The U.S. Council of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has issued a new report aimed at guiding parents and bishops concerning the problematic direction the Girl Scouts have been taking in recent years and is leaving it up to them to decide what level of involvement they want to have with the group.
According to the Catholic News Service, the new guide is not intended to be exhaustive, nor was it compiled to “make decisions or set out national norms” about participation in the Girl Scouts. Instead, the publication, which was issued April 2 by the bishops’ Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth, is meant to provide information to parents, local bishops, pastors and youth leaders about the group and the discussions they had with leaders in the Girl Scouts’ national office.
“The exchanges between USCCB staff and GSUSA staff were pleasant, informative and respectful,” the report states. “GSUSA staff was generous with their time, indicated a strong desire and willingness to work more closely with the Catholic Church in the United States.”
Some of the issues addressed in the question-and-answer section of the report concern Girl Scouts affiliation with Planned Parenthood. The national organization claims to have “no official relationship” with Planned Parenthood. However, because of the way the organization is structured, the national office is unable “to prohibit local councils or troops from collaborating with or forming their own local relationships with Planned Parenthood” or other organizations. The bishops’ report gives no indication that the national office intends to change this structure or assert any more control over possible liaisons between the Girl Scouts and the country’s largest abortion provider. MyGirlScoutCouncil.com provides information about which local councils are aligned with Planned Parenthood.
GSUSA also told the bishops that they have a neutral policy on sexuality and contraception but that it doesn’t “prohibit individual councils or troops from taking a position or sponsoring programming on human sexuality or other topics” if the troop has parental consent and other approvals.
As for acceptance of transgendered scouts, the national office said: “Placement of transgender youth is handled on a case-by-case basis, with the welfare and best interests of the child and the members of the troop/group in question a top priority.”
Another concern addressed in the report is GSUSA’s relationship with the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS) which advocates for the “sexual and reproductive rights” of girls and young women. GSUSA said it “only participates in select WAGGGS programming” and has no power to change the advocacy embraced by WAGGGS. GSUSA also claimed that the money they send the group every year, which is more than $1 million, comes from investment income, not cookie sales or registration fees from scouts.
The bishops report also called for the use of a “memorandum of understanding” between parishes and Girl Scout councils that exempts parish-based troops from “any programming or activities contrary to the Church’s teaching.”
Christy Volanski, who has been heading the charge against the controversial new direction of the Girl Scouts for years along with her daughters, Sydney and Tess, called the report “helpful” in shining a light on the many concerns parents and pastors have with the organization that are too often “swept under the rug” by GSUSA.
“For example, the report points out that GSUSA has publicly published research on its website relating to sexuality (the GSUSA resource discusses teens engaging in oral sex as well as teen condom and contraception use). This conflicts with GSUSA’s recent claim that ‘Girl Scouts USA believes reproductive issues are deeply private matters best left to families.’ This is just one of many examples of the Girl Scout organization saying one thing and doing another.”
She is also aware that some families are disappointed that the USCCB did not address in more detail the concerns with troublesome role models and organizations the Girl Scouts routinely promotes to girls.
“For example, Girl Scouts recommends the ACLU, an aggressive voice for same sex marriage and abortion rights, which recently filed a lawsuit against the Catholic Bishops for refusing to provide abortion referrals,” Volanski said. “Girl Scouts also promotes Amnesty International which the USCCB has openly condemned for the groups’ support of abortion. And of course Girl Scouts endorses its international organization, WAGGGS, which consistently works in opposition to the Holy See at United Nations events.”
As of March 2014, “curriculum books containing these and other concerns were available in Girl Scout council bookstores and we have seen no announcement from GSUSA that this content will be removed,” Volanski said.
In recent months, dioceses such as St. Louis have issued directives acknowledging the many problems with the Girls Scouts and asking pastors to encourage youth participation in faith-based scouting programs. The diocese of Kansas City did the same and published and extensive report on its own investigation into the many controversies surrounding GSUSA.
The U.S. bishops are leaving the decision to participate in the Girl Scouts up to local authorities, stating that “diocesan bishops have the final authority over what is appropriate for Catholic Scouting in their dioceses.”
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You can help your pastor and/or bishop know more about the Girl Scouts by providing them with our DVD series of Women of Grace® Live shows on EWTN which contain extensive interviews with the Volanskis and others concerning the disturbing new direction of the Girl Scouts. Click here for more information!