Calling the Japanese form of alternative medicine comparable to “superstition,” the evaluation describes its practice as being without support in Christian belief, unscientific and inappropriate for Catholic institutions.
The document “Guidelines for Evaluating Reiki as an Alternative Therapy” contains guidelines developed by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Doctrine, which is chaired by Bishop William Lori of Bridgeport, Connecticut.
According to a USCCB press release, the guidelines describe Reiki as a healing technique “invented in Japan in the late 1800s by Mikao Usui, who was studying Buddhist texts.”
It characterizes Reiki therapy as teaching that illness is caused by “some kind of disruption or imbalance in one’s ‘life energy.’”
A Reiki practitioner is believed to be able to effect healing by placing his or her hands in certain positions on a patient’s body to “facilitate the flow of Reiki, the ‘universal life energy,’ from the Reiki practitioner to the patient.”
“Reiki lacks scientific credibility,” the U.S. bishops’ guidelines state, adding that scientific and medical communities have not accepted it as “an effective therapy.”
“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,” the bishops’ guidelines add.
Examining descriptions of Reiki as a “spiritual” kind of healing, the guidelines say there is a radical difference between Reiki therapy and healing by divine power.
“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.”
“For a Catholic to believe in Reiki therapy presents insoluble problems” the guidelines continue, saying that employing a technique that has no scientific support or plausibility is “generally not prudent.”
“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 add.
The guidelines also warn of “important dangers” in Reiki practice because it implicitly accepts “central elements of a worldview that undergirds Reiki theory, elements that belong neither to Christian faith nor to natural science.”
A Catholic who trusts in Reiki “would be operating in the realm of superstition, the no-man's-land that is neither faith nor science.”
Superstition, the bishops’ guidelines say, “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 guidelines may be viewed at http://www.usccb.org/dpp/doctrine.htm
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