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Faithful Catholics in the diocese of Lafayette, Indiana are troubled by their bishop's capitulation to a leftist group's demand that a good priest be ousted.
"Fr. Ted is superb. He's done more community outreach with all groups of people — not just whites, not just this person — black, brown, the Asians — everywhere, all the way across, the far east side," said a parishioner.
Bishop Timothy Doherty suspended Fr. Theodore Rothrock on July 1 after the group called "Carmel Against Racial Injustice" (CARI for short), demanded the pastor be removed for speaking against Black Lives Matter Foundation Inc., an organization opposed to Church teaching on virtually every topic.
CARI, founded last month by high school friends Ashten Spilker, Kayla Seymour and Breanna Hargrove, received a blessing to protest at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Carmel, where Fr. Rothrock served as pastor before his suspension, from interim administrator, Dcn. Bill Reid.
Another newly formed group called Catholics for Unity and Peace (CUP for short), made up mostly of St. Elizabeth parishioners, showed up to counterprotest and pray in support of Fr. Rothrock, whom they refer to as "Fr. Ted."
CUP: "I felt very called by Christ, directly, that we had to do something to stand up for our Catholic beliefs and defend our right to express those beliefs. And Fr. Ted was a beacon for that."
The bishop also came to St. Elizabeth but did not stay around to talk with parishioners or address their questions and concerns.
CUP: "I said 'Hi, bishop.' I had my five-year-old daughter and this gentleman who is supportive of the bishop fully, completely. [The bishop] didn't come try to engage us ... and then after the 12 o'clock message he just supposedly ran away."
The night before the protest, Dcn. Bill tried to discourage prayerful Catholic counterprotesters from gathering at St. Elizabeth, alleging it would be dangerous for them. But another CUP member explained the deacon's concern was unfounded.
CUP: "We normally would have law enforcement in rallies ... at protests. But we had a ton of them here. So, we felt much more secure."
Over 100 Catholics were present, praying and singing for all involved. Deacon Bill did not join them.
CUP: "Never once did he come up and greet us, say hello. But he went over several times to the tents with the organizers where CARI, which was organized over in the baseball field, and spoke to them."
Prior to his suspension, Fr. Rothrock was set to become the pastor of the largest parish in the diocese, Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Church Militant went there to speak with Rothrock supporters.
But outgoing pastor, Fr. Richard Doerr confronted Church Militant, demanding the crew leave the premises. Doerr refused to answer questions and called the police, who were gracious and understanding.
Church Militant then went to another parish in the diocese, St. Maria Goretti, to ask the pastor if interviews could be conducted outside. While the crew spoke informally with some parishioners, associate pastor Fr. Derek Aaron opened the door and said, "Don't answer any questions," quickly locking the door behind him and calling the police, who were once again gracious.
Church Militant asked Al, a local Catholic, why the two priests were so quick to involve law enforcement.
Al, a Catholic in the diocese: "Never once did he come up and greet us ... say hello. But he went over several times to the tents with the organizers where CARI, which was organized over in the baseball field and spoke to them."
Al was also asked his thoughts on how the diocese is handling the situation with CARI and Fr. Rothrock.
Al: "Horribly. I am going to come straight out and say it. They're cowards. They're placating. And you can't placate to an organization like that. ... I wish I could say that the Church is not cowardly. And I think one of the reasons why a lot of Catholics have left the Church is very simple — actions like this. You're not going to placate this group of BLM."
Christians from different denominations are also supporting Fr. Rothrock.
Brian, a Christian: "Fr. Rothrock stood up the way he stood up, and spoke out like that. I have to get behind that. Nothing he said was racist. Nothing he said was wrong. We are dealing with a Maoist, Marxist — whatever you want to call it — attempt to take over this country. And it's been going on for many, many, many years — 150 years at least. And we know it's satanic at its roots. Humans can't do that. We know it's satanic."
Further explaining his support for Fr. Rothrock, Brian read the words of a 1946 confession by German Lutheran pastor Martin Niemöller.
Brian: "They came first for the communists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn't speak up because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me, and by that time no one was left to speak up."
Lutheran Pastor Mark Powell, who campaigned in 2020 for the U.S. House of Representatives and manages pro-faith group Christian Democratic Caucus, told Church Militant about a conversation he had with Fr. Rothrock.
Pastor Mark Powell: "He used those words only regarding the organizers, not everybody who follows along because a lot of people don't realize what they're a part of. This is how insidious Marxism is. I mean, the Little Red Book from Mao, it talks all about that. ... He wanted to move people, to wake them up. And he did."
Powell was at the protest Sunday because he knew what Fr. Rothrock wrote is true. He said he saw it with his own eyes in the Democratic party. Black Lives Matter, Incorporated is a Marxist front, according to the pastor.
Powell considers Fr. Rothrock a hero.
Pastor Mark Powell: "I think when the history books are written about this time in the Church, that he is going to be looked upon as the 21st-century Dietrich Bonhoeffer."
Regarding CARI, one Catholic in the diocese said the group claims to educate people, but she sees that as a farce.
Christine Harrington: "This group is not educating people on what the Black Lives Matter movement actually represents. They are not educating people on their organization and what they stand for. So when people that don't understand what the organization is about, those are the ones that believe that Father meant that all black people are maggots and parasites."
Support in the diocese for Fr. Rothrock has been immense. Catholics have been flooding Church Militant with their willingness to talk and support the priest in any way possible.
Church Militant reached out to the Lafayette diocese for comment but received no response.
Catholics are highly disappointed with Bp. Doherty's handling of the situation, especially since he won't talk to any of them.
And they have made it abundantly clear they are not going to roll over for CARI as the bishop has seemed to do.
They're vowing to keep fighting for Fr. Rothrock, the Catholic Church and the nation.
CUP: "We're praying for the Black Lives Matter group. We're praying for everybody. Nobody is being excluded. But Fr. Ted is a superb human being and for five people to call for his removal ... yeah, you just stirred up a hornet's nest. The lion's mouth is open and we Catholics are not going to stand; we are going to stand tall for this and we're ready to roll."
Update: Bp. Timothy Doherty on July 10 issued a statement condemning Black Lives Matter and Antifa. It reads, in part:
I support those who choose to demonstrate peacefully in favor of social equality, equity and justice. However, The Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation and Antifa promote beliefs and stances that directly contradict Catholic Church teachings. I have always opposed these contradictions to Church teaching and have never advocated for any organization that promotes these contradictions. I have never supported those who bring violence to otherwise peaceful demonstrations.