Catholic Expulsions Follow Boy Scouts’ Decision to Welcome Gay Leaders

August 8, 2015

Greg Bourke (left) with other Scouts in a photo for Out Magazine

A veteran Boy Scout leader who is a partnered gay man has been rejected by a Catholic parish in Kentucky, the first reported Catholic rejection of a gay leader after the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) decided  to allow local troops to accept openly gay men as leaders.

In 2012, Greg Bourke was forced resign his leadership position with Troop 325 based at Our Lady of Lourdes parish, Louisville, when he came out publicly as a gay man.  He reapplied for the position following the BSA’s July decision to let local troops accept gay leaders.  Fr. Scott Wimsatt, pastor, rejected Bourke’s application.

Bourke and his husband Michael DeLeon, who have been together for 33 years and are raising two adopted children, were two of the seventeen plaintiffs whose cases were combined together to become the landmark Obergefell v. Hodges case, in which the U.S. Supreme Court found a constitutional right for lesbian and gay couples to marry.

Earlier in the week, the Archdiocese of Louisville, headed by Archbishop Joseph Kurtz (who also serves as United States Conference of Catholic Bishops president), released a letter requiring Scout leaders to adhere to the bishops’ teaching on sexuality.

The rejection is obviously painful for Bourke, who is Catholic and a noted LGBT advocate in Kentucky reported The Advocate. Of Fr. Wimsatt’s decision, Bourke said on Facebook:

“My heart is broken that my church would now present the barrier to my returning to my Boy Scout unit.”

Bourke is the first gay Scout leader to be rejected by Catholic troops, but he may not be the last given the rising trend in recent years of LGBT church workers and volunteers being expelled.

Elsewhere, ties are being severed between Scouting groups in their entirety and Catholic parishes which have sponsored them, sometimes for decades.

Bishop David Kagan of Bismarck, North Dakota, ordered all Catholic parishes to cut ties with the Boy Scouts of America, notifying parishioners in a letter that the split was effective immediately. Kagan said church institutions could not associate with organizations which “contradict the authoritative moral teachings of the Catholic Church.”

Kagan tied his decision to marriage equality’s expansion, distrustful that legal protections already in place would keep parishes from facing lawsuits if they expelled a gay leader. In frank language, Kagan told the Grand Forks Herald:

“I’m sorry if people have taken this the wrong way. They should read the catechism of the Catholic Church about this very issue and they would see what the church has always thought and done, and it’s not discriminatory. It’s not trying to alienate people.”

Yet, Kagan’s decision is quite alienating and prioritizes the church’s ability to discriminate against LGBT people above the well being of the diocese’s Catholics or those involved with scouting.

Thankfully, Northern Lights Council spokesperson Cory Wrolstad said all eight troops expelled from Catholic parishes have a “good chance” of finding sponsorship from other faith communities, reported Crux.

Fellow North Dakotan Bishop John Folda instructed the Diocese of Fargo’s 13 Catholic-chartered troops to “select volunteers based on character and conduct consistent with those teachings.” A spokesperson would not clarify whether gay leaders would be allowed under this policy, reported the Jamestown Sun, though Folda expressed hopes that scouting remain a “viable option.”

In New Orleans, Archbishop Gregory Aymond offered a statement similar to that of the National Catholic Committee on Scouting, encouraging Catholic-sponsored troops to keep functioning while ensuring leaders are “role models in loving our Catholic faith.”

In one respect, bishops’ statements about finding proper role models to be Scout leaders should certainly allow for openly gay men to be selected, especially as many are faith-filled and living lives of commitment and sacrifice. Yet,  given the climate in the U.S. church in which LGBT people are being fired from church employment, the prospect for Catholic gay Scout leaders is slim.

