What is a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) Order?

A DNR order is a medical order issued by a physician or other authorized practitioner that directs healthcare providers not to administer CPR (Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation) in the event of cardiac or respiratory arrest. A DNR order may be written in the absence of a living will or the conditions that would make a living will operative. A living will may contain a provision indicating that a patient does not desire CPR. However, if a patient’s preference to forgo CPR is expressed only in a living will, CPR will be withheld only when a physician has determined that the patient is not competent and has certified in writing that the patient has an end-stage medical condition or is permanently unconscious.1 Without such physician determination and certification or without a DNR order, the patient’s expressed preference for withholding CPR is not sufficient.2 In order for a patient’s preferences to be carried out, patients, families, and healthcare providers must understand the distinction between the circumstances under which a living will and a DNR order are applicable.
A DNR order is not subject to the preconditions imposed by the Living Will Act. A DNR order becomes operative only in the narrow context of cardiac or respiratory arrest regardless of the precipitating clinical event and does not preclude otherwise appropriate treatments or life-sustaining interventions.2,7 Misinterpretation of DNR orders was demonstrated by a survey conducted in an outpatient cancer center, which showed that only 34% of the patients correctly understood the meaning of a DNR order; 66% of the patients did not realize that a DNR order would result in not being resuscitated even if the cause of the cardiac or respiratory arrest was potentially reversible.8
In June of 2002 Pennsylvania enacted the Do-Not-Resuscitate Act (DNR Act) (P.L. 409, No. 59) (20 Pa.C.S. §§ 54A01-54A13). The DNR Act empowered a terminally ill person or the person’s surrogate to secure an out-of-hospital do-not-resuscitate order and, at the person’s option or the option of an authorized representative, an out-of-hospital DNR bracelet or necklace. These items direct emergency medical services (EMS) personnel in the out-of-hospital setting not to provide the person for whom they are issued with cardiopulmonary resuscitation in the event of the person’s cardiac or respiratory arrest. The DNR Act also specified the circumstances under which an appropriate representative of a person who issued a declaration under the Advance Declaration for Health Care Act (former Living Will Act) would be able to secure an out-of-hospital DNR order, bracelet or necklace for the person if the person became permanently unconscious. These provisions, supplemented by Department of Health regulations (28 Pa. Code §§ 1051.1-1051.101), went into effect March 1, 2003, and were amended February 7, 2004.

Specifically, an out-of-hospital DNR order is a written order that is issued by a person’s attending physician that directs EMS providers to withhold CPR from the person in the event of that person’s cardiac or respiratory arrest. Thus, if an ambulance is called to attend to a person for whom an out-of-hospital DNR order has been issued and the ambulance crew observes the out-of-hospital DNR order with original signatures with the person, or observes that the person is wearing an out-of-hospital DNR bracelet or necklace, the ambulance crew will not attempt CPR unless it is appropriately communicated to a member of the crew that the out-of-hospital DNR order has been revoked.

1. Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR): refers to the medical procedures used to restart a person’s heart and breathing when the person suffers cardiac or respiratory arrest. CPR may involve simple efforts such as mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and external chest compression. Advanced CPR may involve insertion of a tube to open the person’s airway or to assist breathing, injection of medications, or providing an electrical shock (defibrillation) to resuscitate the heart.
2. End-Stage Medical Condition: An “end-stage medical condition” is an incurable and irreversible medical condition in an advanced state caused by injury, disease, or physical illness that will, in the opinion of the attending physician, to a reasonable degree of medical certainty, result in death, despite the introduction or continuation of medical treatment. If a patient having an end-stage medical condition serves as the reason for which an out-of-hospital DNR order is sought for that patient, the attending physician must make the determination that the patient has an end-stage medical condition before the physician may issue an out-of-hospital DNR order for the patient. All persons who are in a terminal condition have an end-stage medical condition.
3. Permanently Unconscious: “Permanently unconscious” is a medical condition that has been diagnosed in accordance with currently accepted medical standards and with reasonable medical certainty as total and irreversible loss of consciousness and capacity for interaction with the environment. The term includes, without limitation, a persistent vegetative state or irreversible coma. If a patient being permanently unconscious serves as the reason for which an out-of-hospital DNR order is sought for the patient, the attending physician must make the determination that the patient is permanently unconscious and the patient must have previously executed a living will which provides that no CPR be administered in the event of the person’s cardiac or respiratory arrest if the person becomes permanently unconscious, or authorizes a surrogate or other authorized representative of the person to make that decision under those circumstances.
4. Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Provider: EMS providers are individuals licensed, certified, recognized, or otherwise authorized under the Emergency Medical Services Act (35 P.S. §§ 6921-6934) to provide medical care on an emergency, out-of-hospital basis. They are most frequently associated with ambulance services. EMS personnel who administer emergency treatment include EMTs (emergency medical technicians), EMT-paramedics (paramedics), prehospital registered nurses, ambulance attendants, first responders and health professional physicians. EMS providers also include individuals given good Samaritan civil immunity protection under Pennsylvania law (42 Pa.C.S. § 8331.2) when using an automated external defibrillator. Physicians who provide medical command to EMS personnel must also honor an out-of-hospital DNR order when appraised of it by EMS personnel.
5. Attending Physician: An attending physician is a physician who has primary responsibility for the treatment and care of the person. More than one physician may have primary responsibility for the medical care and treatment of a person. A physician who is requested to issue an out-of-hospital DNR order for a person needs to make a good faith judgment as to whether the physician is an attending physician of the person based upon the medical care the physician provides to the person. If the physician determines that the circumstances of the physician-patient relationship do not enable the physician to determine whether he or she qualifies as the patient’s attending physician, the physician will attempt to supplement that knowledge with information the physician secures after making reasonable inquiries of the person or the person’s surrogate or other authorized representative regarding the medical care the person is receiving from other physicians.
6. Surrogate: For purposes of the repealed DNR Act and the regulations that were adopted pursuant to that act, a surrogate is an individual who has, or individuals who collectively have, legal authority to request an out-of-hospital DNR order for another person or to revoke that order. Under the Act the term “surrogate” is limited to a health care agent or health care representative as those terms are defined in the Health Care Agents and Representatives Act (20 Pa.C.S. §§ 5451-5465). This does not include all persons who fall under the former definition of “surrogate.” However, the Act permits persons other than surrogates, by virtue of their special relationship to the person for whom an out-of hospital DNR order is sought, to also make a request for an out-of-hospital DNR order for that person. An example of such a person is a parent of a child who has an end-stage medical condition who is under 18 years of age and who is not emancipated, who has not graduated high school or been married, and who does not have a court-appointed guardian. Yet another example is a court-appointed guardian for an adult who has an end-stage medical condition and who the court concludes is unable to meet essential requirements for his or her physical health or safety because the person does not have the ability to receive and evaluate relevant information effectively or communicate relevant decisions. However, other than when a person is relying upon the definition of “surrogate” in the Act to qualify to ask for an out-of-hospital DNR order for another person, the focus should be on whether that person, by virtue of a special relationship to the person for whom the out-of-hospital DNR order is sought, has legal authority to request an out-of-hospital DNR order for that person. We encourage you to seek the advice of an attorney if you have a question regarding who can serve as a surrogate or other authorized representative for another person to request an out-of-hospital DNR order for that person.

What is an Advance Directive? Are there particular laws regarding advance directives in Pennsylvania?

Advance directives are documents which indicated your health care wishes in the event that you are not capable of making your own decisions. Advance directives are not used for decision-making if the patient is able to make the decision.

Pennsylvania recognizes two types of advance directives, durable power of attorney for health care decisions and living wills. A Values History is another form of advance directive (which may or may not include a living will and durable power of attorney for health care decisions). Here is a link to a sample Values History form. The AbioCor Implantable Heart Trial required all research participants to fill out a Values History Form.

