Bishop strips Mass. school of ‘Catholic’ designation for displaying BLM and gay pride flags

Bishop Robert McManus argued in a decree that the flags contradict the Catholic faith.

A Jesuit middle school in Massachusetts has been stripped of its “Catholic” status after refusing to take down Black Lives Matter and gay pride flags. 

The Diocese of Worcester announced on Thursday that the Nativity School of Worcester may no longer call itself Catholic after supporting Pride month and the Black Lives Matter movement by displaying flags on campus associated with each community, NBC News reports. 

A demonstrator holds a Black Lives Matter sign on June 6, 2020 during a protest against racism at the statehouse in Columbia, South Carolina. (Photo by Sean Rayford/Getty Images)

Bishop Robert McManus argued in a decree that the flags contradict the Catholic faith. School officials refused to comply with his demands to remove the flags. As a result, the Nativity School can no longer host Mass or the sacraments on campus, according to the report. The school must also remove former Bishop Daniel P. Reilly’s name from its list of trustees. 

Additionally, the school cannot involve any diocesan institution with its fundraisers or sponsor Mass or the sacraments around the Diocese of Worcester, per the report.

The bishop said on Thursday that the BLM and Pride flags “embody specific agendas or ideologies” that contradict the teachings of the Catholic Church. 

“As Diocesan Bishop, it is my sacred duty and inherent responsibility to determine when a school claiming to be ‘Catholic’ is acting in such a way that is contrary to the teachings of the Catholic Church and disregards my legitimate authority as the guardian and overseer of Catholic education in the Diocese of Worcester,” McManus wrote in his decree.

McManus said the church’s stance on moral and social issues is being muddled by the school’s “mixed, confusing and scandalous” messages. 

Pride Flag
The rainbow flag represents lesbian, gay, bisexual transgender and queer pride as well as social initiatives of the LGBTQ movement. (Photo: Adobe Stock)

“It is my contention that the ‘Gay Pride’ flag represents support of gay marriage and actively living a LGBTQ+ lifestyle,” McManus said.

“This is also true of ‘Black Lives Matter.’ The Catholic Church teaches that all life is sacred and the Church certainly stands unequivocally behind the phrase ‘black lives matter’ and strongly affirms that all lives matter,” he added. 

The bishop noted that the Black Lives Matter movement promotes “a platform that directly contradicts Catholic social teaching on the importance and role of the nuclear family and seeks to disrupt the family structure in clear opposition to the teachings of the Catholic Church.”

A majority of those attending the Nativity School are students of color. School president Thomas McKenney said the Pride and BLM flags were displayed after many of the students called for more inclusion on campus. 

The school began flying the flags in January 2021 and the bishop asked them to be removed in March.

“These flags simply state that all are welcome at Nativity and this value of inclusion is rooted in Catholic teaching,” McKenney said in a statement. “Though any symbol or flag can be co-opted by political groups or organizations, flying our flags is not an endorsement of any organization or ideology, they fly in support of marginalized people.”

The school plans to appeal the bishop’s decision, McKenney said.

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