Bp. Kagan (D. Bismarck): Statement on Boy Scouts decision on homosexuals

Fr. Z kudos to His Excellency Most Rev. David D. Kagan, Bishop of Bismarck.

From the diocesan website of Bismarck:

Letter from Bishop: Decision on Boy Scouts of America

August 3, 2015
Dear Faithful Catholics of the Diocese of Bismarck,

Much has happened during the course of the last few weeks. First, I am most grateful to you for your cooperation and support in listening to my letter during Mass this past weekend. The decision on marriage by the U.S. Supreme Court is having real and unwelcome consequences in many areas of our daily lives and I expect that it will only get worse. If you would like to read my letter, click on this link: http://www.bismarckdiocese.com/news/letter-from-bishop-prayerful-encouragement.

Second, and as expected, the Boy Scouts of America voted to admit openly gay adults into the organization to hold leadership positions. While there are indications that the BSA has a religious organization exception, which each local troop could invoke, that will provide no protection for any of our parishes and/or schools, which sponsor troops. Thus, 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. If your parish sponsors a troop, your priest has been asked to inform those persons associated with the BSA of this action and to inform the BSA itself of this decision. 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.

Third, I list here for your consideration acceptable alternatives for our Catholic children and youth, should you wish to offer this in your parish and/or school. There are two very good alternatives to the Girl Scouts of America. They are: American Heritage Girls (americanheritagegirls.org), which has a National Catholic Committee; Little Flowers’ Girls Clubs (eccehomopress.com); and Federation of North American Explorers (fneexplorers.com). There are three alternatives to the Boy Scouts of America, which are acceptable. They are: Federation of North American Explorers (fneexplorers.com); Columbian Squires (kofc.org/un/en/squires); and Trail Life USA (traillifeusa.com), which has a National Catholic Committee in Front Royal, VA.

As always, I promise of my continued prayers and relying on your own, I remain fraternally yours in Christ Jesus,
Bishop David D. Kagan

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64 Responses to Bp. Kagan (D. Bismarck): Statement on Boy Scouts decision on homosexuals

  1. Clinton R. says:

    If only his Excellency could be a part of the upcoming Synod. He faithfully does his job as a pastor of souls and adheres to Catholic doctrine when he states “… 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.”

    May Our Lord strengthen and bless Bishop Kagan and those who will not bend to the will of the rainbow mafia. May Our Blessed Mother pray for his Excellency and for more prelates to be strong in our Holy Faith in these times. +JMJ+

  2. Mary Jane says:

    I’m so saddened by the BSA’s decision on this. My husband, brother, and father were all scouts when they were young, and I have always wanted to let our own boys join when they got old enough. That can’t happen now, obviously. Kudos to the Bishop for standing up for what’s right.

  3. albinus1 says:

    His Excellency left out one good Catholic alternative for boys: the Troops of St. George.

    I have been registered with the Boy Scouts for over 40 years. My troop was sponsored by our parish; our awards ceremonies were conducted in church, with the award presented by the priest who was our chaplain, followed by Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. Our chaplain and other local priests sometimes came out to camp to celebrate Mass for us.

    I earned Eagle Scout and the Catholic religious awards. My father was our Scoutmaster. For us, Scouting was a church and family affair, and I made many friendships that have continued through life, with other Scouts who were also my classmates in the parish school.

    I am really saddened that I can no longer support the Boy Scouts of America. I am happy to support Trail Life USA, the Troops of St. George, and other acceptable alternatives in their place. But it’s sad to see an important piece of my life die off like this.

    My father passed away in December. He continued to be active with the Boy Scouts over the years. I’m glad he didn’t live to see this.

  4. de_cupertino says:

    I’m very conflicted about this. I’m an Eagle Scout, as are my brother, father, uncles, and many male cousins. There’s a lot of great things about scouting. But even when I was still active in the early 2000s certain scouts (and scouters, as the adult employees are called) were distributing rainbow knot patches to be worn alongside the other awards on the uniform. (Above the left breast pocket, where the Ad Altari Dei relgious knot would also go.)

    Talking with people still involved, it seems the rainbow knot movement has grown, and is rampant in the Northeast. (My experience of the same is in Silicon Valley.)

    I have two sons entering Kindergarten, and have not decided yet what to do.

    There’s much talk of the LDS membership, but in my experience they don’t intermingle much with non LDS scouts, having their own troops and their own week at scout camp (because they don’t drive on Sundays.) I think they’ll do just fine if they end up making their own program.

  5. catholiccomelately says:

    We were a Scouting family. My husband from childhood, also being an adult committee leader, badge mentor, scout master, and for 2 years, a district executive.
    I did Girl Scouting into high school, as did my daughter, was a Daisy leader, Cub Scout den mother, and Boy Scout committee leadership. Our son in law is an Eagle Scout and was a scout master.
    No more.
    We left Girl Scouting behind around 15 years ago, and now Boy Scouts. The values have changed too much to stay.

  6. ConstantlyConverting says:

    It would be amazing if we could get off the gay thing for five minutes. Maybe if the Pope wasn’t advocating divorce and remarriage, or Catholics weren’t ignoring the divorce issue, or the bishops and priests and judicial vicars were pretending like the priesthood and marriage had anything in common…

    Stones and glass houses.

  7. Scott W. says:

    It would be amazing if we could get off the gay thing for five minutes.

    It would be amazing if homosexualitsts could stop goose-stepping for five minutes.

  8. ConstantlyConverting says:

    It would be amazing if we realized that the gay thing is actually our very own chickens coming home to roost…

  9. Scott W. says:

    It would be amazing if we realized that the gay thing is actually our very own chickens coming home to roost…

    It would be amazing if people would recognized an irrelevant tu quoque fallacy when they made it.

