On February 18, Archbishop Robert Carlson announced his decision to disband the Catholic Committee on Girl Scouts, citing concerns regarding Girls Scouts USA and their parent organization, the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS). Some of WAGGGS’ advocacy and policy issues are in conflict with the moral teachings of our Catholic faith. It is important to note that the Archbishop did not call for the immediate dismissal of Girl Scouts from parishes where they meet. Rather, he asked every pastor who allows Girl Scout troops to gather on parish property to conduct a meeting with troop leadership to review these concerns.
Acting on the Archbishop’s instructions, I met on Monday evening, February 29, with those who lead Girl Scout troops at our parish. I asked them to read the
entirety of the Archbishop’s statement, the documented resources provided by the Archdiocese, and the alternative programs available. Our conversation was most respectful and informative. Leaders shared with me the benefits of their relationship to Girl Scouts USA. Among other things, camping and outdoor recreational
resources are particularly valuable for the girls of our parish. These are not available through the alternative programs suggested.
Troop leaders said that Girl Scout offices have never asked them to transmit to our young people any programs or to advocate for issues offensive to our Catholic morality. In fact, I was given several examples of St. Margaret Girl Scouts’ service that uphold gospel virtues. To name a few: pursuit of religious scouting awards that include Catholic catechesis, work in our St. Vincent de Paul pantry, providing winter meals at Assisi House for the homeless, and Christmas caroling to communities of retired men and women religious.
It is my decision not to disband the Girl Scouts from St. Margaret of Scotland parish. At present, it is to the benefit of our girls to maintain the relationship we have with Girl Scouts USA in its current form and to continue their meeting at the parish. This arrangement with the Girl Scouts is subject to reconsideration in the future should I have serious concerns that the morality of our young people is being influenced by messages or programs contrary to our Catholic teachings.
In light of this decision, I recognize that some parents may remain uncomfortable having their children associated with the Girl Scouts USA. I respect such positions, and I will offer my assistance to those who would rather enroll their girls in an alternative youth program.