Carmel priest’s online post about Black Lives Matter leads to suspension, calls for protest

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UPDATE:

On July 1, 2020, Bishop Doherty asked Father Theodore Rothrock to step aside from public ministry because of the division and damage that was instantly felt within the parish, the diocese and the larger community following Father Rothrock’s controversial bulletin article. Father Rothrock has expressed regret and he understands and appreciates God’s gift of the human family, and therefore the value of every human life which is made in the image and likeness of God.

This time for pastoral discernment is for the good of the diocese, for St. Elizabeth Seton and for the good of Father Rothrock. As a part of the Uniting in Heart 2030 Pastoral Plan, various possibilities for Father Rothrock’s public continuation in priestly ministry are still being considered. The Bishop continues to express pastoral concern for the affected communities, and we ask for your prayers during this time.

Dioces of Lafayette

ORIGINAL STORY:

CARMEL, Ind. – Comments written by a Carmel priest prompted criticism and a call for protests–as well as a suspension.

On Wednesday, the Diocese of Lafayette suspended Father Theodore Rothrock over the 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. The suspension comes in the wake of Father Rothrock’s June 28 bulletin article. 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. 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. Deacon Bill Reid will serve as Administrator of St. Elizabeth Seton.

In a post that has since been taken down, Rothrock harshly criticized Black Lives Matter and protests around the nation following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

His comments were posted to the St. Elizabeth Seton Catholic Church website before being taken down. In the June 28 post, Rothrock wrote that the church must oppose Black Lives Matter and Antifa and carry the “message of peace.”

“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 wrote.

He continued, “Black Lives Matter, Antifa, and the other nefarious acolytes of their persuasion are not the friends or allies we have been led to believe.”

In response, a group called “Carmel Against Racial Injustices” plans to protest in front of the church Sunday.

Bishop Doherty previously released a statement on the matter.

“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.

As Doherty suggested, Rothrock attempted to clarify his statements in a later post.

“It was not my intention to offend anyone,” he wrote in a message on the church’s website, “and I am sorry that my words have caused any hurt to anyone.”

He also wrote:

“Racial and ethnic bigotries are evils that have been rightly condemned by the Church and are not to be tolerated. They have never been tolerated by me, and never will be. Life is a sacred gift from God and must be reverenced as such. The institutional sin of black enslavement had to be removed from our nation at a terrible cost and the damage has not departed from us. The sin of bigotry has remained a part of the fabric of our society.”

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