By Catholic News Service
IRVING, Texas – The leaders of the National Catholic Committee on Scouting, which has its headquarters in the Dallas suburb of Irving, said they “accept and will work with the new membership policy of the Boy Scouts of America” to admit girls.
“We were informed this morning” of the policy change, said an Oct. 11 statement by George Sparks, the national chairman of the group, and the committee’s national chaplain, Father Kevin Smith, a priest of the Diocese of Rockville Centre, N.Y.
“Once we have had more time to review the policy and a chance to consult our national membership, we will be able to comment further about how this new policy will reflect changes in the makeup of Catholic-chartered units,” they said.
Sparks told Catholic News Service in an Oct. 13 telephone interview that a member of the Scouts’ executive board came to the Catholic Committee’s meeting shortly after the board vote “and brought us up to speed on it.”
Afterward, “we took an informal straw poll, and everybody at our meeting – there were about 18 people at our meeting – thought this was the right thing to do,” Sparks said.
The Boy Scouts currently have 2.3 million members, less than half than the 5 million the organization had at its peak in the 1970s.
The vote to accept girls as members was unanimous, according to a spokeswoman for the Boy Scouts.
The Boy Scouts allowed gay members in 2015, gay troop leaders in 2015 and transgender members last January.
“It is the mission of the National Catholic Committee on Scouting to utilize and ensure the constructive use of the program of the Boy Scouts of America as a viable form of youth ministry with the Catholic youth of our nation,” said the Oct. 11 statement from Sparks and Father Smith.
Girl Scouts leaders expressed displeasure over the summer when the Boy Scouts sought advice from its 270 councils on whether to accept girls. Girl Scouts of the USA’s president, Kathy Hopinkah Hannan, in a letter to her Boy Scouts counterpart, Randall Stephenson, said the Boy Scouts should stick to recruiting “the 90 percent of American boys not currently participating in Boy Scouts.”