Friday, August 28, 2015

The Vice of Effeminacy

The Church teaches that persons afflicted with homosexual tendencies who wish to live in accordance with God's will are called to observe chastity. Hence the talk about "chaste homosexuals." 

All Christians are called to chastity, whatever their state in life. But this stress on the chastity required of homosexual Catholics sometimes tends to orient our focus too much on sexual activity alone. For example, take the case of a homosexual Catholic who is chaste but effeminate in his manner. As long as that person is chaste, there is a tendency to shrug off the question of effeminacy. An effeminate man is laughed off as "just being eccentric." Some people seem to find effeminate men endearing; "My, how friendly he is!" others will say.

The implication in this sort of laissez-faire attitude towards effeminacy is that it is completely acceptable so long as it is not accompanied by homosexual actions - that the chaste homosexual can be as effeminate and flaming as can be but is praiseworthy so long as he is not engaging in sodomy.

Such a view is very reductive and fails to comprehend the entirety of the problem posed by homosexuality. Homosexual acts are certainly immoral, but so is the homosexual tendency and all its manifestations, including effeminacy.

Is effeminacy actually a sin? St. Thomas Aquinas takes it further and says effeminacy is a vice - that is, a habitually sinful disposition.

Effeminacy in the classical tradition is seen as a kind of "softeness." The Latin, mollities, means literally "softness", but in various contexts can also mean irresolution, tenderness, wantonness, voluptuousness, weakness, or pliability. It essentially occurs when the traits traditionally associated with the feminine are found in the man.

The sum of these traits in a man constitute the vice of effeminacy, which St. Thomas, following Aristotle, says is a opposed to the virtue of fortitude. The effeminate man is he who is incapable of "manning up" and enduring the challenges of life. St. Thomas notes how this is opposed to fortitude or perseverance:

"Perseverance is deserving of praise because thereby a man does not forsake a good on account of long endurance of difficulties and toils: and it is directly opposed to this, seemingly, for a man to be ready to forsake a good on account of difficulties which he cannot endure. This is what we understand by effeminacy, because a thing is said to be "soft" if it readily yields to the touch" (STh, II-II, Q. 138, Art. 1).

But it is not merely yielding to difficulties that make a man effeminate or soft; a soldier may be tortured for information and eventually yield, but that does not make him effeminate. Another thing is necessary. St. Thomas explains:

"Now a thing is not declared to be soft through yielding to a heavy blow, for walls yield to the battering-ram. Wherefore a man is not said to be effeminate if he yields to heavy blows. Hence the Philosopher says that "it is no wonder, if a person is overcome by strong and overwhelming pleasures or sorrows; but he is to be pardoned if he struggles against them." 
Now it is evident that fear of danger is more impelling than the desire of pleasure: wherefore Tully says under the heading "True magnanimity consists of two things: It is inconsistent for one who is not cast down by fear, to be defeated by lust, or who has proved himself unbeaten by toil, to yield to pleasure." Moreover, pleasure itself is a stronger motive of attraction than sorrow, for the lack of pleasure is a motive of withdrawal, since lack of pleasure is a pure privation. Wherefore, according to the Philosopher, properly speaking an effeminate man is one who withdraws from good on account of sorrow caused by lack of pleasure, yielding as it were to a weak motion" (ibid).

So it is not merely yielding to challenge, but more specifically, refusing the challenge of pursuing the good because one is attracted to pleasure. He is fundamentally a weakling, one who sees the face of virtue and shrinks back from the effort. St. Thomas and the classical tradition associate this with "womanliness." For example:

"Now the delicate are those who cannot endure toils, nor anything that diminishes pleasure. Hence it is written (Deuteronomy 28:56): "The tender and delicate woman, that could not go upon the ground, nor set down her foot for softness"...Thus delicacy is a kind of effeminacy" (ibid).

St. Thomas cites the biblical passage from Deuteronomy on the delicate and tender woman as an example of the behavior he is talking about. Thus the effeminate man is the delicate man, the womanly man. And this sort of behavior, insofar as it is voluntary, constitutes a vice. The effeminate man is the man who does not have a strong and deep sense of his masculinity; rather than man-up and accept the challenge of understanding and growing in his identity has a man, he prefers to shrink back and adopt the attitudes and mannerisms of "the tender and delicate woman." And this disposition is a vice.

