Catholic priests in northern Poland burned Harry Potter books and objects associated with the occult Sunday to cleanse parishioners of links to witchcraft.
The priests, who are part of an evangelical Catholic group called SMS from Heaven Foundation, held the burning in a parish in Gdansk and posted pictures of the event on Facebook along with several verses concerning the prohibition of witchcraft and commandments to reject idols and false gods. Father Jan Kucharski, who serves as an exorcist for the Gdansk diocese, said parishioners also brought talismans and amulets to be burned in order to be rid of any association with the demonic. (RELATED: Renowned Exorcist Holds Mass To Combat Coven Of Witches Hexing Kavanaugh)
“Aside from the books, there were talismans and amulets. Parishioners brought them to put things in order,” Kucharski said, according to Yahoo!.
“We know what’s harmful to our faithful so that’s why we held an event like this. I’d even call it evangelical,” he added.
Online posts of the burning went viral, but garnered mockery and outcry from social media users, some of whom made comparisons between the event and book burnings the Nazis conducted, quoting German poet Heinrich Heine’s line written in 1823 “Where books are burned, in the end, people will also be burned,” according to BBC.
The Harry Potter series, in particular, has garnered criticism from conservative Christians of various denominations for its focus on witchcraft, giving rise to concerns children might start to develop an interest in the occult. While not all Christians believe the books are a source of potential evil influence, both the Catholic Church and Protestant denominations teach that occult practices are contrary to the will of God and are dangerous as they make practitioners vulnerable to the influence of demonic forces.
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