BY RACHEL ROSE
POPE BENEDICT XVI has said that the best-selling Harry Potter series contains “subtle seductions” that could be harmful to Catholic children.
The Pope is said to have made the unofficial comments in letters sent to a German writer in March 2003. He told Gabriele Kuby, author of a critical analysis of the books, that he agreed with her view that the stories about the boy wizard evoke an interest in the occult and blur the boundary between good and evil.
After Ms Kuby sent the thenCardinal Joseph Ratzinger a copy of her book, Harry Potter: Good or Evil?, the
prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith replied: “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 properly grow.” In a second letter he told her that he was happy for his views to be made known.
The letters came to worldwide media attention on the eve of the publication of the latest Potter book, prompting critics to suggest that the reports were an attempt to generate publicity for J K Rowling’s eagerly-awaited sixth novel, Harry Potter and the HalfBlood Prince. In his correspondence with Ms Kuby, Cardinal Ratzinger suggested that she send a copy of her book to Mgr Peter Fleetwood, then an official at the Pontifical Council for Culture.
Mgr Fleetwood replied, explaining that he thought she had misunderstood or overanalysed the books, and that they must be judged on their appeal to youngsters as children’s literature, not on the basis of theology.
When asked about Harry Potter during the presentation of the New Age document entitled Jesus Christ, Bearer of the Water of Life in 2003, Mgr Fleetwood said: “Harry’s enemies resort to all sorts of evil things, and they are the
ones who lose in the end. I don’t see what’s wrong with that, and I can’t see that does any harm to children.” Stratford Caldecott, director of the G K Chesterton Institute for Faith and Culture, said that “the quoting of an unguarded comment by Cardinal Ratzinger endorsing a book about Harry Potter is not the same as a comment by the Pope about Harry Potter.
“Even if he had read the books and thought they were spiritually dangerous, this would not constitute an infallible judgment or even an official condemnation of the books by the Church, so Catholics remain free to have their opinions on this matter.”