A Massachusetts bishop in the Catholic church has declared that a Catholic school for boys in the Worcester diocese is not permitted to fly flags representing either BLM or LGBTQIA+. “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,” Bishop Robert J. McManus of Worcester said in a decree.
McManus didn’t just declare that the flags could no longer fly, but that if they did, the school could no longer consider itself to be Catholic, or to fall under the umbrella of the diocese. The middle school in question, the Nativity School, has said they would appeal the decision and that they would continue to fly the flags, according to The Hill.
In a preamble to the decree, the Diocese of Worcester said that it and the school had been in discussions for a few months “in an attempt to find alternative to flying the Black Lives Matter and gay pride flags outside the school,” saying that they are “inconsistent with Catholic teaching.”
The reasoning was not just about the flags, the Diocese of Worcester stated, but stemmed from deeper problems, such as the “devastating graduation rate among boys experiencing economic insecurity.”
“I publicly stated in an open letter dated, May 4, 2022,” McManus wrote in the decree, “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,'” McManus 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,” McManus went on, “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.”
As the Nativity School is no longer part of the Catholic Church, the school will no longer be permitted to celebrate the sacraments. This includes the Eucharist, Reconciliation, and Confirmation, which is a rite of passage for Catholic young adults around the age of 13.
McManus stated that it was his “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.”
Yet the Nativity School President, Thomas McKenney, said they are looking to appeal McManus’ decision through “appropriate channels.” It is his view, he said in a statement, that the BLM and Pride flags “give visible witness to the school’s solidarity with our students, families and their communities.”
The decree, McManus said on Thursday, was effective immediately.