A priest in northern Poland who led a public burning of books that included Harry Potter titles and other “evil” items parishioners wanted destroyed has apologised.
Father Rafał Jarosiewicz called the burning of objects thought to be connected to magic and the occult, and deemed by their owners to be an evil force, “unfortunate”. Images from the burning last Sunday at the Catholic parish of Our Lady Mother of the Church and St Catherine of Sweden, in Gdansk, were originally posted on the Facebook page of SMS z Nieba (SMS from Heaven) , a foundation that uses unconventional means to carry out religious work across Poland.
“If anyone took my action this way, I would like to apologise,” he wrote, adding that he had removed the photos of the public burning, “so that it does not generate more emotions. I’m very sorry once again.”
In the pictures, flames consumed an African wooden mask, a small Buddhist figure, figurines of elephants, books on personality and magic, and children’s novels from JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series.
Jarosiewicz and other priests drew widespread criticism for burning the items. They said they had encouraged parishioners to bring in things that disturbed them so the priests could do away with bad influences. Some faithful and priests believe that Harry Potter books promote sorcery.
Jarosiewicz was fined by city guards. An anti-smog group also contacted prosecutors about the illegal burning of waste in an open fire.