Vatican paper: thumbs up for last "Harry Potter" film

“The finale is epic, with a battle worthy of this saga of unequalled planetary success. The decisive meeting between the forces of good and evil is truly the final one, played out in an atmosphere that is almost too dark. The games of magic played by the baby wizards are a thing of the past. The little students of Hogwarts have grown up and the sorcery they learnt now serves to fight against the evil of the dark master and to save the world from his plans. They are fighting a real war. And risking their lives…

Evil is never presented as fascinating or attractive in the saga, but the values of friendship and of sacrifice are highlighted. In a unique and long story of formation, through painful passages of dealing with death and loss, the hero and his companions mature from the lightheartedness of infancy to the complex reality of adulthood.”

L’Osservatore Romano, reviewing the last “Harry Potter” movie

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12 responses to “Vatican paper: thumbs up for last "Harry Potter" film”

  1. Ya, This is the same paper that said Obama was Prolife…..Harry Potter encourages and markets, summoning spirits, spells and curses….it is evil.

  2. Having read all seven books and having seen all the movies (well, not the latest yet) I can say – unequivocally – that the only things in the last ten years that have led me to question any aspect my faith have been the actions of so-called Catholics. (Usually the ones who say they are the most devout)

    None of my students in the last 10 years – who have read the books have shown ANY inclination to the occult. These books have led reluctant readers to other series that have little to do with magic and everything to do with adventure.

  3. Regarding Joseph’s response #1:

    I watched the entire 26-plus minute episode. (I passed on the remaining episodes). I fail to see the problem with the Harry Potter series.

  4. I think the point of view people take to Harry Potter all depends one’s point of view of how the mass media affects people.
    Catholics–and other Christians– who like the books and the movies look on them as sheer fantasy that no rational person would take seriously. Besides, in the end, evil is overcome by good in the Potter books–as in the best fairy tales.
    On the other hand, since there have been plenty of cases of people drawn into occult and satanic doings by their seeming reality as portrayed in books and on the screen, there is a rational fear that some people have that young people can be adversely affected by virtual immersion in the Potter world.
    The Bible does somewhere warn about being sucked into violence or evil by dwelling on it or being fascinated by it. And seeing some news stories about the convergence of drugs and violence with the occult and satanism among young adults shows that the fears some people have about Harry Potter are not necessarily irrational.
    Too bad we can’t get young people to be fascinated by the dramatic lives and miracles of the saints.
    Maybe this lack in our time is why people turn to occult stories for fascination and a feeling of touching the supernatural.
    Yet too many “sophisticated”Catholics today don’t even want to hear of stories about , for example, a St. Padre Pio.

  5. @Deacon John,

    I’m naturally suspicious of the vast majority of what comes out of the mass media nowadays. However having read the Harry Potter books I honestly believe that those fears, while well-meaning, are unfounded. The books focus on interpersonal relationships and personal morality; friendship, loyalty, issues of discrimination, dehumanization and oppression, doing what is right even when it is difficult or unpopular, etc. The “magic” in them is a plot device. That’s not to say that there is nothing at all worth criticizing in the books. The main characters tend to break or bend school rules when it suits them and only occasionally suffer the consequences. But overall they’re fun fantasy reading suitable for teenagers.

  6. Are you folks actually serious?

    The only “magic” I have observed with the Harry Potter series is the “spell” Ms. Rowling has spun in her ability to tear millions of teenagers and young adults who had become computer screen zombies away from Ipod, Itouch, Ipad, and the like to READ cinder block size books every year or so for about 7 years and love it. Every so called publishing expert said it could never possibly happen and it took a single mom collecting relief in England to prove them wrong.

    We are talking fiction and whatever you want to say about today’s youth, they recognize the difference between fiction and none fiction as much as their parents, grandparents understood the difference.

    The closing para of the above Vatican newspaper review I think summarized it quite well

    ‘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. In a unique and long story of formation, through painful passages of dealing with death and loss, the hero and his companions mature from the lightheartedness of infancy to the complex reality of adulthood.’

