ALTOONA, WI, August 8, 2013 ( – A Catholic parish in Wisconsin has told the Boy Scout troop it has sponsored for the last 20 years that it will have to find a new home in response to the troop’s decision to allow practicing homosexuals to join.

The Boy Scouts of America voted in May to overturn its longstanding policy barring openly gay scouts, and instead allowed troops to include gay scouts if they choose.

Boy Scout Troop 90, which meets at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Altoona, revised its membership policy to state that no boy could be denied membership “on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone.”


Scoutmaster Bob Thill told the Eau Claire Leader-Telegram that while Troop 90’s families were evenly split on the issue, the troop changed the rule because “it's the way of the times, and I guess you've got to keep up with it.”

But Fr. Derek Sakowski, St. Mary's pastor, said he objects to the policy’s use of the term “sexual preference,” criticizing it as too vague. He pointed out that while same-sex attraction is not a sin according to the Catholic Church, homosexual behavior is.

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He has sought clarification from the National Council on the matter, and says that if the new rules mean the Scouts cannot ban actively practicing homosexuals from the group, he will have no choice but to withdraw as a sponsor.

“We want to know if it fits with our Catholic values,” Fr. Sakowski said. “If I don't get a response, then I can't renew the charter.”

The Troop has until its current charter expires on December 31 to find a new sponsor and meeting location. But Thill says, “We're still hoping Father's going to have a change of heart.”