If bishops don’t allow gay men as leaders, the future of Catholic scouting is in question, as New Ways Ministry’s Francis DeBernardo predicted two weeks ago in a Bondings 2.0 blog post:

“. . . [W]hat will happen to Catholic scouting if gay men–single or married–are not accepted as leaders in their local troops?  As most troop leaders are parents of scouts, what will happen when a scout’s gay dad is not allowed to be a leader? In both these cases, I predict that parents and youth will vote with their feet and join another troop which does not discriminate.

“We already saw something like this in 2013 when the BSA lifted its ban on openly gay youth becoming scouts. When one pastor in Illinois tried to separate the parish’s troop from the BSA, the parishioners and scouting parents strongly protested.”

Church leaders owe it to parishioners and Scouts to be honest and clear on whether openly gay leaders will be allowed.  If they choose not to be inclusive, the future of Catholic scouting in question, which would be a great loss to the church, to Scouting, and to youth.

Perhaps the best option now is to follow Jesus’ lead and welcome all.

–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry


Catholic Scouting’s Response to BSA Policy Does Not Bode Well for Scouting

July 29, 2015

The National Catholic Committee on Scouting (NCCS ) has responded to the decision by the Boy Scouts of America to ban employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and also to allow local troops to decide, based on religious principles, if openly gay men would be allowed to serve as leaders. Their response. which is not affirmative, could harm the future of Catholic scouting.

In a letter to Catholic Scout leaders from NCCS National Chairman Edward P. Martin and National Chaplain Father Michael P. Hanifin that was published by the website, the two leaders offered a mixed message about the decision:

“It is not entirely clear how these rights will be squared with previous policy changes the Boy Scouts have made, or how they will work in practice, but it appears that the resolution respects the needs of Catholic-chartered organizations in the right to choose leaders whose character and conduct are consistent with those of Catholic teaching. At the same time, we express strong concern about the practical implications of this resolution, especially for our young people in Scouting, and whether the term ‘sexual orientation’ will be correctly understood and applied only in reference to sexual inclination and not to sexual conduct or behavior. We also express concern that the resolution articulates a position on adult sexual conduct that does not make clear that sexual behavior should be reserved to a husband and a wife in marriage.”

It is unfortunate that this statement confuses “sexual orientation” with “sexual conduct or behavior.”  “Orientation” has been used popularly for many decades now, and it has always clearly meant a person’s interior constitution, not a decision to be involved in sexual activity.  Even the U.S. bishops, in their 1998 letter Always Our Children, offered this understanding of the term:

“. . . [I]t seems appropriate to understand sexual orientation (heterosexual or homosexual) as a deep-seated dimension of one’s personality and to recognize its relative stability in a person. A homosexual orientation produces a stronger emotional and sexual attraction toward individuals of the same sex, rather than toward those of the opposite sex. It does not totally rule out interest in, care for, and attraction toward members of the opposite sex. Having a homosexual orientation does not necessarily mean a person will engage in homosexual activity.”

Do the leaders of the NCCS not know this understanding of the term?  Why would they think it would be incorrectly applied to sexual behavior?  I don’t know of any policy situation in any field of endeavor where these two terms have been confused–except for the fact that many anti-gay people assume that “orientation” guarantees behavior, which, of course, is not true.

Most importantly, framing the discussion strictly between the terms “sexual orientation” and “sexual behavior” disregards an important quality of gay men that is germane to this debate:  the ability to enter into loving and committed sexual relationships.   As long as people keep using the orientation vs. activity dichotomy, they make invisible the real lives of lesbian and gay people, who for the most part, are interested in relationship and love.

The NCCS letter does not state directly whether they will discourage local BSA troops to allow openly gay men serve as leaders, but the last sentence in the paragraph quoted above, which deals with a definition of marriage, seems to indicate that at the very least, they will not welcome openly gay men who are civilly married.

Time and again over the past few years, the U.S. Catholic Church has witnessed how Catholic parents, educators, and students have risen up in protest against the unjust firing of gay and lesbian Catholic school teachers who have legally married.  It should be clear to the leadership of the Catholic Church that Catholics are not tolerating this kind of discrimination.

