School flying BLM, LGBTQ flags can’t call itself Catholic, bishop says

FILE UNDER: Insulated, monolithic, callous, tone deaf church power structure

An LGBTQ pride flag and a Black Lives Matter flag fly alongside the American flag above Nativity School of Worcester in Worcester, Mass.

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The stark, dual-colored letters of the Black Lives Matter flag and the bright rainbow stripes of the Pride flag had flown above the Massachusetts Catholic school for more than a year before the local bishop registered his opposition.

The Black Lives Matter flag, Bishop Robert McManus said in April, has been “co-opted by some factions which also instill broad-brush distrust of police.” And the LGBTQ flag could be used to contrast church teaching that marriage is between a man and a woman, he added.

When Nativity School of Worcester didn’t budge, McManus issued a severe ruling. The tuition-free middle school, which serves boys facing economic hardship, can no longer identify itself as Catholic because the flags are “inconsistent with Catholic teaching,” he declared Thursday.

“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,” McManus wrote. “Despite my insistence that the school administration remove these flags because of the confusion and the properly theological scandal that they do and can promote, they refuse to do so.”

That defiance, McManus said, left him no other choice but to strip the Jesuit-run school of its Catholic affiliation. The school also can no longer celebrate Mass or the sacraments or use diocesan institutions to raise funds. It was not included Thursday in the diocese’s list of Catholic schools in its region.

The decision, which comes during Pride Month, appears to be a rare instance of a Catholic organization’s affiliation with the phrase “Black Lives Matter” becoming a flash point with its diocese. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has taken a nuanced approach to the phrase, endorsing the concept of racial justice but not necessarily the organizations that attach themselves to that message. The Black Lives Matter movement describes itself as aimed at eradicating White supremacy and interrupting violence against Black communities.

Nativity School said its use of the Black Lives Matter and Pride flags was a response to a call from its students, most of whom are people of color, to make their community more inclusive. The flags symbolize that all are welcome at Nativity, the school’s president said Thursday.

“Both flags are now widely understood to celebrate the human dignity of our relatives, friends and neighbors who have faced, and continue to face hate and discrimination,” Thomas McKenney wrote. “Though any symbol or flag can be co-opted by political groups or organizations, flying our flags is not an endorsement of any organization or ideology, they fly in support of marginalized people.”

The bishop disagrees. The Pride flag represents support for same-sex marriage and “a LGBTQ+ lifestyle,” he said. And while the church teaches that all lives are sacred, McManus said the Black Lives Matter movement has used that phrase to contradict Catholic teaching on the importance of the nuclear family. (Black Lives Matter previously said on its website that it aims to “disrupt the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure requirement by supporting each other as extended families.” The page was later taken offline.)

Bishop McManus

Nativity said it will appeal the bishop’s decision — but it has no plans to remove the flags, which it said show its commitment to solidarity with its students and families. McKenney said the administrators’ decision was informed by the Gospel, Catholic social teaching and the school’s Jesuit heritage.

The outcome follows months of dialogue between the school and the Diocese of Worcester. Around the same time that McManus took issue with the flags in March, a person tore down both flags, the school said. Two months later, the bishop warned the school that it would lose its Catholic label if it did not remove the displays.

Nativity School isn’t the only educational institution to be stripped of its “Catholic” label. In 2019, the Archdiocese of Indianapolis told Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School that it could no longer identify itself as Catholic after it refused to fire a teacher who was in a same-sex marriage. The Midwest Province of Jesuits said it would appeal the decision through a church process.

To Guillermo Creamer Jr., an openly gay alumnus of Nativity School, the flags symbolize that Nativity is inclusive of Black lives — a message he said is crucial at a school with primarily Black and Latino students.

“For these young men who are witnessing what’s happening around the country and seeing the Black Lives Matter flag fly, it’s a very big deal,” he said.

Creamer, 27, said he expects the bishop’s decision to prompt other Catholic schools that align themselves with Black Lives Matter or pro-LGBTQ messages in some way to question whether that’s acceptable. But he said that may not be entirely bad if it encourages Catholics to talk honestly about whether and how these causes fit into their faith.

In his letter to the community, McKenney reminded parents that Nativity School is funded by individuals and groups — not by the diocese — and that it would continue to operate as usual.

Outside the school building, he noted, the flags still fly.

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Too Much Church in the State

Justice Amy Coney Barrett.

By Maureen Dowd

During her Supreme Court confirmation hearings, Amy Coney Barrett tried to reassure Democrats who were leery of her role as a “handmaid” in a Christian group called “People of Praise.”

The group has a male-dominated hierarchy and a rigid view of sexuality reflecting conservative gender norms and rejecting openly gay men and women. Men, the group’s decision makers, “headed” their wives.

Justice Barrett said then that she would not impose her personal beliefs on the country. “Judges can’t just wake up one day and say ‘I have an agenda — I like guns, I hate guns, I like abortion, I hate abortion’ — and walk in like a royal queen and impose their will on the world,” she said amicably. “It’s not the law of Amy. It’s the law of the American people.”

Yet that’s what seems to be coming. Like a royal queen, she will impose her will on the world. It will be the law of Amy. And Sam. And Clarence. And Neil. And Brett.

