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Vatican's Wild About Harry

The Vatican is giving two thumbs up to the Harry Potter series.

The Rev. Don Peter Fleetwood told a Vatican press conference Monday that the good vs. evil plotlines of the best-selling books are imbued with Christian morals.

"I don't see any, any problems in the Harry Potter series," Fleetwood said.

Fleetwood was responding to questions following the release of a new Vatican document on the New Age phenomenon, which he helped draft as a member of the Pontifical Council for Culture.

Fleetwood was asked whether the magic embraced by Harry Potter and his pals at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry was problematic for the Catholic Church. Some evangelical groups have condemned the series for glamorizing magic and the occult.

"I don't think there's anyone in this room who grew up without fairies, magic and angels in their imaginary world," said Fleetwood, who is British. "They aren't bad. They aren't serving as a banner for an anti-Christian ideology.

"If I have understood well the intentions of Harry Potter's author, they help children to see the difference between good and evil," said Fleetwood, currently in the secretariat of the European Episcopal Conference. "And she is very clear on this."

He said British author J.K. Rowling was "Christian by conviction, is Christian in her mode of living, even in her way of writing."

Rowling's four Harry Potter titles have sold an estimated 192 million copies worldwide, and the books have been published in at least 55 languages. The first two books have been adapted into hit movies and a fifth book in the series is due in bookstores June 21.

The books chronicle the fictional adventures of young Harry and his wizard pals at Hogwarts as they battle Harry's nemesis, the evil sorcerer Voldemort.

Religious reaction to Harry Potter has been mixed. While there has been criticism from some evangelicals, ecumenical groups such as Churches Together in Britain and Ireland have echoed Fleetwood's contention that the books illustrate important themes like the battle between good and evil.

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