So, what will happen to Catholic scouting if gay men–single or married–are not accepted as leaders in their local troops?  As most troop leaders are parents of scouts, what will happen when a scout’s gay dad is not allowed to be a leader? In both these cases, I predict that parents and youth will vote with their feet and join another troop which does not discriminate.

We already saw something like this in 2013 when the BSA lifted its ban on openly gay youth becoming scouts. When one pastor in Illinois tried to separate the parish’s troop from the BSA, the parishioners and scouting parents strongly protested.

In 2013, the NCCS and many diocesan bishops, supported the policy change to welcome gay youth.

The recent 2015 NCCS statement gay men as scout leaders stated:

“Our youth don’t want to leave Scouting.”

I agree. But I think that youth today want Scouting that is discrimination-free.  And as the years go by, more parents and youth will be joining that belief, too.

The NCCS has an opportunity to encourage and promote a discrimination-free Catholic Scouting by encouraging their troops not to ban gay men from leadership.  It has the opportunity to promote a realistic view of gay men that is rooted in the desire for relationship and love.  NCCS can help today’s Catholic youth develop a healthy respect for gay men by allowing these men to serve openly and freely.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry

Related articles and posts:

The New York Times: Catholic Panel Urges Churches to Continue Sponsoring Scout Troops

The New York Times: “Boy Scouts Are Poised to End Ban on Gay Leaders”

The National Catholic Reporter: “Religious groups weigh support for Boy Scouts after vote to end ban on gay leaders”

The National Catholic Committee on Scouting:  FAQs Regarding BSA’s Youth Membership Standard”

On 2013 BSA decision to accept openly gay youth as scouts:

Bondings 2.0: National Catholic Committee on Scouting Supports Boy Scouts’ Inclusive Policy

Bondings 2.0: National Committee and Local Dioceses Begin to React Boy Scouts’ Decision

Bondings 2.0: Boy Scouts Inclusivity Could Signal End of Catholic Scouting




Catholics May Have A Choice If the Boy Scouts Allow Openly Gay Leaders

June 22, 2015

What will Boy Scout troops sponsored by Catholic parishes and agencies do if the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) ends its current ban on allowing openly gay men to serve as scout leaders?

Robert Gates addressing the Boy Scouts of America national meeting.

That question is not a hypothetical one since last month when Robert Gates, the president of BSA, called on the national organization to lift the ban.   His message had a tone of inevitability to it, as he addressed the national meeting of the BSA in Atlanta in May.  He cited the spread of marriage equality and the rise of employment discrimination lawsuits as events which are signaling that the organization should change.  The New York Times quoted from his speech:

“[W]e must deal with the world as it is, not as we might wish it to be.”

Gates, the former U.S. Secretary of Defense, said the current bay on gay men “cannot be sustained,” and that “we must all understand that this will probably happen sooner rather than later.”

Since many troops are sponsored by a variety of religious institutions, Gates qualified his call for change by saying that local organizations should be allowed to establish their own policies:

“I support a policy that accepts and respects our different perspectives and beliefs. I truly fear that any other alternative will be the end of us as a national movement. . . .

“Such an approach would allow all churches, which sponsor some 70 percent of our Scout units, to establish leadership standards consistent with their faith. We must, at all costs, preserve the religious freedom of our church partners to do this.”

National Catholic Committee on ScoutingIn response to Gate’s speech, Edward P. Martin, chairman of the National Catholic Committee on Scouting, posted a letter on the Committee’s Facebook page addressed to Catholic scout leaders, saying in part:

“We agree with Mr. Gates that there is cause to act. We also agree with Mr. Gates that chartered organizations must be allowed ‘to establish leadership standards consistent with their faith.’ We certainly support efforts to preserve the Boy Scouts of America. The National Catholic Committee on Scouting (NCCS) has as its mission the constructive use of the program of the Boy Scouts of America as a viable form of youth ministry with the Catholic youth of our nation. We will continue to pursue that mission until such time BSA rules conflict with Catholic teaching. That hasn’t happened yet, nor do we expect it to happen.”

