Friday, October 5, 2012

The Boy Scouts, the Catechism, and Homosexuality

Miranda Leitsinger for NBC News reported a story about Ryan Anderson, a young man who had completed all the requirements for his Eagle Scout rank but is being denied the achieved honor due to his scoutmaster’s refusal to sign off on the award because Ryan is gay.  The Boy Scouts of America have a policy denying membership in the organization to Gay boys and men.  Ryan has been in scouting since he was six years old—presumably before he (or anyone else) could have identified his sexual orientation. 

Troop 212 in Moraga California to which Ryan belongs is sponsored  by the Moraga Valley Presbyterian Church.  Just across the Bay from San Francisco, Moraga Valley Presbyterian is a member of the Presbyterian Church USA which, like most liberal mainline denominations, is “gay friendly.”  (In looking at their church website and seeing its evangelical tone, I had initially thought that Moraga Valley Presbyterian Church might have been affiliated with the Presbyterian Church in America, a more conservative body, but its ties are with the larger and more liberal group.) 
The reason I bring up the story of Ryan Anderson is that the same day I saw Ms. Leitsinger’s story, one of my regular readers sent me the following paragraph from the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God's will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition. Catechism of the Catholic Church 2358

The Catholic Church has a much more narrow interpretation of sexual morality, and the morality of same-sex relationships in particular, than the Presbyterian Church USA, but it also has a requirement that gays “be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity” and that “every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided.”  What would happen if a gay scout in a Catholic sponsored troop was denied an award he had earned?  Indeed, can Catholic Churches even sponsor troops if they exclude gay men and boys from membership?  Hmmm.  This could be a real conundrum. 

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