Here is a link to the AMA’s public web-site for advance directives. It includes samples of a living will and DPA form. Pennsylvania does not require these forms to be notarized. But since some states do, the forms include a line for notarization as well. http://www.ama-assn.org/public/booklets/livgwill.htm

Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care Decisions (DPA) – This is a document indicating the patient’s choice of surrogate in the event that the patient loses decisional capacity. It must be filled out by the patient while he/she has intact decisional capacity. In many states, including Pennsylvania, it must also be signed by the designated surrogate. This is also referred to as “health care proxy” or “designated surrogate.” Designating a DPA helps moderate disagreements among family members and clarify who makes the decisions for the patient. Without such a document, there can be confusion over who should make decisions for the patient. In the absence of a DPA, many institutions will choose the next of kin to be the surrogate decision-maker for a patient who lacks the capacity to make his/her own decisions. DPA is essential if the person you wish to make decisions for you is not your next of kin or if you do not have any close relatives (for example, a parent might be chosen over a live-in partner, or an individual’s spouse might be chosen even though the couple had been separated).

Living Will – This is “a document executed by an adult which indicates his or her preferences regarding the initiation, continuation, withholding, or withdrawing of medical treatment in the event that he or she loses decision-making capacity.” (Ibid.) This helps the surrogate make decisions for the patient. It also promotes the patient’s actual wishes instead of someone else’s. Few people write living wills. It is difficult to anticipate future medical situations and what you might want at that time. However, these decisions are always difficult. Living wills provide support to loved ones by guiding them in your wishes and relieving some of their burden.

Under the federal Patient Self Determination Act, all health care institutions receiving Medicare or Medicaid funding:

1. must provide written information regarding his or her rights under state law to make decisions concerning medical care, including advance directives, to each adult receiving medical care through the provider or organization.

2. cannot condition the provision of care or discriminate against an individual based on whether or not the individual has executed an advance directive.

3. must comply with patients’ advance directives in a way that is consistent with state law.

4. must note patients’ records whether or not they have advance directives.

5. provide education about advance directives. (PSDA Interim Final Rule, 57 Federal Register 8194-8204 [3/06/96]).

Pennsylvania’s Advance Directive for Health Care Act, allows an individual of sound mind who is 18 years or older (or has graduated from high school or is married) to execute an advance directive. It also includes the following:

1. There is civil and criminal immunity for health care providers who follow the procedures set forth in the act.

2. There is no specific format for the advance directive.

3. The advance directive does not need to be notarized, but must be signed by the declarant or another on behalf of the declarant and witnessed by two adults.

4. The advance directive becomes operative when “a copy is provided to the attending physician and the declarant is determined by the attending physician to be incompetent and in a terminal condition or in a state of permanent unconsciousness.” These prognoses must be confirmed by a second physician.

5. An advance directive can be revoked at any time and in any manner by the declarant regardless of his/her mental or physical condition. The revocation is effective upon communication to any health care provider by the declarant or a witness to the revocation.

6. Artificial nutrition and hydration are identified as forms of life-sustaining treatment and thus, may be withdrawn if requested by the patient in the advance directive.

7. Health care providers who feel morally unwilling to comply with the patient’s advance directive can transfer care to another qualified health care provider who will comply if possible. But, if this is not feasible the health care provider must comply with the patient’s advance directive.

8. Any pregnant woman who is incompetent and either terminally ill or permanently unconscious must be maintained on life support until the fetus can be safely delivered. However, there is no requirement to perform a pregnancy test.

There are three exceptions to this requirement. They hold if the attending physician and an obstetrician after an examination believe that…

1. life-sustaining treatment, nutrition, and hydration would not result in the development and live birth of the fetus;

2. such treatment would be harmful to the woman;


3. the treatment would cause her pain that medication could not alleviate.

Under such circumstances, the living will can be followed.

