Saturday, January 31, 2009

Another Saturday... Another Storm

In this morning's dispatches, the Pope named Fr Gerhard Wagner as auxiliary bishop of the Austrian diocese of Linz.

A veteran pastor with a Gregorian doctorate in theology, the 54 year-old's appointment wouldn't normally make headlines outside of, well, Linz -- considered in some quarters as Europe's "most liberal diocese." Throw some incendiary comments from the nominee into the mix, however, and you've got the last thing the Vatican needs right now -- another worldwide brutta figura.

An Austrian pastor who has been quoted as calling Hurricane Katrina God's punishment for sin in New Orleans is being promoted to the rank of bishop....

In 2005, Wagner was quoted in a parish newsletter as saying that he was convinced that the death and destruction of Hurricane Katrina earlier that year was "divine retribution" for New Orleans' tolerance of homosexuals and laid-back sexual attitudes.

Kath.Net, a Catholic news agency in Austria, released in 2005 excerpts of what it said were comments Wagner made in a parish newsletter in Linz about Katrina.

It said the newsletter quoted Wagner as saying that Katrina destroyed not only nightclubs and brothels in New Orleans, but also abortion clinics.

"The conditions of immorality in this city are indescribable," Wagner was quoted as saying.
...and more:
Wagner, 54... first gained notice in 2001 when he described J. K. Rowling's popular Harry Potter novels -- which take place in a witchcraft and wizardry school -- as "satanism" and warned against the magical spells and formulas used in the novels.

After the Hurricane Katrina disaster in 2005, he again commented: "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?"
The bishop-elect is to be ordained on 22 March.