WORCESTER, Mass. (AP) — 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.
The Boston Globe reports that Worcester Bishop Robert McManus told the Nativity School of Worcester in a letter this week that flying these flags in front of a Catholic school “sends a mixed, confusing and scandalous message to the public” about the church’s stance on important moral and social issues.
The school displayed the flags for more than a year before the bishop objected. The school is a tuition-free private middle school for boys in central Massachusetts, with about 60 students. Students had requested that the flags be flown.
The diocese said it was waiting until after the end of the school year to prohibit the school from identifying itself as a Catholic school, an order that's effective immediately. Mass and sacraments are no longer permitted on school premises.
Thomas McKenney, president of the school, said in a statement Wednesday that the flags simply state that all are welcome at Nativity and this value of inclusion is rooted in Catholic teaching. McKenney added that flying the flags is not an endorsement of any organization or ideology, “they fly in support of marginalized people.”
McManus published a letter in May about the flags. He wrote that symbols that embody specific agendas or ideologies contradict Catholic social and moral teaching.
He took issue with the Black Lives Matter flag because he said “a specific movement with a wider agenda has co-opted the phrase,” promoting an agenda for schools with principles that are “queer affirming” and “trans affirming,” as well as disrupting the “nuclear family.” He said Pride flags represent support for gay marriage.
Flags that say “End Racism” or “We are all God’s Children” would be far more appropriate for a Catholic school, he wrote.
Nativity can appeal the bishop’s decision through the Jesuits who oversee the school. The city of Worcester raised the Black Lives Matter and Pride flags to support the school, which vowed to keep flying the flags to show solidarity with students, their families and communities, the Globe reports.
June is also Pride Month, which is known as a celebration of the LGBTQ community that involves parades and events.