Tags: Coronavirus | Religion | priest | robert altier | sermons | archdiocese | twin cities

Priest Told to Stop Calling Coronavirus a Scam in Sermons

hebda at st paul cathedral
Archbishop Bernard Hebda speaks during a news conference at St. Paul Cathedral in St. Paul, Minnesota. (Leila Navidi/Star Tribune via AP)

By    |   Friday, 25 September 2020 09:36 AM

A Twin Cities priest who told his congregation that coronavirus was man-made and called the death toll numbers a "lie" was told to stop preaching about those types of claims by the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, the Star Tribune reports.

On Sept. 6, the Rev. Robert Altier delivered a 20-minute sermon titled "The Coronavirus: The Truth Revealed," suggesting the virus was created in labs in the U.S. and China. He said it was a lie that people were dying from it.

His sermon has been posted on YouTube and viewed more than 400,000 times. It has been removed from the website of Altier's church, the Church of St. Raphael in Crystal.

After he gave his sermon, the archdiocese said it was "under review." Earlier this week, Archbishop Bernard Hebda said he told Altier that his topics were inappropriate for a sermon.

"The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis is blessed with many fine priests," Hebda wrote in a letter posted on the archdiocese website. "None of our priests or bishops, however, is an expert in public health, infectious disease, epidemiology or immunology. It would be a mistake to attribute any expertise in these areas to us simply on the basis of our ordination."

Hebda noted that he had asked the Minnesota Department of Health to respond to Altier's claims about the pandemic. The department rejected all claims made in the sermon, the newspaper reports.

Hebda said the local chapter of the Catholic Medical Association also "essentially shared the department's critique."

During his sermon, Altier argued that the virus was made in a lab, that a 2020 global pandemic preparation exercise revealed previous knowledge of the virus, suggested that masks caused bacterial infections, and claimed that the death toll was overinflated. He claimed that only 9,200 people died from the virus. The health department countered his claims as false.

The Rev. Michael Rudolph, pastor at St. Raphael's, said he plans to email his congregation Hebda's letter and the health department's response.

Hebda said he told Altier that sermons "should be an explanation of some aspect of the readings from Sacred Scripture or of another text."

"The use of a homily to present medical or scientific speculation does not serve that noble purpose and could be seen as an abuse of the cleric's position of authority to address an issue unrelated to the liturgical celebration," Hebda said.

The archdiocese has not taken any additional action against Altier, according to the newspaper.

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A Twin Cities priest who told his congregation that coronavirus was man-made and called the death toll numbers a "lie" was told to stop preaching about those types of claims by the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, the Star Tribune reports. On Sept. 6, the Rev. Robert...
priest, robert altier, sermons, archdiocese, twin cities
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2020-36-25
Friday, 25 September 2020 09:36 AM
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