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So long, Catholic Boy Scouts?

Surprising news:

Boy Scouts of America Says Discussing End to Ban on Gay MembersBy REUTERSDALLAS (Reuters) - Boy Scouts of America is discussing ending a longstanding ban on gay members and whether to allow local organizations to decide their own policy, a spokesman said on Monday.Lifting the ban would mark a dramatic reversal for the 103-year-old organization, which only last summer reaffirmed its policy amid heavy criticism from gay rights groups and some parents of scouts."The BSA is discussing potentially removing the national membership restriction regarding sexual orientation," spokesman Deron Smith said in an email to Reuters."The policy change under discussion would allow the religious, civic or educational organizations that oversee and deliver Scouting to determine how to address this issue," the spokesman said.The organization, which had more than 2.6 million youth members and more than 1 million adult members at the end of 2012, "would not, under any circumstances, dictate a position to units, members, or parents," Smith said.

That would effectively put an end to Catholic-sponsored scout troops, which account for 10 percent of all troops. Mormon-sponsored groups account for more than a third of all troops, and religious organizations sponsor two-thirds of all troops, according to this article.The Girl Scouts are already in the Catholic dock over charges (or an "urban legend," some say) that their cookies support contraception and abortion programs. (Catholics make up a quarter of the nations 3million Girl Scouts.)Is this the end of Catholic scouting? Or are there alternatives?

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One more thought on this: istm that one possible outcome of all this will be a lack of uniformity from one diocese to another, i.e. Bishop A will have a firm policy of inclusion; Bishop B will have a policy of exclusion; Bishop C won't have a hard-and-fast policy and will let the local packs figure it out; Bishop D will permit gay scouts but not gay scout leaders; etc.

Jim Pauwels, took a lot of looking, but it appears that that the USCCB appoints a bishop to liase with the NCCS. in each diocese, the bishop appoints members of the diocesan branch of the NCCS. "USCCB Bishop Liaison. [currently Bishop Guglielmone of Charlston]He interprets the mind of the USCCB for NCCS and represents NCCS at USCCB meetings. He is appointed by and serves at the will of the President of the USCCB. The USCCB Bishop Liaison attends all Executive Committee and Executive Board meetings but does not vote.""Diocesan Scout Chairs and Diocesan Scout Chaplains. These leaders are appointed by the bishops, or administrators, of their respective dioceses with the cooperation and recommendations of the Diocesan and/or Council Catholic Committee on Scouting. The usual term is for two (2) years with the option of reappointment. The Diocesan Scout Chair presides at all meetings of the Diocesan Committee on Scouting that is organized similarly to the national committee.http://www.nccs-bsa.org/national/Bylaws.php

John Hayes - nice work. Now we need to send David G to talk to Bishop Guglielmone. David G, go get the story :-)

Bishop D will permit gay scouts but not gay scout leaders; etc.How will Bishop D determine which little boys are gay and which are not? What questions and tests will he find useful for probing into the sexual preferences of children?

"One more thought on this: istm that one possible outcome of all this will be a lack of uniformity from one diocese to another,"I guess it's true that, absent a delegation from Rome, the USCCB can't control what individual bishops do in their dioceses. It will be interesting to see how it responds to reporters if the BSA does goes ahead with this. It may be even more complicated than that. When a parish in Virginia threw out the Girl Scouts because the pastor thought they supported Planned Parenthood, the diocese said it was up to each pastor to decide:http://www.nbcwashington.com/news/local/Girl-Scout-Troops-Banned-from-Ch...

Jim, yes, I remember the Marian medal from the Girl Scouts but this was not a troop activity, it was something undertaken by individual girls in the troop in coordination with an adult who was able to provide guidance. In a troop of 30 girls, maybe 3 even tried to earn this medal. Even at that time, most of the girls in the troop were not Catholic. My family never went to church and it wasn't even that it wasn't an issue, it was that it wasn't even something that ever came up for anybody, ever, under any condition that I can recall at all.

"How will Bishop D determine which little boys are gay and which are not? What questions and tests will he find useful for probing into the sexual preferences of children?"Bishop D isn't trying to determine that; he's permitting gay scouts, remember? And not all scouts are "little boys"; Eagle Scouts are well into their teen years before earning that accomplishment - according to the BSA, the average age is 17.I'd imagine he'd learn which scout masters are gay the same way he learns which Catholic school teachers are gay: some parent checks Facebook and writes the bishop a letter.

"I guess its true that, absent a delegation from Rome, the USCCB cant control what individual bishops do in their dioceses."Based on what you reported in an earlier comment, it does seem that the USCCB tries to coordinate with scouting organizations on a national basis, so maybe there would be some sort of coordinated policy - although on that, too, an individual bishop probably would be free to do his own thing if he wishes.

