French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said on Monday that the priest had been murdered in the western Vendée department by a Rwandan national, who then went to French authorities and confessed to the murder.
According to media reports, the priest, named Olivier Maire, had hosted the Rwandan, who was awaiting a possible trial for setting fire to Nantes cathedral last year.
Bruno Retailleau, who represents the Vendée in the French Senate, tweeted that he was “deeply shocked by the terrible murder of a priest who had taken care of his murderer.”
“What was this man still doing in France?” asked Retailleau, a member of the right-wing Les Républicains party.
Marine Le Pen, the leader of the far-right National Front, was quick attack the centrist government of President Emmanuel Macron on the murder. “In France, you can be an illegal migrant, set fire to a cathedral, not be expelled and then reoffend by murdering a priest,” she tweeted.
Darmanin, who said he was going to the scene, retort that Le Pen “was having a controversy without knowing the facts”.
Immigration, security and Islamism risk being divisive in the April elections, where Macron will face his most difficult challenge from right-wing parties.