Vatican finally gives Harry Potter its blessing

Thu Jul 16, 2009 6:39pm EDT
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VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - It took a while, but the Vatican has finally come around to giving Harry Potter its blessing.

The Vatican newspaper gave a favorable review to the latest film, "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" after giving the lead character a decisive thumbs down in the past.

The review said the new film "reaches the right balance," thanks to a "a clear line of demarcation between those who work for good and those who carry out evil."

The Osservatore Romano called it "the best film of the series" even though the books lacked what it called "a reference to the transcendent."

Only last year, an article in the paper called Harry Potter "a wrong model of a hero."

Pope Benedict is no Harry Potter fan. In 2003, two years before his election, the then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger wrote in a letter to a German woman that the Harry Potter books contained "subtle seductions" capable of corrupting young Christians.

Earlier this year, the pope caused an uproar in the Austrian Church when he tried to promote a priest who had said the Harry Potter stories smacked of "Satanism" and that Hurricane Katrina was God's punishment for sin in New Orleans.

After protests by Austrian Church leaders, the pope was forced to cancel the promotion.

(Writing by Philip Pullella; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)