Patriarch Alexy II about False Healers

From an interview for "Profile" journal, 2000.

Patriarch Alexy II

Your Holiness, our society today is simply sick with interest to various kinds of folk healers. How justified is the sharply negative attitude of the Church to healing, when you consider that many of the healers are religious? It is known, for example, that Gregory Rasputin successfully treated Tsarevich Alexei. Many saints possessed the gift of healing. Is it possible today to separate the orthodox healers from charlatans?

Alexy II: Yes, many saints healed –with the prayer in the first place. They also helped the sick with spiritual advice, because very often our illnesses come from the sins, from poor lifestyle choices. Similarly, there are now pastors and laity sometimes endowed with the gift of prayer for the sick and the gift of instruction. However, the phenomenon of healing must be approached very cautiously. If there is magic, there is any magical manipulation with icons, crosses, pictures, we usually face charlatanry abusing the authority of the Orthodox Church that has unlimited confidence. As a result, people may initially feel some relief, and then even more suffer spiritually and physically.

How to distinguish the person who has received the gift of healing from God from the sorcerer movable by evil forces? "Ye shall know them by their fruits", - says the Lord (Matt. 7:16). If the healer is surrounded with bitterness, if greed flourishes, when people complain on their spiritual emptiness, then it is better not to resort to his help. By the way, hostility and anger accompanied the activity of Gregory Rasputin. The attitude of the Church to him can not be favorable, at least because he opposed himself to its canonical hierarchy.

The true Christian, who wants health to the neighbor, remembers at the same time that God often sends sickness to test, instruct, and correct us. Therefore, praying for healing of the sick, the Church asks the Lord to reveal His will that carries the good to a man even when he does not understand it. And physical death is not always an evil.

When someone tries to program a positive outcome of the disease, promising healing and even giving well-paid guarantee – such a physician has nothing to do with the Church.

Finally, the Orthodoxy considers the sacrament of penance, the Eucharist and the Anointing of the Sick to be the main healing means.  They lead to purification of the soul and beneficial changes of lives. If the healer does not even mention these sacraments, he can hardly be considered a deeply religious person.