It’s outrageous that five or six people in lifelong unaccountable jobs are about to impose their personal views on the rest of the country. While they will certainly provide the legal casuistry for their opinion, let’s not be played for fools: The Supreme Court’s impending repeal of Roe will be owed to more than judicial argumentation. There are prior worldviews at work in this upheaval.

As a Catholic whose father lived through the Irish Catholics “need not apply” era, I’m happy to see Catholics do well in the world. There is an astonishing preponderance of Catholics on the Supreme Court — six out of the nine justices, and a seventh, Neil Gorsuch, was raised as a Catholic and went to the same Jesuit boys’ high school in a Maryland suburb that Brett Kavanaugh and my nephews did, Georgetown Prep.

My father was furious that Catholic presidential candidates Al Smith and J.F.K. had to defend themselves against scurrilous charges that, if they got to the White House, they would take their orders from the pope.

One must tread carefully here. A Catholic signed on to the Roe v. Wade decision and another was in the court majority that upheld it in Planned Parenthood v. Casey. Justice Sonia Sotomayor, a Catholic, has expressed support for Roe, and Chief Justice John Roberts, a conservative Catholic, may be working for a compromise decision that can uphold Roe.

Still, this Catholic feels an intense disquiet that Catholic doctrine may be shaping (or misshaping) the freedom and the future of millions of women, and men. There is a corona of religious fervor around the court, a churchly ethos that threatens to turn our whole country upside down.

I come from a family that hews to the Catholic dictates on abortion, and I respect the views of my relatives. But it’s hard for me to watch the church trying to control women’s sexuality after a shocking number of its own priests sexually assaulted children and teenagers for decades, and got recycled into other parishes, as the church covered up the whole scandal. It is also hard to see the church couch its anti-abortion position in the context of caring for women when it continues to keep women in subservient roles in the church.

Religiosity is a subject some Catholics on the court have been more open about in recent years.

Last year, at Thomas Aquinas College in California, Justice Samuel Alito fretted that there was growing cultural hostility toward Christianity and Catholicism. “There is a real movement to suppress the expression of anything that opposes the secular orthodoxy,” he said. Precisely which belief or practice of his religion does he feel he has been denied?

President Biden is a Catholic who is uncomfortable with the issue of abortion despite his support for Roe. Still, when Barrett was a law professor at Notre Dame, a group she belonged to unanimously denounced the university’s decision to honor Biden even though he didn’t support the church’s position on abortion.

We have no one in the public arena like Mario Cuomo, who respected the multiplicity of values in an open society and had the guts to wade into the lion’s den at Notre Dame in 1984.

“The Catholic who holds political office in a pluralistic democracy — who is elected to serve Jews and Muslims, atheists and Protestants, as well as Catholics — bears special responsibility,” Cuomo said. “He or she undertakes to help create conditions under which all can live with a maximum of dignity and with a reasonable degree of freedom; where everyone who chooses may hold beliefs different from specifically Catholic ones — sometimes contradictory to them; where the laws protect people’s right to divorce, to use birth control and even to choose abortion.”

The explosive nature of Alito’s draft opinion on Roe has brought to the fore how radical the majority on the court is, willing to make women fit with their zealous worldview — a view most Americans reject. It has also shown how radical Republicans are; although after pushing for this result for decades, because it made a good political weapon, they are now pretending it’s no big deal. We will all have to live with the catastrophic results of their zealotry.

Complete Article HERE!

Pope decries genital mutilation, sex trafficking of women

Pope Francis is decrying the genital mutilation of millions of girls and the trafficking of women for sex, including openly on city streets

Pope Francis delivers the Angelus noon prayer from his studio window overlooking St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican, Sunday, Feb. 6, 2022.

Pope Francis on Sunday decried the genital mutilation of millions of girls and the trafficking of women for sex, including openly on city streets, so others can make money off of them.

“This practice, unfortunately widespread in various regions of the world, humiliates the dignity of women and gravely attacks their physical integrity,” Francis said.

Female genital mutilation comprises all procedures that involve changing or injuring female genitalia for non-medical reasons and violates the human rights, health and the integrity of girls and women, the United Nations says in championing an end to the practice.

The practice can cause severe pain, shock, excessive bleeding, infections, and difficulty in passing urine, as well as consequences for sexual and reproductive health. While mainly concentrated in some 30 countries in Africa and the Middle East, it is also a problem for girls and women living elsewhere, including among immigrant populations.

According to U.N. figures, at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone the practice.

The pope also told the faithful that on Tuesday, there will be a day of prayer and reflection worldwide against human trafficking.

“This is a deep wound, inflicted by the shameful search of economic interests, without respect for the human person,” Francis said. ”So many girls — we see them on the streets — who aren’t free, they are slaves of the traffickers, who send them to work, and, if they don’t bring back money, they beat them,” the pope said. “This is happening today in our cities.”

“In the face of these plagues on humanity, I express my sorrow and I exhort all those who have responsibility to act in a decisive way to impede both the exploitation and the humiliating practices that afflict in particular women and girls,” Francis said.

Complete Article HERE!