LOUISVILLE, Ky., August 17, 2015 (ChurchMilitant.com) — A Catholic archdiocese is exercising its right to exclude openly gay scout leaders.
In 2012, after publicly announcing his sexual orientation, scout leader Greg Bourke was forced to resign from his leadership position in Boy Scout Troop 325, based in Louisville, Kentucky and run by Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church.
Following last month's lifting of the ban on openly gay scout leaders by the BSA, Bourke — a parishioner of Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church — applied for readmission to the troop; the request, however, was denied by the Archdiocese of Louisville, citing the option of faith-based scout units to deny admission of those that do not abide by Church teachings. In a statement provided to local pastors last week, the archdiocese said
[The Catholic Church has] both the right and the responsibility to choose leaders whose character and conduct are consistent with Church teaching. All pastoral leaders in these ministries should be able to provide a credible and integrated witness in their lives to the teachings of the Catholic Church, including its teachings on marriage, sexuality and chastity.
Following the July 27 BSA decision, the National Catholic Committee on Scouting said the Boy Scouts resolution appears to "respect the needs of Catholic-chartered organizations … to choose leaders whose character and conduct are consistent with those of Catholic teaching."
Bourke — a plaintiff in the recent Supreme Court case that proclaimed same-sex "marriage" a fundamental right — acknowledges that while there is nothing legally unsound about Abp. Joseph Kurtz's decision, "the thing [he] can do is take them to the court of public opinion." Bourke firmly believes that the archdiocese is "going to lose that battle." He goes on to claim that "clearly [they] have to draw attention to the archdiocese, and specifically Abp. Joseph Kurtz for making this decision," which he believes was "really unnecessary" and "quite mean-spirited."
Cecelia Price, a spokeswoman for the archdiocese, reminded those offended by the decision that "it is important to note that the fact that individuals identify themselves as a person with same-sex orientation does not necessarily exclude them from volunteering for the Church," but that ultimately any concerns pertain to an individual's "ability to provide a credible witness to Church teaching."
When asked to provide biblical evidence that prohibits homosexuals from being around or instructing children, Price referenced sections of the Catechism of the Catholic Church concerning marriage, sexuality and chastity, while also noting that these teachings are part of "the 2000-year-plus tradition of the Church."
Protests against the archdiocese's decision are being planned by both the Fairness Campaign, a Louisville-based gay advocacy organization, and Catholics for Fairness, a "Catholic" gay advocacy group. Fairness Campaign director Chris Hartman called the decision "saddening" and accused Abp. Kurtz of spearheading anti-LGBT policies.
"Every step along the way, Abp. Kurtz has had the opportunity to make an inclusive choice — one that's pastoral, in a way that his predecessor Abp. Thomas Kelly did," said Hartman. "And every step he's not only side-stepped the issue, but he's really come down in an embarrassing way that runs contrary to what Jesus would be doing."
The archdiocese of Louisville is not the first major diocese to take action: In early August the archdiocese of Bismarck, North Dakota officially cut ties with the organization following the lifting of the ban on openly gay leaders.