  10. ConstantlyConverting says:

    It might be if the two weren’t so obviously related…

    It is easy to pick on the visible problems that we all partly still agree about. Far more courageous to speak out about the ones that are being encouraged and are the basis of marriage issues.

  11. Scott W. says:

    It might be if the two weren’t so obviously related…

    And I might accept it if I didn’t suspect you were counselling surrender to the homosexualist Brownshirts by threadjacking down an unhelpful rabbit trail.

  12. ConstantlyConverting says:

    I’m sure Fr. Z appreciates your valiant Dehijacking.

    No surrender. But I also don’t believe in fighting a symptom of the issue, when the issue itself is what needs to be fought. Fighting a fever increases the length of illness. Better to strengthen the immune system, and to play with God’d design.

  13. ConstantlyConverting says:

    * than to play with

  14. I am about to lock people out.

    Think before posting.

  15. Scott W. says:

    I’m sure Fr. Z appreciates your valiant Dehijacking.

    No surrender. But I also don’t believe in fighting a symptom of the issue, when the issue itself is what needs to be fought. Fighting a fever increases the length of illness. Better to strengthen the immune system, and to play with God’d design.

    Well, given that the above is so vague as to be meaningless, I’ll try to bring us back on topic: The bishop in this article is shepherding his flock correctly. There are no Divorcée Pride Parades and they are not going to start a sustained process-as-punishment legal campaign. The bishop rightly recognizes that the religious exemption is no protection because the BSA is essentially passing the legal hot-potato to troop-sponsoring churches. It is a pure sell-out plain and simple. That alone should make every bishop nervous. I recommend more bishops follow suit.

  16. ConstantlyConverting says:

    I’m sorry :(

  17. ConstantlyConverting says:

    A fever is the body’s way of revealing that there is an illness. A fever is also an attempt to focus all efforts on healing the illness. Strengthening the immune system is feeding the body but it’s missing, which is why it got the illness in the first place. Because of what was missing.

    I don’t suggest that the bishop is wrong. He isn’t.

  18. Scott W. says:

    I don’t suggest that the bishop is wrong. He isn’t.

    Good that we have that settled.

  19. Cantor says:

    It’s a shame that the National Catholic Committee on Scouting has fumbled their response. (http://www.nccs-bsa.org/pdf/letters/NCCS%20Statement-150727.pdf)

    They are correct that the Boy Scouts have indicated that individual units may select their own leadership in accordance with their rules. But they ignore completely that the leaders of summer camps, jamborees, Philmont crews, etc., will not be screened accordingly.

    Keep in mind that this is NOT about protection against molestation – the Church and Scouting are in lockstep on that issue. But it IS about forming boys into young men. Leading the Church’s youth is a full time occupation, and seems no longer to coincide with Scouting. It’s a shame.

    Let’s pray that this Bishop becomes only the first of many to take action.

  20. Benedict Joseph says:

    Bishop Kagan has made a clarion call for morality and fidelity that, even in our Church, will be looked upon with disdain. No ambiguity here. This is a bishop with fortitude. God reward him

  21. Papabile says:

    Scouting was transformative for me. What I learn there, the men who taught me, and the peers who became friends are with me to this day .

    I have 44. Two of my seven children the boys. The first was literally begging me to join scouts. I’m heartbroken over this.

    Over the years, I have collected literally boxes of awards for work, civic activities, and other things. They all go in boxes and get thrown out about once every five years. They really aren’t worth much to me. I do put one award on my resume. Eagle Scout.

    That one award, still gets recognition . It meant something, and it still means something. And now, my sons will never have the chance to experience the same thing I did. There is a lot good about these other organizations. But they are not as embedded in our culture as Boy Scouts. And they will not be recognized the same way.

    I have signed my oldest up for trail life.

    It’s sad, and it’s all because of goose-stepping homosexuals and Bob Gates. He is so damn typical of the technocrats here in DC.

  22. Chris Garton-Zavesky says:

    Here’s a title for someone:

    Bishop Kagan vs. Justice Kagan: a study in contrast.

    I’m so thrilled about the actions of Bishop Kagan.

    We disaffiliated ourselves from Boy Scouts as my eldest son was about to begin his Eagle project. Hard at one level, but not really at another.

  23. As an Eagle Scout, a member of the Order of the Arrow (essentially Scouting’s honor roll), and a local Scout Commissioner for the last eleven years, I’ve been watching events with no small amount of concern. This latest decision surprises me only for its haste, but not its eventuality.

    Two years ago, when restrictions on the basis of sexual orientation were lifted for youth, it was suggested that, benignly interpreted, this might not be a problem. Granted, many children in the pre- and early-adolescent years suffer from identity issues, at times in the area of psycho-sexual maturity. But there was more to the new policy than that, and those who were in denial (including, I’m sorry to say, some of the leadership of the National Catholic Committee on Scouting), expected it to go no farther. Indeed, upon becoming National President of the BSA, Dr Robert Gates insisted he would not revisit the issue during his term. One year later, he insisted on revisiting it, not just later in the year, but by this summer, citing not only the changing times, but the mounting pressure from legal challenges, not only by volunteers, but by job applicants in states with anti-discrimination laws, and once-supportive corporate foundations with anti-discrimation policies.

    With little in the way of consultation from the rank-and-file, the vote by the National Executive Board last month was overwhelmingly in favor of the change, and effective immediately. Religious institutions could still select leaders on the basis of their own moral tenets, but the units they sponsor do not exist in a vacuum, not all Catholic boys can find a Catholic-sponsored troop nearby, and “Family Life” is one of the required merit badges for Eagle.

    You see where this could go, right?

    I’ve spent the last two years being a pain in the neck at meetings, warning my colleagues that their indifference would kill the very movement they thought they were saving. I could tell them “I told you so,” but they still wouldn’t believe it, and it still wouldn’t heal a broken heart.

