A Catholic Polish archbishop has criticised a conservative priest who wished Pope Francis a 'quick' death if he did not open his heart to 'wisdom' on issues such as migrants and refugees.
Archbishop Marek Jędraszewski of Krakow said he had heard the comments with 'great pain and regret' and had discussed them with the priest, according to the Catholic Herald.
Fr Edward Staniek, who the Catholic Herald called 'a noted theologian' and former rector of the Higher Theological Seminary of the Archdiocese of Krakow, said in a sermon last month 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'.
He added: 'I can always ask God for a happy death for him, because a happy death is a great grace.'
The priest accused Pope Francis of misinterpreting the idea of Christian 'mercy', especially regarding the ongoing migrant and refugee crisis.
Staniek said: '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 [in 1683], understand better than others that there is no way to talk about dialogue with them.'
The priest also claimed that the pope's teaching regarding communion for divorced and remarried Catholics was too vague and open to misinterpretation by the secular media.
He said: 'What is the pope's direction? I do not know. What is the purpose of his speech? I also do not know. I do know how these statements are used in a media devoted to the destruction of Jesus and his Church.'
Staniek then suggested that Pope Francis was a 'foreign body' in the Catholic Church, adding: 'If the pope does not listen to Jesus from Mount Tabor, he does not participate in his authority. The Church of Christ is not built on power. It is built on authority. The one who values power above authority is the foreign body in the Church of Jesus. Let us listen to Jesus, just as his father on Mount Tabor recommended us.'
Archbishop Jędraszewski, thevice-president of the Polish Bishops' Conference, said: 'It is with great pain and regret that I learnt of the recent remarks made by Father Edward Staniek about Pope Francis.'
He added the Church in Krakow prays 'fervently' for the pope, asking God 'for the grace necessary for him in fulfilling the office of Peter'.