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Nov 29 2011

I knew there was a reason I liked Harry Potter

I had no idea the Vatican had a chief exorcist. I’m not sure why I’m surprised – believing demons can possess people isn’t any wackier than believing in the resurrection. But I must say I’m disappointed. Apparently Father Gabriele Amorth is not a fan of Harry Potter:

Reading JK Rowling’s Harry Potter books is no less dangerous, said the 86-year-old priest, who is the honorary president for life of the International Association of Exorcists, which he founded in 1990, and whose favourite film is the 1973 horror classic, The Exorcist.

The Harry Potter books, which have sold millions of copies worldwide, “seem innocuous” but in fact encourage children to believe in black magic and wizardry, Father Amorth said.

“Practising yoga is Satanic, it leads to evil just like reading Harry Potter,” he told a film festival in Umbria this week, where he was invited to introduce The Rite, a film about exorcism starring Sir Anthony Hopkins as a Jesuit priest.

“In Harry Potter the Devil acts in a crafty and covert manner, under the guise of extraordinary powers, magic spells and curses,” said the priest, who in 1986 was appointed the chief exorcist for the Diocese of Rome.

Come on, you know he’s just worried about job security. Harry Potter provides an alternative hypothesis to demon possession – the Imperius curse. It has just as much evidence, so no wonder he’s worried.

What a Slytherin.

 

34 comments

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  1. 1
    guest

    I am still waiting to find out that we all got poed. there is no way that the vatican started an exorcist organisation in 1990 (either before or not at all?) and that the honorary presidents’s favorite movie is “The exorcist”. That sounds too good to be true.

  2. 2
    Sili

    That sounds too good to be true.

    “I have made but one little prayer of the Almighty: ‘Lord, make mine enemies ridiculous’.”

  3. 3
    Emily

    Awwww, as a Slytherin I am offended by your class-ism.

  4. 4
    Monado

    The RC church cooperated with movie-makers in the recent exorcism movie, in hopes I think of making exorcism seem more plausible in popular culture.

  5. 5
    Palaverer

    Well, he got one thing right. Harry Potter is equally as evil as yoga.

  6. 6
    Screamer77

    Gabriele Amorth?
    Ahahah…. it kinda looks like ‘a morte’, to death!
    With such a name he was bound to be an exorcist. :D

  7. 7
    Kit

    Man, I’m glad I am not the only one who giggled at his name.

    Though I did it because I mis-read it as “Amarth” and then thought “Like the death metal band Amon Amarth?” @.@

  8. 8
    Old Corvus

    See, I just keep hearing in my head Dennis Quaid and Kathleen Turner yelling at Stanley Tucci in “Undercover Blues” – “hey, Morty!”

    Can we call this guy “Father Morty?”

  9. 9
    abadidea

    I’ll never understand why pastors and priests seem to be under the impression that children will believe something just because they read it in a work of fiction.

    Oh wait.

  10. 10
    Alyson Miers

    As I said about this at my blog: when I read this “devil is all over Harry Potter” bit, it takes me back to hearing wacky theories about the books from HP fans. Except even the most evidence-immune, conspiracy-minded HP fans would look at Papa Vomit Nails and tell him to lay off the sauce.

  11. 11
    simonfaber

    …. wait, you didn’t know the vatican had a chief exorcist? Mr. Amorth (good Slytherin name, by the way) was all over the news a few years ago.
    For being the vatican chief exorcist.

  12. 12
    Greta Christina

    Wait a minute. Let me get this straight.

    Harry Potter encourages children to believe in black magic and wizardry.

    And exorcists don’t.

    I think my brain just tried to escape my skull by gnawing its own foot off.

  13. 13
    Svlad Cjelli

    “the Devil acts in a crafty and covert manner, under the guise of extraordinary powers, magic spells and curses,”

    Very clever, mr. Devil. Very clever indeed.

  14. 14
    peicurmudgeon

    He also doesn’t seem to care that the story of Harry Potter parallels the story of Jesus. He even died and came back to life.

