A Massachusetts Catholic school can no longer call itself Catholic after a local bishop declared that its Pride and Black Lives Matter flags were incongruent with church teachings.
In April, Bishop Robert McManus issued a statement opposing Nativity School of Worcester's display of Black Lives Matter and LGBTQ+ Pride flags. By doing so, he expected the school to comply and remove the flags, but administrators have refused.
Now, McManus has forbidden the school from identifying as Catholic.
On Thursday, the Diocese of Worcester posted a decree about Nativity School on its website.
"The Nativity School of Worcester is prohibited from this time forward from identifying itself as a ‘Catholic’ school and may no longer use the title ‘Catholic’ to describe itself," McManus declared.
In an open letter published in May, he claimed that "These symbols (flags) embody specific agendas or ideologies (that) contradict Catholic social and moral teaching."
His issue with the school's Black Lives Matter and LGBTQ+ Pride flags is that they send a message of support.
"It is my contention that the 'Gay Pride' flag represents support of gay marriage and actively living a LGBTQ+ lifestyle," McManus notes.
While seemingly invalidating the social justice movement, he explains his opposition to the Black Lives Matter flags. He writes, "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."
McManus claims that the Black Lives Matter movement does not reflect Catholic teachings:
"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 writes.
"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," he continues.
According to the Washington Post, the decision is a rare instance of a Catholic organization's embrace of the phrase "Black Lives Matter" becoming a point of contention with church leaders.
Nativity School officials said the use of Black Lives Matter and Pride flags reflected its student body, primarily composed of people of color, showing inclusivity and belonging.
Thomas McKenney, the school's president, said in a statement on Thursday that the flags are symbols that show that all are welcome at the school.
"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 wrote. "Though any symbol or flag can be co-opted by political groups or organizations, flying our flags is not an endorsement of any organization or ideology, they fly in support of marginalized people."
Though the school will appeal McManus' decision, it does not intend to remove the flags.