Effeminacy is a vice contrary to the virtue of fortitude. Which leaves one question - in what sense can an effeminate but chaste homosexual be said to lacking in fortitude when he exercises enough fortitude to remain chaste? If he has the self-control to keep his disordered passions in check, how can he simultaneously lack self-control and fortitude through the vice of effeminacy? How can he simultaneously have fortitude while lacking it?

Virtue is a habit, a stable disposition from which one generally performs good acts. Good acts that are done by the virtuous man are called virtuous in a participated sense, not in the particular of each act. If a man lacks fortitude in many areas of his life, his exercise of fortitude in a particular act may not constitute the presence of the virtue of fortitude; a man who rises to the challenge of performing a difficult act when called upon but does not have a habit of doing so is not virtuous; he has merely performed a good deed. Similarly, a man who may have disciplined himself with regards to sexual activity but has effeminate habits in every other aspect of his life may not really have the virtue of fortitude.

It could also be argued that we are talking about different virtues. His sexual abstinence could entail the presence of the virtue of temperance, while his effeminacy reveals a lack of fortitude. Thus he may be truly virtuous in some respects but lack virtue in others. This is where a very clear understanding of the relationship of virtues to each other, and how particular types of activities align with particular virtues is important.

Back to the chaste homosexual. Not all chaste homosexuals are effeminate. And not all effeminate men are homosexual. But effeminacy and homosexuality are connected, and we need to recognize that even if there is no homosexual activity taking place, effeminacy itself is a vice that should not be encouraged, coddled, laughed off, or ignored. Homosexuals are called to chastity, and the effeminate are called to overcome their effeminacy and grow into their manhood - this may be a great challenge and require deliberate effort on the part of the man sincerely struggling with effeminacy. But that's what fortitude is - manning up and overcoming the challenges we encounter in this vale of tears.

There is one more question that must be addressed: Since what is proper to females and males can fluctuate in different cultures and times, how can effeminacy exist as an objective vice? For example, to wear powdered wigs and lace was manly in 1750. For a man to do so now would be bizarre. Since what sort of fashions are proper to men and women change over time, is it not futile to try to nail down what sort of behaviors constitute effeminacy?

Remember, a virtue (or a vice) is a fundamental interior disposition. We are not talking about clothing fashions or hair styles; we are talking about a person's character. Fashions change, and in general, a man has an obligation not to take up fashions and dress popularly identified as womanly in his particular culture so as not to scandalize others.

But effeminacy is something deeper than fashion; it is the deep-seated, habitual disposition towards delicacy and withdrawal of effort for fear of lack of pleasure. The mere fact that we cannot come up with a systematic list of what behaviors constitute effeminacy or deduce exactly when one has become effeminate does not mean the vice does not exist. This is the same with any vice: for example, when does a person become cowardly? When he has run away from something once? Twice? How often and in what situations does he have to shirk before he can be categorized as a coward? Furthermore, what is considered cowardly varies from culture to culture. In some cultures it is considered brave to strike an enemy suddenly and then run away; in others it would be considered cowardly to strike someone and then flee. It is very difficult to pin down, but everybody agrees that cowardice exists.

Similarly, everybody acknowledges that effeminacy exists. Aristotle wrote about it in the Greek world. Cicero, centuries later and in a different cultural milieu, also condemned it. It was preached against and condemned by medieval moralists. Aquinas understands it and considers it a vice. It would be absurd to suggest that moral authors from Aristotle to Aquinas and beyond were only writing about a subjective, relative concept when they condemned effeminacy. Just like we all have a general consensus of what cowardice is, the Catholic tradition has a consistent picture of effeminacy. Aristotle, Aquinas and the rest had a clear idea of what they were writing about, just like most people today have a clear idea of what is meant by an "effeminate man" or a "girly man." You know it when you see it, even if it is difficult to systematically define.

