The sometimes tense relationship between the Catholic Church and the Girl Scouts appears to be moving toward a resolution, as the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has asked scout leaders to clarify programs and material that some religious conservatives think promote contraception and abortion.
Potentially at stake is whether troops can continue meeting in Catholic churches, and whether many Catholic girls, who make up a quarter of the nationâ€™s 3 million Girl Scouts, will continue in scouting as the organization marks its 100th year.
In a letter dated March 28, the head of the bishops committee that has been looking into concerns about the Girl Scouts said he wanted to identify and address all remaining questions. The letter was written by Kevin C. Rhoades, bishop of Fort Wayne, who was a leading critic of the University of Notre Dame when it awarded President Obama an honorary degree in 2009.
The Associated Press reported on the letter Thursday, referring to it as an â€œofficial inquiry.â€
The letter said that â€œimportant questions still remain and need to be examined.â€ But areas of concern were not specified, and church officials declined to be more specific. They characterized the letter as simply asking for further clarification.
â€œThere had been some complaints about the Scouts, and the bishops couldnâ€™t turn a deaf ear,â€ said Sister Mary Ann Walsh, a spokeswoman for the bishops. â€œSo they want to know, whatâ€™s the story?â€
The Girl Scouts organization said it expects the questions to be answered to the bishopsâ€™ satisfaction.
â€œWeâ€™ve had a strong relationship with the Catholic Church for 98 years,â€ said Girl Scouts spokeswoman Michelle Tompkins. â€œWe donâ€™t expect it to change.â€
Controversies have bubbled up in recent years, many of them rooted in misinformation. The Girl Scouts of the USA has denied any partnership with Planned Parenthood, and says it has no positions on abortion, birth control and sexuality. [More]