Wouldn’t it be great if the NCCS would allow local Catholic sponsors of BSA troops, the same freedom that Gates wants to allow all BSA troops to determine if they should allow openly gay men to be scout leaders?  That would certainly be a step in the right direction.  It would allow Catholics who see the ban as discriminatory and against their Catholic principles of equality and respect to judge for themselves who would make the best scout leader, regardless of sexual orientation.   When enough Catholic troops do allow gay leaders, they will be a shining testimony to all the others, providing them with wonderful examples of how right it is not to discriminate.

Commenting favorably on Gates’ call for inclusive policies was Zach Wahls, executive director of Scouts for EqualityThe New York Times quoted him as saying that the move was “undeniably a step forward.”  The story continued with Wahls’ comments:

Zach Wahls

” ‘It seems like the Boy Scouts will continue an internal dialogue about the subject,’ he said, adding that a relaxing of the national ban seemed all but certain. The executive board could mandate such a change at any time in the coming year, he said, or it could decide, as it did in 2013, to put the matter up for a vote at next year’s annual convention of scout leaders from around the country.”

Incidentally, Wahls will be a keynote speaker at the national conference of Call To Action, the Catholic social justice organization, to be held in Milwaukee in November 2015.  He will speak on the topic “What Makes a Family?” For more information, click here.

In 2012, Greg Bourke, an gay scout leader at a Catholic parish in Louisville, Kentucky, was forced to resign from his role after he acknowledged his orientation publicly. If he did not resign, the troop was threatened with losing its charter. Bourke, along with his now-husband, Michael DeLeon, are among the lead plaintiffs in the U.S. Supreme Court case on marriage equality that will be decided in the coming weeks.

In 2013, the BSA lifted its ban on openly gay youth becoming members of local troops.  Following that decision, some Catholic parishes, very few, decided to cancel their scouting programs rather than abide by the new policy.  Other parishes, the NCCS, and a number of bishops issued statements saying they had no problem with the inclusive policy.  Let’s hope and pray that this new inclusive policy will receive similar support that the previous decision received from this latter group. To read the blog posts from that decision and its repercussions, click here.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry

Related articles:

National Catholic Reporter:  “Boy Scouts chief says ban on gay Scouts should be lifted nationwide”

Crux: “Boy Scouts president calls for end to ban on gay leaders”

National Catholic Reporter: “Possible Boy Scout gay leadership change has religious groups weighing options”


Parish Wants to Cancel Scout Troop, But Diocese Supports Inclusion

August 12, 2013

boy scouts 1Another Catholic parish has announced that it will likely no longer host its Boy Scout troop due to the Boy Scouts of America’s decision to allow gay youth to become members.

The Eau Claire, Wisconsin Leader-Telegram reports that the parish, St. Mary’s in Altoona, Wisconsin, told the troop which has met on church property for 20 years to start looking for a new home:

“Bob Thill, Troop 90 scoutmaster for the past seven years, said the troop has been told it should plan on finding a new home after the current one-year agreement expires Dec. 31 because of concerns about the policy change.

“Thill called the tentative decision by the Rev. Derek Sakowski of St. Mary’s ‘very disappointing’ but said the Scouts are looking for a new site to charter the troop.”

Though the pastor has not made a final decision, he explained his reasoning:

“For his part, Sakowski said he was uncomfortable with the wording in the revised Boy Scouts membership standards indicating that no youth may be turned away ‘on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone.’

“Sakowski said ‘sexual preference’ is too ambiguous, and he has written the national headquarters of the Boy Scouts seeking clarification as to what is meant by the term.

“ ‘We want to know if it fits with our Catholic values. If I don’t get a (satisfactory) response, then I can’t renew the charter,’ he said, adding that same-sex attraction alone is not considered sinful by the Catholic church.”

