• Germany's news in English
 
app_header_v3
Black priest forced out of post by death threats and racism
Photo: DPA

Black priest forced out of post by death threats and racism

The Local · 7 Mar 2016, 17:19

Published: 07 Mar 2016 15:02 GMT+01:00
Updated: 07 Mar 2016 17:19 GMT+01:00

The 66-year-old made the announcement during Sunday's morning mass at the catholic St. Martin's ministry in the Upper-Bavarian town of Zorneding, where he had been shepherd to the congregation since 2012.

During the final months of 2015, the priest was racially insulted by a local politician and then received five anonymous death threats, the Süddeutsche Zeitung reports.

Police are now looking for the people who sent the letters, who are being investigated on three charges including incitement of racial hatred.

In a statement issued by the archdiocese of Munich on Monday, Ndjimbi-Tshiende said the situation had been a burden on him and that he felt relief once he had made the decision to step down. 

Though he doesn't feel resentment towards the community, he is looking forward to taking on a new role within the Catholic church and to being able to focus on his service to God, the statement said.

Sign of the town Zorneding in Upper Bavaria; Photo DPA

"[It's] terrible, very terrible", said town mayor Piet Mayr of the Christian Social Union (CSU).

"I hope that they [the death threats] are not coming from Zorneding locals" but from "psychopaths from the outside." according to the Sueddeutsche Zeitung (SZ).

'Live up to your Christian duty!'

Hostilities between Ndjimbi-Tshiende and sections of the local community appear to go back to November 2015 when then-CSU local chairman Sylvia Boher wrote an article for the party's local publication claiming the state of Bavaria was overrun by refugees.

The CSU are a conservative political party who dominate Bavarian politics and whose leader has strongly resisted Germany's open-door refugee policy.

In the article Boher described the refugee influx as an "invasion" and accused Eritrean asylum seekers of trying to run away from their military service.

Ndjimbi-Tshiende reacted angrily top the letter, calling on politicians to live up to their Christian duty.

Deputy CSU chairman Johann Haindl shot back at the priest in an article in the Ebersberger Zeitung, referring to him as "unser Neger" – a historically derogatory term for black people in Germany, comparable to the word "Negro".

The two politicians faced harsh criticism for their comments, forcing both to resign from their roles in the party, but Sylvia Boher remained still active in the local council.

Ever since then, tensions in the community of Zorneding have been bubbling and seething.

Deputy mayor Bianka Poschenrieder of the centre-left Social Democratic Party (SPD) recalled to the SZ an instance when a townsperson told her that the priest wasn't going to be with the community for a very long time.

"It sounded a lot like a threat," she said.

Only later did it come out that the priest had been receiving death threats for months.

A heated debate has broken out as to what extent the CSU is responsible for the priest stepping down.

"What happened in Zorneding is a disgrace for Germany and the CSU/CDU. Shame on them," one Twitter user commented. 

"What does the 'C' of CSU stand for again?"; asked another Twitter-user.

Story continues below…

But Mayor Mayr said that the CSU "is in no way responsible for people who act outside of the boundaries of the law."

The provisional chairwoman of the CSU Zorneding, Jutta Sirotek, said she stands behind tolerance and human dignity and condemns any kind of racism.

This isn't the first ugly incident of threatening behaviour to have affected the town.

In November of 2014 the head of a local primary school offered a vacant room in her apartment to a group of under-age, unaccompanied refugees, leading to her being bombarded with xenophobic e-mails.

But some of the community want Ndjimbi-Tshiende to stay and have launched a petition called "Unser Pfarrer muss in Zornedingen bleiben!" (Our priest must stay in Zorneding!).

 

For more news from Germany, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Lion shot dead at Leipzig Zoo after breaking out of cage
Motshegetsi (l) und Majo. Photo: DPA

A young male lion was shot dead at Leipzig Zoo on Thursday afternoon after he broke out of his enclosure.

EU takes Germany to court for 'discriminatory' foreigner toll
A sign that reads "toll" along the Autobahn by Rostock. Photo: DPA.

The European Commission on Thursday said it is taking Germany to the EU Court of Justice because of the country's plan to impose a road toll that would mainly charge foreign drivers.

After 3-year trial, suspected neo-Nazi terrorist speaks out
Beate Zschäpe. Photo: DPA

Beate Zschäpe, the only living member of an underground neo-Nazi cell accused of murdering ten people, has spoken to the court in Munich after three years of silence.

Green party wants only e-cars on Autobahn by 2030
Photo: DPA.

The environmentalist Green party has an ambitious plan for German cars to be petrol- and diesel-free within the next 15 years.

Commerzbank to make one in five staff redundant by 2020
Photo: DPA

Germany's second largest lender Commerzbank said on Thursday it plans to cut 9,600 jobs by 2020 and withhold dividends to pay for a €1.1 billion restructuring.

Germany's favourite smoker wins battle against eviction
Photo: DPA

How a pensioner with a serious smoking habit won a years-long fight for his right to keep his home - and his favourite pastime.

Thousands evacuated after WWII bomb found in Cologne
File photo of a Second World War bomb: DPA

Several thousands people were being evacuated from a district of Cologne just north of the old town on Thursday morning, after a Second World War bomb was found in a parking lot.

Kidnapped German journalist and her baby freed in Syria
File photo of a Syrian soldier: SANA/DPA.

A German woman who was kidnapped in Syria last year while she was pregnant has been freed along with her baby, the German Foreign Office said on Wednesday.

Air Berlin to cut 1,200 jobs and halve airline fleet
Photo: DPA.

Struggling Air Berlin, Germany's second-largest airline, announced on Wednesday a major restructuring plan that shrinks its fleet and cuts 1,200 jobs.

Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
Photo: Thomas Wolf/Wikimedia Commons.

From stunning chalk-white cliffs to fairy tale castles, Germany has some breathtaking sights to see, perfect for social media.

Sponsored Article
The Inner Circle: the secret to dating in Berlin
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
Sponsored Article
Why Jordan is the ‘Different’ East
Lifestyle
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
Lifestyle
10 German films you have to watch before you die
Lifestyle
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
Sponsored Article
Retiring abroad: ensuring your health is covered
Lifestyle
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
National
Seven great reasons to stay in Germany this September
National
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
National
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
Sponsored Article
Life in Jordan: 'Undiscovered treasure'
National
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
Culture
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Sponsored Article
The Inner Circle: the secret to dating in Berlin
Rhineland
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Culture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
Lifestyle
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
Gallery
Germany's 17 Olympic gold medals in pictures
14 facts you never knew about the Brandenburg Gate
Society
Ten times Germans proved they really, really love beer
National
Six things you need to know when moving to Germany
Travel
These 10 little-known German towns are a must see
International
German scientists prove birds can sleep while flying
Technology
London v. Berlin: Which is better for startups?
Lifestyle
13 mortifying mistakes German learners always make
6,622
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd