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Priest apologizes for saying we shouldn't let Muslims into the country

Father Nick VanDenBroeke apologized for "words that were hurtful to Muslims."

Father Nick VanDenBroeke apologized for "words that were hurtful to Muslims." Church of the Immaculate Conception website

Father Nick VanDenBroeke didn’t respond to City Pages’ inquiries about his anti-Muslim homily earlier this month.

On Wednesday, after our story came out, VanDenBroeke, who presides at the Church of the Immaculate Conception in Lonsdale, apologized in a brief statement to the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis Catholic Center.

“My homily on immigration contained words that were hurtful to Muslims,” he said. “I’m sorry for this. I realize now that my comments were not fully reflective of the Catholic Church’s teaching on Islam.”

Earlier that day, the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) asked leaders of the Catholic Church in Minnesota to “repudiate” VanDenBroeke’s remarks, which director Jaylani Hussein called “hate-filled and un-Christian” in a statement.

“Silence on this issue would send the troubling message that the church holds a negative view of Minnesota’s Muslim community,” Hussein continued.

The priest, who has been pastor in Lonsdale since 2017, startled some of his parishioners with his harsh homily about immigration on January 5, or "Immigration Sunday."

“Both as Americans and Christians, we do not need to pretend that everyone who seeks to enter America should be treated the same,” Father VanDenBroeke said. He went on to say that “we should not be allowing large numbers of Muslims asylum or immigration into our country,” because Islam is “the greatest threat in the world” to both Christianity and the United States.

Archbishop Bernard Hebda told the Star Tribune Wednesday night that he’d spoken with VanDenBroeke, who had “expressed sorrow for his words” and an openness to “seeing more clearly the church’s position on our relationship with Islam.”

“The teaching of the Catholic Church is clear,” Hebda said in a statement. “As Pope Benedict XVI noted, ‘The Catholic Church, in fidelity to the teachings of the Second Vatican Council, looks with esteem to Muslims, who worship God above all by prayer, almsgiving, and fasting, revere Jesus as a prophet while not acknowledging his divinity, and honor Mary, his Virgin Mother.”

Hebda continued that he was “grateful” for the many examples of friendship offered by the region’s Muslim community, and that the church was “committed” to strengthening their relationship.