WARSAW, Poland — Priests at a Catholic parish in northern Poland have drawn criticism after they burned books, including from the “Harry Potter” series, and other items that their owners said had evil forces.

Images from the burning at Gdansk’s Mother of Church parish on Sunday were posted on Facebook by Catholic foundation SMS z Nieba (SMS from Heaven,) which uses unconventional means to carry out its religious work.

In the pictures, flames are consuming an African wooden mask, a small Buddhist figure, figurines of elephants and books on personality and magic, as well as those by J.K. Rowling. They were all brought in by parishioners, who were encouraged by the priests to clear their homes of objects that had evil forces. Influential in Poland, the Catholic Church objects to “Harry Potter” books, which are international best-sellers, saying they promote sorcery.

In the photos, priests and altar boys can be seen watching the burning objects.

The foundation said the book burning was intended to alert parishioners to bad influences that it says come from magic and the occult.

Many comments under the Facebook postings condemned the book burning, recalling that also happened in Nazi Germany before World War II. Some said this taught hatred and asked if the next in line for burning were witches, like in the Middle Ages.

The event was criticized by the Rev. Wojciech Parafianowicz, spokesman for the diocese of Koszalin, where the foundation is based, who said he “did not like this form of priestly activity, which is wrong.”

But, speaking with the wpolityce.pl news portal, Parafianowicz argued that the occult and magic “have a bad influence on human life.”

A popular commentator on religion, Pawel Guzynski, a Dominican Friar, said on Facebook the burning was “rather the fall of wise faith than of unwise superstition.”

The church enjoys great authority in predominantly Catholic Poland because of its historical and political backing. It has the support of the conservative government many of whose members are Catholic.

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Engage ideas. This forum is for the exchange of ideas, insights and experiences, not personal attacks. Ad hominem criticisms are not allowed. Focus on ideas instead.
TURN OFF CAPS LOCK.
Don't threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
No trolls. Off-topic comments and comments that bait others are not allowed.
No spamming. This is not the place to sell miracle cures.
Say it once. No repeat or repetitive posts, please.
Help us. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.