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ST. LOUIS (ChurchMilitant.com) - The head of the St. Louis archdiocese is disbanding the Catholic Committee on Girl Scouts and cutting off ties to the youth organization.
In a letter issued Thursday, Abp. Robert J. Carlson set forth a number of concerns regarding the Girl Scouts and its parent organization, the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS). Among its concerns is "WAGGGS' continued promotion of contraception and 'abortion rights' on behalf of its girl members, the majority of whom are minors."
The letter also notes worries over the Girl Scouts' promotion of radical feminist icons Gloria Steinem and Betty Friedan, as well as organizations it partners with that push anti-Catholic values, including Amnesty International (which calls abortion a "fundamental human right"), OxFam and others. The Girl Scouts' recent positions on welcoming active homosexuals and transgender youth are also cause for concern.
"We have been in dialogue with these groups and have voiced our concerns on numerous occasions," Abp. Carlson said, and we must be "mindful of whom we allow to teach and form our youth and the messages they present."
"Our primary obligation is to help our girls grow as women of God," he emphasized. Toward this end, he is directing parishes to conduct meetings with local Girl Scout troop leadership to discuss alternative youth programs more faithful to Catholic teaching.
"Effective immediately, I am disbanding the Catholic Committee on Girl Scouts and instead forming a Catholic Committee for Girls Formation that will be charged with ministry to all girls in various organizations."
Elizabeth Westhoff, Director of Marketing and Mission Awareness at the St. Louis archdiocese, spoke with ChurchMilitant.com and stressed Abp. Carlson's special concern for the youth in his archdiocese. "The archbishop started out as a youth minister," Westhoff said, "so youth programs are very important to him."
"Our role is to getting souls to Heaven," she continued, "and the archbishop takes that responsibility seriously."
For this reason, she explained, the archdiocese needs to ensure all its programs, for both boys and girls, are faithful and lead to an authentic expression of Catholicism.
Michael Hichborn of the Lepanto Institute is praising Abp. Carlson for his decision. "God bless Abp. Carlson for taking the concerns of faithful Catholics seriously," he told ChurchMilitant.com. "As a true shepherd, he is chasing away wolves looking to corrupt and destroy the innocence of little girls within his fold."
"One of the most encouraging aspects of Abp. Carlson's decision is the formation of a Catholic Committee for Girls Formation, run by the archdiocese itself," he went on. "For far too long, Catholics have been content to outsource true formation to non-Catholic agencies. We hope that Abp. Carlson's decision serves as a model for dioceses across the country to put an end to the use of non-Catholic programs in favor of the use of truly Catholic ones."
Read Abp. Carlson's letter here.