    When the over-marketing of the Harry Potter brand finally fades away, the underlying core of 7 fantastic novels will rightfully stand alongside the great works of young adult fiction for years to come.

  7. I started reading Harry Potter and found the prose simplistic and unsophisticated, compared let’s say to that of C.S. Lewis or Tolkien. I stopped reading them at the first tome. While both Tolkien and Lewis used magic, wizards, dragons, etc., their outlook was steeped in the Christian culture. I do not think that is the case for the author of the Harry Potter books.

    People can read whatever they want, such is the freedom we have. But a Catholic Christian worldview will not be attained from reading this literature or watching the films. For an in depth look I recommend Michael O’Brien’s book “Harry Potter and the Paganization of Culture”. This is a theme that needs to be looked carefully and comments in a blog will not do it justice.

  8. Rudy, your having chosen not to read beyond the first book has prevented you from having a full grasp of what Harry Potter is really all about.

    Now all seven books having been completed, it has been compared to Lewis’ Narnia series in its Christian underpinnings. Lewis once said that he intended his Narnia books as vehicles to sneak the Christian message past the “watchful dragons” of the world who would not stand for children being presented with the Gospel. Recognizing them only as fun, fantasy/magical childrens’ books, those “on the watch” for “Christian” materials would allow, and even encourage, the young to read them.

    I wouldn’t go so far as to say that Rowling has either attempted or succeeded with this same goal, the fact is that many *have* made this claim. The point here is that there is at least sufficiently a Christian message contained in the Harry Potter series that a variety of people might make this claim. What specifically is this message?

    Overarchingly, the power of love over all other forms of power. More and more over the course of the last 3 books, love is exalted as the most powerful force that exists. The great and terrible magic of evil cannot touch Harry, all because of love. Moreover, it is not some secular, sentimental concept of love which is exalted here, but love as self-sacrifice.

    Beyond this, there are a variety of Biblical themes which come out, especially in the later books and above all in the final. The end-game from the final book bears so strongly a crucifixion motif that it cannot be denied. There are even Biblical quotations present in the 7th book (in the cemetary scene, for those interested) pertaining to the power of love over death, which read properly act as a frame, connecting all that has come before this point to that which will come after and in a certain way defining all of this – defining it in light of these Biblical concepts.

    Apart from the omnipotence of love over evil, love as self-sacrifice, and the crucifixion theme, other themes present in the books include the error of rash judgment, redemption, how to bear the brunt of being misjudged well and how to bear it poorly, along with others.

    It’s very clear that Rowling has a Christian background that she is bringing to her writing, and indeed, she has said as much in interviews, citing (if I recall correctly) her Lutheran faith as a large influence on the books.

    In the end, the most important point may well be that, like the Bible, there are a great many people out there who reject the Harry Potter books as evil and backwards, and much like with the Bible, most of these people have never read more than a few words of them.

  9. When my kids are old enough to read this series, I will have no objections. I’ve read all of the books and take them at face value for what they are – works of fiction.

    If my kids are swayed so easily to sinister elements by what they should clearly understand to be fantasy – then I will have failed utterly in my role as a Catholic mother. Rather I would hope that by the time they are old enough to read these that they will be grounded enough in their faith, and grasp sufficiently the concepts of make-believe vs reality that they will do as I did – enjoy the story and let that be the beginning and end of it!

  10. There’s a good chunk of Calvinism in ’em, and an equally fair-sized chunk of both liberalism and conservative/libertarian orneriness about UK government (but I guess that’s Rowling’s Church of Scotland background for you). There’s a lot of broad Dickensian humor, boarding school story, mysteries, folk and fairy tale, and boy’s adventure.

    What there isn’t is fascination with the occult. There’s probably more occult knowledge and appeal to hidden secrets of yore in the average bibliophile’s stroll through a rare book section than in all the Rowling books put together.

    I’d be more worried about the excessive love of sport and cliques in boarding school books, which Rowling parodies but arguably, also falls into.

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