(CNS News) — The Most Rev. Robert J. McManus, bishop of the Diocese of Worcester, Mass., issued a decree on June 16 stating that the Nativity School could no longer identify itself as “Catholic” or allow the Mass on its premises because the administration refused to remove gay pride and Black Lives Matter flags from the front of its property.
The Nativity School in Worcester serves boys in grades five through eight, and is affiliated with the Catholic/Jesuit tradition. The bishop has authority over any Catholic school in his diocese.
“I publicly stated in an open letter dated, May 4, 2022, that ‘these symbols (flags) embody specific agendas or ideologies (that) contradict Catholic social and moral teaching,” said Bishop McManus in his decree. “It is my contention that the ‘Gay Pride’ flag represents support of gay marriage and actively living a LGBTQ+ lifestyle.”
“This is also true of ‘Black Lives Matter,'” he wrote. “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. However, the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement has co-opted the phrase and 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.”
“The flying of these flags in front of a Catholic school sends a mixed, confusing and scandalous message to the public about the Church’s stance on these important moral and social issues,” said the bishop.
He continued, “Despite my insistence that the school administration remove these flags because of the confusion and the properly theological scandal that they do and can promote, they refuse to do so. This leaves me no other option but to take canonical action.”
That action, as presented in the decree, includes,
• The Nativity School of Worcester is prohibited from this time forward from identifying itself as a ‘Catholic’ school and may no longer use the title ‘Catholic’ to describe itself;
• Mass, sacraments and sacramentals are no longer permitted to be celebrated on Nativity School premises or be sponsored by Nativity School in any church building or chapel within the Diocese of Worcester;
• The Nativity School is not allowed to undertake any fundraising involving diocesan institutions in the Diocese of Worcester and is not permitted to be listed or advertise in the Diocesan Directory;
• The name of Bishop Emeritus Daniel P. Reilly must be removed from the list of the Board of Trustees of Nativity School.
Thomas McKenney, president of the Nativity School, told The Catholic Free Press that he would appeal the bishop’s decree and would not remove the flags. The school claims the flags are “not an endorsement of any organization or ideology, they fly in support of marginalized people.”
In a letter to the community, as reported by the Free Press, McKenney said, “In January 2021, Nativity started flying the Pride and Black Lives Matter flags following our students’ (the majority of whom are people of color) call to express support for making our communities more just and inclusive.”
In a May 5 letter to the community, Bishop McManus wrote, “These symbols [flags] which embody specific agendas or ideologies contradict Catholic social and moral teaching. Gay pride flags not only represent support for gay marriage, but also promote actively living an LGBTQ+ lifestyle. … [A]n institution that calls itself Catholic cannot condone that behavior, even though the Catholic Church will ‘go to the mat’ in teaching we must love those with whom we disagree.”
“The same is true for Black Lives Matter as a logo,” said the bishop. “Because every human life is sacred, the Church is 100% behind the phrase “black lives matter.’ However, a specific movement with a wider agenda has co-opted the phrase and promotes a 13-principle agenda for schools, which, I daresay, most people do not know about but is easily available on the internet. Similar to the gay pride movement, those principles include, in their own words, to be ‘queer affirming’ and ‘trans affirming.'”
He continued, “The BLM movement also contradicts Catholic social teaching on the role of the family. To Catholics, the Holy Family is not just a quaint image. God the Son chose to enter the world as a child and be raised by a mother and a father (the Nativity). The BLM movement in its own words is ‘committed to disrupting the Western prescribed nuclear family structure requirement,’ which is another clear example of an ideological principle that conflicts with Catholic teaching.”
“So, to the Board of Nativity School, the question is simply this: Which identity do you choose?” asked the bishop.
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