Official repeats Potter praise

A senior European Church official who made positive comments about the Harry Potter phenomenon in 2003 has reaffirmed his view that there's "nothing wrong" with presenting the triumph of good over evil in children's literature.

Monsignor Peter Fleetwood, a former official of the Pontifical Council for Culture, now works in the Council for European Bishops' Conferences in Geneva. He made his recent comments on Vatican Radio on 14 July, which were subsequently quoted last Friday by John Allen of the National Catholic Reporter.

"I remain firmly convinced that the Harry Potter novels are very well written," Fleetwood said. "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 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."

"Maybe I'm blind, as one article about me said, maybe I'm stupid and doing the devil's work, as another article about me said. I have a funny feeling I'm not doing the devil's work, and I have another feeling I am not blind or stupid. I just think that there's a lot of scare-mongering going on, particularly among people who like to find the devil around every corner. I don't think that's a healthy view of the world. "

In recent weeks, the media has reported Pope Benedict XVI's "condemnation" of Harry Potter. As Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger in 2003, he wrote to a German academic, affirming her view that the books contain "subtle seductions" that "deeply distort Christianity in the soul, before it can grow properly". Ahead of last weekend's release of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, the sixth novel in the series, the Vatican Press Office was unable to supply journalists with a definitive papal condemnation of Harry Potter because the pontiff was on holidays.

It was also in 2003 that Monsignor Fleetwood appeared at a Vatican press conference to discuss a document on the New Age movement. The National Catholic Reporter's Allen asked him about the Harry Potter books, and he delivered a "basically positive" judgment, which was reported with headlines such as "Vatican OKs Harry Potter".

John L Allen: In defence of Harry Potter (National Catholic Reporter 22/7/05)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
The Problem of Harry Potter (LifeSite)
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Amazon)
Vatican official has kind word for Harry Potter's magical world (National Catholic Reporter 21/2/03)
Gabriele-Kuby.de | Harry Potter

Jesuit dismisses reporting of Pope condemnation of Harry Potter (CathNews 15/7/05)
Website claims Pope opposes Harry Potter (CathNews 29/6/05)
Vatican 'no problems' with Harry Potter (CathNews 4/2/03)
Harry Potter can help us explain Word of God (CathNews 8/8/03)

Harry Potter OK for Catholics (NZCity/NewsTalkZB 17/7/05)
Harry Potter and the Bishop of Rome (Online Catholics 25/7/05)
Pope's Harry Potter qualms highlighted before new book published (Ecumenical News International 15/7/05)
Pope disapproves of Harry Potter (Reuters/Daily Telegraph 14/7/05)
New attention given to 2003 Cardinal Ratzinger letter on Harry Potter (Catholic News Service 14/7/05)
The Problem of Harry Potter (updated 7/7/05)
Pope Opposes Harry Potter Novels - Signed Letters from Cardinal Ratzinger Now Online (LifeSiteNews.com 13/7/05)
Pope's verdict: Beware of Harry (The Advertiser 15/7/05)

25 Jul 2005