OCTOBER 1/14, 2016
Bishop of Ramanathapuram does yoga, says it is not against our Faith
I was sent this interview of a question and answer session of the Peruvannamuzhi, Kozhikode (Calicut)-based reputed Catholic Malayalam Gospel television channel SHALOM that produces a weekly in Malayalam called Sunday Shalom (it has debuted in the USA) and an English bi-monthly named Shalom Tidings. The founder, editor-in-chief and chairman of the Shalom Media Foundation is Benny Punnathara, 55.
Most Reverend Bishop Paul Alappatt, the Bishop of Ramanathapuram diocese answered a question sent in by one Mr. Abraham who wanted to know whether Christians may practise yoga, and SHALOM Ministries, under the caption “Utharam” (meaning “answer”) most shockingly, released the interview (https://www.facebook.com/100009703249306/videos/345719132428192/) which was circulated on social media like Facebook thus giving an endorsement to the Hindu discipline of yoga.
I wrote to the Bishop as soon as I managed to obtain an English transcription of the Bishop’s message:
From: Michael Prabhu email@example.com
Paul Alappatt, Diocese of Ramanathapuram, Tamil Nadu
Date: Sat, 8 Oct 2016 12:16:06 +0530
Subject: SHALOM TV INTERVIEW WITH YOU
Dear Most Reverend Bishop Paul Alappatt,
I have some questions regarding this interview that you gave on SHALOM TV.
In it you say that yoga is part of the curriculum in seminaries for formation and that you yourself had trained in it and practice it, that yoga is not against our Faith, that it is a good spiritual exercise for perfect union with God and also that it is practiced by all priests and religious.
Then why is Yoga mentioned in the 1989 Vatican Document on Christian Meditation to the Bishops of the Church and in the 2003 Vatican Document on New Age?
Surely the Church would not include yoga in the Documents unless it is not good for Catholics?
When we have the Holy Mass and so many traditional Catholic devotions, why do we need to pray using yoga?
In fact, how does using yoga help us to communicate better with God?
Thanking you in advance for your response.
Paul Alappatt, Diocese of Ramanathapuram, Tamil Nadu Date: Mon, 10 Oct 2016 19:11:15 +0530
Dear Mr. Michael Prabhu,
Thank you very much for your observation on my interview with Shalom TV. This interview took place years ago, not recently. Actually, I have never considered and stated that Yoga is an exclusive means to obtain perfect union with God. You might have understood me like that. I have never said like that. I have said that it is one of the methods to form a better posture for growth in prayer life. Yoga used to be taught in the seminaries only for this purpose.
Mar Paul Alappatt, Bishop of Ramanathapuram, C/o Holy Trinity Cathedral, Trichy Road, Ramanathapuram, Coimbatore – 641 045, Tamilnadu, INDIA
E-Mail: Paul Alappatt, Diocese of Ramanathapuram, Tamil Nadu
From: Michael Prabhu firstname.lastname@example.org
Paul Alappatt, Diocese of Ramanathapuram, Tamil Nadu
Date: Fri, 14 Oct 2016 22:29:16 +0530
Dear Bishop Paul Alappatt,
I thank you for your response.
But, could you please explain to me how for 2000 years millions of our priests and laity could have led a holy prayer life and become Saints all over the world and in India (like St. Chavara and St. Alphonsa) without using postures of yoga to pray? Is it not possible that the entire Indian Church is being horribly misled by the new generation of yoga-practising priests and bishops who are being baptized in yoga in their formation in our seminaries?
Though Mr. Abraham of Kariyil House in his question put to you by the interviewer wanted to know the teachings of the Catholic Church on yoga, from the beginning of the interview to the end, you never said even a single word about the CATHOLIC CHURCH’S teachings about yoga! They are there in two Vatican Documents, the YOUCAT, the writings of many exorcist priests and bishops, eminent Catholic apologists, etc.
