WASHINGTON, D.C., APRIL 1, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Reiki, a Japanese alternative medicine, lacks scientific credibility and is outside Christian faith, making it unacceptable for Catholic health care institutions, the U.S. bishops’ conference stated.
On Saturday, the conference issued the “Guidelines for Evaluating Reiki as an Alternative Therapy,” developed by their committee on doctrine, headed by Bishop William Lori of Bridgeport, Connecticut, and approved by the administrative committee Friday.
The document notes that “the Church recognizes two kinds of healing: healing by divine grace and healing that utilizes the powers of nature,” which “are not mutually exclusive.”
Reiki, however, “finds no support either in the findings of natural science or in Christian belief,” it explained.
The guidelines note that this technique of healing “was invented in Japan in the late 1800s by Mikao Usui, who was studying Buddhist texts.”
The report continues: “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.”
It further explains that the therapy has several aspects of a religion, being “described as a ‘spiritual’ kind of healing,” with its own ethical precepts or “way of life.”
Reiki “has not been accepted by the scientific and medical communities as an effective therapy,” noted the guidelines. “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.”
Nor can faith be the basis of this therapy, the bishops affirmed, as Reiki is different than the “divine healing known by Christians.”
They explained, “The radical difference can be immediately seen in the fact that for the Reiki practitioner the healing power is at human disposal.” For Christians, they said, “access to divine healing is by prayer to Christ as Lord and Savior,” while Reiki is a technique passed from “master” to pupil, a method that will “reliably produce the anticipated results.”
The guidelines state: “For a Catholic to believe in Reiki therapy presents insoluble problems. In terms of caring for one’s physical health or the physical health of others, to employ a technique that has no scientific support — or even plausibility — is generally not prudent.”
On a spiritual level, the document states, “there are important dangers.” It explains: “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.
“Superstition corrupts one’s worship of God by turning one’s religious feeling and practice in a false direction. 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.”
The document concludes, “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.”
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