What do yoga, Harry Potter, and Vampire movies such as Twilight have common? According to the Vatican, they are all the influences of the devil, and largely responsible for a drastic rise in reported exorcisms in Italy. ‘Father’ Cesare, the Vatican’s chief excorcist, whom claims to have dealt with over 70k cases throughout the years, also blames sex scandals within the Vatican as proof the devil is working hard. Abstraction at it’s finest, nowhere in his expression of perspective does he even tip-toe towards mentioning an issue of personal responsibility within the Holy See.
As reported by The Independent, clearly this issue of satanic confluence has caused enough of a stir to enact serious social measures:
In 2012 it emerged that the diocese of Milan, the biggest in the world, had installed an exorcism hotline to cope with demand. Monsignor Angelo Mascheroni, Milan’s chief exorcist, said that his diocese had doubled the number of exorcists from six to 12 to cope with the 100 per cent rise in the number of requests for help over the last 15 years.
The Vatican is no stranger to taking hardline stances on any number of popular activities throughout the world, except pedophilia apparently, and news of their condemnation of Yogic practice isn’t such a surprise as it is just a familiar drone of religion’s historical path of controlling a population. Simplify the topic, and let’s look at it as simply being one well known perspective arguing against another well known perspective. Namely; Christianity vs Hinduism—life after death vs. continual life—a fundamental question for the ages. Predictably, as reported by the Telegraph, the Vatican’s explanation for this was rather short:
Father Gabriele Amorth, who for years was the Vatican’s chief exorcist and claims to have cleansed hundreds of people of evil spirits, said yoga is Satanic because it leads to a worship of Hinduism and “all eastern religions are based on a false belief in reincarnation”.
Both articles carry on to further detail the Vatican’s belief that Satan works to control people’s lives through various activities that aren’t typically associated with overly conservative, religious zealots that would rather cover up an instance of pedophilia than condemn the man that committed it. Throwing stones while dodging stones, such as most religious perspectives would advocate. The Telegraph also accounted for a document issued more than a decade ago which outlined the Vatican’s perspective on yoga as well:
In 1999, six years before he succeeded John Paul II as Pope, he issued a document which warned Roman Catholics of the dangers of yoga, Zen, transcendental meditation and other ‘eastern’ practises. They could “degenerate into a cult of the body” that debases Christian prayer, the document said. Yoga poses could create a feeling of well-being in the body but it was erroneous to confuse that with “the authentic consolations of the Holy Spirit,” the document said.
Equating physical awareness to that of sin/evil/satan the Vatican seemingly takes the position that proper religion is just in their head. I haven’t seen an formal postings from the Vatican regarding their stance on where stretching stops, and Yoga begins, but for all of those readers out there that like to stay loose—remember the devil may be the one driving you, and the path to righteousness is all in your head.