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Bishop Takes Catholic Status From Jesuits School For Flying LGBTQ and Black Lives Matter Flags

Worcester,  Massachusetts(CNBNewsnet)(June 24, 2022)--The Bishop of the Diocese of Worcester has told a local middle school that it can no longer identify itself as a Catholic school because it disobeyed the bishop's order to take down its Black Lives Matter and Pride flags. In a statement, the Nativity School said the flags fly at the school to remind students, their families, and staff that all are welcome and valued, and safe. 

Reverend Robert J. McManus, S.T.D., Bishop of Worcester Diocese, removed the Catholic status of The Nativity School last month for flying LGBTQ and Black Lives Matter Flags at the entrance of the school. The Jesuits run the Nativity School.  The flags were first displayed a year ago.  Below is a copy of the letter he released. 

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Why Symbols Matter. An open letter to the community about the flags at Nativity School

by Most Reverend Robert J. McManus, S.T.D., Bishop of Worcester

If a Catholic institution had signs out front offering abortion services or family planning, I doubt anyone would be surprised when the local Bishop cried “foul” and said it could no longer be identified as a Catholic institution because they performed elective abortions. No one would question his intervening. For that matter, most people would say, correctly, that the bishop is simply doing his job. Abortion may be legal but the Catholic Church teaches consistently that it is morally wrong to deliberately take an innocent human life.

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Most Reverend Robert J. McManus, S.T.D

Some issues are not so clear-cut. While it is widely known that the Catholic Church cannot condone same-sex marriage, there seems to be confusion concerning the Church’s position on gender identity. The Catholic Church is very clear in saying we must love everyone regardless of gender, race, creed, or any other differentiators one can cite, but some would be hard-pressed to explain why other than to claim it is a matter of “social justice.” Some Catholics would say that the reason the Church teaches love of neighbor is Jesus’ mandate to serve others, or the scriptural passage that says you cannot love God if you do not love your neighbor. While these Gospel citations are critically important, we also have centuries of reflection on the entirety of the Bible. We call this Sacred Tradition.

We believe we are created by God at the moment of conception, something science supports by the presence of a unique DNA distinct from the mother. We believe that we are all loved into existence by God and redeemed by the Christ’s dying on the cross and rising from the dead to make it possible to enjoy eternal life with God in heaven. We call that the “Good News.” We are stewards of our bodies but not owners to do with it as we please. So, while I must love my neighbor regardless of what they consider their gender to be, no one, including individual popes, bishops, or Catholic school teachers, can say that Catholic teaching can condone transgenderism since that gender is a gift from God.

This brings us to the issue of the flags at Nativity School. These symbols which embody specific agendas or ideologies contradict Catholic social and moral teaching. Gay pride flags not only represent support for gay marriage but also promote active living of an LGBTQ+ lifestyle.  Others in society may say that is fine. Such people may be doing wonderful humanitarian work. But an institution that calls itself Catholic cannot condone that behavior, even though the Catholic Church will “go to the mat” in teaching we must love those with whom we disagree.

The same is true for Black Lives Matter as a logo. Because every human life is sacred, the Church is 100% behind the phrase “black lives matter.” However, a specific movement with a wider agenda has co-opted the phrase and promotes a 13-principle agenda for schools, which, I daresay, most people do not know about but is easily available on the internet. Similar to the gay pride movement, those principles include, in their own words, being “queer affirming” and “trans-affirming.”

The BLM movement also contradicts Catholic social teaching on the role of the family. To Catholics, the Holy Family is not just a quaint image. God the Son chose to enter the world as a child and be raised by a mother and a father (the Nativity). The BLM movement in its own words is “committed to disrupting the Western prescribed nuclear family structure requirement,” which is another clear example of an ideological principle that conflicts with Catholic teaching.

So to the Board of Nativity School, the question is simply this: Which identity do you choose? You cannot conduct an institution on contradictory principles.

As a Catholic institution, no symbol can portray better all that we hold dear to us than the holy cross. The meaning of that symbol is contradicted by ideologies that are promoted by the BLM flag and the gay pride flag. The board of Nativity School has to decide if it wants to continue to be a Catholic institution or not. Being sponsored by the Jesuits does not alone make a school Catholic. Many non-Catholic institutions perform great humanitarian works, but to be Catholic means espousing, not denying our Catholic identity. That identity is not defined by any individual bishop or pope but by 2,000 years of theological reflection and tradition deriving from the Apostles. It is part of what we believe and professes as “one, holy, Catholic and apostolic Church.”

Since it was founded in Worcester, Nativity School has laudably formed its students and prepared them well for further education, often continuing in Catholic high schools in the area. No one can deny that we are still living in turbulent times during which racism rears its ugly head, and the rights and dignity of Black men and women are often denied. 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.”

It is my fervent prayer that Nativity School will decide to display only banners which will complement the Cross of Christ and tell them why they are loved. Flags bearing the words “End Racism” and “We are all God’s Children” would be far more appropriate for a Catholic school.