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Massachusetts Bishop Praised for Protecting Catholic School Children

The Most Reverend Robert J. McManus of the Diocese of Worcester, Massachusetts is being praised for his courage in upholding Church teaching regarding gender identity in Catholic Schools.

According to the Catholic Action League of Massachusetts, the Diocese of Worcester issued new instructions for the 21 Catholic schools in his diocese that will require all students to be identified according to their biological sex and to conduct themselves in a manner consistent with Catholic moral principles.

Entitled Catholic Education and the Human Person: Diocesan policy for regarding sexuality and sexual identity, the document clearly states that Catholic schools must remain in the fullness of the truth in order to carry out their proper mission, and these truths extend into every facet of our lives, including our sexuality.

“Regarding sexuality and sexual identity, the Catechism of the Catholic Church states: ‘By creating the human being man and woman, God gives personal dignity equally to the one and the other. Each of them, man and woman, should acknowledge and accept his sexual identity’ (CCC Nos. 2360-2363).”

For this reason, “All students are expected to conduct themselves at school in a manner consistent with their biological sex. School practice shall consider the gender of all students as being consistent with their biological sex, including, but not limited to, the following: participation in school athletics; school-sponsored dances; dress and uniform policies; the use of changing facilities, showers, locker rooms, and bathrooms (with rare exceptions only on a limited, case-by-case basis, to be determined by the principal of the school); titles, names, and pronouns; and official school documents.”

In regard to same-sex relations, the Church also teaches that “By its very nature, sexuality is ordered to the conjugal love of a man and woman within the bond of marriage (c. 1055)” which is why the new policy does not permit students to “advocate, celebrate, or express same-sex attraction in such a way as to cause confusion or distraction in the context of Catholic school classes, activities, or events.”

The document goes on to say that “if a student’s expression of gender, sexual identity or sexuality should cause confusion or disruption at the school, or if it should mislead others, cause scandal, or have the potential for causing scandal, then the matter will first be discussed with the student and his/her parents. If the issue is not resolved to the satisfaction of the school, whose primary goal must always be to uphold Catholic truths and principles, then the student may be dismissed from the school, after the parents are first given the opportunity to withdraw the student from the school.”

Significantly, the document maintains that no Catholic school must be forced to submit to any law, regulation or judicial decision involving gender identity “inconsistent with the doctrine and teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.”

Because the Catholic faith holds that all persons have inherent human dignity and are thus deserving of innate respect as a person without exception, “Bullying, harassment, or threats or acts of violence against any student based on that student’s perceived sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity, will not be tolerated.”

However, while we must respect the sacred dignity of each individual person, “that does not mean the Church must accept the confused notions of secular gender ideology,” the document states. “We must not demean or deny the sincerity and struggle of those who experience same-sex attraction or who feel their true gender identity is different from their biological sex. Rather, we seek to accompany them on their journey of life, offering them the light of the Gospel as they try to find their way forward. These truths are not merely faith-based; rather, such realities are also knowable through the use of properly functioning senses and right reason.”

Liberal politicians in the state were quick to state their disapproval of the policy. Former Catholic school student and Massachusetts state senator Robyn Kennedy expressed deep disappointment with the policy on X. “My Catholicism taught me that we are to love and care for each other. To the young people who face harm by this policy, please know you are seen, you are valued, you are loved. Our world needs you. We celebrate you.”

State senator Jason Lewis also condemned the policy on social media, saying that he was “beyond disappointed to see that Worcester Catholic schools are planning to forbid students from expressing their identities and even using their own names in the classroom.”

Lewis went on to say, “The same diocese that protected the names of known child abusers earlier this year and forced a school to stop calling itself Catholic after flying Pride and BLM flags last year, continues to harm children with policies intended to exclude and shame students. I hope that the diocese will quickly acknowledge the great harm that they are causing, and present new policies that support the love and inclusion that the Catholic Church preaches.”

However, Catholic groups praised the bishop’s courage and faithfulness to Church teaching.

“Catholic schools were built by and for the Catholic community, whose children have a right to an authentically Catholic education,” said Catholic Action League Executive Director C. J. Doyle. “Catholic parents should enjoy the reasonable expectation that Catholic schools will provide a genuine alternative to the secular values and practices—often inimical to Christian morality and parental rights—which prevail in the government controlled public school system.”

He added: "The Catholic faithful should also have the right to hear the truth of the Church’s teachings without their beliefs being reprobated or their religious leaders being demonized by secular society.”

Let us keep Bishop McManus in our prayers.

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