    It certainly hasn’t helped that for the past two years, Catholic leaders involved in Scouting have maintained that the policy concerning youth did not violate Catholic teaching as long as no open sexual activity was involved. (They’re still saying it now with respect to adults, but not without reservations.) On top of that, adult volunteers who attend seminars listen to their intelligence being insulted: “The mission has not changed, the mission has not changed …”

    Had we not buried our heads in the sand, there might have been alternatives.

    Catholic units could have organized a certain degree of separation, much as what was proposed when the BSA was founded in 1910 with the support of the very Protestant (and hence very anti-Catholic) YMCA. Catholic-sponsored units would be formed for Catholic boys, under the guidance of Catholic chaplains. Indeed, up to now, units of the Mormon Church (where it is a required priesthood formation program for boys 11-15) have long operated more or less independently. With numbers amounting to 16 to 18 percent of the youth membership, they were a force to be reckoned with.

    (Now, even the Mormons were caught by surprise, and are already considering pulling out of the BSA, in favor of their own boys’ movement on an international scale.)

    The other alternative could have gone a step farther, as many Scout associations in Europe are organized as “federations,” with semi-autonomous associations divided along ethnic or sectarian lines. (Switzerland’s has separate associations for French-, German-, and Italian-speaking Scouts. Israel’s has seven separate associations; for Jews, Christians, Arabs, Druze, Orthodox, and so on.) Under those circumstances, differences of religious beliefs and cultural norms are simply not fodder for conflict, and a world brotherhood of more than a century continues to flourish.

    But it may be too late for the BSA. Between some trying too hard to make nice, and (I say this somewhat guardedly) others giving up the fight too early, we are seeing the end of the Boy Scouts of America as an influence on the fabric of American life. From 1999 to 2012, they lost 22 percent of their youth membership. In the two years that followed, they lost just over half that much more. If the Mormons pull out, and other disaffected parties follow, the BSA could lose as much as 25 to 30 percent MORE of its youth membership in one to two years.

    They’ll tell you it’s because they increased the membership dues. They’ll tell you anything. What they won’t tell you, is what they don’t want to admit to themselves.

    In the end, I never left Scouting; Scouting left me.

  24. Elizabeth D says:

    There is a Federation of North American Explorers group in my town (Madison, WI) and I asked about what they were when a troop of them showed up at the Saturday morning Mass I usually attend. I was very impressed, and they have really awesome uniforms. I would love to see a lot more of these.

  25. frjim4321 says:

    BSA bungled this horribly and I don’t think they will ever recover.

    I think the prelate is correct in that the bishops and pastors aren’t adequately protected legally if they try to impose limitations on the leadership of packs, troops and units.

    I’ve had contact with scouting at many parishes and I have never seen a pastor get involved in the selection of leaders.

    The BSA has done a pretty good job (not perfect, and not as good as the church) bringing awareness of sexual abuse and has policies in place (always two adults when with scouts) to protect children and teens.

    Sexual activity of any kind is not permitted during scouting activities and the policies ensure that it won’t happen. So I think all the concern about gay scouts and gay leaders is a bit silly.

  26. Papabile says:

    Here is where BSA really screwed the pooch. They were explicitly asked by e Mormon elders to put their vote off for two weeks, because that is the time of year they take family vacation. They held it anyway while they were Hon. Result? They were deeply offended by that and insulted. They were not necessarily going to lose the Mormons, because of th e religious exemption. But when they did that, it seemed their fate.

  27. L. says:

    I have truly tried to do so, but cannot imagine my Bishop issuing such a useful pastoral letter. He does issue pastoral letters, but for no apparent purpose. The first talked about health and health care, and was his first. He’s not from our semi-southern diocese, with citizens often reported to have unhealthy lifestyles. What I got from it was that our new Ordinary ( obviously not from here! ) thought his new subjects were too fat and smoked too much. Also, I thought that “a church that heals” should refer to spiritual healing, which is the church’s business instead of the phrase being misappropriated to refer to good health practices. So, I happily referred to it as “A Church of Heels” and used it to tease Men’s Club members that we needed to ditch the sausage, egg, and cheese biscuits at our Saturday morning meetings and have oatmeal instead lest we offend the folks in the chancery.

  28. Scott W. says:

    I have truly tried to do so, but cannot imagine my Bishop issuing such a useful pastoral letter. He does issue pastoral letters, but for no apparent purpose.

    He might change his tune when one of his troop-sponsoring parishes is looking down the barrel of a lawsuit because it’s his diocese on the hook.

  29. Cantor says:

    frjim – It’s customary for the sponsoring organization to appoint an individual to the role of “Institutional Representative” who is the official rep between Scouts and the Church. He/she signs the leadership applications. But a modern pastor who doesn’t know/approve who’s leading his youth groups is an idiot, and is failing to live up to his Virtus responsibilities. (I would like to know what is missing from the Scouting youth protection program that is part of the Church’s, by the way.)

    Scott W. – Most likely already on the way. Catholic schools are under fire for dismissing teachers who fail to live up to Church standards, and court rulings seem to indicate a tendency towards “it’s only permitted if the individual is an actual religious minister.” The Mormons might be covered, since their Scout leaders are indeed ‘called’ to that ministry. Catholics will most likely not be.

  30. Margaret says:

    Papabile, that’s a fascinating, and *very* telling tidbit about the timing vis a vis the Mormons. Really, I just think at the national level, the BSA has become all about pleasing the crowd, and not wanting to upset their corporate $ponsor$. That “morally straight” stuff is so last century, anyway… Such a pity.

