- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 30, 2020

A Catholic priest in Minnesota says he is sorry for recently telling parishioners that Islam represents “the greatest threat in the world both to Christianity and to America.”

Rev. Nick VanDenBroeke found himself in hot water this month with the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Minnesota), along with the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, over a Jan. 5 homily. 

The priest at Church of the Immaculate Conception told his audience that Catholics should “welcome others in the name of Christ” without having to “pretend that everyone who seeks to enter America needs to be treated the same.”

“I believe it is essential to consider the religion and worldview of the immigrants or refugees,” he said in footage posted to the church’s website. “More specifically, we should not be allowing large numbers of Muslims [seeking] asylum or immigration into our country. Islam is the greatest threat in the world both to Christianity and to America.”

CAIR blasted the remarks as “hate-filled and un-Christian.”

Archbishop Bernard Hebda and Rev. VanDenBroeke offered conciliatory statements in response to the outrage.

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

“The teaching of the Catholic Church is clear,” the archbishop added, the newspaper reported. “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.’ ”

• Douglas Ernst can be reached at dernst@washingtontimes.com.

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