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WARSAW, Poland — A priest in northern Poland who led a public burning of books that included titles from the "Harry Potter" series and other items parishioners wanted destroyed has apologized, saying the ritual was not intended to condemn specific authors, religions or social groups.
The Rev. Rafal 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." He published the apology late Tuesday on the Facebook page of a foundation he founded.
Jarosiewicz and other priests have drawn criticism for burning books, Buddhist figurines, an African mask, and other items Sunday outside a Catholic church in the city of Gdansk. They said they encouraged parishioners to bring in things that disturbed them so the priests could do away with bad influences.
Jarosiewicz was fined by city guards. An anti-smog group also contacted prosecutors about the illegal burning of waste in an open fire.
Images from the burning at the Parish of Our Lady Mother of the Church and St. Catherine of Sweden were posted on the SMS z Nieba foundation, which uses unconventional means to carry out religious work across Poland.
In the pictures, flames are consuming an African wooden mask, a small Buddhist figure, figurines of elephants and books on personality, magic and from J.K. Rowling's "Harry Potter" series. Some Catholic faithful and priests think the "Harry Potter" books promote sorcery.