ST. CLOUD - WJON has heard from several listeners over the past few weeks, claiming that some patients of different faiths (specifically Somali Muslims) have requested crucifixes to be removed from their room while they're cared for.

We looked into the story and talked to Bret Reuter, the director of mission and spiritual care at St. Cloud Hospital.

Reuter says 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. In 1964, the Benedictine Sisters deeded all the hospital property to the newly formed St. Cloud Hospital Corporation as a gift, entrusting their work to the men and women willing to take it up.

The hospital still operates 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. Reuter says as St. Cloud has become more diverse, the hospital has worked to accommodate and care for people of all faiths-including removing religious symbols if it's requested.

"Sometimes people don't feel the crucifix is a supportive symbol and they even feel it's problematic. So we do as a matter of fact, if the patient requests, remove the crucifix from the wall while they're in the room and put it back up when they're discharged."

Reuter adds most Muslims don't make the request to have the crucifix taken down, but there are some Somali Muslims that feel the crucifix in the room will get in the way of God's activity in their life.

"That having a religious symbol of any kind, that somehow that shows disrespect and that they don't believe healing will occur for them in the way God would intend. You understand that people have different experiences and we want to be respectful of the patient."

The important part for the hospital is that even if the crucifix is removed, that they continue with their mission and values of compassion, care and respect through their employees. Reuter says in other words: "the meaning behind the crucifix continues whether it's there or not."

St. Cloud Hospital also tries to have religious material available that reflects the community. They have Bibles, Qurans, Bibles in different languages and many other religious texts available for patients. They also have relationships with other faith leaders in the community who can come to speak with patients.