Vatican seduced by the morality of… Harry Potter

Source: FSSPX News


The notion of good and evil, promoted in the adventures of the apprentice wizard with round glasses, has seduced some men of the Church, who consider that the morality of the best-sellers of the British author J.K. Rowling, is imbued with many Christian principles.

“I see no problem with the Harry Potter books,” said Fr. Peter Fleetwood, at a Vatican press conference.

The cleric, a member of the Pontifical Council for Culture, was asked about Harry Potter, after the Vatican publication of a document on the New Age phenomenon.The adventures of the wizard Harry Potter and his friends at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, has provoked condemnation from some evangelical groups, who say the books promote pagan magic and the occult.

“I don’t think there is anyone in this room, who has not grown up without fairies, magic and angels in their imaginary world,” said Fr. Fleetwood, who is of British nationality. “They are not evil. They do not represent anti-Christian ideology.

“If I understand well the intentions of Harry Potter’s author, they [Ed. : the books] help children to see the difference between good and evil.”


It is difficult to claim that the morals of the Harry Potter stories are imbued with Catholic principles. One might well ask the question: to which Catholic principles is Fr. Fleetwood referring?

• Obedience?

Harry spends his time in disobeying, be it his uncle and aunt or his teachers. To cite one example among many, he breaks the law in using magic, wishing to take revenge on his aunt, and then runs away (Book 3). It is always his uncle and aunt who are the “bad guys” (authority is always wrong); Harry stands up for himself and it is in order to fight against evil that he disobeys his teachers, the end justifying the means (he skips lessons, goes into forbidden places, etc., Book 3)

• Charity?

He is indifferent to the misfortunes which befall his family (his cousin falls into a cage of serpents, Book 1; the spell he casts on one of his aunts, Book 3). One never encounters the least notion of compassion or pity in the stories. Harry is in a permanent state of war with his enemies at Hogwarts (the Slytherin gang). The idea of forgiveness or reconciliation is alien to him.The manner in which his enemies are described is always negative, scathing and sometimes even hateful; and in the end, this is Harry’s vision of the world which surrounds him.The author is animated by a spirit of constant negative criticism.

• Honesty?

Harry and his friends lie habitually in order to gain their own ends.

• Respect for authority?

The children criticize the adults.The author clearly has a mind impregnated with the spirit of the 1960s (Book 3).

• Religion itself?

No allusion to God at all. The only allusions to religion are negative. The attidude of the adults to the world of wizards is judged “medieval” and likened implicitly to that of the Church, as an object of ridicule (Book 3).

“No one has grown up without fairies, magic and angels, in his imaginary world.”

The difference between a fairy tale, even of little educational value, and a Harry Potter novel – apart from the elements already spoken of – lies in our understanding of heroism. The true hero champions an objectively good cause, a cause which goes beyond his own interests; furthermore, his means are intrinsically just.

Harry looks after his own interests, and by evil means.The war he wages has nothing to do with acquired virtue. If he is strong, it is in spite of himself, or rather by preternatural forces. A pseudo victory without virtue is like becoming rich without having toiled.

Harry is no role model, still less a hero.

“If I have well understood the intentions of Harry Potter’s author, her books help children to see the difference between right and wrong.”

This statement reveals certain deficiencies of intellectual discernment. The author’s intention matters little, it is what she has written objectively that counts. This, instead of distinguishing good from evil, modifies the two concepts, which is anti-educational to say the least.

Our “hero” finds out that he is a wizard when he is twelve years old, and enters into this new world. From that moment, everything is seen from this perspective and wizardry becomes the norm: it pervades everything. The ordinary people, those who do not have evil powers (the Muggles), come to be seen as abnormal and are held in contempt. The few Muggles in the book – Harry’s family – are portrayed as detestable creatures, full of shortcomings and unjust. The other Muggles are habitually ridiculed. Harry only lived through the worst things during his childhood (evil), and finds happiness only from the moment he enters into the world of sorcery (good).

This turn of mind shows the perversity of the story, for the abnormal becomes normal and the normal becomes the evil to be despised which, in the final analysis, is the masterstroke of Satan. Harry Potter is nothing more than a fairy tale version of this stratagem, of which we see different applications in the decadent world of today (for example: homosexuality is normal, the “homophobe” is bad).

The novel is put together in a remarkable way: one feels sorry for Harry from the start and one dislikes those who do him wrong, the Muggles as well as the evil wizards. Out of pity one loves him at the beginning and one continues to do so, whatever he does against the evil wizards, even when he uses evil means. The novel exploits the feelings of the reader, who is ensnared, becoming, in spite of himself, a partisan of the world of sorcery, seeing it as the means of salvation for his hero. Harry is unhappy amongst ordinary humans. He is certainly not a good example, but he stands up for himself and, as there are others more evil than he, his “lesser”evil passes for good. Experience shows that the children who read this book do not notice Harry’s faults and consider him as a hero. He is good because he holds his own.

Absorbed in this reading, children discover with fascination the evil world of sorcery. This explains the form of individual and collective bewitchment generated by these stories, a bewitchment supported by the vast array of publicity (“Harry Potter” merchandise, ranging from sweets to books of magic spells, through to the films).

Our children can thus play at being apprentice wizards, and learn to despise adults and society, since such is what the medieval-spirited Muggles deserve.

All things considered, the two major ideas which impress upon the mind of the young reader are:

- “Stand up to the world of adults.”

- “You can do anything you like, if you are fighting for a good cause” (the end justifies the means. A modern day example: against racism, all methods are right).

But for Fr. Fleetwood, all this is not anti-Christian, and so it is good.

It has to be one or the other: either he has not read the books or, having read them too much, he is confusing good and evil… And the evil is all the greater because he is supposed to be giving the opinion of the Holy See.