CARMEL — The pastor of a Catholic church in Carmel is facing scrutiny after he compared Black Lives Matter demonstrators to “maggots and parasites” in a since-deleted post on the church’s website.
Bishop Timothy L. Doherty of the Diocese of Lafayette-in-Indiana said Father Theodore Rothrock of St. Elizabeth Seton Catholic Church should issue a clarification of the post Rothrock wrote Sunday in a weekly message. The group Carmel Against Racial Injustice called on Doherty to remove Rothrock from his position.
“The only lives that matter are their own and the only power they seek is their own,” Rothrock wrote. “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.”
Rothrock continued, writing that, “We must stand in solidarity with our brethren across the world to oppose this malevolent force.”
He also questioned if Frederick Douglass and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would have marched in today’s demonstrations and criticized the removal of monuments.
“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 men and not in the image of God. Their poison is more toxic than any pandemic we have endured.”
The post has been deleted from the church’s website, however, an archive of the message was captured on the Internet Archive.
Doherty said in a written post on the website of the Diocese of Lafayette-of-Indiana that he expects Rothrock to explain his message.
“I neither approved nor previewed that article,” Doherty wrote. “Pastors do not submit bulletin articles or homilies to my offices before they are delivered. I expect Father Rothrock to issue a clarification about his intended message. I have not known him to depart from Church teaching in matters of doctrine and social justice.”
Doherty added that he reaffirmed his June 2 statement following the killing of George Floyd in which he wrote, “Peaceful demonstrations in the streets are one way to elevate voices for fairness and justice. Not so the wanton destruction of property and violence. Each of us is called to be a healer and peacemaker by virtue of our baptism. This same baptism calls us to link arms with others whose work is to set wrongs right and promote respect for each human being.”
The group Carmel Against Racial Injustice called on Doherty to remove Rothrock as a priest and require training and education for priests and deacons on systemic racism and diversity. They also invited parishioners of the church, members of the community and other religious leaders to denounce Rothrock’s statements.
“Carmel Against Racial Injustice is disgusted and shocked by the recent letter written by Father Theodore Rothrock,” the group said in a statement. “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.”
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