9. The medical command physician may authorize emergency medical personnel to honor an advance directive. The medical command physician may base this decision on prior notification that a valid and operative advance directive exists or the notification by emergency medical services personnel that they have been presented with a signed, advance directive. Emergency medical services personnel must immediately notify the medical command physician when presented with a living will, signed by the patient, or other authorized person.

10. “Emergency medical services personnel confronted with any conflicting information regarding the patient’s wishes for life-sustaining treatment shall act according to the accepted treatment protocols and standards appropriate to their level of certification.( 5413)”

(Advance Directive for Health Care Act, 1992, April 16, P.L. 108, No. 24, 5402-5501)


Particular Questions about Advance Directives:

1. When will my living will take effect?

Your living will takes effect when the following three conditions are met:

(a) Your physician or health care provider has a copy of your living will;

(b) Your physician has determined that you are incompetent; and

(c) Your physician has determined that you are permanently unconscious or suffer from an end-stage medical condition.

2. What does it mean to be incompetent?

To be incompetent means that you are unable to understand the risks and benefits of a medical decision, you cannot make a medical decision on your behalf, or you cannot communicate a medical decision to your health care provider. For example, if you are unconscious or you suffer from dementia, your health care provider likely will determine that you are incompetent. A formal adjudication of incompetency by a court is not required for your living will to take effect. Back to top

3. What is an end-stage medical condition?

An end-stage medical condition is an incurable or irreversible medical condition in an advanced state that even with the introduction of medical treatment will result in death. For example, advanced Alzheimer’s disease or terminal cancers are considered end-stage medical conditions.

4. Does my health care provider have to follow the instructions in my living will?

Generally, yes. Pennsylvania law requires health care providers to follow the instructions in your living will. However, there are special rules about pregnant women who have living wills. Also, a living will cannot instruct your health care provider to act contrary to Pennsylvania law. If your health care provider cannot follow your instructions because of moral beliefs, your health care provider must transfer your care to another health care provider who can follow your instructions.

5. What is a health care power of attorney?

A health care power of attorney allows you to appoint someone to make medical decisions for you should you be unable to make medical decisions for yourself. You can also provide instructions to help your appointed decision maker make medical decisions. Back to top

6. When does a health care power of attorney take effect?

A health care power attorney takes effect when the following two conditions are met:

(a) Your health care provider has a copy of your health care power of attorney; and

(b) Your health care provider determines that you are incompetent.

7. What is a health care representative?

A health care representative is a person authorized by Act 169 of 2006 to make medical decisions for you if you do not have an advance directive and your physician determines that you are incompetent.

8. What medical decisions can my health care representative make?

Generally, the medical decisions your health care representative can make are the same as the decisions an appointed decision maker can make under a health care power of attorney. That means your health care representative can consent to surgery, authorize your admission to a nursing home, access your medical records, and consent to donation of your organs.

9. Who can be my health care representative?

Act 169 of 2006 provides a list of persons who can serve as your health care representative. The following persons, in the order listed, can be your health care representative:

(a) Spouse and, if applicable, your adult children from a prior relationship;

(b) Adult children;

(c) Parents;

(d) Adult siblings;

(e) Adult grandchildren; and

(f) Any adult who has knowledge of your values and beliefs (e.g. close friend, cousin, roommate)

10. Can I have more than one health care representative?

Yes. All members of the same class can act as your health care representative. For example, if you do not have a current spouse, but you have three adult children, all three adult children can act as your health care representative.

11. What if my health care representatives cannot agree to a decision regarding my care?

Act 169 of 2006 allows health care providers to follow the instructions of the majority of your health care representatives. For example, if you have three adult children who are acting as your health care representative and they cannot agree on a medical decision, the health care provider will follow the majority decision.

