WORCESTER, Mass. (WBZ NewsRadio) — Bishop Robert McManus of the Diocese of Worcester announced Thursday that Nativity School of Worcester can no longer call itself a Catholic facility after the school refused to take down Pride and Black Lives Matter flags.
The school, which is independently funded and not a Diocesan school, began flying the flags in January 2021 after students called on the school to be more just and inclusive.
"As a multicultural school, the flags represent the inclusion and respect of all people," said school president Thomas McKenney. "These flags simply state that all are welcome at Nativity and this value of inclusion is rooted in Catholic teaching."
McManus and the Diocese told the school to remove the flags in March 2022. In late May, they warned school leaders that if the flags continued to fly, the Diocese would ban them from identifying themselves as a Catholic school.
McManus officially issued the decree Thursday, which in addition to stripping the school of its Catholic title also says the school may no longer perform mass or sacraments on its campus or sponsor any masses or sacraments at churches in the Diocese of Worcester.
"As Diocesan Bishop, it is my sacred duty and inherent responsibility to determine when a school claiming to be “Catholic” is acting in such a way that is contrary to the teachings of the Catholic Church and disregards my legitimate authority as the guardian and overseer of Catholic education in the Diocese of Worcester. Despite my insistence that the school administration remove these flags because of the confusion and the properly theological scandal that they do and can promote, they refuse to do so. This leaves me no other option but to take canonical action," McManus said in the decree.
McKenney said the school will appeal the decision, continue to fly the flags, and operate as normal.