As the Girl Scouts of the United States (GS-USA) celebrates its 100th anniversary, it struck The Motley Monk as somewhat odd to read in the Washington Post that the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) would be launching an official inquiry into the organization.
“Surely something’s awry here,” The Motley Monk thought as he read the headline in the Washington Post. “They’ve certainly got bigger fish to fry than this.”
Well, it appears, this official inquiry is extremely important.
So, what’s the big problem?
The inquiry is to be conducted by the USCCB’s Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth. In a March 28, 2012 letter sent to his fellow bishops by the Committee’s Chairman, Bishop Kevin Rhoades of Fort Wayne, IN, the Committee will be examining the Girl Scouts’ “possible problematic relationships with other organizations” and various “problematic” program materials that conflict with Church teaching.
According to a Visiting Fellow in Catholic studies at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, Mary Rice Hasson, GS-USA has not been responsive to its critics and has been “whitewashing” programs and policies that contradict church teaching. Hasson said:
They just repeated the Girl Scouts’ denials. Families’ concerns were minimized or ignored.
A collision course is probably a good description of where things are headed. The leadership of the Girl Scouts is reflexively liberal. Their board is dominated by people whose views are antithetical to the teachings of the Catholic Church.
GS-USA argues that the concerns raised by Catholic critics are recycled complaints that GS-USA has denied repeatedly and categorically. GS-USA spokeswoman, Michelle Tompkins, said:
I know we’re a big part of the culture wars. People use our good name to advance their own agenda.
For us, there’s an overarching sadness to it. We’re just trying to further girls’ leadership.”
GS-USA maintains that it has no partnership with Planned Parenthood, and doesn’t take positions regarding sexuality, birth control, or abortion. However, GS-USA is a member of the 145-nation World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS) which does maintain that girls and young women “need an environment where they can freely and openly discuss issues of sex and sexuality.” WAGGGS also has called for increased access to condoms to protect against sexually transmitted diseases.
Critics allege that GS-USA materials contain links to groups such as Doctors without Borders, the Sierra Club and Oxfam which support family planning or emergency contraception. In addition, EWTN has alleged that an International Planned Parenthood brochure was made available to girls attending a Girl Scout workshop at a 2010 United Nations event. The brochure—“Healthy, Happy and Hot”—advised young people with HIV about how to engage in so-called “safe sex” and to lead sexually active lives. Lastly, GS-USA offers a patch honoring the Hispanic labor organizer Dolores Huerta, who received an award in 2007 from Planned Parenthood.
|The Girl Scouts’ Delores Huerta Patch|
It’s estimated that 25% of the 2.3M GS-USA members are Catholic. If the complaints being lodged against the organization are accurate, the USCCB should be concerned that these materials may be making their way into parish-based Girl Scout troops and investigate whether that’s happening.
It may not be all about selling cookies.
The Motley Monk asks: Why should the bishops not be inquiring into GS-USA?
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