Q. It has been a while since it was decided to permit openly homosexual boys into the Boy Scouts, but not a word for an official position on Catholic-affiliated troops. I wonder why? In the meantime, I fear many boys will be in great danger. Why no statement from our bishops on this very critical issue? — R.B.K., Virginia.
A. In May of 2013, the national council of the Boy Scouts of America voted to lift a ban on admitting openly homosexual youth as members. The bylaw change read: “No youth may be denied membership in the Boy Scouts of America on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone.” The BSA retained (for the time being) the ban on adult leaders with a same-sex inclination.
In a statement issued following the decision, Bishop Robert Guglielmone, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ liaison with the National Catholic Committee on Scouting, said that “we’re going to have to find a way to work with this. We have a half a million Catholic Scouts in this program and they’re not all going to transfer out of it. If we pull away, we’re going to have Catholic kids in a movement where there is no reflection of their faith. We need to remember that the movement has a lot to offer.”
Bishop Guglielmone also said that “we need to stress that Church teaching says that the homosexual inclination and attraction itself is not immoral, but what is immoral is any sexual conduct outside of marriage. The Church states that everybody is called to live a chaste life.” He said that “people should be honest about what Church teaching is. All sexual activity outside marriage is contradictory to Church teaching and has never been considered acceptable, and that is not going to change.”
On May 30, 2013, Edward Martin, chairman of the National Committee on Catholic Scouting, stated, correctly, that the Catechism of the Catholic Church “teaches that individuals who disclose a homosexual inclination or same-sex attraction are to be treated with the same dignity due all human beings created by God (n. 2358),” and that “as Catholics, we believe that engaging in sexual activity outside of marriage is immoral (CCC, n. 2396).” But some of his other remarks were problematical.
For example, Mr. Martin said that “the Scout oath begins with duty to God, and the Scout oath ends with a Scout’s obligation to be reverent.” Actually, the Scout oath ends with the promise “to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.” How can one remain morally straight while in close company with boys who believe that same-sex inclination, which often leads to immoral sexual behavior, is perfectly normal and acceptable? Mr. Martin also said that “we need to use this opportunity to show our commitment to making Catholic scouting a safe environment for all youth in which the Catholic Faith is taught, practiced, and nurtured.”
Is Mr. Martin unaware that the homosexual network has had great success in using the safety card to promote homosexuality in schools? For example, homosexual activist Kevin Jennings, who worked for the Obama administration for two years, said that his group, the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), was able to make homosexuality acceptable in Massachusetts in the early 1990s by “reframing the issue.”
In a 1995 talk entitled “Winning the Culture War,” Jennings explained:
“We immediately seized upon the opponents’ calling card — safety — and explained how homophobia represents a threat to students’ safety by creating a climate where violence, name-calling, health problems, and suicide are common. Titling our report ‘Making Schools Safe for Gay and Lesbian Youth,’ we automatically threw our opponents onto the defensive and stole their best line of attack. This framing short-circuited their arguments and left them back-pedaling from day one.”
Once the issue was “reframed,” it was full steam ahead in Massachusetts schools, with Gay-Straight Alliance Clubs in virtually every high school, “Coming Out” days for same-sex-inclined students, films promoting homosexuality from kindergarten through grade 12, and denunciation of parents who objected to this indoctrination of their children.
GLSEN now promotes “Gender Bender Days” where students are asked to dress as a member of the opposite sex.
Maybe Mr. Martin was right in saying that “the BSA does not have an agenda on the matter of sexual orientation,” but the hyper-aggressive homosexual network does have an agenda. Remember how 30 years ago they pleaded for tolerance? Now they are demanding conformity. Furthermore, they have no tolerance for those who disagree with them.
How long does Martin think it will take before the same tactics used in schools throughout the country will be used in Scouting? And will those Scout parents who object to the coming indoctrination in immorality be treated any differently than school parents have been treated?
In a statement issued shortly after the BSA decision, Bishop Paul Loverde of Arlington, Va., said that “I deeply regret that the leadership of the Boy Scouts of America, after years of principled and steadfast resolve, has now wavered in their commitment to the values that the scouting movement has traditionally embraced and taught.”
He said that the decision “forces us to prayerfully reconsider whether a continued partnership with the BSA will be possible….As an organization founded on character and leadership, it is highly disappointing to see the Boy Scouts of America succumb to external pressures and political causes at the cost of its moral integrity. Additionally, it seems clear that the result of this policy change will likely not bring harmony, but rather continuing controversy, policy fights, and discord.”
The lack of a more forceful response on this issue by the USCCB reminds us of an interview given to The Wall Street Journal in March 2012 by Timothy Cardinal Dolan, the archbishop of New York and at that time president of the USCCB. In a discussion of the Obama administration’s attempt to force Catholics to support insurance coverage for contraception and abortifacients, Cardinal Dolan conceded that the Church in America has gotten “gun-shy . . . in speaking with any amount of cogency on chastity and sexual morality,” with the result that many Catholics ignore the Church’s teachings about sexuality.
He traced the problem back to “the mid- and late ’60s, when the whole world seemed to be caving in, and where Catholics in general got the impression that what the Second Vatican Council taught, first and foremost, is that we should be chums with the world, and that the best thing the Church can do is become more and more like everybody else.”
The “flash point,” the cardinal said, was Humanae Vitae, Pope Paul VI’s 1968 encyclical reasserting the Church’s teachings on the sanctity of human life and reaffirming her opposition to contraception. He said that the encyclical “brought such a tsunami of dissent, departure, disapproval of the Church, that I think most of us — and I’m using the first-person plural intentionally, including myself — kind of subconsciously said, ‘Whoa. We’d better never talk about that, because it’s just too hot to handle.’ We forfeited the chance to be a coherent moral voice when it comes to one of the more burning issues of the day.”
Dolan added that the Church’s sex-abuse scandal “intensified our laryngitis over speaking about issues of chastity and sexual morality because we almost thought, ‘I’ll blush if I do….After what some priests and some bishops, albeit a tiny minority, have done, how will I have any credibility in speaking on that?’”
The cardinal added, however, that he sees a hunger, especially among young adults, for a more authoritative Church voice on sexual issues. He said that “they will be quick to say, ‘By the way, we want you to know that we might not be able to obey it…but we want to hear it. And in justice, you as our pastors need to tell us, and you need to challenge us’.”
It may be this same “laryngitis” that is holding back too many bishops and priests from speaking out on important moral issues, such as contraception, abortion, same-sex unions, and admitting homosexually inclined youth into the Boy Scouts. The result is that many Catholics are uninformed about what the Church teaches, and why she teaches it.
How can they form their consciences correctly without the right information? If those who are supposed to teach the truth are “gun-shy,” where will we hear the truth?