  31. tzard says:

    I’m currently a scout leader – and there are unsaid problems:
    1) The BSA statement says that groups can still choose their own leaders, but out of other side of their mouth they say the decision can’t be based on homosexuality (unless it’s a strictly religious chartered organization – I’m with the Bishop – it’s not clear that a religious school would pass muster).

    Going to camp? The camp staff can be homosexual or “gay married”. District and council leaders? Camporee staff? Merit Badge Counselors? Other troops’ leaders?

    2) Fr. Jim’s statement about sexuality being prohibited so this is “silly” is a bit blind. Now that “gay marriage” is legal. You’re going to have to allow men who hold hands or kiss their “other” – and even just describe them as their “husband” to the scouts. The environment in scouting is no longer safe from indoctrination.

    This is not the “don’t ask don’t tell” of before, it’s “I’m allowed to label myself in a sexual way”. How can this be innocuous? It’s sexualizing boy scouting.

    (And the national organization has no bedrock to base their morals upon – nothing to define what’s a good male role model. It’s fluid – and the national leaders are born politicians, being captains of industry and coming from Washington – they just want to please those with the money. )

    3) If you read the news, there’s some people who are decrying this move – because it doesn’t go enough. There’s still a push to remove religious organizations’ exemption, and even remove such organizations completely. They want religion to be relegated to freedom of worship, not religion. Sound familiar?

  32. jflare says:

    I’m forced to agree with those who consider this a tragic, but needed, step. I’m also forced to agree that this situation has been, tragically, on it’s way for some time. I truly loved being a Boy Scout myself and, like others, earned my Eagle rank. Unfortunately, even then I was beginning to see some little baby cracks forming in the wall of the Scouting movement. By the time I began volunteering as an adult several years later, the cracks were growing wider. By the time I returned here to the ‘States in 2005, I mostly gave up. I simply couldn’t justify giving my time and effort to an organization that allowed for so little to be gained, while also requiring people to incur so much personal risk (of lawsuits). Between women who couldn’t stand the idea that Boy Scouts might be best led by men, the legal malarky related to trying to prevent sexual abuse or protecting people from others’ deceit, and the idiocy of the programs that split the older and younger boys away from each other, Boy Scouting has been eating away at itself for some time.

    I do think these decisions to allow for openly gay scouts and now openly gay scout leaders may well be the final straw that breaks the BSA.
    VERY SAD.

    I’m quite relieved though, at seeing that at least one bishop has the nerve to state that enough is enough. Would that they would all have that kind of courage.
    If I ever find the time, I intend to volunteer with a Troop of St George in this area.
    (Legal BS and all….*sighs*)

  33. Papabile wrote:

    “They were explicitly asked by e Mormon elders to put their vote off for two weeks, because that is the time of year they take family vacation. They held it anyway while they were Hon. Result? They were deeply offended by that and insulted. “

    Please don’t tell us they were surprised. They shouldn’t have been.

    The worst kept secret among adult volunteers in Scouting is the disproportionate influence of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints on the BSA. They amount to 16 to 18 percent of the youth membership. Every Mormon boy in America between the ages of 11 and 15 is automatically a Boy Scout, as it is used for their Aaronic priesthood formation program, and their individual registration fees are all paid for up front by the headquarters in Salt Lake City. The so-called “New Scout Patrol” is based on the separation of 11-year-olds in LDS units. The “Varsity Scout” program’s participants are almost entirely sponsored by Mormon congregations. In some cities, they as a church are the most generous contributors to the organization as a whole.

    The vote two years ago concerning youth membership would never have gone as it did had Mormon leaders not agreed to support it. And now they’re SOOOO shocked that making a deal with the devil didn’t turn out as they expected.

    Meanwhile, their plan to convert to a priesthood training program on an international scale has been on the drawing board for years, which brings us to what may be the real reason for delaying the vote. Knowing it was going to happen, they wanted to be ready for it, as early as the first of next year!

    The prospect of losing as many youth in one year as in the previous fifteen could devastate the organization. Top executive officials at their Irving, Texas headquarters have been laying off staff at the local and national levels. They can also say goodbye to their high-six-figure salaries, some of the highest for any non-profit in the nation. (The previous CEO was a self-made millionaire who pulled in $1.2 million one year. And — surprise, surprise — he was a Mormon.) Dissing the Mormons was the biggest mistake the BSA could have possibly made, and all to enhance their public profile among people who still won’t be satisfied, and to keep getting corporate donations (which they could still lose for any one of a number of reasons). But the real mistake was that of the Mormons, and any other religious confession whose leaders were invested in Scouting, for giving any sanction whatsoever to this Faustian bargain to begin with.

    The moral of the story: Even in Salt Lake City, if you lie down with dogs, you wake up with fleas.

  34. frjim4321 says:

    Cantor, I have not had any scout involvement since the charter was adopted so I really haven’t seen how the relationship between parish and troops work … usually it’s just come down to letting out some space and that’s it.

  35. KateD says:

    God Bless Bishop Kagan!

  36. Imrahil says:

    The time for Reinsurance Treaties and managing day by day through utterly unstable compromises is over. The Culture Fight is about to begin. We Catholics are utterly unsaturated.

    (Sorry, I had to. I also can’t help feeling that Windthorst, Texas, would be a more fitting name for a diocese – just going by the name…)

  37. pfreddys says:

    So sad how things have become so bad so fast. Some of the nicest memories I have of growing up were in the scouts, which was sponsored by our local parish.
    My hats off to Bishop Kagan for what I am sure was a vexing decision.
    I am surprised that the scout law hasn’t been reworked especially where it says “…to keep myself…..morally straight.”

  38. Theodore says:

    I’m and Eagle Scout and Order of the Arrow holder as well. When I was a kid one of the assistant scoutmasters tried to go “pinch and tickle” with one of the other kids. The fathers found out about it and had basically a Code Red discussion with the person – this was in the early 1960s. Since this was an LDS troop the fellow was then excommunicated.

