A couple of weeks ago, when the USCCB came out with their denunciation of Reiki, I wondered why they were bothering with Reiki. It's not like there aren't other more pressing issues for them to deal with, oh say, like the loss of over 1/3 of their practicing flock. At the time I wrote that I thought it was a swipe at New Age spirituality, which it was, but now it looks as if it might have been the opening salvo in the investigation of American Women Religious.
According to this article in the NCR, a number of religious communities use Reiki as part of retreats or in their health centers, and most of these are run by congregations of sisters affiliated with the Leadership Conference of Women's Religious. The letter from the USCCB on Reiki came out at the end of March and the letter sent to the LCWR from the Vatican announcing this latest investigation was received on March 10. Interesting timing. Our bishops sure do seem to be on top of things.
This following excerpt from today's NCR article amply demonstrates how little regard the clerical system has for anyone other than the clerical system:
Capuchin Fr. Thomas G. Weinandy, executive director of the U.S. bishops’ Secretariat for Doctrine and Pastoral Practices, commented on the Cincinnati Mercy Sisters’ interpretation of Reiki, saying, “If you try to turn it into something that’s authentically Christian, then it’s no longer authentically Reiki. But it seems that if you keep it anywhere authentically Reiki, then it’s incompatible with Christianity.” (It's a technique for hands on healing, a tool, a spiritually neutral philosophy, as such it can be used in a Christian context. A wrench is still a wrench even if it's used as a hammer.)
He said that the classical Reiki literature reviewed by the bishops’ doctrinal committee places Reiki therapy in a philosophy and theology of “New Age pantheism hugging into the cosmic forces, that sort of thing, that has nothing to do with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It’s purely a Gnostic kind of therapy.” (I wonder what Fr. Weinandy thinks about theoretical quantum physics and those notions of cosmic forces.)
Gnosticism refers to a number of heresies in various periods of Christian history that focus on esoteric human knowledge rather than divine grace as a source of salvation.
When asked to compare it with other relaxing techniques offered by alternative therapies, he said, “We don’t condemn relaxing techniques, but this is not just a relaxing technique.”
When NCR asked Weinandy if the committee’s research included any interviews with Catholic practitioners of Reiki, he said it did not. He called the committee’s investigation an “academic study” of how Reiki therapy is understood by its adherents. He said the committee based its conclusions about the incompatibility of Reiki with Catholic teaching on “a purely academic type of research, in the sense that we read books and went to Web sites and we amassed a huge amount of material, but we didn’t interview anybody.” (Of course they didn't interview anybody. They never do. That might expose them to the fallacy of their academic conclusions. How do they claim to know how Reiki is understood by it's Catholic adherents if they never interviewed any?)
I hate this kind of ecclesiastical teaching. You know, the kind that's based on searching through material to support the answer you already have in mind. They weren't engaged in an academic study of Reiki. They were engaged in damning Reiki in order to get at those orders of religious women who use Reiki. How do I know that? Further along in the article Fr. Weinandy insinuates it: "He also said that “it’s obvious, isn’t it?” from Web Google searches that most of the Catholic retreat centers targeted by the doctrinal committee’s statement are run by Catholic orders of women religious."
This whole Reiki thing looks to me as if it was designed to put the LCWR on the defensive and get them off balance. I suspect it's having it's intended effect as the NCR was unable to get any comment from any order who uses Reiki as a part of their retreats or medical care. Nice job boys. I bet Fr. Weinandy is well on his way to bishop Weinandy.
I guess if a Catholic nun invoking the name of Jesus in the laying on of hands using a Reiki technique is superstitious nonsense, then turn about is fair play. So much for the laying on of hands that consecrated Archbishop Dolan yesterday, it's superstitious nonsense with no scientific validity and I don't have to pay one bit of attention to anything that regular ole human man might have to say.
I think I'll start with this totally bogus 'academic' study on Reiki, as I have reams of files and scientific data which show something totally different about the efficacy of Reiki and other forms of 'gnostic New Age' healing modalities. Some of those files even include statements from real live doctors who certified results they had no explanation for and were in awe of, and oh, by the way, referred their patients to us because they could offer no other hope.
But in the end I guess it isn't about hope, it's about orthodoxy and spiritual authority and who gets to wield it and who doesn't. I guess it isn't enough for the Vatican to get all pissy about women priests, they now have to get all pissy about women healers. God can't seriously be expected to work through any woman other than Mary. It's been the Tradition since forever.