Among other things, the homily also called for a halt to Muslim immigration to the United States.


A Rice County Catholic priest apologized Wednesday for describing Islam as “the greatest threat in the world,” both to the United States and Christianity itself, in a recent sermon.

“My homily on immigration contained words that were hurtful to Muslims,” the Rev. Nick VanDenBroeke said in a statement posted on the website of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. “I’m sorry for this. I realize now that my comments were not fully reflective of the Catholic Church’s teaching on Islam.”

Earlier Wednesday, a Muslim organization called on Minnesota Catholic leaders to repudiate the sermon.

VanDenBroeke, pastor of the 100-year-old Church of the Immaculate Conception in Lonsdale, made the remark during a 15-minute homily on Jan. 5, declared Immigration Sunday by Minnesota’s Catholic bishops. In the sermon, he talked about how he believed parishioners should address their concerns about immigration.

After City Pages published an article about the sermon Wednesday, the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Minnesota) issued a statement condemning VanDenBroeke’s remarks and seeking a response from the Minnesota Catholic Conference, the public policy voice of the state’s six dioceses.

“We urge leaders of the Catholic Church in Minnesota to repudiate these hate-filled and un-Christian remarks as unrepresentative of the faith they hold dear,” said Jay­lani Hussein, CAIR-Minnesota’s executive director.

Archbishop Bernard Hebda said Wednesday night that he has spoken with VanDenBroeke and that “he has 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 continued in his prepared 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.’ ”

He added that Pope Francis has also stressed the importance of “dialogue and cooperation among believers, in particular Christians and Muslim, and the need for it to be enhanced.”

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