Pastor Who Called Black Lives Matter Protesters 'Maggots and Parasites' Suspended

An Indiana pastor has been suspended after he called Black Lives Matter protesters "maggots and parasites."

Rev. Theodore Rothrock, of the St. Elizabeth Seton Catholic Church in Carmel, came under fire after he said the Black Lives Matter movement was a "malevolent force" in a bulletin article on Sunday.

Rothrock said the church must oppose the Black Lives Matter protests, as well as antifa. He referred to both as "serpents in the garden" and encouraged parishioners to carry the "message of peace."

"The only lives that matter are their own and the only power they seek is their own," he said. "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." The post has since been removed from the church's website.

Following a backlash, Rothrock issued an apology in a message to parishioners.

In the wake of Father Rothrock’s June 28 bulletin article, @BishopDoherty has suspended him from public ministry as an opportunity for pastoral discernment for the good of the diocese and for the good of Father Rothrock. Read the full statement here:

— Diocese of Lafayette in IN (@diolafin) July 1, 2020

"It was not my intention to offend anyone and I am sorry that my words have caused any hurt to anyone," he wrote in the message that was also posted on the church's website, the IndyStar reported. The post, which also appears to have been taken down, said the church must condemn bigotry.

Despite his apology, Rothrock was suspended from public ministry by Bishop Timothy Doherty on Wednesday.

In a statement, the Diocese of Lafayette-in-Indiana said: "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."

The statement added that "various possibilities for his public continuation in priestly ministry are being considered."

A newly formed group called Carmel Against Racial Injustice, dedicated to raising awareness of injustice, had called on the bishop to remove Rothrock from church leadership.

In a statement made to its Facebook page on Monday, the group said it was "deeply saddened by the fact that the church leadership did not condemn the statement and saw fit to allow its publication."

In a statement on Tuesday, the bishop said he had not approved or previewed Rothrock's article before it was published.

"Pastors do not submit bulletin articles or homilies to my offices before they are delivered," he said. "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."

In the statement, Doherty also referred to a column he wrote early in June, in which he called the killing of George Floyd "brutal and unjust."

Floyd, a Black man, died after a white Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck for almost nine minutes while he gasped for air. His death sparked weeks of protests against police brutality and racial injustice across the U.S.

The St. Elizabeth Seton Catholic Church has been contacted for comment. Rothrock could not immediately be reached for comment.

A Black Lives Matter mural is seen on June 6, 2020 in Indianapolis, Indiana. Keith Griner/Getty Images