A Massachusetts school for boys experiencing economic insecurity had its Catholic affiliation revoked on Thursday — after an area bishop said the school’s flying of an LGBTQ Pride flag and a Black Lives Matter flag are “inconsistent” with Catholic teachings.
In a decree, Bishop Robert J. McManus, of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Worcester, says Worcester-based The Nativity School can no longer call itself “Catholic” and all mass and sacraments are now prohibited on site. The school is also banned from diocese activities like fundraising or being listed/advertised in its directory.
“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,'” wrote McManus.
McManus says while the school “stands unequivocally behind the phrase ‘Black lives matter’ and strongly affirms that all lives matter,” he believes the Black Lives Matter movement has been “co-opted” to “directly contradict Catholic social teaching.”
The bishop claims The Nativity School is sending mixed messages because Black Lives Matter works to “disrupt” and “contradict” the importance of the nuclear family.
McManus says despite warnings, the school kept the flags up, leaving him “no other option but to take canonical action.”
The tuition-free school had already been flying the flags for over a year at the request of students, Nativity School President Thomas McKenney wrote Thursday. The majority of students are people of color, McKenney explained.
The president continues that the flags aren’t an endorsement of any organization or ideology but “fly in support of marginalized people.” He also notes that the school is not funded by the Diocese and operates fully independently of it.
“These flags simply state that all are welcome at Nativity and this value of inclusion is rooted in Catholic teaching,” writes McKenney. “Pope Francis has praised the outreach and inclusion of LGBTQ+ people. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops supports the spirit and movement of Black Lives Matter. Both flags are now widely understood to celebrate the human dignity of our relatives, friends and neighbors who have faced, and continue to face hate and discrimination.”
McKenney said the school plans to appeal the decision.
The Nativity School, which has been in operation since 2003, serves boys in grades 5 through 8. The school says it will continue flying the flags, saying it hopes to give “visible witness” to community members.