Catholic priests publicly burn Harry Potter books, Hindu symbols and other 'sacrilegious' items in Poland

Catholic priests publicly burn Harry Potter books, Hindu symbols and other 'sacrilegious' items in Poland

A CATHOLIC group in Poland has incinerated dozens of "sacrilegious" items in a bizarre public burning ritual led by local priests.

The 'SMS From Heaven Foundation' (Fundacja SMS z Nieba) in the northern Polish city of Koszalin took to social media at the weekend to share images of clergymen and altar servants throwing books and other objects onto a fire pit.

The burning – which saw everything from Harry Potter books to symbols from other religions destroyed – took place in a public area of the city in full view of local residents, according to local news outlet WP.

Fundacja SMS z Nieba is a Catholic evangelical foundation set up to spread Christian messages via mobile phone text messages and is led by Fr Rafał Jarosiewicz, who is known to travel around Poland with a mobile confessional.

"We obey the Word," priests wrote on Facebook as they shared photos from the burning and quoted Biblical passages from the Book of Deuteronomy in the Old Testament – which includes the passage "You must burn their idols in fire" in relation to God's enemies.

The post shows at least three priests carrying a basket of books and other items through a church to the outdoor fire pit where they were incinerated.

Items burned included novels from the iconic fantasy series by British author J.K. Rowling, as well as a Hindu religious figurine of an elephant, an African mask, a 'Hello Kitty' umbrella and yet more books from the Twilight saga by US writer Stephenie Meyer.

Facebook users reacted with outrage to the bizarre public ritual, even comparing the group's actions to the book-burning tendencies of the Nazis.

One wrote: "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?!"

Another added: "It's hard for me to believe that we're so backward!"

The incident comes as the Roman Catholic Church in Poland continues to be hit with clerical child sex abuse allegations akin to those that have emerged around the world in recent years.

Last month, the Polish episcopate admitted for the first time that nearly 400 clergy had sexually abused children and minors over the last three decades – reflecting findings published in February by a charity for clerical sex abuse victims.