A Catholic pastor in Bremerton, Washington, has closed the parish’s scouting program in the wake of the Boy Scouts of America’s decision to accept gay youth. His decision, which he announced in a searing letter to parishioners, contradicts much of the Catholic hierarchy’s response so far.
Fr. Derek Lappe released the charged letter last Sunday to explain his actions and offer a his views on homosexuality. He accuses the Boy Scouts of conceding to political correctness, strangely refers to the organization as the “New Boy Scouts,” and lists debunked pseudo-science to explain LGBT sexuality including a “Dislike of team sports” or “Lack of hand/eye coordination.”
Relying heavily on writings of the anti-gay Catholic Medical Association, Lappe’s screed continues in an emotional and disparate manner until it ends with this:
“To me it is cruel, and abusive and absolutely contrary to the Gospel to in any way confirm a teenager in the confusion of same-sex attraction, which is what the New Boy Scout policy will do.
And so, we are going to redouble our efforts to create a community that is supportive of happy, healthy, holy marriages. 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…
“We are going to provide youth activities for any and all youth…Our current Fraternus andFidelis programs are well equipped to help cultivate authentically masculine and feminine identities.”
Reporting on Fr. Lappe’s letter, Seattle Post-Intelligencer notes that this letter “is the most hard-line anti-gay statement to come from anywhere in Washington’s three Catholic diocese over the past year,” which included anti-marriage equality campaigning last year before that state’s referendum.
KING 5 reports that a local chapter of Scouts For Equality will help relocate every scout in the Our Lady Star of the Sea parish’s troop to continue with the Boy Scouts, if they choose to do so.
Positive reactions from Catholics is more common than Fr. Lappe’s homophobic one. Dioceses and parishes in Grand Forks, Madison, Rochester and elsewhere are either welcoming the continuation of Catholic scouting or delaying comment until they can consider it further. The National Catholic Committee on Scouting released a statement that it will study the Boy Scouts’ decision, and nothing from the USCCB has been released yet.
The pastor’s letter is retrograde, perpetuating myths about LGBT people and promoting intolerance among youth in those very moments in life where love and affirmation are needed most. Fr. Lappe must apologize in good faith for the harmful act he undertook writing this anti-gay letter, and work now to foster a welcoming community for all his parishioners.
–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry