Anti-Gay Letter from Catholic Priest Is Inadequate Response for Boy Scouts

Fr. Derek Lappe

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


37 thoughts on “Anti-Gay Letter from Catholic Priest Is Inadequate Response for Boy Scouts

  1. Sharon Willey May 30, 2013 / 1:16 pm

    I maintain that if individuals are truly accepting of their own sexuality they will not have so much trouble with the sexuality of others. Sexuality is part and parcel of each individual.

  2. Pamela J. Meyer May 30, 2013 / 2:34 pm

    He should be ashamed of himself..what is heck does he think priesthood is about?

  3. Larry Quirk May 30, 2013 / 3:26 pm

    I think the lady doth protest too much.

  4. Steven Kane May 30, 2013 / 3:52 pm

    In my Catholic Faith, the readings from Corinthians ALWAYS trumps all who forget how to love and support others, especially when others are different from them: “” Sadly, some of our sheep, especially those who have gone to the seminary and become priests, forget this message. They lose their way and decided to DIVIDE the flock. “So faith, hope, love remain, these three;h but the greatest of these is love.” I want to BELIEVE that my church’s leadership can be more compassionate versus divisive and critical of those who walk a different path than the leaders.

    • Mike May 30, 2013 / 5:37 pm

      I too am Catholic, Im there every Sunday. Jesus would be embarrassed by the actions of the church.

      • Friends May 31, 2013 / 9:17 pm

        Amen! It reminds us of why the Reformation was such a valid and necessary purification of the horribly corrupted Church bureaucracy — which featured Renaissance Popes who retained personal mistresses. I remain a practicing Catholic, but NO PRIEST and NO BISHOP owns my conscience. I make my own prayerful decisions on moral issues, and I expect to answer to Jesus Himself for my judgments made in honest conscience — NOT to any Pope who’s probably just as screwed up as the rest of us!

  5. Joe Sacerdos May 30, 2013 / 5:28 pm

    Again, because it can not be repeated enough, the biggest homophobes are always the biggest closet cases.

  6. Ned Flaherty May 30, 2013 / 6:14 pm

    Whenever a man like Fr. Lappe goes to such lengths to replace medical science with Medieval witchcraft, one inescapable fact looms largest: he is so terrified by his own homosexual leanings that he’s dedicated his life to making them extinct by oppressing others.

    He clearly has no idea how obvious he looks.

  7. RIZZO ROSETTA May 30, 2013 / 7:14 pm

    Someone filled with such hate should have never been admitted to seminary….

  8. Joe Gardner May 30, 2013 / 8:11 pm

    “…well equipped to help cultivate authentically masculine and feminine identities.” Quite frankly, that’s not just homophobic, but it also sounds transphobic to me.

  9. Friends May 30, 2013 / 9:55 pm

    This man is a complete disgrace to the pastoral mission of the Church. If you want to be uplifted and encouraged by the spiritual witness of priests who really GOT IT about the true purpose of their ordination, Google Thomas Merton (Fr. M. Louis, OCSO), and Dom Bede Griffiths, OSB. Your conscience will be regenerated in its ability to relate to the BEST ASPECTS of Catholicism.

    • Elizabeth June 2, 2013 / 12:11 am

      Actually Merton never addressed same sex attraction. He addresses searching for the True Self. Those who have same sex attraction use what Merton says and find it very helpful for them, apparently, and this is beautiful, but he himself never addressed the True Self for that purpose. I see nothing in what Fr. said that indicates he is a “complete disgrace to the pastoral mission of the church,” in fact you are reading too mush of your own sensitivity on the subject into what he said. His letter was extremely kind. It is not meant to be a treatise on Catholic spirituality, it is just a explanation for his decision regarding the BSA vote.

  10. Glenn Stockton June 1, 2013 / 4:39 pm

    Compassionately counter-cultural, yes – homophobic, no. Fr. Lappe is far from it. In any case, why are we discussing homosexuality in relation to childrens’ organizations in the first place? Especially due to the onslaught of hormonal changes, these formative years are often a confusing time for boys. Such labeling and pressure to self-identify is way off base and not helpful to boys. The only group truly helped by this perversion in policy of the BSA are those in the homosexual community who continue to insist that society not only accepts the “gay” lifestyle but celebrates it and helps to market it.

