Does the Catholic Church or any particular Catholic dioceses forbid the reading of J. K. Rowling's series of books known as Harry Potter? This same question could be applied to the movie series based on these same books.

If so what are it’s theological and moral reasons for doing so.

We know that there are some Catholic schools that have forbidden these books in the libraries of some Catholic Independent Schools. However I am interested if this is the case at any diocesan level or higher?

Or does the Church leave such decisions about reading these books and/or watching the movies at the discretion of the individual or even the local pastor?

Harry Potter books removed from school library because they contain 'real' curses and spells


2 Answers 2


Does the Catholic Church have any (quasi) interdiction against the Harry Potter books?

The short answer is no.

Nevertheless some priests have taken a more personal stance within their own diocese or country.

The Catholic Church has taken no official position on the books, but various Catholics, including officials of the Roman Curia, the hierarchy, and other official bodies have presented mixed views on the subject.

Beginning in 2001, Cardinal George Pell, Archbishop of Sydney, has occasionally written on the Harry Potter series in his regular column in The Sunday Telegraph. In his columns, he praised the books for displaying values that are "deeply compatible with Christianity." .In his book Be Not Afraid, Pell praised the books as having a "good dose of moral truth" and for being "a good yarn."

In 2003, Peter Fleetwood, a priest incardinated in the Archdiocese of Liverpool at the time serving as an official of the Pontifical Council for Culture, made comments supportive of the novels during a press conference announcing the release of Jesus Christ the Bearer of the Water of Life—A Christian reflection on the "New Age". In response to a question asking if the magic presented in the Harry Potter series should be considered in the same light as some New Age practices warned against in the document, Fleetwood stated, "If I have understood well the intentions of Harry Potter's author, they help children to see the difference between good and evil. And she is very clear on this." He added that Rowling is "Christian by conviction, is Christian in her mode of living, even in her way of writing." This comment was seized on by the media as an endorsement of the novels from the Catholic Church, and by extension, the Pope at that time, John Paul II, though there is no evidence that the Pope officially approved of the novels.

The Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, dedicated a full page to the debate in its 14–15 January 2008 issue. Essayist Paolo Gulisano said the Harry Potter novels offer lessons in the importance of love and self-giving, but Professor Edoardo Rialti described Harry Potter as "the wrong kind of hero" and said that, "Despite several positive values that can be found in the story, at the foundations of this tale is the proposal that of witchcraft as positive, the violent manipulation of things and people thanks to the knowledge of the occult, an advantage of a select few: the ends justify the means because the knowledgeable, the chosen ones, the intellectuals know how to control the dark powers and turn them into good… This is a grave and deep lie, because it is the old Gnostic temptation of confusing salvation and truth with a secret knowledge." However, in July 2009, L'Osservatore Romano praised the moral stance of the sixth Harry Potter film, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, saying, "There is a clear line of demarcation between good and evil and [the film] makes clear that good is right. One understands as well that sometimes this requires hard work and sacrifice." It also noted that the film made clear that "the search for immortality epitomised by Lord Voldemort" was morally wrong.

In Poland, priests from northern city of Koszalin or Gdańsk, publicly burned books and other objects they believe promote magic and sorcery, such as several copies of such books as Harry Potter, Twilight and one about the controversial guru Rajneesh, as well as African tribal masks on April 1, 2019. As a justification, they quoted following biblical passages: A passage from Acts of the Apostles, quoted in by the group, said "many of those who had practiced magic collected their books and burned them in front of everyone. So they calculated their value and found it to be fifty thousand pieces of silver". Another passage, from Book of Deuteronomy, said: "Burn the images of their gods. Don't desire the silver or the gold that is on them and take it for yourself, or you will be trapped by it. That is detestable to the Lord your God."

In August, 2019, after consulting with exorcists in both the US and Rome, Rev. Dan Reehil, a pastor at the Roman Catholic parish school of St Edward in Nashville, Tennessee, banned the books from the school library on the grounds that "The curses and spells used in the books are actual curses and spells; which when read by a human being risk conjuring evil spirits into the presence of the person reading the text". - Religious debates over the Harry Potter series


Then Cdl.-Ratzinger wrote this thank-you letter to the author of the book Harry Potter - gut oder böse (Harry Potter: Good or Evil?):

Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger
Vatican City
March 7, 2003

Esteemed and dear Ms. Kuby!

Many thanks for your kind letter of February 20th and the informative book which you sent me in the same mail. It is good, that you enlighten people about Harry Potter, because those are subtle seductions, which act unnoticed and by this deeply distort Christianity in the soul, before it can grow properly.

I would like to suggest that you write to Mr. Peter Fleetwood, (Pontifical Council of Culture, Piazza S. Calisto 16, I00153 Rome) directly and to send him your book.

Sincere Greetings and Blessings,

+ Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger

(letter translation source: LifeSiteNews)

  • Thank you for your response to my question, but I do not see anything that forbids the reading of the Harry Potter books or watching the movies which are based on these same books. Has the Vatican placed their reading on the Index of forbidden literature?
    – Ken Graham
    Sep 3, 2019 at 0:18
  • @KenGraham The Index of Forbidden Books was abolished in the '60s.
    – Geremia
    Sep 3, 2019 at 0:33

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