25 March 2016

Girl Scouts Should Expect A Dip In Funding

Archbishop Robert Carlson
The Archdiocese of St. Louis in the U.S. has encouraged Roman Catholics to scale back ties with the Girl Scouts, advising church members to think twice about membership and even about buying their cookies.

The warnings came in a letter from Archbishop Robert J. Carlson and in a statement on the archdiocese’s website about how the church is distancing itself from the Girl Scouts, which it says supports transgender rights, homosexuality and other stances at odds with Catholic values.

In the letter addressed to priests, followers and scout leaders, Archbishop Carlson announced two new measures. He instructed pastors to discuss alternatives for the Girl Scout troops that meet on parish property.

He also disbanded the archdiocese’s Catholic Committee on Girl Scouts, which sponsored Catholic programs for the scouts, and formed a new entity called the Catholic Committee for Girls Formation that will include alternative youth leadership programs. About 515,000 Catholics live in the archdiocese, which includes the city of St. Louis and 10 surrounding counties.

"Girl Scouts is exhibiting a troubling pattern of behavior and it is clear to me that as they move in the ways of the world it is becoming increasingly incompatible with our Catholic values," the archbishop wrote in the letter, dated 18 February 2016.

The Girl Scouts of Eastern Missouri chapter includes more than 43,000 girls in the St. Louis area. More than 4,000 of them are in troops based in Catholic schools and parishes, Bonnie Barczykowski, the chapter's chief executive, said in an emailed statement on Wednesday.

Ms. Barczykowski said the Girl Scouts organization valued its nearly 100-year history of cooperation with the archdiocese but added that the archdiocese’s concerns "misrepresent how Girl Scouts of Eastern Missouri serves girls in our community."

She said the chapter did not address issues of human sexuality or reproductive issues "as these matters are best discussed within the family." However, she did not say that they are against homosexuality and everything that it represents in society.

The controversy over scouting has been brewing for some time, but the archbishop’s letter publicly laid out how the church would change its relationship with the Scouts and encouraged others to dissociate themselves.

"It is not cutting ties," Brian Miller, executive director of the archdiocese’s Catholic Youth Apostolate, said of the letter. "It is asking folks to really evaluate what we are doing and why we are doing it because of the problems we have seen and the issues that have come up a few times."