ST. CLOUD - CentraCare has released a statement addressing a recent rumor that hundreds of St. Cloud Hospital crucifixes have been damaged by Muslim families.

The Facebook post/blog has been circulating claims that hundreds of crucifixes have been defaced at St. Cloud Hospital, blaming members of the Somali community.

In their statement, CentraCare says over the past year, 50 crucifixes have been broken, some as a result of accidents and some due to vandalism.

A small number have been attributed to Muslim family members of patients. Spiritual Care and security staff work to identify vandals and the reason behind their acts.

"When possible, hospital staff have followed up with the individuals and have had fruitful conversations resulting in greater understanding between the hospital and members of the local Muslim community," the statement says.

St. Cloud Hospital says they strive to provide a healing environment for all, which can sometimes mean removing a crucifix at a patients request (WJON did a story on this earlier this year).

St. Cloud Hospital is a private non-profit Catholic hospital that has crosses/crucifixes in patient rooms and in their halls, as well as a chapel with daily mass. The Sisters of the Order of St. Benedict opened the hospital in 1886.

Bret Reuter, the director of mission and spiritual care at St. Cloud Hospital, previously said to WJON that they operate under Catholic values and the vision of the Benedictine Sisters of being inclusive and letting the gospel message of love and “love thy neighbor” inform everything they do.

"Muslims are coming to understand the significance of the crucifix and Catholics' respect for it. Likewise, in our conversations with them, we are learning about their faith and culture," the CentraCare statement says.

The statement ends by encouraging community members to engage in conversations and learn about each other in order to learn and work together.