Mudcat Café message #1522107 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #82878   Message #1522107
Posted By: JohnInKansas
15-Jul-05 - 01:21 AM
Thread Name: BS: Harry Potter: Book 6 (Half-Blood Prince)
Subject: RE: BS: Harry Potter:
I heard parts of the media hit on "the Pope's comments" on TV this morning, but wasn't able to get the whole story due to some interruptions. The whole story has to be pieced together from various sources, but isn't too hard to find via Google. As usual, there are two sides to the story, each claiming to be "the true representatives of holy doctrine" but...

Briefly, in 2003 it was reported by numerous media sources that "the Vatican approves of Harry Potter." This was apparently the result of a reply by one Monsignor Peter Fleetwood during a press conference for the release of a Vatican document on the New Age movement. The question was out of context, and the Msgr did not indicate that he'd read the book(s). His comment was (paraphrased) that "based on what he'd heard, he thought they were fine stuff." Various reports differ on whether he made any representation that he was "speaking for the Vatican."

A "more official" statement came two years earlier, (when)
"Rome's official exorcist, Fr. Gabriele Amorth, warned parents against the books in an interview with the Italian ANSA
news agency. Fr. Amorth, who is also the president of the International Association of Exorcists, said bluntly, "Behind
Harry Potter hides the signature of the king of the darkness, the devil."" I haven't seen this statement in context, so it's hard to tell how much "spin" has been applied by those who quote it.

A German anti-HP author and sociologist, Gabriele Kuby, wrote to then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who was Prefect for the Doctrine of the Faith at the time, and is the present Pope Benedict XVI, expressing her dislike of the HP tales. Cardinal Ratzinger replied with a statement of agreement with her views, which can be read either as strongly critical of HP or merely as "politely non-argumentative" depending on how one chooses to take it.

Critics of HP contend that no one in a position to speak for the Vatican, and informed about the HP books, has ever endorsed them. At least two persons in positions where they may have been acting as "Vatican spokespersons" have made statements critical of the HP books.

The most complete summary of events on both sides - that I found - is at Pope Benedict and Harry Potter (.pdf 9 KB) by Michael D. O'Brien (credentials unknown, but definiteley anti-HP).

English translations of Cardianl Ratzinger's letter to author Kuby, and his subsequent letter giving permission for her to quote his comments are included at Pope Opposes Potter. Facsmile .pdf files of both letters (in German) can be found at links there as well.

My own interest here was in whether the "Vatican view" in any way parallels the opposition to HP that I've seen among local fundamentalists. That question is unresolved. For those not familiar with the "Kansas Bigot Church," their principal doctrine appears, to me, to be "If you give me permission to hate someone or some thing, I will follow you blindly wherever you wish to take me." It seems politically effective, but I'm not sure what faith it demonstrates.

I don't see anything strong enough, or unambiguous enough, in anything from the Vatican to be taken as a serious condemnation of HP. I'm sure the media will pick it up if anything further is released.