CARMEL — The Rev. Theodore Rothrock, pastor of St. Elizabeth Seton Catholic Church in Carmel, has been suspended from public ministry days after he referred to Black Lives Matter demonstrators as "maggots and parasites."
Bishop Timothy L. Doherty of the Diocese of Lafayette-in-Indiana announced that Rothrock was suspended effective noon Wednesday.
"The Bishop expresses pastoral concern for the affected communities," the Diocese of Lafayette-in-Indiana announced in a statement. "The suspension offers the Bishop an opportunity for pastoral discernment for the good of the diocese and for the good of Father Rothrock."
The diocese's statement said "various possibilities for (Rothrock's) public continuation in priestly ministry are being considered," but he will not assume the role of pastor at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Catholic Church. Deacon Bill Reid will serve as administrator of St. Elizabeth Seton.
In Rothrock's since-deleted post, he used derogatory terms to describe Black Lives Matter Movement demonstrators and referred to them as "serpents in the garden" whose "poison is more toxic than any pandemic we have endured."
"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 apologized in a statement on Tuesday night, saying, "It was not my intention to offend anyone, and I am sorry that my words have caused any hurt to anyone."
"The Gospel remains firm in the teaching that all people are welcome to the table in God’s Kingdom," Rothrock 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."
He added that people must be aware of 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," Rothrock wrote.
Following Rothrock's post on Sunday, the group Carmel Against Racial Injustice called for Rothrock to be removed from his position, while Doherty asked Rothrock to clarify his statements.
Read the full statement from Diocese of Lafayette-in-Indiana below:
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.