Also, the transcript of your interview shows a different teaching from you than what you explained to me in your letter of 10th October. Please see the transcript below and correct me if I am wrong:
The interviewer explains the background to raise such a question on this programme to the Bishop saying that at some retreat centres and preachers teach that practice of yoga is not Catholic while others say that there is no problem in practicing yoga by Catholics.
INTERVIEWER: What is the opinion and teachings of the Catholic Church (on yoga)?
BISHOP: More than a physical exercise, yoga is a spiritual exercise which is developed in India. This exercise is in order to possess self-discipline, concentration, withdrawal, and thereafter the object of yoga is to prepare for an atmosphere for meditation, contemplation and prayer. We see this as exercise which trains us for self-discipline, control and to do things with concentration. In that sense we all see yoga as a helpful way to meaningful effective prayer experience, meditation and union with God. Thus it cannot be said yoga is a wrong thing. Moreover in all seminaries and including formation houses yoga is being practiced. I myself has learned yoga for one month while I was in major seminary, that is before the commencement of my philosophy course and it was instructed to me by a deacon who is a priest now. Most of our Bishops, priests and nuns after getting up early practice yoga. Yoga cannot be said to be non-Catholic. We need not consider about the source from which it originated, and its traditions. This exercise is for self-discipline which is conducive for prayer life and learning. Yoga is seen as an exercise, a spiritual exercise enabling to instruct us in self-discipline.
INTERVIEWER: If we see yoga in that sense i.e. as a spiritual exercise there is nothing wrong?
BISHOP: There is nothing wrong. If it was not so, the Bishops of the church would not allow to teach yoga in seminaries. It is a practice so that we are to learn, meditate, do a thing in a peaceful manner, to look into ourselves. We get an opportunity…
INTERVIEWER: In that sense it is helpful to us; there is nothing wrong in practicing it, nothing wrong…
BISHOP: Nothing wrong… Let us not to enquire as to who founded Yoga and from where it originated…
INTERVIEWER: To so many ordinary Catholic people there was confusion about the practice of Yoga as there were many teachings that for instance it is a spiritual exercise of Hindus… You said it correctly…
BISHOP: Whether it is a Hindu or Muslim does not matter. If it will go along with our culture and so long as it is not against our faith that exercise is ok for us. When an exercise which will not endanger our faith and which is helpful to make us to reach God why can’t we do it? Otherwise it would been taken away from Seminaries. Now it is part of Seminary curriculum. In that sense doing yoga exercise is useful.
Bishop Paul Alappatt did not dare to reply.
Benny Punnathara was one of the very first donors to and benefactors of this ministry and published some of our early articles in his Shalom Tidings, commencing with one on Pranic Healing in July 2000 (http://www.geocities.ws/shalomtidings/aug/christ.htm).
We had exchanged a fair amount of friendly correspondence on New Age issues but drifted apart after his firm stance that homoeopathy is not New Age (despite its listing in the 2003 Vatican Document):
Dear br. Michael Prabhu, Prayerful greetings from Shalom. Thanks for the mail. Hope everything in going on well. I read your matter that you had sent about Homeopathy. To say you the truth I cannot accept the matter you have written. I have also studied Homeopathy.
It cannot be considered as occult practices. This treatment has been going through ages and has been valuable at all times. Moreover it is Government recognised. Of all the articles you have written I don’t agree with this one.
Benny Punnathara finally stopped writing or acknowledging emails from this ministry (initially his staff used to reply that he was “out of station”) after a few letters like the following were written by me to him:
Dear Bro. Benny,
1. I trust that you have received my other email to you with a specially abridged summary of my ASHRAMS report for your possibly using it in SHALOM.
2. I have been receiving SHALOM TIDINGS free of cost for a few years now since you first published my article on Pranic Healing. I am deeply grateful to you. May I now start subscribing from 1st January 2006? Please let me know how much I should send for a life subscription.
