`Katrina' Pastor Giving Up Promotion

VIENNA (AP) - A radio station says an Austrian pastor who suggested that God punished New Orleans with Hurricane Katrina because of the city's sins is giving up the auxiliary bishop post the pope promoted him to.

The national broadcaster ORF said Sunday the Rev. Gerhard Maria
Wagner made the decision because of the controversy surrounding
Pope Benedict XVI's promotion of him in Linz, Austria's second largest city.

The promotion of the conservative pastor sparked an outcry among
Catholics who warned it could prompt people to leave the church.

ORF quotes the 54-year-old Wagner as saying: "Regarding the fierce criticism, I am praying and after consulting the diocesan bishop I have decided to ask the Holy Father in Rome to take back my promotion as auxiliary bishop."

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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