12. What are the main differences between a living will and a health care power of attorney?

A living will and health care power of attorney serve different functions. First, a living will is more limited in scope than a health care power of attorney. A living will only applies to medical care and decisions regarding end-of-life care. A health care power of attorney is broader in scope as it applies to all medical care and treatment. Second, a health care power of attorney allows you to appoint a decision maker to make medical decisions on your behalf. A living will generally does not appoint anyone to make medical decisions for you. Rather, you provide instructions to your health care provider regarding end-of-life care. Third, a health care power of attorney takes effect when you are incompetent while a living will does not take effect until you are both incompetent and permanently unconscious or suffer from an end-stage medical condition.

13. Does Pennsylvania recognize advance directives from other states?

Generally, yes. As long as the instructions in your advance directive are not contrary to Pennsylvania law, your advance directive from another state is valid in Pennsylvania.

14. Do other states recognize advance directives from Pennsylvania?

Likely, yes. However, you should check the law of the other state to be sure that the state recognizes out of state advance directives.

15. Is a health care power of attorney the same as a financial power of attorney?

No. A health care power of attorney is specifically limited to medical care and treatment. Typically, a financial power of attorney does not authorize the appointed individual to make medical decisions.

16. Where can I get more information regarding advance directives?

If you are admitted to Lancaster General Hospital, LGH staff can provide you with more information. Also, to following organizations are available for you to contact:

Pennsylvania Department of Aging

555 Walnut Street, 5th Floor

Harrisburg, PA 17101-1919

(717) 783-6842



Pennsylvania Medical Society

777 East Park Drive

P.O. Box 8820

Harrisburg, PA 17105-8820




Aging with Dignity

P.O. Box 1661

Tallahassee, FL 32302-1661

(888) 594-7437



What is the Catholic Church’s position on Reiki as an alternative therapy?

The Committee on Doctrine of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a document entitled: “Guidelines For Evaluating Reiki As An Alternative Therapy” on March 25, 2009. The following is their position:




Committee on Doctrine

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

25 March 2009


1. From time to time questions have been raised about various alternative therapies that areoften available in the United States. Bishops are sometimes asked, “What is the Church’s

position on such therapies?” The USCCB Committee on Doctrine has prepared this resource inorder to assist bishops in their responses.




2. The Church recognizes two kinds of healing: healing by divine grace and healing thatutilizes the powers of nature. As for the first, we can point to the ministry of Christ, who

performed many physical healings and who commissioned his disciples to carry on that work. In fidelity to this commission, from the time of the Apostles the Church has interceded on behalf of

the sick through the invocation of the name of the Lord Jesus, asking for healing through the power of the Holy Spirit, whether in the form of the sacramental laying on of hands and

anointing with oil or of simple prayers for healing, which often include an appeal to the saints for their aid. As for the second, the Church has never considered a plea for divine healing, which

comes as a gift from God, to exclude recourse to natural means of healing through the practice of medicine.[i] Alongside her sacrament of healing and various prayers for healing, the Church has a

long history of caring for the sick through the use of natural means. The most obvious sign of this is the great number of Catholic hospitals that are found throughout our country.


3. The two kinds of healing are not mutually exclusive. Because it is possible to be healed by divine power does not mean that we should not use natural means at our disposal. It is not

our decision whether or not God will heal someone by supernatural means. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church points out, the Holy Spirit sometimes gives to certain human beings “a

special charism of healing so as to make manifest the power of the grace of the risen Lord.”[ii]This power of healing is not at human disposal, however, for “even the most intense prayers do

not always obtain the healing of all illnesses.”[iii] Recourse to natural means of healing therefore remains entirely appropriate, as these are at human disposal. In fact, Christian charity demands

that we not neglect natural means of healing people who are ill.


