The Austrian priest whose appointment earlier this month caused an uproar due to his earlier remarks about Katrina being the fault of sinful Lousianians (among other things he said) has asked that his nomination as the new auxiliary bishop of the Diocese of Linz be withdrawn.
According to a statement released by the Linz diocese, the Rev. Gerhard Maria Wagner, 54, said:
“Regarding the fierce criticism, I am in prayer and, after consulting the diocesan bishop, I have decided to ask the Holy Father in Rome to take back my promotion as auxiliary bishop.”
Regarding Hurricane Katrina, which devastated New Orleans and the surrounding region, Wagner said in 2005: ”This was not the sinking of just any city but that of a people’s dream city with the ‘best brothels and prettiest prostitutes’.” He added: “It’s no coincidence that in New Orleans all five abortion clinics as well as night clubs were destroyed.” And he asked: “Is the noticeable rise in natural disasters a consequence of environmental pollution or rather of spiritual pollution?”
Wagner had also characterized Harry Potter novels as “Satanism, said homosexuality was curable and ruled out lay participation in church affairs.
Poor man had bad timing as well, given all the other travails of the Vatican in recent weeks. His appointment so disturbed the restive Austrian church that the bishops announced an emergency meeting for today (Monday) to address the crisis. According to the Catholic news agency Kathpress, Vienna Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn said the uproar had caused “irritation and resignation” and the Church needed “damage control” for the sake of its future.
The outcry was clearly part of the calculus in Wagner’s decision, but the clincher was likely last week’s no-confidence vote by 31 of the 39 senior priests of the Linz diocese.
At Whispers, Rocco is all over it.