The Roman Catholic archdiocese of Bamberg and Würzburg in Germany moved quickly to expel two seminarians studying at a seminary in Würzburg for participation in neo Nazi activities. They had been accused of giving the Nazi salute and of making anti-Semitic jokes and inappropriate comments about the Holocaust. A third priest in formation is facing questioning, according to Archbishop Ludwig Schick, who allegedly said that protesters at recent anti-racism rallies in Germany deserve a “smack in the face.” Archbishop Schick said that his decision about the expelled seminarians is “final.” The allegations made against the seminarians have been forwarded for possible prosecution by the state. "All forms of xenophobia, racism and extremism are incompatible with Christianity," Archbishop Schick told a news conference in Würzburg on July 29.
Attending the press conference were Archbishop Schick, Bishop Friedhelm Hofmann of Würzburg, and Judge Norbert Baumann of Bamberg. The latter served as the chairman of an independent review board that investigated allegations that an underground network of neo-Nazis was active at the Catholic seminary. Archbishop Schick said at the conference that he was "very concerned" about the allegations, "especially if it is something that happens within the Church." For his part, Bishop Hofmann described the effect of the allegations on the remainder of the seminarians, saying "You can imagine that there currently exists a very bad mood."
Bishop Hofmann made it clear extremist tendencies “have no place in our priestly formation.” He said that he is contact with the director of the seminary to re-examine the curriculum for aspirants to the priesthood, while making the “educational and spiritual effort needed to restore confidence in the seminary. Moreover, intensive efforts are needed to increase awareness of the special relationship between Jews and Christians in the formation of priests.”
Beginning in May of this year, rumors of a "brown (Nazi) network" at the seminary began circulating. There was also gossip that a party was held at the seminary’s cafeteria to celebrate the April 20 anniversary of the birth of Adolf Hitler. However, the independent commission found no proof that the birthday party had actually taken place. In Germany, the use of Nazi symbols or the glorification of Nazism is not only abhorred by most Germans but is also illegal.
Judge Baumann said the commission’s investigation probed 28 people, including all 18 seminarians in Wuerzburg. While the two expelled seminarians were not identified, Baumann described that one of them had told at least three jokes that were "not 'Jewish jokes' in the sense of Yiddish or Jewish wit but ... completely unacceptable and unbearable 'concentration camp jokes' that mock the mass murder of countless Jewish children, women and men during the Third Reich."
One of the seminarians attended a concert by controversial rock band on Hitler's birthday, and excusing himself from Mass at the seminary without saying why, Judge Baumann said. Archbishop Schick added this seminarian was also fascinated by Nazi uniforms. Another seminarian was accused of remarking that the seminary cafeteria needed "a Negro to clean up" the tables. Judge Baumann said that the commission found no evidence that the seminarians had played neo-Nazi music at the seminary, but did often play the famed ‘Badenweiler March’ in the knowledge that it was Hitler’s favorite marching tune.