Another Parish Cuts Scouting Program, While Catholics Organize to Protest Bigotry
Although the National Catholic Committee on Scouting has recommended that Catholic parishes support the Boy Scouts of America’s (BSA) new inclusive policy of admitting gay scouts, and some bishops have even already announced support for the new measure, some parishes are taking steps to end their relationship with the scouting organization rather than include gay kids. Last week, we reported on the first known parish to sever ties with the BSA, which was in Bremerton, Washington. Over the weekend, a pastor in a Chicago-area parish also announced that he would be closing down the parish’s scouting programs rather than admit gay scouts.
The Chicago Tribune reported on Fr. Brian Grady’s decision for St. Elizabeth Ann Seton parish in Crystal Lake, Illinois. Fr. Grady’s reasoning as reported in the paper seems based on myths and stereotypes and clearly inaccurate knowledge of homosexuality and youth:
” ‘For a young boy to (have to) share a tent or be exposed to other boys who are openly homosexual is not only unjust, but immoral,’ Grady wrote. ‘As a former Boy Scout, I know how uncomfortable it would have been to have to be in close proximity with boys that would perhaps be looking at me as more than just a friend.’
“Grady said he was saddened to be ‘forced to make this decision.’ In an interview, he said: ‘We welcome those individuals … but we also recognize certain actions are not to be encouraged.’ “
His reasoning makes it sound like he is placing his own anxieties about sexuality onto both the gay and straight youth who would be involved in scouting.
The leaders of the scouting program are of the opposite opinion of the pastor. According to The Tribune:
‘Troop 550 Scoutmaster Charlie Payseur said he and his assistant leaders were “livid” about the move. Grady has been very hospitable, Payseur said, but had not discussed the issue with them.
” ‘It has never been an issue, nor would I turn a Scout away,’ Payseur said. ‘I treat everyone the same. It’s bothering me that people can’t just accept people for who they are.’ “
The Crystal Lake Patch offers even stronger comments from the scoutmaster:
” ‘I am fuming,’ Charlie Payseur said. ‘We’ve been affiliated with that church for over five years, and to not even tell the people who founded the pack? It would have been common courtesy (for Grady) to tell us himself.’ “
In response to the ban on scouts by the Bremerton, Washington, pastor, Fr. Derek Lappe, on which we reported last week, Catholics United, a political organizing group, has launched a petition campaign for Seattle’s Archbishop Peter Sartain to condemn the bigoted behavior of the pastor. The petition text reads:
As Catholics and people of faith, we know that Jesus instructs us to be a loving and inclusive community. These values are shared by the Boy Scouts.
We ask that you publicly remind the priests of your diocese that Catholic social teaching prohibits discrimination against gay people.
When religious leaders like Fr. Lappe promote discrimination, it only hurts the Church.
The Seattle Post-Intelligencer quotes James Salt, executive director of Catholics United, as to what they hope the petition will accomplish:
“The Catholic Church has long held that individuals with same-sex attractions should be respected and protected from discrimination. Catholics United calls on Fr. Lappe’s superiors to condemn this kind of bullying from a man who is supposed to be a witness of Christian love and acceptance.”
The Post-Intelligencer quotes from Fr. Lappe’s letter explaining his decision, in which he displays an amazing lack of accurate knowledge on homosexuality:
“The letter sought to refute the generally accepted genetic origin of same-sex attraction. Lappe listed other ‘groups’ including: ‘Mother was overprotective (boys).’ ‘Mother was needy and demanding (boys).’ ‘Lack of rough and tumble play (boys).’ ‘Dislike of team sports (boys).’ ‘Sexual abuse or rape.’ ‘Extreme shyness.’ ‘Parental loss through death or divorce.’
“As well, said Lappe, the parish’s programs ‘are well equipped to help cultivate authentically masculine and feminine identities.’ “
The statements by Fr. Grady and Fr. Lappe reveal they are not in possession of accurate knowledge about homosexuality. Let’s hope that other pastors have a better understanding than these two do. It would be a shame if Catholic parishes ended their relationships with scouting programs, particularly when the National Catholic Committee on Scouting is encouraging Catholic parishes to support the new policy.
The examples of these two parishes illustrate not only why pastors need better education about homosexuality, but also why lay people need to be involved in the decision-making processes of Catholic life.
–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry
June 3, 2013: Religious groups who supported gay Scout ban now are okay with changing it. Why?, The Washington Post
June 3, 2013: The Boy Scouts, Gay Youth and Catholic Teaching , Huffington Post
June 4, 2013: The church’s Boy Scout dilemma: Should they stay or should they go? , U.S. Catholic
The decisions by both priests to dissolve parish troupe support for BSA inclusive membership based on disproven “myths” as to the origins of individual gay sexual orientation belies an ignorance of (at least) and or deliberate attempt to harm psychologically (at worst) gay youth. Having said this, their personal motivation/homophobia is extremely suspect. I believe time will reveal such persons with rabid views towards differing sexual orientation to be rejecting in others – vehemently – what they see in others as a reflection of what they perceive, yet can not accept in themselves: lack of confidence in their own sexual orientation and possibly, an effort to protect their own closets. This is especially likely given the fact that they act on their own discretion within their parishes without prior notice given to their flocks and before the American Conference of Bishops have declared their own position. It is not uncommon for any of us gay men to have experienced homophobic hatred/rejection by male friends/family who later accept their own “gayness” by coming out. While these parishes boys suffer alienation at the hands of priests who do not image Christ, we must proffer our prayers and support for both priest and youth that the Lord open their hearts to breathe in understanding, compassion and above all – love – for all even when in disagreement.
