A CATHOLIC priest who warned his parishioners they were putting their souls in jeopardy by taking part in yoga classes was reflecting church teachings, friends have insisted.
Fr Padraig O'Baoill, the parish priest of Gweedore, Co Donegal, had previously banned adverts for local yoga classes from his parish newsletter.
He told parishioners in his weekly bulletin: “As followers of Jesus Christ, we shouldn't be taking part in any activities that are in conflict with our faith.
“Therefore don't take any part in yoga classes, tai chi or reiki. Do not endanger your souls for the sake of such unsavoury activities.”
Fr O'Baoill, who is on a pilgrimage to Lourdes, has refused to comment further. His Bishop Philip Boyce was also “away” and unavailable to comment.
However, another priest in the same Diocese of Raphoe insisted: “Eastern pagan worship and practices are contrary to church teachings.”
He added: “Perhaps he shouldn't have made such a fuss about it but most priests, myself included, would agree with him.”
Listeners to Raidio na Gaeltachta inundated the station with comments when they broke the story, with many parishioners defending the priest. But retired secondary school teacher Norah Graham, who runs yoga classes in the parish, said she knew Fr O'Baoill disapproved of the practice because he had already banned her from advertising her classes in the weekly church bulletin.
“His comments were way over the top,” she said.
Although yoga comes from 4,000-year-old Indian holy texts, Ms Graham insisted the practice in the West today was “largely divorced” from any religious practice.