Boy Scouts will continue meeting at church in Altoona

ALTOONA, Wis. (WEAU) - A Catholic church in Altoona says local Boy Scouts can keep meeting at the church, despite a national policy on gay members that threatened their charter contract.

Now that Catholic leaders have reconsidered their view of a revised Boy Scouts policy, Boy Scout Troop 90 will continue meeting at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Altoona.

The Boy Scouts say the church announced that it may part ways with Troop 90 December 31st. That's when their one-year charter partnership expires. It came as the scouts revised their national policy, letting openly gay Boy Scouts to join. But, Father Derek Sakowski had a change of heart after the scouts told him more about what the revisions really mean.

“We're glad that our policies are in-line with their teachings,” said Executive Director of the BSA Chippewa Valley Council, Matt Hill.

The Boy Scouts Troop 90 is happy to stay at St. Mary's in Altoona; the place they've called home for nearly a quarter of a century.

“We love the organization of St. Mary’s and Father Sakowski has been really good to us. The Catholic Church in not a bad organization, not only here, but nationally,” said Troop 90 Scoutmaster Bob Thill.

Thill who's been Troop 90 Scout’s leader for seven years says. Father Sakowki along with Bishop Callaghan of the La Crosse Diocese agree that the new BSA policy fits with the catholic teachings.

“We're obviously very pleased that we will continue our long standing relationships - positive, wonderful relationship with the Catholic Church; not only here but on the regional and national level,” said Hill.

Thill says Father's final decision came after reading "Fact vs. Fiction" sent to him by the Boy Scouts of America. The document explains how the scouts will uphold the new membership standards.

"No youth may be denied membership in the Boy Scouts of America on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone. Accordingly, simply stating he or she is attracted to the same sex, but not engaging in sexual activity, does not make a youth ineligible for membership,” reads the document.

“I hope that other organization can stand by it too, because it is the youth that we're dealing with,” said Thill.

In August, when St. Mary's decision no to re-charter Troop 90 was first announced, the Diocese stated: “the new Boy Scouts of America (BSA) membership policy as such does not necessarily contradict the Church’s teaching, and therefore it seems that dioceses can work with this new policy as it currently stands.”

“It shows that our community is focused on serving kids and that our charter partner's value our young people,” added Hill.

The new Boy Scout’s policy also states that any sexual conduct by youth of scouting age is contrary to the virtues of scouting. Thill says Father Sakowski should be commended for standing his ground and asking the tough questions.


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