A Worcester Jesuit middle school and the Diocese of Worcester are at odds over Black Lives Matter and gay pride flags flying on the school’s campus.

Diocese Bishop Robert J. McManus said the flags symbolize messages that conflict with Catholic teaching, and suggested the Nativity School of Worcester could risk losing its Catholic identity if administrators don’t take the flags down.

In response, the Nativity School said the flags are meant to show that all students “do matter and deserve to be respected as Christian values teach us.” Although the school said it operates within the diocese, officials made the distinction that it’s not a diocesan school. The Nativity School is an accredited tuition-free, all-boys school mainly serving students of color from low-income communities.

School administrators said they’ve been flying the Black Lives Matter and gay pride flags since January 2021. School President Thomas McKenney declined to elaborate what the bishop's threat could mean for the school.

"The Black Lives Matter and Pride flags fly below the American flag at our school to remind our young men, their families and Nativity Worcester staff that all are welcome here and that they are valued and safe in this place," the school said in a statement.

In a recent statement on the diocese’s website, McManus said the church “teaches that all lives are equal before God and the law and that all lives demand respect regardless of race, gender or ethnicity.” However, he added “the flag with the emblem Black Lives Matter has at times been coopted by some factions which also instill broad-brush distrust of police and those entrusted with enforcing our laws. We do not teach that in our schools.”

Regarding the gay pride flag, the bishop argued that sacramental marriage is between a man and woman.

“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,” he said.

His argument is in stark contrast to the Catholic Church’s previous support of Black Lives Matter. Cardinal Sean O’Malley, who leads the Boston Archdiocese, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the pope have previously spoken in favor of the Black Lives Matter movement.

While the church has long taken a harder line on LGBTQ rights, Pope Francis has urged parents to support their gay children and has endorsed civil unions.

McManus’ feud with the Nativity School is the latest highlight of his conservative ideology. In his 18 years as bishop of the Worcester diocese, he has repeatedly railed against transgenderism and LGBTQ rights, including blocking the sale of a diocese-owned Northbridge mansion to a married gay couple.

In 2012, he successfully pushed Anna Maria College in Paxton to rescind its invitation to Vicki Kennedy, the pro-choice widow of Sen. Ted Kennedy, to be its commencement speaker.

A year later, McManus was arrested for drunk driving, leaving the scene of an accident and refusing a chemical test. He apologized for his actions, and the case was dismissed in Rhode Island court.

Watch: Worcester school’s Black Lives Matter, LGBTQ flags draw ire from bishop