The pastor of St. Edward Catholic Church and School in Nashville, Tenn., ordered that Harry Potter books be removed from the school's library because they misrepresent magic as "both good and evil, which is not true," he said, and because some of the curses and spells are "actual curses and spells."
There are seven novels in the Harry Potter series, written by J. K. Rowling, which tell the adventures of a young wizard, Harry Potter, and his fellow students who attend the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The books are hugely popular with young readers and have sold more than 500 million copies worldwide. The series is the most successful in publishing history and Rowling is the first author in history to become a billionaire through book sales.
In an email sent to the teachers of St. Edward Catholic School, Fr. Daniel Reehill wrote, "The Harry Potter series of books have been removed from the St. Edward school library for several reasons. These books present magic as both good and evil, which is not true, but in fact a clever deception. 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."
"I have consulted several exorcists, both in the United States and in Rome, and they have recommended removing the books from circulation," said Fr. Reehill.
"The books also use nefarious means to attain the goals of the characters, including the 'good' characters," said the pastor. "A morally good act requires the goodness of the object, of the end, and of the circumstances together. The Harry Potter books do not follow this premise; rather they promote a Machiavellian approach to achieving the ends they desire with whatever means are necessary."
He continued, "The books also glorify acts of divination; of conjuring the dead, of casting spells among other acts that are an offense to the virtue of religion – to the love and respect we owe to God alone. Many reading these books could be persuaded to believe these acts are perfectly fine, even good or spiritually healthy."
Fr. Reehill also cited the Catechism of the Catholic Church in defending his instruction.
The Catechism, the teaching of the Church, states that, "All forms of divination are to be rejected: recourse to Satan or demons, conjuring up the dead or other practices falsely supposed to 'unveil' the future. Consulting horoscopes, astrology, palm reading, interpretation of omens and lots, the phenomena of clairvoyance, and recourse to mediums all conceal a desire for power over time, history, and, in the last analysis, other human beings, as well as a wish to conciliate hidden powers. They contradict the honor, respect, and loving fear that we owe to God alone." (CCC 2116)
In concluding his email to the teachers, Fr. Reehill wrote, "St. Edward is committed to advancing the Catholic faith and teaching the standards of sound doctrine to instill strong Catholic moral values. Books and other materials which present a possible threat to our faith will not be promoted by our church or school."
Fr. Reehill is not alone in his concerns about the Harry Potter books.
Fr. Gabriel Amoth, one of the chief exorcists in Rome, said in 2011 that reading Harry Potter can lead to evil. “In Harry Potter the Devil acts in a crafty and covert manner, under the guise of extraordinary powers, magic spells and curses,” he said, as reported by The Telegraph.
“Satan is always hidden and what he most wants is for us not to believe in his existence," said Fr. Amorth, who died in 2016. "He studies every one of us and our tendencies towards good and evil, and then he offers temptations.”
Fr. Chad Ripperger, Ph.D., a Catholic priest and exorcist in the United States, said in one of his lectures, "the spells in the books are actual spells. How do we know that? Well, because witches tell us they're real."
"One exorcist told me," said Fr. Ripperger, "that 60% of the names in Harry Potter are actual names of demons that exorcists have booted out of people. There is an exorcist I know, he's a friend of mine -- he and I are always comparing notes on Judas, because Judas is a hard guy to get out of people -- he has had to exorcise three children just for reading the books."
"So, I tell people, avoid it," said Fr. Ripperger. "All exorcists that are worth their weight ... are very clear, stay away from it."
Fr. Ripperger, who holds a doctorate in philosophy, two master's degrees (philosophy and theology) and two B.A. degrees (philosophy and theology), said that on a literary level the Harry Potter books are "total garbage."
"It's not worth reading, on a literary level," he said.
Commenting on Fr. Reehill's order to remove the Harry Potter books from the school library, the spokeswoman for the Diocese of Nashville, Rebecca Hammel, told The Tennessean, "Each pastor has canonical authority to make such decisions for his parish school. He's well within his authority to act in that manner."