During his latest weekly message to parishioners, a Catholic priest in Indiana called anti-racism protesters “maggots and parasites,” according to the Indianapolis Star.
Father Theodore Rothrock of St. Elizabeth Seton Catholic Church in Carmel, Indiana compared the group to animals during a longer written denunciation of the ongoing protests across the United States. The anti-racism and anti-police brutality protests began over a month ago with the May 25 killing of George Floyd.
The wording of Rothrock’s written message implied specific animosity toward Black Lives Matter, a decentralized social justice organization dedicated to supporting efforts to end systemic racism in local communities across the United States.
Rothrock used colorful language to launch his attack.
“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.”
In the same message, which was eventually removed following sustained backlash and criticism, Rothrock criticized the recent wave of removed Confederate monuments.
He then continued his attack, citing a now-debunked presumed connection between Black Lives Matter and Antifa.
“Black Lives Matter, Antifa, and the other nefarious acolytes of their persuasion are not the friends or allies we have been led to believe.”
“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.”
The Indianapolis Star went on to report that Rothrock faced serious backlash after local civil rights groups in Carmel discovered the comments. Carmel Against Racial Justice, a new community group, even called for the Bishop of the Diocese of Lafayette-in-Indiana to remove Rothrock from the leadership of his church.
On Wednesday afternoon, Bishop Timothy Doherty decided to suspend Father Rothrock. A statement released by the diocese said:
“The Bishop expresses pastoral concern for the affected communities.”
“The suspension offers the Bishop an opportunity for pastoral discernment for the good of the diocese and for the good of Father Rothrock.”
Father Rothrock apologized for his comments a few days after making the remarks and posting them online.
He made the following brief statement to parishioners, which was later posted to the church’s website.
“It was not my intention to offend anyone and I am sorry that my words have caused any hurt to anyone.”
People on Facebook were appalled at Rothrock’s comments.
What further, if any, discipline Father Rothrock will face from the diocese remains unclear.