Bishop Frank Dewane of Venice, Florida, has ordered a local parish to cease offering yoga classes, which has the local newspaper and yoga advocates warning darkly of “fundamentalism.”
Bishop Dewane was only recently appointed to head the diocese, but the controversy over the yoga classes at Bl. Pope John XXIII Parish in Fort Myers has been simmering for some time. As the newspaper frames the story, the good-hearted yoga teacher only wants to teach parishioners “how to stretch and strengthen their muscles, control stress and find peace.” If she was only teaching stretching and muscle-strengthening that would be fine, I think, but it’s the way she teaches them to “find peace” that creates a problem.
Now, we only have the yoga teacher’s word for this, but she says that some people have accused the yoga folks of “evil-doing” and called them “sinful” while throwing holy water on them. Sounds … unlikely.
DiLorenzo and her students had never seen the woman or her companion who handed out leaflets in the parking lot condemning yoga as anti-Christian.
Some fundamentalist Christians object to yoga because of its Eastern spiritual roots and its philosophy of reflecting on the self rather than God.
And who but a “fundamentalist” Christian would have any objection to teaching folks to rely on themselves rather than God, in a Catholic church no less?
The Rev. Marc Lussier, parish administrator, assured them that they had done nothing wrong.
I suppose I’m not surprised. Later in his parish bulletin, the priest said: “Unfortunately, many people who benefited from this health service will be deprived because of the few who objected! The squeakiest wheel gets the oil!”
But that advocacy was overturned from above when he got the order from Bishop Dewane. Now a diocesan spokesman said the only problem was the timing of the class during “a morning spiritual service,” as the reporter put it, by which I believe they mean the Mass.
An “authoritarian” bishop? Call VOTF
Updated: After jump...
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