Finally, it is important to note that one is never going to be perfectly actualizing fortitude, even though he has a stable disposition and could be called virtuous in that respect, until he reaches beatitude and has perfection of all virtues. Since we are judging particulars it is hard to treat of it scientifically, as if we were dealing with only principles. The point is not to dwell obsessively on whether a particular person has fortitude or not; God knows that. The point is to understand why this trait is considered vicious and how it relates to the other virtue which is its contrary.

Most of you are probably aware of this already, but Fr. James Mason wrote an excellent article on this vice for Homiletic and Pastoral Review, discussing how effeminacy ruins seminary candidates; I highly recommend his article ("Forgotten Vice in Seminary Formation"). I highly recommend it.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Guest Post: Dunfermline Pilgrimage

The following is a guest post from a long-time contributor to this blog, although this is the first time he has written anything for us. John Goodall is a Traditional Catholic who lives in the Glasgow region of Scotland. For several years now he has worked behind the scenes lovingly editing all the articles on the Unam Sanctam Catholicam website (because my punctuation and grammar was so bad I required another person to help clean them up). His job is very humble and thankless - and for that reason I am all the more thankful for him.

John has a special love for the saints of Scotland. This June he attended a historic pilgrimage in honor of St. Margaret in Dunfermline, Dunfermline is the biggest city in Fife and retains a special connection to St. Margaret, who wed King Malcolm III here in 1070 and subsequently established an important abbey here. The Dunfermline procession was held annually for centuries until it was discontinued in 1974. This year's procession marks a happy restoration of an ancient practice, although as John will explain, it was not without some unfortunate occurrences. Still, it is a pleasant event in a diocese that is plagued with problems.

Pictures from the pilgrimage can be found below.

* * * *

On a sunny afternoon on Sunday 28th June, my brother and I went to Dunfermline to a pilgrimage procession organised by the Archdiocese of St Andrews and Edinburgh. Starting at 3pm, the procession was to pass through the centre of Dunfermline to end at St Margaret Memorial Church,
which has a shrine to the saintly queen.

The procession and pilgrimage was the first held in Dunfermline in 41 years. It had taken place in honour of Saint Margaret not long after her relics had been translated to a new shrine after her canonisation and then continued until the Reformation. It was then revived in 1899 and continued until 1974.

When we arrived at the park where the procession was to start, we were both pleasantly surprised at the large number of people there. When I spoke to a few of my friends and fellow parishioners in the line, they said that they too were surprised at the large turnout and we all reckoned there was about 1000 people in it. The clement weather, always an important factor in Scotland, must have helped a great deal. Others in the procession also showed me the literature that had been handed out. A booklet outlined various places in Dunfermline associated with Saint Margaret, such as Dunfermline Abbey, the Tower and Saint Margaret’s Cave.

The procession included banners from parishes under the patronage of Saint Margaret as well as a Glasgow parish under the patronage of Saint John Ogilvie, whose 400th anniversary of martyrdom was celebrated in March this year. There was also a gathering of the Knights of Saint Columba and an Edinburgh Scout troop singing hymns.

There seems to be a lack of hymnody to Saint Margaret as the procession was fairly silent apart from the small group of scouts and the bagpipes playing at the front (obligatory for all processions in Scotland, it seems). Hopefully in future there will be a little more singing.

The Mass itself was fairly standard. The Memorial Church which holds the relics of Saint Margaret was absolutely packed, with pilgrims gathering in the hall underneath the church to watch the Mass on television screens. The one thing that disappointed me greatly was the decision to have a woman minister from the local protestant church read the second reading, which I found quite scandalous. On the other hand, the absolute highlight of the whole pilgrimage was the opportunity to venerate the relic of Saint Margaret.

Happily, they plan to carry out the pilgrimage again next year and it is hoped that it will become a regular annual event. It was a beautiful occasion to give thanks to God for Saint Margaret’s intercession and example, and to display good Catholic sentiment and practice in public. May there be more such things throughout Scotland!

Saint Margaret, patroness of Scotland, pray for us!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Christian Marriage Video Project

Unam Sanctam Catholicam is proud to present an original series of videos on issues relating to homosexual so-called "marriage" and Catholicism. Unfortunately, many Christians, even those who support traditional marriage, have never been educated to explain the Christian opposition to homosexual acts beyond a vague conception that it is "wrong", "sinful", "against nature", or whatever.

