Last Updated on June 20, 2022
A Boston area Jesuit school has lost its Catholic status over refusal to remove both pride and BLM flags from school grounds. A local Bishop revoked the school’s status after a months-long saga.
“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,” according to the National Catholic Register.
Bishop 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.”
The bishop went on to list his specific concerns with pride and BLM flags in Catholic schools.
“It is my contention that the ‘Gay Pride’ flag represents support of gay marriage and actively living a LGBTQ+ lifestyle,” Bishop McManus said of the pride flag.
“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 will appeal the decision and says it will continue to display the flags. The Massachusetts school added that it plans to continue operations regardless of any action from the diocese.
Since January 2021 the Catholic school has been flying a pride flag and a version of a Black Lives Matter flag. McManus later warned the school that it could lose its Catholic status if it did not remove the flags.
In a June 15 letter to the school community, Thomas McKenney, Nativity School‘s president, said the school was independently funded and will continue forward. “Please know that any decisions made by the diocese will not change the mission, operations or impact of Nativity,” he told the school community.