A blog by the magazine's editors and contributors


Well, sure, they just need a man to keep an eye on them...

The USCCB, not content with making sure that the LCWR is firmly under the thumb of male authority, is setting its sights on another insidious female-run organization: the Girl Scouts.David Crary reports.

The new inquiry will be conducted by the bishops' Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth. It will look into the Scouts' "possible problematic relationships with other organizations" and various "problematic" program materials, according to a letter sent by the committee chairman, Bishop Kevin Rhoades of Fort Wayne, Ind., to his fellow bishops.

And they're guilty by association with some pretty unsavory characters:

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.

Strictly speaking, of course, the magisterium DOES affirm family planning--Catholics aren't to have more kids than they can feed or educate. Also, the Ethical and Religious Directives explicitly permit emergency contraception, at least for "A female who has been raped" (ERD 36) so long as it seems likely that she hasn't ovulated. So strictly speaking, the bishops don't want Catholic girls to learn about forms of birth control and emergency contraception of which they disapprove. They also object to non-Christian Scouts invoking the Deity by names the bishops don't approve of (Allah, e.g.) Basically, it seems they want to control the Girl Scouts so that NO members, Catholic or otherwise, will be informed about subjects of which the bishops disapprove.Lots of Girl Scouts are Catholic. The organization does a huge amount of good by educating and empowering girls-the Scouts are not just about cookies, and the group SURELY isn't just about the small handful of issues that exercise the bishops. If the Scouts decide that they don't want to knuckle under to the Catholic bishops' demand to approve their activities, parents will have a tough choice. Which group has a better record of looking out for the welfare of kids, after all?

About the Author

Lisa Fullam is associate professor of moral theology at the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley. She is the author of The Virtue of Humility: A Thomistic Apologetic (Edwin Mellen Press).



Commenting Guidelines

  • All

Is it me, or is this getting surreal? I don't care what the bishops say: I like Girl Scout cookies!

Ah, guilt by association!I suppose that the Catholic bishops could try to institute a separate organization for Catholic Girl Scouts.

The US Girl Scouts will not knuckle under. The thing that has the Scouts' critics so bent out of shape is its membership in the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts. WAGGGS represents scouting associations in 145 countries with 10 million girl scouts/guides. Apparently, WAGGGS has AIDS education and prevention campaigns and supports contraception in its global advocacy, so that makes the US Girl Scout's membership in it suspect to the Bishops.It would be as ridiculous for the GS to drop out of WAGGGS as it would be for the US to drop out of the UN.

Lots of coverage of the "Witch-Hunt", some in the last half hour. year, 2012, the 100th anniversary of the Girl Scouts of the USA, is The Year of the Girl: you click on News, you'll see, among other items, a link on which they refute the false claims made about the organization on EWTN.)(If anyone wants a copy of a beautiful Girl Scout holy card, e-mail me.)

It's the death throes of the autocracy and it ain't over yet.

Hey... the INTERNET news reports that an SSPX school in Ariz., St Pius X forfeited a championship baseball game because the the other team had a girl second base player. No mixed sports for them. No word on the USCCB on this though but rumors are they are looking at both the infield fly rule and requiring the song Gentle Woman to be sung at all seventh inning stretches.

The Boy Scouts of America belong to the World Organization of the Scout Movement, which is affiliated with the WAGGGS, as well with other groups that advocate for a variety of causes, including AIDS prevention (Condom, anyone?).So, why aren't the Boy Scouts being investigated as well?

And in Italy, the Catholic Guides and Scouts, through the Italian Federation of Scouts, are full members of WAGGGS as well. Somebody should alert the Pope, who appoints the chaplains for the Catholic Scouts in Rome.

Well, the Boy Scouts might be in for some scrutiny, too:"Boy Scouts Of America Embraces GLSEN's 'No Name-Calling Week,' Anti-Bullying Event Established By LGBT Organization"

Maybe Bishop Rhoades should widen his investigation to include the pope as the Italian branch of the Scouts is associating with unsavory types. We can never be too vigilant in rooting out heresy

I heard that some priests were found talking to sinners. Not only that, they were forgiving them. The bishops should condemn and investigate this unconscionable form of cooperation.

