A bishop has reitierateded his criticism of a local Catholic school for flying Pride and Black Lives Matter flags, issuing a second letter in which he writes that the church cannot “condone transgenderism.”
Bishop Robert McManus of Worcester, Masschusetts, issued his second statement about the Nativity School’s decision to fly the two flags as an effort to welcome diverse students. In April, the bishop’s first statement demanded the flags be removed, and he threatened to remove the Jesuit-run school’s formal Catholic designation if it did not do so.
McManus’ latest statement challenges the school’s board by implying it must choose between a Catholic identity and flying the flags.
The bishop opens the letter provocatively by writing, “If a Catholic institution had signs out front offering abortion services or family planning, I doubt anyone would be surprised when the local Bishop cried ‘foul’ and said it could no longer be identified as a Catholic institution.” McManus continues:
“These symbols [the flags] which embody specific agendas or ideologies contradict Catholic social and moral teaching. Gay pride flags not only represent support for gay marriage, but also promote actively living an LGBTQ+ lifestyle. Others in society may say that is fine. Such people may be doing wonderful humanitarian work. But an institution that calls itself Catholic cannot condone that behavior, even though the Catholic Church will ‘go to the mat’ in teaching we must love those with whom we disagree.
“The same is true for Black Lives Matter as a logo. Because every human life is sacred, the Church is 100% behind the phrase ‘black lives matter.’ However, a specific movement with a wider agenda has co-opted the phrase and promotes a 13-principle agenda for schools, which, I daresay, most people do not know about but is easily available on the internet. Similar to the gay pride movement, those principles include, in their own words, to be ‘queer affirming’ and ‘trans affirming.'”
At one point, McManus specifically targets transgender people, writing that people “are stewards of our bodies, but not owners to do with it as we please” and that “no one, including individual popes, bishops, or Catholic schools teachers, can say that Catholic teaching can condone transgenderism.”
While McManus’ letter acknowledges that racism is a problem, he also claims that the meaning of the Cross “is contradicted by ideologies” of anti-racism and pro-LGBTQ movements. He states:
“The board of Nativity School has to decide if it wants to continue to be a Catholic institution or not. Being sponsored by the Jesuits does not alone make a school Catholic. Many non-Catholic institutions perform great humanitarian works, but to be Catholic means espousing, not denying our Catholic identity. . .Flags bearing the words ‘End Racism’ and ‘We are all God’s Children’ would be far more appropriate for a Catholic school.”
Protests have continued against McManus’ LGBTQ-negative and anti-Black views following interventions from city officials and the news the bishop would again not attend the graduation ceremonies for the College of the Holy Cross, a Jesuit school in his diocese. Demonstrators have since picketed the chancery offices. Spectrum News reported:
“‘It’s a demonstrative way to say “All are welcome here,” which is what Jesus has said originally,’ Bud Larievy said. ‘Why is that in contradiction to the Bishop’s perception of what Catholicism is?’
“Demonstrators said the Bishop has shown this type of behavior before. [Joseph] Twarog is a Catholic himself and said over the years, Bishop McManus has created an environment of fear and intimidation within the local Catholic community.
“I mean, if you look at the sign, it says “Christ embracing people,”‘ Twarog said. ‘(Bishop McManus) is pushing them away. Jesus wouldn’t be pushing them away, he would be embracing them. The Bishop is out of step.'”
—Robert Shine (he/him), New Ways Ministry, May 7, 2022
This Week in Worcester, “Bishop of Worcester Issues Another Letter on Nativity School Flags“