A group of Polish Roman Catholic priests has burned books and other objects they believe promote magic and sorcery, ― including books from British author J.K. Rowling’s wildly popular Harry Potter series.
The burning took place at the Mother of Church parish in the northern Polish city of Gdansk, The Associated Press reported. Photos from the burning, accompanied by Bible verses and excerpts from Catholic doctrine, were posted on a Polish Catholic Facebook group on Sunday.
“We obey the Word,” the post read, according to a translation by the BBC.
The images show priests and two altar boys sorting through a pile of books and other objects near the church’s altar. The objects were carried in a basket down the church nave and burned in a pit outside.
Novels from Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series about vampires and a book about the Indian guru Baghwan Shree Rajneesh could be spotted in photos of the pile of books. A wooden mask, elephant figurines and a pink Hello Kitty umbrella were also burned.
The objects were all brought in by parishioners, who were encouraged by the priests to cleanse their homes of objects related to the occult, the AP reported.
The Polish Catholic bishops’ conference confirmed to Agence France-Presse that the incident had occurred but declined to comment. HuffPost has reached out to the local diocese.
The book burning garnered international attention after it was posted online by the SMS from Heaven Foundation (Fundacja SMS Z NIEBA), an evangelical Catholic group based in the nearby Koszalin diocese. The post cites Bible verses that condemn sorcery. One verse, Acts 19:19, tells of how early Christian converts who previously practiced magic publicly burned their sorcery scrolls.
The SMS from Heaven Foundation also cited lines from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which condemns the use of horoscopes, palmistry, charms and other types of divination or magic.
Many commenters criticized the book burning on Facebook ― pointing out that books were also burned by the Nazi regime.
Rev. Wojciech Parafianowicz, a spokesman for the Koszalin diocese, told the Polish news site wPolityce.pl that he condemned the act of book burning but understood the priests’ desire to educate parishioners about Catholic teachings.
Parafianowicz said occult practices “have a bad influence on human life,” according to a translation provided by the AP.
The Roman Catholic Church has long been an influential part of Polish society. At least three-quarters of adults in Poland (87 percent) identify as Catholic, according to the Pew Research Center ― making it one of Europe’s most Catholic countries.
However, allegations of sexual misconduct by Polish Catholic clergy have recently marred the church’s reputation, the Guardian reports.