Maybe the old boys club would just like to have a church full of old boys.
According to David Crary, writing for the Associated Press, Girl Scouts USA is now suspected of deviant thinking and wayward behavior by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
At issue are USCCB concerns about program materials that some conservative US Catholics find offensive, as well as assertions that the Girl Scouts associate with other groups holding positions that “conflict with church teaching.” The Scouts deny the claims and defend their alliances.
The US bishops’ inquiry coincides with the Girl Scouts’ 100th anniversary celebrations. In effect the Catholic hierarchy is saying: Unhappy Birthday you naughty girls!
What terrible things have the Scouts been doing?
Last year, the Scouts angered some conservatives by accepting into a Colorado troop a 7-year-old transgender child who was born a boy but was being raised as a girl.
Some of the concerns raised by Catholic critics are recycled complaints that have been denied by the Girl Scouts’ head office repeatedly and categorically. It says it has no partnership with Planned Parenthood, and does not take positions on sexuality, birth control and abortion. “It’s been hard to get the message out there as to what is true when distortions get repeated over and over,” said Gladys Padro-Soler, the Girl Scouts’ director of inclusive membership strategies.
Girl Scout leaders hope the bishops’ apprehensions will be eased once they gather information. But there’s frustration within the iconic youth organization — known for its inclusiveness and cookie sales — that it has become such an ideological target, with the girls sometimes caught in the ideological crossfire.
To the Girl Scouts, some of the attacks seem to be a form of guilt by association. Critics contend that Girl Scouts materials shouldn’t contain links to groups such as Doctors without Borders, the Sierra Club and Oxfam because they support family planning or emergency contraception.
Another complaint involved a Girl Scout blog suggesting that girls read an article about the Girl Scouts’ CEO, Anna Maria Chavez — who is Catholic — in Marie Claire magazine. Critics said the blog’s link led to a Marie Claire home page promoting, among other items, a sex advice article.
With the USCCB now getting involved, the stakes are high. The Girl Scouts estimate that one-fourth of their 2.3 million youth members are Catholic, and any significant exodus would be a blow given that membership already is down from a peak of more than 3 million several decades ago.
The inquiry coincides with a broader effort by the bishops to analyze church ties with outside groups. Rhoades’ committee plans to consult with Girl Scouts leaders and with the National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry, which has been liaising with the Scouts for two years about various complaints that alarm our bishops.
Our bishops remain silent of course about ongoing sexual abuse within the church and past and present episcopal coverups.
And speaking of coverups, I found it highly symbolic that the bishops covered up the big sign (see below) in front of their Washington DC office building, when protesters gathered their to protest the bishops’ crackdown on women religious.
Please note: they did not cover up Jesus. Maybe Jesus put up his arm and warned them: “Keep your hands off me!” Good advice for sure.