Bishop Robert McManus had demanded that a school in Worcester, Massachusetts, run by the Society of Jesus, stop flying flags he said contradicted Catholic teaching.
The Bishop of Worcester, Massachusetts, will not attend the opening drills of the College of the Holy Cross, following a dispute over the theft of gay pride and Black Lives Matter flags.
Bishop Robert J. McManus has informed Holy Cross President Vincent D. Rougeau that he will not be attending the May 27 graduation ceremony, even as a petition has been circulating at the college asking that the Bishop be disinvited.
Earlier this year, Bishop McManus demanded that a local school run by the Society of Jesus stop flying flags he says contradict Catholic teaching.
“As the Catholic Church joins our nation in teaching that all lives are equal before God and the law and that all lives demand our respect regardless of race, gender or ethnicity, the flag with the “Black Lives Matter emblem has at times been co-opted by certain factions which also instill widespread distrust of the police and those tasked with enforcing our laws,” the bishop said in an April 3 statement. “We don’t teach that in our schools. And, while we teach that everyone is created in the image and likeness of God, gay pride flags are often used to oppose consistent Catholic teaching that sacramental marriage is between a man and a woman.
McManus asked in the statement whether the School of the Nativity in Worcester, which flew both flags, “engages in ideologies contrary to Catholic teaching.
“If so, is it still a Catholic school? As bishop of this diocese, I must teach that it is imperative that a Catholic school use images and symbols that reflect the values and principles of that school in order to be clear with young people who are spiritually and morally trained for the future,” he said.
The School of the Nativity, run by the Jesuits, the same religious order that operates Holy Cross, is not a school in the Diocese of Worcester. According to his website, the school welcomes students from families facing economic hardship, many of them from racial minorities. It does not charge any tuition fees. It is one of 64 Nativity Miguel schools serving more than 5,000 middle-aged boys and girls in 27 states. Worcester’s started in 2003 under the guidance of senior officials from the College of the Holy Cross.
The online petition to the college argued that it would be inappropriate for McManus to attend the commencement ceremony.
“Unfortunately, the Bishop’s statements demonstrate ignorant and bigoted sentiments that do not align with these long-standing values that guide our community,” the petition reads. “As a community that welcomes members of all genders, races, ethnicities and sexual orientations, we find it inappropriate for Bishop McManus to be present at this year’s graduation ceremony for the class of 2022, and therefore ask that he be disinvited.”
Tom McKenney, President of the School of the Nativity said in a press release that the school began flying the rainbow and BLM flags in early 2021 ‘to remind our young men, their families and the staff at Nativity Worcester that all are welcome here and valued and safe in this place. It tells them that, in fact, they matter and deserve to be respected as our Christian values teach us.