A Carmel priest, The Rev. Theodore Rothrock, has been suspended from public ministry for calling the Black Lives Matter demonstrators as “maggots and parasites.”
Rothrock’s suspension followed comments he wrote on the website of the St. Elizabeth Seton Catholic Church in a weekly bulletin.
In the fiery comments which were posted Sunday but have since been deleted, Rothrock derided the organizers of the Black Lives Matter protests, stating that the only lives that matter are their own and the only power they seek is their own.
“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,” wrote Rothrock, who was assigned to St. Elizabeth Seton Catholic Church in Carmel, Indiana.
Rothrock’s suspension from public ministry in the diocese was issued by Bishop Timothy L. Doherty of the Diocese of Lafayette-in-Indiana on Wednesday and it took effect immediately.
“The Bishop expresses pastoral concern for the affected communities,” the Diocese of Lafayette-in-Indiana announced in a statement. “The suspension offers the Bishop an opportunity for pastoral discernment for the good of the diocese and for the good of Father Rothrock.”
The #BLM movement has reignited over the past few weeks after the death of George Floyd, the 46-year-old Black man who lost his life after Minnesota cop, Derek Chauvin, was filmed kneeling on his neck for almost nine minutes, despite pleading he could not breathe. Floyd’s death sparked protests against police brutality and systemic racism in the United States.
Rothrock in his piece called on the church to oppose Black Lives Matter and the political protest movement known as Antifa. He also slammed the destruction of racist monuments and wondered whether Frederick Douglass and Martin Luther King Jr. would have been marching with the Black Lives Matter organizers because of the “alleged systematic racism,” The IndyStar reported.
“Black Lives Matter, Antifa, and the other nefarious acolytes of their persuasion are not the friends or allies we have been led to believe,” Rothrock wrote. “They are serpents in the garden, seeking only to uproot and replant a new species of human made in the likeness of man and not in the image of God.”
Various possibilities for Rothrock’s “public continuation in priestly ministry are being considered, but he will no longer be assigned as Pastor of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel,” the diocese said.
Rothrock’s suspension followed calls by Carmel Against Racial Injustice, a group formed to rally anti-racists in the city for him to resign.
Ashten Spilker, a Carmel resident and one of the group’s co-CEOs, told HuffPost: “What he needed to say was, ‘I need to as a leader in a church educate myself to do better and recognize the plight of people of color, not only in my congregation but in our country, to better serve our community.”
For Spilker, Rothrock’s comment was “misguided fear-mongering to his parish, adding: “People look to leaders to educate them, and so to put out something so misguided that can instill fear about what we’re trying to do here in Carmel was irresponsible on his part.”
The Rev. Bryan Massingale, a prominent Black Catholic theologian at Fordham University, also told HuffPost that until white Catholics have the courage to face deeply uncomfortable truths about the depth of racism in the nation and end the Church’s complicity of silence, “attitudes like [Father] Rothrock’s will continue to fester and poison American Catholicism.”