Tag Archives: archbishop

Catholic archbishop seeks to cut ties with Girl Scouts

St. Louis Archbishop Robert Carlson is urging priests to sever ties with the Girl Scouts, saying the organization promotes values “incompatible” with Catholic teachings.

The open letter to priests, scout leaders and other Catholics was posted recently on the archdiocese website. It urges parishes that host Girl Scout meetings to consider alternative programs for girls that are more Catholic- or Christian-based.

“We must stop and ask ourselves — is Girl Scouts concerned with the total well-being of our young women? Does it do a good job forming the spiritual, emotional, and personal well-being of Catholic girls?” Carlson wrote.

The letter stops short of demanding an end to Girl Scout meetings at parishes, a common gathering site in the heavily Catholic St. Louis region. Brian Miller, executive director of the Catholic Youth Apostolate, said Friday that the letter is not meant to pressure priests into pushing out Girl Scouts.

“We’re asking parishes to evaluate and review what they can do to form the faith of young women,” Miller said.

Carlson’s letter 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 worries that contraception and abortion rights are being promoted to Girl Scouts. The 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.

“In addition, recent concerns about GSUSA and their position on and inclusion of transgender and homosexual issues are proving problematic,” Carlson wrote.

Girl Scouts of the USA said in a statement that it “looks forward to extending our longstanding relationship with faith-based organizations, including the Catholic Church and Catholic communities, throughout the country. As the pre-eminent leadership development organization for girls of every faith and background, we remain committed to building girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place.”

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops began investigating the Girl Scouts of the USA in 2012, not long after lawmakers in Indiana and Alaska publicly called the Scouts into question, and after the organization was berated in a series aired by a Catholic broadcast network.

The Archdiocese of St. Louis is particularly powerful in the region given that nearly a quarter of the area’s population — about 520,000 people — is Catholic. Its leaders have never been shy about addressing politically and socially sensitive matters. During the 2004 presidential campaign, then-Archbishop Raymond Burke made national news when he said he would deny communion to Democratic candidate John Kerry, citing his stance on abortion.

Carlson asked each pastor at parishes where Girl Scout meetings occur to meet with troop leaders to review concerns “and discuss implementing alternative options for the formation of our girls.” He said several alternative organizations with Catholic or Christian backgrounds can be offered.

His letter also hinted at increased scrutiny of the Boy Scouts of America.

“While the new BSA leadership policy currently offers some protections to religious organizations, I continue to wonder in which direction this once-trusted organization is now headed,” he wrote.

In December, the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, the nation’s second-largest Lutheran denomination, ended its official relationship with the Boy Scouts over the organization’s decision to allow openly gay Scout leaders.

Installation of new anti-gay archbishop draws cheers, rebukes

The installation of a new Roman Catholic archbishop of San Francisco – a backer of California’s same-sex marriage ban – drew support and protest as the 56-year-old priest assumed the ceremonial seat at St. Mary’s Cathedral during a Mass Thursday.

Such inductions have not historically been cause for much interest or angst in San Francisco, where the population of church faithful is smaller than in many major U.S. cities. But attention was intense this time.

Salvatore Joseph Cordileone, a native Californian who served as bishop of neighboring Oakland for the past three-and-a-half years, has a nationwide reputation as a fierce defender of the Catholic Church’s positions on homosexuality in general and same-sex marriage in particular.

His stance, a key factor in his rapid, decade-long ascension from auxiliary bishop to archbishop, has endeared him to fellow Catholic conservatives who have long regarded the Bay Area’s gay-friendly parishes as wayward sheep in the flock.

More liberal Catholics and other faith communities that welcome gay, lesbian and transgender members, however, are worried about that part of Cordileone’s resume, reflected in his experience as one of the early engineers of California’s voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage in 2008 and since 2011 as chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ subcommittee charged with opposing efforts to legalize gay unions.

Those concerns prompted Marc Andrus, the Episcopal bishop of California, this week to write an open letter to his parishioners stating that while he planned to attend Thursday’s ceremony and to work with the new archbishop on issues such as immigration reform, he would also welcome into the Episcopal fold Catholics who “may find themselves less at home with Salvatore Cordileone’s installation.”

Andrus wrote, “It is our Christian duty to take stands in public or from our pulpits when others – especially those of our own faith – are in error and trying to suppress the rights of others who, too, have been created in God’s image.”

Pope Benedict XVI’s selection of Cordileone on July 27 to replace retiring Archbishop George Niederauer also has raised eyebrows outside of California, despite Benedict’s track record of elevating U.S. prelates who are unafraid to clash with politicians on issues such as contraception, said Rocco Palmo, a respected church commentator and blogger based in Philadelphia.

“The most salient thing I can tell you is that the American bishops and archbishops I spoke with in the wake of the appointment, not seen widely as a progressive group, were stunned,” Palmo said. “It was seen as a provocative gesture by Rome” to name a “combative” traditionalist like Cordileone to oversee the nation’s gay capital.

For his part, Cordileone has said he wants to be seen as more than a one-issue man and looks forward to getting to know the 91 parishes in an archdiocese that also includes the two counties to the north and south of San Francisco. He has not back-pedaled, though, on previous statements calling efforts to extend marriage beyond one man and one woman “the ultimate attack of the Evil One” and declaring that Catholics who support same-sex marriage should refrain from taking communion.

Father Dan Danielson, who served as interim administrator of the Oakland Diocese in the months before Cordileone landed there from San Diego, recalled that the new bishop earned high marks for making a point of visiting the diocese’s parishes and parochial schools and “not just sitting in a chancery getting reports.”

“I’m sure there were things going on in all the parishes he would not do if he was the pastor, but he basically respects the role of the pastor and his staff,” Danielson said. “His own personal taste, which tends to be more traditional and conservative, with a great love of Latin liturgy, he did not impose on parishes at all. … He is clear, he is not aggressive.”

After taking the archbishop’s seat at Thursday’s three-hour afternoon induction mass, Cordileone is expected to give a homily before an audience of 2,000 people that will include the Vatican’s ambassador to the U.S. and other high-ranking church officials.

Gay demonstrators have said they hope to get their voices heard amid the event’s heavy security.

Cordileone was arrested in San Diego in late August on a misdemeanor charge of driving under the influence. He has said he was drinking wine with friends and apologized for the lapse in judgment. He is scheduled to appear in court on the charge on Tuesday.