Indiana Catholic priest suspended for calling Black Lives Matter activists 'maggots, parasites, serpents'
CARMEL, INDIANA: An Indiana Catholic priest has been suspended from public ministry after he compared the Black Lives Matter movement and its organizers to "maggots" and "parasites" who cause "misery" and "resentment." Rev. Theodore Rothrock, of St. Elizabeth Seton Catholic Church in Carmel, had been widely criticized after he made the incendiary comments in a weekly bulletin handed out on Sunday, June 28.
"The only lives that matter are their own and the only power they seek is their own," Rothrock had written, according to the Indianapolis Star, who accessed a copy of the bulletin. "They are wolves in wolves clothing, masked thieves and bandits, seeking only to devour the life of the poor and profit from the fear of others. They are maggots and parasites at best, feeding off the isolation of addiction and broken families, and offering to replace any current frustration and anxiety with more misery and greater resentment," he continued. "They are serpents in the garden seeking only to uproot and replant a new species of human-made in the likeness of men and not in the image of God," he had ranted. He went on to add that the church should oppose the Black Lives Matter movement, Antifa, and "other nefarious acolytes of their persuasion" and carry the "message of peace that comes to us in Christ."
He also questioned the destruction of monuments and questioned whether the likes of Frederick Douglass and Martin Luther King Jr. would be marching with the protesters today because of the "alleged systemic racism."
In the wake of the bulletin, a newly formed group that called itself 'Carmel Against Racial Injustice' had called for Rothrock's removal from a position of leadership. They also promised to hold a demonstration outside his church to voice their dissent.
"Carmel Against Racial Injustice is disgusted and shocked by the recent letter written by Father Theodore Rothrock," the group said. "We are also deeply saddened by the fact that the church leadership did not condemn the statement and saw fit to allow its publication. Silence is the action of being complicit in injustice."
The outrage that followed Rothrock's statements prompted Bishop Timothy Doherty, of the Diocese of Lafayette-in-Indiana, too take action against the Reverend, who has now been suspended from public ministry.
In a statement posted on their website, the Bishop expressed "pastoral concern for the affected communities" and said Rothrock had been suspended as per Canon 1333.
"The suspension offers the Bishop an opportunity for pastoral discernment for the good of the diocese and for the good of Father Rothrock," Doherty said. "Various possibilities for his public continuation in priestly ministry are being considered, but he will no longer be assigned as Pastor of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel as his next appointment. Deacon Bill Reid will serve as Administrator of St. Elizabeth Seton as of 12 p.m. noon July 1, 2020."
He also said "Pastors do not submit bulletin articles or homilies to my offices before they are delivered" and that he expects Rothrock to "issue a clarification about his intended message."
Rothrock, who had been set to take over as the missionary pastor of Mt. Carmel next month, has since apologized for his comments in a message that was sent to parishioners and also posted on the church's website, reported the Indy Star.
"It was not my intention to offend anyone, and I am sorry that my words have caused any hurt to anyone," he wrote, adding that the church should condemn bigotry, which is "a part of the fabric of our society."
"We must also be fully aware that there are those who would distort the Gospel for their own misguided purposes. People are afraid, as I pointed out, rather poorly I would admit, that there are those who feed on that fear to promote more fear and division."