Sunday, May 6, 2012

Moving Beyond The LCWR, Now The USCCB Has Issues With The Girl Scouts

I can't help but wonder how much the existence of this group for girls is influencing the attack on the Girl Scouts.


I just gotta give our clerical leadership credit.  There is no women's group, even one composed only of girls, that is under their radar when it comes to birth control or potentially remote links to Planned Parenthood. The following is an edited version of an article from Catholic News ServicesI couldn't help but notice it was released with a Philadelphia byline.  I find that some what ironic since Philadelphia is also the place where a criminal trial is taking place concerning Catholic clerical men behaving badly with Catholic altar boys. Nothing like diverting the official Catholic spotlight in another direction,  but to the Girl Scouts?  That's a new definition for grasping at straws. The following excerpt begins about half way through the article.

 Dialogue between Catholic leaders, Girl Scouts addresses criticisms

 By Christie L. Chicoine Catholic News Service  PHILADELPHIA (CNS) 4/24/2012

......Criticism of the Girl Scouts as an organization has surfaced off and on over the last several years and earlier this year made the rounds again on the Internet.
In response GSUSA has strongly stated it "does not have a relationship or partnership with Planned Parenthood and does not plan to create one" and takes no position on abortion or birth control. "Parents and volunteer troop leaders in Catholic churches," it said, "have total control of the Girl Scout programming their girls receive."

Given the large number of Catholics involved in Girl Scouts, such concerns prompted the bishops' Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth at its mid-March meeting to discuss GSUSA's "possible problematic relationships with other organizations" and questions about some of its materials and resources. (Nice to know that when it comes to girls and women, possible problematic relationships, seem to hold more importance than the real ones involving clerical men.)

In a March 28 letter to his fellow bishops, committee chairman Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades of South Bend-Fort Wayne, Ind., said some questions may need to be answered at the national level and others at the local level.
Among other actions, he said the committee wants to develop a resource bishops can share with priests, youth ministers, pro-life directors, educators and others in their diocese on Catholic identity for troops and guidance for parents....

.....The bishop invited Robert McCarty, executive director of the Washington-based National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry in Washington, and Kathleen Carver, the federation's associate director and communications director, to the meeting to give committee members their perspective on the claims made about the Girl Scouts.
The federation's website, www.nfcym.org, has a question-and-answer section on the issue, and according to McCarty, dialogue between the national Girl Scouts office in New York and the federation has been ongoing.

McCarty told CNS April 9 that the bishops' Secretariat for Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth would convene a group soon to discuss what resources and tools would help create dialogue among church and Girl Scout leaders "more intentionally" and provide clear guidelines for predominantly Catholic troops where "Catholic teaching is honored and at the forefront."
Beyond the church's relationship with Girl Scouts is the bigger issue of "how does the church engage secular organizations?" McCarty stated. "We advocate for church teaching through direct engagement and honest respectful dialogue."
In an earlier interview with CNS, McCarty said he has met with Girl Scout leaders in New York to convey concerns the federation has heard from the field, though he rejected the claim that Girl Scouts promotes Planned Parenthood.
 
Other criticism has been directed at the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts, known as WAGGGS, which, for example, has advocated for emergency contraception for women in Third World countries, McCarty said. GSUSA is one of WAGGS' 145 member organizations. (Perhaps this is because in third world countries many of those 'women' are chronologically the ages of Girl Scouts.)

In the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas, Deacon Dana Allen Nearmyer, a consultant for evangelization and Catholic formation in the archdiocese, said Catholic leaders are concerned by the fact the GSUSA sends money to WAGGGS.
"We've said that's not acceptable," Deacon Nearmyer told CNS in a recent interview. "Our recommendation would be that they would stop funding the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts." .....(What is sent to WAGGS is investment earnings, not dues or registration fees.)

......"We're certainly not looking at banning Girl Scouts, unless that's a directive," Deacon Nearmyer told CNS.
"We appreciate being part of the conversation and moving the curriculum of Girl Scouting to its more traditional, original roots -- protecting families. We also value their national connection and notoriety," he said.

"But ... at some point, if parishes are looking for something that's a more substantial faith organization, Girl Scouts is only going to be able to carry them so far because they're a secular organization.

************************************

I do have to agree with Deacon Nearmyer, the Girl Scouts was never intended to be a religious organization, much less a distinctly Catholic organization.  I just wish someone would inform the USCCB Secretariat for Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth, so they could investigate real threats to family life and youth.  Perhaps they could start with their own membership.   

