The Catholic Church, in a letter to Scouts for Equality (SFE), states that it is "hopeful" about the future of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) even if it votes to include openly gay scouts later this week. The Bishop of Charleston, Robert E. Guglielmone, of the National Catholic Committee on Scouting wrote that “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." He states that "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 was written as a response to Eagle Scout Michael Giovanni Finocchario of SFE's request for the church to make a statement of support. While it stops short of supporting a full repeal of the Boy Scouts anti-gay policy, this statement goes further than past statements by the Catholic Church on the issue.
"If the Catholic Church maintains its support for the Boy Scouts even if the BSA no longer bans openly gay teens and parents, it will have taken a giant step towards actually representing its own people on LGBT issues," said Ross Murray, GLAAD's Director of News and Faith Initiatives.
The Catholic Church is one of the nation's largest sponsor of local BSA troops. Parishes have been individiually divided on the issue. According to the Washington Post, 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.
"People made the same predictions at the end of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, and it just didn't happen," said Murray.
The Washington Post adds that "The country’s largest sponsor, the Mormon Church, said in late April that it is comfortable with the proposal."
GLAAD first started calls for the Boy Scouts of America to end its ban on gay scouts and scout leaders in April 2012 after Jennifer Tyrrell, a mom and den leader from Ohio was removed from her 7-year-old’s Cub Scout Pack for being gay. Tyrrell’s orginal Change.org petition has attracted more than 343,000 signatures in support of ending the Boy Scouts’ ban on gay Scouts and leaders. Tyrrell, together with GLAAD, has launched a new petition to urge the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) to completely lift its anti-gay ban on both youth members and adult employees and volunteers. To take action on this issue please visit www.glaad.org/denmother. For more on GLAAD's work on this campaign, including a timeline of key events, visit www.glaad.org/scouts.