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Bishop revokes Catholic status of Jesuit school flying LBGT, Black Lives Matter flags

Kevin J. Jones By Kevin J. Jones for CNA

Black Lives Matter flag and LGBT pride flag fly outside Nativity School of Worcester, a Jesuit middle school in the diocese of Worcester, Massachusetts, in April 2022. / Joe Bukuras/CNA

Denver Newsroom, Jun 17, 2022 / 06:06 am (CNA).

After a months-long impasse, a Jesuit middle school in Worcester, Massachusetts, has had its Catholic status revoked by the local bishop for defying his order to stop flying flags supporting LGBT pride and the Black Lives Matter movement.

“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 McManus of Worcester said in a June 16 decree.

“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,” he said. “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.”

Canon law states that “no school, even if it is in fact Catholic, may bear the title ‘Catholic school’ except by the consent of the competent ecclesiastical authority.”

McManus said it is his “sacred duty and inherent responsibility” to determine when a school acts contrary to Catholic teachings and “disregards my legitimate authority as the guardian and overseer of Catholic education in the Diocese of Worcester.”

In his decree the bishop elaborated on his specific concerns about the flags.

“It is my contention that the ‘Gay Pride’ flag represents support of gay marriage and actively living a LGBTQ+ lifestyle,” McManus said.

“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,” the bishop continued.

“However, 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.”

The school has said it will appeal the decision and will continue flying the flags, saying that any decision by the diocese will not affect its operations.

Television news reports from the school on Thursday showed the flags still flying, along with the American flag.

BLM organization at issue

The Jesuit-run Nativity School of Worcester serves boys in grades five through eight. It has a predominantly African-American and Latino student body and students attend tuition-free. It is privately run and not part of the diocesan school system.

Since January 2021 the school had been flying a rainbow LGBT pride flag and a version of a Black Lives Matter flag. In March 2022 an unknown person tore the flags down. McManus addressed the flag controversy on April 3, with the school being warned it could lose its Catholic status.

The “Black Lives Matter” phrase came to prominence after the controversial killing of Trayvon Martin in 2012, which was ruled self-defense. It was invoked at the same time as 2014 riots in Ferguson, Missouri, prompted by the fatal police shooting of a Black man, Michael Brown, which was eventually ruled to be self-defense. After the 2020 murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer, it became a rallying cry for foes of police brutality and racism.

McManus’ June 16 statement did not explain his concern that the Black Lives Matter movement undermines the family. However, the largest official organization which bears the slogan, the Black Lives Matter Global Network, has promoted LGBT ideology and opposes the nuclear family. Until the language was removed in September 2020, the group’s website said that, as part of its social justice and anti-racist work, the organization aimed to “dismantle cisgender privilege,” “disrupt the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure,” and foster “a queer‐affirming network.” The organization is currently fighting accusations of financial mismanagement.

In an April 3 statement, McManus said the Black Lives Matter emblem, “has at times been co-opted by some factions which also instill broad-brush distrust of police and those entrusted with enforcing our laws.”

The school’s response

In a June 15 letter to the school community, Thomas McKenney, Nativity School’s president, depicted McManus’ action as “a change in Nativity’s relationship with the Diocese of Worcester and our continued commitment to providing an excellent education rooted in the Jesuit tradition.”

McKenney said the school is “entirely funded through the generosity of individuals, foundations, and corporations.” It receives no diocesan funding and its governance and control of school operations are “fully independent of the diocese.”

“Please know that any decisions made by the diocese will not change the mission, operations or impact of Nativity,” he told the school community.

McKenney said the school began to fly the flag in response to the middle school students’ “call to express support for making our communities more just and inclusive.”

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

“Pope Francis has praised the outreach and inclusion of LGBTQ+ people. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops supports the spirit and movement of ‘Black Lives Matter.’ Both flags are now widely understood to celebrate the human dignity of our relatives, friends and neighbors who have faced, and continue to face hate and discrimination.”

“Though any symbol or flag can be co-opted by political groups or organizations, flying our flags is not an endorsement of any organization or ideology, they fly in support of marginalized people.”

McManus’ decree prohibits Nativity School from any fundraising at diocesan institutions. The school also is barred from being listed in or advertising in the diocese directory. In addition, Worcester Bishop emeritus Daniel P. Reilly’s name must be removed from the school’s board of trustees.

According to NBC News Boston, Raymond Delisle, a spokesman for the diocese, said McManus “was just looking for alternatives to the flags to be able to get the same points across, that Black Lives do matter, that God loves everyone. But does it have to be done with specific logos, if you will, of a particular organization that we have differences with?”

McKenney said the school “will seek to appeal the decision of the diocese to remove our Catholic identity through the appropriate channels provided by the Church in circumstances like this.”

“At the same time, after meaningful deliberation and discernment by its board, leadership team, faculty, and partners, Nativity will continue to display the flags in question to give visible witness to the school’s solidarity with our students, families, and their communities. Commitment to our mission, grounded and animated by Gospel values, Catholic Social Teaching, and our Jesuit heritage compels us to do so.”

The senior administration of Worcester’s Jesuit-run College of the Holy Cross developed the school, which opened in 2003 to address low graduation rates among boys who come from economically insecure homes.

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  1. I predict that the excrement will hit the air circulator over this matter, if indeed it hasn’t already, and I’m proud to have the same name as this most estimable defender of the faith Bishop McManus, although I don’t think we’re related – my great-great-grandfather came over from County Fermanagh in the 1830s.

