Bishop Robert McManus, who heads the Diocese of Worcester, Massachusetts, will not be attending the College of the Holy Cross commencement on May 27.
McManus was the subject of a petition by some students, faculty, and alumni to disinvite him because of his comments about a Black Lives Matter flag and a Gay Pride flag that flew over the Nativity School, a middle school affiliated with Holy Cross, according to the Catholic League.
Catholic League President Bill Donohue said the two flags were flying next to the American flag. Despite the fact that they had been up for more than a year, it was only recently that it was brought to the bishop's attention.
When McManus learned of what was going on, he asked the school to stop flying the two flags. That request sparked the online petition.
Donohue said: "In his public statement on this issue, McManus wrote that while the Catholic Church respects everyone equally, 'the flag with the emblem Black Lives Matter has at times been co-opted by some factions which also instill broad-brush distrust of police and those entrusted with enforcing our laws.' He also said that 'gay pride flags are often used to stand in contrast to consistent Catholic teaching that sacramental marriage is between a man and a woman.' "
McManus said: "As the Bishop of this diocese, I must teach that it is imperative that a Catholic school use imagery and symbols which are reflective of that school's values and principles so as to be clear with young people who are being spiritually and morally formed for the future."
Donohue called BLM a "Marxist, anti-Christian organization. It has explicitly called for the destruction of the nuclear family," he said.
"Flying a gay pride flag at a Catholic school sends an unmistakable message: We don't buy the church's teachings on sexual ethics. As such, it is not a plea to respect homosexuals: on the contrary, it is an in-your-face rejection of Catholicism."
Masslive reported the petition reads: "Unfortunately, the Bishop's statements demonstrate ignorant and bigoted sentiments which fail to align with these long-held values that guide our community. As a community that welcomes members of every gender, race, ethnicity, and sexual orientation, we find it inappropriate to have Bishop McManus present at this year's graduation ceremony for the Class of 2022, and thus request that he be disinvited from attendance."
Following word of the petition, McManus notified Holy Cross officials he will not attend the commencement.
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