A bishop has declared that a central Massachusetts school "may no longer identify itself as Catholic" because it refuses to remove Black Lives Matter and Pride flags it began flying on campus last year.
Arguing that the flags "embody specific agendas and ideologies (that) contradict Catholic social and moral teaching," Bishop Robert McManus of the Diocese of Worcester issued a decree on Thursday punishing the Nativity School of Worcester, a tuition-free private middle school that serves about 60 boys from under-resourced communities.
The decree prohibits the school from calling itself Catholic and prevents Mass and sacraments from taking place on school grounds.
In a statement, the school said it began displaying the flags in Jan. 2021 at the request of its students, the majority of whom, it noted, are people of color.
"As a multicultural school, the flags represent the inclusion and respect of all people. These flags simply state that all are welcome at Nativity and this value of inclusion is rooted in Catholic teaching," said the school.
According to the school, when McManus became aware of the flags in March of this year, he asked the school to take them down. Later that month, an unknown person removed them, the school said, “[causing] harm to our entire community. The flags were later raised again.
In May, McManus threatened to punish the school in an open letter, where he claimed the Church is “100% behind the phrase ‘black lives matter’" but accused “a specific movement with a wider agenda” of “co-opt[ing] the phrase.”
The school said it would seek to appeal the bishop's decision while continuing to fly the flags.
A spokesperson for the diocese did not immediately respond to ABC News' request for comment.