London, Jan 16 : JK Rowling's best-seller series 'Harry Potter' has been severely condemned by the Vatican, which has branded the famous boy wizard "the wrong kind of hero".
The Vatican's official newspaper L'Osservatore Romano has come out with a scathing article on the best-selling books, insisting that the novels pose a danger to children by promoting witchcraft and the occult.
Entitled 'The double face of Harry Potter,' the article asserts that regardless of the values and morals underlined in the story, witchcraft is shown in a positive light.
"The violent manipulation of things and people comes thanks to knowledge of the occult. 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," the Telegraph quoted the article, as stating.
"This a grave and deep lie, because it is the old Gnostic temptation of confusing salvation and truth with a secret knowledge."
"The characterisation of common men who do not know magic as 'muggles' who know nothing other than bad and wicked things is a truly diabolical attitude," the article said.
In the lengthy piece, Edoardo Rialti, a professor of literature at Florence University, critically compares Harry Potter with two other great British children's classics, the Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, epics both written by Christians with deeply-held beliefs, and showing "a transcendence and the beauty of the infinite."
On the contrary, Harry Potter books, he said, have an "inverted and confused spirituality: a world where bad is good" and that they are characterised by a "vague, new-age philosophy".
However, Rialti's attack was countered in a parallel article on the same page by Paolo Gulisano, the author of a book on Tolkien.
Gulisano wrote of Harry Potter: "He carries the reader from the vision of a selfish man towards a vision of a man guided by moral values, the choice of good, sacrifice, friendship, love."
The Vatican line on Harry Potter has become more severe since Pope Benedict XVI, formerly Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, a staunch theologian said by some to have strong views on the Devil and exorcism, succeeded Pope John Paul II.
Pope John Paul II once applauded Rowling for leading the life of a good Christian and Holy See officials during his papacy said that Harry Potter was clearly fighting against Satanism.
A spokesman for Rowling declined to comment.