The Rev. Theodore Rothrock, the embattled pastor of the St. Elizabeth Seton Catholic Church in Carmel, Indiana, has been suspended after apologizing Wednesday for calling Black Lives Matter and Antifa demonstrators “maggots and parasites” in a recent weekly message.
“I am somewhat surprised that my recent article has received such extensive coverage and has aroused such interest and debate,” Rothrock wrote in an apology published Wednesday. “It was not my intention to offend anyone, and I am sorry that my words have caused any hurt to anyone.”
The pastor’s controversial comments, which were posted on the St. Elizabeth Seton Catholic Church’s website on Sunday, were removed Monday after a group called Carmel Against Racial Injustice flagged them.
“The only lives that matter are their own and the only power they seek is their own," Rothrock wrote about Black Lives Matter and Antifa in his June 28 weekly message amid weeks of nationwide protests and social unrest.
"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."
WishTV reports that Rothrock’s message argued that Black Lives Matter and Antifa are pushing a left-wing socialist agenda and don’t care about their supporters.
Ashten Spilker, a founding member of Carmel Against Racial Injustice, told WishTV that the group will be protesting at the church all day starting at 6:30 a.m. next Sunday.
“This was a thought-out statement,” Spilker told the news outlet. “That he made this, was printed and given to members of the parish on Sunday, so this went through multiple hands. He read over this. He was deliberate in his wording. He was deliberate in his statements. ‘Maggots’ and ‘parasites’ is a pretty straightforward insult.”
After earlier asking Rothrock to clarify his comments, Rev. Timothy Doherty, bishop of the Diocese of Lafayette-in-Indiana, announced Wednesday that the pastor has been suspended. Although Rothrock was slated to take over as missionary pastor at Our Lady of Mount Carmel, the diocese says Rothrock will no longer be assigned to the new post.
“By decree of Bishop Doherty, effective 12 p.m. noon July 1, 2020 Father Theodore Rothrock is suspended from public ministry according to Canon 1333,” a statement from the diocese reads. “The suspension comes in the wake of Father Rothrock’s June 28 bulletin article. The Bishop expresses pastoral concern for the affected communities.”
The diocese explained that the suspension “offers the Bishop an opportunity for pastoral discernment for the good of the diocese and for the good of Father Rothrock.”
“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,” the statement explains. “Deacon Bill Reid will serve as Administrator of St. Elizabeth Seton.”
Catholic leaders have been pushing back against protesters in recent days who have called for the removal of multiple statues and other monuments. Those include some Catholic church figures deemed offensive to people of color because of their role in slavery.
Rothrock criticized the destruction of these monuments and questioned whether Frederick Douglass and Martin Luther King Jr. would march with the Black Lives Matter organizers because of the "alleged systematic racism," The Indianapolis Star reports.
"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."
Rothrock previously served as president of St. Theodore Guerin High School in Noblesville. He resigned in 2009 after he was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol, The Indianapolis Star notes.