In January 2021, the School of the Nativity, a school founded in 2003 by the Jesuits of College of the Holy Crossbegan to fly the flag of the gay-prideas well as the flag of the movement Black Lives Matter.
School president Thomas McKenney said in a statement on the school’s website that the initiative was taken by students “to express our support for making our communities more just and more inclusive”.
The reaction of the diocesan bishop
The Chancery of the Diocese of Worcester caught wind of the flags and entered the fray under the Catholic banner. According The Catholic Free PressBishop Robert McManus, the Bishop of the Diocese of Worcester, called on the school in March 2022 to remove the flags as they represent an ideology contrary to Catholic principles.
This decision was followed by a public statement from the bishop in April, asking, “Does the school engage in ideologies contrary to Catholic teaching? If so, is it still a Catholic school? »
A month later, the bishop wrote an open letter to the community, titled ‘Why Symbols Matter’, again attempting to persuade the school of its duty to uphold Catholic doctrine, the true nature of marriage and the family. , and to oppose ideologies hostile to these essential realities, both from a natural and a Catholic point of view.
“As a Catholic institution, no symbol can better portray all that is dear to us than the Holy Cross,” Bishop McManus wrote. “The meaning of this symbol is contradicted by the ideologies that are promoted by the BLM flag and the gay pride flag. The board of directors of the Nativity School must decide whether it wants to continue to be a Catholic institution or not.
“Being sponsored by the Jesuits is not enough to make a school Catholic. Many non-Catholic institutions do great humanitarian works, but being Catholic means embracing, not denying, our Catholic identity.
“This identity is not defined by any particular bishop or pope, but by 2,000 years of theological reflection and tradition that derives from the Apostles…I fervently pray that the school Nativity decides to display only banners that complement the Cross of Christ that tells them why they are loved. »
Refusal to comply
The bishop’s rebuke fell on deaf ears. The school did not move. Nativity chose his reference. So, after several warnings, the bishop’s hand was forced: could he turn a blind eye to an obvious scandal in his diocese or should he defend virtue and Catholic teaching?
On June 10, Bishop McManus did what his duty demanded of him as guardian of souls. In accordance with canon law, which gives the bishop of the diocese the authority and duty to designate which schools in his diocese are or are not Catholic, he ordered that Nativity removes the word Catholic from its name and description, and that it cannot appear in the directory of Catholic institutions.
And that “the mass, the sacraments and the sacramentals are no longer celebrated in the premises of Nativity School or sponsored” by the school in other churches or chapels in the diocese.
Bishop McManus’ message was clear. The flag of the gay-pride obviously symbolizes what is impossible and sinful: unions between people of the same sex. And the flag of Black Lives Matteralthough it seems at first to mean something laudable – the fact that racism is contrary to love of neighbor – is the banner of an organization that does not reflect the natural and Catholic reality of the family.
It was recalled that the movement Black Lives Matter announced “What We Believe”. Their creed included their goal to “disrupt the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure by supporting each other as extended families and ‘villages’ that collectively care for each other, especially our children, to the extent where mothers, parents and children are comfortable. »
Rather than realizing his mistake, Nativity persists and seeks to appeal against the legitimate decree of the bishop. In the meantime, McKenney said in his statement, ” Nativity will continue to display the flags in question as a visible sign of the school’s solidarity with our students, our families and their communities. »
McKinney adds, in another touch of irony, that “commitment to our mission, grounded in and driven by Gospel values, Catholic social teachings, and our Jesuit heritage compels us to do so.”
In his spiritual exercises, Saint Ignatius proposes to make a “composition of place” for the meditation of the two standards, one of the centerpieces of this retreat. “Here will be imagined a vast plain near Jerusalem, in the midst of which is Our Lord Jesus Christ, sovereign head of all virtuous men, and another plain near Babylon, where is Lucifer, the chief of the enemies. . »
The standards are chosen, the flags are hoisted.
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Jesuits hoist the banner of Lucifer over a Catholic school
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