OCTOBER 31, 2014
An Indian Catholic’s problems with the condemnation of yoga are answered
By Dan Burke, October 28, 2014
Dan Burke says*
in answer to a query “Is there a way to practice yoga without betraying Catholicism?” => “Not in my opinion”.
In India our Cardinals and Bishops encourage yoga and it is practiced by many in convents and seminaries. Does it mean that these religious authorities are going against the Church?
In India the birthplace of yoga, the Christians and Muslims do yoga as an exercise without any connection to religion.
As Kate understands, we can separate yoga the exercise from yoga the spirituality. In the article it is stated “if a person calls upon god during the practice of yoga in the presence of Hindu statues, then he /she has practiced idolatry.” If we pray before statue of Jesus or Mary, are we practicing idolatry? Not at all. During the practice of yoga, a Catholic can pray to God, even keeping the picture or statue if one wants.
I request Dan Burke to please find out from the Catholic Bishops Council of India whether they are in favour of yoga. This is not an argument but a question of finding more truth.
*See the comments section at http://spiritualdirection.com/2014/10/28/yoga-trajectory-from-the-body-to-the-infinite-part-iv
which is the fourth part of the series by Fr. Ezra Sullivan, a Dominican priest
YOGA-FR EZRA SULLIVAN
20 FEBRUARY/25 MAY/31 OCTOBER 2014
K C Thomas, there is nothing on the CBCI (Catholic Bishops Conference of India) website that encourages yoga or even mentions it. In fact the CBCI website has good links to the Vatican, the Catechism of the Catholic Church. If some prelates are encouraging it, they are incorrect. In the “birthplace of yoga” of all places, there is ample knowledge of its dangers. Through the years, we have had many Indian Catholics testify to this.
We have to differentiate between what is Catholic and Spiritual and what is simple exercise without any religious involvement.
The Cardinals and Bishops of India are highly educated, very religious and very loyal to Catholic Church. They have not considered yoga exercises anything unchristian or anything that may misguide the Catholics. And so it has never been a subject for discussion in the Council (Bishops’ Conference). My testimony is based on what I have seen and heard from authorities, and from my own experience with many Catholics who go to practice yoga. You are under the wrong impression that one who wants to practice yoga has to believe or do something unchristian. Not at all. Doing bodily exercises, meditating silently examining your relationship with God whom you believe these have nothing to do with any particular religion. Also you must remember what our Church teaches. It teaches that some element of truth may be present in other religions and such elements should be encouraged and even adopted by us without detriment to our Faith. I do not argue to win, I am interested in learning.
Dear KC Thomas, I don’t doubt your testimony. However, that a good number of Bishops, priests, or the faithful practice something doesn’t mean that they are right. This argument is a logical fallacy. Thousands of clergy in the United States have participated in liturgical abuse. That doesn’t mean that they are right. You are also correct in pointing out that we should accept what is good in other religious. Nostra Aetate states this clearly. However, we should also reject what is not good. Nobody questions whether or not stretching or exercise is good. That Yoga promotes this is good and we agree with any religion that promotes the healthy treatment of the body.
However, to the question of whether one can separate the religious element from it a question that we at SpiritualDirection.com would have to answer “no” to. I think if you are interested in learning, which I have no doubt you are, you should read the entire series and stick with us to the end as Liz suggested.
Thank you, Dan. I am a practicing Catholic and I am very particular about the real Catholic teachings. I know my faith. Nothing can change it. We who live as neighbours of Hindus and Muslims know each others’ faith to some extent. Customs and manners which are national or local, if not against our faith, we can follow. Many of the customs may have their origin in Hindu mythology but we Catholics know how to suitably use them interpreting in our own way. For example, when Hindus worship fire as a god, we light a traditional lamp (during public functions, for solemn functions in churches, etc.) or a candle with the faith that Jesus is the real light and the light represents him. Diwali is an occasion for joy for Hindus as they celebrate it as the day of Rama’s return from exile. Christians and Muslims too celebrate, but not in that faith. We do not believe Ram as god, but as King of Ayodhya a place in India. We believe that lights stand for illumination of minds with wisdom and joy; we never think of the Hindu mythology or their religious faith. It is just a feast for the eyes.
I think if you happen to visit India and the Catholic Community, it is likely that you may understand that it is possible to separate the religious element from yoga or any such practices. If anything goes against our Catholic faith (that Jesus is the Truth, the Life and the Way), the Church and the people will not agree.
