(RNS) Paul Sefranek is a lifelong Roman Catholic and a long-serving volunteer in the Boy Scouts of America — two parts of his identity that have always been in harmony.

boy scouts

Boy Scouts of America postage stamp image courtesy Shutterstock.com

Until now.

As the BSA decides this month whether to allow openly gay boys into its program, Sefranek is among those who say the controversial move would cause him to quit the venerable Scouting program.

Sefranek, a former Scoutmaster who currently serves on his local Catholic Committee on Scouting in Peoria, Ill., recently submitted a contingent letter of resignation that will go into effect if and when the Boy Scouts adopt the new proposal.

“Under the proposed policy change, one cannot remain a faithful Catholic and serve as a Catholic BSA leader,” Sefranek said. “The proposed change will only lead to confusing boys as to who they really are.”

The proposal, which would allow gay Scouts but continue to exclude gay adults as leaders, has the unanimous support of Boy Scouts’ top officials, and will be voted on by the group’s 1,400-member national council on May 23.

But lower in the scouting ranks, dissension abounds — particularly among faith-based groups that sponsor more than 70 percent of Boy Scout troops in the country.

Already suffering a long-term membership decline, the Scouts’ proposal is an effort to appeal to younger parents who increasingly support gay rights. But the current two-pronged ban has strong support among existing members and volunteers, many of whom believe accepting gay members will clash with their religious convictions.

The Boy Scouts’ leadership said it considered input from faith-based groups when shaping its policy.

“We believe that this policy remains true to the virtues, the core principles of scouting, not of any one religion, but of Scouting,” said BSA executive committee member Nathan Rosenberg, in a webcast urging support for the plan.

Leaders from the Scouts’ largest faith-based sponsoring organization — the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — have said they will accept the new policy if it is implemented.

But the Scout’s second- and third-largest sponsors — the United Methodist Church and the Roman Catholic Church — have stayed on the sidelines in recent months.

At St. Raymond of Penafort Catholic Church in Springfield, Va., the Rev. John De Celles announced in his church bulletin that the parish troop would end its relationship with the Boy Scouts if membership standards change.

“The new policy, if approved in May, would be a statement that ‘gay is okay,’ and would severely limit (if not completely prohibit) chartering organizations, like St. Raymond’s, from passing on its moral teachings about same-sex attraction and homosexuals,” De Celles wrote.

As many as a quarter of the 273,000 Boy Scouts connected to Catholic-run troops could leave, some leaders estimate. Still, many Catholic parishes welcome the move to allow openly gay scouts into their troops.

“If it changes, that’s fine with us. In fact, I’m hoping they do change it,” said Monsignor Donald Romito of St. John Neumann Catholic Church in Irvine, Calif. “We’re welcoming to everybody, and everybody’s welcome to join the Scouts. It wouldn’t impact our relationship with the troop at all.”

Views of homosexual behavior among Catholics are wide-ranging. A majority — 54 percent — of U.S. Catholics support gay marriage, compared to 47 percent of all Americans, according to a recent Quinnipiac University poll. But Catholic Church teaching calls same-sex attraction “an objective disorder” and condemns homosexual activity as immoral, though it also calls on Catholics to welcome and respect gays and lesbians in their faith communities.

So far, the group dedicated to preserving the church’s relationship with the Boy Scouts — the National Catholic Committee on Scouting — has been vague in its public statements regarding the proposed membership policy.

Other faith-based groups have been much more aggressive in their positions. On May 5, the Washington-based Family Research Council hosted a “Stand With Scouts Sunday” webcast, calling for the preservation of the gay Scout ban. The event, which included a cameo by Texas Gov. Rick Perry, was simulcast at churches around the country.

At St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Richmond, Va., the Rev. Robert Novokowsky watched the program alongside his parish’s troop leaders.

“The proposed changes are such that they will lead inevitably not only to acceptance of open homosexuality but also the tacit approval of that sinful lifestyle,” Novokowsky said. “That’s where compassion must draw a line. We cannot promote something we’ve defined as a sin.”

16 Comments

  1. I have so many questions for those who choose to condemn others for what they view as sin. I don’t agree that it is sin, but please tell me, since you believe it is – should we throw you out of boy scouts because you don’t love your neighbor as yourself? Should we throw your son out of the boy scouts because he played ball on the Sabbath? No? Then – even if you believe it’s sin – why are you excluding these boys from your troop? You should just admit to yourself that you are bigots and you are obsessed with controlling other peoples’ sex lives – which seems just plain perverted.

    • What is wrong with you and the rest of the world homosexual is an abomination to God. It is a neurological disorder. Today’s generation anything goes I mean anything people do not have a sense of what is wrong or right .they find some excuse to tell others that is right when we all know in our conscious it is wrong.

    • Why is it everytime the homosexuals infiltrate an organization ‘bigotry’ is thrown out to intimidate and silence those who reject the sin of sodomy? Ignorance suggests that the differnece between the moral law and the cultural laws is lost to some….. The Boy Scouts never rejected anyone who had homosexual tendencies unless they promoted this disordered orientation and celebrated their sin. If an adulterer flaunted his sin I’m sure he would be asked to leave…. So you’re wrong….

  2. Oh great. Many voices in the BSA and even among American Catholics are trying to work toward change, so all boys can participate and all David Thompson can do is make a wise crack that involves the problem of pedophiles in the Catholic Church. Try to contain your bigotry to private discussions, please.

    The BSA is very much safer than most organizations these days. They also had such crappy people lurking around (and also didn’t know what to do about it at the time and have had cover up in various places etc.). These days, adult leaders can NEVER be even “just down the path” alone with a scout. This heavily reduces the opportunity and draws suspicion to anyone who does display this behavior.

