The best papal nominee for an episcopal position in Austria in decades, Father Gerhard Wagner, has asked the Pope to withdraw his nomination as auxiliary bishop of Linz.
[AP] 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."________________________[Catholic Church Cobservation] Linz –This Sunday evening, in connection with the controversial appointment of the vicar of Windischgarsten in Upper Austria, Maria Gerhard Wagner, as the Auxilliary Bishop of Linz, there has been an unexpected twist. Wagner has made a step backwards and requested the Holy See that his nomination should be withdrawn
Wagner has asked the Diocesan Bishop Ludwig Schwarz to send to the media a short statement. It reads: "Given the fierce criticism, I have been in prayer, and after consultation with the diocesan bishop came to the conclusion to ask the Holy Father in Rome to withdraw my nomination as Bishop of Linz."
The statement was made available to the Communications Office of the Diocese of Linz on Sunday evening. When asked, its director Ferdinand Kaineder said that there would be no further comment from Bishop Schwarz. Similarly, for the time being no further comments are planned. He pointed to the special meeting of the Austrian Bishops' Conference set for Monday in Vienna.
The danger of this move to the public perception of the Pope's authority is incalculable. Let us keep praying for the Holy Father.
UPDATE: It seems that the Holy Father has granted Wagner's request.