Column: Scouting, to work as youth ministry, has to honor its roots

Deacon Dana Nearmyer is the lead consultant for the archdiocesan office of evangelization and Catholic formation of youth.
Deacon Dana Nearmyer is the lead consultant for the archdiocesan office of evangelization and Catholic formation of youth.

by Deacon Dana Nearmyer

Boy and Girl scouts have recently celebrated their 100 year anniversaries, but in recent years, the relationship with our parishes have been strained. I get a lot of inquiries looking for position statements and advice on Scouting issues in what is seen by many as a shift in mission. Here is a summary of the situation.

After several meetings and letters from the archdiocese, Girl Scouts USA recently extensively rewrote parts of their core curriculum, called Journeys, because of the outrage at the graphic, age-inappropriate, and profoundly pro-choice references that dotted the series. But the most problematic situation with Girl Scouts is their affiliation with WAGGGS, World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts. WAGGGS receives millions of dollars from Girl Scouts USA, and they lobby on the international stage, especially to the United Nations, for abortion rights and other positions diametrically opposed to the positions of the Catholic Church.

Cookie royalties and “Thinking Day” revenues are believed to be often used to fund these causes. National Girl Scout leaders tell me that they want to partner with Catholic parishes, but they want us to understand that they are a secular organization that serves a diverse group of people. We have sought direction from the U. S. Conference of Catholic Bishops; it said that important questions to Girl Scouts remain unanswered and an ongoing examination is underway.

Our local Girl Scout leaders are wonderful, holy leaders who want to give our girls great social and enriching experiences, but Girl Scouts’ national curriculum writers and those defending the WAGGGS affiliation are making that more and more difficult for our local leaders.

Over the last couple of years, many Girl Scout leaders, parents and pastors have been attracted to the American Heritage Girls. American Heritage Girls is a Christian Scouting organization that offers social time, badges, camping, and Catholic awards. Several troops exist and many are forming in our archdiocese. American Heritage Girls encourages our Catholic parishes to establish parish troops and to teach our faith.

Little Flowers is not a Scouting organization, but, rather, a Catholic mom-and- daughter group.

Boy Scouts has long been a traditional partner with our parishes, but was recently called to task as they reviewed their policy on homosexuality. The new policy says sexual education and activity are not part of Scouting. Scouts with same-sex attraction are allowed in Scouting, but must be chaste. Openly homosexual leaders are not permitted as leaders.

The Federation of North-American Explorers and St. George Scouts are emerging Catholic boy organizations that do not yet have established troops in our diocese.

Parish Scouting is youth ministry and an extension of our parishes. We do not want to run Boy or Girl Scouts out of our parishes, but we do want them to honor their traditional roots. Be informed about your child’s formation. Check out the website at: archkck.org, under the youth ministry parent page, for Scouting options and support information.

 

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