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Wis. Catholic church reconsiders, will not kick out local Boy Scout troop

Wis. Catholic church reconsiders, will not kick out local Boy Scout troop

ALTOONA, Wis. — A Boy Scout troop will be able to keep its home base at a Catholic church in Altoona.

Catholic leaders have reconsidered a tentative decision to have Troop 90 look elsewhere for a place to meet after the Boy Scouts revised a membership policy to allow openly gay boys to join the scouting program.

St. Mary's Catholic Church, Altoona, Wis.
St. Mary’s Catholic Church, Altoona, Wis.

The pastoral council at St. Mary’s Catholic Church had strongly recommended cutting ties with the troop, which has held its meeting at the church for more than 20 years.

Scoutmaster Bob Thill said that after further examination of the new policy adopted by Boy Scouts of America last May, St. Mary’s Rev. Derek Sakowski and La Crosse Bishop William Callahan agreed that it fits within Catholic teachings.

“I’m happy to tell you we will continue our relationship with St. Mary’s Parish as our charter organization,” Thill said in an email to troop parents.

The scouting policy states “no youth may be denied membership … on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone.”

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops recently concluded the new Boy Scout policy “does not necessarily contradict the Church’s teaching, and therefore it seems that dioceses can work with this new policy as it currently stands.”

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The La Crosse diocese endorsed the conference conclusion and cited Pope Francis’ recent statement that same-sex attraction alone does not preclude active membership in the church.

The Boy Scouts’ Chippewa Valley Council executive Matt Hill tells the Eau Claire Leader-Telegram there are several area troops chartered by Catholic churches in the region.

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