Thursday, May 07, 2009

The Bishops have spoken: Will Patricia Warren abide by their teaching?

The Committee on Doctrine of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has issued a document entitled "Guidelines For Evaluating Reiki As An Alternative Therapy." In this document, the Committee on Doctrine says (in part):

"Reiki lacks scientific credibility. It has not been accepted by the scientific and medical communities 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 explanation of the efficacy of Reiki depends entirely on a particular view of the world as permeated by this "universal life energy" (Reiki) that is subject to manipulation by human thought and will. Reiki practitioners claim that their training allows one to channel the "universal life energy" that is present in all things. This "universal life energy," however, is unknown to natural science. As the presence of such energy has not been observed by means of natural science, the justification for these therapies necessarily must come from something other than science.

Reiki and the Healing Power of Christ

Some people have attempted to identify Reiki with the divine healing known to
Christians. They are mistaken
. The radical difference can be immediately seen in the fact that for the Reiki practitioner the healing power is at human disposal. Some teachers want to avoid this implication and argue that it is not the Reiki practitioner personally who effects the healing, but the Reiki energy directed by the divine consciousness. Nevertheless, the fact remains that 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. Some practitioners attempt to Christianize Reiki by adding a prayer to Christ, but this does not affect the essential nature of Reiki. For these reasons, Reiki and other similar therapeutic techniques cannot be identified with what Christians call healing by divine grace.

The difference between what Christians recognize as healing by divine grace and Reiki
therapy is also evident in the basic terms used by Reiki proponents to describe what happens in
Reiki therapy, particularly that of "universal life energy." Neither the Scriptures nor the
Christian tradition as a whole speak of the natural world as based on "universal life energy" that is subject to manipulation by the natural human power of thought and will. In fact, this worldview has its origins in eastern religions and has a certain monist and pantheistic character, in that distinctions among self, world, and God tend to fall away. We have already seen that Reiki practitioners are unable to differentiate clearly between divine healing power and power that is at human disposal.


Reiki therapy finds no support either in the findings of natural science or in Christian belief. 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. In terms of caring for one's spiritual health, there are important dangers. 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.

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."

Although the Church has spoken clearly and warned of the dangers associated with Reiki, Ms. Patricia Warren, a Reiki instructor who has conducted healing lectures/retreats at La Salette Attleboro, has left a comment at this Blog in which she says: "I am writing because I see that you have used my name in your comment/letter. I have been teaching Reiki for over 20 years, and yes I have studied with many teachers throughout the world. I have an open mind, and open heart....and I am not afraid to "experience" things for myself rather than be told what to believe. Ironically you leave out the part of my spiritual path that talks about how Reiki brought me back to my Christian roots. Reiki brought me back to the 'church'. I was so overjoyed that I developed a specific workshop for Christians who wanted to learn more about assisting the process of healing. A Roman Catholic priest sat next to me the first time I taught this workshop and encouraged me to bring it out into the world. There is nothing "occult' about it. There are many ways to praise Jesus, I saw that first hand when I traveled through the Holy Land gathering more information on healing. I have taught many, many Roman Catholic priests and nuns as well as Episcopal priests and monks has only helped them not hurt them.There seems to be more outrage in a simple healing method used mostly by lay women to help people when they are in pain, then during the many years of the Church Sex Abuse about 'dangerous'"

In another comment which I have saved but have decided not to publish, Ms. Warren says that she was "Born and raised Catholic" and that her "great uncle was a monsignor in Boston." I don't doubt that for a moment. She then proceeds to tell me that she is not "a religious fanatic or zealot" (I never said she was so I suppose Ms. Warren is implying that I am) and writes, "I can see I'm in the wrong place to have balanced conversation with an adult."

If Ms. Warren wants to view me as a "fanatic," a "zealot," or as being somehow less than adult for accepting the teaching of the Bishops regarding Reiki, that's her affair. One has to wonder if Ms. Warren views the Bishops who crafted "Guidelines For Evaluating Reiki As An Alternative Therapy" as "fanatics" and "zealots." Will Ms. Warren abide by the Church's teaching? Her statement that she is not to afraid to "experience" things for herself rather than be told what to believe would seem to suggest that she has every intention of ignoring the guidelines prepared by the Committee on Doctrine of the USCCB.

How sad.


Margaret said...

Patricia Warren's attitude is not the Catholic one. Apparently she believes herself qualified to "correct" the Bishops. This is nothing less than arrogance in my opinion. She is also insulting toward you Mr. Melanson. Her comments betray a profound lack of charity and judgmentalism. I think her Bishop needs to intervene in this matter.

Ellen Wironken said...

The Bishops have said that, "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."

Reiki is incompatible with Catholic teaching or scientific evidence. Will Patricia Warren continue to promote this form o superstition? Her own comments seem to indicate that she doesn't care what the Church teaches. Is she then properly disposed to receive the Eucharist? Paragraph 1395 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church says that "The Eucharist is properly the sacrament of those who are in full communion with the Church."

Wendy said...

I'd be really interested in knowing if the La Salette Shrine in Attleboro will continue to offer Reiki as a form of "healing" since this document warns that the practice is superstitious. Is that what this shrine has become, a place where New Age spiritualism and superstition have replaced the Faith of our Fathers?

Mack said...

Enneagrams, reiki -- why not, um, the 2,000 years of the Magisterium of the Church!

Notre Dame de LaSalette, ora pro nos.

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