Minnesota pastor apologizes after calling Muslims a 'threat' in sermon
A civil rights group is calling on Roman Catholic church leaders to reject a sermon in which a Minnesota priest described Islam as a threat to the U.S. and Christianity.
The Rev. Nick VanDenBroeke is pastor of the Church of the Immaculate Conception in the small town of Lonsdale.
He said during a Jan. 5 sermon that large numbers of Muslims should not be allowed to seek asylum or immigration to the U.S.
The homily that was posted for the public on the church's website has since been deleted.
"I believe it is essential it is to consider the religion and the world view of the immigrants or refugees. More specifically, we should not be allowing large numbers of Muslims asylum or immigration into our country," said VanDenBroeke in that homily. "Islam is the greatest threat in the world both to Christianity and to America."
The Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations on Wednesday called on church leaders to repudiate the sermon. It prompted executive director Jaylani Hussein to reach out to VanDenBroeke.
"What you said is horrible and it's beneath anybody who has any decency and ability to welcome a stranger," said Hussein.
But the priest's message earlier this month went further.
"I'm not a hater for saying this; I'm not saying something anti-Christian, because their religion is anti-Christian. I'm simply a realist to acknowledge that fact. They are the greatest threat to Christianity and to America," said VanDenBroeke.
Although VanDebBroeke is calling Islam a threat, many who practice the faith feel it's his message that's dangerous.
"He has done really a damage and a disservice to his faith his community and he's also added on to this continuous threat of Muslims and which also threaten Muslim's lives," said Hussein.
VanDenBroeke issued the following statement regarding his homily Wednesday night: "My homily on immigration contained words that were hurtful to Muslims. I'm sorry for this. I realize now that my comments were not fully reflective of the Catholic Church's teaching on Islam."
St. Paul-Minneapolis Archbishop Bernard Hebda said all who believe in God must work together to banish every form of discrimination and intolerance.