For me the bigger question is why this concern about the Girl Scouts at this particular time?  Why take the culture war on women's reproductive rights down to the Girl Scout level?  I strongly suspect it's because there's a new group on the block, the Christian based, American Heritage Girls.  This group enjoys the support of the Knights of Columbus, Focus on the Family and other conservative religious groups.  The very kinds of groups who don't have a problem with denying young girl rape victims in the Sudan emergency contraception.

27 comments:

  1. Hope all the US bishops and Cardinal Law, in hiding in Rome, rush to be the apostolic visitator to the USA Girl Scouts.

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    1. I hear that Regnum Christi has some programs, clubs, and camps for girls. The "Challenge" program is for girls and the "ConQuest" program is for boys.

      Someone should look into their national affiliations for objectionable behavior.

      /snark

      p2p

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    2. I'm thinking the good Cardinal would not necessarily jump at such an offering. The girls might just tell him to change his own sheets and wash his own underwear.

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    3. That would be Divine Justice.

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  2. I grew up in Girl Scouting and it definitely made me a stronger, self-reliant person. There was nothing especially religious about it except at overnight camp, on Sunday, generic Protestant services were provided and the Catholic girls went to Mass off-camp. Jewish girls were able to go to the synagogue on Saturday as well. Everybody got along and it was a neat experience. Cannot understand why the USCCB doesn't like Girl Scouts. Their cookies are good! Searcher

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    1. Searcher, I wonder if the USCCB would like the Girl Scouts better if they baked their own cookies like good little future moms. No matter who actually does bake them, the recipes are good.

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    2. I've heard this topic presented on EWTN radio, about ten minutes worth before I couldn't take any more and switched the channel. Reasons to promote American Heritage Girls (note the name, even) as opposed to GSA:

      1. Hidden acquiescence to abortion through WAGGGS.
      2. Lesbian troop leaders deemed acceptable.
      3. It's a secular/Protestant group, and we can do better as Catholics. We can have longer skirts, emphasize the saints, promote the

      Sorry, I have to change the station again.

      Matt Connolly

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    3. Thanks for the info Matt. When I first read this article I knew there had to be an ulterior motive. I went searching for the alternative group and so I was not surprised to discover the existence of the American Heritage Girls. That EWTN is pushing the campaign to switch is also not surprising.

      Catholic tribalism is alive and well, and so is the entanglement of the Catholic Church with right wing reactionary causes which are hell bent on putting women back in their 'nurturing' role.

      For me, I'll keep buying Girl Scout cookies.

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  3. Yes, the cookies are good. The USCCB has run into a ditch. I think the problem is the USCCB wants to take away the freedom you talk about to be a self-reliant person.

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  4. I'm not surprised the bishops are going after the Girl Scouts. Indiana state senator Bob Morris, who is Catholic, made an ass out of himself condemning the Girl Scouts in the Indiana Senate. He couldn't even get his own party on his side! The bishops are getting to the point where they want to revert to total control over anything the laity does. The problem is that they are losing us.

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    1. Kathy I read an article to that effect while doing research on the American Heritage Group. Not surprised Morris failed in the Indiana Legislature. The bishops however could have enormous clout in getting American Heritage Troops in their dioceses and parishes, especially since the KofC is backing this group.

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    2. What is also rather interesting is that a group of parents in West Chester (Cincinnati suburbs in Butler County, Ohio) started the American Heritage group in the mid-1990s because they thought the Girl Scouts were insufficiently religiously zealous enough. These parents missed the entire point of the Girl Scouts not being religiously affiliated. There are two things I find offensive about this whole campaign. First, I dislike the Catholic and wingnut tribalism. Second, I find it offensive the bishops want to distract people once more from their own nonfeasance, misfeasance and concealment.

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    3. Exactly, going after the Girl Scouts certainly does attempt to shine the light away from the fact Catholic priests went after altar boys.

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  5. The Girl Scouts should tell the RCC to take a flying leap. They don't need to become what the bishops want an anti-contraceptive, homophobic and transgender phobic echo of the Boy Scouts. Maybe they (the bishops) can find some group for girls that originated in Franco's Spain. Spanish Fascist organizations are the rage with them anyway. (Opus Dei, Society of Jesus the Priest etc.)

