Bismarck bishop tells Catholic groups with troops to sever ties with Boy Scouts

by Catholic News Service

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Bishop David D. Kagan of Bismarck told Catholic parishes, schools and institutions they must cut ties with the Boy Scouts of America because of the organization's decision to allow openly gay troop leaders and employees to serve in their ranks at the national level.

He said in an Aug. 3 letter to parishioners that "effective immediately," any Catholic organization connected with the Boy Scouts is "formally disaffiliated" immediately with the Scouting organization.

Kagan wrote that even though the Boy Scouts of America may have a religious organization exception, it "will provide no protection for any of our parishes and/or schools which sponsor troops."

"I regret my decision, but as the chief shepherd of the Diocese of Bismarck, I cannot permit our Catholic institutions to accept and participate directly or indirectly in any organization, which has policies and methods, which contradict the moral teachings of the Catholic Church," the bishop wrote.

Kagan urged sponsors and leaders of Scout troops to consider joining other organizations. For boys he suggested alternatives such as the Federation of North American Explorers, Columbian Squires of the Knights of Columbus and Trail Life USA.

For girls, he suggested American Heritage Girls, the Little Flowers Girls' Club as well as the Federation of North American Explorers.

Although the Girl Scouts of the United States of America has not adopted a formal policy on lesbian leaders, it has maintained that it is nondiscriminatory toward members and adult leaders.

The Boy Scouts of America's executive committee in July voted to lift its long-standing ban on openly gay adult leaders. The organization's National Executive Board later ratified the decision.

In ending the ban the Boy Scouts said church-sponsored troops can set their own requirements for adult leaders, including barring openly gay men from leadership.

Despite that provision, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which is the largest sponsor of Scout troops in the country, said in a statement posted July 27 on its website that it was evaluating its continued association with the Boy Scouts.

"The LDS Church has always welcomed all boys to its Scouting units regardless of sexual orientation. However, the admission of openly gay leaders is inconsistent with the doctrines of the Mormon Church and what have traditionally been the values of the Boy Scouts of America," the church said.

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