Cross-post from The World...IMHO.
A prominent article in the official Vatican newspaper has warned against a fundamental flaw in the Harry Potter novels. Since they just published the 7th and final book in the series in 2007, I think the Vatican speaking out at this point is "too little, too late". I wish the Vatican and the Bishops would be quicker to speak out against morally offensive media. Another good example is "The Golden Compass"... Bill Donohue of The Catholic League, a lay person, did more to speak out against that than anyone else.
In a signed essay in L'Osservatore Romano, Edoardo Rialti argues that despite "obvious superficial resemblances," the novels by J.K. Rowling do not deserve to be compared with the great Christian fables of J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. The fundamental difference, he says, is that the Harry Potter books portray sorcery and magic as positive forces.
While Harry Potter has many admirable qualities, the L'Osservatore Romano critic writes, the books fall into "the old Gnostic temptation of confusing salvation and truth with secret knowledge." Rowling, the author, offers a character who manipulates secret forces, and turns dark powers to good use. By contrast, Rialti writes, the fictional works of Tolkien and Lewis remind readers that "the seductive power of magic always has grave and destructive consequences."
The hero in Christian allegory, like Frodo Baggins in the Lord of the Rings, achieves great things by perseverance and reliance on his own abilities, the L'Osservatore article notes. Harry Potter, on the other hand, invokes special powers that make him something more than a mortal human. Thus Harry Potter cannot be considered a proper hero, the article concludes.