These are all certainly true, but how many Christians can actually explain why it is against nature? Why is homosexual "marriage" not a civil right? How are laws seeking to ban same-sex marriage different from the old laws banning interracial marriage? If homosexual sex (as well as contraceptive sex) is wrong because it is closed to life, why is it not wrong when an elderly couple has sex or a married, infertile couple?

In my experience, most Catholics are totally unprepared to offer an answer to these sorts of questions. And - unfortunately - many in the Church's hierarchy are very hesitant to speak too boldly on this subject. This is truly a shame; the Catholic faithful are in desperate need of a logical and easy to understand exposition of the Church's rationale for its position, something grounded in the Scriptures and Sacred Tradition. Instead, they have been fed nonsense about "religious liberty" and First Amendment rights, trying to make this a Constitutional issue instead of a theological issue - and when the Supreme Court tossed out those Constitutional arguments on June 26th, those Catholics who had never been educated in any other argument against same sex marriage were left in the lurch.

Here are out first two videos in the series: the first on homosexuality and the Bible, the second on the ends of marriage. It is important to note that these videos do not attempt to merely present talking points, nor force the question into an artificial paradigm of "religious liberty" and the First Amendment, as some American Catholics have tried to do. Rather, they approach the subject from the point of view of Catholic Tradition, theology and natural law. These videos are not meant to convince opponents but rather help Christians better understand their own tradition.

These videos were totally funded by donations. We currently have three more videos like these in various phases of production, on homosexual marriage and civil rights, material cooperation in sinful activities, and the duties of the Christian state. If you would like to help donate to this project, you can do so by clicking below:

Please share these videos and contribute if you believe this project is timely and necessary. Deo gratias.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Of California Missions and St. Joseph

Grace and peace to you friends! I will be out of commission for awhile; my wife and I are taking a long overdue vacation to sunny California. We will be visiting many of the historic Spanish missions, starting in San Diego and heading up the coast to end at Sacramento. I am particularly excited about getting a chance to venerate Bl. Junipero Serra only a month ahead of his canonization by Pope Francis in September. We will be stopping in San Diego, Laguna Beach, Carmel-by-the-Sea, Sacramento and everywhere in between. If you are in the area and have any recommendations for masses or attractions, please let me know in the combox or email at

When we return home, my family and I will be making another major transition - we have sold our house of nine years and are moving to another part of Michigan. We will thus be very busy in September and I do not anticipate I will get a chance to post much. There may be some guest posts and my co-bloggers Noah and Maximus may post, but I doubt I will be around much. Please pray for us during this transition.

As a side note, I never had too much confidence in the practice of burying the statue of St. Joseph upside down to sell a house. It just sounded...well, really weird. We were confident our house would sell quickly; its a cute house, very well maintained, and with lake access - and homes are moving quick right now in Michigan. But we were very disheartened when a month and then two went by without even so much as a single offer on the home. Even lowering our price did nothing. Then we started into our third month with no activity. We began to think we'd be here all fall.

Then my wife suggested I buy the St. Joseph Home Seller Kit (I still don't like that name); we prayed the prayers, buried the statue, started saying the novena. Three days after the statue was buried, the house sold. And we found and purchased our dream house the next day.

Deo gratias!

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Guest Post: The Changing Face of Apologetics

Today we again present a guest post by my friend, Kevin Tierney. Kevin most recently posted here on prejudices relating to the Traditional Latin Mass; I have also featured his Catholic Lane articles on the Propers of the Latin Mass on our Facebook page. Today, Kevin writes about the current state of things in mainstream American Catholic apologetics and in what sense the landscape desperately needs to change.

By the way, for some additional background on this post, see this article from the latest addition to the Patheos crowd.

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I have frequently said that the way apologetics is conducted in contemporary Catholicism needs to change. In light of recent events, I'll try to offer a explanation here.

Before I get too far, I don't hate apologetics, and I don't hate apologists. Nor do I "attack" apologetics as a discipline within the Church. Rather, I attack a certain subculture of apologetics that is prevelant today within American Catholicism.

