The Vatican's secret Harry Potter fans

Debates are raging online and off over whether the new Pope Benedict really disapproves of Harry Potter.

It seems a German author, Gabriele Kuby, recently wrote a book called "Harry Potter - Gut Oder Bose" (that translates as "Harry Potter - Good or Evil," and she apparently comes down on the side of evil). Kuby asked then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger for his opinion, and in two separate letters, he apparently called the books "subtle seductions" which "deeply distort Christianity in the soul."

Or did he? Now comes today's Vatican Radio broadcast, in which a former Vatican official says he thinks those were essentially form letters, probably written by an assistant, and that Kuby's book was frankly "unsatisfactory." So maybe the Pope isn't such a Muggle after all.

"I don't think she (Kuby) understands English humour," Monsignor Peter Fleedwood said, as quoted on a transcript posted on CatholicInsider.com.

In reality, most Christians grow up with stories of magic and witches and fairies, and that usually didn't pose a problem to their faith, he said.

"I remain firmly convinced that the Harry Potter novels are very well written," Fleedwood said. "I can't see that that's a bad thing for children, when goodness, and the people on the side of goodness are portrayed as the ones who will eventually win."

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