Vatican gives thumbs up to ‘Potter’

Papal newspaper praises mature 'Prince'

Accio papal blessing!

Harry Potter has always had plenty of B.O. followers. He’s just never counted the Vatican among them … until now.

While fundamentalists consider the depiction of magic in J.K. Rowling‘s saga incompatible with Christian belief and the Vatican had previously condemned his wizardly ways, the character is decidedly more mature in “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince,” a shift that drew an official thumbs-up last week.

In a review headlined “Magic is No Longer a Surprising Trick,” the Vatican’s official daily newspaper L’Osservatore Romano gave the pic its seal of approval, noting that Harry “is aware that the world of magic, which he grew up with in the past, is not exempt from malice.” It praised the pic for promoting “friendship, altruism, loyalty and self-giving.”

That’s quite a reversal from just 18 months ago, when the Vatican paper slammed Potter for being a negative role model and cited Pope Benedict XVI, who six years ago as a cardinal warned against the boy wizard’s “subtle seductions” which, he said, “act unnoticed and by this deeply distort Christianity in the soul.”

The Vatican, as well as the U.S.-based Catholic League, have targeted other Hollywood pics in recent years. They blasted the fantasy “The Golden Compass,” claiming it was too dark, and condemed “The Da Vinci Code.” The B.O. impact seemed minimal, at best.

It remains to be seen whether the “Half-Blood Prince” endorsement will send more of the Pope’s flock to Potter’s fold.

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