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Catholic diocese eyes ties to Girl Scouts

February 25, 2016 at 5:40 a.m. | Updated January 1, 2021 at 12:00 a.m.

After reviewing a letter from a St. Louis archbishop, Bishop John Gaydos will consult with pastors and parent leaders of parishes in the Catholic Diocese of Jefferson City regarding the diocese's future involvement with Girl Scout programs.

Officials with the Catholic Diocese of Jefferson City announced this week they were aware of the letter issued last week by St. Louis Archbishop Robert J. Carlson regarding his concerns about the Girl Scouts organization and its continued involvement with parishes of the archdiocese.

Those concerns have to do with policies of and connections to the national and international Girl Scouts organizations the St. Louis archdiocese felt "promote things that are incongruent with Catholic values."

Carlson disbanded the "Catholic Committee on Girl Scouts" because of ongoing concerns the organization "exhibits a troubling pattern of behavior ... increasingly incompatible with our Catholic values."

Brian Miller of the Catholic Youth Apostolate in St. Louis cited the Girl Scouts' ties to abortion advocacy and homosexuality.

"A push for values like same-sex marriage or the transgender issue that keeps coming up, that's something with our Catholic faith and the education of our youth, obviously there is a little conflict there," he said.

In the letter, the archbishop said the Girl Scouts "promote role models in conflict with Catholic values, such as Gloria Steinem and Betty Friedan."

A spokeswoman for Girl Scouts USA denied its practices contradict church teachings, noting, for example, it does not take a position on abortion or contraception.

"Girl Scouts of the USA looks forward to extending our longstanding relationship with faith-based organizations, including the Catholic Church and Catholic communities, throughout the country," Kelly Parisi said in a statement. "As the preeminent leadership development organization for girls of every faith and background, we remain committed to building girls of courage, confidence and character, who make the world a better place."

Parisi would not directly address the archdiocese's claims it had promoted Steinem and Friedan as role models, instead providing a statement reiterating "Girl Scouts is a non-political, non-partisan organization.

"Building girls' leadership skills is a non-political, non-partisan agenda," she added.

Jefferson City diocese officials said unlike the St. Louis Archdiocese, which has been a substantial sponsor of Girl Scouts programs in the St. Louis metropolitan area, Girl Scouts participation in parishes of the Jefferson City diocese is not as significant, although the full extent of Girl Scouts chapter activity in the local diocese, which coordinates Catholic parishes throughout central and northeast Missouri, is unknown at this time.

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