Catholic Committee on Scouting

Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann's Statement Regarding Archdiocesan Transition from Girl Scouts to American Heritage Girls

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Delivering Catholic Youth Ministry Through Scouting Programs

Scouting is an effective way to help Catholic youths to do their duty to God and to their country. Scouting builds character and teaches devotion to God in an environment that provides wholesome fun under the guidance of strong adult role models. The scouting programs provide a wonderful channel to involve youth in the life of Catholic parishes.

 

 

Archdiocesan view on Scouting

We have researched the prudence of Catholic parishes supporting Boy and Girl Scout troops for nearly 10 years. Parishes support Catholic formation opportunities for children, and when young people come to the Church to ask a question, they should receive solid Catholic formation.

 

Secular schools and organizations operate from a worldview driven by opinion polls, fashion and trends. We, as Catholics, seek to view the world through Christ’s eyes by praying, reading scripture, and leaning on our 2,000 year-old tradition built on faith and reason.

 

Logic and reason, along with faith, tell us that children are precious. Taking an innocent human life is against our humanity, and we do not support it. Catholics do not stop secular entities from espousing their ideologies in the public domain, but should we give them our children and the keys to our buildings? Great trust is bestowed on any institution that the Catholic Church supports in forming our children. The baptismal vows we take as the parents of our children, which are renewed by each of us every Easter, should remind us of our duty to form our children and should be reviewed in light of this discussion.

 

 

The Boy Scouts of America is one of the nation's largest and most prominent values-based youth development organizations, providing programs for young people that build character, trains them in the responsibilities of participating citizenship and develops personal fitness. 
www.scouting.org
 
American Heritage Girls is the premier national character development organization for girls ages 5-18 that embraces Christian values and encourages family involvement.
www.americanheritagegirls.org 
 

 

Alternative options

As you make an informed opinion and choice for your family you may want to consider these options:

 

American Heritage Girls: Christian girls group

www.americanheritagegirls.org

 

Federation of North American Explorers: Catholic boys and girls group

www.northstarexplorers.org

 

Troops of St. George: Catholic boys group

https://troopsofsaintgeorge.org

 

Trail life USA: Christian boys group

www.traillifeusa.com 

 

Conquest: Catholic boys group

www.challengeclubs.com 

 

Challenge: Catholic girls group

www.challengeclubs.com

 

Little Flowers: Catholic mother/daughter group

www.beholdpulblications.com

 

 

 

Relationship between Girls Scouts of the USA and the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas 

Overview 

Girl Scouts of America has had an important role in forming girls in the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas for many decades. Traditionally, families have looked to Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA) to form girls in many areas, including character, values and decision-making. 

 

Over the past several years, however, GSUSA has come under fire from Catholic and Christian families in GSUSA, pro-life advocates and many concerned parents in the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas for its relationship with organizations that do not share pro-life and traditional family values. These concerns are both with GSUSA and the international umbrella organization, World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS).

 

Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann and the Office of Evangelization and Catholic Formation for Youth have received numerous impassioned letters asking the Church to look into these areas of concern. We have diligently researched the concerns and worked with priests, parish Girl Scout leaders, Mid-Continent Council of Girl Scout leaders, and top representatives from the national office of GSUSA. We continue this dialogue today, but troublesome areas of disagreement remain. 

 

Since 2014, Archbishop Naumann, through his Presbyteral Council (priest advisory council to the Archbishop), and the Youth Office have asked priests, Girl Scout leaders and concerned parents to meet and discuss these concerns about WAGGGS, the role models that are held up in the Girl Scout materials, website, and the prudence of supporting and funneling our children into a world view that is often in opposition to fundamental Catholic beliefs. 

It has also asked these same groups to investigate, discuss and consider for the purposes of formation other organizations that might better fit the Catholic mission for forming our youth and providing the same social experiences provided in Girl Scouting.

 

In January 2017, with some of these formation alternatives by then already in place and providing our girls with a vibrant, faith-filled and social experience, Archbishop Joseph Naumann asked pastors of archdiocesan parishes to begin transitioning to other Scouting alternatives. Pastors have the option of making an immediate transition or to begin the transition with the 2017-2018 kindergarten Class.  American Heritage Girls are the preferred option. The Archdiocese will separate itself from future Girl Scouting fundraisers like the cookie sales at the conclusion of this year’s sale.

