Bishop of Worcester Robert J. McManus is facing backlash after issuing a decree that the Nativity School in Worcester can no longer be considered “Catholic” due to the school flying Pride and Black Lives Matter flags.
The Nativity School is seeking to appeal the order and will continue to keep the flags up despite the decision from the Worcester Diocese.
Boston.com asked readers to weigh in on the issue: Should Catholic schools be allowed by the diocese to fly Pride and BLM flags? Of the nearly 700 readers who responded, just over half of respondents (52%) said that the schools should not be able to fly either the LGBTQ or BLM flags, many pointing to the church as the ultimate decision maker.
Over 40% of readers said that the school should be able to fly the Pride and BLM flags with many invoking popular religious themes of acceptance and support of the marginalized as reasons schools should be able to have such flags.
Mass Live reported Tuesday that the Nativity School received over $100,000 in donations in response to the controversy.
Below is a sampling of what readers had to say about whether the school should be able to fly the flags or not.
Editors note: Responses may be edited for clarity.
No: ‘School is about learning, not all of this political stuff’
Just over half of readers who responded said that they sided with the Bishop on his decision that Catholic schools should not fly Pride and BLM flags.
Readers gave several different reasons for why they did not think the flags should be flown at Catholic schools. Many respondents said that their main objection was the flags were political by nature. Readers believed that religious institutions should keep political statements separate from the school’s religious values.
“Although I support wholeheartedly what both these flags stand for — there are undoubtedly political connotations. There are other ways to demonstrate [being] welcoming and inclusion without the flags.”– A Boston.com reader
“School is about learning, not all of this political stuff. Leave this to families to teach their children about.”– Red, Revere
“Separation of church and state. Please let parents enforce these teachings at home and schools should focus on learning.”– Kevin C., South Boston
“The flags being flown support a political agenda, whether or not that is the intent. The only flags that should be flown should be flag of the United States and flag of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.”– A Boston.com reader, Scituate
Readers also noted a school’s religious affiliation is at the mercy of the church officials’ policies and decisions. While the Nativity School identifies as Catholic and operates in the Diocese of Worcester, it is not a Diocesan school, but one run by USA East Province of Jesuits.
“Bishop McManus is correct. Nobody is forced to be a Catholic. There are plenty of other Christian denominations. This is the Catholic Church and these are the rules.”– A Boston.com reader
“These are not public schools. They are private Catholic schools and no one has the right to dictate how any private academic institution be run other than the religious organization itself, whatever religion they may be.”– Mark, Boston
“The Catholic church makes the rules. If you don’t want to follow their rules, then don’t call yourself a Catholic school or a Catholic in general. Pretty simple. Do I agree with their stance? No, that’s why I am no longer a Catholic.”– Mac, Boston
“They can fly any flag they want but if the Catholic church says you can’t call yourselves a Catholic School then you can’t call yourselves a Catholic School.”– A Boston.com reader, Vermont
Some readers’ stance was that schools should only be flying the U.S. flag, as opposed to flags in support of any groups in particular.
“Our Catholic school does not fly any other flags than the U.S. flag. They are there to learn and get educated, not virtue signal. Our school is very diverse, accepts all races and sexual orientation so they focus on a single united student body instead of forcing people into groups.”– James, Quincy
“We should only fly the American flag. The American flag represents all. Too much division with all these different flags.”– Michael, Stoneham
“No school, whether Catholic or public, should be flying any flag other than the stars and stripes and the MA state flag.”– AJ, Dorchester
Yes: ‘Flying these flags promotes the idea that Jesus would love everyone’
Readers who supported the school’s flying of the flags also had several different reasons for opposing the Bishop’s decree.
Respondents invoked religious parallels as reasons why they supported the flags’ messages, and others pointed out teachings from the Bible.
“Jesus would have flown those flags. I don’t know why these Bishops think Jesus would have a closed mind.”– ED, Providence, R.I.
“I believe flying these flags promotes the idea that Jesus would love everyone, no matter what. To think someone would want to prevent others from loving everyone from all walks of life is unbelievable.”– CJ, Brockton
“I guess the Bishop doesn’t practice what he preaches about God loving everyone. I went to Catholic schools for 12 years but it is actions like his that has driven me to stay away from the church.”– Chuck F., Malden
“Growing up Catholic, we were constantly told about how immoral it was that Catholics were routinely discriminated against.”– Bob L., Gloucester.
“There is nothing more Christ-like than being inclusive and supportive of each other, especially marginalized groups. Respectfully, I think perhaps, that the Bishop needs to go spend some time with Jesus, and he may come back feeling differently about his decision.”– Andrea I., N.H.
Other readers who supported the school’s stance said that taking down the flags sends the wrong message to the community about the church.
“I think the Bishop’s decision is misguided. Perhaps he does not understand the discriminatory message that taking down the flags sends. Hopefully the community’s reaction to his decree makes clear that the faithful are inclusive.”– Jen, Lincoln
“I think this Bishop exhibits discrimination on both accounts. His decision is outrageous as he promotes the church to be a judging and exclusive church, one which Jesus would not recognize! I am ashamed for this entitled church leader.”– Maloney, Mass.
“The flags are about inclusion and they are important to the students. It’s about upholding the values of acceptance. At its core, the church is technically about loving your neighbor and accepting those around us. The Bishop’s decision is a disgrace to what the church should actually stand for. This is a great example of why people are separating themselves from religion. There are too many “leaders” in the church who think like this Bishop and it’s pushing people away.”– Unnamed reader, Boston.
Readers also pointed to the fact that the school did not receive funding from the diocese as why they had a right to fly the affinity flags despite the Bishop’s decree.
“No. The school leadership with input from its students should make this decision. It is not a diocesan school, it is a Jesuit sponsored school. I believe the Bishop can give his opinion but that’s all.”– Rjh, Bleachertown
“This is an independent Jesuit school, not a diocesan school. I don’t understand how the Bishop has a say in how they operate. People like the Bishop of Worcester are why I no longer consider myself a Catholic. Doesn’t sound Christ-like to me.”– A Boston.com reader