A Roman Catholic bishop in Massachusetts is ejecting a middle school from the fold for flying Black Lives Matter and LGBTQ pride flags.
Bishop Robert McManus said in a decree this week that the multicultural Nativity School of Worcester can no longer call itself “Catholic” because it is supporting movements that he says are “inconsistent with Catholic teaching.”
“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,” the bishop wrote in a decree Thursday.
“The ‘Gay Pride’ flag represents support of gay marriage and actively living a LGBTQ+ lifestyle,” McManus noted. The church’s position is that marriage is only between a man and a woman.
As for the Black Lives Matter movement, the church “unequivocally” supports the “phrase” but also “strongly affirms that all lives matter,” he added.
However, he claimed without any clear explanation that the movement has somehow “co-opted the phrase and promotes a platform that directly contradicts Catholic social teaching on the importance and role of the nuclear family.” He insisted the Black Lives Matter movement “seeks to disrupt the family structure in clear opposition to the teachings of the Catholic Church,” again, without explanation.
The direct public hit by McManus on the Black Lives Matter movement appeared unique even by far-right Catholic clerics in the U.S.
The school can now no longer identify as Catholic nor celebrate Mass or the sacraments, be listed in the Diocesan Directory or fundraise with diocesan institutions, McManus said.
Nativity was founded in 2003 as an independent Jesuit-run middle school that provides a “quality, tuition-free education to boys from under-resourced” communities, notes the school’s website. It began flying the flags in January 2021 to make the school community “more just and inclusive,” according to Nativity officials.
The Worcester Diocese and McManus, who runs the diocese, ordered the school to remove the flags in March, which it refused to do.
School President Thomas McKenney said in a statement Wednesday that the Nativity School will continue to operate as it has and will appeal McManus’ decree.
The flags, he explained, “represent the inclusion and respect of all people … [and] simply state that all are welcome at Nativity and this value of inclusion is rooted in Catholic teaching,” he wrote.
He pointed out that Pope Francis has “praised the outreach and inclusion of LGBTQ+ people” and that the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops “supports the spirit and movement of Black Lives Matter.”
McKenney said the school will continue to fly the flags “to give visible witness to the school’s solidarity with our students, families, and their communities.”
The school, Kenney noted, is independently funded and receives no money from the diocese.