    It is not surprising to see that virtue-signaling on the part of the powers that be at Nativity School is their defense.

    • Rest assured that Cardinal Cupich and Cardinal-designate McElroy will personally discuss this with the Holy Father at the August consistory in Rome. Bishop McManus will be labelled as “rigid” and either be reassigned or asked to retire. Expect a new Vatican document which says “ALL BISHOPS WILL SEEK PERMISSION FROM ROME PRIOR TO DISCIPLINING ANY SCHOOL,OR REMOVING THEIR CATHOLIC NAME.”

  2. Bishop Issues Decree on Nativity School

    However, 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.

    • Not to mention their significant misuse of donated funds for personal use of the founders; like purchasing that mansion.

  3. Good call bishop! Thanks for taking a clear stand on behalf of Christ, the Truth, and the church. May many other faithful leaders take courage from your example. Stand strong!

  4. Bravo to Bishop McManus. May his tribe increase.
    Maybe “boys from economically insecure homes” are especially needful of the real goods, not the masquerade version of Catholic education?

  5. A bishop worthy of the office…such an exception in today’s Catholic Church. Would that it were not so.

  6. Those Jesuiticals again. They’re obviously starting their own religion, one that is far more inclusive and enlightened and expansive than the outdated one that Jesus started so long ago.

    Only they need to welcome many more “marginalized” people than just gays and Marxists.

    In fact their outreach is so limited that it appears to expose them as close-minded bigots almost as bad as the Catholics they’re so far superior to.

    What about those marginalized individuals who are attracted to children?

    To animals?

    To inanimate objects like balloons, shoes, lingerie?

    Are they not embracing suicide? Shootings at schools? Domestic terrorism?

    Why not?

    What about the most marginalized people of all — the poor, misunderstood, pasty-faced white supremacists who live in their moms’ basements and only come out a few months before election time so Democrats can use them to scare their voters.

    What about them?

    I’m extremely glad that this bishop took action against the increasingly pernicious Jesuitical cult.

    Good to see that there are some Church leaders left who actually believe all this Catholic stuff.

  7. A commenter on another site points out that Bishop McManus is the only bishop to do this, and that the USCCB takes the opposite view — as if this were a point in the bishop’s disfavor. Bishop McManus is right, and the leftist wasteland known as the “USCCB” is wrong, and that’s that.

  8. The statement by the school’s president says it all:

    “‘Please know that any decisions made by the diocese will not change the mission, operations or impact of Nativity,’ he told the school community.“

    If the bishop’s decisions have no meaning or effect, then this school was never Catholic in the first place. At the very least, the school should have appealed privately and entered a dialogue with their legitimate leader. But it seems from news reports that it is the school administration that is defining Church teaching and who speaks for the Church in their area. And it’s not the local bishop, in their view.

    Also, I think it’s safe to assume that the school administrators are not stupid people. Surely they grasp the divisiveness of the flags and what the flags mean for various groups. Would the school administrators allow the flying of the Confederate flag if the flag’s supporters avowed that it had nothing to do with slavery and white supremacy – it was just a nostalgic symbol of fraternity among Southerners – and those who disagree are just bigots?

  9. Hooray for Bishop Robert McManus! Would that every ordinary in the country would stand against any institution that promoted itself as Catholic while acting contrary to Church teaching. That includes politicians who support the murders of children in the womb and insist that they are “devout” Catholics. I will put Bishop McManus on par with Archbishop Cordileone (and the unfortunately small number of bishops who supported his protection of the Eucharist) and pray that other ordinaries in the country and world also support the teaching of the Catholic Church, as is their responsibility.

  10. I praise the Bishop for finally taking the right action regarding the meaning of the word Catholic .God bless him and all the others who have the courage to stand on the side of the Truth .

    • Yes. Faux victimhood has been the Trojan Horse formula for decades now. Because it works. But the activists and ideologues are not victims at all; they are bullying tyrants.

  11. As someone who has levelled the harshest criticism against the bishops (including the more conservative ones), I tip my hat to Bishops Cordileone and McManus for their recent courageous actions. They deserve our full support. Both men must know that they have enraged the Vatican. I hope these moves were, in part, statements to the powers-that-be that they are not simply flunkies who will simply tow whatever line that is being put forth from Rome.

  12. Bishop McManus has stood tall. My only concern with “Black lives matter” is the serious absence of black fathers. The name should change to “Black family’s lives matter”. Destruction of the Black nuclear family.

  13. The arrival of these brave statements from Bishop McManus and those from Archbishop Cordileone “will be like the falling of small stones that starts an avalanche in the mountains” (-JRRT).

    Please may this start the turning of the tide of insanity that runs through every facet of our society today.

  14. Bravo, finally a Bishop with gumption. I hope the ban includes withdrawal of any financial support from the diocese. The flags they insist on flying do not represent Catholic values. The alphabet soup groups represent the total opposite of Catholic sexual belief. The BLM was responsible for many riots over 2020, which resulted in death, violence and destruction across the country.. While George Floyd’s death was unfortunate and unjustified, he was a former felon who was resisting arrest, not someone whose behaviors should be emulated, nor a person whose behavior should be modeled for students. This is leftist politics , pure and simple. No shock, coming from true blue Massachusetts. This school is indoctrinating, not teaching these children. I will hazard a guess that coming from a state which is a leftist bastion, the students parents do not care about the loss of the church’s approval.Sad, and a commentary on their own lack of commitment to catholic values..

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