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Massachusetts school can no longer be called Catholic after flying Black Lives Matter and pride flags, bishop says

Bishop strips Worcester school of "Catholic" designation because of Pride flag
Bishop strips Worcester school of "Catholic" designation because of Pride flag 00:42

A bishop in Worcester, Massachusetts, has said an area middle school can no longer call itself Catholic because it flew pride and Black Lives Matter flags on its campus after being told to take them down. 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 of gay marriage and actively living a LGBTQ+ lifestyle." 

As for the Black Lives Matter flag, he said that while the church "stands unequivocally behind the phrase 'black lives matter' and strongly affirms that all lives matter," the BLM movement "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 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," the bishop wrote.

Not only can the school no longer identify as Catholic, but it also cannot celebrate mass, sacraments or sacramentals, be listed in the Diocesan Directory, or fundraise with diocesan institutions, McManus said. A bishop serving on the school's board of trustees must be removed.

The school began flying the flags in January 2021, saying students called to make the community "more just and inclusive."

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

McManus officially signed a decree making that the case, and spoke about the issue Thursday in the Catholic Free Press.

"While we all share in wanting all our students, in particular our black and brown-inner-city students, to feel safe and welcome, we must abide by the moral axiom that 'the ends do not justify the means,'" McManus said.

The school's president, Thomas McKenney, said in a Wednesday statement that the Diocese's decision will not change how the Nativity School operates.

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

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

Nativity School is independently funded and does not receive money from the Diocese. 

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