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Austria: Pope revokes promotion of controversial priest

 An Austrian priest has asked Pope Benedict to revoke his appointment as a bishop in Austria, after his promotion led to protests.

Last week the Holy Father promoted Fr Gerhard Maria Wagner, as Bishop of Linz. The news produced a wave of protests after it emerged that Fr Wagner had described Hurricane Katrina as God's punishment for sexual excess and tolerance of homosexuality in New Orleans. He had also stated that Harry Potter novels and films promoted Satanism.

Last week, 31 of the 39 deans of the Linz diocese backed a declaration of no confidence in Father Wagner.

"Regarding the fierce criticism, I am in prayer and, after consulting the diocesan bishop, I have decided to ask the Holy Father in Rome to take back my promotion as auxiliary bishop," Father Wagner said in a statement on Sunday.

The Catholic news agency Kathpress reports that the Pope has agreed to the request.