WORCESTER — In the wake of controversy over the school flying Pride and Black Lives Matters flags, the Nativity School of Worcester has been told by the Diocese of Worcester that it can no longer identify itself as a Catholic school.

Bishop Robert McManus decried the flags in April, saying they represent concepts that contradict with the Catholic faith.

The matter was the focus of much debate.

According to a story published Thursday in the Catholic Free Press, the bishop has signed a decree stating that his “pastoral responsibilities” have prompted him to declare that the Nativity School is prohibited “from identifying itself as a ‘Catholic’ school” or using “the title ‘Catholic’ to describe itself.”

The decree reads, in part: “The flying of these flags in front of a Catholic school sends a mixed, confusing and scandalous message to the public about the Church’s stance on these important moral and social issues.”

The school, 67 Lincoln St., is not allowed to fundraise with any connection to the diocese, according to the Free Press. Further, the name of former Bishop Daniel P. Reilly should be removed from the board of trustees.

Another edict: Mass, sacraments and sacramentals are no longer permitted to be celebrated on Nativity School premises or be sponsored by Nativity School in any church building or chapel within the Diocese of Worcester.

The Nativity School, which traditionally does not receive funding from the diocese, said it will continue to display the flags in question.

In a prepared response to the decree, school President Thomas McKenney said: “Nativity will seek to appeal the decision of the Diocese to remove our Catholic identity through the appropriate channels provided by the Church in circumstances like this. At the same time, after meaningful deliberation and discernment by its Board, leadership team, faculty, and partners, Nativity will continue to display the flags in question to give visible witness to the school’s solidarity with our students, families, and their communities. Commitment to our mission, grounded and animated by Gospel values, Catholic Social Teaching, and our Jesuit heritage compels us to do so.”

The Nativity School of Worcester, founded in 2003, is an independent, Jesuit middle school that provides tuition-free education.

The school has said it operates in the Diocese of Worcester, but is not a diocesan school; it is sponsored by the USA East Province of Jesuits. The school is supported solely through the contributions from individuals, foundations and corporations, the statement said.

“The flying of these flags in front of a Catholic school sends a mixed, confusing and scandalous message…” – Robert McManus, Bishop of the Diocese of Worcester

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