I thank you for the free discussion. I humbly say that I am an 83 year old staunch and vigilant Catholic, with lot of experience. I shall be consulting a theologian also to learn more.
I am afraid that my fellow Indian KC Thomas has displayed great ignorance and I will try to respond to him as briefly as possible. One problem is that he cannot see that the Church in India has gradually become so Hindu-ised that he cannot differentiate between religious tolerance and assimilation of pagan practices.
He is wrong when he claims that the Indian bishops are “very religious and very loyal to Catholic Church. They have not considered yoga exercises anything unchristian or anything that may misguide the Catholics.” The majority of them endorse yoga. Most Indian seminaries include yoga in the curriculum. Yoga, and a lot of other New Age, is virtually institutionalised in the Indian Church. KC Thomas himself agrees to that. But the Catechism (Pope Benedict XVI’s YouCat to be precise) condemns yoga as New Age.
My reports also chronicle and document the Hinduisation of the Church in the guise of inculturation.
KC Thomas needs to read up, and catch up.
I have been crusading against yoga for years; my web site www.ephesians-511.net contains scores of files and thousands of pages of collated information, articles, reports and testimonies exposing the spiritual and psychological dangers of yoga.
My compatriot Fr. James Manjackal MSFS has also written about the dangers of yoga on his website http://jmanjackal.net/eng/engyoga.htm.
He is also regularly cited in the articles written by Johnette Benkovic and Susan Brinkmann’s womenofgrace ministries.
Dan, thank you and Fr Ezra Sullivan too.
Michael Prabhu, India
Concerning the practice of yoga, I have written several letters to the cardinals, archbishops and bishops of India asking them to clarify what the stand of the Indian Church is.
I have never received a response from them.
One such letter from my report CARDINAL OSWALD GRACIAS ENDORSES YOGA FOR CATHOLICS
25 FEBRUARY/9 APRIL 2013 http://ephesians-511.net/docs/CARDINAL_OSWALD_GRACIAS_ENDORSES_YOGA_FOR_CATHOLICS.doc is reproduced below:
Sent: Monday, February 25, 2013 8:57 PM Subject: YOUR ENDORSEMENT OF YOGA
HIS EMINENCE OSWALD CARDINAL GRACIAS, ARCHBISHOP OF BOMBAY,
CATHOLIC BISHOPS’ CONFERENCE OF INDIA
Dear Cardinal Oswald,
Recently, there were a number of news reports concerning your endorsement of yoga which has been institutionalised by Fr. John Ferreira at St. Peter’s College in your former archdiocese of Agra.
I am utterly shocked as there exist two Vatican documents [October 15, 1989 and February 3, 2003] warning Catholics about the spiritual dangers of yoga, and also because there is an abundance of condemnation of that Hindu spiritual discipline by eminent priests [including exorcists] and bishops and even bishops’ conferences.
Moreover yoga is categorized under esotericism and New Age in YouCat, the Youth Catechism released in 2011 by His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI.
As you are the highest ranking ecclesiastic in India, being the President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference and one of the Cardinal electors at the forthcoming enclave and so a candidate for the holy seat of St Peter and potential Pope, I am seriously concerned about your endorsement of Fr. Ferreira’s surya namaskar-pranayama-yoga package which violates the First Commandment of God.
In case you know of some aspects of yogic meditation — it is NOT a system of physical exercises — which are beneficial to Catholics, please let me know so that I can publish it on my web site in a forthcoming report for the benefit of Catholics worldwide.
Submitted on 2015/06/13 at 5:19 am
Hats off to your article.
Several of KC Thomas’ statements are fallacies.
My letter to Cardinal Oswald Gracias refutes most of them, and my reports listed below will refute the remainder of his mis-statements.
