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Harry Potter:

Pope Oppose Harry Potter Novels

Signed Letters from Cardinal Ratzinger

RIMSTING, Germany, July 13, 2005 (LifeSiteNews.com) -  LifeSiteNews.com has obtained and made available online copies of two letters sent by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who was recently elected Pope, to a German critic of the Harry Potter novels.  In March 2003, a month after the English press throughout the world falsely proclaimed that Pope John Paul II approved of Harry Potter, the man who was to become his successor sent a letter to a Gabriele Kuby outlining his agreement with her opposition to J.K. Rowling's offerings.  (See below for links to scanned copies of the letters signed by Cardinal Ratzinger.)

As the sixth issue of Rowling's Harry Potter series - Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince - is about to be released, the news that Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger expressed serious reservations about the novels is now finally being revealed to the English-speaking world still under the impression the Vatican approves the Potter novels.

In a letter dated March 7, 2003 Cardinal Ratzinger thanked Kuby for her "instructive" book Harry Potter - gut oder böse (Harry Potter- good or evil?), in which Kuby says the Potter books corrupt the hearts of the young, preventing them from developing a properly ordered sense of good and evil, thus harming their relationship with God while that relationship is still in its infancy. 

"It is good, that you enlighten people about Harry Potter, because those are subtle seductions, which act unnoticed and by this deeply distort Christianity in the soul, before it can grow properly," wrote Cardinal Ratzinger. 

The letter also encouraged Kuby to send her book on Potter to the Vatican prelate who quipped about Potter during a press briefing which led to the false press about the Vatican support of Potter.  At a Vatican press conference to present a study document on the New Age in April 2003, one of the presenters - Rev. Peter Fleetwood - made a positive comment on the Harry Potter books in response to a question from a reporter.    Headlines such as "Pope Approves Potter" (Toronto Star), "Pope Sticks Up for Potter Books" (BBC), "Harry Potter Is Ok With The Pontiff" (Chicago Sun Times) and "Vatican: Harry Potter's OK with us" (CNN Asia) littered the mainstream media.

In a second letter sent to Kuby on May 27, 2003, Cardinal Ratzinger "gladly" gave his permission to Kuby to make public "my judgement about Harry Potter."

The most prominent Potter critic in North America, Catholic novelist and painter Michael O'Brien commented to LifeSiteNews.com on the "judgement" of now-Pope Benedict saying, "This discernment on the part of Benedict XVI reveals the Holy Father's depth and wide ranging gifts of spiritual discernment." O'Brien, author of a book dealing with fantasy literature for children added, "it is consistent with many of the statements he's been making since his election to the Chair of Peter, indeed for the past 20 years - a probing accurate read of the massing spiritual warfare that is moving to a new level of struggle in western civilization. He is a man in whom a prodigious intellect is integrated with great spiritual gifts. He is the father of the universal church and we would do well to listen to him."

English translations of the two letters by Cardinal Ratzinger follow:

Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger                             
Vatican City
March 7, 2003

Vatican's Chief Exorcist Repeats Condemnation of Harry Potter Novels

By John-Henry Westen

ROME, March 1, 2006 (LifeSiteNews.com) - The Vatican's chief exorcist, Rev. Gabriele Amorth, is reported to have repeated his condemnations of the Harry Potter novels yesterday.  According to press reports, Fr. Amorth, said of the books, "You start off with Harry Potter, who comes across as a likeable wizard, but you end up with the Devil. There is no doubt that the signature of the Prince of Darkness is clearly within these books."

"By reading Harry Potter a young child will be drawn into magic and from there it is a simple step to Satanism and the Devil," he said.

The news will come as no surprise to LifeSiteNews.com readers who recall that Fr. Amorth made very similar remarks in 2002 which went misreported in the North American media, until LifeSiteNews.com clarified the matter. 

In a 2002 interview with the Italian ANSA news agency, Rev. Amorth said "Behind Harry Potter hides the signature of the king of the darkness, the devil." The exorcist, with his decades of experience in directly combating evil, explained that J.K. Rowling's books contain innumerable positive references to magic, "the satanic art". He noted that the books attempt to make a false distinction between black and white magic, when in fact, the distinction "does not exist, because magic is always a turn to the devil." (coverage: http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2002/jan/02010202.html )

At the time, however, North American coverage of Rev. Amorth's warnings about Potter significantly downplayed the warnings. The New York Times coverage by Melinda Henneberger, which was carried in Canada's National Post, the San Francisco Chronicle and on Yahoo Daily News left out most of the information in the European coverage, only quoting Rev. Amorth as saying that "If children can see the movie with their parents, it's not all bad."

