Thursday, June 13, 2013

Of Scouts and Shepherds

Scouts of Saint George: Catholic Alternative
to the Boy Scouts of America
Well the craziness about gay Boy Scouts seems to be dying down except among the usual nut-cases.  Our friends over at Kitchen Table Chats with a Catholic Matriarch, Les Femmes, The Tenth Crusade, Dymphna’s Road, Kresta in the Afternoon,  Restore DC Catholicism, and other lunatics-on-the-loose are beating the drums for troops to be expelled from Catholic parishes and a few clerical crazies are busy ridding their parishes of this Sodom and Gomorrah organization.  The Reverend Derek Lappe of Bremerton Washington (Seattle Archdiocese), The Reverend Brian Grady of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton in Chicago (Archdiocese of Chicago), and the Reverend John De Celles of Saint Raymond of Penafort in Springfiled VA (Diocese of Arlington), have all expelled troops from their parishes.  Anne Hendershotte,  professor of Sociology at the Franciscan University of Steubenville, in a particularly bigoted article published in the Washington Times, endorsed these actions as well as the decision by the Reverend Richard Perozich of Saint Mary’s in Escondido not to permit any child or adult of same-sex orientation to be part of his parish.  I presume there are others and others yet to come, but frankly I am surprised there has not been more of a negative reaction despite the endorsement of conservative Canon Lawyer, Edward Peters that the Scout policy does not require Catholic parishes to terminate their relationship with local troops.  One priest, the Reverend George David Byers, bravely proclaimed on his blog that he would refuse communion to anyone coming to the altar in a scout uniform.   However the posting quickly came down, allegedly on order from diocesan officials who informed the priest that he wouldn’t be giving communion to anyone if that were the case. 
My favorite response comes from—as it so often does—from la femme herself,  the resolute Mary Ann Kreitzer, of the Les Femmes website.  As ever running in where angels fear to tread, the Wacko of Woodstock was among the first voices calling on the clergy to expel the scouts.  Even in her ultra-conservative diocese however, the influence she once exercised over the wing-nut clergy that abound in that stronghold of theological quackery has waned and other than for the aforementioned Father De Celles. It doesn’t seem that the priests are any longer dancing to her tune.  But what really gave me a chuckle was her endorsement of a counter-BSA organization being started by ex-Episcopalian priest, Taylor Marshall—the Scouts of Saint George.  Dr. Marshall, like so many others on this bandwagon,  marches to the tune of a drummer few others can hear, but I am sure he is going to give his best efforts to this new scouting venture and, as an Eagle Scout himself, he undoubtedly gets the Baden-Powell ethos at the heart of scouting.  Ms. Kreitzer, on the other hand, does not: in her gushing enthusiasm for life in a parallel universe she blogged

They've already tentatively picked a logo and a uniform shirt. They are busy working on a manual and they have nearly two thousand folks involved with the group including over 200 Eagle Scouts. But what I liked best reading about the vision was this lovely paragraph:
Please keep praying for the Scouts of Saint George. Just keep imagining the sight of forty boys sitting around the campfire praying the Rosary and singing Marian hymns. We will build this with God's grace.

Even with 200 Eagles to help, it will be hard enough to build from scratch a new scouting program without access to key scouting resources such as Philmont and Sea Base, but I doubt the chance to sit around a campfire and say the rosary and sing Marian hymns is going to be a huge draw.  What Ms. Kreitzer and her pack can’t seem to realize is that the days of Bing Crosby Catholicism are over and they ain’t coming back.   I could be wrong, but I don’t think Father Chuck O’Malley would be tolling the bells of Saint Mary’s on the local scout troop.  Perhaps the best remark comes from one Father Chris Markel whom I heard on the radio—“these boys—gay or straight, black or white, Catholic or Protestant, Democrat or Republican, liberal or conservative, legally here or illegally here—all belong to Christ’s flock and they need a shepherd.  I was ordained to be a shepherd of Christ’s flock.  They all have a place and will have a place under my pastoral care.  To do otherwise would be to betray the Great Shepherd of the Sheep who shed his blood not for some, not even “for many” but for all.”      

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