A Catholic priest in Northern Ireland has attracted unwanted attention this week after comments he made linking certain Eastern practices to Satanism were widely ridiculed.
Father Roland Colhoun told local newspaper the Derry Journal that Catholics across the world should avoid Eastern practices such as yoga and Indian head massages because of the risk of it poses to their ‘spiritual health’. According to Father Colhoun, engaging in such practices can expose Catholics to “Satan and the Fallen Angels.”
His comments were quickly dismissed by Christians and non-religious alike, many of whom criticised the priest for being dogmatic and narrow-minded.
In response to Father Colhoun’s comments Northern-Irish newspaper the Belfast Telegraph interviewed a local yoga instructor who argued that Western secular form of yoga did not conflict with Catholic teachings.
The instructor went on the mention that during his 15 years as a teacher none of his students had ever gone on to engage with Hinduism or any spiritual elements of yoga.
Yoga, which has its roots in early Indian spiritualism, is practiced by Buddhists and Hindus as part of their religious beliefs. Yoga later became one of India’s most popular exports and is currently is undertaken by thousands of people worldwide, where it has now developed into a largely non-religious hobby in much of the Western world.
This is not the first time however that the practice has come under fire from the Catholic Church. In 1989 former Pope Benedict XVI warned Christians that yoga and meditation could lead to a ‘cult of the body’. Later, in 2011, the Vatican’s head exorcist, Gabriele Amorth, claims that “all eastern religions are based on a false belief in reincarnation”. Amorth went on to claim that practising yoga was satanic and that it would lead to Catholics committing evil.