Vatican praises Harry Potter film

The latest Harry Potter film has been praised by The Vatican.

The Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Roman said Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince made the age-old debate over good versus evil crystal clear, and even gave two thumbs up to the movie'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 - starring Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint - was the best adaptation yet of the JK Rowling series about the adventures of the bespectacled child wizard and his Hogwarts chums as they battle Harry's nemesis, the evil sorcerer Voldemort.

While criticising Rowling for omitting any explicit "reference to the transcendent" in her books, L'Osservatore said the latest instalment nevertheless made clear that good should overcome evil "and that sometimes this requires costs and sacrifice".

The Vatican's praise follows the sharp criticism of the Harry Potter series by a conservative Austrian priest at the centre of a church crisis earlier this year.

The Reverend Gerhard Maria Wagner had characterised the Harry Potter novels as Satanism.

Pope Benedict XVI promoted Wagner 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.