Friday, August 14th, 2009...9:27 am

US Catholic Bishops Condemn Reiki

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Thank God the US Conference of Catholic Bishops are on watch looking out for your physical and spiritual health. Its Committee on Doctrine, chaired by William Lori, bishop of Bridgeport, CT, has published “Guidelines for Evaluating for Evaluating Reiki as an Alternative Therapy.”

Reiki (an alternative touch therapy used in many hospitals as a complement to Western medicine) is anathema.

The bishops’ conclusion:

“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.”

In one particularly spooky footnote, redolent of sulphur and read with “Tubular Bells” playing in the background while you imagine Max Von Sydow dressed in clericals:

“Some forms of Reiki teach of a need to appeal for the assistance of angelic beings or ‘Reiki spirit guides.’ This introduces the further danger of exposure to malevolent forces or powers.”

 Ooooh!!! Be afraid, be very afraid!

I’m more worried about the malevolent forces among Catholic clergy (like pedophile priests) and bishops (protectors of pedophile priests or the new Vatican Inquistion against Catholic nuns).

(In the interest of full disclosure, readers should know that I am the proud product of 20 years of Catholic education, including four years in seminary, in preparation for spending most of the 1980s as a Roman Catholic priest. I am grateful for the education and for the years in ministry.)

Now on the faculty at the University of Connecticut, I recently noticed an article about one of our medical researchers, Gloria Gronowicz, who is conducting laboratory studies of touch therapy:

“A study by a Health Center researcher takes a scientific look at a therapy that is often considered unscientific – hands-on healing. Gloria Gronowicz, professor of surgery, found that Therapeutic Touch performed by trained energy healers significantly stimulated the growth of bone, tendon, and skin cells in lab dishes. Her findings are published in the Journal of Orthopaedic Research and The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine.”

There are more things in heaven and earth, dear bishops, than are dreamt of in your theology.


  • You are so right, Tom. Beginning research shows Reiki treatment can normalize blood pressure and heart rate; raise indicators of immune strength; reduce anxiety, pain, and fatigue; and improve quality of life. All this with no medical contraindications. No wonder that although research into Reiki’s effectiveness is just beginning, Reiki treatment is offered in hospitals around the country, including prestigious medical centers such as Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Yale-New Haven Hospital, M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, and California-Pacific Medical Center.

    I have been integrating Reiki into conventional health care since the 1990s, and have published peer-reviewed medical papers that are available on my website for patients and health care professionals to see that the bishops just didn’t do their homework on this one–or they have a hidden agenda.

  • Thanks, Pamela, for the comment. I don’t think that the bishops’ agenda is particularly hidden!

  • I think it is unfair to condemn it. Not unless he has tried it for himself.

  • I agree. In light of the Roman Catholic Church’s sex scandals, it seems more like a smokescreen to me.

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