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Monday, February 15, 2010

Public TV's Religion and Ethics Newsweekly features Reiki and the Catholic Church

Nearly a year after the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a surprising denunciation of Reiki, a national television newsmagazine has aired a feature on the controversial guidelines issued last March by the bishops. This week's episode of Religion and Ethics Newsweekly leads with this report:

Correspondent Kim Lawton interviews Sister Madeline Gianforte, a nun who is also a Reiki master, and who continues to practice Reiki despite the bishops' guidelines, and Lauri Lumby Schmidt, a minister and Reiki practitioner who learned Reiki from nuns. She also talks with Father Thomas Weinandy, Executive Director for the Secretariat of Doctrine at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, about the guidelines.

Weinandy's comments indicate his unfamiliarity with Reiki, along with some unfortunate misconceptions. "God is God," Weinandy said, "And human beings are human beings, and we can petition God, but we can’t manipulate him, and we felt that this was what was happening in the context of Reiki...."

If Weinandy believes that Reiki practitioners manipulate God, then as we say in journalism, there's your story, Josephine! It would be headline news indeed if anyone were proved to be manipulating God! If he believes that Reiki practitioners believe they manipulate God, that's an unfortunate misunderstanding that could have been cleared up with even a modicum of research. And it makes us wonder what sort of research on Reiki went into the guidelines in the first place. From here, it looks like a few minutes of Googling, cherry picking the most extreme items that came up to prove a predetermined position. Condemning anything because of what a few people might say about it on the Internet is a troubling precedent.

For the record, Reiki practitioners do not manipulate anything.

Fortunately, the producers of Religion and Ethics Newsweekly did do quite a bit of research, although that kind of television report is by nature a "some say/others say" structure that allows no comments or conclusions.

So please watch for yourself, or read the transcript, and tell us -- and them -- what you think!


Blogger Olga Rasmussen said...

I thought this was an excellent short little clip and I especially enjoyed everything Sr. Madeline had to share and I completely agree with her. I shared this video clip with some of my Catholic friends who have been left feeling a little conflicted over the practice of Reiki.

Maybe this will re-ignite some of the debate, concern, etc., over administering Reiki. I know many nuns who continue to do it quietly in their various ministries. But then, I am not surprised by this, because my experience of nuns - from having worked 25 years in Catholic institutions is - that for the most part 0 they are the most forward thinking segment of the Catholic Church.

Dr. Olga R. Rasmussen, D.Min.

3:44 PM  

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