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Dearborn's Church of Divine Child apologizes for pastor's homily linking BLM to terrorists

Mark Hicks
The Detroit News

A Catholic church in Dearborn is apologizing for a controversial message its associate priest delivered last weekend that compared Black Lives Matter demonstrators and others to terrorists in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

the Rev. Paul Graney

"I am so sorry that a homily given by Fr. Paul Graney at the 4:30 p.m. Mass on Saturday has brought forth division, anger, confusion and chaos," said the Rev. Bob McCabe, pastor at Church of the Divine Child, in a statement on Facebook. "I first spoke with a couple individuals shortly after his homily. I could sense their anger and their hurt."

Graney's homily was live-streamed Saturday and removed from the church Facebook page within an hour and a half, McCabe said in his post. A Dearborn resident posted the footage online.

In the nearly 12-minute clip, Graney told parishioners "people have been out in our streets doing incredibly violent things in the name of justice. Cars have been torched, property has been destroyed, businesses looted and burned, and police officers and other people have been intimidated, assaulted and even murdered..."

After mentioning the 19th anniversary of 9/11, the associate priest described how al-Qaeda "came with the goal to destroy America, little by little, with acts of terror. ... But in 2020, many of our own people are now out there in the streets wanting to remake America into something else by destroying what it is today. Little by little. There’s no great army, but it’s riot by riot, really."

Graney singled out two groups he said intended "to implement communism: a stateless, classless society." One was antifa, or anti-fascists, a range of far-left militant groups. The other was Black Lives Matter, which protests discrimination against African Americans.

The associate pastor called the first "an anarchist, terrorist organization" and rejected the second as "working against the traditional family structure" by supporting LGBTQ people, he said, reading aloud from the BLM website from the pulpit.

"Al-Qaeda’s goal was to come to the United States and kill Americans. Really just wanted to wipe America off the map. And they would’ve done it if they could," he said. "But today, those who we see wanting to bring down American are Americans and they want to do it under the facade of justice, freedom and love. But it is all a big bunch of baloney. It’s anti-Christian. It’s anti-family. It’s evil."

Graney could not be reached for comment Monday.

Some welcomed the apology on the church's Facebook page. Others defended Graney.

Marie Boyle, Divine Child's communications and marketing director, told The Detroit News the parish and the Archdiocese of Detroit, which oversees area Catholic churches, "are not able to accommodate any interviews" and referred to McCabe's statement.

"We are asking for prayers for the parish community during this time," she said.

In his statement Monday, McCabe said he spoke with Graney "to express my opinion that his homily was not pastoral or sensitive to all the people who would be hearing it. I also expressed concern that he did not mention any of the Scriptures proclaimed at Mass. A homily is supposed to reflect on and break open the Word of God proclaimed."

The next day, Graney "gave a pastorally sound homily based on the Scriptures," McCabe said.

He went on to say: "As your pastor, I want to assure you that at Divine Child we love and respect all persons. Every person is sacred in the eyes of God regardless of their race, religion or sexuality. At different times we need to focus in on different groups and their particular needs. Right now, the murder of countless persons of color demands a clear response. The entire human family needs to unite in confronting these injustices. We must protect the lives of persons of color and be the voice for people who do not have one."