A Roman Catholic committee has urged Catholic churches to keep sponsoring troops despite the Scouts’ decision to permit openly gay leaders.
A Roman Catholic committee that acts as a liaison with the Boy Scouts of America has urged Catholic churches to continue sponsoring Scout troops despite the Scouts’ decision Monday to permit openly gay leaders.
While the group, the National Catholic Committee on Scouting, does not speak officially for the church, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops “defers to them” on issues concerning the Boy Scouts, said Don Clemmer, a spokesman for the influential bishops conference.
The committee’s stance, in a statement issued late Monday, suggests that wholesale defections from the Boy Scouts by religious sponsors are not likely any time soon, despite the markedly more negative response from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which said it would consider severing ties.
The Catholic Committee, which has an office inside the Boy Scout headquarters in Irving, Texas, expressed deep concern about any possible endorsement of sexual behavior outside of traditional marriage. But it praised the assurances of Scout leaders that despite the new policy on openly gay leaders, local church-based units will remain free to select volunteer leaders who share their religious principles.
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“We recognize the increasing need for the Catholic Church to offer scouting as a program of youth ministry,” said the statement, signed by Edward Martin, the group’s national chairman, and Father Michael Hanifin, its national chaplain. Under the new policy, it said, “units will ensure that youth within their faith communities are led by faith-filled role models.”
The Mormon church is the largest single sponsor of Scout units, accounting for 17 percent of all participating youths in 2013. Roman Catholic churches sponsored 10 percent of participants.