"Deeply saddened and disturbed" by the Boy Scouts of America's controversial decision to accept girls who identify as boys into its programs, the Archdiocese of St. Louis is evaluating "the effect of this new policy on the troops affiliated with the archdiocese."
According to the archdiocese, the Boys Scouts are now allowing "girls struggling with gender dysphoria into their troops."
"For more than a century, Boy Scouts has been an organization dedicated to honor, service, and 'duty to God,'" an archdiocesan statement read. "However, it is impossible to speak of a scout's 'duty to God' while at the same time failing to recognize the fundamental order of God's creation.
"The fact is that human beings are born with a sexual identity and not merely a 'gender identity' of one's choosing. This sexual identity affects the totality of the person in the unity of his or her body and soul, and it greatly affects one's capacity to love and be loved."
The archdiocese statement cited as an example Pope Francis' recent encyclical, "Laudato Si'."
"The acceptance of our bodies as God's gift is vital for welcoming and accepting the entire world as a gift from the Father and our common home, whereas thinking that we enjoy absolute power over our own bodies turns, often subtly, into thinking that we enjoy absolute power over creation," Pope Francis wrote. "Learning to accept our body, to care for it and to respect its fullest meaning, is an essential element of any genuine human ecology. Also, valuing one's own body in its femininity or masculinity is necessary if I am going to be able to recognize myself in an encounter with someone who is different."
The archdiocese's statement described the Boy Scouts as "an organization that (for many years) could be trusted with the formation for our youth. This policy directive is the latest in a troubling pattern of behavior exhibited by the Boy Scouts of America. It is clear that as they move in the ways of the world they are becoming increasingly incompatible with our Catholic values."
Boys Scouts began accepting openly gay youth in 2013 and openly gay men as scout leaders in 2015.
"We will continue to be in dialogue with Boy Scouts of America in hopes that they will recognize their error and rededicate themselves to serving the needs of the boys in the organization," the statement read. "The archdiocese remains committed to Catholic teaching on gender identity that is rooted in Scripture, tradition, and the natural law."
The Boy Scouts of American joined organizations interpreting gender as a social construct as opposed to the biology of sex as has been the case for generations. Chief Scout Executive Michael Surbaugh described "gender identity" as "a very complex topic."
"For more than 100 years, the (Boy Scouts) ... deferred to the information on an individual's birth certificate to determine eligibility for and participation in many programs," he said in a video on the organization's website, with the group concluding "that referring to birth certificates as the reference point is no longer sufficient. Communities and state law are now interpreting gender identity different than society did in the past ..."
The Boy Scouts "will accept registration in our scouting programs based on the gender identify provided on an individual's application."
According to Surbaugh, the new policy is an "opportunity to bring scouting to more families and children who can benefit from what our program has to offer. (The Boy Scouts are) committed to identifying program options that will help us truly serve the whole family and this is an area we will continue to thoughtfully evaluate to bring the benefits of scouting to the greatest number of youth possible, all while remaining true to our core beliefs outlined in the Scout Oath and Law."
Read the full statement from the Archdiocese of St. Louis here.