Group protests Bishop’s demand that school remove BLM and Pride flags

A group of former students of a Catholic college in Massachusetts plan to demonstrate outside the chancery building of the Diocese of Worcester on April 27 against recent criticism by Bishop Robert McManus of a local Jesuit college for having flown Black Lives Matter and Pride flags.

“We’re just trying to make a point. … [McManus] should be the leader of his flock, without threatening to punish him. He’s a tyrant,” said Joseph Twarog, a Massachusetts resident who is helping organize the protest, scheduled for 10 a.m.

Twarog told NCR that he and “a small handful” of other alumni of College of the Holy Cross, a Jesuit college in Worcester, will seek to challenge McManus for “essentially intimidating” institutions like Worcester’s Nativity School.

“He needs to be called to task, quite frankly,” Twarog said.

Earlier this year, McManus called on the Nativity to remove its flags or risk losing the right to call itself a Catholic school. The bishop accused the school of stealing symbols that contradict church teachings.

“Does the school engage in ideologies contrary to Catholic teaching? If so, is it still a Catholic school? McManus asked in a prepared statement April 3.

In its own statement prepared at the time, the Nativity School said the flags are flown “to remind our young men, their families and the staff of Nativity Worcester that all are welcome here and are valued and in safety in this place”.

According to the Nativity School’s website, nearly half of its 61 students in grades five through eight are black, 33% are Hispanic and 20% are multiracial.

A spokesperson for the Diocese of Worcester told NCR that officials at McManus and the Nativity School did not come to a resolution on the flags. The spokesperson said he was unaware of the planned protest until told by NCR.

“We must do all we can as a state to uphold the civil rights of people and to recognize, value and respect the dignity of all human beings, including our young people from the LGBTQ community who are really going through a difficult time in this moment,” Healey said while on tour in Worcester on April 12.

Meanwhile, the Worcester Human Rights Commission has asked the city to fly the Progressive Pride Flag above Worcester Town Hall to show solidarity with the Nativity. The city granted the request.

Students, faculty and alumni of Holy Cross College circulated a petition calling on the college to disinvite McManus from its 2022 commencement ceremonies on May 27. The petitioners said the Bishop’s statements on the Nativity demonstrated “ignorant and bigoted sentiments”. The Worcester Telegram and Gazette reported on April 9 that McManus had told Holy Cross College President Vincent Rougeau that he would not be attending at the start.

Twarog, a 1970 Holy Cross graduate, noted that McManus during his 18 years as bishop at Worcester also clashed with other local Catholic institutions, including the College of the Holy Cross and the Anna Maria College in Paxton, Massachusetts, on campus matters. speakers who support abortion rights.

“This is not an isolated incident,” Twarog said of the School of the Nativity flag controversy.

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