North America's most prominent Harry Potter critic, Michael O'Brien, has told LifeSiteNews.com that the movie version has significantly cleaned up Harry's image, making it far less troublesome than the books.

Another condemnation of Harry Potter coming from Rome was not widely reported until LifeSiteNews.com's intervention.  When in 2003, then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger allowed his comments against the novels to be aired publicly, the news was reported in Europe, but not in America.  However, when in 2005 LifeSiteNews.com published Ratzinger's letter concerning Potter online, the international media exploded with the news that the new Pope opposed Harry Potter. (coverage: http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2005/jul/05071301.html )

Writing to Germany's best known Potter critic Gabriele Kuby, the man who was to become Pope Benedict XVI wrote, "It is good that you enlighten people about Harry Potter, because those are subtle seductions, which act unnoticed and by this deeply distort Christianity in the soul, before it can grow properly."
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Harry Potter expert criticizes Vatican newspaper’s glowing review of Deathly Hallows 2

VATICAN CITY, July 18, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – “The positive review of the latest Harry Potter film in L’Osservatore Romano is symptomatic of serious problems in the condition of many modern Catholics,” Michael D. O’Brien, author of “Harry Potter and the Paganization of Culture,” told LifeSiteNews last week. 

In its review, the Vatican newspaper had called the film an “epic,” a “saga of unequalled planetary success,” and “another blockbuster.” The review is being reported by other Catholic services such as Catholic News Service and Canada’s Catholic Register, among many others - minus the balance of concerns that have been expressed about the Potter series by Christian critics.

While prior to becoming pope, then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger had expressed concern over the Potter books, the unsigned review in the Vatican newspaper says of the new film: “As for the content, evil is never presented as fascinating or attractive in the saga, but the values of friendship and of sacrifice are highlighted.”

O’Brien argues that the Vatican newspaper’s review springs from a “habit of making a split between faith and culture, and most strangely by straining to praise fundamentally disordered cultural material.” 

The L’Osservatore Romano review, said O’Brien, begs the questions “Who is behind the editorial policies at the Vatican’s newspaper? Why would they posit as good a tale about a violent, morally confused sorcerer as a Christ-figure? Why, moreover, have they simply ignored Pope Benedict’s critical insight into the Potter series?”

In two letters first translated and published online by LifeSiteNews.com, Cardinal Ratzinger wrote to a German writer of a book critically analyzing the Potter series. “It is good, that you enlighten people about Harry Potter, because those are subtle seductions, which act unnoticed and by this deeply distort Christianity in the soul, before it can grow properly,” he wrote.

However, praise for the latest Potter film also came from the National Catholic Register which characterized it as “something approaching greatness.”

Cardinal Ratzinger’s was not the only Vatican voice to express grave concern over Potter.  The Vatican’s chief exorcist, Rev. Gabriele Amorth, has repeatedly condemned the Harry Potter novels.  In 2006 he said, “You start off with Harry Potter, who comes across as a likeable wizard, but you end up with the Devil … By reading Harry Potter a young child will be drawn into magic and from there it is a simple step to Satanism and the Devil.”

O’Brien, regarded around the world as an expert on children’s fantasy literature, explained the tendency for confusion. “All too often, when cultural material arrives in intense pleasure-inducing forms, and contains some positive ‘values’ mixed with highly toxic messages in its role modeling and its anti-values, we are easily seduced. To believe that the Potter message is about fighting evil is superficial. On practically every page of the series, and in its spin-off films, evil is presented as ‘bad’, and yet the evil means by which the evil is resisted are presented as good.”

O’Brien warns, “As charming as Harry may be (and in the films he is much more charming due to the persona of the actor who plays the role), he is a type or metaphor of Antichrist, mutating Christian symbols and then absorbing them into a more dangerous worldview — moral relativism saturated in the symbology of evil and various manifestations of the occult.”

“In the novels,” says O’Brien. “Harry is called ‘the Chosen One.’ He chooses to rise from the dead. He defeats evil with the instruments and gnostic powers of sorcery, wielding the ultimate instrument with which he saves the world because he has become ‘Master over Death.’ At the climax of the seven-volume Potter epic, having saved the world from evil, the resurrected Harry is treated with reverent awe, various characters pressing forward to touch him, ‘their leader and symbol, their saviour and their guide.’”

To contact:

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e-mail: segretaria@ossrom.va