    What amazes me with the present situation is that the BSA gave away its legal position on excluding homosexuals which given to it by the US Supreme Court in the Dale decision.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boy_Scouts_of_America_v._Dale

    It’s sad that things have evolved to the point where Gramsci now has more influence than Ld Baden-Powell and Frederick Russell Burnham on the Scouting.

  39. flare, frjim4321: If the good Father will permit this, please contact me privately.

  40. Joel says:

    Huzzah for the Bishop Kagan!

  41. IoannesPetrus says:

    I don’t know much about scouting, but maybe it won’t be remiss to pray that members now unaffiliated to the Diocese would all leave the Association and press their pastors/principals to establish troops in the alternatives?

  42. chantgirl says:

    Buckle up.

    http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2015/08/06/gay-scout-leader-rejected-ky-parish/31200973/

    Let the litigation begin. Even if the parish or archdiocese wins, a lot of time and money will be tied up with this nonsense. The man in question was involved in activism around the recent SCOTUS gay “marriage” ruling, so I see lawsuits in the near future.

  43. SKAY says:

    pfreddys said-
    “I am surprised that the scout law hasn’t been reworked especially where it says “…to keep myself…..morally straight.”
    My exact thoughts.

    After reading several articles written after the decision including interviews with men( who
    were scouts as boys and are now adult homosexuals) who are thrilled with this decision and plan to now get involved with scouts again, it occurred to me that I always thought the Boy Scouts were supposed to be about the BOYS and what would be good for THEM–not the wants and desires of grown men.

    When there are lawsuits I hope all of those large corporations who threatened the Boy Scouts with withholding their donations unless they changed their policy will be included in all of the suits.

    Bishop Kagan cares about his sheep–especially the lambs.

  44. chantgirl:

    The BSA has assured its shareholders that their legal counsel will defend the rights of franchise holders (that is, those institutions that hold BSA charters and sponsor units) according to the national membership policy, and their rights as religious institutions with established tenets of belief. (More than one attorney familiar with the issue has confirmed this assessment for my benefit.) The issue that many are having, is less with the binding nature of such an agreement, and more with the trust that the BSA will maintain a coherent policy long enough, for such a defense to be worthwhile in the end, even with a victory.

    To put it another way, the issue is less of whether BSA has been lying, and more of anyone knowing whether to believe them.

  45. Cantor says:

    With apologies to Mr. Lincoln…

    Now we are engaged in a great social war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure.

  46. Suudy says:

    ” I regret my decision but …”

    Minor quibble. He made the right decision. There should be nothing to regret. I get what he meant, but this phrasing implies that he had an alternative. Better to say something like “I regret that the BSA has made such a policy change leading to my decision …” (and replace ‘but’ with a better conjunction, perhaps ‘so’ or ‘thus’).

  47. Saudy:

    “Minor quibble. He made the right decision. There should be nothing to regret.”

    Even with a good decision, there can be something to regret. “If only, if only …”

    If you ever spent any time in Scouting, if that experience had any meaning to you at all, you would know why such a decision is not made lightly. As my earlier comments have suggested, there were alternatives, and perhaps there still are. But so many of those priests and bishops involved in ministry to Scouting in America, have spent the last two years denying that there was a problem to begin with. (Don’t believe me? Go to the NCCS Facebook page and scroll down the timeline.) That was time wasted, heads buried in the sand, until one of them finally got tired of one of his other confreres to do something (and from much of my correspondence on this matter, I fear that’s what many of them were doing), and decided to do something himself.

    Maybe the good bishop could have deliberated, maybe not. Maybe he has already tried, in which case it’s not hard to guess the response. And as General Patton once observed: “A good plan executed now is better than a great plan executed next week.”

    And the battle for the souls of men rages on.

  48. TheDude05 says:

    I’m an Eagle Scout and Brotherhood member in the OA and this does depress me. When they made the move for gay youth, I thought it might be a good thing, expose them to manly activities and pursuits and moral clarity maybe it would help them, but this is disastrous. I’m extremely saddened that if the Lord grants me a son this is something we won’t be able to share.

  49. gatormom says:

    Suudy

    I so cringed when I read that ” I regret my decision but…” Glad he takes this position but I regret he had to add that.

  50. Thorfinn says:

    The Troops of St George is a valid alternative, but it is not and does not claim to be a Scouting group based on the principles of Lord Baden-Powell, as the Explorers & Trail Life are.

  51. jflare says:

    “The worst kept secret among adult volunteers in Scouting is the disproportionate influence of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints on the BSA.”

    That’s a rather interesting revelation for me, I must say. I don’t recall ever hearing much about what organizations might have an influence. As I consider it though, that’s not surprising: I spent almost half of the first 8 years of my adult life (outside college) overseas; I rarely had contact with Scouting above the Troop Committee level. …It took me until about halfway through my second tour–here in the ‘States–before I even realized that attending committee meetings would be wise to have an influence on the troop’s direction. I never did get involved with District or Council goings-on. Maybe I should have, though that would’ve been quite difficult overseas, I think.

    “Sexual activity of any kind is not permitted during scouting activities and the policies ensure that it won’t happen. So I think all the concern about gay scouts and gay leaders is a bit silly.”

    Yeeeaaaaahhhh, that’s what I would’ve thought up to 10 years ago. Trouble is, I have yet to meet a self-described gay person who will not eventually focus in on sexuality for one reason or another. Then again, I remember the debates back in the 90’s about whether women ought to be allowed to be Scoutmasters. I couldn’t believe my ears when I began hearing women insist that there was no special characteristic about being a man that made a difference when providing mentorship to young men. I expect the same mentality will be presented by active homosexuals eventually. This will not be good for aiding young men to grow in moral fervor.

