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Polish archbishop castigates priest for wishing for pope's death

(Reuters/Max Rossi)Pope Francis leads the opening mass for the synod of bishops on the family at St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican October 3, 2015.

A Polish archbishop has chastised a priest for praying for the quick death of Pope Francis in his homily last month in an apparent expression of his disagreement with the pontiff's views on immigration, divorce and Islam.

Fr. Edward Staniek, a noted theologian and former rector of the Higher Theological Seminary of the Archdiocese of Krakow, said in his Feb. 25 homily that he was praying for "wisdom for the Pope, for his heart to open to the Holy Spirit, and if he does not, I pray for his quick passage to the Father's House."

The priest went on to accuse Francis of misrepresenting the idea of Christian mercy, particularly when it comes to the ongoing refugee crisis.

"In the name of mercy, he calls parishes and dioceses to open the door for the followers of Islam. As a religion, they are hostile to the Gospel and the Church. They murdered millions in religious wars. And we Poles, remembering the victory over their armies near Vienna, understand better than others that there is no way to talk about dialogue with them," Staniek said, as reported by Catholic Herald.

He also criticized the pope's teaching regarding Communion for divorced and remarried Catholics, saying it was too vague and was being misinterpreted by the media. He ended his homily calling on the pontiff to "listen to Jesus, just as His Father on Mount Tabor recommended us."

Archbishop Marek Jędraszewski, who serves as Vice President of the Polish Bishops' Conference, issued a strong rebuke against Staniek and said that he had also discussed his concerns with the priest in a face-to-face meeting.

"It is with great pain and regret that I learnt of the recent remarks made by Father Edward Staniek about Pope Francis," said Jędraszewski.

The archbishop stressed that the Church in Krakow "prays" fervently for the intentions of the pontiff, asking God to give him the grace necessary for him to fulfill his duties.

Pope Francis has drawn some backlash in recent years over Amoris Laetitia, his exhortation on marriage and the family.

The document, published in 2016, has been blamed for leading dioceses around the world to open Holy Communion for divorced and civilly remarried Catholics in certain situations.

Since its release, bishops and bishops' groups in Argentina, Malta, Germany and Belgium have issued pastoral instructions that allowed divorced and civilly remarried Catholics to receive the Eucharist, in defiance of longstanding Church teaching and practice.

In January, as many as 54,000 Poles have petitioned their bishops to defend the indissolubility of marriage and prohibit divorced and civilly remarried Catholics from receiving Communion.

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