North Dakota Catholic Bishop Tells Parishes to Cut Ties With Boy Scouts

Boy Scouts
Members of the Boys Scouts of America prepare to march in a gay pride parade in Salt Lake City, Utah, June 2, 2013. Both Mormons and members of the Boy Scouts marched with members of LGBT community and their supporters as part of the Utah Pride Festival. |

A Roman Catholic Church bishop has told the parishes in his North Dakota-based diocese to sever their ties with the Boy Scouts of America following the youth organization's vote to allow openly gay scout leaders.

Bishop David D. Kagan of the Diocese of Bismarck sent out a letter earlier this week informing churches that sponsor a Boy Scout troop to "formally disaffiliate" with the BSA.

"If your parish sponsors a troop, your priest has been asked to inform those persons associated with the BSA of this action and to inform the BSA itself of this decision," reads the letter.

"I regret my decision but, in conscience 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 authoritative moral teachings of the Catholic Church."

Bishop Kagan also wrote about "acceptable alternatives for our Catholic children and youth, should you wish to offer this in your parish and/or school."

Boy Scouts of America
Boy Scouts of America troop members attend a Memorial Day weekend commemorative event in Los Angeles, California, in this May 25, 2013, file photo. |

These included Federation of North American Explorers, the Knights of Columbus group, the Columbian Squires and Trail Life USA.

In July, the BSA executive committee voted to end its historic ban on openly gay adult leaders, a decision ratified soon after by the National Executive Board in a 45-12 vote.

While ending the ban, BSA also declared that church-sponsored troops can maintain their own policies on adult leaders, including barring openly gay men from being leaders.

The Boy Scouts leadership said in a memo that it "rejects any interference with or condemnation of the diverse beliefs of chartering organizations on matters of marriage, family, and sexuality."

Despite the concession, several religious institutions have openly entertained ending their ties with the BSA over the move.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the sect that boasts the largest sponsorship of BSA troops, released a statement last month which said they may terminate their affiliation with the Boy Scouts.

"When the leadership of the Church resumes its regular schedule of meetings in August, the century-long association with Scouting will need to be examined," stated the LDS Church.

"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."

Regarding Bishop Kagan's decision, a spokesman for the Boy Scouts' Northern Lights Council in Bismarck told The Associated Press that eight Boy Scout and Cub Scout troops will be affected by the disaffiliation.

"They will be working to find other charter organizations within those communities, and there will be a good chance they will be faith-based organizations," said spokesman Cory Wrolstad to the AP.

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