Diocese of Rockford discontinues relationship with Boy Scouts of America

FILE - In this Feb. 18, 2020, file photo, Boy Scouts of America uniforms are displayed in the retail store at the headquarters for the French Creek Council of the Boy Scouts of America in Summit Township, Pa. A bankruptcy judge Thursday, Aug. 19, 2021, approved a proposal by the Boy Scouts of America to enter into an agreement that includes an $850 million fund to compensate tens of thousands of men who say they were sexually abused as youngsters by scout leaders.

Citing the Boy Scouts of America’s ongoing bankruptcy court proceedings, the Diocese of Rockford recently announced it will discontinue its relationship with Boy Scout troops.

All charter agreements have expired and will not be renewed, the diocese said in a statement. Troops that previously used diocesan facilities will also need to seek alternative locations to meet starting Feb. 1.

“This decision has not been made hastily or without seeking consultation and compromise,” the diocese said in the statement, saying it came after “many months of discussions nationally and locally.”

In September, a bankruptcy judge approved a $2.46 billion reorganization plan proposed by the Boy Scouts of America, which would allow it to keep operating while compensating tens of thousands of men who say they were sexually abused as children while involved in Scouting, the Associated Press reported.

The Diocese of Joliet also recently discontinued its relationship with the Boy Scouts of America.

“The Diocese of Joliet supports and respects the time-honored mission and ministry of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA),” Diocese of Joliet spokesperson Mary Massingale said in a statement. “Yet we cannot ignore the organization’s liability issues in light of its efforts to emerge from bankruptcy. As of Dec. 31, 2022, no parish in the Joliet diocese charters a BSA troop. Parishes welcome the meetings and gatherings of troops in their buildings as long as they agree to normal facility-use expectations.”

The Diocese of Rockford said on Friday that it was unable to reach an agreement with the Blackhawk Area and Three Fires local councils on issues regarding the insurance to be provided by the Boy Scouts, according to the statement.

Blackhawk Area Council covers 12 counties, including McHenry, Carroll, Ogle, Lee and Whiteside counties. The Three Fires Council includes DuPage, Kane, DeKalb and Kendall counties, as well as portions of Cook and Will counties.

The partnership between the Boy Scouts of America and chartering organizations like the Diocese of Rockford “has been critical to delivering the Scouting program to millions of youth in our country for generations,” the Boy Scouts of America said in a statement provided by Blackhawk Area Council Scout Executive and CEO Sedrick Robinson.

“We remain committed to serving youth and communities of northern Illinois without interruption,” the organization said in the statement. “We have nothing but admiration and respect for the Diocese of Rockford and hope to continue our meaningful relationship in the future.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.