3. I would like to draw your kind attention to a serious lapse in your Sep-Oct 2005 issue, page 22, the article on PRAYER, titled ‘Do You Call Him Often ?’ by Bro. Dantes Thomas SAC. The accompanying picture is of a woman seated in an asana, a YOGA posture with the thumbs and middle fingers forming a circle. I have written about the significance of that mudra in one of my articles about achieving enlightenment…
Such a slip up has never occurred before in SHALOM. How did it happen? Kindly arrange with your team to take care.
4. I would like to have one copy each of all the books that you and SHALOM have brought out in ENGLISH only. [I may be having one or two of your EARLIEST books] Please send me the list and price of each to enable me to select what I do not have, and send payment.
Yours in Jesus’ Name,
Sent: Thursday, January 10, 2008 11:05 AM
Subject: POSSIBLE ERRORS IN THE NOV-DEC 2007 ISSUE OF SHALOM TIDINGS
KIND ATTENTION: BRO. BENNY PUNNATHARA, BRO. K.J. MATHEW, REV. FR. CJ VARKEY
Dear friends in Christ Jesus,
Kindly take another look at the picture on page 14, accompanying the article on Forgiveness. It is too close to a YOGA asana
pose. Can we not find other pictures are that are more reminding of Christian prayer?
Now turn to page 28. There is favorable mention of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin.
Even though nice things were quoted by the writer about the priest, you should also be aware of the following:
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin:
the Vatican Document on the New Age, he is ranked as
New Ager No. 1.
“No one has contributed more to the merger of science and religion than the French priest/paleontologist Teilhard de Chardin. Treated as an apostate by the Vatican, banned from teaching, and forbidden to publish his writings, the controversial Jesuit, who was known as the father of the New Age… expounded ‘a new theology’ leading to the ‘awakening to a collective superconsciousness… [and] a new age of the earth’,“ say Dave Hunt & T. A. McMahon in The Seduction of Christianity, 1985, page 77
“In his writings – considered unorthodox and suppressed by the Roman Catholic Church – Teilhard talked about multiplicity and unity; the one, the many. Matter and energy, said the priest, are a single principle, two aspects of one energy. And he considered spirit to be a function of matter… In fact, he was not even afraid to speak of matter becoming spirit: ‘There is in the world neither spirit not matter: the ‘stuff of the universe‘ is rather spirit-matter’,” says
Russell Chandler in Understanding the New Age, 1988, pages 186, 187.
(New Age guru) Marilyn Ferguson found de Chardin to be the single most influential individual in the thinking of 185 New Agers
she surveyed when writing ‘The Aquarian Conspiracy‘, a manifesto on the New Age Movement (NAM). Most named in order of frequency were
de Chardin, with C. G. Jung at number 2.
He explains ‘The feminine figure in Indian thought’, pages 264-268 of The Phenomenon of Man.
Dr. Fr. Lourdu Anandam, in The Western Lover of the East, 1998, pages 234, 244-248, writes:
“Bede Griffiths derives inspiration from… East and West, and supports his arguments with the findings of the New Science, and the statements of modern theologians like
Teilhard de Chardin
and sages like
Sri Aurobindo. In his late years, he was also influenced by the New Age Movement…
“It may be irritating to come across NAM terms often (sometimes too often) in the later writings of Griffiths. First and foremost it must be said that he is not the first one among Catholic theologians to be sympathetic towards the NAM. ‘When the New Age is branded as something evil by German and Anglo-Protestantism, it is much praised by the Catholics,’ writes Hans Joachim Turk, New Age und christlicher Glaube, 1988, page 667. Turk makes… theologians such as
Teilhard de Chardin… responsible for the fact that the Spirit of God is identified with the
Spirit of the New Age in the Catholic Church.“
Kindly acknowledge receipt.
God bless your ministry abundantly. Wishing you a blessed New Year. Love and Prayers,
Michael Prabhu, Chennai
The big problem is that Benny Punnathara has succumbed to the twin temptations of popularity and trying to please everyone especially the higher authorities in the Church by being politically correct. A convert from trying to find spiritual satisfaction in yoga (http://www.ucanews.com/2011/01/12/on-a-media-mission-from-god/), he was initially famous as a prophetic voice in the Kerala church and faced the threats of many religious for his strong pioneering stand against the alternative therapies of reiki and pranic healing in Sunday Shalom as early as the year 1999 through his blistering editorials and then for the articles in Shalom Tidings.
