Rev. Theodore Rothrock, a Catholic priest in Carmel, Ind., was suspended effective Wednesday after calling protesters for the Black Lives Matter movement “maggots and parasites,” the Indy Channel reports.
“The Bishop [ Timothy L. Doherty] expresses pastoral concern for the affected communities,” the Diocese of Lafayette-in-Indiana said in a statement on Wednesday. “The suspension offers the Bishop an opportunity for pastoral discernment for the good of the diocese and for the good of Father Rothrock.”
The statement noted that “various possibilities for [Rothrock’s] public continuation in priestly ministry are being considered.” Rothrock was meant to take over as pastor at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Catholic Church next month, but will no longer assume that role, according to the statement.
Rothrock originally wrote his controversial message in the weekly bulletin on Sunday, June 28, claiming that for Black Lives Matter protesters, “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,” he added, according to the Indy Star. “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.”
The message quickly drew backlash, particularly in the newly-formed Carmel Against Racial Injustice group, who wants Rothrock removed from leadership.
Rothrock has since apologized, claiming “it was not my intention to offend anyone and I am sorry that my words have caused any hurt to anyone.”
He added that the church must condemn bigotry, which is “a fabric of our society.”
“We must also be fully aware that there are those who would distort the Gospel for their own misguided purposes,” he added. “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.”