Hey, remember when everyone got super excited because the pope said that maybe we shouldn’t be jerks to gay people? Apparently, that supposed “change in tone” hasn’t trickled down yet to St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Altoona, Wisconsin. Even though Troop 90 of the Boy Scouts had been meeting at the church for 20 years, they were told that they needed to meet elsewhere when they changed their policy to abide by the Boy Scouts’ tepid decision to stop discriminating against LGBT youth.
I guess the change was just too icky for the church.
Rev. Derek Sakowski, of St. Mary’s, said he was uncomfortable with the wording in the revised Boy Scouts membership policy that says no youth may be turned away “on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone.”
Sakowski said “sexual preference” is too ambiguous, and he has sought clarification from the national headquarters.
“We want to know if it fits with our Catholic values. If I don’t get a (satisfactory) response, then I can’t renew the charter,” he said, adding that same-sex attraction alone is not considered sinful by the Catholic church.
To be fair, “sexual preference” is a pretty vague term. What if they get some boy who is attracted to a dog? Or a roller coaster? Or a toaster? What are they supposed to do? Treat them with respect? Pssh.
Come on, let’s be real. Same-sex attraction is not a sin, but it has to be what’s giving the priest the willies and making him be a huge jerk.
Banal same-sex attraction hasn’t even come up. Bob Thill, the scoutmaster of Troop 90, recounted an interaction with one of his scouts in the Eau Clair Leader-Telegram:
It’s too bad when children get caught up in such societal debates, Thill said, recalling an unusual exchange he had recently with an 11-year-old in the troop.
First, the boy asked, “Do we have any gay Scouts in our troop?” When Thill responded “no,” the boy asked, “Do we have any gay Scout leaders?” When Thill once again responded “no,” the boy persisted, “Then why doesn’t the church wait until we do before they kick us out?”
Interesting. So it’s not that this particular Boy Scout troop is an actual safe space for LGBT youth. It’s that it might be sometime in the future. Love thy neighbor, indeed.
If I’m honest, I like when groups like the Catholic Church pull stuff like this because it really shows the true colors of the organization. There are a million things the Church could emphasize. This new pope seems really into economic justice. Just think what we could accomplish if parishes across the world shifted focus from hating gay people to helping poor people. Think of all that wasted intellectual energy put into scheming new ways to make the lives of gay people worse. All that brain power could go to, I don’t know, actually helping people.
But no. It’s way more important to make sure LGBT youth know that there is a powerful force that thinks they are a deviant abomination.
I don’t think we’re even dealing with a particularly bigoted priest. St. Mary’s pastoral council recommended cutting ties with the troop.
Good job. I thought that maybe – just maybe – we were starting to see a slow evolution on sexual orientation in the Church, but I guess for the time being, we can expect more of the same.
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