It is quite different now. From mid-2015, SHALOM has stopped mailing me the copies of Shalom Tidings.
He “was awarded the Chevalier title in February 2012 by Pope Benedict XVI, the highest honor conferred by the Church on a layperson for outstanding contributions to the Catholic Church and society.” (https://www.shalomworld.org/about).
There is NOTHING now, not a word on the Internet, of Benny Punnathara on yoga, reiki or pranic healing.
On a media mission from God. Starting with no funds and few programs, Shalom TV confounded its critics
By George Kommattathil, Kozhikode, January 12, 2011
Shalom is an ecumenical initiative. How did you bring together all denominations?
I just want to bring together all the Apostolic Churches under one roof. When we broadcast programs from different Churches, Christians come to know and love each other. Most people have had apprehensions about the Catholic Church. Even Hindus wrote to me, that the channel had solved their misunderstandings about the Catholic Church. It sanctifies every home.
Even Muslims and Hindus contribute to the Shalom channel.
SHALOM, before it was incorporated, began as a small prayer group in the Nirmala Retreat Centre campus.
The late Msgr. Rev. Fr. C. J. Varkey (died 2009), founder of the Missionary Sisters of Mary Immaculate (MSMI) congregation in 1962 and which was raised to a Congregation of Pontifical right by Pope John Paul II on October 15, 1988, was the first spiritual director of SHALOM ministries.
Benny Punnathara continues his close association with the Nirmala Retreat Centre.
The Nirmala Retreat Centre has a homoeopathy clinic started by Fr. Varkey and run by the MSMI nuns. And…
“This apostolate is done by running hospitals – allopathic, ayurvedic, homeopathic, naturopathic*
dispensaries, leprosy rehabilitation centre, palliative care clinics and clinics.” *These are New Age
AYURVEDA AND YOGA-DR EDWIN A NOYES
AYURVEDIC REMEDIES CAN BE DANGEROUS FOR HEALTH
AYURVEDIC REMEDIES CAN BE DANGEROUS FOR THE SOUL
AYUSH-THE NEW AGE DANGERS OF
5 HOMOEOPATHY REPORTS
HOMOEOPATHY CONTROVERSY AND FR RUFUS PEREIRA
HOMOEOPATHY INSTITUTIONALIZED IN THE INDIAN CATHOLIC CHURCH
INSTITUTIONALIZED NEW AGE IN BOMBAY ARCHDIOCESE-HOMOEOPATHY, YOGA AND KRIPA FOUNDATION
HOMOEOPATHY IS BUNK-INDIAN NOBEL LAUREATE
11 HOMOEOPATHY ARTICLES/COLLATIONS
AYUSH-THE NEW AGE DANGERS OF
HOMOEOPATHY-AN UNSCIENTIFIC NEW AGE FRAUD
HOMOEOPATHY-AN UNSCIENTIFIC NEW AGE FRAUD 02
HOMOEOPATHY-AN UNSCIENTIFIC NEW AGE FRAUD 03
HOMOEOPATHY-DR EDWIN A NOYES
HOMOEOPATHY-FR CLEMENS PILAR 10
HOMOEOPATHY-WHAT’S THE HARM IN IT?
1 HOMOEOPATHY TESTIMONY
TESTIMONY OF A FORMER HOMOEOPATHY PRACTITIONER-01 DR. EMILIA VLCKOVA
The MSMI nuns even use the Hindu oil lamp (kuthuvilakku or) nilavilakku at their retreat centre as a substitute for, or maybe along with I hope, Catholic blessing and prayer.
