Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in Carmel, Indiana, is part of the Diocese of Lafayette-in-Indiana headed by Bishop Timothy Doherty. On July 2, 2020, Father Ted Rothrock, the parish pastor published his weekly message under the title “The lady (doth) protest too much, methinks.” In it, he described Black Lives Matter and Antifa militants as having a hidden agenda, and explained how “despots and tyrants have always employed accusation and distortion to achieve all manner of mischief… and mold public opinion.”
Father Rothrock asked whether black lives really mattered to the community organizers promoting their agenda. He also asked if Antifa was really concerned with “the defeat of fascist right-wing nationalism or more interested in the establishment of left-wing global socialism?”
He further described BLM and Antifa as “maggots” and “parasites” (admittedly not the most gracious language—especially coming from a priest) and accused them of “feeding off the isolation of addiction and broken families, and offering to replace any current frustration and anxiety with more misery and greater resentment.”
Taken by themselves, these statements do sound harsh, and they triggered anger in those who heard only bits and pieces of the message, or who chose only to hear those few sentences. A local Facebook group called Carmel Against Racial Injustice, headed up by a handful of well-meaning but misguided people, immediately took issue with the message and threatened to protest at the church. Other residents in the area voiced their disapproval in local newspapers and even in the Indianapolis Star.
Bishop Doherty’s response was to remove Father Rothrock from the parish and instruct him to provide a clarification, which he did. Father Ted did not change his message, nor should he have to, but he did apologize and state that he meant no insult to anyone.
Previously, on June 2, Bishop Doherty indirectly proffered his support for BLM while responding to the murder of George Floyd and the subsequent rioting via the diocesan newspaper “The Catholic Moment.” In it he asked, “How should we rightly respond… to those who have long experienced enforced social inequality and ill treatment…?” Does the bishop truly believe that the police in the U.S. are enforcing inequality and targeting black men as BLM and Antifa claim? His message would seem to indicate that.
His response to Father Rothrock supports this interpretation as well. Seton Parish, now under the direction of Deacon Bill Reid, and with Bishop Doherty’s approval, arranged a “Gathering for Equality, Justice and Healing” at the church on July 5th. The Carmel Against Racial Injustice group participated in the gathering rather than conducting their originally planned protest. Their goal was to educate people and make a statement that leadership like Father Ted’s is not appropriate. Many parishioners turned out in support of the bishop’s decision, and many others came to protest it.
The unfortunate truth is that Father Ted is right. Many community leaders accept BLM and Antifa’s provably false narrative, and in doing so lend credibility to it. Most people simply react to what they hear, and typically don’t validate the information. Bishop Doherty certainly has the wherewithal to get to the truth, but he has apparently chosen not to do so. Independent studies from universities like Harvard and Michigan State, as well as the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting, indicate that the police are not unfairly targeting black Americans. Very different data collection techniques have come to very consistent conclusions. BLM and Antifa are misleading us about who and what is causing the majority of the pain in the poorest black communities.
Further muddying the issue during the gathering, Bishop Doherty referred to an article from a Catholic news source that asked whether Catholics can support BLM if the phrase “Black Lives Matters” means more than one thing to many different people. He stated, “We can’t capture the facts of what’s happening across different movements inside and outside of the United States…”
Actually, yes, you can.
The three co-founders of BLM are Marxists to the core. According to the Capital Research Center, all three worked for front groups of the Freedom Road Socialist Organization, one of the largest radical Left organizations in the country. Opal Tometi actively promotes Socialism and anti-Western socio-economics, while Patrisse Khan-Cullors has publicly stated that the leaders of BLM are “trained Marxists.” Even so, it is highly likely that most active members and supporters of BLM are not Marxists at all, but simply believe they are fighting for social justice. The various chapters and voices of BLM don’t always share consistent goals, but what they have in common is a general anger toward the government and its most visible arm, the police.
In the United States, Antifa is an anarchist group of mostly young people dissatisfied with various political and economic issues. Like BLM, they have espoused a wide array of objectives across the country and through time. They nominally believe that the country is heading toward Fascism and tout the election of President Trump and his “America First” platform as an example of that. Their initial radical anti-globalism and anti-capitalist rhetoric in the 1980’s, however, only got them so far into the public’s awareness. In joining the anti-racist cause, they greatly legitimized their movement and expanded their opportunities for activism. Antifa is not shy about its Marxist roots either; they have merely modified the traditional conflict of workers versus the owners of capital to “identity conflicts” based upon race, gender, sexual orientation, and the like.
The organizers who manipulate these groups are without a doubt dedicated to their Socialist movement. They are sustained by people who may or may not support—or even know—their true objectives. It doesn’t matter what the masses believe, as long as they can be worked into a frenzy as needed. The leaders don’t really care whether the police are targeting black Americans—it’s only important that their supporters believe it.
In essence, the vast majority of BLM and Antifa members, as well as vocal celebrities, college and high school activists, and, yes, Bishop Doherty, make up what are commonly known as the “useful idiots.” That is, they are propagandizing for a cause without really understanding the cause’s objectives. They are cynically used by shrewd leaders to achieve an end state that they may have never intended. This is especially dangerous as we get closer to our national elections. The goal is to keep these people blind to the truth for as long as possible, or better yet, to eventually indoctrinate them into the cause as true Socialists. They are evil, and they are doing exactly what Father Rothrock stated in his message.
Bishop Doherty made it very clear at the gathering where he stands when he stated, “If anyone asks you, you can tell them that this bishop says black lives matter.”
I have yet to hear anyone say that they do not matter. If Bishop Doherty really cared about black lives, he would address the actual issues in the poorest and least educated black communities in this country that are also much more likely to have negative interactions with the police. According to 2018 FBI data, black Americans who make up only 12 percent of our population committed 27 percent of all crime, and as much as 50 percent of some violent crimes. According to a Heritage Foundation report as far back as 1995, increasing crime closely mirrored the breakup of the American family, and as of 2018 some 72 percent of black Americans were born to unwed mothers.
Whether fighting the evil of Socialism or the causes of civil unrest, the initial actions we must take are the same. We must eliminate the dissatisfaction with the socio-economic situation that drives the largest group supporting BLM and Antifa. We may not change the political beliefs of hard-core Marxists, but we can deprive them of millions of supporters by lifting the poorest and least educated black (and other) Americans out of their currently deteriorating cultures. We will deprive them of the victims of poverty and the broken families upon whom BLM and Antifa leaders feed. We can present the truth to the millions of sympathizers who are being misled by their propaganda and expose the enemy for who they really are.
We must also accept that the solution involves both black and white Americans—all Americans, in fact. It is in all of our interests for as many people to be successful, productive, and as happy as possible. We must acknowledge that the pain in the poorest communities, regardless of race, is caused by cultural characteristics created and inadequately addressed in our collective past. We must reverse the root causes of welfare dependency, the explosion in single motherhood, and children growing up without fathers in their lives; the skyrocketing rate of high school drop-outs who are unprepared to meet the needs of an increasingly technical society; the higher risk drug use and dependence in these communities; the extraordinarily higher crime rates; and the isolation and utter hopelessness created by being trapped there. Good families, good education, real opportunities, and the hope of living the American dream are not racial or police issues; they are human issues that must be addressed if we are to avoid even greater pain in the future.
As Father Ted makes clear, BLM and Antifa are “seeking only to uproot and replant a new species of human made in the likeness of men and not in the image of God… We must stand in solidarity with our brethren across the world to oppose this malevolent force.”
Photo credit: setoncarmel.org