One of the big problems with that mainstream subculture is that it tends to define apologetics mostly in terms of debate. Every article is "against so-and-so", the issues having long since subsided from relevance, giving way to a focus on personality. This isn't new. For a good decade or so from the 90's to the aughts, Catholic apologetics was centered around who was fighting James R. White, Eric Svendsen, William Webster, etc. These men certainly needed correction, but Catholic apologists took it far too personally and made the issue the people involved, not the false beliefs they had. (For example, see the Patti Bonds saga, the sister of James White, whose conversion to Catholicism was used as a club to personally embarrass White). We need a stronger emphasis on the issues, and less on the personalities involved.

This also requires a fresh look at the issues. Just because we have the fullness of truth does not mean there's nothing additional we can do. A lot of what passes for apologetics today is essentially stuck in a time-warp of the mid 1990's and earlier. Most Protestants are typecast as James White or Jack Chick. "30,000 denominations" is still a popular argument, no matter how many times it's been debunked. It is presupposed that those outside the Church still speak a common Christian langauge we can comprehend, or that the "institutional collapse" of American Catholicism hasn't happened. All of these realities should influence the way we cover apologetics.

For example, in Evangelii Gaudium, Pope Francis wants a presentation of the papacy that takes into account a decentralized exercising of authority, and to "demystify" the papacy, as he has also said elsewhere. From an apologetical standpoint, this might be a good idea. A lot of our popular apologetics still presents the Bishop of Rome as an irresistible monarch, free to do as he pleases, and is the single most important part of Catholicism for the average Catholic. On issues like justification, very little is spent talking about mercy or how the soul is transformed by God's grace and mercy, instead simply talking about the role of works in justification and endless parsing over James 2. James 2 is important, but we need to present a whole picture, one that is actually answering the concerns of people, not just checking off a list of Biblical arguments.

A final way in which a lot (but not all!) of apologetics is out of touch is they adopt mentalities and approaches the Holy See has long abandoned. In their polemics, they still act as if a war is being waged with the SSPX for example. The SSPX are "outside the Church", "schismatic or a schismatic mentality", etc. The Church has instead lifted the excommunications and under Pope Francis has accelerated their integration back into full communion at a pretty astonishing pace. Gone is the hostile language of separation. The war is over; it's now time for the terms of the peace to be offered. How many of the big apologists operate according to this mentality? How many hyphenated names are some of them still using to describe brothers the Pope wishes to reconcile? Under their guise of "defending the Church" and defending the Pope, they are acting contrary to his wishes. Apologists should instead be seeking to remove barriers from our wayward brothers, not erecting more.

There's a lot else that needs changing. Some of it apologists have picked up on and are changing, and there's still a long way to go. But change is coming, be certain of that.

Sunday, August 09, 2015

Nothing New: Work and Pray

Ever since the fall of Adam we have been under the divine decrees of labor and death, and we have never been dispensed from prayer since the very beginning. If we were to describe what carrying one’s cross is, that would be its definition: to manfully pray, work, suffer and die in purity of heart willingly for God’s sake. 

The Cross cannot be defeated, it can only be rejected. The Cross cannot be broken or destroyed, but it can be neglected. I have been pondering on the state of western civilization and the Church after the recent developments of the last few weeks. Many people would have you believe that the legalization of gay “marriage” is a game changer, that we have now passed into the era of persecution and that the days of living a comfortable life in the public square is over.

As the imitation of Christ says “JESUS has always many who love His heavenly kingdom, but few who bear His cross” (Book 2, Chapter 11). If we were living as holily and as uprightly as we ought to be, is now the moment when we shall first be persecuted? If we have been living as we ought to have been living, we should be at least somewhat practiced at enduring some persecution, even if only from bad Catholics and Christians when they object to the discipline of a good Christian life. Abstinence from bad movies, books, friends, and media do not win many friends, especially when these things are popular.

It is horrifying to witness how people have twisted and warped even the most basic Christian tenets to be accepting of perverse behavior, vilifying those who rightly condemn it. But if we believe what is contained in the Creeds of the Church, how can we be surprised that those who embrace heresy (whether of a protestant variety or a pseudo Catholic one) would not wholeheartedly embrace a new one, especially when it is so popular?. We must not forget that a person who even doubts a core teaching of the Church, sins against Faith, and sins against the faith lead to the loss of it, without which hope and charity cannot be present. 

