Posted on April 19, 2024

AfD Lawmaker Expelled From Catholic Church Committee Board After Refusing to Recant on His Party Membership

Thomas Brooke, Remix, April 18, 2024

A conservative lawmaker in Germany has been kicked off his local Catholic Church committee’s board after refusing to distance himself from his political party.

Christoph Schaufert, an MP representing the right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) in the Saarland state parliament, is a devout Roman Catholic and had sat on the administrative board of the parish of St. Marien in Neunkirchen as an honorary elected member.

He had been baptized at the parish and involved with the church ever since. Having been a member of the center-right CDU for two decades, he joined the AfD as a member in 2016 and was subsequently elected to office, first as a local councilor and then as a state parliamentarian in 2022.

However, a minority of the congregation and some members of the parish’s board expressed opposition to his continued involvement in the church on account of his AfD membership and filed a complaint.

The complainants cited a declaration passed by the German Bishops’ Conference at its general assembly in February, which held that “ethnic nationalism and Christianity are incompatible.” It explicitly referenced the AfD as a “right-wing extremist” party and ruled members of organizations advocating such a political ideology cannot have a home in the Catholic Church.

On Wednesday, Vicar General Ulrich von Plettenberg revealed he had spoken to Schaufert regarding the complaint and, as the lawmaker refused to recant on his political allegiance to the AfD, decided to approve the removal of the politician from the committee’s board.

“I made the decision to grant the parish’s application,” said von Plettenberg. “In my view, we need a joint effort to maintain cohesion in our country and protect it from populist divisions.

“This includes good politics for all people in our country, this includes the defense of the rule of law, and this also includes us as a church doing our part and clearly expressing our stance for democracy, freedom, and the preservation of human dignity,” he added.

Speaking to news outlet Junge Freiheit, Schaufert expressed his disappointment at the decision, claiming he had been a victim of a political witch-hunt, that there was nothing to blame him for, and that when challenged to find any contradictions with the Catholic teachings in his parliamentary speeches, the vicar general had failed to provide any examples.

Schaufert reserves the right to lodge a formal complaint over his expulsion from the committee’s board, both with the local bishop and via a potential appeal to the Dicastery for the Clergy in Rome.

He has not yet revealed whether or not he intends to pursue the matter further.