Worcester Bishop Pens Second Letter Criticizing Pride, Black Lives Matter Flags at School

Bishop Robert McManus

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

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This Week in Worcester, Bishop of Worcester Issues Another Letter on Nativity School Flags

20 replies
  1. Richard Rosendall
    Richard Rosendall says:

    Bishop McManus should be driven out of his post. In his authoritarian style he is betraying the lessons of Christ and promulgating a distorted faith centered on control rather than compassion. For him to compare the embrace of transgender people to abortion is obscene and ignores a life-based distinction that even Justice Alito has conceded. He must not be allowed to get his way. Sometimes being true to one’s faith requires resisting the bossy men who claim to be in charge of it.

  2. Dcn. Allen Boedeker
    Dcn. Allen Boedeker says:

    Bishop McManus is remaining faithful to his mandate to teach what the Catholic Church teaches. People will disagree with the teaching, but at least they know what they are disagreeing with.

    • Michaelangelo Allocca
      Michaelangelo Allocca says:

      I’m sorry, but with all of the *genuine* harm in the world, do you *really* think this is the wisest way the chief teacher of a diocese should be focusing his attention and efforts? Anyone could easily list things that truly threaten his community, which a bishop could speak up about, and go through quite a few before they even come close to the alleged dangers posed by this school’s flags.

      DON E SIEGAL says:

      When a bishop teaches church teachings that are theologically unsound and are opposed to the truth of contemporary science, it is the responsibility of the faithful to inform the bishop of the errors of his ways. (Code of Canon Law, 212) That is what we are doing here.

  3. Chuck
    Chuck says:

    Please Pope Francis this ‘bishop’ has to go. It is his attitude the the Catholic Church cannot condone. Please move away so the rest of us can see Jesus.

  4. Thomas Ellison
    Thomas Ellison says:

    Doesn’t it seem that every small step forward is undone by men like this bishop? I’ll go out on a limb and guess Mc Manus has never been the victim of discrimination.

  5. Ralph
    Ralph says:

    Just ignorance. And this man is in a leadership position. There is no such thing as ‘transgenderism’. (Perhaps he’s right to call that out.) There are some of Gods children whose inner sense of who they are and outer self don’t align. The best words to describe that now are trans/intersex. That inner sense is what bishops should know it’s our soul/spirit. And it’s as real as God is. Which is something the bishop claims to know about. Yesterday he can’t see God right in front of him.

  6. Loretta
    Loretta says:

    Heartbreaking. Hiding behind “Catholic identity “ rhetoric is really fear and ignorance. We fear what we don’t understand.
    Jesus wasn’t understood so he was crucified.
    We must not get discouraged.

    • Chuck
      Chuck says:

      But it’s sad when what is supposed to be Jesus’ church. It’s very leaders doing the crucifying. Trans people are part of the Body of Christ and the Catholic Church leaders such as this one continue to crucify Jesus. Yet are so sure of themselves. Spread their hate to others. It’s maddening.

  7. Stephen P Newton
    Stephen P Newton says:

    So if the school were to add his words (“Flags bearing the words ‘End Racism’ and ‘We are all God’s Children’ would be far more appropriate for a Catholic school.”) to each flag respectively he would be ok with that? Maybe that’s the solution.

    • Michaelangelo Allocca
      Michaelangelo Allocca says:

      Amen. And then go on to 25:31-46, to find where Jesus said, “for when I was hungry, you policed what type of flags were acceptable.”

  8. John Hilgeman
    John Hilgeman says:

    The bishop’s letters say more about himself than they do about flags, or Black people, or LGBTQ+ people, or what it really means to be Catholic and followers of Jesus. It’s unfortunate he doesn’t seem to realize that.

  9. Bob Hare
    Bob Hare says:

    I wonder what Bishop McManus would say and do if he found out he was the parent of a transgendered child?

  10. Duane Sherry
    Duane Sherry says:

    Bishop McManus,

    Write a third letter.
    This time, do some preparation:

    A) Spend some time with a transgender person. Listen to their story. Just listen.

    B) Read about the advances in genetics, beyond the simple models we were taught in grade school. Spend some time reading about hormonal development and endocrinology, its complexity in gender development.

    C) Study animal life. Learn more about the complexity of creation the area of sexual orientation, along with gender roles in primates.

    D) Learn about creation, beyond the metaphorical stories written in the Iron Age. Visit the NASA website, and read about what had been learned about how creation came into bring since the Big Bang. Don’t miss the images from the Hubble Space Telescope, including those in Deep Space. Come to a humble place in your own soul, a place of awe and wonder; an awareness of how small you are in the vast universe that surrounds you.

    Then, wrote your third article.
    You may want to consider making amends for your first two, especially if you consider yourself to be a follower of Jesus of Nazareth.

  11. Mary Yelenick
    Mary Yelenick says:

    Binary thinking, of the sort manifested by this bishop, fosters fear of the “other” — when there really is no “other”

    Too many Catholic bishops see their role as reining-in, when they could be raining love outward instead

  12. Stephen Newton
    Stephen Newton says:

    “Flags bearing the words ‘End Racism’ and ‘We are all God’s Children’ would be far more appropriate for a Catholic school.” So a simple solution might be if these words were added to the appropriate flag, thus specifying what the flags mean to the school.

  13. Allen Boedeker
    Allen Boedeker says:

    So, disagreement automatically equates with fear and hatred? The bishop is doing what Christ has called him to do — to love above all else, and to also teach what has been handed on to him, which is another form of love — of God and of his fellow human beings. He has a mandate from the Church which is God’s presence on earth, sinful as it is. “God so loved the world that He sent His only Son into the world” who wound up being crucified for speaking the truth. To be faithful to his calling the bishop can do nothing else — even if it means “crucifixion.”


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