It's not just the unsavory associations. Their mission itself is suspect: Girl Scouting builds girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place.... Empowering girls.Courage is good, but only if it's the courage to obey the Church.Confidence is good, but only if it's confidence in our Church Bishops.Character is good, but only if, for girls, it's in imitation of our meek Blessed Mother. Empowering is good, but only if that power is put to good use, namely, to help the Church evangelize the world according to the vision of its Bishops.By themselves, those words have no intrinsic value. Courage can be foolish, confidence can be arrogant, character can be malformed, power can be destructive. Only in the bosom of the Church can those traits be properly used, under the wise guidance of Bishops, to make the world a better place. Otherwise, it is a work of Evil. Bishop Rhoades understands that clearly.

Can anyone disprove that the bishops are not like the Scribes and the Pharisees? Of whom Jesus said, among other things, "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness."Sister Walsh, speaking for the bishops, said there is no story. Just the bishops responding to complaints. Which is fine were it not that the decibel level is still inaudible with reference to people's hardship with the economy, human trafficking, abused children, infant mortality in the third world.... Can you imagine criticizing Doctors without Borders who have saved so many lives? So sad that the church of dogma persists while the Church of Christ is absent in so many chanceries. They are like whitened sepulchers.

"So, why arent the Boy Scouts being investigated as well?"I think the answer to that is obvious. Even the episcopacy, tin ear and all, must realize that if it were to investigate Boy Scouts, after what's been going on in the US, Ireland, Canada, France, Belgium, Germany, etc. etc., the parents of said Scouts might first want to investigate the bishops, to see whether it's safe the send their children into bishop-approved places (Philadelphia, anyone?)

As long as the Girl Scouts aren't connected to the LCWR I don't see what the problem could be...

They're just jealous because their wafers aren't as tasty. Also, with the release of the new Girl Scout cookie candy bars, the GSA will be virtually invincible. ( Mark June 1st on your calendars.

David,I see no connection between the LCWR and the Girl Scouts as the latter still wear uniforms/habits. The Scouts are probably associated with the other nuns' umbrella groupA

The link provided in the original post, attributed there to David Crary, connects to a WaPo article by Carol Morello. That story doesn't seem to contain anything about this allegation: "[The bishops] also object to non-Christian Scouts invoking the Deity by names the bishops dont approve of (Allah, e.g.)".Regarding the latter: I don't know what the official view of the Girl Scouts USA is on God. I am told by our local scoutmaster (who heads up a Cub Scout/Webelos pack based at our local public school) that the Boy Scouts do espouse a belief in a Higher Power, but apparently they're really vague on content - perhaps the Boy Scouts are Deists. We do start our pack meetings with a prayer to the Great Akiva or some such. If any parents have found it objectionable, I haven't heard about it. The scouts - at least the Boy Scouts - also have explicitly religious content that can be "plugged in" to the generic Boy Scout content. Thus, there Light of Christ and Parvuli Dei medals that Catholic cub scouts can earn, and a variety of similar awards for many other religious denominations, cf In suburbia, where I live, virtually every public and Catholic school has its own girl scout and boy scout troops. For whatever reason, the Lutheran and Evangelical schools seem to favor Indian Guides and Indian Princesses, about whom I know nothing except that they also march in our local Memorial Day parade (which otherwise is a monotonous parade - well, literally - of one local school scout troop after another).A few of us commenters dug into this girl scouts-Bishops story a few days ago on another thread somewhere, and we concluded (at least I did) that the local Catholic grammar-school Brownie troop probably isn't in any imminent danger of receiving Planned Parenthood handouts; and that there is actually a formally established and documented relationship between the USCCB's Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth and the Girl Scouts USA. So apparently the bishops have had occasion in the past to put a lot of thought into its relationship with the Girl Scouts. That department's web site has a lot of background info, including some statements on the controversy being ginned up in the press.FWIW - even though the notion of Bishop Rhoades conducting an official visitation upon the local Brownie troop during the Three Legged Race at their monthly meeting is somewhat comical, I'm told (again, my source on this is our local cub scoutmaster) that the national scouting organizations are pretty large, are distressingly bureaucratic, and are fundraising powerhouses (that cookie money goes somewhere). He tells me that the salary of the head of the national Boy Scouts earns a seven-figure salary, which he finds pretty outrageous and, if true, I have to say I concur. And apparently, the national organizations in turn belong to international confederations. So I don't find it completely preposterous that, at those levels, the scouts may be up to something controversial. May be worth a look-see, anyway. If the rumors swirling around are false, what better way to put an end to them than to shine the light of day on the truth? Maybe there's a story there for an enterprising journalist.