II.                REIKI AND HEALING


A)    The Origins and Basic Characteristics of Reiki


4. Reiki is a technique of healing that was invented in Japan in the late 1800s by MikaoUsui, who was studying Buddhist texts.[iv] According to Reiki teaching, illness is caused by some

kind of disruption or
imbalance in one’s “life energy.” A Reiki practitioner effects healing by placing his or her hands in certain positions on the patient’s body in order to facilitate the flow of


Reiki, the “universal life energy,” from the Reiki practitioner to the patient. There are numerous designated hand positions for addressing different problems. Reiki proponents assert that the

practitioner is not the source of the healing energy, but merely a channel for it.[v] To become a Reiki practitioner, one must receive an “initiation” or “attunement” from a Reiki Master. This

ceremony makes one “attuned” to the “universal life energy” and enables one to serve as a conduit for it. There are said to be three different levels of attunement (some teach that there are

four). At the higher levels, one can allegedly channel Reiki energy and effect healings at a distance, without physical contact.


B)    Reiki as a Natural Means of Healing


5. Although Reiki proponents seem to agree that Reiki does not represent a religion of its own, but a technique that may be utilized by people from many religious traditions, it does have

several aspects of a religion. Reiki is frequently described as a “spiritual” kind of healing a opposed to the common medical procedures of healing using physical means. Much of the

literature on Reiki is filled with references to God, the Goddess, the “divine healing power,” and the “divine mind.” The life force energy is described as being directed by God, the “Higher

Intelligence,” or the “divine consciousness.” Likewise, the various “attunements” which the Reiki practitioner receives from a Reiki Master are accomplished through “sacred ceremonies”

that involve the manifestation and contemplation of certain “sacred symbols” (which have traditionally been kept secret by Reiki Masters). Furthermore, Reiki is frequently described as a

“way of living,” with a list of five “Reiki Precepts” stipulating proper ethical conduct.


6. Nevertheless, there are some Reiki practitioners, primarily nurses, who attempt to approach Reiki simply as a natural means of healing. Viewed as natural means of healing,

however, Reiki becomes subject to the standards of natural science. It is true that there may be means of natural healing that have not yet been understood or recognized by science. The basic

criteria for judging whether or not one should entrust oneself to any particular natural means of healing, however, remain those of science.


7. Judged according to these standards, Reiki lacks scientific credibility. It has not been accepted by the scientific and medical communities as an effective therapy. 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. The explanation of the efficacy of Reiki depends entirely

on a particular view of the world as permeated by this “universal life energy” (Reiki) that is subject to manipulation by human thought and will. Reiki practitioners claim that their training

allows one to channel the “universal life energy” that is present in all things. This “universal life energy,” however, is unknown to natural science. As the presence of such energy has not been

observed by means of natural science, the justification for these therapies necessarily must comefrom something other than science.


C)    Reiki and the Healing Power of Christ


8. Some people have attempted to identify Reiki with the divine healing known to Christians.[vi] They are mistaken. The radical difference can be immediately seen in the fact that

for the Reiki practitioner the healing power is at human disposal. Some teachers want to avoid this implication and argue that it is not the Reiki practitioner personally who effects the healing,

but the Reiki energy directed by the divine consciousness. Nevertheless, the fact remains 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.[vii] Some

practitioners attempt to Christianize Reiki by adding a prayer to Christ, but this does not affectthe essential nature of Reiki. For these reasons, Reiki and other similar therapeutic techniquescannot be identified

with what Christians call healing by divine grace.


9. The difference between what Christians recognize as healing by divine grace and Reiki therapy is also evident in the basic terms used by Reiki proponents to describe what happens in

Reiki therapy, particularly that of “universal life energy.” Neither the Scriptures nor the Christian tradition as a whole speak of the natural world as based on “universal life energy” that is subject to manipulation

by the natural human power of thought and will. In fact, this worldview has its origins in eastern religions and has a certain monist and pantheistic character, in that distinctions among self, world, and God tend

to fall away.[viii]We have already seen that Reiki practitioners are unable to differentiate clearly between divine healing power and power that is at human disposal.


III.             CONCLUSION


10. Reiki therapy finds no support either in the findings of natural science or in Christian belief. For a Catholic to believe in Reiki therapy presents insoluble problems. In terms of caring

for one’s physical health or the physical health of others, to employ a technique that has no scientific support (or even plausibility) is generally not prudent.