Bishop D isnt trying to determine that; hes permitting gay scouts, remember? And not all scouts are little boys; Eagle Scouts are well into their teen years before earning that accomplishment according to the BSA, the average age is 17. Many Mormons become Eagle Scouts at age 13. Given the influence of Mormons on the BSA, I wonder if the figure you cite is credible. There have been cases of fudging the rules, etc. As to permitting vs. determining? I don't see the point of one without the other, but maybe the little boys and their parents will understand the fine distinction and be grateful to Bishop D for permitting gay children to join his packs/troops.

Question: are non-Catholics allowed in "Catholic" Scout troops? Are non-Mormons allowed in "Mormon" Scout troops?If so, are they subjected to denominational influencing that their parents might not find acceptable if it was known?I don't think that gays should form their own troops/packs. As I stated above, if you want a Catholic, Methodist, Lutheran, LDS, Jewish, Hindu, Wiccan or other scout troop, start one.Stop turning the BSA into an arm of religion. Either that or stop giving contributions thereto under the guise of contributions to a religious organization tax deductibility.

"Bishop A will have a firm policy of inclusion; Bishop B will have a policy of exclusion; Bishop C wont have a hard-and-fast policy and will let the local packs figure it out; Bishop D will permit gay scouts but not gay scout leaders; etc."That's what the BSA needs ... Catholic bishops determining who is eligible for membership in or who can volunteer in any given scout troop/pack.

You a half-assed troll. Try whole-assing it.

Abe - A little humor is better than name calling.

But best of all is when the two are combined. But I look forward to when you manage to be funny.

It appears the current official policy is "Don't ask, don't tell" "Under the current policy, the Scouts do not inquire about a persons sexual orientation, but will not grant membership to individuals who are open or avowed homosexuals or who engage in behavior that would become a distraction to the mission of the BSA.http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2013/01/29/boy-scouts-consider-lifting-... of the objections people have put forward seem to be the same ones put forth when the military did away with DADT.

I have been very involved in the Scouting movement generally for the past 40 years and Catholic Scouting specifically for the past 30 years. I have some specific thoughts on this issue which I'll spell out when I can compose them in a way that's less likely to be misinterpreted. In the meanwhile, the National Catholic Committee on Scouting (NCCS) acts, among other things, between USCCB and BSA. The following message was posted on the NCCS Facebook page. Im supposing that this is the closest thing were going to see as an official response from the Church:Re Potential BSA Policy Change:This is a very sensitive issue and I know emotions will run high over it. Some of you may get requests on what the NCCS response is. This is the statement that has been worked on by Bishop Guglielmone, our Bishop Liaison, and the USCCB It is premature to discuss the ramifications of the proposed change in the policy of the Boy Scouts of America concerning homosexuals in the organization. The decision has not yet been made by BSA. As Catholics, we expect that any changes in policy will continue to respect the values and traditions that the Catholic Church holds with regards to membership and leadership in scout units. Col (Ret) John Halloran, Chair NCCS

Boy you are are a sour one Abe - cranky and sour.

Bill Fox, one of he commentors on the Facebook page says that here is more to that statement. She seems to indicate that NCCS is opposing the change. "Ann Roth Can you please post the entire statement from Col. Halloran? My son received the longer statement via mobile and we all need to see it. The above statement is inadequate at best and is causing scandal. We need to know that the NCCS is opposed to this change and is doing what it can to influence BSA to keep the policy unchanged. In other words, we need to know that NCCS is providing proper leadership for Catholic scouts. Thank you.

Every Charter Organization (the local sponsor, e.g. a parish) right now has the ability to approve or disapprove any adult leader for any reason or no reason. So this proposal doesn't change that. In addition, National may tell you that certain people are disallowed.From what I have seen, up to now, some one who is living a chaste life, but publicly admits to (to use the words of the Catechism) homosexual inclinations - is restricted from registering. This proposed new policy would allow a local parish community, in charity and justice, to apply the teachings of the catechism.CCC 2358http://www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/what-we-believe/catechism/cat...

Thanks - I assume to David G - for moderating/removing that really offensive comment.

John Hayes, the way I'm reading that is that Col. Halloran, Bishop Guglielmone, Fr. Salvatore (the National Chaplain) and other members of the NCCS Executive Board (along with Bishop Gettlefinger, the episcopal liaison emeritus) are speaking with each other and with whatever replaced the Relationships Division at National Council BSA.

