Catholics in Germany are not permitted to vote for the populist Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) party over its alleged "ethnic nationalist" views, the country's association of bishops has said. (EPA-EFE/ANNA SZILAGYI)


Catholics cannot vote for Germany’s ‘ethnic nationalist’ AfD party, bishops declare


Catholics in Germany are not permitted to vote for the populist Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) party over its alleged “ethnic nationalist” views, the country’s association of bishops has said.

The declaration is the latest move by the German Catholic church against the party.

In August 2023, Germany’s Catholic hierarchy said that supporters of the AfD should be stripped from even lay church positions.

In a statement February 23, the German Bishops’ Conference said the AfD pivoted between the ideologies of populism and what it calls “real right-wing extremism”.

Right-wing extremism revolves around the idea of “ethnic nationalism”, say the bishops, or the view that a natural nation fundamentally consists of people of a similar “ethnos”.

“We see with great concern that radical thinking is increasing and even turning into hatred of fellow human beings–especially because of their religion, origin or skin colour, gender or sexual identity,” said the conference.

“We say with all clarity: ethnic nationalism is incompatible with the Christian view of God and humanity,” it added.

The letter goes on to compare the AfD to Die Heimat, a party which has been plausibly linked to Neo-Nazism, before ordering Catholics not to support any parties engaged in such “right-wing” ideology.

This ban on support includes voting for them in any upcoming elections.

“Rightwing extremist parties and those that proliferate on the fringes of this ideology cannot therefore be a place for Christians to engage in political activity and cannot be elected,” they said.

The fiery statement is the latest in a series of attacks on the AfD from the German Catholic church establishment.

Church attempts to delegitimise the party in the eyes of congregants have been going on for months now, with the head of the Committee of German Catholics coming out last year to demand all AfD supporters be banned from even the most basic of positions in the faith.

“Active advocacy for the AfD contradicts the basic values ​​of Christianity,” committee president Irme Stetter-Karp said in August.

She added such restrictions should be put on AfD supporters even if they are “legally divisive”, with the official suggesting that there were ways to get around anti-discrimination rules that make banning people over which party they support unfeasible.

AfD politicians, many of whom are practising Catholics, have been outraged by the attacks.

AfD Bundestag representative Gerrit Huy accused the bishops of trying to force their political views onto their congregants.

“[T]he Catholic Bishops’ Conference, have decided: they do not like the AfD and want to make this dislike binding for all German Catholics,” the politician wrote online.

She added that “our Lord in heaven” is aware that the allegations against her party are “unfounded”.