A Catholic priest from the US state of Indiana has been suspended after calling Black Lives Matter protesters "maggots and parasites". Rev Theodore Rothrock of St Elizabeth Seton Catholic Church in Carmel, Indiana was suspended on Wednesday after making the comments in a bulletin published on Sunday.
In the piece, Rothrock called BLM protesters “serpents”, whose “poison is more toxic than any pandemic we have endured”. He went on to call them "wolves in wolves' clothing, masked thieves and bandits, seeking only to devour the life of the poor and profit from the fear of others."
The priest continued: “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."
Bishop Timothy L Doherty of the Diocese of Lafayette-in-Indiana said that the Rothrock would be suspended, but hinted that he may not be losing his job entirely. He noted that the suspension was “an opportunity for pastoral discernment for the good of the diocese and for the good of Father Rothrock".
In a statement on Wednesday, the priest in question apologised for any offence caused by his comments, but urged people to "be 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.”
For anti-racist group, Carmel Against Racial Injustice, the priest's apology did not go far enough.
The group's co-CEO, Ashten Spilker, said: "What he needed to say was, ‘I need to as a leader in a church educate myself to do better and recognise the plight of people of colour, not only in my congregation but in our country, to better serve our community'.
"It was misguided fearmongering to his parish. People look to leaders to educate them, and so to put out something so misguided that can instil fear about what we’re trying to do here in Carmel was irresponsible on his part.”