The Catholic Church vs. The Boy Scouts: UPDATE
Well. I may have spoken too soon. Following a disturbing report earlier in the week about Catholic parish in Crystal Lake, Illinois, that severed ties with its Boy Scout Troop after the Boy Scouts of America lifted its ban on gay scouts, I went off on a bit of a rant – a justified one, if I do say so myself. But this is a welcome relief:
The Catholic Diocese of Rockford is calling for its churches to continue working with the Boy Scouts of America despite the group’s new acceptance of gay members — a change that led one Crystal Lake church to announce plans to sever ties with a troop it sponsors.
In a statement on the diocese’s website, Bishop David Malloy said the Scouts’ new policy “does not seem to provide an obstacle to our continued sponsorship of those troops or of Scouting, as long as Catholic principles of morality are followed.”
Noting that “any sexual conduct … by youth of Scouting age is contrary to the virtues of Scouting,” Malloy said: “At this time, it is my hope that we, in the Diocese of Rockford, will not need to discontinue partnering with the Boy Scouts of America in the healthy formation of young men.”
For clarification, Rockford, Illinois, is about 80 miles west-northwest of Chicago, and the Rockford Diocese encompasses 11 counties across the northern tier of the state, including McHenry County where Crystal Lake sits. Which means the parish of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton – the church that cut ties with its Boy Scout troop – falls within Bishop Malloy’s jurisdiction.
While I don’t agree with the Church’s stance on gay rights and gay relationships generally, Bishop Malloy’s position makes sense for the reasons he states. These are minors, after all, and so sexual activity should never enter into the picture, gay, straight or otherwise. So the Bishop’s statement is a step in the right direction.
Hopefully, I was wrong when I said that what happened with St. Elizabeth Ann Seton would happen with other Catholic churches. Still, I wouldn’t be surprised if more individual parishes ignore the common sense approach Bishop Malloy’s statement embodies. Meanwhile, at least one scouting family in the St. Elizabeth Ann Seton parish has had enough:
Another troop leader, Jeff Nacpil, said he planned to pull his family out of the parish because of the treatment of the troop. He was upset that the pastor had not consulted with the troop or parish members before acting.
“It’s really a shame,” Nacpil said. “We really liked the church outside these issues. But I don’t agree with its discriminatory practices. Part of Catholic teaching is showing everyone respect.”
Yup. That’s how I remember it, anyway.
David von Ebers
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