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Massachusetts school can no longer call itself Catholic after waving Black Lives Matter and pride flags, bishop says

A bishop in Worcester, Massachusetts, said an area high school can no longer call itself Catholic because it flew Pride and Black Lives Matter flags on its campus after they were told to remove them. In a decree, Bishop Robert J. McManus said the Nativity School is supporting movements that are “inconsistent with Catholic teaching.”

McManus wrote that “the ‘Gay Pride’ flag represents support for gay marriage and actively living an LGBTQ+ lifestyle.”

As for the Black Lives Matter banner, he said that while the church “unequivocally endorses the phrase ‘black lives matter’ and strongly affirms that all lives matter,” the BLM movement “co-opted the phrase and promotes a platform that contradicts directly 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”.

“Waving these flags in front of a Catholic school sends a contradictory, confusing and shocking message to the public about the Church’s position on these important moral and social issues,” the bishop wrote.

Not only can the school no longer identify itself as Catholic, it can also no longer celebrate Mass, sacraments or sacramentals, be listed in the Diocesan Directory or raise funds with diocesan institutions, McManus said. A bishop who serves on the school’s board of trustees should be removed.

The school began waving the flags in January 2021, saying the students called for making the community “more fair and inclusive.”

In March of this year, McManus and the Diocese of Worcester told the school to remove the flags, CBS Boston reported. In late May, McManus warned Nativity School leaders that if the flags were not removed, it could no longer be identified as a Catholic school, the school said.

McManus officially signed a decree doing so, and spoke on the subject Thursday in the Catholic Free Press.

“While we all share the desire that all of our students, particularly our inner-city black and brown students, feel safe and welcome, we must abide by the moral axiom that ‘the end does not justify the means,'” McManus said. .

School President Thomas McKenney said in a statement Wednesday that the Diocese’s decision will not change the way Nativity School operates.

However, McKenney said the school will appeal McManus’ decision. He also said the school will continue to fly the flags “to bear visible witness to the school’s solidarity with our students, families and their communities.”

“As a multicultural school, the flags represent inclusion and respect for all people,” he said. “These flags simply declare that everyone is welcome at the Nativity and this value of inclusion is rooted in Catholic teaching.”

Nativity School is independently funded and receives no money from the Diocese.

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