Richard W. Rodriguez
Scouts hold signs at the “Save Our Scouts” Prayer Vigil and Rally at the Boy Scouts of America National Headquarters in Irving, Tex., on Feb. 6, 2013. The Boy Scouts of America is asking local leaders from across the country to decide whether its membership policy should be overhauled to allow openly gay boys.
The Catholic Church, one of the country’s largest sponsors of Boy Scout troops, is “hopeful” about remaining with the Scouts — even if its governing board later this week votes to welcome openly gay scouts, a new letter appears to say.
In a May 19 letter to the group Scouts for Equality, Bishop Robert Guglielmone of the National Catholic Committee on Scouting says “with regard to a possible BSA membership change, we will continue to uphold the truths of the Church’s teaching and strive to maintain our ties with the BSA,” Guglielmone wrote. “The Catholic Church in the United States has enjoyed a long and fruitful relationship with the BSA, and I hope that relationship can continue.”
The letter seems to go further than a vague statement from the commitee a few days ago, which simply said the committee was waiting for the results of the vote, which is expected Thursday at the annual meeting of the Scouts’ governing council.
A call and e-mail to the committee weren’t immediately returned Monday evening.
The committee’s letter was in response to an Eagle Scout with Scouts for Equality asking for church support.
Catholic parishes, which are reportedly the third-largest sponsor of troops, seem divided on the issue. The National Catholic Reporter on Monday cited experts predicting that a quarter of the 273,000 Boy Scouts connected to Catholic-run troops could leave. It’s unclear, though, as polls show a majority of self-identified Catholics support equal rights for same-sex couples.
Faith based groups, which charter some 70 percent of Scout troops, have been divided on the proposal to allow openly gay Scouts but not openly gay adult leaders. The country’s largest sponsor, the Mormon Church, said in late April that it is comfortable with the proposal.