WHAT DOES THE KUTHUVILAKKU OIL LAMP SIGNIFY
34 YOGA REPORTS
BANGALORE DELIVERANCE MINISTRY LEADER OBJECTS TO PRIEST’S CRITICISM OF YOGA-ENDORSING BISHOP THOMAS DABRE
BISHOP THOMAS DABRE BRAZENLY LIES IN PRINT AND INTERNET MEDIA ABOUT THE CHURCH POSITION ON YOGA
BRAHMA KUMARIS WORLD SPIRITUAL UNIVERSITY
CARDINAL OSWALD GRACIAS ENDORSES YOGA FOR CATHOLICS
CARDINAL OSWALD GRACIAS INFORMS PRAKASH LASRADO THAT HE USES YOGA TO PRAY
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
INTERNATIONAL YOGA DAY
IS BISHOP DABRE FORMER CHAIRMAN DOCTRINAL COMMISSION A PROPONENT OF YOGA
NARENDRA MODI SEEKS TO INTRODUCE YOGA IN ALL EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTIONS
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
PILAR PRIESTS CELEBRATE INTERNATIONAL YOGA DAY-GOA ARCHBISHOP ENDORSES
U.S. CATHOLIC MAGAZINE ENDORSES NEW AGE-REIKI, YOGA AND ZEN
VISHAL JAGRITI MAGAZINE PULLS YOGA SERIES OF FR FRANCIS CLOONEY
YOGA-FATIMA CHURCH IN MADRAS-MYLAPORE ARCHDIOCESE
YOGA AT ST STANISLAUS HIGH SCHOOL ARCHDIOCESE OF BOMBAY
YOGA CAMP FOR CHILDREN AT OUR LADY OF GUIDANCE CHURCH
YOGA IN THE DIOCESE OF MANGALORE
YOGA, SURYANAMASKAR, GAYATRI MANTRA, PRANAYAMA TO BE MADE COMPULSORY IN EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTIONS
36 YOGA ARTICLES/COLLATIONS
AYUSH-THE NEW AGE DANGERS OF
A CATHOLIC ALTERNATIVE TO YOGA-PIETRA FITNESS
AN INDIAN CATHOLIC’S PROBLEMS WITH THE CONDEMNATION OF YOGA ARE ADDRESSED
AUM SHINRIKYO YOGA CULT
AYURVEDA AND YOGA-DR EDWIN A NOYES
DANGERS OF AWAKENING THE KUNDALINI IN YOGA-LIFE POSITIVE
DEATH OF A GURU
MANTRAS YOGA WCCM CHRISTIAN MEDITATION ETC-EDDIE RUSSELL
REIKI YOGA AND CENTERING PRAYER
ROME WARNS CATHOLICS ABOUT YOGA AND ZEN MEDITATION SYSTEMS
THE TRUE STORY OF A CATHOLIC VICTIM OF YOGA
TRUTH, LIES AND YOGA-ERROL FERNANDES
WAS JESUS A YOGI? SYNCRETISM AND INTERRELIGIOUS DIALOGUE-ERROL FERNANDES
YOGA CAN BE DANGEROUS FOR YOU
YOGA CAN BE DANGEROUS FOR YOUR PHYSICAL HEALTH
YOGA AND CHRISTIANITY-ARE THEY COMPATIBLE?
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-REV DR ED HIRD
YOGA-THE DECEPTION-FR CONRAD SALDANHA
YOGA-WHAT DOES THE CATHOLIC CATECHISM SAY ABOUT IT
YOGA-WHAT DOES THE CATHOLIC CHURCH SAY ABOUT IT?
2 YOGA DOCUMENTS
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
27 YOGA TESTIMONIES
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, CATHOLIC PRIEST
TESTIMONY OF A FORMER YOGI-22
TESTIMONY OF A FORMER YOGI-23
TESTIMONY OF A FORMER YOGI-24
TESTIMONY OF A FORMER YOGI-25
TESTIMONY OF A FORMER YOGI-26
REV. DR. ED HIRD, ANGLICAN CHARISMATIC PASTOR
TESTIMONY OF A FORMER YOGI-27
CARMEN CASTIELLA SANCHEZ-OSTIZ