In April, Bishop Robert McManus of Worcester, Massachusetts asked the Jesuit Nativity School of Worcester to stop flying BLM and Pride flags or they would lose their official Catholic school status.

The school started doing so in January 2021 at the student’s request “to remind our young men, their families and Nativity Worcester staff that all are welcome here and that they are valued and safe in this place. It says to them that they, in fact, do matter and deserve to be respected as our Christian values teach us.”

In his initial request asking them to remove the flags, he said had “the canonical right to remove that Catholic identity” if it was abandoned.

“Is the school committing itself to ideologies which are contrary to Catholic teaching? If so, is it still a Catholic school? As the Bishop of this diocese, I must teach that it is imperative that a Catholic School use imagery and symbols which are reflective of that school’s values and principles.”

Bishop McManus said BLM flags at times have been used “by factions which also instill broad-brush distrust of police and those entrusted with enforcing our laws” and “gay pride flags are often used to stand in contrast to consistent Catholic teaching that sacramental marriage is between a man and a woman.”

Yesterday, McManus published an official decree declaring that:

• 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.

He said he was left with “no other option but to take canonical action” after insisting “the school administration remove these flags because of the confusion and the properly theological scandal that they do and can promote.”

“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.”

Nativity School President Thomas McKenney said the school is appealing through “appropriate channels” and will continue to fly the flags “to give visible witness to the school’s solidarity with our students, families, and their communities.”

“These flags simply state that all are welcome at Nativity and this value of inclusion is rooted in Catholic teaching. Commitment to our mission, grounded and animated by Gospel values, Catholic social teaching, and our Jesuit heritage compels us to do so.”

Guillermo Creamer, Jr., a member of the Worcester Human Rights Commission who is gay and graduated from the school in 2008 said “I believe the bishop doesn’t really stand for what Catholic values are, especially the Catholic values I was taught growing up.”

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