Local television station WEAU reported that the Diocese of La Crosse, in which the parish is located, has no problem with the Scouts’ policy:

“The Diocese of La Crosse however told us “A youth experiencing same-sex attraction should not be afraid that he will be expelled by the scouting community by disclosing the experience of such attraction.” . . .

“In their statement the Diocese of La Crosse also mentioned that Pope Francis recently said, ‘same sex attraction’ alone does not preclude active membership in the church.

“The Diocese says at this time there is no reason to believe St. Mary Parish in Altoona will end the partnership with Troop 90.”

As Bondings 2.0 reported in the spring, the National Catholic Committee on Scouting declared that there is no conflict between the new policy and Catholic teaching on homosexuality.

The pastor of the parish has said that he will meet with parents before he makes a final decision.  Let’s hope that the parents will convince him to continue the program.  Or perhaps the diocese will intervene.

The interesting thing is that while I disagree with Fr. Sakowski’s inclination to ask the troop to move, I do agree with him that the term “sexual preference” is not helpful.  It is an old-fashioned term and implies a choice in sexuality, which more modern notions of sexual orientation say does not exist.  Orientation is more often something discovered than chosen.

Other parishes have cancelled scouting programs because of the new policy.  You can read about them here, here and here.  What I think is hopeful, however, is the vast number of Catholic parishes are continuing to support the Scouts.  That’s good news!

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry


The Pastoral Dimension of the New Boy Scout Policy on Gay Youth

July 19, 2013

Boy ScoutsThe National Catholic Reporter’s columnist Father Peter Daly recently wrote a column praising this spring’s Boy Scouts of America decision to admit gay scouts.  Writing as a pastor and a former Scout, Father Daly reminds readers of the pastoral dimension that must be attended to in discussing this issue.

He begins by noting that all of the hype about the new policy clouded the fact that Scout troops tend to be pretty ordinary groupings:

“If you come to one of their troop meetings on Sunday afternoons, you would think you had stepped into a Norman Rockwell painting. The boys actually are what the Scout Law says: trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent. (Well, truth be told, maybe they are not always clean. But they are boys, after all.)

“When our Boy Scouts meet in our parish hall, they carry in the American flag, recite the Pledge of Allegiance and say the Scout Oath. Then they go to work on their projects. They go camping, get merit badges, build fires, tie knots, make balsa wood cars, and horse around; exactly the same as Scouts did when I was a Scout a half-century ago.”

And while much will be the same, there is one significant change that this policy makes:

“After the rule change, I sent our Scout leaders a letter saying there was no change in our relationship to Scouting and no change in the behavior we expected of Scouts. We still expected everyone to be chaste, boys and leaders.

“But one important thing has changed: Boys can now be honest about themselves to others without fear of reprisal by the Scout leaders.

“Let’s face it: There have always been gay Scouts. Just like there have always been gay men in the military and in the priesthood. In fact, we have always had some gay bishops, whether they want to admit it or not.

“What is different now for our boys is that they no longer have to be afraid. They do not have to be afraid of reprisals and bullying. They do not have to be afraid that if someone knows they are gay, they will be excluded or expelled.”

And he puts the whole controversy into perspective by reminding readers that when we discuss gay scouts, we are really discussing youth in a very fragile moment of their lives:

“Growing up is hard enough without an added layer of fear and discrimination.

“Gay boys are no different from any other boys. They are experiencing their maturation in fits and starts. They are discovering what it is to be a man. They are figuring out what it means to love. If the boy is a Catholic, he is also discovering what it is to be a follower of Jesus Christ. That is hard for us all, whether we are hetero or homosexual, but there is an added a layer of difficulty for gay adolescents. I’ve witnessed this in my own ministry.

“Three times in my 27 years as a priest, I have had to sit across the room from young men who tried to commit suicide because they were gay. Three times, I have heard their anguish as they told me that their church regarded them as ‘intrinsically disordered’ and their love as seriously immoral. Three times I have had to hear them say that part of the reason for their despair was our preaching.”