 

Ongoing concerns

 

Relationship between Girl Scouts and WAGGGS 

WAGGGS is part of an influential lobby group. It is closely tied to and celebrated by International Planned Parenthood. WAGGGS advocates for women’s health legislation that specifically includes artificial contraception and abortion as a right of all women. GSUSA contributes more than a million dollars a year to WAGGGS and offers numerous international experiences for older scouts. Catholic girls, parents, priests and the bishops of these international countries objected to United States Catholics supporting these so-called advocacy efforts. 

 

Questionable role models 

Margret Sanger, Betsy Friedan and Gloria Steinem are frequently presented as role models in Girl Scout materials. They do not support a Catholic worldview. Many other role models in the Journeys series (GSUSA’s new manuals) and web content are troublesome. Several offensive and completely age-inappropriate role models and/or sections of the Journeys series were recently removed by GSUSA after the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas raised specific concerns with national leaders. The Archdiocese is grateful for their response in these matters. 

 

Differing viewpoints

Girl Scouts is a secular organization that caters to the whole country and represents current values and trends. The Catholic Church is a 2,000-year old institution with strongly held beliefs that often differ from current trends and values.

 

More information is available on the Archdiocesan website: www.archkck.org/scouting.

 

Alternative options

 

Two groups for girls that promote deepening one’s relationship with Christ and traditional values are the American Heritage Girls and the Little Flowers Girls Club. The American Heritage Girls have experienced tremendous growth in the Archdiocese, and parents and their daughters are reporting inspiring stories from American Heritage meetings and camps, as well as the opportunity to earn badges, including a prolife patch.

Check out their websites:

 

•American Heritage Girls: www.ahgonline.org

•Little Flower Girls Club: https://www.beholdpublications.com/home/

 

Take action 

 

Please meet with your pastor if you would like to establish one of the recommended faith-based groups in your parish. We also encourage you to engage in the many faith formation programs and retreats we offer through the Youth Office, including those hosted by ReachKCK, Rural Outreach and Camp Tekakwitha. All can be found at www.archkck.org/youthministry. The goal of these ministries is to give our daughters experiences that will strengthen their faith and give them a deep awareness of their sacred dignity so they will grow into faithful women of God.

 

Questions or concerns? 

 

Our youth Office is happy to assist with any of your questions at youth@archkck.org. 

 

A timeline of activity on the concerns surrounding Girl Scouts of the USA 

 

Vast correspondence with concerned parents and leaders, parish consolation, and research has taken place amid these mile markers. 

 

• 2007: Many letters from once active and currently active Girl Scouts asked the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas to support them remedying situations and positions within Girl Scouts that contradicted their Catholic beliefs.

• 2008: Extensive research begins due to numerous concerns; meetings with Mid-Continent representatives occur to share concerns.

• 2010: Extensive research begins again due to continuing concerns. Problematic Journeys series replaces traditional curriculum 2008-2010. Meetings with Mid-Continent representatives occur to share concerns.

• 2009-2014; 2016: Presbyteral Council briefed and consulted.

• 2011: An initial letter sent in the summer to GSUSA CEO Kathy Cloninger and chairman of the GSUSA Board of Directors Connie Lindsey outlining grave concerns in the areas of: GSUSA’s relationship to WAGGGS; concerns about WAGGGS; troublesome national activities; concerns with materials (print and digital); preferential inclusion of Planned Parenthood insiders; and the natural alliance of Planned Parenthood with GSUSA despite efforts to keep any such relationship unofficial and behind the scenes.

• October 2011: Issues presented and discussed with USCCB Region Nine diocesan youth colleagues. Archbishop Naumann writes Bishop Kevin Rhodes, USCCB Chairman on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth, voicing his concerns and asks for assistance in evaluating the situation. The committee agrees to investigate.

• November 2011: Archdiocese launches an education and dialogue phase. All pastors are encouraged to invite priests/Catholic Girl Scout leaders and parents to a meeting on the GSUSA’s new curriculum.

