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Friday, May 11, 2012

Well, at least they didn't call them all sluts

by digby

So, the Catholic hierarchy is going after nuns and Girl Scouts. Seriously. And much of is apparently because they mention such heretical groups as Doctors Without Borders and Oxfam in their materials. Also seriously.

"A collision course is probably a good description of where things are headed," she said. "The leadership of the Girl Scouts is reflexively liberal. Their board is dominated by people whose views are antithetical to the teachings of the Catholic Church."

One of the long-running concerns is the Girl Scouts' membership in the 145-nation World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts.

The association, known as WAGGGS, is on record as saying girls and young women "need an environment where they can freely and openly discuss issues of sex and sexuality." It also has called for increased access to condoms to protect against sexually transmitted diseases.

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."

To the Girl Scouts, some of the attacks seem to be a form of guilt by association. Critics contend that Girl Scouts materials shouldn't contain links to groups such as Doctors without Borders, the Sierra Club and Oxfam because they support family planning or emergency contraception.

One repeated complaint, revived in February by the Catholic broadcasting network EWTN, involves an International Planned Parenthood brochure made available to girls attending a Girl Scout workshop at a 2010 United Nations event. The brochure — "Healthy, Happy and Hot" — advised young people with HIV on how to safely lead active sex lives.

The Girl Scouts say they had had no advance knowledge of the brochure and played no role in distributing it.

Another complaint involved a Girl Scout blog suggesting that girls read an article about Chavez — who is Catholic — in Marie Claire magazine. Critics said the blog's link led to a Marie Claire home page promoting, among other items, a sex advice article.
One uneasy Catholic parent is Jody Geenen of West Bend, Wis., a troop leader for the past 14 years as her three daughters — now 18, 14 and 12 — became Girl Scouts.
She complains about some program materials adopted by the Girl Scouts in recent years. One example she gave: a patch honoring Hispanic labor organizer Dolores Huerta, whose shortcomings — in the eyes of some Catholics — include a 2007 award from Planned Parenthood.

Geenen hopes the Scouts will change their ways. "I love the Girl Scouts," she said. "But it can't remain the way it is."

You read that right. Dolores Huerta is an organizer and advocate for workers and poor women. Why would anyone want their daughters to even know such a horrible person even exists?

Because some right winger doesn't like feminists/Mexicans/unionists or all of the above, the Girl Scouts have to change? Why? Tell your little daughter that if she wants to grow up to be a good fascist she shouldn't get that patch. Easey peasy.

And as it turns out, much of this conservative Catholic "movement" to stifle women's rights is coming from Americans in Rome. Shocking, I know:

When the Vatican last month announced a doctrinal crackdown on the leadership organization representing most of the 57,000 nuns in the U.S., the sisters said they were “stunned” by the move. Many American Catholics, meanwhile, were angry at what they saw as Rome bullying women whose lives of service have endeared them to the public.

Vatican watchers also were perplexed since a broader, parallel investigation of women’s religious orders in the U.S. was resolved amicably after an initial clash. That seemed to augur a more diplomatic approach by the Vatican to concerns that American nuns were not sufficiently orthodox.

Now it turns out that conservative American churchmen living in Rome—including disgraced former Boston Cardinal Bernard Law—were key players in pushing the hostile takeover of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, or LCWR, which they have long viewed with suspicion for emphasizing social justice work over loyalty to the hierarchy and issues like abortion and gay marriage.

Vatican observers in Rome and church sources in the U.S. say Law was “the person in Rome most forcefully supporting” the LCWR investigation, as Rome correspondent Robert Mickens wrote in The Tablet, a London-based Catholic weekly. Law was the “prime instigator,” in the words of one American churchman, of the investigation that began in 2009 and ended in 2011. The actual crackdown was only launched in April.

Law was joined by a former archbishop of St. Louis, Cardinal Raymond Burke, who was named to a top Vatican judicial post in 2008 – a move that was seen as a case of being “kicked upstairs” because Burke’s hard-line views made him so controversial in the U.S. Also reportedly backing the probe was Cardinal James Stafford, a former Denver archbishop who has held jobs in the Roman curia since 1996.

These are people who by temperament and practice go far beyond the Catholic faith and believe in the whole far-right ideology of the modern conservative movement. It fits in well with the arch conservative leanings of the hierarchy as a whole, but it adds a nice little chunk of American "exceptionalism" to the mix.

I don't know how much these people can truly influence American life. But I do know that we have been rapidly developing an odd new doctrine over the past few years that says "religious liberty" means that no public policy can offend the most conservative religious factions in America, and it seems to be gaining traction. It is now infecting institutions outside the church and government.

You can see what they are really about with this quote:

The leadership of the Girl Scouts is reflexively liberal. Their board is dominated by people whose views are antithetical to the teachings of the Catholic Church.

I don't know why they chose to frame it as liberal vs catholic, but they did. A lot of liberal Catholics would disagree, preferring to cast these disagreements in theological terms. But for these people it's a political argument. Same team, different uniforms.