    • Friends June 1, 2013 / 11:49 pm

      Glenn, maybe we’re discussing it because there are REAL LIVE GAY AND LESBIAN KIDS OUT THERE, whose lives are drastically impacted by the way we define them, judge them and treat them. You apparently don’t understand — or maybe you just refuse to accept — that sexual orientation is typically as inherent at birth as one’s eye color, skin color and dominant-handedness. All of these things are genetic “givens”. None of these things can be changed by trying to “pray them away”. Indeed, left-handed people used to be regarded as “sinister”. That’s the LITERAL MEANING in Latin of left-handedness. We got over that particular stupidity. Why can’t we get over THIS ONE as well?

    • Ned Flaherty June 2, 2013 / 11:01 am

      Yes, fertilization is moral for couples who need it, and yes, LGBT people have valid orientations, gender identities, and sex lives, just like everyone else.

      You write that unless I accept your position entirely, then we have nothing to discuss; but, in reality, if I accept your position entirely, then there’s nothing to discuss anyway. Your “my way or the highway” attitude accurately reflect the attitudes of you and your Pope, but it does not serve humanity.

      Calling low fertility a “cross” and calling 3 of the 5 sexual orientations a “cross” is merely a method for labeling other people as “inferiors with crosses” instead of recognizing them as full persons entitled to the same human rights as everyone else.

      • Glenn Stockton June 2, 2013 / 1:28 pm

        It is not “my way” at all, but the Church’s way on these issues. I guess I am a bit confused on where you are starting from… This is “our” Pope – no? And, this is a blog about building bridges with the Catholic Church – right? This being the case, we first have to agree on where successful bridges can be built. I suggest the Magisterium of as Church as the only possible place to begin the process. You apparently view bearing a cross as a bad thing. But, look to the premier example: The God of the universe come to earth, our Lord Jesus Christ, redeemed all of humanity through His suffering on the cross.

    • Ned Flaherty June 2, 2013 / 11:42 am

      Yes, Fr. Lappe is not only homophobic, he’s a textbook example. In the Medieval era, from whence his fears spring, being left-handed, sinister, and homosexual were all linked in common superstition. By the way, people who, in 2013, still use quotation marks when referring to anything or anyone that’s gay, and people who think that their own sexual orientation is holy but that other people’s orientations are merely “lifestyles” are also usually operating pretty high on the homophobic scale.

      The discussion is not about “homosexuality” (your word); it is about sexual orientation and gender identity, and it is being discussed because of the proven harm done by the prior BSA policy.

      “Labeling and pressure to self-identify” are, indeed, wrong, which is why the BSA’s acceptance of all Scouts, regardless of orientation, is the right decision. The prior policy incorrectly labeled every boy as exclusively heterosexual/asexual; anyone honest enough to say otherwise was expelled. That falsehood was truly unhelpful to all boys.

      It apparently will surprise you, but society already accepts LGBT people as real, living beings with actual human rights. Celebration of LGBT people — specifically — is necessary only so long as people like you degrade, deride, dismiss, and denigrate them as an invalid, unvalued, unworthy minority that is “intrinsically disordered” (your Pope’s own words). LGBT celebration arose precisely because of other people’s condemnation. Cease your oppression of LGBT people, and they won’t need to celebrate as much.

      • Glenn Stockton June 2, 2013 / 2:06 pm

        It is an irrelevant ad hominem attack to label someone “homophobic”, when they disagree with you on this issue. I currently have homosexual friends. I believe I can say that we enjoy each other’s company – I certainly enjoy being with them – and I deeply respect them. Even so, it is clear that their “gay” lifestyle is neither healthy or helpful to them on their path to God. As far as I am aware, they do not think of me as “homophobic” because of this. We are all on our own individual paths to God. The important thing is for each of us, with God’s grace and help, to strive for the destination beginning with where we are and seeking the guidance of the teaching authority of His Church when doubts or confusion arise. Again, you say “your Pope”… Do you consider yourself a Catholic Christian? And, as far as quotations when I use the term “gay”, I do so because this term is a modern-day fabrication. Other such current terms are “reproductive rights” and “freedom of choice” when what is meant is abortion. It is clear that our current society suffers from what could be referred to as the cult-of-now. An odd presumption that ideas about things in the here-and-now are automatically better and more true than ideas from the past. As it says in Ecclesiastes: “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.”

