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Priest suspended for attending pro-Trump rally at US Capitol
Archpriest Mark Hodges has been suspended for attending the “Stop the Steal” rally ahead of the
By Joshua Rhett Miller, The NY Post, January 21, 2021 |
An Ohio priest has been suspended for attending the “Stop the Steal” rally ahead of the US Capitol siege — a punishment he ripped as “unjust,” according to reports.
Archpriest Mark Hodges, who is affiliated with St. Paul the Apostle Orthodox Church in Dayton, told the Journal-News that he was slapped with a three-month suspension and faces possible defrocking for simply attending the demonstration by President Donald Trump supporters.
“My beloved bishop had questioned the wisdom of a priest attending,” Hodges told the newspaper this week. “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.”
A notice on the Orthodox Church in America’s Diocese of the Midwest website shows that Hodges was “suspended from all priestly functions” effective Jan. 12. No additional details are provided and a message seeking further comment was not immediately returned early Thursday.
“I disagree,” Hodges said of the disciplinary action.
Hodges, of Lima, said he was informed of the move directly from Archbishop Paul Gassios, who heads the Diocese of the Midwest. A diocese spokesman declined to comment on the matter, the Journal-News reported.
Hodges said he has served as a “supply” priest for the past few years at parishes in Cleveland, Byesville and Toledo, as well as other churches in Michigan when vacancies arise.
Hodges told the Lima News he was informed by Gassios he was “guilty by association” for attending the rally. The archbishop confirmed Hodges’ suspension to the newspaper, but declined additional comment, saying “that is between myself and Father Mark Hodges to address.”
In a letter written to “concerned loved ones” that he shared with the Lima News, Hodges recalled the “joyful” rally where he met “wonderful” people and many families.
“It was good, huge,” the letter read. “Easily as big as any March for Life I’d been to, and I’ve been to most since the ‘80s, so I believed the whispered estimates of half-to-three-quarters of a million.”
Hodges said he saw one man who was sprayed with an irritant who told him “they’re attacking us,” he recalled.
“At this point, I had no idea of the violence inside the Capitol,” Hodges stated. “I heard the young men cursing and taunting the police.”
Hodges said he then “began to leave” as police unleashed tear gas into the crowd while he was about 25 feet away. He told a woman with him, “We should go,” he recalled.
“We left and went to Union Station,” the priest wrote in the letter.
Guidelines on the Orthodox Church in America’s website state that “clergy should refrain” from making political statements, joining political groups or “becoming fans” of political candidates or causes on social media platforms.
Hodges, meanwhile, had previously urged others on Facebook to join him at the “mega MAGA rally” on Jan. 6 in Washington.
“Whatever happens on that historic day, it will be an event to remember,” Hodges wrote. “You can tell your grandchildren that you were on the front lines in the Second American Revolution, where you fought to save the Republic.”
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