And he has a sharp critique of those who oppose the new policy:

“Conservative Catholic theologians would no doubt demand that I condemn all homosexual acts as immoral. They would want pastors to insist that all gay boys must learn to carry their unique cross of perpetual life-long chastity, a burden we would never dream of imposing on heterosexuals. They would want me to say that all gay acts are evil and all inclinations are intrinsically disordered.

“Well, let them say it. Let them say it to those boys who tried to commit suicide. Let them say it to the frightened little Scout who is still figuring out himself.

“It is easy to be some ivory-tower theologian writing in the abstract. They are not speaking as pastors or parents or Scout leaders. There is truth in lived experience, too, just as much as in theories. That is real ‘ontological’ truth.”

Many thanks to Fr. Daly for bringing a much-needed pastoral sense to this whole debate about the Boy Scouts.  Such sensibility is needed in more of our church discussions about LGBT issues.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry

QUOTE TO NOTE: Two Bishops on Scouts’ Policy

June 4, 2013

Two Catholic bishops have weighed in on the Boy Scouts’ policy of including gay youth among their ranks, and these two prelates take distinctly different approaches.  While the first bishop shows himself guided by Catholic principles, the second one is guided by a complete lack of true information about lesbian and gay people.

Bishop David Choby

Bishop David Choby

Bishop David Choby, of Nashville, approved of the Scouts’ decision.  In USA Today,  he stated:

“The policy in its form is not inconsistent with church teaching, which upholds the dignity of each and every human being, regardless of sexual orientation. It does not communicate in any way an approval or support for sexual activity between scouts.”

Indeed, the National Catholic Committee on Scouting took this position in its official response to the policy.

Bishop Edward Slattery, of Tulsa, expressed reservation about the new policy.  The Tulsa World noted Slattery’s opinion:

Bishop Edward Slattery

Bishop Edward Slattery

“ ‘I think the Boy Scouts do wonderful work, and should continue to do so,’ he said. But he said he was not happy about the decision to allow openly gay scouts.

“ ‘What do they mean by openly gay? I assume that means they are sexually active.’ . . . .

“ ‘This culture of ours is crazy, no rules,’ he said.”

Bishop Slattery’s comments reveal a false assumption that I think operates in the minds of many bishops who oppose homosexuality:  “openly gay” = “sexually active.”   Does he assume that all who are “openly heterosexual” are also all sexually active?

Bishops like Slattery need to dialogue more with lesbian and gay people to understand that acknowledging a homosexual orientation does not indicate one’s participation in any sexual activity.  The need to be known honestly by one’s true identity is most often the reason that someone wants his or her orientation to be known.

Moreover, if Slattery dialogued with lesbian and gay people, he would come to know that they are quite often very ethical people who live by very high moral rules. Clearly, the ignorance of lesbian and gay reality that the bishop’s statements indicate explain why he would be opposed to the new policy.  He does a disservice to lesbian and gay Catholics, the Boy Scouts, himself, and the entire church not to educate himself better on these issues.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry


Another Parish Cuts Scouting Program, While Catholics Organize to Protest Bigotry

June 4, 2013

Although the National Catholic Committee on Scouting has recommended that Catholic parishes support the Boy Scouts of America’s (BSA) new inclusive policy of admitting gay scouts, and some bishops have even already announced support for the new measure, some parishes are taking steps to end their relationship with the scouting organization rather than include gay kids.  Last week, we reported on the first known parish to sever ties with the BSA, which was in Bremerton, Washington.  Over the weekend, a pastor in a Chicago-area parish also announced that he would be closing down the parish’s scouting programs rather than admit gay scouts.

