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Archbishop responds to Minnesota priest's anti-Muslim homily

The priest who made the comments has said he's sorry his words were hurtful to Muslims.

The Lonsdale priest criticized over his anti-Muslim comments made during a Sunday homily has apologized, while the Archbishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis has also responded.

The Council of American-Islamic Relations Minnesota (CAIR-MN) called on church leaders to repudiate comments made during a Sunday homily given by Father Nick VanDenBroeke at the Church of the Immaculate Conception in Lonsdale, Rice County.

VanDenBroeke said the U.S. "should not be allowing large numbers of Muslims asylum or immigration into our country," before saying that Muslims at the "greatest threat to Christianity and to America" and that "our laws of immigration need to reflect that."

On Wednesday evening, a statement was sent out by the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis at VanDenBroeke's request, saying: "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."

A statement was also issued by Archbishop Bernard Hebda, who said he has spoken with VanDenBroeke, who "expressed sorrow for his words and an openness to seeing more clearly the Church’s position on our relationship with Islam."

He added:

"The teaching of the Catholic Church is clear. 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 honour Mary, his Virgin Mother.' He called upon the Church to persist in esteem for Muslims, who 'worship God who is one, living and subsistent; merciful and almighty, the creator of heaven and earth, who has also spoken to humanity.' If all of us who believe in God desire to promote reconciliation, justice and peace, we must work together to banish every form of discrimination, intolerance and religious fundamentalism."

Hebda continued to say that he echoes calls from Popes Francis and Benedict for greater dialogue and cooperation between Christians and Muslims.

"I am grateful for the many examples of friendship that have been offered by the Muslim community in our region and we are committed to strengthening the relationship between the two communities."

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