Sunday, January 31, 2010

Was voodoo to blame for the Haiti earthquake asks Fr Wagner


This parish priest is in a hurry. An early mass must be held, a farmer has to be buried and he teaches a class about religion.

Everyday life of a country parson.  Interview in the Kurier

A year ago, on 31 January 2009, Father Gerhard Maria Wagner's life took fire after the Windisgarsten parish priest was surprisingly appointed as the new Bishop of Linz. What followed was a wave of protests - and ultimately his withdrawal.

"Well, that was a hunt," recalls Wagner about the days when journalists were waiting by the presbytery. A year later, only the Kurier reporter waits. "You are celebrating my anniversary?", he says with a smile of welcome. He will absolutely not allow photography. "You have enough of my pictures anyway. But don’t choose a gutter press one, but one that is a bit friendly."

Father, how often have you regreted your resignation already?
I regret nothing. It was the right step. I can only work where it is possible - and I am at my best in the parish.

To what extent have you changed in the past year?
Of course, it leaves some scars, because many injuries took place - even coming from my clerical colleagues. But I have not lost my joy in the Church.

A year ago you said in the interview: "Personal attacks bounce off me, if it means to stand up for the Faith." Why then the resignation?
This was not a question of personal vanity, but a clear reflection: can I work for the church like this? When I saw that this is no longer possible, I accepted the consequences. To be just entitled "auxilliary bishop" was not enough for me.

Did you resign of your own free will?
Look, that's past. I do not want to comment any more on things from the past. If I could thus serve the church, it was right. (Cathcon- he implied at the time that he did not!)

Well not entirely voluntary?
What in life is quite voluntary and was is forced on us? It was my step. The fact that some are happy about it, was a subsequent step.

You said when you made your choice, every day that you received countless letters and emails from people who encouraged you to continue.
Yes, that was so. There was an army of disappointed people, and there was too little concern shown about them. This is also a problem of the church that we dismiss these people. It is difficult for the church at the moment to present herself as united.

In hindsight, what have you done wrong?
Nothing really. I can look at myself to this day in the mirror. I have attacked and insulted noone.

But you have repeatedly provoked ...
... Hold on, that is something else: I have provoked, but I have introduced ideas. I have not attacked anyone - not even those who are lined up against me.

Which of your statements would you like to withdraw after the event?
Not one sentence. Things are not so different because one is opposed. I will not change myself, I seek out and love debate. I do wish the Church to be like a cemetery - still and quiet, just because noone should be offended. Church must remain alive.

Let us turn to a current debate: Is it not obvious for Christians to grant asylum to people in need?
This is different in detail. Today, if someone is persecuted or expelled, it is quite clear that one should come to their aid.

Should Arigona Zogaj be allowed to stay in Austria?
There is a law and you may have to have the courage to expel someone like them. The topic of foreigners must be closely examined - because it's also about the spread of Islam. (This girl was „adopted“ by the unfortunate Father Friedl to prevent her being deported).

Are you concerned about this?
The Muslims are also a problem of the Christians. If we no longer live our faith, we should not be surprised if others fill this gap. But I am not that interested in the people who do not even stand by their faith, who then attack Muslims.

In Switzerland, a majority is in favour of a ban on minarets. The Catholic Church is against a ban. Is that your opinion?
I think it is very much the case of asking the people.

In Austria, the outcome would be similar ...
One should take seriously the concerns of the people - and not to criminalize everything always. Islam is also a danger, about which vigilance is required.

You are of the opinon that the striking accumulation of natural disasters could be a result of spiritual pollution ...
... No lets not go that way. You are surely talking about Haiti, right?

I firmly believe: This is an enormous tragedy that must cause pain.

Was a punitive God at work there?
I do not know. God does not not show us his cards. But it is interesting that in Haiti, 90 percent are followers of voodoo cults.

Can you register same-sex partnerships at the registry office Windischgarsten?
I hope not.

Father, what do you have against homosexuals?
I have nothing against homosexuals. I have nothing against someone who is lying. But I have something against the lie. And I have something against the fact that you practice a lifestyle that does not correspond to God's plan. It is not to despise the man, but to show that this is not ok.

There is also homosexuality in the animal kingdom.
I do not know anything about the animal kingdom.

What should they say about you in the end?
He was true to the faith and there for the people.

Gerhard M. Wagner
Gerhard Maria Wagner, the son of a chemical worker, was born in Linz 17 July 1954. After leaving school, he attended the seminary, after which he studied Catholic theology and philosophy. In 1978 he was ordained a priest in Rome, and since 1988 parish priest in Windischgarsten.

Wagner is considered to be ultra conservative. His statements are well known on Harry Potter ( "satanic") and Hurricane Katrina ( "a result of spiritual pollution?"). In an interview in 2009, he called for medical treatment of people with homosexual inclinations.

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