WORCESTER, Massachusetts (LifeSiteNews) — A Catholic bishop in Massachusetts has issued a ban on gender-bending behavior as well as the expression or celebration of “same-sex attraction” by students in Diocese of Worcester schools.
Bishop Robert McManus officially issued a policy on June 29 mandating that students wear gender-appropriate uniforms as well as use bathrooms and play on sports teams corresponding to their biological sex.
The rules also ban students from “expressing, celebrating or advocating for ‘same-sex attraction in such a way as to cause confusion or distraction,’” The Daily Mail reported.
According to the Patch, McManus explained in a memo that to embrace same-sex attraction or gender dysphoria is to reject the truth about how one is created by God.
“We do not serve anyone’s greater good by falsifying the truth, for it is only the truth that frees us for the full life that God offers to each of us,” he wrote. “Thus, when a person experiences same-sex attraction or some form of gender dysphoria, such struggles do not change the biological fact of how God created that person, and it would be untruthful for the Catholic Church or our Catholic schools to pretend otherwise.”
The policy, which takes effect this coming school year and applies to 21 schools in the diocese, has already been met with resistance by religious orders running two Worcester Catholic schools.
Xaverian Brother Daniel Skala, representing the all-boys St. John’s High School, and Sister Patty Chappell of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, representing the all-girls Notre Dame Academy, wrote a joint letter to Bishop McManus on August 11 telling him that the boards of trustees of their religious orders decided not to implement his policy, the Patch reported.
“We feel confident that our schools are responding to the issues raised in your memo in a manner that respects the dignity of all persons, aligns to the mission and charism of our sponsoring orders, and protects and affirms our identity as Catholic schools,” the letter read.
Asked about the current policy of Notre Dame Academy by Catholic News Agency (CNA), Susan Dennin, a spokeswoman for the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur’s U.S. East-West Province, said that the school has “consistently followed both the legal guidance and recommendations of the National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA) that schools should not have a policy on transgender students.”
“NDA Worcester has approached these sensitive and complex circumstances in a pastoral manner that respects the dignity of all persons while also affirming the school’s Catholic identity,” she said.
While Dennin cited the guidance of the NCEA to support Notre Dame Academy’s lack of policy on “transgender” students, the NCEA told CNA that the bishop sets the policy for the diocese, not their organization.
Margaret Kaplow, a spokeswoman for the NCEA, told CNA on Friday, “We only refer schools back to their ordinary. We don’t make policy. We don’t advise policy. We’re a membership association that is based on professional development and data.”
“The bishop sets the policy for the diocese,” she added.
The NCEA in fact supports the Catholic Church’s teaching on gender and sexuality. A reference sheet on the organization’s website cites the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) on the issue: “Everyone, man and woman, should acknowledge and accept his sexual identity. Physical, moral, and spiritual difference and complementarity are oriented toward the goods of marriage and the flourishing of family life.” (No. 2333)
The resource also cites the CCC teaching that “homosexual acts ‘are contrary to the natural law’” and can “under no circumstances” be approved.”
LifeSiteNews contacted St. John’s High School for information on the school’s own policy or lack thereof regarding the gender identification of students who identify as “trans,” but has not yet received a response.
While Notre Dame Academy and St. John’s are located in the Diocese of Worcester, they are not directly overseen by McManus or Diocese Superintendent David Perda, according to the Patch.
LifeSiteNews contacted the office of Bishop McManus for comment on the decisions of Notre Dame Academy and St. John’s but has not yet received a response.
While Massachusetts state senators Robyn Kennedy and Jason Lewis have criticized McManus’ policy for curbing students’ “self-expression,” the Catholic Action League has celebrated McManus’ decision as an “act of courage and fidelity, which underscores the necessity of the Church being counter-cultural in modern society.”
Catholic Action League executive director C.J. Doyle stated, ‘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.’
McManus has distinguished himself as a bishop for making clear that schools defying Catholic Church teaching cannot identify as “Catholic.”
For example, last year, McManus stripped the Jesuit-run Nativity School in Worcester of its “Catholic” status for ignoring his previous directives about the flying of the “pride” and Black Lives Matter (BLM) flags.
In 2007, he condemned the local Jesuit-run College of the Holy Cross for their decision to rent their facilities for a conference featuring NARAL and Planned Parenthood workshops. At the time, he issued a letter to the college stating:
“As Bishop of Worcester, it is my pastoral and canonical responsibility to determine what institutions can properly call themselves ‘Catholic.’ This is a duty that I do not take lightly since to be a Catholic institution means that such an institution conducts its mission and ministry in accord with Catholic Church teaching, especially in cases of faith and morals.”
“It is my fervent wish that the administration of the College of the Holy Cross will unequivocally disassociate itself from the upcoming conference sponsored by the Massachusetts Alliance on Teen Pregnancy so that the college can continue to be recognized as a Catholic institution committed to promoting the moral teaching of the Roman Catholic Church.”