Several religious congregations of sisters advertise "Reiki" and many other Eastern alternative therapies and types of spiritual exercises. Many of these so-called therapies are offered in health care facilities, retreat centers, and "spiritual houses" administered by their particular communities.
Now I'm not going to make any Reiki jokes; I come from a family that put ground up raw potato on a wound to "help it heal". But somewhere along the line we need to take a good look at these "therapies". Are there any documentable results? Can these results be duplicated in controlled experiments? Does anyone really want a nun running her hands up and down their "energy points"? Not me.
Apparently my skepticism is shared by the Bishops. Here are some excerpts from a recent directive on "Reiki":
"According to Reiki teaching, illness is caused by some kind of disruption
or imbalance in one's 'life energy.' A Reiki practitioner effects healing by
placing his or her hands in certain positions on the patient's body in order to
facilitate the flow of Reiki, the 'universal life energy,' from the Reiki
practitioner to the patient."
The Guidelines state that "Reiki lacks scientific credibility" and "has
not been accepted by the scientific and medical communities as an effective
"Reputable scientific studies attesting to the efficacy of Reiki are
lacking, as is a plausible scientific explanation as to how it could possibly be
efficacious," they state.
The Guidelines note that "Reiki is frequently described as a
'spiritual' kind of healing as opposed to the common medical procedures of
healing using physical means." They assert, however, that there is a radical
difference between Reiki therapy and the healing by divine power in which
Christians believe: "for Christians the access to divine healing is by prayer to
Christ as Lord and Savior, while the essence of Reiki is not a prayer but a
technique that is passed down from the 'Reiki Master' to the pupil, a technique
that once mastered will reliably produce the anticipated results."
In sum, Reiki therapy "finds no support either in the findings of
natural science or in Christian belief," the Guidelines state.
"To use Reiki one would have to accept at least in an implicit way central
elements of the worldview that undergirds Reiki theory, elements that belong
neither to Christian faith nor to natural science. Without justification either
from Christian faith or natural science, however, a Catholic who puts his or her
trust in Reiki would be operating in the realm of superstition, the
no-man's-land that is neither faith nor science," they state.
"Superstition corrupts one's worship of God by turning one's
religious feeling and practice in a false direction," the Guidelines state.
"While sometimes people fall into superstition through ignorance, it is the
responsibility of all who teach in the name of the Church to eliminate such
ignorance as much as possible."
"Since Reiki therapy is not compatible with either Christian teaching
or scientific evidence, it would be inappropriate for Catholic institutions,
such as Catholic health care facilities and retreat centers, or persons
representing the Church, such as Catholic chaplains, to promote or to provide
support for Reiki therapy," the Guidelines said.
A quick Google check found many Catholic sisters described as "Reiki Masters". Yikes. Why do so many good religious fall for this stuff? It boggles the mind. It binds my universal life energy up in a big sticky ball. I need to spend some me time in a labrynthe.