Priest's Name Removed from Scout Camp

September 27, 2005

ST. JOSEPH, Mo. -- The name of a priest who died in 2002 will be removed temporarily from the chapel at a Boy Scout camp, at the request of people who allege that the Rev. Sylvester Hoppe had sexually abused them years ago.

According to a news release issued by the Pony Express Council of the Boy Scouts of America, the board of directors voted Monday to make the change at Camp Geiger "pending further information regarding accusations of abuse" made against the priest.

Hoppe, ordained in 1946, served parishes throughout northwest Missouri and was active in Scouting for 75 years. The chapel at the camp in St. Joseph was named for him in 1999.

"Father Hoppe loved Scouting," council president Bill McMurray said in a statement. "It is our belief that if Father Hoppe were alive today, he would have been the first to request the removal of his name from the chapel because he never would have wanted this controversy to negatively impact Scouting or the youth in our council."

The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, sent letters to the council and to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph last week, asking that the priest's name be removed from the chapel.

The council first said it would make a decision at a meeting Oct. 24, but its scout executive, Tom Smotherman, said the board deemed the matter serious enough to vote right away.

Lawsuits filed last week in Jackson County Circuit Court at Kansas City claimed that the sexual abuse took place in the early 1950s. A lawsuit filed earlier against Hoppe was settled after his death.

The priest had denied the allegations, and the Scouts have said there were no allegations about him while he was involved in Scouting.

SNAP's national director, David Clohessy, called Monday's decision "encouraging."


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