Meat the Magic Priest- "I will not botch up Jesus" who seems to talk more about his tricks than the Cross of Christ.
On Sunday, Gert Smetanig presented his latest magic program. And? Smetanig is a priest, his stage is the Parish church of Mauerkirchen (district of Braunau). An interview with "The Magic Priest" about God and the world.
OÖN: Father, what do you think of Harry Potter?
Smetanig: Not the same as the Windischgarsten pastor. I see absolutely no danger of the occult or anything else. I think that also in Harry Potter magic has brought something positive, because the children's interest has been awakened for magic tricks.
OÖN: You use your magic deliberately to attract more people into the church.
Smetanig: And that also works. At family worship the church is full - at least 600 people. I offer other things, because I think that the church should go along with people.
OÖN: What do you offer?
Smetanig: In the autumn, I sent out invitations to a worship service to which people came with their pets, which I blessed (Cathcon- animal blessings no problem- providing they are outside church). For Valentine's Day, there was a worship service for lovers.
OÖN: No matter what sex?
Smetanig: It does not matter. Whether man / woman, man / man or woman / woman - they received a blessing at the end of the worship. Gays and lesbians were also represented.
Cathcon note: this also occurs in the Cathedral of Vienna, presided over by Father Faber, the Cathedral Vicar. The Cardinal raises no objection!
OÖN: Are you also harassed for this courage?
Smetanig: I think that some have trouble with it. Exactly as in the confrontation about the Auxiliary Bishop. I have said clearly at Mass what I was thinking. I have placed a statement from Platform Church in the notice display.
OÖN: With what result?
Smetanig: The bishop called me and told me that someone has complained about me. If one cannot have an opinion in our church, without a lid being put on it, then I say that the church must have a place for those who think differently. There is nothing bad about criticism. If I would say nothing more, it means I don’t care. And that should not happen.
OÖN: Were there also negative reactions relating to your magic from the pulpit?
Smetanig: At the beginning, yes. They were only a very small percentage of people. They can also make a proper vortex. How when I came to Mauerkirchen, I already had heard: Here comes a young priest, who conjures in the church. Can this be something good? Now, after one and a half years, we see that a lot has happened. The church is full, people my age come back with their children. Older people unfortunately die sometime away and if you do not pay attention to reaching those who have trouble with the church, then we have a problem.
OÖN: Magic could be interpreted in the Scriptures as a miracle working.
Smetanig: Jesus was no magician, he has not used tricks. We cannot understand much today. The Biblical exegesis says that you can interpret it symbolically, when Jesus healed someone who has a crooked spine. What makes us crooked? What knocks us to the ground?
OÖN: Magic tricks are not quite like small miracles?
Smetanig: Na, na, na, na I have even a work of art, in which fluid is always increasing, but that I compare that to my boss making wine from water ... we are not so distant. And because I will not make a botch of Jesus.
OÖN: What about your boss from earth?
Smetanig: I believe that the Pope, in some cases has not been properly informed.
OÖN: Do you place in order all your models.
Smetanig: As far as religion goes, it is simply Jesus. This is not to sound pious or kitschy. How he is received by people, as he was also critical of the teachers of the laws. As far as magic is concerned, Copperfield is certainly a role model.
OÖN: Many parishes are orphaned. Do you have a solution?
Smetanig: When I think of how many priests there are without an office in Upper Austria. Priests who were ordained, but then stopped and were married. There are about 70 who can immediately take over a parish.
OÖN: Would that make sense?
Smetanig: A priest is not unworthy just because he is married. If he has a wife and children, then they can just as well have the care of souls.
OÖN: As Magic Priest, you allow a blonde, pretty woman to assist you. Are there no rumours?
Smetanig: If you are standing on the stage, then yes you need to have someone who has an presence. If someone is beautiful, it's not that I have fallen head over heals in love and my priestly career falters. Moreover, it would be quite normal that you can fall in love. We remain people thank God. The question is how do I deal with it. Is my vocation more important or the woman?
OÖN: What is your best magic trick?
Smetanig: My highlight comes from Las Vegas. The assistant enters a structure which I stab with a sword, then I open it and the assistant is gone. Only the sword can be seen.
OÖN: And where is the lady gone?
Smetanig: I do not know ...
OÖN: Is there something that a magician and a priest have in common?
Smetanig: To be quick witted. Can "sell an idea" and make a joke.
OÖN: Why did you become a priest and not a professional magician?
Smetanig: Because I would like to change the church.