School Banned From Identifying as Catholic After Flying BLM, Pride Flags

A Massachusetts school has been told that it can't identify as Catholic after its continuous flying of Black Lives Matter (BLM) and Pride flags on its campus.

Bishop Robert J. McManus of the Diocese of Worcester announced on Thursday that the Nativity School of Worcester is "prohibited" from branding itself as Catholic moving forward.

This comes at a time when the majority of American Catholics support gay marriage, a percentage that has continuously increased since 2006, according to Gallup, and Catholics across the nation are speaking out about the relationship between the BLM movement and the church, according to Catholic News.

School Banned From Identifying as Catholic
Pictured above, a progress pride flag and a Black Lives Matter flag are displayed outside a church on June 13, 2021, in the Brooklyn Borough of New York City. Photo by Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images

"As Diocesan Bishop, it is my sacred duty and inherent responsibility to determine when a school claiming to be 'Catholic' is acting in such a way that is contrary to the teachings of the Catholic Church and disregards my legitimate authority as the guardian and overseer of Catholic education in the Diocese of Worcester," Bishop McManus said in the statement on the Diocese of Worcester website.

...it is my sacred duty and inherent responsibility to determine when a school claiming to be 'Catholic' is acting in such a way that is contrary to the teachings of the Catholic Church.
Bishop Robert J. McManus

"Despite my insistence that the school administration remove these flags because of the confusion and the properly theological scandal that they do and can promote, they refuse to do so. This leaves me no other option but to take canonical action," the bishop added.

The Nativity School of Worcester, which serves boys from grades 5-8, has been in a feud with the Diocese of Worcester for a few months over flying both flags. The school, the only tuition-free Catholic school in the Diocese of Worcester, serves boys experiencing "economic insecurity."

Though the school doesn't receive any finances from the Diocese, according to Boston 25 News reported, the Catholic Bishop of Worcester knew about the flags in March of this year and asked the school to take them down or else no longer identify itself as Catholic.

Meanwhile, the school's president Thomas McKenney pointed out in a statement on Wednesdaythat the purpose of flying the flags was "to express support for making our communities more just and inclusive," adding that most of the student body are people of color and that the flags are a statement that says "that all are welcome at Nativity."

"These flags simply state that all are welcome at Nativity and this value of inclusion is rooted in Catholic teaching," he said.

However, a spokesperson with the Diocese of Worcester told Newsweek that "the Bishop has been asking the school to use alternative symbols to support the students feeling that they are respected and loved since March when he was first made aware of the flags."

In May, Bishop McManus said that "these symbols (flags) embody specific agendas or ideologies (that) contradict Catholic social and moral teaching."

However, McKenny clarified in the statement that flying the BLM and Pride flags are "not an endorsement of any organization or ideology, they fly in support of marginalized people."

Nativity is stronger than ever because of the understanding and support of its amazing community members, benefactors and—most of all—students and their families.
Thomas McKenney, school president

The Nativity School plans to appeal the Diocese's decision and will continue flying the BLM and Pride flags, according the school's statement. McKenney mentioned that the school received "overwhelming support" from the community, and added that "Nativity is stronger than ever because of the understanding and support of its amazing community members, benefactors and—most of all—students and their families."

The Diocese of Worcester's spokesperson said that any decree can be reversed if the circumstances that led to it are resolved.

Bishop McManus added on Thursday that "it is my contention that the 'Gay Pride' flag represents support of gay marriage and actively living a LGBTQ+ lifestyle. This is also true of 'Black Lives Matter.'"

"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," Bishop McManus 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," he added.

The Bishop also said that mass, sacraments, and sacramentals are not allowed to be celebrated on the school campus anymore or "be sponsored by Nativity School in any church building or chapel within the Diocese of Worcester."

The Nativity School is also banned from any fundraising activities in any institutions involving the Diocese of Worcester.

Other recent Catholic news includes an upcoming visit by Pope Francis to Canada in an attempt to reconcile with the indigenous peoples.

Concerns have been raised about the threats of violence by abortion rights protesters as one group announced it will be targeting Catholic churches and the homes of the "extremist" Supreme Court judges who are believed to support overturning Roe. v Wade.

And some wonder if there could be a real possibility of having three living popes.

The story has been updated to include comments from the Diocese of Worcester and The Nativity School.