Outside the Bubble

Catholic Archbishop Criticizes Church Affili­ation with Girl Scout Organization

St. Louis Archbishop Robert Carlson released a let­ter to priests, scout leaders and other Catholics urging priests to break ties with the Girl Scouts. The Feb. 18 statement suggests that the organization promotes val­ues that are contrary to Catholic doctrines and morals.

In the letter, Carlson suggests that the Girl Scouts meet to ponder other Christian programs for girls. “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 (US News, “St. Louis Archbishop Robert Carlson is urging priests to sever ties with the Girl Scouts,” 02.19.16).

He went on, “Girl Scouts is exhibiting a troubling pattern of behavior and it is clear to me that as they move in the ways of the world it is becoming increas­ingly incompatible with our Catholic values.” The ten­sions between the Church and the organization have long been stirring, but the archbishop overtly presented how the church intended to change its relationship with the Scouts, and also encouraged others to do the same.

The main tension between the Church and the orga­nization is that the Girl Scouts contribute a percentage of local sales to Amnesty International, the Coalition for Adolescent Girls and Oxfam, all of which are orga­nizations that support sex education and reproductive rights. The alternative suggested by the archdiocese was to divert the contributions to those organizations back to itself (New York Times, “Girl Scouts Face Opposition From St. Louis Archbishop,” 02.25.16).

The news set off angry Facebook debates among par­ents whose children attend Catholic schools with Girl Scouts troops. Many Girl Scouts advocates felt that the Church was attacking the organization without observ­ing what the organization actually promotes. “I think they are too focused on other people the Girl Scouts may have some associations with rather than what our local girl scout chapters are actually doing,” said Parish­ioner at St. Pius V Catholic Church Julie Mudd.

“I think it all comes down to the fact they are threat­ened by anything that puts females in a leadership position,” Mudd said. Girl Scouts of Eastern Missouri CEO Bonnie Barczykowski said she expects that the archbishop’s statement will not affect community sup­port for the organization. “Girls gain valuable social and leadership skills and the Girl Scout Cookie program is the most anticipated and participated-in activity in Girl Scouting,” she said. (Religion News, “St. Louis arch­bishop urges cutting ties with Girl Scouts,” 02.22.16).

Jeremy Middleman, News Editor

Report Links Coffee to Low Cirrhosis Rates

Good news for coffee enthusiasts–according to a review published last week in the scientific journal Ali­mentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics, drinking cof­fee on a daily basis might help reduce your chances of developing cirrhosis, a slowly-progressing liver disease.

“Cirrhosis is potentially fatal and there is no cure,” said lead study author from Southampton University Dr. Oliver Kennedy. “Therefore, it is significant that the risk of developing cirrhosis may be reduced by con­sumption of coffee…” (NBC News, “Coffee May Protect Liver from Booze, Study Finds,” 02.22.16).

Kennedy and other UK researchers analyzed data from nine previous studies with more than 430,000 participants and found that those who regularly drank more coffee were less likely to develop liver cirrhosis later in life than those who drank less or no coffee. In particular, compared to no coffee consumption, re­searchers estimated a daily cup was tied to a 22 percent lower risk of cirrhosis (U.S. News Health, “Health Buzz: Coffee May Protect Liver From Alcohol,” 02.22.16).

“Coffee is a complex mixture containing hundreds of chemical compounds, and it is unknown which of these is responsible for protecting the liver,” Kennedy said. “But the correlation between coffee consumption and cirrhosis risk reduction looks promising–especially when considering the severity of the disease and its im­pact on patients worldwide” (NBC News).

Despite the potential benefits that coffee provides in combating cirrhosis, though, many clinicians urge that consumers not misread initial experimental results. “Don’t start drinking excessive amounts of coffee,” said senior clinical nutritionist at NYU Langone Medical Center Samantha Heller. “Coffee contains compounds that have antioxidant effects and anti-inflammatory properties, but drinking a few cups of coffee a day still cannot undo the systematic damage that is the result of being overweight or obese, sedentary, or excessively consuming alcohol” (NBC News). Dr. Kennedy echoed these sentiments. “The findings mean more research is needed,” he said (NBC 15, “Drinking more coffee may help prevent alcohol-related cirrhosis,” 02.22.16).

Ethan Baratz, Guest Reporter

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