I refer to the review of Hogwarts or Hogwash? (February AD2000) "The Harry Potter phenomenon: how should parents respond?" I was disappointed that the Catholic Church's teaching was not reinforced.
The review states: "The gist of the book's emphasis is that while the issue of the occult and witchcraft is something to be concerned about, the real threat of the Harry Potter books lies in the world view they convey."
However, the Catechism of the Catholic Church warns us that "all practices of magic or sorcery, by which one attempts to tame occult powers, so as to place them at one's service and have a supernatural power over others - even if this were for the sake of restoring their health - are gravely contrary to the virtue of religion" (2117).
No matter how well written or entertaining the books are, they can lead children into the occult. The Harry Potter books have reportedly inspired countless children to seek other books about witchcraft and the occult. Michael O'Brien, the author of A Landscape With Dragons, writes: "There is a war going on for the minds and hearts of our children. So far we are losing this war."
The Adelaide Advertiser (15 February) has reported that, as a direct result of the popularity of Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings, Adelaide University was offering a certificate in Sorcery, Witchcraft, Shamanism and Healing in which students will study seances, witchcraft, exorcisms, ritual magic and African witchdoctors. The program administrator said: "Stories like Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings provide different kinds of realities, different ways of thinking about the world and different ways of thinking about what kind of powers we could possibly have."
As Catholics, we not only have the Bible to turn to for the word of God but the Church's teachings to guide us. People have said to me: "If Harry Potter is so bad, why doesn't the Pope say something?" My answer is that he has said something by giving us the Catechism to guide us in these confusing times.
Wynn Vale, SA