Pope promotes bishop who said Hurricane Katrina was 'divine retribution'

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Pope Benedict XVI has promoted a pastor who said Hurricane Katrina was divine punishment for sin in New Orleans.

The Vatican announced the Rev. Gerhard Maria Wagner, 54, had been chosen as auxiliary bishop in Linz, the capital of Upper Austria province.

Wagner caused a stir in 2005 when he was quoted as saying he was convinced that the death and destruction of Hurricane Katrina was "divine retribution" for tolerance of homosexuals and laid-back sexual attitudes in New Orleans.

Hans Padinger, spokesman for the Upper Austrian priest's council, said yesterday he was "not very pleased" with the pick because it gave him the general impression the Vatican made no attempt to communicate with the Linz Diocese about the matter.

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