A Polish priest has installed a “beautiful, economic and ecological” solar panel cross on his parish church.

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“The electricity bills scared me”, Father Krzysztof Guziałek told Gazeta Wyborcza of his decision to the 12-metre-high eco-friendly cross on the front of his church in Pleszew, central Poland.

“At the same time, I was constantly thinking about the words of Pope Francis from the encyclical [Laudato si‘], in which he talks about caring for the world, about caring for nature and not destroying it”, the priest explained.

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Guziałek decided to put the 14 photovoltaic panels in a cruciform shape on the front of the church, rather than the roof, given that the facade is where the sun hits the strongest.

Part of the installation costs were met by the priest himself, with the rest coming from a low-interest “ecocredit” loan.

On a fine day, the Pleszew church cross panels are capable of generating up to 5.2 kW of electricity per hour.

That’s enough to power the lights and heaters in the church, with the excess energy being transferred to the grid.

Why it matters

Given that the panels were only installed last autumn, Guziałek says it’s too early to tell how much money the parish will save.

But the priest said he’s hoping that electricity costs, which can climb as high as 2,000 zloty (470 euros) a month in winter, will come down eventually to zero, besides the additional benefit of not having to fire up the church’s coal heating stove.

As for the residents and parishioners of Pleszew, they couldn’t be happier with the new cross, especially given that it glows a pleasant blue, purple and red at night.

“It’s a beautiful idea”, Ewa, a retired gardener, told Gazeta Wyborcza.

“The cross is beautiful, economical and ecological”, added Rafał. “We should have more such crosses in Poland”.

For the record

Priest Guziałek’s pro-environmental convictions aren’t just limited to recognising the need to use solar power.

He’s also implemented a no-plastic policy in the Pleszew parish, and gives regular sermons on the need to reduce waste and stop the pollution of the forest.

“We must not shy away from climate change”, Guziałek explained.

“We must do everything to protect the world from destruction. Man has a barbaric approach to nature. But we should ask ourselves what we will leave for future generations”, the priest declared.

Guziałek’s ecotheology is a refreshing contrast to the disinterest of Kraków archbishop Marek Jędraszewski, who over Christmas denounced ecologism as a “very dangerous phenomenon” that is “contrary to everything that is written in the Bible”, which according to the prelate gives humankind the licence to “subdue the earth” for its own needs.

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