Last month, concerned pro-lifers across the nation took up the call for a "CookieCott", a boycott of the cookies sold by Girl Scouts of America (GSA), as a way to protest the popular scouting organization's ties to the nation's leading abortion provider, Planned Parenthood of America (PPA). The most recent evidence of the tight-knit connection between PPA and GSA was the GSA's recent promotion of Senator Wendy Davis and HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius as women to be honored for their accomplishments in 2013.
On February 28, the Girl Scouts received a statement of support from an unlikely corner: Bishop John Noonan of the Catholic Diocese of Orlando.
In this week's "e-scroll" newsletter, buried about two-thirds of the way down, the bishop has an "update on Girls Scouts Organization". The email contains the first paragraph of his update, followed by a link to the full statement. The main point of the update is that, "To date, the United States Bishops’ support of Scouting (including Girl Scouts USA) remains intact." The article then elaborates:
There is not now, nor has there ever been, a relationship between Girl Scouts USA and Planned Parenthood (despite misinformation to the contrary). A few days ago, the national CEO of Girl Scouts USA, Ms. Anna Maria Chávez (a devout and practicing Catholic) posted a YouTube statement affirming the aforementioned and I also received an official statement from Planned Parenthood of Greater Orlando President and CEO, Ms. Jenna Tosh, underscoring the same.
It is curious that the bishop would simply take the CEO of an abortion provider, and enemy of the Catholic Church, at her word. It is still more curious that the bishop's office issues this statement, in spite of the non-partisan Snopes.com saying that there is at least a mix of truth and myth in the alleged connections between GSA and PP, among the truths, such things as the "Happy, Healthy, and Hot" sexual guide for girls that was handed-out at a U.N. conference that the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS) attended. Even former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has said that the relationship between the Girl Scouts and Planned Parenthood is "very valuable".
But what is perhaps the most curious item in the diocese's weblink article is that it concludes with the following (see screenshot):
The following statement is recommended for sharing with parishioners or patrons.
SUGGESTED PUBLIC STATEMENT ON CATHOLIC SCOUTING
Catholic Scouting has a rich heritage in the Diocese of Orlando and Bishop Noonan, like his predecessors, is supportive of those young people (and their families) who benefit from participation in the various opportunities it provides. From time to time, questions arise as to the relationship between Scouting entities and the Roman Catholic Church. Scouting partnerships are monitored on the national level through the National Federation of Catholic Youth Ministry and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and locally through our diocesan Secretariat for Evangelization and Family Life. Recently, some have raised concern over an alleged affiliation between Girl Scouts USA and Planned Parenthood (despite official statements from both organizations that such a relationship does not now, nor ever has, existed). Each year thousands of families benefit from Scouting. It builds character, and in the context of our Church and faith, aids in fostering lifelong discipleship. It offers a wonderful opportunity for evangelization and enhances overall parish ministry.
I'm not sure why this is a "suggested" public statement - doesn't the diocese make it's own public statements? who suggested this? who is this suggestion being given to?
Furthermore, do those "wonderful opportunities for evangelization" and examples of "building character" include:
- promoting the contraception mandate on health insurers, as HHS Secretary Sebelius does?
- defending abortion rights by public statements and filibusters, as Texas Senator Wendy Davis did?
- being barred from receiving the Eucharist in your home diocese, as then-governor Sebelius was?
- marrying a man to raise your children while you go to college, and then promptly divorcing him upon graduation and final payment of tuition and student loans, as Wendy Davis did?
It may be worthwhile for the bishop's secretary for Evangelization and Family Life, Dennis Johnson, to hear from Catholics throughout the diocese who have decided that they would rather their daughters emulate the morals and standards set by alternatives to the Girl Scouts, such as "Little Flowers Girls Club" or "American Heritage Girls". The future of the Church and the souls of our children are too important to simply take Planned Parenthood's word for it.
As the e-scroll article said, "if you have any questions, please contact Dennis Johnson, secretary for Evangelization and Family Life, firstname.lastname@example.org ". I am reaching out to him for answers to these, and many more questions about the Girls Scouts, and I hope you will do likewise.
UPDATE: Diocesan website has been scrubbed, as of evening of March 3, 2014. See "Update on Girl Scouts and the Diocese of Orlando" for more details.