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Northeast Kansas archdiocese to sever ties with Girl Scouts over 'virtues and values'

Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann, seen in this file photo from 2008, has directed the Kansas City, Kansas, archdiocese to sever ties with Girl Scouts and end cookie sales, citing philosophical concerns with the organization. Enlarge photo

May 1, 2017

— The archdiocese covering the Kansas City, Kan., region and much of the eastern part of the state said Monday it is severing ties with Girl Scouts and urging an end to cookie sales, citing philosophical concerns with the organization.

The Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas announced in a statement that Girl Scouts is "no longer a compatible partner in helping us form young women with the virtues and values of the Gospel," The Kansas City Star reported.

The archdiocese said it is switching its support to a 22-year-old Christian-based scouting program, American Heritage Girls.

American Heritage Girls, with 1,005 troops and more than 47,000 members, has become an option for those who claim Girl Scouts has turned too liberal and has relationships with organizations that don't share traditional family values. The Girl Scouts deny that characterization.

"I have asked the pastors of the archdiocese to begin the process of transitioning away from the hosting of parish Girl Scout troops and toward the chartering of American Heritage Girls troops," Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann said in the statement.

Naumann said pastors have the option of making that shift "quickly, or to, over the next several years, 'graduate' the scouts currently in the program," and to form American Heritage Girl troops this fall.

Lawrence's two Catholic schools, St. John Catholic School and Corpus Christi Catholic School, both belong to the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas. Samantha Romero, director of stewardship and development at the St. John parish, said on Monday that she wasn't aware of any guidelines issued by the archdiocese specifically to St. John's Girl Scout troop, other than schools being encouraged to seek out alternative scouting programs. Father Michael "Mick" Mulvany of Corpus Christi could not be reached for comment Monday about changes at his parish, though a Girl Scouts meeting for Tuesday is still included on the Corpus Christi online calendar as of press time.

Naumann, in a January letter to priests in the archdiocese, also called for an end to Girl Scout cookie sales in the archdiocese, effective after the current school year ends.

The action has angered some Girl Scout leaders and parents in the archdiocese who consider Girl Scouts a respected program and view Naumann's move as punitive and unfair, treating girls in their troops like second-class citizens.

"This is frustrating; parents are very irritated," Maria Walters, a former Girl Scout leader in the archdiocese and mother of two Girl Scouts, told The Star. "I feel we should all be together as one in the community. This does nothing but divide us.

"I don't know why you would take an organization out of a school when it provides an option for girls to feel like they're part of a group."

Last year, St. Louis Archbishop Robert Carlson urged priests to sever ties with the Girl Scouts, also saying the organization promotes values "incompatible" with Catholic teachings.

Carlson's letter then to priests, scout leaders and other Catholics said the archdiocese and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops have been investigating concerns about the Girl Scouts of the USA and the parent organization, the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts, for several years.

Carlson said he worried that contraception and abortion rights were being promoted to Girl Scouts. His letter also said resources and social media "highlight and promote role models in conflict with Catholic values, such as Gloria Steinem and Betty Friedan."

Steinem, 81, is a feminist, journalist and political activist. Friedan, who died in 2006 at age 85, was a feminist and writer.

— Joanna Hlavacek contributed to this report.

Originally published at: http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2017/may/01/kansas-archdiocese-usher-out-girls-scouts/