Bishop Dewane bans yoga class - UPDATED

Bishop Dewane bans yoga class - UPDATED

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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  • Unfortunately, the whole point of yoga is to immitate eastern gods in various positions, etc. and, to put is loosely, in that immitation to retain some of their powers.  Catholics should not be doing yoga, that whole first commandment thing gets in the way.

  • Marc

    Some forms of yoga may have that at their end, but I can tell you that there are many people who practice yoga without any contamination of their Christian or Catholic religion whatsoever. It can be very effective, both as preventative care of the body and as remedial for bodily ailments. A blanket condemnation or even blanket caution against yoga per se is unwarranted. I am not a practioner of yoga, btw.

  • Liam – then I would argue that that’s not “yoga,” but rather “stretching.”

    Yoga is in se incompatible with Christianity.  Period.  Full stop.

    And while you may not be a practitioner of yoga, you are certainly a contrarian.

  • the good-hearted yoga teacher only wants to teach parishioners “how to stretch and strengthen their muscles, control stress and find peace.”

    Did she ever hear of Pilates?

  • At best it’s a secular activity.  It can’t be allowed to compete with Mass, and if it causes scandal, even innocently, that’s a reason it should go altogether.

  • I’m sure there’s more to the story. Dom is right to question whether it is banned, or just at the wrong time. Once again a reporter does not fill in the blanks, leading one to assume what one wants to assume.

    This yoga/eastern stuff is prevalent around the country. At our parish, there is a priest who is big into “twin hearts” meditation. It sounds nice, but has NOTHING to do with the Sacred Heart and Immaculate Heart.

  • I was visiting Ft. Myers when this story broke in the New-Press.  It received the 2nd most prominent location on the front page, just below the fold.  It doesn’t take a genius to figure out the anti-Catholic, relativistic leanings of the editorial staff there at the paper.  And one of the letters to the editor, who had Ph.D. initials from Sanibel Island made the comment that the Catholic Church had set a precedent with taking some of the Jewish traditions and part of the Bible (I guess he was making the point if we could steal from Judaism, we could incorporate Hinduism too).  Obviously he doesn’t know what he’s talking about – of course the Catholic Church has some resemblence of Judaism – we sprung from Judaism.  We resemble our relatives after all!  Headline:  Jesus was a Jew!