Catholic priests – especially those who (rightly) reject modernism and its numerous tentacles -- have to be extremely careful about what they publicly say or write lest they run afoul of their bishops, many of whom seem all too eager to appease the political and religious left.
Consider the case of Father Theodore Rothrock.
From a July 3 story at The Hill:
"An Indiana Catholic diocese has suspended a priest from public ministry after he faced backlash for comparing the Black Lives Matter movement and demonstrators to ‘maggots and parasites.’
Father Theodore Rothrock of St. Elizabeth Seton Catholic Church in Carmel, Indiana, made the comparison in 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 any current frustration and anxiety with more misery and greater resentment’….
‘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,’ the statement said. Rothrock added, ‘Their poison is more toxic than any pandemic we have endured.’"
Two days later, Rothrock sent a message to parishioners apologizing to those offended by his comments. However, his original message, which was removed from the parish website, caused a “newly formed” local advocacy group calling itself Carmel Against Racial Injustice to politely ask (ahem) Bishop Timothy Doherty “to remove Rothrock from leadership and require training for priests and deacons on systemic racism.”
Rothrock’s suspension was made official July 1.
Was Rothrock’s language harsh and even imprudent? Probably so -- but his description of the radical leftist revolutionaries posing as social justice warriors is reasonably accurate. I think it’s quite unfortunate that Rothrock was ousted only for this particular bulletin message.
It should be noted that Father Michael Pfleger of the Archdiocese of Chicago has used his share of harsh and imprudent language over the years, but he’s never been ousted from his longtime parish. In other words, it pays big time to be supported by the political and religious left. You can get away with just about anything. Not so for a priest who angers those same people. That priest is looking at indefinite exile, or worse.
I’m happy to report that I’m on the same page as the staunchly pro-life, pro-family Father Richard Perozich.
When asked by me for comment on Rothrock’s situation, Perozich, a retired priest of the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego who’s known for being outspokenly orthodox, responded in an email as follows (lightly edited):
"The only thing Father needed to do was to be a little more judicious in his language. Still, the current crop of bishops is tending toward Marxism and they will shut down any speech that frustrates their agenda. I did not understand that in 2016 when Bishop Robert McElroy did that to me, but it’s becoming more and more clear."
"Many are frustrated with the chaos in our cities, in politics and in the church; that our worship, family, and civic lives are being overturned while we seem helpless to do anything. It pains me to see more articles about priests being removed from ministry or silenced for pointing out the inconsistencies with the Gospel in our world, even though some of us could have been a little more careful in the way we expressed it.
You laity, however, cannot be removed from your ministry to announce the Gospel. Comfort, stability, and continuity are vanishing, but Jesus and His Gospel remain.
'Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is right? But even if you do suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts reverence Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to make a defense to any one who calls you to account for the hope that is in you, yet do it with gentleness and reverence; and keep your conscience clear, so that, when you are abused, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing right, if that should be God’s will, than for doing wrong.' (1 Peter 3:13-17)
As is in the dismissal at Holy Mass, ‘The Mass is ended, go and announce the Gospel of the Lord by your lives.’"
Matt C. Abbott is a Catholic commentator with a Bachelor of Arts degree in communication, media and theatre from Northeastern Illinois University. He also has an Associate in Applied Science degree in business management from Triton College.