The Girl Scouts of the USA have long been facing complaints by Catholic representatives accusing the organization of supporting abortion and artificial birth control, and now it finds itself under an ongoing review by the nation's Roman Catholic bishops.
It has been reported that Catholic bishops have actually been looking into the Girl Scouts for two years now, examining accusations that the organization has ties with Planned Parenthood, which endorses artificial family planning and goes against church teachings on abortion, The Washington Post reported.
Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades, chairman of the Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth, reportedly applauded in a March 28 letter to his fellow bishops "the good service that so many of our Catholic Girl Scout Troops have provided and continue to provide at the local level," but also expressed that "important questions still remain and need to be examined."
It is estimated that roughly a quarter of the 2.3 million Girl Scouts in the U.S. are Catholic, and while the official position of the Girl Scouts is silent on the subjects of abortion and sexuality, there have been accusations by social conservatives who have questioned the organization's ties to groups such as the Sierra Club, Doctors Without Borders and Oxfam, some of which support family planning and contraception.
Earlier this year, an Arizona college student quit her job with the Girl Scouts after being asked to turn her pro-life t-shirt inside out because of its message.
Twenty-one year old Renise Rodriguez was apparently wearing a "Pray to End Abortion" shirt when she was told twice by a supervisor to turn her shirt inside out if she planned to stay in the office or attend a troop meeting.
Also last year, a Colorado Girls Scout troop received complaints after it accepted a seven-year-old transgender child who was born a boy but was being raised as a girl. There have also been accusations of Girl Scout groups attending sexual education classes that were not focused on abstinence but on other methods of birth control.
"There had been some complaints about the Scouts, and the bishops couldn't turn a deaf ear," explained Sister Mary Ann Walsh, a spokeswoman for the bishops, to The Washington Post. "So they want to know, what's the story?"
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The Girl Scouts have largely denied accusations that they are going against Catholic Church teachings, and have said that the complaints are overblown.
"For nearly 100 years, we have partnered with the Catholic Church to support the growth and development of millions of girls," shared Anna Maria Chavez, a Girl Scouts CEO who also describes herself as a Catholic. "It is a wonderful legacy and we're grateful for the opportunity to participate in the process that will only enhance our partnership."
"A collision course is probably a good description of where things are headed," added Mary Rice Hasson, a visiting fellow in Catholic studies at the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington D.C. "The leadership of the Girl Scouts is reflexively liberal. Their board is dominated by people whose views are antithetical to the teachings of the Catholic Church."