Abe -those candy bars are *huge* news! And I'm assuming y'all have tried the ice cream flavors already.

If we grant that somewhere among them the bishops have a lick or two of sense, they can't be doing this just to make themselves look foolish and small. For one thing, that would be redundant. So it must proceed from the cloistered belief that they, and they alone, have a right understanding of human sexuality, untainted and undeluded by any actual experience of it. In other contexts we would know what to call such a claim.

It's good to know that the USCCB knows how to raise girls better than their parents do. My experience is that the Girl Scouts are a pretty grass-roots organization run by local parents and teachers. Then again, how are THEY to be trusted, eh?

Jim- Actually, the national Girl Scouts organization is considered an example of nonprofit excellence. Peter F. Drucker called it the best run organization in America. The Girl Scouts were led for many years by a visionary CEO, Frances Hesselbein, who Drucker also called the best leader in the country. Hesselbein transformed the Girl Scouts in the 15 years she led it (She stepped down in 1990, to found the Leader-to-Leader Institute).The CEOs that followed Hesselbein at GSUSA continued her commitment to excellence, making the Girl Scout organization an impressive one to this day.It's unfortunate though, that the Bishops have chosen to investigate the Scouts at all, because no matter what the outcome, it just fuels the paranoia of those people predisposed to be hostile to scouting. And, the timing is just terrible. It looks just mean-spirited of the Bishops to do this to the Girl Scouts in their 100th Anniversary Year.But the quality of the Girl Scout organization, coupled with the importance of its mission, makes me confident that it can weather a challenge like the one its facing from the Catholic Bishops.

" -- looking at both the infield fly rule --" Well, that will settle things. We all know that girls' uniforms don't need flies, just boys' uniforms.I'm sure glad that is settled!"-- they cant be doing this just to make themselves look foolish and small --"Really! Have you seen the spectacle they make of themselves in public in all of that watered silk, lace and silly clothing? Or, as has been said elsewhere: why do Catholic clergy have to dress like mother to be called father?

John Prior: You say that "they [the bishops] can't be doing this just to make themselves look foolish and small."It appears from the reports that thus far only one bishop, Bishop Rhoades, is doing this.I am not always sure that "somewhere among them the bishops have a lick or two of sense."However, thus far, the other bishops do not appear to have joined Bishop Rhoades.Thus far, the USCCB does not appear to have endorsed his efforts.

The link provided in the original post, attributed there to David Crary, connects to a WaPo article by Carol Morello. That story doesnt seem to contain anything about this allegation: [The bishops] also object to non-Christian Scouts invoking the Deity by names the bishops dont approve of (Allah, e.g.).----The original AP story by Crary says: In 1993, Christian conservatives were outraged when the Girl Scouts formalized a policy allowing girls to substitute another word for "God" such as Allah or Buddha in the Girl Scout promise that reads: "On my honor, I will try to serve God and my country."I presume that was among the complaints the bishops' spokesnun was referring to.

Thomas Farrell @ 4:31 pmThis sounds to me like official USCCB business:"The new inquiry will be conducted by the bishops Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth. It will look into the Scouts possible problematic relationships with other organizations and various problematic program materials, according to a letter sent by the committee chairman, Bishop Kevin Rhoades of Fort Wayne, Ind., to his fellow bishops."

I kept waiting to see if someone would defend episcopal craziness on this -shows how absurd the "apologetics" of the day can get.Saw an interesting piece on a catholic Hs in Arizona which wouldn't let their baseball team compete in the Stae championships against another because trhe other tean had a girl playing second base.I remain convinced our Church has descended into an awful kind of craziness that defies common sense and no appeals to defending it now wil ring true in the broad community.

Irene - that's great to know about the Girl Scouts national organization.Btw, here's some good reporting on the story by one David Gibson:

John Prior: OK. Thanks for correcting my mistaken view.

