A Massachusetts Catholic bishop who has denounced a local Catholic private school for flying the Black Lives Matter and gay pride flags has now prohibited it from identifying itself as a Catholic school and banned it from using the title “Catholic” to describe itself.
In early April, Robert J. McManus, the Bishop of the Diocese of Worcester, harshly criticized the Nativity School in Worcester, writing that “the flag with the emblem Black Lives Matter has at times been coopted 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, gay pride flags are often used to stand in contrast to consistent Catholic teaching that sacramental marriage is between a man and a woman,” he added.
On Thursday, McManus published his decree, writing, “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.’ 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 continued. “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,” he charged.
After citing Catholic canon law and an “Instruction” recently published by the Holy See through the Dicastery for Catholic Education, McManus declared, “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.”
“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,” he wrote.
“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,” he decreed. “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 school remains defiant. “Nativity said it will appeal the bishop’s decision — but it has no plans to remove the flags, which it said show its commitment to solidarity with its students and families.” The Washington Post reported.