Father Gabriel Amorth has carried out more than 70,000 exorcisms in his capacity as Chief Exorcist at the Vatican.
The 85-year-old can boast 25 years in the post after being appointed by the late Pope John Paul II.
At a conference today, he surprised the delegates by revealing some of his greatest dislikes – yoga and Harry Potter.
Father Amorth, a colourful and often outspoken personality, said:’Practising yoga brings evil as does reading Harry Potter. They may both seem innocuous but they both deal with magic and that leads to evil.’
He added:’Yoga is the Devil’s work. You thing you are doing it for stretching your mind and body but it leads to Hinduism. All these oriental religions are based on the false belief of reincarnation.’
Father Amorth, speaking on the subject of People And Religion at a fringe event at the Umbria Film Festival in Terni, spoke of his distaste for JK Rowling’s young wizard.
He said:’People think it is an innocuous book for children but it’s about magic and that leads to evil. In Harry Potter the Devil is at work in a cunning and crafty way, he is using his extraordinary powers of magic and evil.
‘Satan is always hidden and the thing he desires more than anything is for people to believe he does not exist. He studies each and everyone of us and our tendencies towards good and evil and then he tempts us.
‘My advice to young people would be to watch out for nightclubs because the path is always the same: alcohol, sex, drugs and Satanic sects.’
It is not the first time that Father Amorth has raised eyebrows with his forthright views – last year he said that the ongoing child sex scandals rocking the Catholic Church were evidence that ‘the Devil was at work in the Vatican.’
While in 2006, Father Amorth, who was ordained a priest in 1954, gave an interview to Vatican Radio in which he said that Nazi leader Adolf Hitler and Russian dictator Josef Stalin were both possessed by the Devil.
According to secret Vatican documents recently released the then wartime Pope Pius XII attempted a ‘long distance exorcism’ of Hitler but it failed to have any effect.
It is also not the first time that Father Amorth, who is president of the International Association of Exorcists, has spoken out against Harry Potter saying in the past that it opens children’s minds to dabbling with the occult and black magic.
Today Vanda Vanni, of the Italian Yoga Association, said:’A Satanic practice? Pardon the pun but that is an accusation that is neither in Heaven or on earth. Father Amorth’s accusation is completely without foundation.
‘It is an outrageous thing to say – yoga is not a religion but a spiritual discipline. It is about freedom and a search to find one’s inner self. It does not touch religion and has nothing to do with Satanic sects nor does it encourage people to join them.
Giorgio Furlan, who runs the Yoga Academy in Rome, said`:’There are some paths of yoga which do lead towards Hinduism but other paths are more philosophical but their is no direct link with religion and certainly no link with Satanism.
‘To say such things shows you have no idea of what you are talking about – yoga controls violent impulses of the nervous system and subconscious – to be honest with me it had the effect of bringing me closer to Christianity and in particular the Catholic Church which I had abandoned as a youngster.