July 2024

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Congo-born priest Olivier Ndjimbi-Tshiende, age 66, has resigned from his position due to racial slurs and death threats. Father Ndjimbi-Tshiende had been preaching since 2012 in Zorneding, a small town of approximately 9,000 inhabitants in the Bavaria district, 20 kilometers east of Munich.

Racial tensions

Lately, Germany has been struggling to hold 1.1 million migrants. This has brought out a lot of racial tensions within the country. A few political parties, such as the conservative Christian Social Union of Bavaria, have been preaching anti-immigration policies. In an article published by the party’s local paper, CSU chairman Sylvia Boher claimed that Bavaria was being “overrun” by “invaders.” She also accused asylum seekers from the East African nation Eritrea of trying to escape their military service.

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Attacked by politicians

The trouble began for the priest in late 2015 when Father Ndjimbi-Tshiende called out Boher’s article. He stood up for the migrants and urged local politicians to live up to their Christian duty. CSU deputy chairman Johann Haindl fired back at Ndjimbi-Tshiende, telling him to restrain himself and called him “unser Neger.” This is a racially insensitive term for black people in Germany. It is similar to the word “Negro” in English. Both Haindl and Boher received backlash for their statements and were forced to resign from their positions within the party. But the damage had already been done. Tshiende became a target for racism and threats, and the small town was full of tension and drama.

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Enduring months of abuse

The priest received five anonymous death threats. He also faced verbal abuse in public. The Munich daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung reported that someone yelled out “after the evening mass, you’re done for.” He received an anonymous postcard saying “Go to Auschwitz.” Deputy mayor of the Social Democratic Party Bianka Poschenrieder said that a townsperson once told her Ndjimbi-Tshiende would not be in the community for too long.  

“It sounded a lot like a threat,” she said.  

By March, Ndjimbi-Tshiende could not take it any more and announced he was leaving the town. The Archdiocese of Munich released a statement asking everyone to the fact respect that Father Ndjimbi-Tshiende does not want to speak to the media.

“The situation was very burdensome for him, yet he looks back without bitterness at his time in Zorneding,” the statement said. “He was well received and friendly in the town in 2012, have made many friends and was well received by the faithful. He knew that many regretted his departure. At the same time he hoped that all understanding of his decision. Ndjimbi-Tshiende said he looks forward now and looking forward to the front of him priestly ministry in a new place. In the center stand for him, the Church of Jesus Christ to serve.”

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SEE ALSO: These 5 Stories Will Restore Your Faith In Humanity.