Trump-Supporting Priest Suspended For Attending Capitol Riots
An Ohio priest has been suspended after taking part in the pro-Trump US Capitol riots earlier this month.
Archpriest Mark Hodges, part of the St. Paul the Apostle Orthodox Church in Dayton, has been suspended from ‘all priestly functions, effective January 12, 2021’, according to the Diocese of the Midwest’s website.
The January 6 siege saw the death of five people, including one police officer, and many injuries in an attempt to halt Congress from certifying Biden’s election win.
In a recent interview with the Journal-News, Hodges explained he’d been given a three-month suspension for his participation, with a chance he could even face defrocking.
Hodges said: ‘My beloved bishop had questioned the wisdom of a priest attending. I think part of the problem is I viewed that Stop the Steal rally as expressing extreme concerns over voter fraud allegations in the 2020 election.’
The Trump campaign’s electoral fraud allegations have been continually found to be baseless and strung together from conspiracy theories, with no evidence of any wrongdoing in any state, despite many legal challenges and dangerous rhetoric from the former president.
Hodges, a ‘supply priest’ who goes wherever he’s needed, said he disagrees with the disciplinary action taken against him. He was informed by Archbishop Paul Gassios, the leader of the Diocese of the Midwest.
Hodges also told Lima News: ‘The reason was that I went on the sixth and Archbishop Paul, whom I love dearly, and respect said in his suspension letter that I was guilty by association. And I disagree, you know, I think it’s an unjust suspension.’
Gassios confirmed the suspension in a statement, writing: ‘Other than confirming that Father Mark was suspended by me as a priest in the Diocese of the Midwest, I will not comment on the details of the suspension as that is between myself and Father Mark to address.’
Hodges shared a letter he sent to ‘concerned loved ones’ regarding the riots, in which he wrote: ‘The Stop the Steal rally was joyful, positive and orderly — it was great meeting wonderful people, lots of families, little kids playing catch with a ball, etc.’
As he marched to the Capitol, he saw a man who’d been sprayed in his eyes, who told him: ‘They’re attacking us.’ Hodges was unaware of the violence taking place in the federal building at this point.
He wrote: ‘When I finally realised these guys were intending to violently antagonize the police, I went up to the police (in riot gear), shushed one of the yellers and thanked the police for protecting the people of Washington DC and for showing restraint and I apologised for the handful of screaming young men not showing restraint or self-control. Then I began to leave.’
However, in a later paragraph, Hodges wrote: ‘Trump incited no violence. The crowd and the event is being misrepresented by the [mainstream media]. The rally was advertised as an entirely peaceful protest for election transparency… I honestly believe we have lost our democratic republic.’
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