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Reiki -- back in the news


About a year ago, the U.S. bishops' Committee on Doctrine declared that Reiki -- a Japanese healing technique -- is based on superstition and is incompatible with Christian faith.

We reported at the time that the declaration would force scores of U.S. congregations of women religious who run Catholic retreat centers to reevaluate programs that teach or use Reiki therapy.

Since then the declaration and the technique has been fiercely discussed.

The PBS-TV program "Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly" takes up the topic this weekend. Here's a video preview of the show. Interviewed in the program are Reiki practitioners Milwaukee Sr. Madeline Gianforte, a Sister of Saint Agnes, and Lauri Lumby Schmidt; and Capuchin Fr. Thomas Weinandy is executive director of the bishops’ doctrine committee.

Schmidt wrote about reiki for us last year: 'Reiki allows me to continue the healing ministry of Jesus'.

Ireland's accidental hero


David Gibson has some thoughts about the Irish clergy sexual abuse scandal and a profile of Archbishop Diarmuid Martinof Dublin, After Clergy Abuse Scandals, Ireland Needs a New St. Patrick. He writes:

What is noteworthy about the Irish scandal, however, and much different from the American situation, is that the Irish church has so much further to fall than U.S. Catholicism, and that there is at least one bishop who has been willing to critique both his fellow bishops and the church culture that helped enable the abuse: Diarmuid Martin, the archbishop of Dublin.

Martin is something of an accidental hero of this story, and an unlikely one in the view of many. But for those who know him, as I have since we first met in Rome in the late 1980s, his record during the Irish scandal is not surprising.

Gibson quotes Martin:

"I think that a Church that is humble in its style will be much more effective in today's world," he said. "I have to find a different style of being archbishop."

Don't Try This At Home


It was an experiment in nostalgia that backfired, badly -- and I'm still trying to recover.

Many years ago, I thought it would be fun to save my annual employee photo identification cards, and keep them in a neat stack. In my much younger mind, I imagined a day far off in the future when I would happen upon them in surprise and delight, shaking my head at the flood of happy memories each year brought forth.

Not so much.

'Epic mismanagement' in Rockville Centre diocese


Monday, I blogged on money woes in the Scranton, Pa., diocese. Last week I blogged on money woes in the Rockville Centre, N.Y., diocese. Now this comes from New York Newsday:

"In an unusual public rebuke, the pastor of a Roman Catholic church in Medford has distributed a letter criticizing the Diocese of Rockville Centre's buyout plan that could affect up to 1,800 employees.

"Chill winds now buffet the Diocese of Rockville Centre and colder still are some policies of its spokesmen," the Rev. Edward J. Kealey wrote in a letter handed out Sunday at Masses at St. Sylvester's Church. He titled the letter "Economics -- a dismal science in Rockville Centre."

The Irish bishops: more of the same double standard


At the risk of sounding ungrateful for the effort the Vatican and certain Irish bishops have already expended to deal with the clergy sex abuse crisis in the most forthright manner we've yet seen, the report of the meeting between the pope and the bishops was profoundly disappointing.

Some might consider that unjustifiably harsh, since the meeting was held behind closed doors and so it is impossible to know all of the details from a distance. However, church leaders were the ones who decided to hold the meeting in secret, so we are left to decipher the content from press dispatches and characterizations of the meeting, and we can only presume that all the public statements were hammered out and agreed upon by all parties present.

What results are statements that seem, given the magnitude of the offense, more self-serving than illuminating.

Empirical spirituality


The suggestion that we might be able to directly experience divine mystery in the midst of our lives, both in our enthusiasms and struggles, that in fact our daily living is the central arena where the encounter with the divine takes place (spirituality) -- these notions were largely unavailable to most of us until recently. We were, in effect, cut off from our most fundamental spiritual nourishment and from the mystical experience that is at the root of all religion.

In Christianity, for example, the accounts of Jesus' birth are telling us, among other things, that the Great Mystery does not visit only the elite, the professional religious, that the divine is found in the most unexpected and unlikely places.

In the Catholic tradition Fr. Andrew Greeley has pointed out that the sacraments -- those bulwarks of our faith -- exist for the purpose of celebrating and hallowing the grace and spirit that have already entered our lives. We encounter divine mystery primarily in our daily living. The sacraments are there to single out and validate those encounters with grace and mystery and enable the whole community to bless and honor them.

Quote of the Day: Haiti & Missionaries


Quote of the Day: Sarah Wilson, spokeswoman for relief group Christian Aid

"People shouldn't come down here for an experience. They should stay home and write a check."

--Christian Aid spokeswoman Sarah Wilson on the influx of missionaries -- some with competing priorities -- into Haiti following the Jan. 12 earthquake. She was quoted by The New York Times: Missionaries Go to Haiti, Followed by Scrutiny.

EWTN & Torture


Over at, they have been making hay about an interview on EWTN with Bush administration official Marc Thiessen. During the interview, Thiessen criticized the Obama administration for failing to employ “enhanced interrogation techniques” against Christmas Day would-be bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. Vox-Nova correctly expresses shock that a Catholic news outfit would indulge someone who is arguing for torture.

This is not the first time. Last spring, Father Robert Sirico spent an evening with Raymond Arroyo winking at torture. Of course, apart from the fact that torture is illegal, it is also an intrinsic evil. Usually, rightwing Catholic groups argue that intrinsic evils should simply be legislated against, when in fact, finding a way to legislate such matters is often more complicated. In the case of torture, that difficult work has already been done. If you treat terror suspects under the civil code as criminals, they are immune from torture under U.S. law. If you treat them as enemy combatants, they are immune from torture under international treaty obligations.


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March 27-April 9, 2015


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