    “The Troops of St George is a valid alternative, but it is not and does not claim to be a Scouting group based on the principles of Lord Baden-Powell, as the Explorers & Trail Life are.”

    Do you refer to these as derivatives of Boy Scouting, Thorfinn? At one time, there were such activities as Explorers in the BSA. It was co-ed, aimed more at slightly older teens.
    As far as being based on Lord Baden-Powell’s principles, I’m convinced that being different from his ideas might be a good thing, really. From reading his biography, I was surprised–and displeased–to learn that people had suggested a greater emphasis on reverence early on, but he had chosen greater emphasis on, well, common ideas, I guess. Scouting, as I knew it, did bear the marks of a Protestant founding. I think it a very good thing for a Catholic-based organization to have similar ideas, but to be more explicitly Catholic. Quasi-ecumenism never did bring more boys or men to greater faith for my purposes.

    “flare, frjim4321: If the good Father will permit this, please contact me privately.”
    I’m assuming that was aimed partly at me. I’m not honestly sure of how to do that.

  52. The Masked Chicken says:

    “What amazes me with the present situation is that the BSA gave away its legal position on excluding homosexuals which given to it by the US Supreme Court in the Dale decision.”

    Some days the Supreme Court is more Supreme than in other days.

    The Chicken

  53. Peregrinator says:

    Do you refer to these as derivatives of Boy Scouting, Thorfinn? At one time, there were such activities as Explorers in the BSA. It was co-ed, aimed more at slightly older teens.
    As far as being based on Lord Baden-Powell’s principles, I’m convinced that being different from his ideas might be a good thing, really. From reading his biography, I was surprised–and displeased–to learn that people had suggested a greater emphasis on reverence early on, but he had chosen greater emphasis on, well, common ideas, I guess. Scouting, as I knew it, did bear the marks of a Protestant founding. I think it a very good thing for a Catholic-based organization to have similar ideas, but to be more explicitly Catholic. Quasi-ecumenism never did bring more boys or men to greater faith for my purposes.

    Thorfinn is, I think, referring to the Federation of North-American Explorers, whose program is based on the work of Lord Baden-Powell — as implemented by Fr. Jacques Sevin, S.J. (now Ven. Jacques Sevin).

    I think Lord Baden-Powell wanted to focus more on what unites us rather than what divides us, but for historical reasons this wasn’t possible in Europe in the early years of the 20th century where countries that were strongly Catholic were ruled by anti-Catholic, anti-clerical governments. So France, Belgium, and Italy started scouting associations that were specifically Catholic — interestingly enough, with Lord Baden-Powell’s support. In fact he even allowed his name to be used by the Belgian Catholic scouting association; they were known as the Baden-Powell Boy Scouts.

    Of course in our present day we see similar kinds of governments and, worse yet, society itself seems rather anti-Catholic, so perhaps the time for a national scouting association meant to appeal to everybody has come and gone. Maybe we need to adopt the European model of scouting divided by religious lines instead.

    And it’s true that Baden-Powell wasn’t right about everything, but he was a great man who had many insights about youth. I am struck sometimes how similar his views on education were to those of another great man — St. John Bosco. So to reject Baden-Powell’s principles in toto is not a good plan — especially seeing as how scouting has been explicitly praised by every Pope since Pius XI.

  54. “I’m assuming that was aimed partly at me. I’m not honestly sure of how to do that.”

    Again, with the good Father’s permission, yes, I was referring to you and the other commenter. My username is linked to my website (whereas yours is not linked to anything, or I would have saved others their indulgence). My website has a link to my email address. That is how to do that.

    If it will make it easier, I make no attempt to hide it, and it’s “manwithblackhat at yahoo dot com.” You and frjim4321, do stay in touch.

  55. Stephen Matthew says:

    This entire situation is a highly unfortunate mess. Prayer, careful discernment, and consultation with others who are well informed is advisable before making any sudden decisions for or against BSA. The secular press is once again not quite accurately covering the story. It is extra unfortunate that the bishops are not going to manage a unified and coherent response.

    BSA was probably incorrect in their legal reasoning that motivated this change. Bp. Kagan is probably also incorrect (legally speaking, morally it is within his rights) to dismiss the local option so easily. However, there isn’t any way to know either of those things without testing it in court, and that is expensive, even though BSA has agreed to defend and indemnify religious organizations in case of legal challenge.

    Interestingly the Holy Father sent a letter of this past week to the World Scout Jamboree in Japan, it had a rather supportive and congratulatory tone for the youth involved in Scouting, and thus far everything out of the Holy See seems to indicate continued support for Scouting.

    In Europe they already went this way years ago, and all went co-ed as well. I have some experience with international exchange troops, and it was a rather interesting thing, very different understanding of modesty among other cultural/moral differences.

    Scouting is going to continue, and there will be (barring a top level decision to the contrary) Catholic youth in Scouting. From my point of view, I think perhaps (I remain not fully decided) we are better off having those Catholic youth in a Catholic chartered troop, pack, or crew. Otherwise they are probably going to be in one chartered to a liberal Methodist (or other old main line Protestant) church, just the sort of place where this policy change is likely to actually show up on the local level in the form of a homosexual leader. I think we can still keep the faith, run our troops the right way, and do the right thing for the youth.

    Now if the local option fails to work, then obviously there is no hope for there to be Catholic Scouting. So long as there is local option, and so long as BSA stays completely silent on sexuality issues in its literature for the boys, I think there may still be room to make a go of it for Catholic Scouting. As it is, consider the BSA program much like an off the shelf kit you might use in a classroom. Use it in the right way and it doesn’t matter if the employees working in the distribution center are homosexual or heterosexual or asexual. The trouble is most Catholic chartered troops are only nominally Catholic to begin with, the parish doesn’t exercise any real leadership or oversight, and it is treated as an outside group being given free meeting space. The right way to do Catholic Scouting is treat it as an integral youth ministry program, or even as a youth ministry outreach to the broader community to positively influence youth.

