Some Spurn Cautious Take on Scouts' Policy

By McClory, Robert | National Catholic Reporter, September 13, 2013 | Go to article overview

Some Spurn Cautious Take on Scouts' Policy


McClory, Robert, National Catholic Reporter


ANALYSIS

When the Boy Scouts of America announced in May that it would no longer bar gay youth from Scout membership, the National Catholic Committee on Scouting studied the decision and summed up the new Boy Scouts' new policy in three points.

First, a youth will not be prevented from receiving rank award or religious emblem simply for having or experiencing a same-sex attraction. Second, a youth will not need to hide that he has this attraction. Third, a youth should not be afraid that the Scouting community will expel him if he discloses his attraction.

In June, Charleston, S.C., Bishop Robert Guglielmone, the episcopal liaison to the national committee, sent a letter to every bishop in the country, adding some comments about the policy and cautiously concluding that the change "does not necessarily" contradict church teaching, "and therefore it seems that dioceses can work with this new policy as it currently stands."

Unlike congregations in the Southern Baptist Convention, which have bailed out of the Boy Scouts in record numbers, the 8,400 Catholic parishes that sponsor Cub Scout packs and Boy Scout troops around the U.S. for the most part have shown little or no reaction, perhaps because the National Catholic Committee on Scouting is forming a task force to aid diocesan committees in understanding the implications of the new policy before it goes into effect Jan. 1. But in some places there has been considerable negative reaction, ranging from suspicion and doubt to outrage and absolute refusal to continue parish sponsorship of any troop associated with the Boy Scouts of America. It remains to be seen whether the situations reported here represent a few isolated cases or whether the new Scout policy will face widespread objections and difficulties as it is implemented in Catholic parishes.

In Arlington, Va., Bishop Paul Loverde in a public statement in late May accused the Boy Scouts of America of wavering in its commitment to the values of the Scouting movement by changing its position regarding "those who openly profess to live a homosexual lifestyle." It is disappointing, he said, "to see the Boy Scouts of America succumb to external pressures and political causes at the cost of its moral integrity" Through a consultative process. Loverde said, "we will determine whether our parishes can continue their relationship with the Boy Scouts."

Far more extreme, even incendiary, were the views of Fr. Derek Lappe, pastor of Our Lady Star of the Sea Church in Bremerton, Wash. In a letter posted on the parish website in May, Lappe said he is pulling the parish troop out of the Boy Scouts of America.

"I do not feel it is possible for us to live out and to teach the authentic truth about human sexuality within the confines of the Boy Scouts' new policy" Aided by "a willing media," he said, there is an effort to convince the public that homosexuality is genetic, a legitimate civil rights issue. The "authentic truth," he explained, is that homosexuality is caused by "overprotective" and "needy and demanding" mothers and by "a lack of rough and tumble play," a dislike of team sports, extreme shyness and a lack of hand/eye coordination.

"Our parish cannot be involved with a group that has decided to ratify or approve the self-identification of a 10-18 boy as 'gay' or 'homosexual,'" Lappe wrote.

Numerous media outlets and blogs in May also quoted the letter as saying, "In our marriage preparation we are going to try to get women to stop marrying such loser men who will never be capable of being good dads and husbands, and vice versa." However, the letter on the parish website, while still dated May 26, no longer contains that sentence.

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer called Lappe's letter "the most hard-line anti-gay statement to come from anywhere in Washington's three Catholic dioceses over the last year" The Catholics United organization gathered a petition with 5,500 signatures urging Seattle Archbishop J. …

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