According to a statement released by Archbishop Joseph Naumann, the Archdiocese is asking pastors to transition away from hosting Girl Scout troops and to move toward chartering American Heritage Girls troops instead.
“American Heritage Girls, a program based on Christian values, we believe is a much better fit for our parishes,” the Archbishop said. “We prefer to partner with youth organizations that share our values and vision for youth ministry, not ones that we have to monitor constantly to protect our children from being misled and misinformed.”
The decision to sever ties came after a long period of study and hundreds of hours of research by Archdiocesan Youth Ministry staff into the policies of both the International and the National Girl Scouting organizations. In addition, they have engaged in many hours of dialogue with Scouts, parents, pastors, and national Girl Scouting representatives regarding their concerns about disturbing content in the materials and resources promulgated by the national organization.
“I personally have been in conversation with national and local Girl Scout leaders regarding my concerns about the new direction of national Girl Scouting reflected in the content of their program materials,” the Archbishop said.
Specifically, the national organization 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 and its advocacy for legislation that includes both contraception and abortion as preventive health care for women.
In addition, Margaret Sanger, Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem are frequently held up in materials as role models for young Scouts.
“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,” the Archbishop states.
“While I am grateful that offensive and completely age-inappropriate material was recently removed by GSUSA from portions of their Journey series of manuals in response to concerns raised by the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas and others, it is disturbing such an intervention on our part was necessary.”
The bottom line, he says, is that the Church has a great responsibility to properly form children and a limited time to do so, which is why it is essential that all youth programs in parishes affirm virtues and values that are consistent with the Catholic faith.
“To follow Jesus and his Gospel will often require us to be counter-cultural. With the promotion by Girl Scouts USA (GSUSA) of programs and materials reflective of many of the troubling trends in our secular culture, they are no longer a compatible partner in helping us form young women with the virtues and values of the Gospel.”
Pastors in the archdiocese have been given a choice to either make the transition quickly, or to do so over the course of several years in order to let girls already involved in the Scouts to “graduate.” In the meantime, he is asking all parishes to begin forming American Heritage Girl troops, at least at the kindergarten level, beginning this fall.
The Girl Scouts currently has 1.9 million members and 800,000 adult members but those numbers have been declining as more and more parents, educators and church leaders have become aware of the left-leaning content and anti-life associations of the once All-American organization. The problem has been escalating over the last few years resulting in an investigation by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops that spells out the problems in a guidance to parents and parish leaders.
In this document they address the Girls Scouts typical response to these issues in which they assert that the national organization has no official position or policy when it comes to topics of human sexuality, contraception and abortion. However, what they don’t tell the public is that this national policy of neutrality does not prohibit individual councils from sponsoring local programs with Planned Parenthood and other secular organizations that promote contraception and abortion and other troubling sexuality issues.
The bishops concluded the investigation by advising local bishops to decide whether or not to sever ties with the Girl Scouts in their area.
Several dioceses have already acted upon the missive. As the Kansas City Star reports, the Archdiocese of St. Louis, MO urged priests last year to drop the Girl Scouts due to the organization’s “troubling pattern of behavior.”
In 2015, Bishop James V. Johnston Jr., — at the time head of the Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau — sent a letter to priests, school officials and parishioners in which he warned that the Girl Scouts “is a secular organization, and does not fully promote the teachings of the Catholic Church.”
The moral decline of the Girl Scouts has created an opening for American Heritage Girls, a Cincinnati-based scouting organization that is “a Christ-centered character development program for girls ages 5 to 18.”
“We use the methods of scouting to achieve our mission of building women of integrity through service to God, family, community and country,” said Patti Garibay, national executive director and founder, to the Star.
She started the organization 22 years ago as a “little club” for her daughter, but it has since grown into a scouting group with more than 47,000 members and 1,005 troops in every state in the U.S. and some foreign countries.
“I never really anticipated it being anything like this,” she told the Star. “I think God had a bigger plan. We’re just happy to serve and to help girls navigate.”
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