The Maneater

Column: Why the Catholic Church shouldn’t sever ties with the Girl Scouts

Columnist Hunter Bassler on why the Catholic Church should show its caring side.

I have always seen the Girl Scouts as an organization that encouraged young women to change the world. As a group that promotes outdoor activities, good citizenship, character and community service, they were be capable of doing no wrong.

However, according to St. Louis Archbishop Robert Carlson, I am completely mistaken. The Archbishop recently issued a letter urging priests to cut all ties with the Girl Scouts, claiming that the program goes against Roman Catholic teachings.

Carlson, in the letter, wrote that the Girl Scouts were “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.” He also advised all priests to “stop and ask ourselves — is Girl Scouts concerned with the total well-being of our young women? Does it do a good job forming the spiritual, emotional, and personal well-being of Catholic girls?” Archbishop Carlson believes, since the group is partners with organizations that advocate things such as abortion and LGBT rights, it should no longer be associated with the Roman Catholic Church.

In a sense, I agree with Carlson that the Girl Scouts may not “do a good job forming the spiritual, emotional, and personal well-being of Catholic girls.” The reason being that the Girl Scouts have been a secular organization since its formation. It is not a concern of the group to pertain to only Catholic values because its main, true concern is the empowerment of females. While the Girl Scouts are a secular organization, Bonnie Barczykowski, CEO of the Girl Scouts of Eastern Missouri, responded to the letter by saying “(the Girl Scouts) greatly value our long-standing partnerships with religious organizations across many faiths.”

While the church may disagree with some of the organizations the Girl Scouts support, cutting ties with them would be counterproductive. Many will see this action not as the church defying LGBT and abortion rights, but as the church standing against putting women in a position of leadership.

The church, under the leadership of Pope Francis, has recently taken a more progressive stance on topics such as sexual orientation, global warming and the death penalty. Cutting ties with a group as influential and widespread as the Girl Scouts will be a serious step back from this reform era.

In light of this information, I believe people shouldn’t be too worried. Just look at the Archdiocese of St. Louis’ website itself. On the site, a question-and-answer page has been set up, with one of the most asked questions being “Can I still buy Girl Scout Cookies?” Rather than worrying about “How difficult is it to switch programs?”, people are more concerned about getting their hands on Thin Mints and Samoas. I think it’s safe to say that this letter from a single archbishop will not gain much ground.

If the Catholic Church wants the world to see the loving, caring, respectful and kind religion it truly is, cutting ties with the Girl Scouts will definitely show the public the opposite. If Archbishop Carlson wants to believe that the Girl Scouts, whose law calls its members to be honest, fair, caring and strong, is not “concerned with the total well-being of our young women,” then more power to him. I just ask, and hope, the entirety of the Church to not come to the same belief.

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