What of the vigilant, have they not for years already been fighting: defending the words of prophets and God the Father, upholding the veracity of the holy Scriptures, fighting protestant errors, condemning syncretism and resisting the fundamental option theory (the belief that if a person is basically good they will go to heaven)?

The cross was there a year ago, five years ago, and 60 years ago, its burden and weight on each one of us, measured out according to the wisdom of God. Its burden was not sweet yesterday and bitter today, nor was its yoke light yesterday and heavy today; rather, it was and is given out with the grace to manfully carry it.

The immensity of the task before us as Christians (to make all men know, love and serve God) combined with the realization of both our leadership and somewhat meager resources, can lead us to feeling overwhelmed and helpless. Has anyone else felt that pull or seen with their eyes the cooling of charity that seems to be running through various apostolates? Those who trust in their own wits, nuances, intellectual devices or techniques will be confounded no matter how Catholic they believe themselves to be, no matter how many books they have read or clerics they know. 

Does anyone else long to see the dead raised in the name of Jesus Christ? I don’t mean in some figurative way, but a corpse coming back to life? I do. Does anyone else wish to witness sight being restored to the blind, or the dying healed of their infirmities? I do. I am convinced that the occurrence of such things, with prayers, would do a better job at turning around this society than all the slogans, strategies and other clever devices that we can come up with as men. Should we feel overwhelmed if God is on our side, and if he is on our side should we hesitate to ask for His manifest works? If you do not believe He is, have you already lost your faith? 

Just a short while ago, in the 1800’s, many pious laymen and laywomen made regular use of the St. Benedict’s medal, and their simple faith in the Holy Cross and the intercession of St. Benedict made itself known in numerous great works (which you can hear about on Alleluia Audiobooks). Do we have such a faith? Do we work with the conviction that we have received our duties through the direct ordering of God? Do we suffer with patience, trusting that God is choosing and ordering our suffering for our own good? 

It almost feels too simple: pray with belief, work with zeal, suffer with patience, die with a clean conscience and what we ask for with faith we will receive. This is what we must do, this is what we have always had to do. We don't need new slogans and options, we need to pick up our cross and carry it. 

Thursday, August 06, 2015

Not Abandoning the Boy Scouts of America... Yet

I am an Eagle Scout. I am a Vigil Honor Member of Scouting's National Honor Society, the Order of the Arrow. Scouting in many ways took care of me as a boy, and formed me into a man. As I grew, I eventually worked on summer camp staff at the local council's camp for 5 summers (the pay wasn't great), and also served on staff at the National Scout Jamboree (the pay was non-existent). While there were not a few occasions of getting into mischief along the way, nevertheless, I was formed in my conscience in a manner that reinforced Catholic beliefs, and also made relationships with my peers and elders that have lasted me a lifetime.

Since I have been working for the Church for the better part of a decade, my active involvement in Scouting has diminished, but I still keep in touch with old friends - if any of them needed me for any reason, I would not hesitate to drop what I was doing for them, and I know they would do the same for me. I would go so far as to say that the moral lessons, leadership skills, and the bonds of fraternity which I obtained through Scouting had a direct influence on my decision to serve the Church through pursuing an academic career in theology. Further, I know many Catholic Scouter priests who would say the same about their own experience as a boy, growing up in an environment which encouraged adventure and contemplation in the confines of the safe environment of the Scouting unit, and eventually led to their discernment of their call to the priesthood.

As a result of the decisions made by the National Scouting Office over the past two years, I have closely followed the developments in the Scouting policy towards the participation of those persons with homosexual tendencies, and reached out to friends who work within the professional structures that support Scouting in order to hear a bit more of the story.

Two years ago, the Scouting policy was changed in order that youths with homosexual inclinations might not be discriminated against, while at the same time reiterating the constant position of Scouting that sexual acts should only take place within the context of married relationships. At the time, there was a large outcry and a reaction from conservative Catholics which led to the establishment of various organizations that sought to duplicate Scouting in an explicitly Catholic context.