A meeting takes place with Robert McCarty of the National Federation of Catholic Youth Ministry, Jan Verhage, COO of GSUSA, numerous GSUSA officials, 10 to 15 U.S. bishops, and about 25 different (arch)diocesan officials to discuss the concerns of Catholics over GSUSA curriculum, governance at parish level, GSUSA problematic involvement and funding of WAGGGS.

• January 2012: Fr. Shawn Tunink and Deacon Dana Nearmyer invite key members of GSUSA who attended the Indianapolis meeting to Kansas City to discuss specific concerns about GSUSA curriculum, governance at the parish level, GSUSA’s problematic involvement and funding of WAGGGS. Susan Swanson and Gladys Padro-Soler represented the GSUSA national office. Several local Girl Scout leaders, many diocesan officials including, Fr. Gary Pennings, Vicar General, and Fr. John Riley, Chancellor, as well as top leadership from the Mid-Continent GS Counsel were in attendance. The relationship between GSUSA and WAGGGS was a point where no agreement was possible, but many issues were discussed and the many curriculum issues were acknowledged. Print and digital issues of objectionable materials in the national handbooks were changed by GSUSA in subsequent printings.

• March 2013: Archbishop Naumann sends a follow-up letter to Bishop Kevin Rhodes, USCCB Chairman on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth, asking for a report of findings regarding our concerns. Several questions come to the pastors and chancery regarding the GSUSA position on life issues.

• 2013-2014: Youth Office meets with pastors and parish groups to further explore issues.

• Early 2014: Presbyteral Council asks pastors to consider and present to both leaders and parents possible affiliation with organizations that are more consistent with traditional Catholic mission and values, such as American Heritage Girls, the Little Flowers, and Challenge.

• Spring 2015: Archbishop Naumann has a one-hour conversation by phone with Anna Maria Chavez, president of GSUSA. Honest, frank conversation took place, but many points were left unresolved.

• Spring 2016: Archbishop Naumann, Deacon Dana and Father Pennings have a one-hour conversation with Joy Wheeler, president of Girl Scout Mid-Continent Council. She could not give us any assurance that our list of concerns could be addressed.

• Fall 2016: Presbyteral Council is briefed twice on new concerns and developments, and clarification of expectations and direction is anticipated.

• January 2017: Archbishop Naumann sends a letter to priests in the Archdiocese in which he states his concerns about Girl Scouts and asks parishes to make American Heritage Girls the preferred Scouting program for Catholic girls, offering both an immediate and a gradual way to make the transition. For assistance in making the transition, pastors are encouraged to contact the archdiocesan Youth Office.

 

Concerns from other organizations

 

There are numerous other organizations that are researching and issuing letters of concern regarding Girl Scouts. Below is a sampling: 

 

Archdiocese of St. Louis: w

ww.archstl.org/scouting#overview

 

Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau:

www.missourilife.org/policies/BpJohnstonLetter-re-GSUSA-2-15-15.pdf 

 

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops: http://www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/who-we-teach/youth/catholic-scouting-questions.cfm

 

Conclusion

 

Since 2007, the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas Youth Office, Girl Scouts of NE Kansas & NW Missouri and concerned parents have been in dialogue to confront the many issues and concerns surrounding Girl Scouts USA (GSUSA) and their relationship with the international parent organization, World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS).

 

Additionally, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has been in dialogue on a national level with GSUSA over these same issues.

 

Although Girl Scouting has had a long running history in the Archdiocese, it is clear that Girl Scouts is no longer governed by, or teaching, traditional values at the national and international levels. We know that our local leaders are faith-filled and dedicated, but the policies, teaching materials and direction of the Girl Scouting organization are continually becoming more and more morally relativistic and secular. We find that though our teachings and beliefs are unchanged, a great divide has opened up between Girl Scouting and the Catholic Church.

 

The Archdiocese, therefore, despite being very grateful for the many years of dedication that our Girl Scouting leaders have shown, is moving to a preferred relationship with American Heritage Girl.  Pastors have been asked to either immediately transition toward that end or begin the transition with kindergarteners at their parish, and make American Heritage Girls the preferred Scouting program. 

 

For assistance in making the transition, pastors are encouraged to contact the archdiocesan Youth Office.

 

For more information about alternatives to Girl Scouting, please go to: http://www.archkck.org/scouting-home. 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

© 2017 Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas