Congo-born priest resigns from German parish after racist threats

(RNS) Olivier Ndjimbi-Tshiende was harassed after he criticized a local politician who talked about an “invasion” of Eritrean refugees.

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(RNS) A Catholic priest has resigned from his parish in Germany after racist threats and abuse by local politicians.

The Rev. Olivier Ndjimbi-Tshiende told parishioners during his Sunday (March 6) sermon that he would be leaving his post in Zorneding, close to Munich, after Easter. The Congolese-German priest received race-related death threats five times in the past few months and has also been stalked, German magazine Der Spiegel reported.

Ndjimbi-Tshiende has reportedly suffered racist abuse from two members of the Christian Social Union, the Bavarian arm of a center-right party that forms part of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition government.

The local party leader, Sylvia Boher, was criticized last year by Ndjimbi-Tshiende after she referred to an “invasion” of Eritrean refugees. Her CSU ally, Johann Haindl, subsequently used a racist insult against the priest, the BBC reported. Both politicians have since resigned from their party posts after criticism of their statements.

After Ndjimbi-Tshiende’s decision to step down, the Munich archdiocese said it stood by the priest. He is expected to be transferred to a new post in April.

Archdiocese spokesman Bernhard Keller was quoted as saying he was unaware of other cases of racism against foreign-born priests. Ndjimbi-Tshiende was born in the Congo and holds German citizenship.

(Rosie Scammell covers the Vatican for RNS)