I fear that Fr. Grady protests too much. Beware as Shakespeare would say.
Agree with Shakespeare…we fear/protest most vehemently…against what we see of ourselves in others…celibate priesthood has been for centuries a safe haven to many who can not accept their own homosexuality…the sin lies in using this safe haven as a cover to snipe at/ persecute those who live WHO they are meant to be.
I don’t think it’s particularly useful to speculate on the sexual orientation of the two pastors. That is their business to share or not to share as they see fit, and is fact not pertinent to the discussion at hand. We have established two things clearly; both are homophobic and given to classic bigotry with regard to matters of sexual orientation. Both are lacking in pastoral skills, adopting instead a sort of legalistic view of same-sex attraction that infact places them in conflict with Church teaching about how they should behave as pastors. Finally, Grady seems to suffer from severe clericalism, making and announcing a top-down decision that affects many of his flock without first consulting or conferring with the lay leadership of those most affected by the decision. It would appear that both pastors could perhaps benefit from some “remedial formation.” In the mean time, the parents of the affected scouts would do well to withdraw their financial support of these parishes, to reorganize to be unaffiliated with the respective parishes, and move on without interruption or distraction. After all, a Scout is supposed to be of good character. Neither of these pastors is much of a role model as far as either character or leadership.
I both agree & disagree with the concept of ” speculation”….for too long hypocritical clerics have invoked Church teaching to preach their personal agendas. It is a common occurrence for people who are hurting in their heart to salve it with hatred of others with same pain. Their bishops should be exercising their teaching authority to sanction them for teaching on an issue that the Bishops Conference is still considering. The harm these priests are causing to their parishes/ children is inexcusable.
Fathers Grady and Lappe have chosen a difficult and challenging path. I respect their courage to effectively stand in the middle of the LGBT freeway and hold up a big STOP sign. What in world are we doing here? Why are we discussing sexual orientation in relation to childrens’ organizations such as the BSA in the first place? Boys typically enter the Boy Scouts at age 11. As we all know, hormones are raging during these formative years, from 11 to 18. Is it really helpful to the boy to encourage him to declare his sexual orientation during this period? The only group truly helped are those in the LGBT community who continue to insist that society not only accepts the “gay” lifestyle but celebrates and promotes it. While, like left handedness, I will concede the possibility that some boys of this age and even younger may have a genetic predisposition to same sex attraction, the idea of a “gay gene” has gone the way of the dodo bird. Now that being “gay” is increasingly the “cool” way to be, other boys who do not have a genetic predisposition to homosexuality may be led to experiment in this direction for a variety of bad reasons: loneliness, social pressure, a desire for acceptance, etc. The BSA should take a step back and reconsider what they have done. It is possible that the LGBT community has really stepped in it this time and the decision by the BSA will be a defining moment which will begin to bring back some sexual sanity to our society.
Thank you Glen.
Can’t they just be kids without labels…..???
I can NOT “respect” Revs. Grady and Lappe’s decision to stand against the BSA decision to accept openly gay boy scouts into the ranks for several reasons. It is certainly not an act of “courage” to oppose mainstream LGBT sentiment.
Firstly, Christ calls upon ALL to accept, love ALL persons. In so far as Catholic Theology holds that being gay (homosexuality) is NOT sinful – what basis are they using for disavowing their parishes from scout troups based there. Secondly, scouting is about building character, teaching life skills and in many cases serves as a parental role model for children whose family life is challenging. It is not concerned with teaching sexual skills be the boy straight or gay. In fact, two deep leadership is the mandate in scouting – no children are counseled by an adult nor are thy allowed to spend time solo – the buddy system is always used. The two deep leadership is a guard against pedophilia (which by the way involves straight, maladjusted adult men in 97% of cases – not gay men). Having spent nearly 20 years with my wife and five children in Scouting I can attest to this. Thirdly, “openly” gay seems to be a stumbling block for these priests as well as some bishops. Like the homophobes they are, they equate it as “sexually active”. It simply means that these children do not have to hide their sexuality when they become aware of it – will be guaranteed protection from bullying. Sexual activity amongst scouts is forbidden. I find it interesting that the Girl Scouts do not even have an issue with being gay. Fourthly, especially in Fr. Lappe’s distorted reasoning to his parishioners in writing his letter, being gay is innate, genetically determined orientation which can be detected by age 4. It has nothing to do with “over bearing” or negligent mothering as he contends. His insistence that the organization remain one in which “masculinity” is easily identifiable and supported harkens back to a rather Neanderthal mentality.