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Vatican newspaper praises new Harry Potter film

By on Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Harry Potter, played by Daniel Radcliffe, calls on Voldemort to mend his ways, repent for what he has done and recognise the primacy of love over everything

Harry Potter, played by Daniel Radcliffe, calls on Voldemort to mend his ways, repent for what he has done and recognise the primacy of love over everything

The last battle of the almost grown-up Harry Potter may be too scary for young viewers, but it champions the values of friendship and sacrifice, the Vatican newspaper has said.

One of two reviews of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, published this week in L’Osservatore Romano, said: “The atmosphere of the last few episodes, which had become increasingly dark and ominous, reaches its pinnacle.”

The reviewer Gaetano Vallini said the darkness “may disturb younger audiences”.

“Death, which was a rare occurrence [in the previous Harry Potter films] is the protagonist here,” which is another reason the film may not be appropriate for everyone, he said.

“As for the content, evil is never presented as fascinating or attractive in the saga, but the values of friendship and of sacrifice are highlighted. In a unique and long story of formation, through painful passages of dealing with death and loss, the hero and his companions mature from the lightheartedness of infancy to the complex reality of adulthood,” he said.

Young people introduced to Harry Potter through the seven books by J K Rowling and the films based on them have grown with Potter and his friends, Mr Vallini said, “and they certainly have understood that magic is only a narrative pretext useful in the battle against an unrealistic search for immortality”.

In the second review, Antonio Carriero reaffirmed one point Vatican reviewers have made since the Harry Potter books first appeared in Italian: the story captured the imagination of millions of children around the world and got them reading books.

And, he said, the saga championed values that Christians and non-Christians share and provided opportunities for Christian parents to talk to their children about how those values are presented in a special way in the Bible.

Potter’s arch-enemy, Lord Voldemort, “does not represent Satan, as it would be easy to think, but is a man who has made bad choices in his life”, Mr Carriero said.

Voldemort has chosen not to love others and sees himself as the centre of the universe, he said.

Mr Carriero said Voldemort is like many modern men and women who think they can do without God and without others, they don’t believe in heaven, and yet they are the most frightened of dying.

“Eternal life is reached through death, not without it. And Harry Potter, although he never declared himself a Christian, calls on the dark magician to mend his ways, repent for what he has done and recognise the primacy of love over everything so he will not be damned for eternity,” he wrote.

The film demonstrates that big lessons come “from the pure of heart like the young Harry, ready to die for his friends”, Mr Carriero wrote.

The film also teaches that “it’s possible to change the world. It is Harry, with his inseparable friends, who demonstrates that it is possible to vanquish evil and establish peace. Power, success and an easy life do not bring the truest and deepest joys. For that we need friendship, self-giving, sacrifice and attachment to a truth that is not formed in man’s image,” the review said.

  • Auricularis

    So the Vatican is praising a film, that it’s chief exorcist (Fr. Gabriel Amorth) is on record saying reeks of occultism?!

  • Annie

    Harry Potter is fab, having read every book and seen every film, and have tickets for the next one. It’s a fantasy. I think the reviewer’s spot on.

  • Anonymous

    It wasn’t so long ago that L’Osservatore Romano was praising The Beetles. Now it has moved on from promoting Rock & Roll to peddling movies about witchcraft. Who exactly is editing that so-called Catholic paper – Lucifer?

  • Sandy

    It may be “fab” but then we know the Devil always has the best tunes!  J. P. Rowling’s agent is a decent man, but I am afraid to say he and JPR have been helping unwittingly promoting the Devil’s work!

  • Fr Thomas Poovathinkal

    TOO MUCH CONTROL ON PEOPLES’ LIVES IS UNDESIRABLE, I OR U OR ANY INSTITUTION. WAS JESUS A CONTROLLER?

    WHEN THERE IS NOTHING TO EDIFY OR IMPART BY WAY OF INSIGHT, INSPIRATION OR REVELATION OR WITNESS (MOST PROPER TO MEN AND WOMEN  WHO CLAIM TO BE SET APART FOR GOD), SICK PEOPLE AND INSTITUTIONS TURN THEMSELVES TO BE CONTROLLERS. NOTHING ELSE IS NEEDED TO DRIVE AWAY YOUNG PEOPLE FROM THE CHURCH.

  • Annie

    Have you read them? They are fairy stories. How do you feel about Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White?

  • Wee Jock

    Fr Thomas, would you please stop typing in UPPER CASE? It is like being shouted at!

    Many thanks and God bless you.

  • Dio

    Oh, come on! Harry Potter is a book or a movie! It´s in parts even deeply christian, though it has it´s questionable parts. I wouldn´t recommend it for small children, or without parental guidance, but it´s not bad in itself.

  • James H

    If he did indeed say that, he’s definitely a few fries short of a happy meal!

  • James H

    Interesting review. A Catholic artist I know said the final film was ‘Magnificent’!

    I know the last book just ‘reeked’ of Christian themes of self-sacrifice, respect for the humble and acceptance of death. By stark contrast, the villain is an icon of the Culture of Death, killing others that he might be immortal (embryonic stem-cells, anyone?), narcissistic and demanding worship from his followers. I re-read the final battle scene again and again, just for the sheer Joy of it!

    I’m not so keen on movies-of-the-book, though (that goes for all books, even LOTR). They always disappoint at some level.

  • Anonymous

    That will be why interest in the occult went through the roof with the Harry Potter movies, then? I suggest you read the article at this link: http://www.christiananswers.net/q-eden/harrypotter.html

  • Annie

    Always prefer books too, but this movie is a must-see if you like the battle scenes :) It really is a triumph of good over evil.

  • Monika S.

    That was a great review. It’s good to see that Harry Potter as a character is “Good without god” and even though he does promote values that Catholics recognize as their own, he doesn’t do it in spirit of any religion. Not once do the books mention any of characters seeking divine help. I grew up with Harry and like to think he taught me that love, compassion, truth, friendship and forgiveness are the MOST important.

  • Monika S.

    Interest in, not sacrificing goat on home-made altars. I honestly don’t see what is so bad in knowing about occult as most of it (if not all) comes from early forms of religion. I find it interesting from that point of view, though I don’t practice it.

  • Monika S.

    It’s J. K. Rowling, Sandy. You have very right to believe in devils, gods and everything that you wish, but I think it’s unpleasent to call someone “Devil” as it may be insulting. Aren’t you Christians not supposed to judge?

  • Anonymous

    The Catholic Church does not agree with you. It considers those of the Catholic faithful who show any kind of interest in the occult to be guilty of mortal sin. This means that everything from outright black masses to palm reading and horoscopes is forbidden.

    Harry Potter and his ‘white witchcraft’ is so far removed from the life of divine grace that I cannot understand why anyone would want to know about it. I believe It is a morbid curiosity that attracts people. It certainly is not borne of a desire to grow in the love of the true God. 

    As for early forms of religion, by which I understand you to mean pre-Christian pagan religions, Sacred Scripture wanrs us: “The gods of the Gentiles are demons.” Sacred Scripture also warns us that Satan frequently appears as an angel of light, which I guess answers those who think Harry Potter practices his black art for the greater good. The Devil wouldn’t win many devotees to his service if he appeared with horns and a tail, now would he?