Church mouthpiece accused of promoting ‘heretical’ views

  • 24 Jul 2015
  • Hindustan Times (Mumbai)
  • MANOJ R NAIR manoj.nair@hindustantimes.com

Church mouthpiece accused of promoting ‘heretical’ views

E ven as t he uproar over the Indian government’s promotion of Yoga has died down, the debate whether the practice is compatible with certain religious beliefs continues.

After criticising theologians and priests for supporting Yoga, some community blogs have now accused the weekly The Examiner, the mouthpiece of Mumbai’s Roman Catholic establishment, of promoting ‘heretical’ views by publishing articles on the practice. Apostasy (abandoning religion), Heresy (dissention) and Gnosticism (a heretical movement in the early church) – words that were more likely to be used against non-believers in another period in history – have been used to describe those who wrote about Yoga.

The bloggers have called themselves ‘orthodox’ but their critics have accused them of being ‘radicals’.

One of the articles that has been criticised was written by Thomas Dabre, the bishop of Pune, who discussed the possible therapeutic benefits of Yoga on the mind and body. The groups are particularly incensed at his writings because Dabre is an important figure in the church: besides heading a large diocese, he is also a former head of the Doctrinal Commission of the Catholic Bishops Conference of India (CBCI) – an important decision-making body of the church. He is also an expert in culture and religion, having authored an important book on the life of the 17th century poet Sant Tukaram.

In his article, Dabre had said practising Yoga as therapy could provide physical and mental benefits. In response to the accusations that he was promoting the practice, Dabre has said he is not an ambassador for Yoga. “But as a Catholic theologian, I can comment on society.”

The Examiner, too, like Dabre, has said its articles on Yoga just reflected the social debate on the issue. Father Tony Charanghat, the weekly’s editor, is currently not in India, but a spokesperson said that every article in the journal did not reflect the church’s official stand on the issue. “The magazine gives space to people who have different views on a subject; we publish some of the letters that we receive. Similarly we also get articles from our readers that we sometimes print. The opinion given in the letters and articles are never our views and this is clearly mentioned in the magazine.”

The spokesperson added: “We publish articles that are thematic – issues that people are talking about.”

But the critics of the articles are not satisfied with this answer from the magazine; they want the church headquarters to issue an official statement on its view on Yoga.

Much of the criticism against the articles on Yoga has appeared on blogs written in Mumbai, but some articles are also from Chennai where a writer Michael Prabhu, who runs a website, has accused the theologians of misleading followers by misinterpreting two Vatican documents that said that practice of certain traditions, including eastern meditation and yoga, are not compatible with their faith.

“My calling (from God) is to expose errors in the church. When bishops and priests commit liturgical and doctrinal errors, I bring it to their notice,” said Prabhu who said that he has ‘nothing’ against other religions. “Yoga is not a form of physical exercise; it is a religious ritual, but the theologians are interpreting it to their fancies.”

Another senior theologian who has been criticised by the groups is Mumbai’s Bishop Agnelo Gracias, who is also associated with the Doctrinal Commission. This diarist spoke to Gracias who, explaining that he was attending an important official assignment out of Mumbai, declined to comment on the controversy. He promised to talk about the issue after coming back to the city.

About The Voice Of Bombay's Catholic Laity

Bombay Laity Ezekiel’s Chapter 3 Task as Watchman 17 “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the people of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me. 18 When I say to a wicked person, ‘You will surely die,’ and you do not warn them or speak out to dissuade them from their evil ways in order to save their life, that wicked person will die for[b] their sin, and I will hold you accountable for their blood. 19 But if you do warn the wicked person and they do not turn from their wickedness or from their evil ways, they will die for their sin; but you will have saved yourself.
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3 Responses to Church mouthpiece accused of promoting ‘heretical’ views