Here is the AP story by David Crary, with more good detail., Lisa, if you're reading this, your post suggests that the bishops "also object to non-Christian Scouts invoking the Deity by names the bishops dont approve of (Allah, e.g.)". But please note that Crary attributes this, not to the bishops, but to "Christian conservatives" back in 1993 - this as part of a review of past instances of Girl Scout involvement in the culture wars.

I see no connection between the LCWR and the Girl Scouts as the latter still wear uniforms/habits.As a child I wanted to join the girl Scouts but my parents refused. They said it was because of the uniform. I asked why that mattered (I thought a uniform would be cool.) They said something about Scouts having to dress and act and think like everybody else in the troop rather than according to one's own choice. I thought that was silly (for an 8 year old, how can such arguments have any weight compared to the attraction of bright scarves?) and protested, but to no avail. They were determined and united against my wish.Now I see how protective they were of our freedoms, to a radical extent!

Bob Nunz @ 5:55 pm:"Saw an interesting piece on a catholic Hs in Arizona which wouldnt let their baseball team compete in the Stae championships against another because trhe other tean had a girl playing second base."I wouldn't read too much into that. They probably just thought she should be playing shortstop.

I read about this inquiry in the local paper this morning. It was too early to decide whether to laugh or to cry. I finally decided to just be sad for a few minutes.

Some excellent books for the centennial: first one, Girl Scouts: A Celebration of 100 Trailblazing Years, by Betty Christiansen, beautifully illustrated, contains a great deal of information about the history of the organization. Interesting to see how inclusive it was from the start: there were troops for partially-sighted girls, girls of various abilities, girls of various ethnicities, etc. During the war years, "Girl Scouts operated bicycle courier services, invested hundreds of thousands of hours in the Farm Aide Project, and grew Victory Gardens. THey collected rubber for tires, nylon and rags for parachutes, and scrap metal by the ton. They picked 7,930 pounds of milkweek pods, the fiber from which was used to fill life jackets and aviator suits." Etc., etc.The attack on the Girl Scouts points to the same pathology that the attack on nuns makes evident. Nasty.

We are having our Girl Scout Mass next Sunday. (Girl Scout Sunday/Sabbath is actually held in March, when Girl Scouts around the the country worship in uniform together, but we weren't able to get it together to do our Girl Scout Mass until now). Also, I plan to order the booklets for the Catholic Scout Awards (Family of God is the Brownie level award- - comparable to Gerelyn's Marian Award). And we are going to do the activities for the Catholic Scouts 100th Anniversary Patch: here are the requirements.'ve decided I'm just going to try and ignore all of this lunacy and just keep doing what we're doing with the Brownies.

See Rosenthal op ed in The NYT today -next, Dora the Explorer?Wonder how manu pf you watched Washington week last night?New GOP Senate candidate vows to oppose compromise, only tea party ideals.What gives in indiana?I say this because ,according to reports, this whole thing started with an Indiana legislator doing a brief web search.USCCB continues to support and strengthen radical right craziness with their own intransigence.

( Link to Rosenthal's op-ed.)---Like the investigations of nuns, this "scrutiny" of the Girl Scouts insults not only the members and leaders of today but degrades the accomplishments and integrity of the members and leaders of the past.

How to alienate the next generation: Attack the Girl Scouts. Push them away ypung.

A shame the Catholic bishops can't follow the example of "Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, a former Girl Scout, [who] preached at a packed April 28 interfaith service at Washington National Cathedral that celebrated a century of girl scouting."Link to the beautiful article:

I think I'm qualified to be a state legislator in Indiana, because I just spent a short amount of time on Google. There is actually a lot of information - not to mention accusations and insinuations - swirling around about the Girl Scouts and links and associations to organizations that would give plenty of Catholic parents and scout leaders heartburn.Click here for one site that has gathered together some of this documentation. I just spent a few minutes clicking around on it. My opinion is that some of this material is pretty easily dismissable - and some of it isn't.Here is another site that documents connections between the Girl Scouts and Planned Parenthood. Again, my opinion is that some of what is presented here is probably not too worrisome - and some of it may deserve a deeper look.Pretty clearly, Mary Rice Hasson of the Ethics and Public Policy Center has been one of those trying to raise the alarm about the Girl Scouts. If you go to the organization's website ( and search for "Girl Scouts", the results bring up a trio of her articles, containing lots of links (from which I plucked the two examples above). The materials I've been looking at suggest that at least a couple of denizens of the conservative media - The O'Reilly Factor and EWTN - have also been raising these questions about the Girl Scouts.There's there there.