      • Ned Flaherty June 2, 2013 / 4:22 pm

        People who are homophobes get identified as such not because they disagree with others, but because they fear 3 of the 5 sexual orientations so deeply that they are willing to pass religious and civil laws to deprive others of their human rights, regardless of faith, and regardless of culture. Pointing out homophobia is not irrelevant at all.

        You probably do not have all the gay friends that you claim to have. Tell them that your sexual orientation is holy, but theirs is profane, and that you agree with your Pope’s categorical denouncement of the way they were born as inherently evil, and then re-count to see how many such friends you actually have.

        I use the term “your Pope” correctly. Whether I am a Catholic or a Christian is irrelevant. He’s still your Pope, and you still promote the imposition of his values on all of society.

        You claim that you put “gay” into quotation marks merely because it is “modern-day” but you don’t put those same marks around “electricity” or “radar” or “broadcasting” or “air travel.” Your use of quotation marks has nothing to do with modernity. You do it solely as a way of rejecting the socially, legally, journalistically accepted meaning of the term. Reject it if you wish, but using quotation marks to deny its very existence marks betrays your deep-seated phobia. If you’re still unclear on the subject, then publish an editorial with quotation marks around “Jews” or “women” or “African-Americans” or “Chinese” and notice that you’re credible to no one except the Ku Klux Klan.

        Don’t forget that Ecclesiastes’ remark about “there is nothing new under the sun” applies to LGBT people, too. They’ve existed throughout recorded history. The effort by modern-day Christian Dominionists to write their religious superstitions into civil law affecting everyone else is only a repetition of the ancient practice of people insisting that their own religious assumptions apply to everyone, including those of other faiths.

    • Ned Flaherty June 2, 2013 / 4:50 pm

      Glenn Stockton:

      I write to you solely about your opinions, and your promotion of them to hurt LGBT people, couples, and families. The fact that you got your opinions by categorically adopting all of the Church’s opinions doesn’t — in any way — relieve you of your responsibility for the opinions that you hold.

      You admit that the Pope is your Pope, but he is not everyone’s Pope, as most of the world is not Roman Catholic, and views him as just another diplomatic ambassador between certain nations.

      Yes, this is a blog about building bridges within Catholicism; however, you categorically insist that every bridge must conform to your Magisterium, and that no non-conforming bridge can ever exist. In summary, you and your Pope already decided to disapprove the bridge design, to deny the building permit, to block traffic, and even to forbid discussion of any alternative routes. That’s not bridge-building; it’s ignorant obstructionism.

      I never said “bearing a cross” is a bad thing. What I say is that there is no excuse for denying a person’s human rights simply by declaring that denial of rights as that person’s “cross.” If a majority of citizens agree that Glenn Stockton and all his “kind” must forever more live only in designated ghettos, would you just accept that segregation, without a peep of complaint, as “your cross”? No, you wouldn’t.

      You are entitled to all the religious superstitions that you wish to enthrall you; however, in a modern-day democracy, you are not entitled to impose your faith-based beliefs upon the rest of society, as your bishops and Popes keep attempting to do. Put more simply, you are not entitled to replace science with religion, to replace fact with belief, or to replace other citizens’ human rights with your “crosses.” You may treat yourself that way; you may not treat others that way.

      • newwaysministryblog June 2, 2013 / 8:12 pm

        With these last two comments from Ned Flaherty, I am making an editorial decision to end the debate between Ned Flaherty and Glenn Stockton. The material is starting to become repetitive, and the topic has drifted far from the question of Catholic parishes and the Boy Scouts. I encourage both commenters to continue commenting on posts in the future. I just think that this argument is past being useful and productive.

        Francis DeBernardo
        Editor, Bondings 2.0

  11. Larry Quirk June 1, 2013 / 7:39 pm

    Glenn, I have no idea what you mean by “compassionately counter-cultural”. There is no compassion or love in what this priest did. Those like yourself who see an “agenda” fail to see that gay folks just want to be allowed to live the life God gave them. But when you and Fr. Lappe demean gays then yes there is an agenda, the same one any marginalized group has – to make people understand who they are and push to be treated equally. And by the way, a boy’s sexuality is formed well before puberty. You slyly infer that the BSA’s acceptence of gay scouts will cause pubescent boys to choose being gay but you are way off base in your science. Please try to remeber that God is love.