  15. 15
    John Horstman

    Nope, it’s totally real. Is that really surprising? The Vatican maintains that transubstantiation is a literal, physical fact, despite the fact that sacrament wine and wafers taste nothing like blood and flesh, which anyone who’s ever bit one’s tongue knows. All of the believers I’ve asked look at it as metaphorical, as even the faithful have a hard time engaging in such blatant self-delusion as denying what their taste buds are reporting. At the point where the church is insisting on something that is so patently, demonstrably false that none of its followers believe it, I find none of its actions surprising (like operating a massive child sex-trafficking ring – horrifying, but not surprising in the least).

  16. 16
    John Horstman

    Naw, the story arc of the death and rebirth of humanity’s savior is older than the old testament. The story of Prometheus, the Hindu tradition of Karmic redemption and the physical manifestations of the Trimurti, the Buddha figures, Osiris… I don’t know as much about Sumerian or Babylonian myths, but there may be examples there too. Identifying death and resurrection narratives as Jesus stories is a manifestation of Christian cultural privilege.

    Other than his being a savior figure (every hero ever), his heroic sacrifice to save the world (again, most heroic traditions), and his resurrection (hardly exclusive or original to Christian mythology), Harry’s story doesn’t follow the Jesus mythology; it bears more similarity to Greek and especially Japanese hero cycles (the aforementioned elements common to the Jesus story, plus: orphaned hero, bound to a single enemy by way of a self-fulfilling prophecy, death of his mentor/master).

  17. 17
    Graham Martin-Royle

    I love reading fantasy, wizards, dragons, elves, pictsies, the thing is, I know that they are all made up, that they aren’t real. Why on earth do other, so called, adults insist that their fantasy figures, angels, demons, heavens, hells, gods, are real? Haven’t they grown up, are they real life Peter Pans?

  18. 18
    Diatryma

    Yep… one well-executed trikonasana and some pranayama and I am feeling quite satanic. What about headstands? Does putting a whole planet on the top of your head count as possession?

  19. 19
    Jurjen S.

    Don’t forget Odin, who sacrificed himself to himself by hanging himself on the World Ash for nine days and nights, with a spear wound in his side. Though he did it acquire knowledge of runes.

  20. 20
    Spanky

    As an aside, I am deeply entertained by the banner ad at the top of this article, offering a free tract called “Is There Really A Devil?”
    (If you want to know, have a wee look at the link, http://www.ucg.org.au/?offer/is-there-really-a-devil&gclid=CLP7kI7m36wCFbQntAod4BznoQ – personally the idea of their ad being paid for by stheists and other heathens amuses me!)

  21. 21
    Nowości filmowe

    Can I simply say what a aid to find somebody who truly knows what theyre talking about on the internet. You positively know how to convey a problem to gentle and make it important. More people need to learn this and understand this side of the story. I cant believe youre not more common because you undoubtedly have the gift.

  22. 22
    Emmet

    “I had no idea the Vatican had a chief exorcist.”

    The Vatican doesn’t. That’s just the way it’s reported – because, I gues, it sounds flashier than “diocesan exorcist for Rome”. That the Telegraph describes Fr Amorth as being “the Vatican’s chief exorcist” doesn’t make him so.

    Are Fr Amorth’s opinions about Harry Potter worth anything?

    Ed Peters, a lawyer and Catholic commenter, has some thoughts about Amorth here: http://www.canonlaw.info/2006/08/fr-amorths-latest-contribution-to.html

    He links in that to his review of one of Amorth’s books which expresses his reservations about the man and his work.

  23. 23
    Emmet

    Also helpful for the whole “The Vatican/the Pope hates Harry Potter” thing is Stephen Greydanus’ article here: http://www.decentfilms.com/articles/harrypotterandthepope.html

    (TL;DR – Actually, it’s OK to read HP if you want.)

