VATICAN CITY — The Vatican lauded the latest Harry Potter film on Monday, saying "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" made the age-old debate over good vs. evil crystal clear.
The Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano even gave two thumbs up to the film's treatment of adolescent love, saying it achieved the "correct balance" and made the stars more credible to the general audience.
The newspaper said the film, which opens Wednesday, was the best adaptation yet of the J.K. Rowling series about the adventures of the bespectacled child wizard Harry Potter and his Hogwarts chums as they battle Harry's nemesis, the evil sorcerer Voldemort.
While criticizing Rowling for omitting any explicit "reference to the transcendent" in her books, L'Osservatore said the latest installment nevertheless makes clear that good should overcome evil "and that sometimes this requires costs and sacrifice."
"In addition, the spastic search for immortality epitomized by Voldemort is stigmatized," the review said.
The Vatican's praise follows the sharp criticism of the Harry Potter series by a conservative Austrian priest at the center of a church crisis earlier this year.
The Rev. Gerhard Maria Wagner had characterized Harry Potter novels as Satanism, while also suggesting Hurricane Katrina, which ravaged New Orleans and surrounding areas, was provoked by sin.
Pope Benedict XVI promoted Wager to the post of auxiliary bishop in Linz, Austria's third largest city, in January. But amid an outcry among Austrian Catholics over his comments, Wagner eventually gave up the promotion.