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Bishop’s Withdrawal of Catholic Identity from Nativity School “A Denial of the Gospel”

June 16, 2022⁠. Boston, MA—Bishop Robert McManus’ decree that a Worcester school can no longer identify as Catholic is a shameful denial of the Gospel, according to DignityUSA—a national Boston-based organization of Catholics working for justice, equality, and full inclusion of LGBTQI people in the church and society. 

“Bishop McManus has taken this fight over Nativity School’s attempts to demonstrate that all are welcome and loved by God to an outrageous level by telling them they can no longer identify as a Catholic school,” said Marianne Duddy-Burke, DignityUSA’s Executive Director. “What is more Catholic than Nativity’s efforts to give some of the most marginalized children in our society a wonderful education and a chance at a better life? Is flying two flags he happens to find objectionable more important than that? This is a shameful denial of the Gospel message of Jesus.” 

Nativity School is a Jesuit-run school that provides a free Catholic education to about 60 boys, mostly Black and Latino, and almost all from families living in poverty. Since earlier this year, the school and the bishop have been in a dispute about Black Lives Matter and Rainbow flags the school has flown for more than a year. In a statement released on June 15, 2022, Nativity School President Thomas McKenney stated, “The flags simply state that all are welcome at Nativity and this value of inclusion is rooted in Catholic teaching.” 

Duddy-Burke said, “Bishop McManus is surely aware that the Vatican has already suspended a similar attempt to strip an Indianapolis high school of its Catholic identity and ordered Masses and the administration of the sacraments to be restored there. This is a blatant move to position the Worcester diocese, and the larger Catholic church, as aligned with a certain side in the U.S. culture wars. This move is certain to horrify the large majority of Catholics who support LGBTQ+ equality as well as racial justice. It is an overtly racist and homophobic action that will not be allowed to stand. 

“We call on Catholics in the Worcester diocese, across Massachusetts, and beyond to stand in solidarity with Nativity School. Send funding to help them give their students an even better education. Let them know you support their commitment to making their embrace of all God’s people visible. Call on Bishop McManus to rescind this decree, which does nothing but divide the Body of Christ,” said Duddy-Burke. 

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