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“We need a respectful, mutual listening, free of ideology and predetermined agendas.” Pope Francis, Let us Dream, December 2020

Priest apologises for public burning of items including Harry Potter books

A Catholic priest in northern Poland who led a public burning of the Harry Potter series and other books and items deemed by their owners as harmful has apologised.

Fr Rafal Jarosiewicz published his apology on Facebook, saying the burning of books and other items linked to magic and the occult was ‘unfortunate’ and stressed it was not aimed against books or culture.

Fr Jarosiewicz and other priests drew criticism after they burned the books and items on Sunday before a church in Gdansk, saying they were doing away with evil influences.

He was fined and an anti-smog group has also contacted prosecutors about the open fire.

Images from the burning at the parish of Our Lady Mother of the Church and St Catherine of Sweden on Sunday were initially posted on Facebook by Catholic foundation SMS z Nieba (SMS from Heaven), which uses unconventional means to carry out its religious work.

In the now-deleted pictures, an African wooden mask, figurines of elephants and books on personality and magic, as well as those by JK Rowling, were seen to have been consumed by the flames.

A priest and altar boys were also captured watching the burning of the items and books, which had all been brought in by parishioners.

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

However, comments under the original post condemned the book burning, recalling that such acts also happened in Nazi Germany before the Second World War.

‘Can’t you see how sick this is? What are your plans next, burning witches?’ one critic wrote.

Another added: ‘As a Catholic, I don’t agree with you, burning books is stupid.’

Picture: A stack of Harry Potter books on display in a bookstore. (Johnny Louis/SIPA USA/PA).