Reiki Ruling Causing Controversy

By  Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
Staff Writer

Reiki practitioners at two Catholic medical centers in South Jersey are shocked and upset after being told that in response to the new ruling by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) calling Reiki “unscientific and inappropriate for Catholic institutions,”  they will no longer be permitted to practice Reiki in those facilities.

According to a report by the Courier-Post Online, Wendy Marano, a spokeswoman for the Lourdes Wellness Center and Lourdes Cancer Center in South Jersey will stop offering Reiki to patients as a result of the ruling. The centers are part of the Lourdes Health System, sponsored by the Franciscan Sisters of Alleghany, N.Y.

Reiki is a healing technique developed by Mikao Usui during a Buddhist retreat in Japan during the late 1800s. Practitioners say it heals illness by balancing an alleged “universal life force energy” that supposedly permeates all life forms in the universe.

However, science has never found any credible evidence of the existence of this energy, a fact that is acknowledged by the bishops in the guidelines they issued on March 26.

 “Reiki lacks scientific credibility” and “has not been accepted by the scientific and medical communities as an effective therapy,” the bishops note. “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.”

Reiki has spread throughout the health care industry, including Catholic facilities, because most practitioners believe they can adapt the pantheistic practice to Christianity by calling the life force energy God. 

However, this is a dangerous misconception. According to the USCCB, “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,” they state.

Elsie Kearns, a Catholic who has been practicing Reiki for 20 years, said she was shocked by  Lourdes’ decision to stop allowing Reiki on their premises.

“What we need now more than anything else for people is healing,” said Kerns. “The benefit of Reiki is that it’s self-healing for yourself and you can use it with others,” Kerns said. “It is the safest healing for people to use because . . . you are simply allowing universal life force energy to move through you into the other person.”

Kearns is one of those practitioners who believes the  “universal life force” is another name for God and mistakes Reiki as another form of “laying on of hands.” However, according to Reiki literature, when Reiki practitioners use their hands on a patient, it is to “channel” energy at the direction of an unnamed spiritual entity they refer to as a “spirit guide.”  This is clearly not a Catholic belief.

In addition, the bishops explain 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.”

Although administrators at the Lourdes Wellness Center did not return calls for comment, Marano confirmed that the health system intends to honor the guidelines issued by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

© All Rights Reserved, Living His Life Abundantly/Women of Grace.

In New Age, Yoga, Reiki: Health or Stealth?  you’ll get all the facts you need about Reiki and other practices based on the alleged existence of a universal life force. This 172 minute program is downloadable! For more information, go to

Comments are closed.