Andrew Rosenthal expresses the kind of views from whom little girls all over America should be protected. I'm sure he thinks he's doing the girl scouts a favor, but he's not helping their cause.

Perhaps if the Girl Scouts took a leaf out of Maciel's book and offered to contribute to the Vatican a certain percentage of their cookie revenues, Rome would let them off the hook.

Andrew Rosenthal expresses the kind of views from whom little girls all over America should be protected.---Like what?

Jim- Actually its those far-right sites themselves that give me heartburn as a Catholic parent and scout leader. Family Watch International is openly homophobicand its President, Sharon Slater, has in the past been affiliated with organizations listed as "hate groups" by the Southern Poverty Law Center. I would be much more worried about my children being exposed to Family Watch International than the groups it targets.And most of the accusations on "speaknowgirlscouts" (a web site maintained by two 15 year old twins girls in Texas) have been flatly denied by the Girl Scouts organization. Much of the info on the Texas teens' site came from Glenn Beck's website 'The Blaze" I' m not sure why it is not good enough for people when the Girl Scouts organization flat out states it has no partnership with PP and that it takes no position on abortion and birth control. There is little or no evidence to contradict the GS side of the story and much to support it. Their program materials are available for all to see,so it would be pretty easy to substantiate these criticisms if they were real. Also, the Scouting program is structured in such a way that local leaders and parents have pretty much total control over how girls on the ground access some or all of the program.What specifically would folks like the GSUSA to do over and above what they are already doing to put these accusations to rest??Again, the Girls Scouts website takes on the accusations one by one; I guess people need to decide for themselves who is more credible, the Girl Scouts with their 100 year track record of serving girls, or its critics- Sharon Slater with her troubled background, and Glenn Beck.There is something shameful about a venerable organization having to defend itself from these noxious attacks coming from people with an agenda and who are playing fast and loose with the facts. The Bishops "investigation", no matter what its outcome, only gives credibility to the attackers.

"Pretty clearly, Mary Rice Hasson of the Ethics and Public Policy Center has been one of those trying to raise the alarm about the Girl Scouts. If you go to the organizations website ( and search for Girl Scouts, the results bring up a trio of her articles, containing lots of links (from which I plucked the two examples above). The materials Ive been looking at suggest that at least a couple of denizens of the conservative media The OReilly Factor and EWTN have also been raising these questions about the Girl Scouts. Theres there there."Jim, Weigel and the eppc, O'reilly and Ewtn have been absolute supporters of Maciel and the Legionnaires. Why then do you give them credibility?

My wife is now in high dudgeon pshe remembered her mother being banned from local girl scouts because they met athe Protestant chutch."Doctors without Borders?," she huffed. "They risk their lives saving lives and these guys sit on theoir fat ______ pontificating/"Struck me as a common sense view.Reminds me of the evangelicals who go tupset with Sponge Pants Bob and teletubbies.The right continues to be more and more the extreme right in in a narrow twisted world.Blech!

Irene says "Ive decided Im just going to try and ignore all of this lunacy 'Just like me/mine and millions of Catholic laity going to Mass tommorow.. But it's getting more and more and more difficult. "They' just keep up the bumbling annoucements and no relief in sight.

Bob N. --How in the world can anybody object to anything having to do with the teletubbies? That's downright insane!(Oops -- I forgot: ike the nunsz they don't speak out about women's ordination and abortion, etc. Shame on them.)

I went to Mass yesterday evening with my two daughters. The readings all spoke to Jesus' new commandment, the Law of Love "This is my commandment: love one another as I love you."I thought, this is great, I need to hear a little more about Love. The homily, however, completely ignored the readings and was a jeremiad about fighting the evils of artificial contraception and same-sex marriage.I had to apologize to my 12 year old daughter at the end of it; I told her I was sorry she had to hear all that.What's going on with our Church?

