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Priest Sees No Problem with Harry Potter

By Matt Abbott
Op/Ed
Catholic Online

It's clear that Christians are divided over the Harry Potter books, and in particular, whether children reading them will be attracted to the occult.

But the Rev. Charles Urnick, a priest of the Archdiocese of Newark and a reserve chaplain for the Air Force, doesn't see a problem with the books.

"As far as I can tell, the Harry Potter novels have done a world of good in getting children to actually read books," says Urnick (via e-mail). "I taught high school for 16 years. I know how hard it is to get young adults to read. And I'm told that grade school children are even more averse to reading when everything is presented to them in the electronic media."

Urnick says the books seemingly "present a rather clear distinction between good and evil" and that they "are fantasy, not theology, so it is likely the Catholic Church will never make a judgment on them.

"Just think back on the basic fairy tales of previous generations -- Snow White, Hansel and Gretel, Jack and the Beanstalk and so many others -- don't they all deal in fantasy worlds? Even the Chronicles of Narnia and the Tolkien trilogy deal in fantasy. And how about The Wizard of Oz? They're not trying to distort Christianity or lead children into the occult. They're just stories."

As for the "secondary" controversy about Pope Benedict XVI and the Harry Potter books, Urnick says:

"The comments made by Cardinal Ratzinger in the spring of 2003 were written in two letters that have a combined total of five sentences. As pope, Benedict XVI has not said or written anything about Harry Potter, yet the newspaper headlines continue to state things like, 'Pope opposes Harry Potter novels.' Surely, this controversy has been taken out of context by the media."

The bottom line for Urnick? The books "are just good fantasy stories," he says. "Some people will like them, some will not. But I don't see them as evil or seductive or anything like that."

And, he says, "I don't see myself preaching next Sunday about the [Harry Potter controversy]."

Contact

Matt Abbott
http://www.catholic.org IL, US
Matt Abbott - Author,

Email

mattcabbott@hotmail.com

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