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Austrian bishop-designate asks Pope to rescind appointment

Catholic World News - February 16, 2009

Father Gerhard Maria Wagner has asked Pope Benedict to rescind his appointment as an auxiliary bishop of Linz diocese. Father Wagner, a conservative priest whose appointment roused a storm of protests from the liberal clergy of the Linz diocese, said that he wishes to remain a parish priest. His priest’s remarks on "moral pollution" in society, his suggestion that storms like Hurricane Katrina could be divine retribution for sin, and his sharp condemnation of the Harry Potter novels made Father Wagner the target of an international protest. In Austria, dozens of priests had announced that they would not accept his appointment, and urged local bishops not to participate in his episcopal consecration. The bishops of Austria have gathered today in a special emergency session to weigh a response to this resistance.

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