  1. Prof. Vincent Monteiro says:

    Vatican’s chief exorcist warns that practicing yoga is ‘satanic’
    The successor to Fr. Gabriele Amorth, the Vatican’s former chief Exorcists for over two decades has come out in condemnation of fantasy novels and YOGA, declaring both to cause DEMONIC possessions. Speaking to The Independent (UK), Fr. Cesare Truqui explained how the Roman Catholic Church has seen a steady uptick in reports of demonic possessions all over the world, and that popular culture pastime like readings Harry Potter novels and engaging in Vinyasa are largely to blame.
    The popularity of many modern TV shows, movies and novels that glorify “demonic” creatures such as vampires and magical wizards has apparently led both young and old alike to engage in certain activities that the Vatican says summon satanic spirits, claims professor Giuseppe Ferrari recently attending a meeting in Rome where Catholic authorities and delegates discussed how to deal with alleged demonic crisis.
    Demonic characters in shows like True Blood and the Vampire Diaries are often portrayed as beautiful human beings with desirable characteristics and superpowers, which may lure the unsuspecting into dabbling in the occult. Fr. Cesare says he has seen many individuals’ speaking in tongues and exhibiting unearthly strengths, two attributes that his religion says indicate the possibility of evil spirits inhabiting a person’s body.
    Is Yoga about worshipping Hindu gods, or is it about engaging in advanced stretching and exercise?
    At it roots, Yoga is said to have originated from the ancient worship of Hindu gods, with the various poses representing unique forms of paying homage to these entities. From this, other religions such as Catholicism and Christianity have concluded that the practice is out of sync with their own, and that it may result in demonic spirits entering a person’s body.
    Other contend that Yoga practice is really more focused on advanced stretching moves and physical exercise, and that it can bring about healing and improved well-being such as improved core strength, better circulation and reduced stress. The intent of the person doing Yoga, rather than Yoga itself, in other words, is what defines the extent of how the practice influences a person’s Being and Soul.
    But Fr. Truqui sees Yoga as being Satanic, claiming that “it leads to evil just like reading Harry Potter.” And in order to deal with the consequences of this, his religion has had to bring on additional six exorcists, bringing the total number to 12, just to deal with what he says is a100% rise in the number of requests for Exorcisms over the past 15 years.
    At the same time, Fr. Amorth admits that the Roman Catholic Church’s notoriety for all kinds of perverted sex scandals is also indicative of demonic activity – he stated that it represents proof that “the devil is at work inside the Vatican.”

  2. ralphcoelho says:

    Catholics have a right to question what they are taught; in fact they have a duty to so in the process of forming their conscience. On the other hand laity should accept that they have a responsibility to inform themselves about the subject they are commenting on and ,if required,explain why they have a difference. Yoga by definition is an attempt to achieve union with God. This has different meanings in different religions. Christianity predicates a God who is Good,Perfect. Christians are advised to avoid sin as a step in achieving goodness, perfection and therefore worthy of union. Christian meditation is an attempt to achieve a state of stillness and so prepare the human person, body and soul to perceive God, however faintly. Indiscriminate use of Yoga and other Eastern forms of meditation put the risk of the practitioner of falling into an occult realm unless they are fully informed oft heroes and take steps to avoid any such happening. In that context I fault both the recommendations for and against Yoga for not prolly proving their recommendations. Personally I practice some asanas as a substitute for a 30 minute walk to stimulate blood circulation. I remember a popular set of Canadian Air Force exercises that required less than a hour per day an equipment to keep the body fit for flying. In a relatively peaceful multi- religious society of India it is ridiculous that educated persons make Subaru statements that condemn apparently religion based practice. Ralph

    Sent from my iPad

    On 24-Jul-2015, at 10:15 pm, THE LAITYTUDE <comment-reply@wordpress.com > wrote:

    The Voice Of Bombay’s Catholic Laity posted: ” 24 Jul 2015 Hindustan Times (Mumbai) MANOJ R NAIR manoj.nair@hindustantimes.com Church mouthpiece accused of promoting ‘heretical’ views E ven as t he uproar over the Indian government’s promotion of Yoga has died down, the debate whether”

  3. ralphcoelho says:

    Catholics have a right to question what they are taught; in fact they have a duty to so in the process of forming their conscience. My detailed comment has been given in the Comments section Ralph

    Sent from my iPad

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