    Likewise, consider the alternatives to Scouting, not just from a parish ministry point of view, but from the point of view of the boy and family. The competing organizations are sports, FFA, 4H, YMCA, Boys and Girls Club, Campfire, and many others, all of which have long held to a non-discrimination policy and are essentially completely secular, too.

    Consider also, if you form an alternative organization at your parish, what happens when you go to camp at the National/State Park?
    You may interact with staff who are homosexual.
    What happens if you go to the local shooting range?
    You may interact with staff/members who are homosexual.
    In other words you would enjoy no more insulation from potential homosexuals than the BSA local option provides, because as soon as you use any sort of public facility, guide service, or anything of the sort necessary to conduct outdoor adventure, you are dealing with places that are fully covered by non-discrimination rules.

    Now if the US Catholic Bishops actually had some sense, unity, and initiative, I think what they should do is this: get the USCCB (or NCCS, or NFCYM) to offer to license the Scouting brand, literature, etc. from BSA and then offer a Catholic alternative Scout program. There isn’t anything inherently wrong with any of the basic elements of the program, and it would be simpler and cheaper to work out a national licensing agreement rather than try to recreate all that, even if we do want to tweak a few things here and there.

    The National Catholic Committee on Scouting will never be a source of clear guidance on anything like this, because that isn’t its job. Its job is to maintain positive relations with the BSA on behalf of the USCCB. It is also supposed to design and implement a program of religious instruction and awards for Catholic Scouts in BSA. The NCCS has no authority to set policy or make a top level decision to terminate the relationship with BSA. Nor does it have the authority to recognize other organizations as valid scouting alternatives, it is specifically charged with the relationship with BSA only. This has made the NCCS a very week voice in these debates, it was hamstrung by its mandate from the bishops. Another thing that undercut any Catholic position is the routine failure of Charter Organization Representatives at Catholic institutions to do their jobs in Scouting. Charter Organization Representatives (from each individual parish, KC council, etc.) are basically the stockholders in BSA (appointed by the pastor or Institutional Head to speak and act on his behalf), and by routinely failing to show up to vote in the annual business meetings, and take their seats on the District Committees, they let this happen. Read all NCCS statements with that understanding.

    Any other scout like group falls under the auspices of the National Federation of Catholic Youth Ministry, which operates the the National Catholic Committee on Girls Scouts and Campfire, which has religious emblems programs for all youth programs other than BSA. There have been attempts to merge the two committees, but the culture of BSA tends conservative while the culture of NFCYM and Girl Scouts tends liberal.

    For alternatives to BSA, I suggest looking into the Federation of North American Explorers as your best Catholic scouting option (just can’t call it Scouting). Troops of Saint George I would place second, but it more or less limits leaders to the fathers of the boys which can cause some problems. Trail Life USA is very scout like and very Christian, uses a BSA like organizational model, but it is Evangelical dominated and its statement of faith is rather Evangelical flavored, though one of its top national officials is Catholic (Trail Life doesn’t explicitly refuse homosexuals so long as they accept the Christian faith and live according to Christian morality from what I understand).

    Fr. Z. sometimes suggests being the insurgents, the rebels within, so to speak. Is this a situation where that model could still apply? Can a Catholic Scout leader remain involved and hope to be a force for good from within? Or is it too far gone and necessary to surrender? If so, how many of the intermediary institutions must we give up? Won’t we need friends and allies in those intermediary institutions if a Catholic/Christian/moral resurgence is ever to win?

  56. jflare says:

    “The National Catholic Committee on Scouting will never be a source of clear guidance on anything like this, because that isn’t its job. Its job is to maintain positive relations with the BSA on behalf of the USCCB.”

    Seems to me this statement might encapsulate the problem quite well.
    I consider a Catholic bishop to be one who has primary responsibility to teach the faith to his flock, to provide correction for those who’re seriously erring or deviating from that faith, to set standards for the flock and provide a good example of living out the faith. ..And to either set up or advise those organizations which have the same idea. To me, this statement declares a different role for bishops and their organizations. It seems to imply that collaborating with the BSA isn’t intended so much as an advice role, but rather to persuade someone that Catholics aren’t ignorant, knuckle-dragging apes. Perhaps that’s an overly severe appraisal, but that’s the gist of what this kind of statement usually means or implies.

    “I am struck sometimes how similar his views on education were to those of another great man — St. John Bosco. So to reject Baden-Powell’s principles in toto is not a good plan — especially seeing as how scouting has been explicitly praised by every Pope since Pius XI.”

    Peregrinator, I have wondered on many occasions if Baden-Powell would necessarily easily recognize the movement that he’s known for having founded. Between New Scout patrols, Leadership patrols, Merit Badge Universities, and a host of other ideas, I have begun to consider that Scouting has become something very different from the program that I knew and loved.

    Then again, I’m not sure if most of us know what Baden-Powell’s views actually were. When reading through his biography, I got the distinct impression that he might not have recognized even the program that I knew.

    ” If so, how many of the intermediary institutions must we give up? Won’t we need friends and allies in those intermediary institutions if a Catholic/Christian/moral resurgence is ever to win?”

    Perhaps I’m simply revealing a serious lack of knowledge here, but what sort of intermediary institutions would we need to surrender? What friendships and allies do we need to surrender if we intend for a Catholic resurgence to win?
    I find this statement puzzling in particular because, while Catholics have always exercised some degree of influence on the nation, I can’t think of any occasion in American history when Catholic doctrine has ever been a dominant concern, either in law or in general culture.