11. In terms of caring for one’s spiritual health, there are important dangers. 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.[ix] Superstition corrupts one’s worship of God by turning one’s religious

feeling and practice in a false direction.[x] While sometimes people fall into superstition through ignorance, it is the responsibility of all who teach in the name of the Church to eliminate such

ignorance as much as possible.


12. Since Reiki therapy is not compatible with either Christian teaching or scientific evidence, it would be inappropriate for Catholic institutions, such as Catholic health care

facilities and retreat centers, or persons representing the Church, such as Catholic chaplains, to promote or to provide support for Reiki therapy.




Most Rev. William E. Lori (Chairman) Most Rev. John C. Nienstedt

Bishop of Bridgeport Archbishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis

Most Rev. Leonard P. Blair Most Rev. Arthur J. Serratelli

Bishop of Toledo Bishop of Paterson

Most Rev. José H. Gomez Most Rev. Allen H. Vigneron

Archbishop of San Antonio Bishop of Oakland

Most Rev. Robert J. McManus Most Rev. Donald W. Wuerl

Bishop of Worcester Archbishop of Washington



[i] See Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Instruction on Prayers for Healing (14 September 2000), I, 3: “Obviously, recourse to prayer does not exclude, but rather encourages the use of effective natural means for preserving

and restoring health, as well as leading the Church’s sons and daughters to care for the sick, to assist the in body and spirit, and to seek to cure disease.”


[ii] Catechism, no. 1508. 

[iii] Catechism, no. 1508.

[iv] It has also been claimed that he merely rediscovered an ancient Tibetan technique, but evidence for this claim is lacking.  As we shall see below, however, distinctions between self, world, and God tend to collapse in Reiki thought.

Some Reiki teachers explain that one eventually reaches the realization that the self and the “universal life energy”are one, “that we are universal life force and that everything is energy, including ourselves” (Libby Barnett and

Maggie Chambers with Susan Davidson, Reiki Energy Medicine: Bringing Healing Touch into Home, Hospital, and Hospice [Rochester, Vt.: Healing Arts Press, 1996], p. 48; see also p. 102).


[vi]  For example, see “Reiki and Christianity” at http://iarp.org/articles/Reiki_and_Christianity.htm and “Christian Reiki” at http://areikihealer.tripod.com/christianreiki.html and the website www.christianreiki.org.


[vii]  Reiki Masters offer courses of training with various levels of advancement, services for which the teachers require significant financial remuneration. The pupil has the expectation and the Reiki Master gives the assurance that

one’s investment of time and money will allow one to master a technique that will predictably produce results.


[viii]  While this seems implicit in Reiki teaching, some proponents state explicitly that there is ultimately no distinction between and the self and Reiki. “Alignment with your Self and being Reiki is an ongoing process. Willingness to

continuously engage in this process furthers your evolution and can lead to the sustained recognition and ultimate experience that you are universal life force” (The Reiki Healing Connection [Libby Barnett, M.S.W.],

http://reikienergy.com/classes.htm, accessed 2/6/2008 [emphasis in original]). Diane Stein summarizes the meaning of some of the “sacred symbols” used in Reiki attunements as: “The Goddess in me salutes the Goddess in you”;

“Man and God becoming one” (Essential Reiki Teaching Manual: A Companion Guide for Reiki Healers [Berkeley, Cal.: Crossing Press, 2007], pp. 129-31). Anne Charlish and Angela Robertshaw explain that the highest Reiki

attunement “marks a shift from the ego and self to a feeling of oneness with the universal life-force energy” (Secrets of Reiki [New York, N.Y.: DK Publishing, 2001], p. 84).


[ix] Some forms of Reiki teach of a need to appeal for the assistance of angelic beings or “Reiki spirit guides.” This introduces the further danger of exposure to malevolent forces or powers.

[x]  See Catechism, no. 2111; St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa theologiae II-II, q. 92, a. 1.