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    1. Hey BarbieAnn,
      Those Spanish/Mexican fascists are the Legionaries of Christ. Their lay organization is Regnum Christ. The Challenge and ConQuest programs are for girls and boys. Their founder, Marcial Maciel raised enormous amounts of money, recruited many to vocations, was a favorite of JP2, but ultimately was found to be an evil person. A priest shouldn't have any wives, but he had two. There are many credible stories of his drug abuse, sexual abuse of seminarians, and even sexual abuse of his children.

      p2p

      p2p

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    2. Barbie, funny you mention the Boy Scouts since they have a working agreement with the American Heritage Girls. Never in their history did they offer such an agreement with the Girl Scouts or Campfire Girls. More Carl Anderson KofC influence I suspect. If Carl keeps it up he might be able to start America's own version of Hitler Youth under the cover of the Boy Scouts and Heritage Girls.

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    3. Paul, given Matt C's info about EWTN's objections too 'lesbian leaders' in the GSA, one would think in the interests of consistency and concern for morality, EWTN would call for the Church to dump the Legion and all it's programs. After all Nuestro Padre was a total sexual pervert.

      Silly me, like that will ever happen.

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    4. One reason why, it's money.

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  6. As I recall from years ago when my brother was a boy scout, in a troop run in a Catholic parish, the Boy Scouts have as an optional part of their program a specific achievement for learning more about one's specific religion. Flash forward a few years to when I was working with my son in his Cub Scouting in a troop that was run out of the local public school and nothing like this was happening.

    Contrast this with my own experience with Girl Scouts. I don't recall that Catholic parish running a Girl Scouting program. My girl scouting was definitely outside the parish at any rate. I also don't recall any badges that had to do with expanding one's religious faith. Flash forward a few years to when I was working with my daughters' scout troops. One troop was having trouble trying to locate a place where they could meet. The local LDS church offered use of some of their space without the troop being run by the church although the adult leader [this was a Brownie troop so it was OK to have an adult leader vs. and adult adviser] may have been a member of that church. After the first couple of meetings at the LDS facility, the leader told me she was getting complaints from parents threatening to pull their daughters out of the troop unless the meeting location was changed. They were afraid their daughters might get contaminated I guess. And I might add those parents were not offering alternative meeting locations.

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    1. I believe the Catholic religious medal for The BSA is called Ad Altari Dei. Several friends of mine earned when we were in Scouts together. It doesn't count towards advancement towards Eagle Scout though.

      John Fremont

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    2. That is what is interesting to me about the American Heritage Girls. My own time in Girls Scouts focused far more on American patriotism than it did Catholicism even though it was a parish troop. Maybe times have changed, but I have never considered either the Boy Scouts or Girls Scouts to be denominational. That is until I moved to Salt Lake City.

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  7. I am a current Girl Scout Leader (fours years now) and a Girl Scout alumnae (Brownie and Junior in the 70s.) I have looked at the CYO camp application and I have read the GS camp info. Having read the application I would NEVER send my daughter to a CYO/Diocesian camp. The waiver on the application essentially says that the bishop can be in the same room while a child is being abused and he can't be held responsible. Hell no, just no. My troop is juniors (10 year olds) and right now all are from two Catholic schools. But we meet at my house and the school is not involved in our troop. I plan to keep it that way especially if things get even weirder with the bishops.

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    1. Good for you. This kind of thing needs to be done if children are to be exposed to something other than blatant tribalism. I actually taught theology at our Diocesan youth camp back in the day and had a blast doing so. I was left totally up to my own devices and so we spent lots of time on the story of Frankenstein and just who was the monster. I was quite gratifying to have the boys, especially the boys, take my classes to two or three hours as opposed to the assigned one. This is why I maintain that the Church is losing the younger generations precisely because catechism instruction doesn't let them think and stretch their imaginations.

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    2. But...the number suggest it isn't. Vocations are pretty strong, at least around here.

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  8. I am a Catholic woman, 25 year Girl Scout and 10 year Girl Scout leader who welcomes the bishop's inquiry. My Girl Scouting activites have been with Catholic sponsoring organizations and troops made up of Catholic girls.

    If the USCCB conclusion is that continued involvement with Girl Scouting is not consistent with Catholic doctrine, I am fine with it. After all this time, I am really tired with having to defend my faith against the bureaucratic bullies in the Girl Scouting hierachy. Any excuse the bishops can provide that absolves me of this duty will be most welcome.

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    1. And you can't make that choice for yourself because... Why? Where is the leadership and integrity you are supposed to be mentoring as an adult adviser? If you truly feel that involvement with Girl Scouts is a sin or merely bad for your soul, why do you need the cover of the bishops in order to leave Scouting?

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    2. I think she needs permission, more so than cover, from the Bishops to bail on the Girl Scouts. Which directly speaks to your point about mentoring and integrity.

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