Philly-Area Roman Catholic Youth Organization Comes to Its Senses, Allows Girls to Play FootballS

The Catholics sure have been some busy bees lately, what with the conclave/new election of a Pope and all. While the new Pope is definitely the most headline-grabbing change occurring in the church right now, there are other changes afoot, as well, some of them — you can stop holding your breathe now — actually being quite good and progressive. Like the recent decision by the Philadelphia Archdiocese to allow little girls to play football in the area Roman Catholic Youth Organization (CYO), for example.

"At the direction of the Archbishop, the Archdiocese will allow for co-ed participation in CYO football, effective in the 2013 season," said the church in a statement.

Archbishop Charles J. Chaput came to the decision after Caroline Pla, an 11-year-old girl who had been allowed to play football in the CYO for the past two seasons due to an oversight, was told that she'd no longer be able to participate. Pla, being the type of badass who plays tackle football, refused to take her rejection from the league lying down and started a petition that garnered 108,000 signatures, including that of fellow girl football star Sam Gordon.

In light of Pla's efforts, a panel of parents, coaches, experts and clergy were brought together to decide whether or not to uphold the ban on co-ed playing and ultimately came to the decision that the ban should be continued — disappointing news to be sure, but, luckily for Caroline and the other girls who wish to play football, Chaput stepped in and opted to override the panels recommendation.

"She was jumping up and down, she was so happy," said Caroline's mother Seal about when she heard the news. "Issues relating to how the church treats its young people are really important right now, and this is a huge positive step forward...For Caroline, this was never about just her, but about all girls who want to play the sports they love. It was about allowing kids like Caroline the opportunity to grow physically and spiritually."

Caroline's defensive coordinator Darren Bethke also expressed the relief of her entire team, saying, "We're all brothers and sisters on the team and the fact they would say they couldn't have one of our family members play the next season. . . . We were pretty upset about the situation."

Maybe it's true — the family that prays together stays. Knock 'em dead, Caroline.

Philadelphia church reverses decision, will let girls play football [Reuters]
Chaput to let girls play football on Catholic Youth Organization next season [Philly.com]