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Crystal Lake church severs Boy Scouts tie over decision to allow gay members

Published: Sunday, June 2, 2013 7:37 p.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, June 5, 2013 8:35 a.m. CDT

CRYSTAL LAKE – A local Cub Scout pack and Boy Scout troop are looking for a new place to meet after the church that served as its meeting place for five years said it needed to sever ties.

In a letter from the Rev. Brian Grady, pastor of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church, to the Blackhawk Area Council, Troop 550 was told the church is severing the parish’s association with Boy Scouts of America.

The decision comes after the Boy Scouts of America voted last month to lift its ban on openly gay Scouts. There still is a ban on openly gay adults being a part of the Scouts’ organization.

“The teachings of the Catholic Church are quite clear regarding the open practice of homosexuality,” Grady wrote in the letter obtained by the Northwest Herald. “With this change in policy by the BSA, this is clearly a condoning of the practice of a particular way of life, which is detrimental to the spiritual well being of the individual. For a young boy to [be] placed in a situation where he has to share a tent or be exposed to other boys that are openly homosexual is not only unjust, but immoral.”

Grady said he was saddened by the decision of Boy Scouts of America.

“I was proud of your holding strong on upholding the values expressed in the Scout Law and the Scout Oath – in being reverent and morally straight – despite the opposition raised by an outspoken minority in our society,” Grady wrote.

Grady did say if the Boy Scouts reversed their decision, the troop would be welcomed back to the parish.

Charles Payseur, who is the Scoutmaster of Troop 550, started the troop about five years ago, and it has always met at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton. Payseur said the troop was notified Thursday of the church’s decision.

“Right now, we’re looking for a new home,” Payseur said. “I will not go with a religious organization.”

Payseur said the troop had volunteered numerous hours at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton by setting up fish fries, holding Christmas tree sales and refurbishing the meditation garden at the church.

Grady did thank the Scout troops for the work they did around the parish.

Payseur said the Boy Scout troop had a discussion about the decision to allow openly gay Scouts, and said there are other situations – such as a locker room – where the youngsters might be in close quarters with gay youth.

“I would rather it be open and honest than hidden,” Payseur said.

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