    Try to be informed. There are millions pushing for these changes. Generalizing and making remarks about “their pedophiles” is just as disgusting as excluding boys for their sexual identity. Prejudiced is prejudiced.

    • I think you’re mistaken. Although 60% of the leadership endorsed the demise of the Boy Scouts by allowing openly homosexual youth, the opposite is true of the membership…60% wanted to keep the ban…But let’s address the ad nausea claims of ‘bigotry’….This claim is leveled anytime someone wants to silence those who believe the homosexual infiltration is a reality. Same for ‘exclusion’, intolerance, etc. The Boy Scouts never exluded boys with homosexual tendencies. What the objection is celebrating and normalizing ‘ a disorderd gender identity’…..

  3. “At St. Raymond of Penafort Catholic Church in Springfield, Va., the Rev. John De Celles announced in his church bulletin that the parish troop would end its relationship with the Boy Scouts if membership standards change.At St. Raymond of Penafort Catholic Church in Springfield, Va., the Rev. John De Celles announced in his church bulletin that the parish troop would end its relationship with the Boy Scouts if membership standards change.”

    According to everything I read in the Gospels, I am reading the above as: “Here at the temple in Galilee, Rabbi Jesus (the Christ) announced that he and the temple parish would end its relationship with the Boy Scouts if membership standards change.”

  4. Alex,
    An aspect of loving thy neighbor that is often over looked is the aspect of correction. If your neighbor is sinning against God and he is a Christian it is your obligation to speak to him/her and lead them to repentance. God does not change his values do not change He is eternal, outside of time. What was wrong in the beginning is wrong now and will always be wrong. Correction is the greatest form of love because it is the most difficult. Accepting sinful behavior is rather easy; standing up for the truth typically generates hatred and malice. Why is it so necessary for homosexual movement around the world to thrust themselves into organizations that don’t have the same belief structure as they do and require them to change? What if Christian’s demanded to be involved a homosexual group and demand that group change to accept Christian beliefs. This seems like a very one way street. Have two boys in Scouting and think the program is very good for the development of moral character and leadership but when that comes to an end so will my participation in the Scouts. The Catholic Church, of which I am a member, contains a who spectrum of people most of whom do not appear it is necessary to follow the doctrinal teachings that have been passed down for 2000 yrs. from Christ and His apostles. As you tell by reading the news the Church has been under assault and infiltrated by the homosexual community for decades. Have you ever heard the term “Lavender Mafia?” These folks whether inside or outside the Church lay or ordained do not represent the true teachings of the Church yet they seem to have a majority roll in the Church at this time. The tares have over taken the wheat so to speak, that only means there will be a more intense fire at the end. All we can do in this life is seek and do God’s will and not our own.

    • Sponsorship of the Boy Scouts is not the issue of the BSA vote on gay membership. The issue is not even religion. The issue at the heart of the vote is BRAVERY. A tiny minority of gay people took on the whole world for their freedom and, now that they’re winning, the BSA and religion are quaking. That is not any definition of BRAVERY.For any organization to be afraid of gay people is cowardice — and that is exactly how the American public is assessing it. I was a Sea Scout, and we weren’t afraid of gay sailors because they weren’t afraid of 60-foot seas. Would anybody rather have a quaking believer on your side in the Tempest to come or a brave sinner? I’ll take the latter!

      • How can you say cowardice when it is wrong that is an excuse for scout leaders to teach them a wrong behaviour.and will affect there lives forever.none of you have the to say there are no consequence of that the way you are under influence of a serpent to take over the way you act to mock your creator.do not give me that!

      • Bravery? And freedom to do what? The wages of sin are always death. You cannot be free without respecting yourself and loving your neighbor. And how is it loving your neighbor if you jepardize the state of their soul…Of course, everyone deserves love and respect. But love without truth is empty and meaningless. Afraid of what? I’m afraid that if I don’t speak the truth someone could be in danger of losing the soul and I could be held responsible for not specking out…We love homosexuals more because we worry about their eternal welfare….

    • Your right the world has been more pagan than ever. I to practice my faith as a true catholic unfortunately it is these groups forcing their pagan views on us which of course goes against what God intended for humanity. I have met even some priest even agree this behaviour is okay.we as true Christians know it is an abomination of what God wanted.

  5. Tony Loscalzo

    I have always thought that the priests who molest boys were defying Catholic doctrine as well as the Natural Law. A friend who went through the 3rd year at the seminary in the 70s told me that it was a matter of POLICY to bring homosexuals into the priesthood; so he left. These Catholic priests who are active homosexuals are antinomians and satanic enemies of Christ. Clearly if the leadership of the scouts favors homosexuality, it means preying on the kids even if there is no overt action: Just favoring it is a scandal that may bear fruit in 20 or 30 years.

  6. The article states: “At St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Richmond, Va., the Rev. Robert Novokowsky watched the program alongside his parish’s troop leaders.

    “The proposed changes are such that they will lead inevitably not only to acceptance of open homosexuality but also the tacit approval of that sinful lifestyle,” Novokowsky said. “That’s where compassion must draw a line. We cannot promote something we’ve defined as a sin.”
    The article quotes several prominent Catholics stating that they will no longer support the BSA. Then the article quotes a priest from liberal California.

    Are the Catholics split on this? Not really. Catholics who are actually living and practicing their faith have all decided to cease support of the BSA. Catholics in Name Only in the California, Massachusetts and other liberal enclaves are not Catholics. Their opinions do not reflect actual Catholic teaching.

  7. Did you really have to quote Father De Celles….a priest who once derided “the radical feminist movement” for its efforts “to convince women to think of men as not necessary to their happiness.” (June 19, 2011 parish letter). That same letter further cried foul on society’s “emphasis on financial/economic independence of women.” Oh to still be living in th e1950′s when “Father Knows Best.”

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