Nigerian priest, Patrick Asomugha, faced racism, break-ins and had his tires slashed in the small town where he lived in Germany. The death threat was the final straw, making it impossible for him to do his job, he says.
Father Patrick will step down from his parish in Queidersbach in the west of the country after “massive” intimidation against him, said Bishop Andreas Sturm.
The hostility towards Asomugha began in mid-2019. The presbytery in Queidersbach, a town of some 3,000 inhabitants, suffered significant property damage after two break-ins, and the tyres on the priest’s car were slashed.
In March, unknown persons placed a death threat on the door of his garage.
“Under these circumstances, I can no longer fulfil my duties as a priest in Queidersbach,” said Fr Asomugha, who had been head of the parish of Saint Francis of Assisi since August 2017.
Asomugha took over as the head of a parish in Queidersbach, a small municipality in western Germany near the city of Kaiserslautern, in 2017.
The source of the threats has not been identified yet and this has led to the parish without much of an option.
Parishioners became more hostile, with people reportedly uttering racist abuse during church services. Local public broadcaster SWR reported in July last year that parents were overheard saying: “I won’t let my child be baptized by a black man.”
“I’m not taking anything from those dirty black hands,” one parishioner is reported to have said as Asomugha held communion. At the time, the diocese in Speyer declined to comment on specific cases.
There are some very blatant shows of racism wen abroad that a lot of black foreigners tend t go through especially in areas where there is less exposure to different culture, people etc.
“It would be irresponsible to continue exposing Father Asomugha to the threat,” said the diocese stated that it would be instead irresponsible to keep exposing the man of the cloth to such adversities especially of this kind.
The local Catholic youth organisation expressed their “deep shame” and said it was “horrified to see that because of their skin colour, origin or other characteristics, people can no longer exercise their professional activity or have to leave their employment”.
The priest will remain within the diocese of Speyer but will transfer to another mission.
In 2016, a German-Congolese Catholic priest left his Bavarian parish to protest against the racist attacks against him, also punctuated by death threats, due to his support for the reception of foreign refugees.
Germany is undergoing an upsurge in anti-migrant feeling, linked with the rise of the right wing Alternative for Germany party, which is now the main opposition force in the Bundestag with 89 elected officials.
Two people died in an attack on a synagogue in the city of Halle last October and a pro-migrant politician was murdered at his home in June 2019, both were victims of racism.