Priest and Racism

Priest Theodore Rothrock during a homily:

A Catholic priest in Indiana has been suspended from his public ministry, after he called Black Lives Matter (BLM) protesters “maggots and parasites”.

Reverend Theodore Rothrock, assigned to St Elizabeth Seton Catholic Church in Carmel, Indiana, was suspended on Wednesday, after he disparaged BLM protesters in a bulletin published on Sunday, according to Huffpost.

In his article titled The lady (doth) protest too much, methinks, Mr Rothrock called BLM protesters “serpents”, whose “poison is more toxic than any pandemic we have endured”.

Mr Rothrock claimed that the protesters 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 added.

BLM protests followed the death of unarmed black man George Floyd, who died after his neck was knelt on by Derek Chauvin, who at the time was a Minneapolis police officer. He has been charged with manslaughter and second degree murder.

Protests in opposition to police brutality against African Americans started in Minneapolis, but quickly spread to every state across the US. Mr Rothrock described the protests as being against “alleged systemic racism”.

Bishop Timothy L Doherty of the Diocese of Lafayette-in-Indiana announced Mr Rothrock’s suspension from public ministry in his district, but said that the priest may still have a role in the future.

He added that the suspension is “an opportunity for pastoral discernment for the good of the diocese and for the good of Father Rothrock.”

The priest attempted to clarify his comments in a statement on Wednesday, and said that he was sorry that his words offended some.

However, Mr Rothrock added that “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.”

His suspension was called for by anti-racist group, Carmel Against Racial Injustice, who said he should have showed greater remorse in his statement.

“What he needed to say was, ‘I need to as a leader in a church educate myself to do better and recognise the plight of people of colour, not only in my congregation but in our country, to better serve our community’,” said Ashten Spilker, one of the group’s co-CEO’s.

“It was misguided fearmongering to his parish,” she added. “People look to leaders to educate them, and so to put out something so misguided that can instil fear about what we’re trying to do here in Carmel was irresponsible on his part.”

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