Saturday, April 24, 2010

Re-making the Boy Scouts (or the Catholic Church)

I knew editorials such as this one would be coming -- people who would take the recent pedophile scandal within the Boy Scouts of America to advocate for the organization to make substantive changes to its makeup.


There are some unfortunate parallels that exist between the Boy Scouts of America and the Catholic Church, and I remind you that I am part of both. My older son recently transitioned from a Pack into a Troop, and he is working quickly to attaining his first Boy Scout rank. My younger son is joining the Scouts later this year. Regular readers of this blog know that I am a Cubmaster, and I am taking an active role in my older son's Boy Scout troop as well.

Meanwhile, I am Catholic.

I confess to being neither the perfect Scout leader nor the perfect Catholic, but I also will admit to doing my best to uphold the tenets of each. Therefore, I feel especially sensitive to those who take the recent (similar) scandals within both organizations to release their political agenda of change they believe must be adopted by Scouting or the Church.

Let's admit that the Boy Scouts of America and the Catholic Church have done an awful job of dealing with their pedophile scandals. At the risk of being overly blunt, their "we'll handle it internally" was designed to protect a public image rather than dealing with the problem. That was dumb, and again I apologize for the bluntness.

Attempting to deal with it internally works only if the organization actually deals with the problem internally. One pedophile priest is one too many, and one pedophile Scout leader is one too many. Neither deserves to represent the Church or Scouting. Ever.

Accepting that, it is not appropriate for these scandals to be used by critics to push for other purposes. Therefore, I reject the arguments that women must be ordained as priests in order for the Church to fully deal with its "priest problem." Likewise, I reject that Scouting must openly endorse homosexuality or atheists in their ranks.

The issue of pedophile leaders is a terrible stain on Scouting and the Catholic Church. And it must be dealt with forcefully and openly. Yes, the accused must have the full legal rights available to them; I'm not seeking some kind of "let's take them behind the building, line them up and shoot them" mentality. But spare me the idea that the fundamentals of either agency must be swept aside at the same time.

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