BRAHMA KUMARIS WORLD SPIRITUAL UNIVERSITY
CARDINAL OSWALD GRACIAS ENDORSES YOGA FOR CATHOLICS
CATHOLIC YOGA HAS ARRIVED
CHURCH MOUTHPIECE THE EXAMINER ACCUSED OF PROMOTING HERESY
DIVINE RETREAT CENTRE ERRORS-05
EXORCISTS WARN AGAINST USE OF YOGA MANTRAS
FORMER YOGI REJECTS A CHRISTIAN ALTERNATIVE TO YOGA
FR ADRIAN MASCARENHAS-YOGA AT ST PATRICK’S CHURCH BANGALORE
FR JOE PEREIRA-KRIPA FOUNDATION-NEW AGE ENDORSED BY THE ARCHDIOCESE OF BOMBAY AND THE CBCI
FR JOE PEREIRA-KRIPA FOUNDATION-WORLD COMMUNITY FOR CHRISTIAN MEDITATION
FR JOE PEREIRA-KRIPA FOUNDATION-WORLD COMMUNITY FOR CHRISTIAN MEDITATION-LETTERS TO THE BISHOPS AND THEIR RESPONSES
FR JOE PEREIRA SUPPORTED BY HIS BISHOPS CONTINUES TO MOCK AT CATHOLICS
FR JOHN FERREIRA-YOGA, SURYANAMASKAR AT ST. PETER’S COLLEGE, AGRA
FR JOHN VALDARIS-NEW AGE CURES FOR CANCER
IS BISHOP DABRE FORMER CHAIRMAN DOCTRINAL COMMISSION A PROPONENT OF YOGA
NARENDRA MODI SEEKS TO INTRODUCE YOGA IN UNIVERSITIES
NEW AGE GURUS 01-SRI SRI RAVI SHANKAR-THE ‘ART OF LIVING’
PAPAL CANDIDATE OSWALD CARDINAL GRACIAS ENDORSES YOGA
U.S. CATHOLIC MAGAZINE ENDORSES NEW AGE-REIKI, YOGA AND ZEN
VISHAL JAGRITI MAGAZINE PULLS YOGA SERIES OF FR FRANCIS CLOONEY
YOGA IN THE DIOCESE OF MANGALORE
YOGA, SURYANAMASKAR, GAYATRI MANTRA, PRANAYAMA TO BE MADE COMPULSORY IN EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTIONS
AYUSH-THE NEW AGE DANGERS OF
A CATHOLIC ALTERNATIVE TO YOGA-PIETRA FITNESS
AUM SHINRIKYO YOGA CULT
AYURVEDA AND YOGA-DR EDWIN A NOYES
MANTRAS YOGA WCCM CHRISTIAN MEDITATION ETC-EDDIE RUSSELL
TRUTH, LIES AND YOGA-ERROL FERNANDES
WAS JESUS A YOGI? SYNCRETISM AND INTERRELIGIOUS DIALOGUE-ERROL FERNANDES
YOGA AND DELIVERANCE
YOGA IS SATANIC-EXORCIST FR GABRIELE AMORTH
YOGA-A PATH TO GOD-FR LOUIS HUGHES
YOGA-BRO IGNATIUS MARY
YOGA-FR EZRA SULLIVAN
YOGA-THE DECEPTION-FR CONRAD SALDANHA
YOGA-WHAT DOES THE CATHOLIC CATECHISM SAY ABOUT IT
YOGA-WHAT DOES THE CATHOLIC CHURCH SAY ABOUT IT?
LETTER TO THE BISHOPS OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH ON SOME ASPECTS OF CHRISTIAN MEDITATION
CDF/CARDINAL JOSEPH RATZINGER OCTOBER 15, 1989
JESUS CHRIST THE BEARER OF THE WATER OF LIFE, A CHRISTIAN REFLECTION ON THE NEW AGE COMBINED VATICAN DICASTERIES FEBRUARY 3, 2003
TESTIMONY OF A FORMER YOGI-01
TESTIMONY OF A FORMER YOGI-02
TESTIMONY OF A FORMER YOGI-03
TESTIMONY OF A FORMER YOGI-04
TESTIMONY OF A FORMER YOGI-05
TESTIMONY OF A FORMER YOGI-06
TESTIMONY OF A FORMER YOGI-07
TESTIMONY OF A FORMER YOGI-08
TESTIMONY OF A FORMER YOGI-09
TESTIMONY OF A FORMER YOGI-10
TESTIMONY OF A FORMER YOGI-11
TESTIMONY OF A FORMER YOGI-12
TESTIMONY OF A FORMER YOGI-13
TESTIMONY OF A FORMER YOGI-14 VIRGO HANDOJO
TESTIMONY OF A FORMER YOGI-15 PURVI
TESTIMONY OF A FORMER YOGI-16
PRISCILLA DE GEORGE
TESTIMONY OF A FORMER YOGI-17
TESTIMONY OF A FORMER YOGI-18
BRANDY BORDEN SMITH
TESTIMONY OF A FORMER YOGI-19
CONNIE J. FAIT
TESTIMONY OF A FORMER YOGI-20
TESTIMONY OF A FORMER YOGI-21
FR. PARESH PARMAR