Thursday, May 17, 2012

Patricia McGuire: "Girl Scouts and God's Grace"

Patricia McGuire, President of Trinity Washington University, reports in the Huffington Post that Catholic bishops have received complaints about Girl Scout troops affiliated with Catholic parishes and schools. Among complaints are that that some troops have used materials that conflict with Catholic teaching, and a longstanding rumor about some tie to Planned Parenthood, which the Girl Scouts have repeatedly refuted.

"Real evil abounds in our world each day," writes McGuire, "and most of us are doing our level best to relieve the pain of evil's fallout -- child abuse, homelessness and hunger, poverty and corporate greed, illiteracy and the fear that ignorance nurtures, environmental destruction, senseless violence and war. Faith leaders should support the good people who work hard to make a positive difference for children in this very imperfect world. Surely, the Girl Scouts are one of the great organizations that reveal God's grace working within our culture to help girls grow well and strong, keeping them away from the dangerous precipices of destructive behaviors that consume too many young lives."

Trinity Washington University has a strong partnership with the Girl Scouts, including a Girl Scout Scholarship program that has contributed close to $2 million to support Girl Scouts in college at Trinity. Trinity also recently announced an expanded program of Girl Scout Centennial Scholarships in honor of the 100th Anniversary of the Girl Scouts. They will also be on hand with several hundred thousand Girl Scouts on June 9 to "Rock the Mall" in celebration of the Girl Scout Centennial.

The Associated Press recently addressed criticism aimed at Girl Scouts and also reported that Girl Scouts of the USA is now facing their highest-level challenge yet: An official inquiry by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

At issue are concerns about program materials that some Catholics find offensive, as well as assertions that the Scouts associate with other groups espousing stances that conflict with church teaching. The Scouts, who have numerous parish-sponsored troops, deny many of the claims and defend their alliances. One of the long-running concerns is the Girl Scouts' membership in the 145-nation World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts. Some critics want the Girl Scouts of the USA to pull out of the world group; the scouts aren't budging.

"Our world is becoming smaller and our young people need to have those opportunities to engage with their peers from around the world," said the Girl Scouts' CEO, Anna Maria Chavez. "But simply being a member does not mean that we will always take the same positions or endorse the same programs as WAGGGS."