Roman Catholic hierarchy non-committal on gay Scouts ban, takes a 'wait and see' approach

The National Catholic Committee on Scouting released a non-committal statement about the new proposed policy of dropping the ban on gay scouts, but retaining it for gay scout leaders.

The statement offers thanks to the Boy Scouts of America for addressing the ban, and then stresses that the Roman Catholic hierarchy will continue to adhere to Roman Catholic teaching on gay and lesbian people. Essentially, this teaching states that gay and lesbian people are to be respected, but that sexual acts belong only within a straight marriage that can produce children.

The crux of the statement is in this paragraph:

The Catholic Church teaches that those who experience same-sex attraction are always to be treated with dignity and respect. The Church also teaches that sexual acts belong within marriage, and that everyone – young or old, married or single – is called to chastity, through which we grow in our understanding of love. These teachings are especially important for those who serve as role models for young people. Because of this, the Church reserves the right to seek to place those who live by its teachings in leadership positions that serve our youth, as well as the right to continue to call our young people to live by the teachings of our faith and by moral truth which can be known by all.

The statement takes a 'wait and see' approach. The Roman Catholic hierarchy was widely expected to oppose gay and lesbian adult leaders, especially those in loving, committed relationships. However, that isn't surprising, given their own position on gay and lesbian people within the church. They also state they would oppose sexual activity among scouts, which is a point that advocates for inclusion would agree with.

The National Review reported on the statement, and interpreted the statement to say that the Roman Catholic hierarchy will urge delegates to vote against the proposal. However, that is wishful thinking on the National Review's part. The statement includes no directive on how Catholic delegates should vote on the policy change.  It simply states that after May 24, the hierarchy will formulate a response.

The NCCS will respond to the outcome of the May 24th vote according to the truths of our Catholic faith and in conformity with the Church’s teaching.

The other reality is that, even if the hierarchy were to urge people to vote no, everyday Roman Catholic people tend to not follow those sorts of directives on LGBT people. Catholic people are still the most LGBT supportive of any Christian denomination, despite statements and actions from the hierarchy. A recent Washington Post-ABC poll found that 56% of Catholics support dropping the ban completely.

The bottom line is that there is not Catholic hierarchical pressure to keep the ban in place from the hierarchy, and even if there was, those who are voting might not follow such urging anyway.

The Mormon Church, which is the largest sponsor of Scout troops has stated it supports lifting the ban on gay Scouts. Meanwhile, The United Church of Christ, Unitarian Universalist Association, The Episcopal Church, and the National Jewish Committee on Scouting supports lifting the ban on both gay scouts and leader. Various Lutherans, Methodists, and Presbyterians have spoken in favor of lifting the ban on both gay scouts and leaders.

GLAAD is challenging you to speak to 5 people about lifting the Scout's ban on gay Scouts and leaders at your place of worship this weekend. For more information, click here.

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 original 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 For more on GLAAD's work on this campaign, including a timeline of key events,