  24. 24
    Emmet

    John Horstmann #1.1:

    “The Vatican maintains that transubstantiation is a literal, physical fact, despite the fact that sacrament wine and wafers taste nothing like blood and flesh, which anyone who’s ever bit one’s tongue knows.”
    Of course they taste nothing like blood and flesh: your comment misunderstands what the Church says about transubstantiation: part of that body of thought is not that the wafer and wine will taste like flesh and blood, but that they will go on looking and tasting like wafer and wine while being changed into flesh and blood. Laugh at that belief or dismiss it as you please, but understand what we’re actually claiming before you do so.

    “All of the believers I’ve asked look at it as metaphorical, as even the faithful have a hard time engaging in such blatant self-delusion as denying what their taste buds are reporting.”
    If so, they’re not giving assent to Catholic teaching.

    “…I find none of its actions surprising (like operating a massive child sex-trafficking ring – horrifying, but not surprising in the least).”

    A massive child sex-trafficking ring? That’s a bit over the top isn’t it? The Church’s failures to protect many of the children in her care are well known, but I think you’re on your own in suggesting that anyone in the Church was running a actual sex-trafficking ring.

  25. 25
    Hypatia's Daughter

    #10 Greta Christina

    Harry Potter encourages children to believe in black magic and wizardry. And exorcists don’t.

    Exactly. But, in HP, good people use magic for good – and you can’t have that! Magic is all bad stuff from the debil; and people who dabble in magic are all bad or deceived.

    I re-read “The Exorcist” every couple of years. It’s better than it sounds; it’s not just a cheesy horror story. Father Damien is a psychiatrist who says that the RCC seeks to eliminate natural causes (i.e. physical or mental illness) before presuming demon possession. It has a modern “sensibility” and is ambiguous about whether there is real possession until the very end.

  26. 26
    Svlad Cjelli

    It wasn’t just any tree nor any knowledge of runes, either. The World Tree, spread between worlds, is a great place to be if you want knowledge from the nine worlds.

    The nature of Mimer’s well is a bit ambiguous. Either Odin paid with an eye for knowledge, or the eye left in the water of knowledge is the actual source of his increased learning.

  27. 27
    Svlad Cjelli

    Divine and Arcane power sources are both derivates of the Weave, anyway.

  28. 28
    Svlad Cjelli

    Ask any Moonbow Dedicate.

  29. 29
    Palaverer

    HAHAHAHAHAHA!

  30. 30
    Emmet

    “But, in HP, good people use magic for good – and you can’t have that!”

    But that’s just the thing – you can have that. Plenty of Catholics read Harry Potter and things like it – that great Catholic text :) Lord of the Rings for example.

    Some churchgoers wouldn’t touch HP with a ten-foot pole, others are quite happy to read it – just as story, or deeper as allegory. An opinion like Fr Amorth’s is only one voice in the conversation, and as Ed Peters points out in the articles I linked to, as a literary reviewer he makes a pretty good exorcist.

  31. 31
    Jim

    This is reminding me, all this Harry Potter nonsense is one of the reasons I became an atheist. Back when the fundies started raving about this sometime in the late 90s, I was like “that’s so funny, they think magic actually exists!” Then I was like, “oh, wait a minute…”

  32. 32
    Palaverer

    Ok, so I told my BF about how fundies think yoga is evil. His response:

    “So you put your leg behind the head and the demons just fly right up your butthole?”

  33. 33
    Kelendel

    As an italian, I can say that “padre Amorth” is well known for his tendency of random blabbering over things which apparently make you go “hurray for Satan”.
    Like yoga.
    Yes, he recently said that yoga is dangerous because it leads you to Hinduism, which is bad because reincarnation isn’t a real thing.
    (of course, also enjoying halloween is like praise the devil).

    I don’t think that we have someone else as funny and weird.

  34. 34
    nespresso coffee machine

    A fascinating discussion is definitely worth comment. I do think that you should write more about this issue, it might not be a taboo subject but typically people don’t discuss these subjects. To the next! Cheers!!

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