Diocese silent on anti-yoga priest

Ladies taking part in a yoga class
Ladies taking part in a yoga class

A Catholic diocese yesterday refused to say if it had reprimanded one of its priests for condemning yoga.

The Diocese of Derry would not offer any comment at all on the matter when contacted by the News Letter on Friday, following a call from a Hindu figure for the church to act.

Father Roland Colhoun hit out at the practice earlier this month, linking it to the occult.

Yoga – which is associated with Hinduism – is widely performed as a form of mild exercise, and as a relaxation and well-being technique.

The bishop of Derry Donal McKeown had refused to comment on the issue earlier in the week.

On Friday it was claimed that Hindus are “disheartened over the church’s silence” over whether the priest would be disciplined.

A statement in the name of Rajan Zed (who is the president of the Universal Society of Hinduism and describes himself as a Hindu statesman) said that “Bishop McKeown, whose Diocese of Derry was directly responsible for the actions of this priest, should apologize to the hurt worldwide yoga community and clearly state where he stood on this issue.”

He added the Vatican must “clarify its stand on yoga”.

The Universal Society of Hinduism bills itself as a non-profit organisation and is based in Nevada, USA.

It has only an extremely basic website, which states its purpose is “educating and empowering people to make positive social, personal and environmental changes”.

When contacted on the issue, Father Michael Canny, spokesman for the Derry diocese, said: “There’s no comment we’ll be making, no statement on it, no.”

Asked if Father Colhoun had been disciplined he said: “I wouldn’t comment on that one.”

Speaking of yoga in the Derry Journal, Father Colhoun said: “There’s the spiritual health risk. When you take up those practices from other cultures, which are outside our Christian domain, you don’t know what you are opening yourself up to.”