Local diocese orders school to remove BLM, gay pride flags

Most Rev. Robert J. McManus, the bishop of Worcester, Massachusetts, says the flags symbolize messages that don't align with Catholic teaching.

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A Catholic diocese outside of Boston has ordered a Jesuit middle school to remove flags representing gay pride and Black Lives Matter.

WGBH is reporting that Most Rev. Robert J. McManus, the bishop of Worcester, Massachusetts, says the flags symbolize messages that don’t align with Catholic teaching. He urged the Nativity School of Worcester to remove the banners, warning that the campus could risk losing its Catholic identity if administrators refused.

The American flag, gay pride flag and Black Lives Matter flag fly at the Nativity School of Worchester, where the latter two banners were ordered to be removed by a Catholic diocese. (Photo: Screenshot/WCVB Channel 5 Boston)

The Nativity School — a free, accredited all-boys school mainly serving students of color from poor communities — issued a response, saying its officials believe the flags show students that they “do matter and deserve to be respected as Christian values teach us.” The school is not operated as part of the diocese.

“The Black Lives Matter and Pride flags fly below the American flag at our school to remind our young men, their families and Nativity Worcester staff that all are welcome here,” the school said in a statement, “and that they are valued and safe in this place.”

Both flags have been flying at the Nativity School since January 2021.

“Symbols can mean different things to different people,” begins McManus’ statement Sunday on the Worchester Diocese website. “While the Catholic Church joins with our nation in teaching that all lives are equal before God and the law and that all lives demand our respect regardless of race, gender or ethnicity, the flag with the emblem Black Lives Matter has at times been co-opted by some factions which also instill broad-brush distrust of police and those entrusted with enforcing our laws. We do not teach that in our schools.”

“And, while we teach that everyone is created in the image and likeness of God,” he notes, “gay pride flags are often used to stand in contrast to consistent Catholic teaching that sacramental marriage is between a man and a woman.”

McManus asserts that, as diocese bishop, “I must teach that it is imperative that a Catholic School use imagery and symbols which are reflective of that school’s values and principles so as to be clear with young people who are being spiritually and morally formed for the future.”

According to the local report, McManus has had his own issues. A staunch pro-life advocate who has pushed to remove pro-choice speakers from diocese events, the church leader was arrested in Rhode Island in 2013 for drunk driving, leaving the scene of an accident, and refusing a chemical test. He later apologized for his actions, and the case was ultimately dismissed.

McManus’ directive comes as conservative states and school districts across the nation are actively working to remove “critical race theory” from classrooms, and the state of Florida passed a law making it illegal to teach sexual or gender identity to kids younger than third grade. Texas Governor Dan Patrick is reportedly seeking to prioritize duplicating Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” legislation there.

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