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Pope accepts withdrawal of controversial Austrian bishop-designate

March 02, 2009

Pope Benedict XVI has accepted the withdrawal of an Austrian priest whose nomination to become an auxiliary bishop of the Linz diocese had encountered heavy opposition among Austrian priests and bishops. The Vatican announced on March 2 that the Pope had "dispensed Msgr. Gerhard Wagner from accepting the office of auxiliary of the diocese of Linz, Austria." Father Wagner had asked the Pope to withdraw his nomination after priests in Linz announced that they would not accept him, and the Austrian bishops issued a statement criticizing the appointment. Some officials in Rome were reportedly unhappy that the Austrian hierarchy announced that Wagner's withdrawal had been accepted, even before the Pope had received the bishop-designate's letter making the request. Last week, as reports indicated that Father Wagner had been under heavy pressure to withdraw, Bishop Ludwig Schwarz of Linz made an unscheduled trip to the Vatican for consultations.


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