The Nativity School of Worcester in Massachusetts can no longer identify itself as Catholic for refusing to take down the Black Lives Matter and the LGBTQ Pride flags, as requested by Bishop Robert McManus.
The announcement came in the form of a decree issued by McManus on Thursday, and it was published in The Catholic Free Press, the official newspaper of the Diocese of Worcester.
Nativity provides quality, tuition-free education for boys from low-income communities. It was founded in 2003 as the only tuition-free private middle school in Central Massachusetts. It currently serves about 60 students.
Worcester Human Rights Commission Chair Guillermo Creamer Jr., who attended the school from 2006 to 2008, said that Nativity is an “inclusive school that welcomes students and families of all backgrounds.”
Creamer Jr., who’s openly gay, slammed McManus’ rhetoric, saying that the bishop is “on the wrong side.”
“Revoking the Catholic status of a school simply because it is promoting inclusion is a backward mentality,” he told the Daily News, also noticing the bishop’s timing. “Doing this during Pride month and days before Juneteenth is very telling for the motives behind such a move,” he said.
The two flags had been flying above the school for over a year before McManus expressed his opposition. Early this year, he stated that those two symbols embody “specific agendas or ideologies [that] contradict Catholic social and moral teaching.”
The LGBTQ Pride flag represents “support of gay marriage and actively living a LGBTQ+ lifestyle,” which goes against Catholic teachings.
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“This is also true of ‘Black Lives Matter,’” McManus wrote. While the Catholic Church “stands unequivocally behind the phrase ‘Black Lives Matter,’” the BLM 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.”
Despite his insistence that school administrators removed the flags “because of the confusion and the properly theological scandal that they do and can promote,” they refused to do so — which left him with no other option.
As the bishop of a diocese, it is his “sacred duty and inherent responsibility” to decide whether a Catholic school is acting in a way that is contrary to the teachings of the church.
According to the decree, which is effective immediately, the school “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 or sacraments can no longer be celebrated on school premises, and the school is not allowed to conduct fund-raisers involving diocesan institutions and cannot advertise in the diocesan directory.
Creamer Jr. said that the bishop’s attempt at punishing the school should not change its mission of promoting inclusivity.
“Simply because one man wants to rip away its Catholic status the school will not be bullied into changing its ways,” he said.