“Ask a Priest: May I Turn to Reiki Therapy?”

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Q: My eldest son wants me to go to a Reiki therapist for healing. After many tests and considerable financial drain, doctors still have been unable to diagnose or help me. I don’t feel comfortable with this. Aren’t Reiki healers dangerous for Catholics? -C.

Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC

A: I am sorry to hear that you haven’t been able to find effective treatment for your condition. It is admirable that your son is trying to help you, but unfortunately the effort is misplaced.

A committee of the U.S. bishops’ conference in 2009 issued a strong statement, warning that Reiki, a Japanese alternative medicine, lacks scientific credibility and is outside the bounds of Christian faith. That makes Reiki unacceptable for Catholic health care institutions, the bishops’ conference stated.

Reiki teaching holds that illness is caused by a disruption or imbalance in one’s “life energy.” A Reiki practitioner brings about healing by placing his hands in certain positions on the patient’s body in order to ease the flow of Reiki, the “universal life energy,” from the practitioner to the patient. Reiki fans insist that the practitioner is not the source of the healing energy but merely a channel for it. To become a Reiki practitioner, one must receive an “initiation” from a Reiki master.

Some people have tried to identify Reiki with the divine healing known to Christians. “They are mistaken,” says the U.S. bishops’ conference statement. “The radical difference can be immediately seen in the fact that for the Reiki practitioner the healing power is at human disposal.”

For more reading see this Zenit article. The original statement by the bishops’ committee can be found here.

Reiki could be dangerous to a Catholic’s faith, since it is based on principles that are incompatible with Christianity. It might be dangerous to health in the sense that it could delay the finding of serious medical solutions. I hope this helps.

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