From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302

Scouts face painful decisions on homosexuality, adult leadership

by Father Terence Tully, for the Inland Register

(From the Sept. 13, 2001 edition of the Inland Register)

Painful but necessary is a statement about the Boy Scouts of America’s policy of not permitting known homosexuals to be adult leaders of Scouts. I agree with the policy, as does the National Catholic Committee on Scouting. The policy does not imply that a homosexual is a bad person but only that he or she is not a good role model for Scouts.

There are various reasons why an adult may not qualify as an adult leader. At age 86 and unable to go hiking, camping, and engage in most other outdoor activities of Scouts, I am not qualified to be a Scoutmaster.

Unfortunately, the BSA policy against allowing homosexuals to be adult leaders has been interpreted as discrimination. The Aug. 6 issue of Newsweek magazine devoted nine pages, plus its cover photo, to the problem and titled it “Scouts Divided — The Battle for the Soul of the Boy Scouts.”

The trouble began when an assistant Scoutmaster in 1990 spoke publicly that he was a homosexual. He was soon dismissed from his position in Scouting. He sued the BSA to be reinstated and the lawsuit finally went to the Supreme Court, which ruled that Scouting as a private organization can make its own rules on who qualifies for adult leadership.

Either way a difference

I happened to be at a meeting of the National Catholic Committee on Scouting in the week when the lawsuit was argued before the Supreme Court. The decision in favor of the Boy Scouts of America was still months in the future and we were asked to pray about it. Someone at our meeting said that whether the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the BSA or not, there would be a change in Scouting. That prediction, according to the Newsweek article, has come true. Much arguing. A strong minority of Scouts and parents said homosexuals should be allowed to hold leadership positions. I say: keep the prayers going. The picture is muddled by unchristian hatred and violence against homosexuals, sometimes even murder.

Morality

The 1997 Second Edition of the Catechism of the Catholic Church is a good source of information on how homosexuality touches the moral teachings of the Church. On page 566 is this definition: “Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex .... Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained.” In other words, homosexuality may be not chosen but a condition a person is born with, and the condition itself is not sinful. But homosexual activity is seriously wrong and must be avoided.

“Homosexual persons are called to chastity,” says the Catechism. “By the virtues of self mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.”

The Courage organization

To help achieve this spiritual progress there is an organization called Courage, in New York City. The Official Catholic Directory gives the following information:

Courage, Church of St. John the Baptist, 210 W. 31st St., 10001. Phone: (212) 268-1010. Fax: (212) 268-7150. E-mail: NYcourage@aol.com. Web site: http//world.std.com/-courage. Rev. John F. Harvey, O.S.F.S., Dir.

Among the 88 chapters of Courage is one in Seattle. Call (206) 767-0469, or e-mail courage4seattle@webtv.net

This organization promised me information after I phoned.

Bishops write to parents

Because homosexual youth and adults are sometimes mistreated within their own families, the Catholic bishops of the United States in 1997 wrote a pastoral message to parents of homosexual children titled “Always Our Children.”

It expresses sympathy to parents over the turmoil they may undergo when learning a son or daughter of theirs is homosexual. But it pleads with the parents to keep on accepting the child as a member of the family.

“Don’t break contact; don’t reject your child,” it says. “A shocking number of homosexual youth end up on the streets because of rejection by their own families. This and other external pressures can place young people at a greater risk for self-destructive behaviors like substance abuse and suicide.”

The letter is published by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops and is available at the Kaufer’s store in Spokane and other Catholic supply stores.

Scouting’s crisis

Meanwhile, let us pray for the Boy Scouts of America and all its professional and volunteer adult leaders, its youth members, and any of its former adult leaders disqualified by homosexuality. This crisis is making us think as we try harder on our honor to do our duty to God, and to help other people at all times.

Coming Events

Bishop’s Recognition Day, Cathedral of Our Lady of Lourdes, 1115 W. Riverside Ave., Spokane. Sunday, Feb. 10, 2002, 2 p.m. Bishop Skylstad will confer religious emblems on Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, and Camp Fire Boys and Girls.

Information
For information on the Diocesan Catholic Committee on Scouting and its activities, contact Father Terence Tully, diocesan Scout chaplain, 221 E. Rockwood Blvd, Apt. 308, Spokane, WA 99202-1200, phone (509) 458-7674; or James Burgen, chairman of Diocesan Catholic Committee on Scouting, 303 W. 8th Ave., Spokane, WA 99204. Pager phone (509) 880-5498.


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