Monday, February 22, 2010

Reiki Ban: Catholic Bishops Taking One More Step into Oblivion

*photo from The State Journal-Register | Springfield, IL

Sometimes, I wonder if the Catholic Church is attempting suicide in slow-motion. There was Pope Benedict's recent call to disgruntled Anglicans to "come home" - i.e. return to the Catholic fold, which of course, assumes these people actually left them at some point in recent history (best be careful in assuming that the 16th century is recent history). There have been the repeated efforts to diminish, minimize, and punish the GLBT community, especially those who actually practice within the Church. Even though sex scandals and attrition have significantly decreased the number of men interested in priesthood and Catholic monastic communities, Church leadership continues to hold on to the view that only celibate men can become leaders in the church. Women continue to be second-class citizens in many facets of church life, and there has been an on-going "investigation" - read as "witch-hunt" - occurring amongst communities of liberal and progressive nuns who are, in my experience, actually doing their best to truly live Jesus' teachings of love, compassion, and justice. And now, this little gem, from Paul Lynch's Zen Mirror blog:

The U.S. bishops have issued guidelines that call Reiki therapy, an alternative medicine originating in Japan, unscientific and inappropriate for Catholic institutions. They outlined the position in "Guidelines for Evaluating Reiki as an Alternative Therapy." The guidelines were developed by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' (USCCB) Committee on Doctrine, chaired by Bishop William Lori of Bridgeport, Connecticut. They were approved by the USCCB Administrative Committee, March 24, during its spring meeting in Washington. The Administrative Committee is the authoritative body of the USCCB to approve committee statements.

Where to begin. First, there is the intervention of a religious institution into the health matters of it's members. Second, there is the laughable use of science as a defense from an institution that spent centuries historically damning scientific endeavors. Finally, there is the deliberate focus to discredit a healing method that has attracted a large number of Catholic nuns. A coincidence: I think not.

As far as I'm concerned, this is another example of patriarchal oppression. Why such strong language? Because think about it. Women in the church have learned something that is giving them the power to heal others. People in Catholic communities struggling with all kinds of issues are going to these women, instead of the priests in their churches. Jealous, the male church leadership condemns Reiki as unscientific and superstitious, fearing that it's continued spread will undermine their authority. This probably isn't the whole story, but I'm almost positive it's a large part of the story.

I suppose people out in Buddha-land are happy to not have to deal with such issues, and happy to be part of a religion that isn't so controlling. Of course, that's simply a false happiness, when you look under the surface. We've got out own baggage around these kinds of issues, from sexism in sutras, to male dominated leadership systems. And the way I see it, the longer these issues go on being poked at and massaged, but not really being addressed in an upright and honest manner, the more likely it is that the probable future of Buddhist institutions will be similar to the probable future of the Catholic Church. Everything crumbles to dust eventually, even well fortified, powerful systems.


Anonymous said...

Nevertheless... Reiki is faith healing of psychosomatic disorders. You don't go for Reiki healing for tertiary syphilis or a broken leg. Nor do you turn to homeopathy for cancer treatment - not if you have any brains!

Anonymous said...

Finding fault in others has more to do with you than them. Stick to Buddhism and your life.

Sue said...

I have brains enough to be able to realise that there is more to faith, medical science, and complementary health than "anonymous". I have 2 children that medical science said I couldn't have, thanks to reiki. I am also a cancer survivor who utilised medical science. I personally know 2 people who had inoperable tumours gradually reduce in size and disappear with reiki. I also know another person who lost her fight with cancer, using medical science and reiki, but where her doctors were amazed at how little pain medication she needed in her last few days, and at her consistently high oxygen saturation levels, while receiving reiki. Sadly, there are some inappropriately and incorrectly trained practitioners out there, and THAT is one reason why people like "anonymous" can make their comments.

Satia said...

Nathan, Everything does indeed crumble to dust. After all, impermanence doesn't stop at the threshold of any religious institution, including Buddhism.

I've been watching the Catholic debate re. Reiki for a while because my aunt is a practitioner and a very devout Catholic. Although I haven't asked her directly, I would be surprised if she were to give up Reiki simply because some Bishops in NY say they do not approve. However, this is a debate that is likely to ripple up the power heirarchy, especially when celebrity experts, like Dr. Oz, are encouraging people to try Reiki.

But thank you for the article. I stumbled upon it by accident and found it engaging and provocative.

Unknown said...

Reiki Level 2 training Liverpool March 21st 2010
I am a catholic and a Reiki master/practitioner.I find it sad that the catholic church has taken this stance, and that unfortunately if you wish to follow your faith as well as follow Reiki too. One would have to hide the fact that you are at 1 with Reiki.
Hiding things from God is not taught in the bible. Free spirit is, Reiki is not a sin therefore should not be shunned as it is.
The catholic church is afraid and battling for survival and this is the reason behind this stance.
Did Jesus not heal with his hands, has the catholic church looked for a scientific explanation as to how Jesus could claim to have this power.
Reiki helps people, and if it helps a person feel better then how can this be wrong?

Love & Light

Nathan said...

Anonymous Two - thank you for your teaching, now please move on.

Thanks to all the Reiki practitioners out there providing their experiences. I actually work with a reiki practitioner who is a Catholic nun, so partly (re. anonymous 2) this post was based on comments she has made over the years.

Anonymous said...

"Sometimes, I wonder if the Catholic Church is attempting suicide in slow-motion."
The Catholic Church has been around for 2,000 years and will never die, you silly, silly man....please stop attacking it, it's a waste of time and only makes you look bitter.

Nathan said...

Hi Anonymous,

I'm sorry you think I am silly. The earth is what, 4.5 billion years old - I'll try and remember what is it I am attacking before I speak. Peace.