Irene - I agree some of the accusations at those sites are probably not anything to worry about, and I believe GSUSA when it denies complicity. The accusations on those sites that may deserve a deeper look, in my opinion, are the ones that pertain to local councils that may (or may not) be complicit in worrisome ways. I neither believe nor disbelieve those claims, but they're not all equally incredible.You may have seen, too, that WAGGGS itself is in the conservatives' crosshairs as being an organization that supports contraception, abortion and so on. I linked to a site myself in our conversation in that other thread down below that provides some support for that accusation. As I say, it's worth a deeper look-see.I had never heard of Sharon Slater until I ran across that website. Ultimately, istm that her claims, the Girl Scouts' claims, the Southern Poverty Law Center's claims, and Planned Parenthood's claims all need to be assessed on their own merits. Regarding Bishop Rhoades inquiry: looking into an accusation is not the same as finding someone guilty. If the girl scouts are clean, then I hope he's able to confirm that's the case and proclaims it to the rooftops. Pretty clearly, that Catholic federation of youth organizations isn't too worried. And I agree 100% with you that local den moms and troop leaders determine the content to which the girls are exposed. I'm not worried about what goes on in our local Catholic school's troop. But neither do I find it completely far-fetched that there could be some problematic programming going on at a local or regional level.

I just went to Mass and heard the same readings, the same law: "This is my commandment: love one another as I love you.In his homily our pastor said: "This week, the day after Obama spoke in favor of same-sex marriage, in the newspaper someone wrote: "Well, those Christians, we know at least that they're not going to heaven." I read that and thought: "What is he talking about? That is not what Christ said! Just look at today's first reading to see how the Church is for all. Look at the second reading and the Gospel to see what really matters: to love one another." The congregation spontaneously burst into a loud applause.Whatever is going on with parts of our church, there are some oases of peace.

But Jim P: note how it looks when an all-male organization doesn't "look into" some possible problematic local or regional programs, but announces that it investigating the entire organization, with a bishop leading the charge! It's the same patriarchal nonsense that underlies the bishops' fear of "radical feminism" that they ascribed to the LCWR. Why not have some high-ranking woman in the USCCB--oops, there are no really high-ranking women, are there?--quietly look into the allegations, then, if necessary, work quietly for common ground? Perhaps a former Scout? But no--the men wade in, raising a huge public clamor from the start, apparently utterly clueless as to how absurd and offensive that looks. This on top of the contraception mess and the attack on the LCWR, no less. What's the common thread here? Hmm...attacking Elizabeth Johnson, then attacking contraception (not only a women's issue, of course, but considered more urgent by women,) then the LCWR, and now the Girl Scouts? As for me--I buy extra cookies this year, diet be damned!!

Jim P. @ 05/13/2012 - 11:34 am:" If the girl scouts are clean, then I hope hes able to confirm thats the case and proclaims it to the rooftops."I hope so, too. I do indeed. The sight of Bishop Rhoades, surely in full regalia, rushing through the streets shouting "The girls scouts are clean! The girl scouts are clean!" will leave me no more to wish for in this vale of mirth.

John P. -- Imagine the alternative: Bishop Rhoades, grandly robed and crosier held high, thundering "The girl scouts are unclean! The girl scouts are unclean!" Then what?What he ought to do is look for some promising candidates to steer in the direction of those shrinking ranks of sisters his confreres are concerned about. Scouting ought to be good basic training.

And the 800 pound gorilla in the room: based on their historical record, are the US Bishops an appropriate body to vet youth services organizations? This really should be something the USCCB delegates to a more credible organization, like the National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry (whose Board of Directors and National staff DOES include women leaders).

When Rhoades' processes through the streets, I volunteer to walk before the procession, ringing a cowbell.

"This really should be something the USCCB delegates to a more credible organization, like the National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry (whose Board of Directors and National staff DOES include women leaders)."Irene - I take it that this is pretty much what is going to happen.

