A Catholic priest in the United States has been condemned for comparing Black Lives Matter activists to “maggots and parasites”.
Fr Theodore Rothrock of St Elizabeth Seton Catholic Church in Carmel, Indiana, made the remarks in his weekly online newsletter, which was taken down from the parish website on Monday.
“Black Lives Matter, Antifa, and the other nefarious acolytes of their persuasion are not the friends or allies we have been led to believe,” Fr Rothrock argued. “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. They are maggots and parasites at best, feeding off the isolation of addiction and broken families, and offering to replace current frustration and anxiety with more misery and greater resentment.”
Fr Rothrock said that the “brutal murder of a black man in police custody” and the “Covid sequestration” had together “exploded into riots and demonstrations that we have not seen the like in fifty years.”
But he questioned whether past abolitionists and civil rights leaders such as Frederick Douglass and the Martin Luther King would respond by “throwing bombs or even marching in the streets” and would “see a value in the obliteration of our history to re-write a future without the experience and struggles of the past?”
The newly formed Carmel Against Racial Injustice group reposted the original newsletter and wrote their own letter to Fr Rothrock saying that his “condemnation of the current protests, all of which have been non-violent and completely peaceful in Carmel, shows your failure to understand the gravity of the situation and the long term suffering of people of color in this country for over 400 years.”
The advocacy group also called on Bishop Timothy Doherty of Lafayette to remove Fr Rothrock from all leadership roles and to mandate ongoing training for clergy on systemic racism, since the parish newsletter had described it as an “alleged” problem.
The group is organising a protest on Sunday from 7am outside Father Rothrock’s church.
In response to the controversy, Bishop Doherty said that he did not review or approve Fr Rothrock’s newsletter before it was published and added that he expected “Fr 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.”
Bishop Doherty commented on the Black Lives Matter movement a month ago, after the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police had ignited protests across America and beyond. “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.”
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