Girls will be allowed on the gridiron of the Philadelphia regions Catholic Youth League (CYO).
Archbishop Charles Chaput announced Thursday he'll allow the sports league to be co-ed.
The decision comes in response to the request of Caroline Pla, 11, who has played football in the CYO for the past two years.
Pla learned mid-season that a rule, previously overlooked, would be enforced next year. It said football was a "boys only" sport. Pla requested a change in the rule.
Archbishop Chaput now says girls will be able to play football next season. The decision, however, is subject to review.
“We would like to thank the more than 100,000 people who went to our petition on Change.org to voice their support for letting me play football!” Caroline told Change.org -- the online petition website where Caroline's mom created her petition. “The Archdiocese has made the right decision to let girls play. I’m not the first girl to play tackle football, and I won’t be the last, so I hope this decision inspires other girls get on the field!”
“Issues relating to how the church treats its young people are really important right now, and this is a huge positive step forward,” said Caroline's mom, Seal. “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.”
In a statement announcing the decision, the Archdiocese Communications Director said that the archbishop weighed many factors “including feedback from sources both critical and supportive; the expectations of parents, coaches, and pastors; common current practice, legal circumstances and the CYO policies of dioceses around the country.”