Father Brian Grady

Father Brian Grady

The Chicago Tribune reported on Fr. Brian Grady’s decision for St. Elizabeth Ann Seton parish in Crystal Lake, Illinois.  Fr. Grady’s reasoning as reported in the paper seems based on myths and stereotypes and clearly inaccurate knowledge of homosexuality and youth:

” ‘For a young boy to (have to) share a tent or be exposed to other boys who are openly homosexual is not only unjust, but immoral,’ Grady wrote. ‘As a former Boy Scout, I know how uncomfortable it would have been to have to be in close proximity with boys that would perhaps be looking at me as more than just a friend.’

“Grady said he was saddened to be ‘forced to make this decision.’ In an interview, he said: ‘We welcome those individuals … but we also recognize certain actions are not to be encouraged.’ “

His reasoning makes it sound like he is placing his own anxieties about sexuality onto both the gay and straight youth who would be involved in scouting.

Charlie Payseur

Charlie Payseur

The leaders of  the scouting program are of the opposite opinion of the pastor.  According to The Tribune:

‘Troop 550 Scoutmaster Charlie Payseur said he and his assistant leaders were “livid” about the move. Grady has been very hospitable, Payseur said, but had not discussed the issue with them.

” ‘It has never been an issue, nor would I turn a Scout away,’ Payseur said. ‘I treat everyone the same. It’s bothering me that people can’t just accept people for who they are.’ “

The Crystal Lake Patch offers even stronger comments from the scoutmaster:

” ‘I am fuming,’ Charlie Payseur said. ‘We’ve been affiliated with that church for over five years, and to not even tell the people who founded the pack? It would have been common courtesy (for Grady) to tell us himself.’ “

In response to the ban on scouts by the Bremerton, Washington, pastor, Fr. Derek Lappe, on which we reported last week, Catholics United, a political organizing group, has launched a petition campaign for Seattle’s Archbishop Peter Sartain to condemn the bigoted behavior of the pastor.  The petition text reads:

boyscoutpetitionArchbishop Sartain,

As Catholics and people of faith, we know that Jesus instructs us to be a loving and inclusive community. These values are shared by the Boy Scouts.

We ask that you publicly remind the priests of your diocese that Catholic social teaching prohibits discrimination against gay people.

When religious leaders like Fr. Lappe promote discrimination, it only hurts the Church.

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer quotes James Salt, executive director of Catholics United, as to what they hope the petition will accomplish:

“The Catholic Church has long held that individuals with same-sex attractions should be respected and protected from discrimination. Catholics United calls on Fr. Lappe’s superiors to condemn this kind of bullying from a man who is supposed to be a witness of Christian love and acceptance.”

The Post-Intelligencer quotes from Fr. Lappe’s letter explaining his decision, in which he displays an amazing lack of accurate knowledge on homosexuality:

“The letter sought to refute the generally accepted genetic origin of same-sex attraction. Lappe listed other ‘groups’ including:  ‘Mother was overprotective (boys).’   ‘Mother was needy and demanding (boys).’ ‘Lack of rough and tumble play (boys).’ ‘Dislike of team sports (boys).’ ‘Sexual abuse or rape.’ ‘Extreme shyness.’ ‘Parental loss through death or divorce.’

“As well, said Lappe, the parish’s programs ‘are well equipped to help cultivate authentically masculine and feminine identities.’ “

The statements by Fr. Grady and Fr. Lappe reveal they are not in possession of accurate knowledge about homosexuality.    Let’s hope that other pastors have a better understanding than these two do.  It would be a shame if Catholic parishes ended their relationships with scouting programs, particularly when the National Catholic Committee on Scouting is encouraging Catholic parishes to support the new policy.

The examples of these two parishes illustrate not only why pastors need better education about homosexuality, but also why lay people need to be involved in the decision-making processes of Catholic life.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry

Related articles:

June 3, 2013:  Religious groups who supported gay Scout ban now are okay with changing it. Why?The Washington Post

June 3, 2013:  The Boy Scouts, Gay Youth and Catholic Teaching ,  Huffington Post

June 4, 2013:  The church’s Boy Scout dilemma: Should they stay or should they go? , U.S. Catholic



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