Harry Potter wins Vatican approval

 The Vatican has given the Harry Potter books its seal of approval.

The subject was raised during a press conference yesterday, for the launch of the Vatican's document on New Age practices and beliefs. While some religious groups have condemned the Harry Potter series for their occult and magic content, a church official, Fr Peter Fleetwood told reporters that it was felt the books helped children discern good from evil.

He said: "I don't think there's anyone in this room who grew up without fairies, magic and angels in their imaginary world."

The new Vatican document examines many New Age beliefs from astrology to Zen and points out the dangers of some of these.

"It is good and positive to have love and respect for nature and the environment, " explained said Archbishop Michael Fitzgerald, head of the Vatican's department for inter-religious dialogue, " but you cannot make a divinity of the earth. That is wrong."

Fr Peter said however, that these criticisms did not apply to the magical practices described in the Harry Potter adventure stories.

Magicians and witches, Father Peter said: "are not bad or a banner for anti-Christian ideology".

He added that JK 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.

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