Friday, March 5, 2021

Priest punished for going to Trump rally before Capitol riot

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LIMA, Ohio (AP) — An Orthodox priest in Ohio said he was suspended for attending President Donald Trump’s rally near the White House three weeks ago before a mob of supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol.

Father Mark Hodges said he was told by a church leader that he was “guilty by association” in a letter outlining his three-month suspension.

“I think it’s an unjust suspension,” Hodges said.

He said he marched toward the Capitol on Jan. 6, but left when he saw a group “intending to violently antagonize the police” and officers using tear gas.

“My beloved bishop had questioned the wisdom of a priest attending,” he said. “I think part of the problem is I viewed that ‘Stop the Steal’ rally as expressing extreme concern over voter fraud allegations in the 2020 election.”

Hodges, who spent 20 years at St. Stephen the First Martyr Orthodox Church in Lima, now works as a substitute priest in Ohio and Michigan.

Archbishop Paul Gassios of the Diocese of the Midwest Orthodox Church in America confirmed the suspension.

“I will not comment on the details of the suspension as that is between myself and Father Mark to address,” Gassios said in a statement.

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