Gerhard Maria Wagner

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The Reverend
Fr Gerhard Maria Wagner
Parish Priest of Windischgarsten
Church Roman Catholic Church
Archdiocese Archdiocese of Vienna
Diocese Diocese of Linz
In office 1988 to present
Other posts Auxiliary Bishop-elect of Linz (31 January 2009 – 2 March 2009)
Ordination 10 October 1978
by László Lékai
Personal details
Born (1954-07-17) 17 July 1954 (age 63)
Wartberg ob der Aist, Upper Austria, Austria
Nationality Austrian
Denomination Catholicism

Gerhard Maria Wagner (born 17 July 1954, Wartberg ob der Aist, Austria[1]) is an Austrian Roman Catholic priest. He was appointed auxiliary bishop of Linz by Pope Benedict XVI on 31 January 2009, but amidst controversy over his views that sin caused Hurricane Katrina, Wagner resigned on 15 February 2009.

Ordained ministry[edit]

On 10 October 1978, Wagner was ordained to the priesthood of the Roman Catholic Church by Cardinal László Lékai, Archbishop of Esztergom.[2] Since 1988, he has been parish priest of Windischgarsten, Upper Austria in the Diocese of Linz.[3]

Episcopal appointment[edit]

On 31 January 2009, Wagner was appointed auxiliary bishop of Linz, Austria, by Pope Benedict XVI. Amidst controversy over his views, Wagner resigned on 15 February 2009.

Wagner's appointment as auxiliary bishop was met with controversy among Austrian Roman Catholics, with Linz Diocese Bishop Ludwig Schwarz supportive, an informal group of priests led by Upper Austria church dean Franz Wild opposed, and Graz-Seckau Diocese Bishop Egon Kapellari optimistic that the "crisis" would be overcome by "good will" from both supporters and opponents.[4]

Two weeks after his appointment Wagner requested its revocation because of the widespread criticism.[5] In those 2 weeks the number of people leaving the Church had quadrupled in his Linz congregation, with similar or even higher numbers in the neighbouring communities, many of the ex-parishioners naming Wagner's appointment as the reason for their departure.[6] The Times-Picayune reported Wagner's announcement in an Associated Press article concluding with a comparison between the Wagner situation and that surrounding the Holy See's decision to lift the excommunication of the bishops of the Society of St. Pius X, particularly Holocaust-denier Richard Williamson.[7] The Vatican formally accepted the resignation and dispensed Wagner from his appointment on 2 March 2009.[8]


Wagner alleged that the Harry Potter novels partake of satanism.[9]

Wagner became widely known in the world press for his 2005 comment attributing Hurricane Katrina to God's ire toward the sins of New Orleans.[10] James Gill, columnist for the New Orleans Times-Picayune, satirically called for the Pope next to elevate Wagner as Archbishop of New Orleans after protests from Roman Catholics in three New Orleans congregations over the merging of their churches by aging Archbishop Alfred Clifton Hughes.[11] The churches had been depopulated in part by out-migration resulting from Hurricane Katrina. Indeed, two months after Gill's writing, Hughes was engaged in encouraging the University of Notre Dame to disembark from plans to host President Barack Obama, a supporter of abortion, as commencement speaker,[12] and within days of Hughes' announcement of opposition to Obama's appearance the Times-Picayune published a letter to the editor urging that Hughes should instead have complained to the Pope about the short-lived appointment of Wagner to be auxiliary bishop of Linz.[13]


  1. ^ Gerhard Wagner ist neuer Weihbischof für Linz.
  2. ^ Cheney, David M. "Father Gerhard Maria Wagner". Catholic-Hierarchy. Retrieved 19 January 2017. 
  3. ^ "Dr Gerhard Maria Wagner". Diözese Linz (in German). Katholische Kirche in Oberösterreich. Retrieved 19 January 2017. 
  4. ^ Veronika Oleksyn, "Priests protest pope's bishop choice" in Times-Picayune, 12 February 2009, Saint Tammany Edition, p. A11 (web version = "Austria: Priests criticize pope's bishop pick").
  5. ^ Papst um Rücknahme der Ernennung ersucht.
  6. ^ Hunderte Kirchenaustritte in Oberösterreich.
  7. ^ Eric Willemsen, "Austrian pastor cedes promotion" in Times-Picayune, 16 February 2009, Metro Edition, p. A3 ("Austria: 'Katrina' pastor giving up promotion").
  8. ^ Dispensa del santo padre; Alessandra Rizzo, "Pope rescinds 'Katrina' pastor's promotion" in Times-Picayune, 3 March 2009, Saint Tammany Edition, p. A8 (web version = Pope rescinds promotion of 'Katrina' pastor).
  9. ^ Controversial Austrian priest now a bishop.
  10. ^ Cleric whose Katrina comment caused stir promoted;[permanent dead link] Veronika Oleksyn, Wagner appointment in Huffington Post.
  11. ^ Gill, "Holy Nutcase!" (Times-Picayune, 4 February 2009, p. B7).
  12. ^ Bruce Nolan, "Hughes raps college over Obama honor" in Times-Picayune (New Orleans), 3 April 2009, Saint Tammany Edition, pp. A1, A4 (web version = N.O. Archbishop criticizes Notre Dame for inviting Obama to speak at commencement).
  13. ^ H. Bruce Shreves, Archbishop's outrage needed closer to home, Times-Picayune, 10 April 2009, Saint Tammany Edition, p. B6.