J.K. Rowling's successful character Harry Potter is the wrong model of a hero, says the Vatican daily L'Osservatore Romano in its Monday-Tuesday edition.
In an article signed by Edoardo Rialti, L'Osservatore says that many have tried to establish a parallel between Rowling's main character and "the great fantasy masterpieces of John Ronald Reuel Tolkien and Clive Staples Lewis, the Christian authors of the most beloved fables of the 20th Century."
Rialti says that despite the "superficially apparent common points" between Harry Potter and the heroes in Tolkien's and Lewis' stories, Rowling "transmits a vision of the world and the human being full of deep mistakes and dangerous suggestions, even more seductive since it is mixed with half-truths and compelling story-telling."
The author recalls Tolkien's essays about fables, in which he says that "fables can depart from the physical world and the universe created, but not from the moral order: we can imagine a universe illuminated by a green sun, but we cannot bulk to the temptation of presenting as positive a reality in which the moral and spiritual structure are inverted or confused, a world in which evil is good."
"And this is exactly what happens in Harry Potter," L'Osservatore says. "Despite several positive values that can be found in the story, at the foundations of this tale is the proposal that of witchcraft as positive, the violent manipulation of things and people thanks to the knowledge of the occult, an advantage of a select few: the ends justify the means because the knowledgeable, the chosen ones, the intellectuals know how to control the dark powers and turn them into good."
"This” –the article continues- “is a grave and deep lie, because it is the old Gnostic temptation of confusing salvation and truth with a secret knowledge."
L'Osservatore admits that Harry Potter is "rich in Christian values," for example, "he is an industrious and scientific magician."
"But the main characters of the great fables never become magicians, and the seductive power of magic has always had grave and destructive consequences: the stories of Tolkien and Lewis describe the rejection of magic and power, not of a certain magic and a certain power, but of power and magic as such."
Therefore, the author of the article argues, "There is nothing more antithetical to Harry Potter than Tolkien's young Frodo or Lewis' Pevensie siblings."
Tolkien and Lewis portray "the extraordinary discovery of true Christianity, for which the main character of history is not an exceptional human being, like in the ancient paganism or in today's ideologies, but a person who says yes to the initiatives of God's mysteries."
Instead, L'Osservatore says, "Harry Potter shows a pale disregard for the 'muggles', the common human beings who do not have magic."
In Rowling's stories "we are told that, at the end, some things are not bad in themselves, if used for a good purpose: violence becomes good, if in the right hands and [used by] the right people, and maybe in the right dose."
Thus, "Harry Potter proposes a wrong and malicious image of the hero, an unreligious one, which is even worst that an explicitly anti-religious proposition.” In the Bible, the Devil “never says 'there is no God', but presents instead the seductive proposition: 'you will be like God'".
The article concludes by saying that "More relevant than ever is the judgment expressed by the then Cardinal Ratzinger to the series of critical articles written by the German journalist Gabriele Kuby about Harry Potter: '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'".