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A Statement on The Boy Scouts In The Archdiocese of Cincinnati
Most Reverend Dennis M. Schnurr -- June 20, 2013

The Most Reverend Dennis M. Schnurr, Archbishop of Cincinnati, has released the following statement regarding the recent decision by the Boy Scouts of America to change its policy to state, "No youth may be denied membership in the Boy Scouts of America on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone."

For more than 100 years the Boy Scouts of America has provided a wonderful opportunity for boys and young men to develop character, virtue, and the values of service, community, friendship, leadership, and duty to God. For just as long, Catholic institutions have been willing partners in this noble endeavor as sponsors of Boy Scout troops.

It is my hope, and at this point my expectation, that we in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati can continue partnering with the Boys Scouts of America in the healthy formation of young men. We have long found the Scout program to be a valuable and effective program for our youth.

Regarding sexual orientation, at least two key principles guide us. The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that persons who experience a homosexual inclination are to be treated with respect and dignity and not unjustly discriminated against (#2358). The new Boy Scout policy is compatible with this teaching. The Catechism also teaches that homosexual behavior is wrong (#2357), just as immoral heterosexual behavior is wrong. Boy Scout policy is in accord with this teaching as well, stating elsewhere that "Scouting is a youth program, and any sexual conduct, whether homosexual or heterosexual, by youth of Scouting age is contrary to the virtues of Scouting." There is no prudential reason to believe the Boy Scouts of America and its local troops will act otherwise. However, more study is being carried out by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and others on the practical dimensions of the new policy so that Catholic troop sponsors can forge a common understanding and approach regarding campouts and other specific situations.

In the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, 148 Boy Scout troops with more than 4,000 young members are sponsored by Catholic parishes or organizations. The new policy adopted by the Boy Scouts of America does not provide an obstacle to our continued sponsorship of those troops or of Scouting as long as Catholic principles of morality are followed. I will remain vigilant to this end. I also have asked the priests of this diocese to remain involved and steadfast in the application of Catholic guidance for the troops sponsored by their parishes and Catholic organizations.

Our parishes, schools, and other Catholic entities have always had the right and duty to choose leadership for their units. That remains the case. Catholic-chartered units will continue to select leaders who promote and live Catholic values, and whose lifestyles are consistent with authentic Catholic teaching.

Moreover, I have commissioned the leadership of the Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministry and its Catholic Committee on Scouting to work with the leadership of the local Boy Scout of America councils and other community and Church leaders to formulate a further response so that we may ensure, to the best of our abilities, that every child in the Boy Scouts may continue to find in Scouting the treasured resource that it has been for the last 100 years in developing their God-given gifts and talents.

As Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone, USCCB liaison with the National Catholic Committee on Scouting has pointed out, "We have [in the United States] half a million Catholic Scouts in this program . . . If we pull away, we're going to have Catholic kids in a movement where there is no reflection of their faith. We need to remember that the movement has a lot to offer."


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