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.Â

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.”