South Carolinians are encouraged to remain supportive of Catholic Scouting regardless of their opinion on the Boy Scouts of America’s recent decision to accept transgender youth, according to Scout leaders in the diocese.
Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone released a statement in mid-February stressing the fact that the state’s Catholic troops will not be impacted by the decision.
“Membership in individual packs, troops and venture crews will continue to be the responsibility of the chartering organization,” Bishop Guglielmone wrote. “Therefore, churches and other religious institutions will continue to offer membership in their units according to their religious beliefs, traditions and policies. In essence, for us as Catholics, the parish or school chartering the Scout unit determines qualifications for inclusion … Youth not able to be a part of a religious unit are to be assisted by the local Scout Council in finding a unit that would be able to accommodate them.”
The bishop urged people to continue to support Scouting because of the positive impact it has on so many young people.
Jim Weiskircher, chair of the Diocese of Charleston’s Catholic Committee on Scouting, said it is important for people to remember what an important role Scouting plays in the lives of many youth.
“I’d ask them to think about the time and effort we put into developing these young people we work with,” Weiskircher said. “Catholic Scouting in this state has had so many success stories. We have had young men who went on to seminary tell us that the first time they ever thought of becoming a priest was through their involvement with Catholic Scouting.”
Shortly after the Boy Scouts of America’s decision on transgender youth was released in February, Weiskircher sent a letter to all Catholic Scouts in the diocese.
“When issues like this come up, we can either walk away from 300,000 Catholic Scouts (nationwide) or double down on providing Catholic Scouting as a youth ministry,” Weiskircher wrote.
In the letter, he cited many recent success stories, including the fact that 40 Scouts received religious emblems at the annual convocation on Feb. 5, and that Catholic Scouts earn three times the number of religious emblems as all other faith groups in the state combined.
He also described how two current seminarians, Alexander Foley and Stanislav “Stas” Watson, earned all four of their religious emblems and mentioned Scouting as a prime influence on their discernment to the priesthood. Deacon Andrew Fryml, who will be ordained later this year, is an Eagle Scout.
“When dealing with youth it is hard to really measure success, but with Scouting in South Carolina it is easy to see,” Weiskircher said. “Scouting needs dedicated Catholic leaders more than ever to help keep Catholic Scouting as a viable youth ministry.”