Vatican Newspaper Runs Pro and Con Articles on Harry Potter, Repeating Pope’s Negative Judgement

By John-Henry Westen

ROME, January 15, 2008 ( - The Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano has run two opposing opinion articles on Harry Potter.  In the article opposing the offerings of JK Rowling, Dr. Edoardo Rialti, a professor of literature at the University of Florence, notes the negative appraisal of the Potter books made by Cardinal Ratzinger, prior to his elevation to the pontificate.

Catholic writer Paolo Gulisano, in his article in praise of Harry Potter, claims that Rowling is a contemporary CS Lewis or JRR Tolkein. Gulisano sees in Potter a story of the struggle between the values of good and evil, in which good, commitment, friendship and love triumph.

Rialti, however, points out that, unlike Lewis and Tolkein, Rowling has in her novels twisted the moral order.  He argues that her books are all the more dangerous since they are compellingly written. 

Rialti highlighted the concerns of Rome’s chief exorcist Fr. Gabriel Amorth that the "significant increase of interest in black magic and Satanism by the young reader of Harry Potter call for reflection and concern." (see coverage: )

Rialti concludes his article with Pope Benedict’s negative appraisal of Potter.

On March 7, 2003 then-Cardinal Ratzinger wrote a letter to Gabriele Kuby, the author of a book warning against Harry Potter.  The Cardinal 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".  (see the original letters: )

Since’s original publication of Cardinal Ratzinger’s letter, many have suggested that his words were insignificant, as they merely were the Cardinal’s private reflections to a Catholic author of a book opposing Potter.

However, Kuby, the author of "Harry Potter, good or evil?", subsequently wrote to the Cardinal again, asking his permission to make his comments about Potter public. Cardinal Ratzinger wrote back, "Esteemed and dear Ms. Kuby, ... Finally this pile [of unanswered mail] is taken care of, so that I can gladly allow you to refer to my judgment about Harry Potter."

See the original articles by Rialti and Gulisano (in Italian) here:

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