Within days of a report finding 5,700 acts of sexual abuse from the Catholic Church in Germany, new child sexual abuse lawsuits against Catholic bishops in Maine, and the recent $121.5 million settlement over child sexual abuse between the Archdiocese of Santa Fe and its victims, a bishop of the Diocese of Worcester, Massachusetts, is, for some reason, lecturing us about morality.
On Thursday, Worcester’s Bishop Robert J. McManus announced he’s forbidding a local Jesuit school from self-identifying as Catholic because it hangs LGBTQ Pride and Black Lives Matter flags on its premises. This, he says, is “inconsistent with Catholic teaching” and “send[s] a mixed, confusing and scandalous message.” I suppose the Catholic Church does know a thing or two about scandals!
It’s pretty self-explanatory why McManus opposes the Nativity School’s Pride flag—classic, tried and true homophobia! As for his issues with the Black Lives Matter flag, McManus says the Church “teaches that all life is sacred,” and, “strongly affirms that all lives matter.”
As if McManus’s stated opposition to Black Lives Matter couldn’t get more nakedly racist, he somehow finds a way to blame the movement, which protests ongoing state violence and police killings of Black people, for the decaying of “the nuclear family” and “the family structure” as a whole.
“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,” McManus concludes. “This leaves me no other option but to take canonical action.”
These are some pretty bold words from the bishop of a diocese that’s just miles away from the Archdiocese of Boston, which has been accused of and charged with covering up hundreds of acts of child sexual abuse for years. Catholic bishops like McManus have simply been far too loud of late, protesting President Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s right to receive the sacrament because of their (extremely tepid) support for abortion rights. Pelosi and Biden’s feckless “leadership” on the issue has arguably enabled the current state of affairs, in which the Supreme Court is poised to overturn Roe v. Wade, if anything helping the goals of the Catholic Church—yet Catholic bishops have somehow identified both as public enemy no. 1 to fertilized eggs and fetuses across the country.
All of this is to say, if I were a leader in a violently patriarchal institution that’s allowed countless men to abuse their power, and violate and traumatize thousands of children, I would simply have nothing to say about anything, ever—least of all the morality of advocates for LGBTQ rights and Black Lives Matter. I would instead perhaps look within about who is really destroying “the family structure”: activists protesting anti-Black racism and violence, or a religious institution with a decades-old child sexual abuse crisis?
I know we’re all tired of ogling at spectacles of hypocrisy at this point. Anyone who’s shameless enough to publicly rail against Pride and Black Lives Matter flags probably isn’t ashamed of their own inconsistencies. But as Congress members and conservative activists rail against extremely innocent things like children attending drag shows—all while white nationalists recently stormed a library where a drag queen was reading to children—it’s worth fact-checking who’s really responsible for all the “grooming” and child sexual abuse we keep hearing about.
Here’s a hint: It’s not gay teachers or drag performers, who are creating supportive environments for kids of all genders and sexual orientations to explore their interests. Funnily enough, in light of Rep. Lauren Boebart’s (R-CO) recent tweet calling on parents to “take your children to CHURCH, not drag bars,” the number of documented cases of kids being hurt at drag shows stands at zero, while the number of cases of kids being hurt by the Catholic Church around the world is in the hundreds of thousands.