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Vatican Radio Broadcast Addresses Papal Opinion of Potter

Opinion
Posted by: Kristin
July 14, 2005, 02:50 PM

Many Leaky readers have forwarded us links to reports that Pope Benedict disapproves of the Harry Potter series, based on two 2003 letters supposedly authored by Pope Benedict (then Cardinal Ratzinger) to German Gabriele Kuby, author of Harry Potter - Gut Oder Böse (Harry Potter - Good or Evil). From one letter:

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

According to transcripts of a Vatican Radio address aired today and made available by Catholic theologian Roderick Vonhögen of CatholicInsider.com, however, remarks from the Vatican and from Pope Benedict have been misinterpreted. Said Monsignor Fleedwood in the radio address:

I was sent a letter from a lady in Germany who claimed to have written to the then Cardinal Ratzinger, saying that she thought Harry Potter was a bad thing. And the letter back, which I suspect was written by an assistant of the then cardinal Ratzinger in his office, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, suggested that there was a subtle seduction in the books. What that subtle seduction was, was not specified, which makes me think it was a generic answer. And she had written a book on these subjects and so the Cardinal's signature was at the bottom of the letter, suggesting she should send me the book. She sent me the book, and I found it a very unsatisfactory book. I don't think she understands English humour.

Monsignor Fleedwood also said:

I remain firmly convinced that the Harry Potter novels are very well written. They are written on the classical plot of good versus evil in the standard way that the old myths were written. The characters are built up around that: the goodies and the baddies so to speak, and I can't see that that's a bad thing for children, when goodness, and the people on the side of goodness are portrayed as the ones who will eventually win. Harry's ennemies 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. What my advice would still be to parents: if you're in doubt, read the books yourselves, the first one, that's the shortest one, and see what you think. Don't simply rely on somebody else's opinion, not even on my opinion, since it's only an opinion.

Click through to Catholic Insider for the rest of the transcript, as well as thoughts on the issue from Roderick Vonhögen.

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