partners will continue to have the right to make decisions for their units based on their religious beliefs."