As a veteran I am always highly suspicious of retired military officers who continue to parade their FORMER ranks:Col (Ret) John Halloran, Chair NCCSMy experience has taught me that there is a high preponderence of these men in two professions: car sales and insurance sales. To my knowledge their former ranks have nothing to do with their degree of (in)capability in any successor occupation/position they choose.

When the Supreme Court decided 5-4 that the Boy Scouts could exclude homosexuals, it was based on the BSAs contention that the exclusion was part of its core mission.If the national office announces that the exclusion of homosexuals is not part of its core mission, that defense is rendered invalid, not only for the national office but for all subdivisions and troops.The national office of the Boy Scouts would never require troops to accept homosexual leaders it wouldnt have to. Lawyers will go after any division of the scouts that still excludes gays, and the division will have not have the defense that the exclusion is part of the BSA central mission, not will the local units have the financial and legal resources of the national office.I disagree with the national office, but I am even more disappointed in their dishonesty in pretending that they are not in effect requiring all troops to accept homosexual leaders, no matter what moral, religious, or practical objections the troop may have.And all this for the sake of corporate donations.

"When the Supreme Court decided 5-4 that the Boy Scouts could exclude homosexuals, it was based on the BSAs contention that the exclusion was part of its core mission."Fortunately, the Catholic Church doesn't see "the exclusion" of homosexuals as "part of its core mission". Nevertheless, I think a Catholic parish that sponsors a Scout troop would be on sound legal ground in applying the same standards to Scout leaders as they do to people who volumteer for positions in other parish programs. Presumably, they would not appoint or retain people (heterosexual or homosexual) who wanted to teach the acceptability of behavior the Church considers sinful or whose background check indicated that they might abuse children.

"What so many people are fearful of is the normalization of homosexuality. That is different, or should be, than the normalization of homosexuals. It seems to me the Catholic Church and many other groups who do not approve of homosexual behaviors have got to make a greater distinction between homosexuality and homosexuals."The Church distinguishes between "homosexual persons", the "homosexual inclination" (orientation) and "homosexual acts". Neither acts nor the orientation are to be normalized. The orientation is called an "anomaly" in two highly authoritative Vatican documents and "intrinsically disordered" in a third.As James Alison wrote: "My disagreement with the current teaching of the Roman Congregations is about what I consider to be their fundamentally flawed premise of the objectively disordered nature of the inclination. I dont think its even worth beginning to talk about what acts might be appropriate before there is a recognition that we are talking about people whose way of being cannot properly be deduced from other peoples way of being. To do so would be like discussing different moves within a game of rugby while agreeing to hold the discussion under an enforced misapprehension that those moves are somehow defective forms of soccer playing."

oops, "objectively disordered" I mean.The Vatican have got a great job of getting millions of Catholics to mull over its archaic sex ethic.

JO'L:From which of James Alison's writings is that quotation?

I am thankful for the above wide ranged discussion on both gay, and adoption problems; not to mention the wider problem of how does our Church work in the world. The Catechism does not condemn homosexuals but, as in the case of all unmarried people, does not support sexual activity outside of the sacrament. In the scouts it is obvious who are the girls/boys simply by their membership. No where are sexual roles discussed [to y knowledge] but civic roles are. Sex is so deeply a part of our identity , after all Mary is still female AND Queen of Heaven, Jesus is still male and God, so we have to look at our roles, which means our vocation. Mozart was born to be a musician, Pasteur a scientist, etc.. As far as adoption, the one thing to start with is no one DEserves a child, they are a privilege and gift, but a child has a RIGHT to a mom and dad. On another, larger topic, the Church's role includes charity, and Government has no right to define that role, Truth is that half the money for charity comes from govt. and in Germany the govt. collects a church tax which it gives to the church, so there is no clear and pure church-in-the -world even if the USA seems best. Mary has said God gives grace and favor to those governments who allow the church to be free. In Boston Catholic Charities no longer adopts , no priest will marry same sex couples, etc..In confession sexual sins must be recognized for what they are: weakness for the sinner who confesses, but pride for those who say their is no sin. I am hopeful the present strife will ease, but we are not to think the world is not still, NOT , Jesus's Kingdom, after all world wide there aretwenty million abortions [or more] and I for one freak out at God's anger over that [read Faustina's diary for an example]. So, fellow Catholics and friends, let us pray.

Michael: every child is entitled to loving parents. Having a mom and dad is no more a guarantee of a loving, supportive household than is having a priest and a nun living there.