"But Jim P: note how it looks when an all-male organization doesnt look into some possible problematic local or regional programs but announces that it investigating the entire organization"Why wouldn't they look into the problematic local or regional programs? Does the national organization have any responsibility to set standards or establish lines which the more local branches shouldn't cross? Personally, I don't know the answer to that question, but it sounds like it's worth thinking about. My understanding is that Catholic parents are really the ones who are instigating this inquiry, because their reports and complaints (perhaps compiled and amplified by conservative activists and media) are ultimately what Bishop Rhoades is responding to. For good or ill, Catholic parents expect the all-male organization to oversee Catholic schools, which includes school-sponsored activities like athletics and scouts. For families like ours, whose kids are in scouting in a public school setting, the all-male organization has a role to play in providing moral guidance. In both scenarios, the all-male organization is a legitimate stakeholder. If they conduct their inquiry professionally, respectfully and fairly, then I don't have an issue with it. If the problems are real, they are real whether the bishops are all male or not. I do understand that most of us don't think of Planned Parenthood or WAGGGS when we think of the girl scouts - we think of the things that we or our daughters or sisters or nieces have done in the local den. Because our imaginations don't always stretch very far doesn't mean that the problems that have been reported aren't real (nor does it mean that they are real). Best way to find out, istm, is to take a look.

So Jim, what's your beef with WAGGGS, specifically?

(Maybe Bill O'Reilly and EWTN object to WAGGS' Stop the Violence campaign.) I'm wearing my WAGGS pin today to ward off evil vibes from those who hate the idea of empowering girls.

Gerelyn- I like WAGGGS "Right to Food" campaign"The cartoon book and activity guide The Right to Food: A Window on the World, produced by WAGGGS and FAO, are about the right of every human being to be free from hunger and the responsibility of all members of society to respect, protect and promote that right"Hey, somebody needs to take the radical position that food is a human right.

Irene - please don't lump me in - I'm not really one of the "beefers". I'm just advancing the alternative theory that a bishop, as a result of parent complaints, taking a look at what girl scouts are up to, is not prima facie absurd.FWIW - I just went to the WAGGGS website and typed in the search term "contraception". There is one result. You may judge for yourself whether it would cause the eyebrows of some Catholic parents to be raised.

Jim, it's Girl Scouts, not girl scouts. And it's troop, not den.

From Jim's link to the WAGGGS site:A ll young people must have access to comprehensive sexuality education and sexual and reproductive health services, including contraception and emergency contraception, in order to avoid unintended pregnancies. Sexual and reproductive health services should, as a minimum, be accessible, affordable and safe. All young people should have access to psycho-social health services for prevention of gender-based violence and violence against women.

Gerelyn - it's not mine, it's WAGGGS'. I just pasted it here.

Republicans oppose the Violence Against Women Act. I suppose that's one of the reasons the bishops and other Republicans are going after the Girl Scouts of the USA and WAGGGS.

It seems to me that the bishops are trying to tell parents in too much detail how to raise their daughters. Specifically they are telling parents that their daughters must not associate with people with somewhat different values. They are trying to shield the children completely from possible inapprroriate influence.The bishops apparently still don't get It -- that they are the last people parents should go to for advice on how to protect their children. The bishos have already proven that they don't understamd lids.

Much as I admire their tenacity, I think the bishops may find even their legendary powers of persuasion unequal to the task of showing that the Sierra Club is a threat to the purity of girls.Didn't they once caution girls about the risk of wearing patent leather shoes? Or was it nuns who did that? I grow old.

"It seems to me that the bishops are trying to tell parents in too much detail how to raise their daughters."Ann - I really hope it doesn't come to that. The current situation is somewhat the reverse: it was parents' complaints that launched this inquiry.

"it was parents complaints that launched this inquiry."Are you certain of that? It actually sounds like organized right wing activists creating a misinformation campaign. What parents? And how many? Sharon Slater went after the Girl Scouts only as a side bar to her true vocation: getting homsexuality criminalized. And, One of the crazier websites in this mess claims to be hosted by "Parents for Life". Yes, I guess they might be parents, but good luck finding actual names of these parents anywhere on the site.Shouldn't we first, then investigate "the parents", before we decide we must investigate their targets?

David Gibson reported in WashPost (5/11/12) that "there is a strong push among the bishops to ensure that no church organization has even remote connections to doctrinally problematic groups." Given the vague and potentially global scope of the term "problematic", the herculean task of the bishops is just beginning. On the Scouts, USCCB spokeswoman Sister Mary Ann Walsh said "There had been some complaints about the Scouts, and the bishops couldnt turn a deaf ear.. So they want to know, whats the story? It's unclear why an old-fashioned phone call might not have satisfied their curiosity.

