From this morning’s Guardian:
Pope Benedict XVI has made another controversial appointment by elevating an Austrian pastor who said Hurricane Katrina was God’s punishment for homosexuality in New Orleans to the position of bishop. The Vatican yesterday announced that Gerhard Wagner has been appointed as auxiliary bishop in Linz, Austria.
Of course he has. Wagner was obviously the best candidate for the job, regardless of his rabidly right-wing views.
In 2005, the 54-year-old was quoted in a parish newsletter as saying he was convinced that the death and destruction caused by Katrina that year was “divine retribution” for New Orleans’ permissive sexual attitudes and tolerance of homosexuality. Kath.Net, a Catholic news agency in Austria, said the newsletter quoted Wagner as saying that Katrina had destroyed not only nightclubs and brothels in New Orleans but also abortion clinics.
He first attracted international attention in 2001 when he described JK Rowling’s best-selling Harry Potter novels as “satanism” and warned against the magical spells and formulas used in them.
But that’s not all. In addition to adding insult to the injury of victims of Katrina in New Orleans, Benedict has been engaging in one of his other favourite pastimes: offending other religions. And indeed, in this regard, he has a soft spot for Judaism…
The Chief Rabbinate of Israel last week broke off official ties with the Vatican to protest against the Pope’s decision to rehabilitate a bishop who once said he did not believe there had been Nazi gas chambers.
British-born Richard Williamson is one of four bishops who are members of the Society of Pius X, a traditionalist Catholic order, whose excommunication was lifted a week ago. Williamson, who now lives in Argentina, had claimed in a television interview that historical evidence was “hugely against six million having been deliberately gassed in gas chambers as a deliberate policy of Adolf Hitler … I believe there were no gas chambers”.
Williamson was excommunicated 20 years ago after being consecrated by the French archbishop Marcel Lefebvre without papal consent.
The Vatican said it had been unaware of Bishop Williamson’s views on the Holocaust when the decision was made to readmit the group, and the Pope quickly distanced himself from the comments and expressed “full and indisputable solidarity” with Jews. However, condemnation from Jewish groups was widespread. On Thursday, Bishop Bernard Fellay, the superior general of the Society of St Pius X, asked for forgiveness from the Pope for the “dramatic consequences” of Bishop Williamson’s comments. Fellay said he had forbidden Williamson from speaking publicly about any historical or political questions and that his views “don’t reflect in any way the position of the society”.
Does the Vatican not understand that the rest of the world can see and read about these events taking place? Are they ignorant to the impact of a global 24 hour media, or are they uninterested in how they appear to the general public (and other religions), focusing solely on implementing their offensive agenda?
My money’s on the latter.