[Thanks, Commonweal. Here's a snippet I ran into on the never boring web.]Jesus stated in Luke 17 that just before His return to earth as Judge, two big "crazes" will happen worldwide at the same time: (1) insane violence ("days of Noah"), and (2) outrageous sexual perversion ("days of Lot" - see Gen. 19). Aren't beheadings, cannibalism, and school shootings violent? And what's more perverted than a mob trying to rape LITERAL angels (see Gen. 19 again)?! So, America, keep spitting on God but you'd better duck when He spits back!! (PS - For a bigger enchilada, Google "when DIVERSITY becomes PERVERSITY.")

I am fully prepared for negative reactions. Follows is an (edited) letter I sent to BSA as both an Eagle Scout and as an active Scouter:I think that BSA changing their policy is a bad idea.I am writing based of my understanding of the policy based on BSAs representation to the Supreme Court in Boy Scouts of America vs. Dale and subsequently cited in the SCOTUS decision on the matter. BSAs recent announcement that a change in this policy was being reviewed and was subject to revision suggested application of the policy in a way that was not described to and by SCOTUS in Dale, but since Dale is the only thing I can actually reference, it will be my primary source for understanding, and therefore defending, the policy. I do, however, think it has been unwise for BSA to keep the details of this policy hidden from the larger body of volunteer Scouters (Scouters are what adult leaders in Scouting are called) and the public at large.The beauty, I think, of the Scout Oath, paired with the Scout Law, is the implicit notion that in order to change the world we must first change ourselves. Many (like me) may have a struggle controlling their weight and health; yet we oblige ourselves to do our best to be Physically Strong. There are many (and we all have known some) who struggle with chemical addictions, to alcohol, for example, to prescription or to illicit drugs; yet we oblige ourselves to do our best to be Mentally Awake. What shall we say of Morally Straight? I cannot, as someone who struggles with weight, simply declare obesity as being as Physically Strong as physical fitness. Someone who struggles with addiction issues cannot simply declare the haze of intoxication as being Mentally Awake. These would clearly be absurd arguments. Since the Physically Strong, Mentally Awake, and Morally Straight commitments in the Scout Oath are predicated on the commitment to Do my best, we implicitly understand that the way of living we strive for is not easy. We affirm in assuming the Scout Oath is that it is not our struggles and limitations that define Scouts and Scouters, our commitment can. Let us consider the predicate assumption that we need to make in order to adjust the current policy: We have to assume that it is a reasonable argument that the desire to engage in a behavior itself provides the moral authority for that behavior. If this is the case, does morality really exist? Certainly, in and of itself, this is an authentic question and worthy of consideration and debate, but since Scouts and Scouters oblige ourselves to do our best to be Morally Straight, we need to not only assume that morality exists, but that it is important.Since the policy as described in Dale address those who avow homosexuality, it avoids the bewildering ontological language that is frequently used in reference to sexual orientation. We assume that people who commit to the Scout Oath and Scout Law are living the Scout Oath and Scout Law until, of course, they tell us differently. The avowal referenced in the policy is just that. To adjust the policy would be to render a central portion of the Scout Oath meaningless. Scouts and Scouters lose the wonderful challenges that the Scout Oath and the Scout Law offer. Any of us who have been Scouts and high school students at the same time know full well how much disapproval our lifestyle engenders. That that disapproval is becoming more and more official ought not to surprise us. On the contrary, we Scouters have an opportunity to live and to model what we tell Scouts when we exhort them that A Scout is Brave, that is to have ... the courage to stand for what he thinks is right even if others laugh at him or threaten him (cf the Boy Scout Handbook). So while I think its important to leave the policy as it is, I think its important to have the text of the policy available for volunteer Scouters to read. For one, since I believe that the policy is far more nuanced than it is frequently portrayed. To have the policy spelled out enables Scouters who understand why it is important more easily advocate for it. Further, assuming that the policy is being misapplied, having it available for reference will help preclude that misapplication. While leaving the policy more-or-less unchanged is difficult, it should be noted that living the Scout Oath and Scout Law frequently is difficult. Leaving the policy unchanged is likely bad for business, but then living the Scout Oath and Scout Law probably should be bad for business, especially how business is often practiced any more. Being honest about who we are and what we stand for is essential not only for the Scouting Movement alone, but as a model to the rest of the world of truly authentic living.

Postponed:"IRVING, Tex. The Boy Scouts of America, which reconfirmed last summer its policy banning openly gay people from participation, then said last week it was reconsidering the ban, said on Wednesday that it would postpone until May their decision, as talk of gays in the ranks has roiled a storied organization that carries deep emotional connection and nostalgia for millions of Americans."http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/07/us/boy-scouts-postpone-decision-on-gay...

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David Gibson is a national reporter for Religion News Service and author of The Coming Catholic Church (HarperOne) and The Rule of Benedict (HarperOne). He blogs at dotCommonweal.