Blog Briefing Room

Catholic pastor in Indiana faces backlash for calling Black Lives Matter protesters 'maggots and parasites'

A Catholic diocese in Indiana is facing calls to remove a local pastor after he compared the Black Lives Matter movement and its demonstrators to "maggots and parasites."

Father Theodore Rothrock of St. Elizabeth Seton Catholic Church in Carmel made the comments during his weekly message on Sunday, The Indy Star reported.

"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 and current frustration and anxiety with more misery and greater resentment."

His message, which has since been taken down, condemned the destruction of monuments and questioned whether Frederick Douglass and Martin Luther King Jr. would have been marching with the Black Lives Matter demonstrators. 

"Black Lives Matter, Antifa, and the other nefarious acolytes of their persuasion are not the friends or allies we have been led to believe," Rothrock continued. "They are serpents in the garden, seeking only to uproot and replant a new species of human made in the likeness of men and not in the image of God."

"Their poison is more toxic than any pandemic we have endured," he added.

The message and church's staff contact page have since been taken down, according to the outlet.

The newly formed advocacy group Carmel Against Racial Injustice called on Bishop Timothy Doherty of the Diocese of Lafayette-in-Indiana to remove Rothrock from leadership and require training and ongoing education for priests and deacons on systemic racism and diversity.

"Silence is the action of being complicit in injustice," the group said in a statement, sharing screenshots of the pastor's now-deleted post. "We are calling upon parishioners of the church, members of the community, and other religious leaders to denounce these statements and join us in active protest of this position. We can not stand idly by and allow a leader of a church that serves 6,000 Carmel families to pass off hateful and racist rhetoric as gospel."

The group is organizing a protest on Sunday from 7 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. outside of the church.

In a statement, Doherty said he did not approve or preview Rothrock's message before it was published. 

"I expect Father Rothrock to issue a clarification about his intended message," the bishop said in the statement. "I have not known him to depart from Church teaching in matters of doctrine and social justice."

Doherty earlier this month commented on the protests, which reignited across the country by the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis late last month.

"Peaceful demonstrations in the streets are one way to elevate voices for fairness and justice. Not so the wanton destruction of property and violence," Doherty wrote at the time. "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." 

Outbrain