Minnesota priest calls COVID-19 a man-made virus during homily: ‘We are being lied to’

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A Minnesota Catholic priest said in a homily Sunday that COVID-19 was man made and released into the public to make people sick.

“We have been lied to. We have been lied to in a huge way,” began Rev. Robert Altier of Church of St. Raphael in Crystal, Minnesota.

The priest spoke for nearly 20 minutes about the coronavirus and cited several unsubstantiated theories about the pandemic.

Altier said the virus has been engineered and its effects have been blown out of proportion.

“It’s time that we start to recognize that we are being lied to,” he claimed. “The work had begun at a lab in North Carolina, then they shipped it to China to finish the work, then it was released so that people would get sick.”

No evidence exists that suggests COVID-19 was genetically engineered, according to fact check website Snopes.com. The website said “the vast majority of scientists who have studied the virus” say COVID-19 evolved naturally.

That includes Dr. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, who said “everything about the stepwise evolution over time strongly indicates that [this virus] evolved in nature and then jumped species,” McClatchy News previously reported.

In his sermon, Altier later said he would not trust a potential COVID-19 vaccine and would only get one “if they arrest me, hold me down and force it on me.”

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He asked why people aren’t required to wear masks and social distance for the flu and tuberculosis, which have proven treatment methods, unlike the coronavirus. More than 910,000 people have died globally from the coronavirus, including 191,000 in the United States as of Sept. 11, according to Johns Hopkins University.

“No hospital was overwhelmed (by the coronavirus),” Altier said. “In fact, there was hardly anybody in most hospitals.”

Hospitals in California faced staffing shortages due to the pandemic, leading doctors and nurses to be deployed to eight hospitals, the Associated Press reported. Some Texas hospitals were overwhelmed with patients in July, with some having to turn away patients, the Texas Tribune reported. New York City also had widely-reported issues at their hospitals handling the influx of patients.

Rev. Michael Tix of the Archdiocese of Saint Paul & Minneapolis said in a statement he has been in contact with Altier following his comments.

“With the assistance of experts in this area, the matter continues to be under review,” Tix said in a statement. “Stemming from our belief in the dignity of all human life, the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis is committed to the safety and well being of all people and has consistently collaborated with public health officials and government officials in the development of safety protocols for our parishes and schools.”

Visitors are advised to wear masks while at St. Raphael, according to KMSP.

Pope Francis wore a mask for the first time in public this week and urged congregants at a Vatican courtyard “to work for the common good” during the pandemic, Reuters reported.