Catholic priests in the northern Polish city of Koszalin burned books they say are sacrilegious this weekend, including tomes from British author J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series of fantasy novels.
“We obey the Word,” priests said in a Facebook post showing photographs of the public book burning and quoting Biblical passages from the book of Deuteronomy in the Old Testament.
One passage exhorting believers to destroy the enemies of God includes the passage “burn their idols in the fire”.
The post shows three priests carrying a basket of books and other items including an African-styled face mask through a church to an outside fire pit.
Photographs show priests saying prayers over the fire pit, where other items including a ‘Hello Kitty’ umbrella and a Hindu religious figurine, are also burning.
The Facebook page belongs to the “SMS from Heaven” Catholic evangelical foundation set up to spread Christian message via mobile phone text messages.
“I’d like to believe this is a joke… Seriously? Are people burning fantasy literature in the 21st century in some kind of sick ritual?!” one Facebook user said in a comment underneath.
“It’s hard for me to believe that we’re so backward!” they added.
Launched in 1997, the Harry Potter series of books spins an epic tale of good and evil focused on the adventures of the eponymous bespectacled young wizard as he struggles against the dark wizard Lord Voldemort.
It has sometimes drawn criticism from religious and conservative circles for what they say is its focus on witchcraft.
In recent months, Poland’s influential Roman Catholic church has been struggling to deal with the fallout of revelations about paedophilia among priests that are unprecedented in this overwhelmingly Catholic country.
Last month, the Polish episcopate admitted for the first time that nearly 400 of its clergy had sexually abused children and minors over the last three decades.
That reflected the findings published in February by a charity focused on sex abuse in the church.