Former seminary rector Fr Edward Staniek questioned the direction in which Pope Francis was taking the Church

A Polish archbishop has criticised a priest and theologian who wished Pope Francis a quick death if he did not open his heart to “wisdom”.

Archbishop Marek Jędraszewski of Krakow said he had heard the comments with “great pain and regret” and had spoken to the priest about them.

Fr Edward Staniek, a noted theologian and former rector of the Higher Theological Seminary of the Archdiocese of Krakow, said in a homily 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.”

“I can always ask God for a happy death for him, because a happy death is a great grace,” Fr Staniek added.

The priest accused Pope Francis of misinterpreting the idea of Christian mercy, especially regarding the ongoing migrant and 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.”

He also said that the Pope’s teaching regarding Communion for divorced and remarried Catholics was too vague and was being misconstrued by the media.

“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.”

Fr Staniek then suggested Pope Francis was a “foreign body” in the 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.”

The comments prompted Archbishop Jędraszewski, who serves of Vice-President of the Polish Bishops’ Conference, to issue a strong rebuke.

“It is with great pain and regret that I learnt of the recent remarks made by Father Edward Staniek about Pope Francis”, the archbishop said. He added the Church in Krakow prays “fervently” for the intentions of the Holy Father, asking God “for the grace necessary for him in fulfilling the Office of Peter.”