The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Kansas City recently announced that it is severing its ties with the Girl Scouts of America. The Archdiocese says Girl Scouts is no longer a compatible partner when it comes to issues such as sexuality, virtue, and values. The relationship between Roman Catholic dioceses and the Girl Scouts dates back more than a century.
The Washington Post reports that Kansas City archdiocese is concerned that the Girl Scouts’ programs and materials are “reflective of many of the troubling trends in our secular culture,” and that the organization is “no longer a compatible partner in helping us form young women with the virtues and values of the Gospel.” In a statement, the archdiocese pointed out that the Girl Scouts have used material that is offensive, disturbing, not age appropriate.
Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann wrote in a statement
, "Margaret Sanger, Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem are frequently held up in materials as role models for young Scouts," adding, "These as well as many other “role models” in the GSUSA’s new manuals and web content not only do not reflect our Catholic worldview but stand in stark opposition to what we believe." Sanger, for instance, established birth control clinics and abortion providers across the country and was also a proponent of eugenics -- the false science that asserts that some races and peoples should not be allowed to breed.
The Archdiocese will instead affiliate with American Heritage Girls , which is pro-life, and based on Christian principles. American Heritage Girls has earned widespread acclaim for being a scouting organization that actually teaches girls about God and Country, without feminist or progressive teachings. Currently, American Heritage Girls has more than 47 thousand members. Archbishop Naumann said that American Heritage Girls espouses “Christian values.” The organization was formed in 1995 by a former Girl Scouts volunteer who was "uneasy with the way her troop was asked to handle matters of faith."
"The decision to end our relationship with Girl Scouting was not an easy one," Archbishop said in a statement released Monday. He called on Catholic pastors to "begin the process of transitioning away from the hosting of parish Girl Scout troops." Pastor will either choose to end Girl Scout programs immediately or "over the next several years, 'graduate' the Scouts currently in the program."
The archbishop's letter also states that Girl Scouts of the USA "contributes more than a million dollars each year to the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGS), an organization tied to International Planned Parenthood."
However, on its national website, the Girl Scouts claims that it "does not have a relationship or partnership with Planned Parenthood." The organization says it pays membership dues to WAGGS and compares the relationship to the one between the U.S. and the U.N.: "The United States may not agree with every position the UN takes, but values having a seat at the table."
"A few within the Church, instead of aligning with the Church Hierarchy's positive position on Girl Scouts, have chosen to propagate misinformation that the Catholic Church has acknowledged to be false," the Girl Scouts national organization said in a statement following the archdiocese's announcement. "Girl Scouts is always willing to work with any and every person or organization in order to fulfill our mission of building girls of courage, confidence and character, who make the world a better place."
The relationship between the Catholic Church and the Girl Scouts has come into question in recent years. At a national level, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops held a dialogue with the Girl Scouts in 2013-2014 that covered issues such as abortion and contraception. These are issues that the national organization "does not take a position or develop materials on," according to its website. However, the dialogue recognized "a local bishop's authority over Catholic scouting locally" and did not endorse or condemn it.
In February 2016, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St. Louis issued a statement that distanced itself from the Girl Scouts. Archbishop Robert Carlson called on pastors who host troops to meet with Girl Scout leaders about their concerns and to look into "alternative options for the formation of our girls."
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