    I find that I’m relieved by this particular bishop’s move. Where the BSA has caved already on women as Scoutmasters, openly gay boys as Scouts, and now seems determined to allow for openly gay adult leaders, I don’t believe it makes sense to insist that local troops will sustain the option to say no to those who wish to volunteer. This letter on the part of this bishop seems to me to acknowledge that fact of life.
    I think he’s doing this as a means to keep his flock from being allowed to head too far down a mine-ridden path.

  57. Kathleen10 says:

    I was a Brownie and then a Girl Scout. I was not involved to the same depth so many here have been, but I remember that blue handbook as one I read again and again. What a super influence Scouting was! Thanks to all for insightful comments about this.
    The decisions made by BSA were bound to cause angst for people who’s young men were Eagle Scouts or involved in scouting. I have been, and am, very sad for anyone for whom scouting played such an important role in their life. This has to be so painful and conflicting, especially if you wanted your boys to participate. The BSA chose the easiest route and the one most likely to make them popular with the homosexualist tyrants and their millionaire supporters.

    My only reason for chiming on this is this point.
    Pederasty is a real disorder, and this sick predilection for young boys and men is going to cause havoc for so many of them, simply because adults will no longer protect them from it as well as they once did by shutting the door on opportunities such as openly gay scoutmasters.

    I’m not talking about theory, I’m talking about reality.
    I have a seven year old male relative who was molested by a teenage boy. It happened a few times and finally, blessedly, he told his parent.
    The pain, the confusion, the problems with sexual identity, were inflicted on this little boy, at a point in his life when he was most vulnerable. He needed extensive counseling, and in fact, it impacted his later marriage to the point that the couple eventually divorced.

    I would encourage, and implore, anyone involved in scouting to please remove their child from the organization. Pederasty is a relentless, obsessive, and diabolical fascination for some and because of the decisions of the BSA, they have ensured there will be an increase in sexual activity between boys and men in their ranks. I cannot believe frjim would imagine that any “rule” would prohibit such homosexual contact, since I’m sure the Catholic church and faith would have “rules” and yet we know that 81% of the victims of sexual abuse were post-adolescent males between the ages of about 10 to 17 years, as determined by the credible and USCCB requested John Jay study.

    To allow exposure and contact between grown men OR TEENAGE BOYS with such inclinations is to put your boy in a very dangerous situation. Boys, with raging hormones, are going to act on those urges, and believe me, the damage is devastating. Put your children’s wellbeing ahead of even a much loved organization, that has morphed into just another group that puts PC ahead of what is sensible and right.
    There is a sick mantra among some homosexualists. “If it’s not by eight, it’s too late.” Children need protection, and parents need to put their safety ahead of any other consideration. Keep your eyes on your boys and who is with them. Not only do you want to prevent actual contact, surely, but you want to keep them from what is obviously a morally confused organization. The point about Rainbow badges makes the point. The bad now outweighs the good.

  58. Imrahil says:

    Btw. (slightly related),

    there is an order in the Catholic Church that is entirely the offspring of a Catholic scouting organization, the Servi Jesu et Mariae.

  59. Ben Kenobi says:

    “Bp. Kagan is probably also incorrect (legally speaking, morally it is within his rights) to dismiss the local option so easily”

    Former boy scout here, have my 10 year service bar but not the Eagle. Nope. The debate when I was there was over whether women could lead troops. This is hardly a surprise. This is the natural consequence of the preposition that male formation is not only unnecessary but contrary to what the scouts are all about. All the Catholics should be dismissing the local option because it’s a way for the camel to get it’s nose under the tent. What’s stopping the Church from being sued by someone who is a scoutmaster, openly gay and a leader if he’s in charge of a troop? Absolutely nothing. Best to cut that attack off at the pass.

  60. Peregrinator says:

    Peregrinator, I have wondered on many occasions if Baden-Powell would necessarily easily recognize the movement that he’s known for having founded. Between New Scout patrols, Leadership patrols, Merit Badge Universities, and a host of other ideas, I have begun to consider that Scouting has become something very different from the program that I knew and loved.

    Then again, I’m not sure if most of us know what Baden-Powell’s views actually were. When reading through his biography, I got the distinct impression that he might not have recognized even the program that I knew.

    It is true that Baden-Powell thought that the BSA was too bureaucratic, even from the start. Part of that, no doubt, was that the BSA has always had paid executives while B-P intended scouting to be a volunteer movement. And the BSA does seem more militarized than B-P might have liked.

    When you mention his biography, do you mean the one written by Tim Jeal?

  61. Peregrinator says:

    there is an order in the Catholic Church that is entirely the offspring of a Catholic scouting organization, the Servi Jesu et Mariae.

    Yes, the Servi Jesu et Mariae was founded by members of the Katholische Pfadfinderschaft Europas (KPE), which is the German association of the UIGSE-FSE. (The North American association is the Federation of North-American Explorers, or FNE, mentioned by Bp. Kagan in his letter.)

  62. jflare says:

    “When you mention his biography, do you mean the one written by Tim Jeal?”
    No, I don’t think so. I’m referring to the biography purchased from a Scout shop, probably by William Harcourt. I had spotted the book from years before, as a teen. When I bought a copy years later, I thought it’d gone out of print and I’d been lucky to grab one, but I see them available on Amazon now. (I had to toss my copy when I had a bug problem last year.) Too bad I must focus finances on other concerns….

  63. Peregrinator says:

    I’m referring to the biography purchased from a Scout shop, probably by William Harcourt.

    Baden-Powell: The Two Lives of a Hero

  64. That’s William Hillcourt, also known as “Green Bar Bill,” the man who came out of retirement to save the BSA from its previous attempt at “keeping up with the times.” He died in 1992. Who’s gonna come out of retirement this time?