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Official Vatican Newspaper Condemns Harry Potter

By January 17, 2008

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The Vatican's position on Harry Potter has changed considerably over the years. Pope John Paul II once praised both the author and the book series, saying that the leading character was fighting against Satanism. Pope Benedict XVI doesn't accept this; even while still Cardinal Ratzinger he once wrote a letter attacking the series and it appears that he may continue to hold this position.
In a damning indictment of the bestselling books, among the most successful in publishing history, the Vatican’s official newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, has called the teenage boy wizard “the wrong kind of hero”. Under the headline 'The double face of Harry Potter’, the lengthy article concludes: “Despite the values that we come across in the narration, at the base of this story, witchcraft is proposed as a positive ideal.

"The violent manipulation of things and people comes thanks to knowledge of the occult. The ends justify the means because the knowledgeable, the chosen ones, the intellectuals know how to control the dark powers and turn them into good. This a grave and deep lie, because it is the old Gnostic temptation of confusing salvation and truth with a secret knowledge. The characterisation of common men who do not know magic as 'muggles’ who know nothing other than bad and wicked things is a truly diabolical attitude.”

The piece goes on to compare Harry Potter unfavourably with two other great British children’s classics, the Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, epics both written by Christians with deeply-held beliefs. The article, by Edoardo Rialti, a professor of literature at Florence University, said that the works of Tolkien and Lewis show “a transcendence and the beauty of the infinite.” Harry Potter books, he said, have an “inverted and confused spirituality: a world where bad is good” and that they are characterised by a “vague, new-age philosophy”.

Source: Telegraph

Paolo Gulisano, the author of a book on Tolkien and thus perhaps someone who knows more about Tolkien than Rialti, disagrees and wrote a rebuttal in which he argued that Harry Potter "carries the reader from the vision of a selfish man towards a vision of a man guided by moral values, the choice of good, sacrifice, friendship, love." Because a rebuttal was published, it can't be claimed that Rialti was expressing the definitive, official Vatican position — but we do know that his views are much closer to the pope's than Gulisano.

While still a cardinal, Ratzinger wrote a letter to German Potter critic Gabriele Kuby in which he argued that the dangers in the Potter books were hidden: "It is good that you shed light and inform us on the Harry Potter matter, for these are subtle seductions that are barely noticeable and precisely because of that deeply affect [children] and corrupt the Christian faith in souls even before it [the Faith] could properly grow and mature. ...That they [children] are being cut off from God, the source of Love and Hope, so that they in sorrowful life conditions are without a foundation that supports them — that they lose the spirit of discernment between good and evil and that they will not have the necessary strength and knowledge to withstand the temptations to evil."

Comments
January 17, 2008 at 12:27 pm
(1) Eric says:

Anyone who knows anything about the occult could tell Benny XVI that there is nothing in the Harry Potter books that corresponds with any actual occult lore.

January 17, 2008 at 1:48 pm
(2) Gotweirdness says:

The funny thing about this criticism on Harry Potter is that they are criticizing a series that is entirely made up. None of the characters in Harry Potter exist except within the mind of the author and on film. Yet the Vatican’s own holy book is also made up of stories edited and embellished over a period of time. It rather ironic they criticize a made up work while believing in a made up work. I suppose this is what happens when people are so blinded they can’t think for themselves.

January 17, 2008 at 2:12 pm
(3) Telperil says:

I recently read the first of the Potter books at long last, and I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it. As far as I can tell, it’s a very moral story, promoting kindness, compassion and courage. And nowhere does it portray witchcraft/sorcery as a “positive ideal”. It’s portrayed as a skill which can be used for good or ill depending on the user’s choices.

January 17, 2008 at 3:58 pm
(4) Gerald says:

Anyone who uses the phrase “diabolical attitude” – and is serious about it – has their mitre on too tight.

January 17, 2008 at 10:23 pm
(5) Paul Buchman says:

The violent manipulation of things and people comes thanks to knowledge of the occult.

You should do it the Roman Catholic way: skip the occult part and just get right to the violence.

The ends justify the means because the knowledgeable, the chosen ones, the intellectuals know how to control the dark powers and turn them into good.

Kind of like “pious frauds” but not sanctioned by the RCC.

Harry Potter books, he said, have an “inverted and confused spirituality: a world where bad is good” and that they are characterised by a “vague, new-age philosophy”

Instead, join our world, a world where inverts turn good into bad, a world characterized by lust, pride and greed. And remember, Catholicism means never having to say you’re sorry.

January 18, 2008 at 10:55 am
(6) Alyssa Anderson says:

I am a Roman Catholic and I have read the harry potter books since the start, and never have I found any true witchcraft in the books- besides we should be worried that these people think they know what actual witchcraft is if they are comparing it to something.The books are about loyalty love and friendship, and the characters experience things in life everyone goes through. So please enough of this foolish, purely stupid, accusations.

January 18, 2008 at 11:11 am
(7) Reverend Red Mage says:

I think we should gather a bunch of kids, dress them up in Hogwarts costume robes, line them up in front of the Vatican, and have them point to it with wands.

Just to give ‘em a little scare.

January 18, 2008 at 12:55 pm
(8) Gotweirdness says:

“I think we should gather a bunch of kids, dress them up in Hogwarts costume robes, line them up in front of the Vatican, and have them point to it with wands.”

“Just to give ‘em a little scare.”

Having little kids pointing wands at the Vatican might give the pope and the cardinals a heart attack due to their advanced age when they look out to see it.

January 18, 2008 at 5:32 pm
(9) Kim says:

So, can we all write a letter to the Vatican condemning the Bible for the practices of its fictional characters?

_________________
Religiarchy

January 21, 2008 at 6:52 pm
(10) PercyF says:

I wouldn’t trust cardinals and other clergy with little kids, with wands or not

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