More recently, with the change in policy toward leaders, there has been not a little bit of a reaction from Catholics - most notably, the decision of the Bishop of the Diocese of Bismarck to discontinue the relationship of the diocese with all of the scout troops and packs which it sponsored. With all due respect to His Excellency, I would like to emphasize the word "reaction" in the decision to abandon the diocese's relationship with the Scouting movement.

The reason I think that these reactions are - at this present time - unwarranted is because I think they are founded upon a fundamental misunderstanding of how Scouting is organized. While it is true that there is a national organization that sets policies and guidelines for how the local organizations are to operate, Scouting is fundamentally based upon the principle of subsidiarity. Put more plainly, Scouting does not exist without chartered organizations to charter local units.

Chartered organizations in the BSA have, and have always had, the responsibility of selecting and approving the leaders who would be working with the youth in a manner which is consistent with the values of the chartering organization. This makes sense, because whether the chartered organization is a parish or community organization, most of the members of the local scout troop come from within the chartering organization. The District, Council, Regional, and National Scouting organizations fundamentally work to serve what is happening in the local scout troop, through which 99% of a scout's exposure to Scouting occurs, as is delineated in the Annual Charter Agreement.

The safeguard of the Chartered Organization for the Boy Scouts of America is and will remain a bulwark against unwelcome outside influence, whether that is ethical or political, in the devious battle that is happening in America. Naturally, the progressive movement has a heavily vested interest in gaining influence through the youth movements. While the Girl Scouts have been in bed with the likes of Planned Parenthood for decades, the Boy Scouts have tended toward being more conservative.

This brings us to the difficult political situation in our climate today. Though I can't agree with the decisions of the Scouting organization regarding adults with homosexual inclinations, I do have sympathy for their position regarding troubled youth - what better place to help them develop a healthy respect for themselves and grow into men who are able to function well in spite of their deviant inclinations? Is this not the opportunity to provide a young boy with the love that is so evidently lacking in his home environment?

Nevertheless, Scouting is not a religious organization, and is not protected in the same way (however little) that the Catholic Church might be protected in the public discourse. I think that the decision by the National organization was ultimately a political one, an attempt to find a middle way. At the same time, they have reiterated the autonomy of the Chartered Organization as possessing the real power to carry out the policy in accordance with their own beliefs and to choose the best leaders to create a safe environment for the youths in their care.

And so we come to the question of political prudence of how we as the Catholic Church should best interact in a pluralistic environment. Some have decided isolation is the best course, and have opted to set up alternatives to Scouting. I think this is imprudent, first of all, because of my experience with small and poor, but well-meaning Catholic initiatives, which lack real professional leadership and ultimately abuse their volunteers by stretching them too thin or asking too much of them to the point where the bad outweighs the good that is trying to be accomplished. Second, because the Tribes of St. Edward, or whatever, do not have the tradition and the respect in the public sphere which the Boy Scouts of America hold. As a small example, when an Eagle Scout enlists into military service, they are given a bump in rate to an E-3 from day one, which gives a great start to a future military career. Surely, the Tribes of St. Edward don't have the ability to influence the life of a lay man in his career living in the world in the manner that the Boy Scouts do.

More importantly, I think that members of the Church are being naive in taking a stand with the actions of the Boy Scouts. We aren't forming alternative little league organizations, or telling our Catholic state representatives to resign, or insisting that our public school teachers fall on their swords - why should we abandon the most influential youth movement in the world, and leave it to the mechanations of this world?

This is not to say that remaining with the Scouts is for the faint of heart. We need men who are prudent, just, temperate, and above all, men with fortitude to continue working with Catholic Scout Troops in order to weather the storm that is to come. Practically speaking, we should not be abandoning the local scout troops, but reinforcing them with greater support and oversight, both at the Diocesan and Bishop's Conference level. At this defining moment in American history, we don't need people to abandon our youth, but rather, we need lay men, priests, and bishops to double-down in their efforts. This will be hard work, but if in the process the opportunity can be provided to adequately form boys into men of virtue and fear of the Lord, then surely it is worth it.