An Austrian pastor who has been quoted as saying Hurricane Katrina was God's punishment for sin in New Orleans is being promoted to the rank of bishop.
The Vatican announced that Pope Benedict XVI had tapped the Rev. Gerhard Wagner, 54, to be auxiliary bishop in Linz, Austria. It did not mention the reported remarks about Katrina.
Wagner has served since 1988 as pastor of a church in the Austrian town of Windischgarsten, and received a doctorate in theology from the prestigious Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, the Vatican said.
In 2005, Wagner was quoted in a parish newsletter as saying that he was convinced that the death and destruction caused by Katrina earlier that year was "divine retribution" for New Orleans' tolerance of homosexuals and relaxed sexual attitudes.