Bishop David Kagan of the Diocese of Bismarck has ordered all parishes in western North Dakota to sever all ties with the Boy Scouts of America following the group’s decision to lift its ban on gay scout leaders.
The Associated Press is reporting on the announcement made earlier this week by Bishop Kagan who issued a letter to his parishioners explaining the move.
“I cannot permit our Catholic institutions to accept and participate directly or indirectly in any organization which has policies and methods which contradict the authoritative moral teachings of the Catholic Church,” Kagan wrote.
“Effective immediately, the Catholic Church of the Diocese of Bismarck and each and every one of its parishes, schools and other institutions is formally disaffiliated with and from the Boy Scouts of America.”
He went on to say: “I regret my decision but, in conscience as the Chief Shepherd of the Diocese of Bismarck, I cannot permit our Catholic institutions to accept and participate directly or indirectly in any organization, which has policies and methods, which contradict the authoritative moral teachings of the Catholic Church.”
Cory Wrolstad, a spokesman for the Boy Scouts’ Northern Lights Council in Bismarck, told the AP that the bishop’s decision will affect eight Boy Scout troops and Cub Scout pacts. The decision will bring about the end of a 66-year affiliation with one of the troops, located in Mandan.
“They will be working to find other charter organizations within those communities, and there will be a good chance they will be faith-based organizations,” he said.
Bishop John Folda of the diocese of Fargo has come to a different decision in the matter and said in a statement that he hopes “scouting remains a viable option for Catholic youth” in his diocese. However, he advised said Boy Scout leaders to “select volunteers based on character and conduct consistent” with the church’s teachings.
Meanwhile, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints plans to meet this month to discuss its century-long association with the Boy Scouts.
“The Church has always welcomed all boys to its Scouting units regardless of sexual orientation. However, the admission of openly gay leaders is inconsistent with the doctrines of the Church and what have traditionally been the values of the Boy Scouts of America,” the group said in a statement.
The decision by the Boy Scouts of America to allow gay scout leaders comes with a religious exemption allowing faith-based groups to maintain troop leadership in accordance with the teachings of their faith. The exemption has angered gay activists while most religious groups are taking a “wait and see” attitude toward the new policy before determining if they will sever ties.
However, because nearly 70 percent of Boy Scout troops are church-affiliated, the organization is almost compelled to uphold the exemption or suffer what could be severe losses.
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