  12. Elizabeth June 1, 2013 / 11:59 pm

    There is empirical evidence regarding dangers to youth to support Fr.’s decision. I applaud him. You guys can go to the public school for scouts. Labeling of young people according to sexual orientation is wrong. I agree with Glenn.

    • Ned Flaherty June 2, 2013 / 10:15 am

      There is no peer-reviewed, scientific evidence supporting Lappe’s decision. Criminal statistics don’t support his decision, and neither do modern mental health standards.

      If “labeling young people by sexual orientation” is wrong, then surely it is far more wrong to label 2 of the 5 orientations as holy (heterosexual, asexual) and 3 of them as un-holy (lesbian, homosexual, bisexual), as Fr. Lappe and his Catechism do, and as the BSA used to do.

  13. Glenn Stockton June 2, 2013 / 1:17 am

    Larry – Have you actually read Fr. Lappe’s full explanation of his action? Rather than the snippet in this blog post, if you have not done so, please click on the link in the post and read the whole article. As a reflection of Christ’s love, Fr. Lappe’s bold actions and reasoned explanation for them demonstrate a clear and loving concern for the boys of his parish. Is there not love and compassion expressed in Jesus Christ’s conversation with Samaritan woman at the well? It was an extremely counter-cultural act for Christ to simply engage this woman in conversation at all. The apostles to a man were shocked! But to call her out of her bondage to a life of sexual sin to Divine grace was an astounding act of supernatural love. Larry, until and unless we can agree on the validity of the paragraphs 2357-2359 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church on this subject, there is really little point to our discussion. Jesus Christ and His Church want the very best for each human being on this planet. And, it is through the teaching authority of the Church that we learn the path to being the best that we can be. For each of us along this path we can expect great challenges. But, like it or not, that does not change the teachings of the Church. It is of great scandal and a danger to many souls who attempt to contort the beliefs of the Church to serve their own ends rather than endeavoring to learn why the Church teaches us what it does.

    • Ned Flaherty June 2, 2013 / 10:07 am

      Fr. Lappe’s full explanation is even worse than the excerpts of it.

      No, Catechism Paragraphs 2357-2359 are not valid. They demand a lifetime of painful, virtually impossible celibacy which is medically unhealthy and spiritually unnecessary. Those paragraphs are just as illegitimate as the Church’s censuring of Galileo for teaching the truth about the planets. 300 years passed before that ignorance was officially rescinded.

      • Glenn Stockton June 2, 2013 / 10:43 am

        Ned – Does the cross of couples who struggle with infertility validate invitro-fertilization as a moral practice – no. Does the cross of same sex attraction validate sexual activity based on those feelings – no. Without accepting the guiding hand of the Church’s teaching authority on such issues, we have no common area for fruitful discussion.

  14. Sally March 31, 2014 / 2:31 pm

    This article is so twisted! My son was in this Boy Scout Group from Our Lady Star of The Sea. Father Lappe is highly respected, an outstanding priest, and a great role model for our kids. All but one Scout (and his family) supported Father Lappe’ decision. Your opinion of his letter is so biased. Father Lappe is showing the most love to these kids by refusing to label them and leave them feeling hopeless.

    • Ned Flaherty March 31, 2014 / 5:27 pm

      In teaching bigotry, Father Lappe is less respected than he used to be, and not a good role model. Banning the Scouts because they teach fairness and respect is now “showing love” (your words).

      Scouts who are accepted for who they are do not complain about being “labeled” or “feeling hopeless” (your words). On the contrary, they appreciate being treated as equals, and they grow up treating others the same way.

  15. Larry Quirk March 31, 2014 / 3:17 pm


    Fr. Lappe’s letter and his opinion is twisted. He denies that being gay is God-given and quotes terribly outdated homophobic references to try to lend a “scientific” support to his bald discrimination against gay people and youth. The “science” he quotes has been roundly rejected by the mainstream. Now it is just a cover for homophobia.

    You may think he is a great priest but he obviously has failed to educate himself properly on this issue or to even listen to Pope Francis. Fr. Lappe is why the church is seen as [and is] so hateful to the gay and lesbian community.

    And by the way, does Fr. Lappe ask all the adult parishioners if they are using birth control as 99% do? No he does not because if he were to respect that aspect of Catholic sexual moral teaching and ask all those folks to leave, he would have no parishioners. So Fr. Lappe is acting hypocritically.

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