Sister Mary Ann Walsh: "...and the bishops couldn't turn a deaf ear..."After all, they have a limited number of deaf ears, and most of them have been turned in a very different direction in recent decades.By the way, lovely headline on the WP story: Catholic bishops to scrutinize Girl ScoutsBe chill, my heart!

Let us give thanks for the rare spasm of USCCB strategic insight which led them not to target the Boy Scouts.

The remote material cooperation and not expressly Christian enough thing of course means that we must now also investigate Alcoholics Anonymous (and Narcotics Anonymous, AlAteen, ALCOA, and all 12-step programs), and avoid the Moose Lodge, Rotary Club, Lions Club, Kiwanis, and their like.Are they next? And if not, why not?

Now that you mention it, Carolyn, the phrase "God as we understood Him" in Steps Three and Eleven might attract some episcopal attention, suggesting as it does to an imperfectly catechized mind that a man or woman may come to a practical apprehension of God unmediated by theologians and prelates. Could any belief be a greater threat to the institution of the Church? And to think that it is being disseminated year after year in the Church's own basements and social halls! Where, oh where is Ithuriel's spear when it's needed?

The problem runs deeper, John. Exegesis of the related texts shows that the power proposed may be whatever serves to save a life. If that's not relativism, I don't know what is. Nevertheless, miracles do follow, so there must be something there. Definitely needs to be scrutinized as Carolyn points out, especially given the Church's proximate cooperation in deliberately providing facilities with no financial gain. Sufficient scrutiny will almost certainly reveal that Girl Scouts at times may use these very same facilities, raising questions about linkage among problematical groups.

The Dalai Lama doesn't believe in a personal God. Shouldn't the Swiss Guards bar him from entering into the sacred precincts of the Vatican? Hey -- the Swiss Guards! Aren't they PROTESTANTS??? The Pope is not safe!! The Pope is not safe!!!

Carolyn - why would we suppose that nobody has investigated Catholicism and 12 step programs? don't know of any Catholic connections to the Elks and the Moose, but I'd be amazed if there hasn't been tension somewhere in history; I believe I've read that the Knights of Columbus were formed at least in part to provide a Catholic alternative. I believe that Masons were excommunicated in one US diocese within the last twenty years.

Irene - no, I can't name the names of any parents who have complained, nor do I know how many. I only know what I've read here. If parents were spurred to complain through the advocacy of right-wingers like Hasson or Slater or Glenn Beck - then they were. There are millions of right-wing Catholic parents in the United States, some of whose children are involved in scouting. They have a right to complain if they see something going on that they think is wrong. I hope that the bishops protect the anonymity of the complainers, because ideological foes have been known to harass such people.I think I've made this pretty clear, but just so there is no doubt about it: my view of the Girl Scouts is that they have done a wonderful job. I'm sure they've made a positive impact on millions of girls' lives, and will continue to do so. Whatever the outcome of this investigation, that will still be the case.If there are genuine issues, and this investigation brings them to light, then we should rejoice. We should always rejoice in the truth. The amount of defensiveness about this inquiry, which from everything I've read so far seems pretty benign, is exceeding the limits of credibility. What is there to worry about?

John Coleman, S.J. has a post on the roots of the complaint at America's "In All Things" today.The comments from the right there are laughable, but many do not see this as "benign" nut more of the carazyness that emanates from that sector and their self assured moral superiotity.(BTW, our JPII pastor Iwas told has removed America from our parish library -Commonweal was out long agfo along with NCR.)So much for love of the truth and soppy statements about it!

I suspect that there is a great deal more disagreement with and divergence from Catholic teaching among professed Catholics than among professed Girl Scouts. And with Girl Scouts, what disagreement there is is likely to be incidental. They may link to the Sierra Club, for example, for the many praiseworthy goals and activities it supports, and not primarily because it favors, if it does, emergency contraception for women in central Africa who are raped as a tactic of warfare. On the other hand, Catholics who ignore teachings about family planning and contraception may well have struggled with the decision before concluding that they are in fact the best judges in their own lives. Theirs is a considered decision about specific doctrines.The difference is that individual Catholic families make the decision, and they are hard to target. There is no Catholics Opposed to Humanae Vitae (COHV) for bishops and others to investigate and browbeat.

Add new comment

You may login with your assigned e-mail address.
The password field is case sensitive.

Or log in with...

Add new comment