How Scouts Incite Catholic Culture War; New Homosexual Acceptance Triggers Friction over Troop Sponsorship

Article excerpt

Byline: Anne Hendershott, SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES

The decision by the Boy Scouts to include homosexual Scout members has opened a new front in the Catholic culture wars as increasing numbers of Catholic pastors are withdrawing their support for parish-based Boy Scout troops, while progressive Catholic organizations and newspapers are describing the pastors' decisions as bigoted. This is not a small issue as Catholic churches sponsor about 10 percent of all Scout troops in the country. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops even has an official episcopal liaison to the National Catholic Committee on Scouting.

The latest battle began when the Rev. Derek Lappe, pastor of Our Lady Star of the Sea Catholic Church in Bremerton, Wash., posted a letter to parishioners on the parish website May 26 that criticized the new Boy Scout policy of including openly gay Scouts. In his letter, Father Lappe advised parishioners of his intention to part ways with the Boy Scouts, saying that he did not believe it is possible for us to live out and to teach the authentic truth about human sexuality within the confines of the Boy Scout's new policy.

Father Lappe is not the only pastor to withdraw support for parish-based Scout troops. The Rev. Brian Grady, pastor of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church in the Diocese of Chicago, cut ties with the Scouts in his parish and wrote on his parish website that the Scouts are condoning homosexuality, which the Church opposes. Also, the Rev. Richard Perozich of the Diocese of San Diego wrote that he would not allow a child under my care to be near either another child or an adult who identifies with, encourages acceptance of, or practices homosexuality ... we have withdrawn financial aid but will support [the Scouts] with prayer.

In an angry response posted on May 31 on the website of the progressive organization, Catholics United, executive director James Salt called the decision bigoted and bullying, and organized an online petition asking Seattle Archbishop J. …