Watch: Catholic Bishop Says Pride, BLM Flags Disqualify School from Being Catholic

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Saturday June 18, 2022

In this Dec. 25, 2012 photo, Bishop Robert J. McManus says the blessing before the annual Bishop's Christmas Dinner at St. Paul's Cathedral in Worcester, Mass.
In this Dec. 25, 2012 photo, Bishop Robert J. McManus says the blessing before the annual Bishop's Christmas Dinner at St. Paul's Cathedral in Worcester, Mass.  (Source:Rick Cinclair/The Telegram & Gazette via AP)

A Massachusetts bishop says that a Jesuit middle school in the state can no longer be considered Catholic because it flies Pride and BLM banners, CNN reports.

Bishop Robert J. McManus of the Diocese of Worcester "issued a decree on Thursday [June 16] punishing the Nativity School of Worcester, a tuition-free private middle school that serves about 60 boys from under-resourced communities," ABC News detailed. "The decree prohibits the school from calling itself Catholic and prevents Mass and sacraments from taking place on school grounds."

CNN noted that McManus pointed to an open letter he had issued on the subject last month by way of explaining is objections.

"I publicly stated in an open letter," McManus said, "that 'these symbols embody specific agendas or ideologies [that] contradict Catholic social and moral teaching.' "

This bishop's objection to the Pride flag was fairly straightforward, if limited in understanding: "It is my contention that the 'Gay Pride' flag represents support of gay marriage and actively living a LGBTQ+ lifestyle," McManus said.

Local newspaper of record the Boston Globe quoted the bishop further, as he went on to claim that "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's reasons for speaking out against the Black Lies Matter flag were less clear-cut. "This is also true of 'Black Lives Matter,'" McManus declared, before going on add: "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."

The Globe recalled arguments the bishop had offered against the BLM flag in April, when he said: "Back in April, McManus said he objected to the Black Lives Matter flag because it has at times been co-opted by 'factions which also instill broad-brush distrust of police and those entrusted with enforcing our laws.' "

Now, however, McManus has relocated his objections to the BLM banner in his overall dismissal of the LGBTQ+ community, the Globe noted, quoting the bishop as saying more recently that he "now objects to the Black Lives Matter flag because elements of the movement, 'which, I daresay, most people do not know about but is easily available on the internet,' are 'queer affirming' and 'trans affirming'."

CNN relayed that the school's president, Thomas McKenney, responded with a statement in which he said, "These flags simply state that all are welcome at Nativity and this value of inclusion is rooted in Catholic teaching."

McKenney went on to say, "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."

The flags continue to fly despite the bishop's declarations, reports said. Added McKenney: "Commitment to our mission, grounded and animated by Gospel values, Catholic Social Teaching, and our Jesuit heritage compels us to do so."

To watch the ABC News clip, follow this link.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.