Catholic Response to Boy Scouts New Policy

Bishop Robert Guglielmone of Charleston, the episcopal liaison of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops to the National Catholic Committee on Scouting, says the Church must remain involved with the Boy Scouts to see how the new policy plays out and be willing to take further steps if Church teaching is violated.

boy scout logoAccording to the National Catholic Register, Bishop Guglielmone said he wasn’t surprised by the vote to overturn the Scouts’ long-standing ban on openly homosexual scouts. The new rules, which leave in place a ban on openly homosexual scout leaders, state that “No youth may be denied membership in the Boy Scouts of America on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone.”

“I’m not particularly encouraged by it, but I knew it would happen eventually,” Bishop Guglielmone said. ” As the policy change is right now promoted, we can live with it. Unfortunately, there are many people who are interpreting this policy to go much further than it actually does, particularly in the secular press.”

He went on to say that Church teaching is very clear that the homosexual inclination is not sinful and that same-sex attraction is not immoral, “but that what we’re dealing with here is the distinction between the inclination and the conduct. The standards remain the same as they always have for scouts. Homosexual activity will not be condoned,” he said.

“The leadership of the BSA has made it very clear that they intend to hold the line on adult leaders, but they also said they would hold the line on this issue, so where this could go, I don’t know,” he added.

“That’s why I feel it’s imperative for the Church to continue to be involved. And if it gets to the point where some of our basic issues our threatened — such as being able to pick leaders for Catholic chartered groups or in diminishing the role of religion and God — then we will have to re-evaluate our participation in the program at that time.”

As the Register reports, the U.S. Conferences of Catholic Bishops defers to the National Catholic Committee on Scouting (NCCS) for decisions and policies related to the Church and the BSA.

After the May 23 vote, the NCCS issued a statement saying that “Since the change in policy will not take effect until Jan. 1, 2014, the National Catholic Committee on Scouting has adequate time to study its effects. The NCCS will determine how it may impact Catholic-chartered scout units and activities. In doing so, we will work within the teachings of our Catholic faith and with the various local bishops and their diocesan scouting committees.”

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