While doing some research on circumcision and deciding whether or not to have our baby boy circumcised (as the docs at the hospital suggest), I came across some pretty shocking quotes from past Councils and Popes. They seem to suggest that for current Catholics to have their little boys circumcised would be gravely sinful… but why isn’t there other information about this? And why isn’t it talked about… our priest had no idea and didn’t really know what to say. I also found a traditional site that discussed how modern day circumcision is not at all the same as the circumcision practiced by the Jews-- but I can’t remember where I found it.
For now, we have not gotten our baby circumcised, but family, friends, and our pediatrician seem to think my husband and I are crazy.
Any help is appreciated.
From the Council of Florence:
[The Catholic Church] firmly believes, professes and teaches that the legal prescriptions of the old Testament or the Mosaic law, which are divided into ceremonies, holy sacrifices and sacraments, because they were instituted to signify something in the future, although they were adequate for the divine cult of that age, once our lord Jesus Christ who was signified by them had come, came to an end and the sacraments of the new Testament had their beginning. Whoever, after the passion, places his hope in the legal prescriptions and submits himself to them as necessary for salvation and as if faith in Christ without them could not save, sins mortally. It does not deny that from Christ’s passion until the promulgation of the gospel they could have been retained, provided they were in no way believed to be necessary for salvation. But it asserts that after the promulgation of the gospel they cannot be observed without loss of eternal salvation. Therefore it denounces all who after that time observe circumcision, the sabbath and other legal prescriptions as strangers to the faith of Christ and unable to share in eternal salvation, unless they recoil at some time from these errors. Therefore it strictly orders all who glory in the name of Christian, not to practise circumcision either before or after baptism, since whether or not they place their hope in it, it cannot possibly be observed without loss of eternal salvation."
This seems pretty straightforward to us since it explicitly states that it doesn’t matter whether circumcision is viewed as having saving power, Christians are simply ordered not to do it under pain of damnation! If this is really what the Church teaches, why isn’t it in the Catechism and why don’t priests know enough to be able to guide parents on this issue?
I had heard that circumcision was a sin for Catholics based on the above. Although, I’m quite amazed it still exists given there’s no real medical reason for it, and those reasons that are presented are rather spurious. Plus, it seems rather cruel and sexist.
Could you imagine teh uproar if peopel in the west wanted to circumcise their daughters?
I’m not aware of anything morally objectionable, or favorable, nowadays concerning circumcision for male Catholic infants. My sister, an RN, used to work in urology, and had said that years ago there was a small statistical correlation between noncircumcision and penile cancer later in life, and that localized hygiene seemed to be the causal factor. The noncircumcised men had a more difficult time keeping the area clean. Of course, you would have to remember that in the sample this included men whose hygiene might be questionable anyways, but circumcision seemed to facilitate keeping this area cleaner, especially later in life. Lack of cleanliness makes the foreskin more difficult to pull back to wash, and a vicious cycle is set up, and the resulting adherence of the foreskin to the glans causes irritation, which could presumably lead to a localized cancer. My sister worked in urology for five years and saw maybe fifty cases of penile cancer in elderly men, so it’s not exactly rampant.For those religions which do not require circumcision of infant boys circumcision would be more of a medical matter than anything else.
I was circumsized as a baby for hygienic reasons.
I am glad that I was, too, although I probably screamed like a little madman at the time.
I cannot understand how ANY GROWN man could be willing to endure this awful procedure, though. A baby would never remember it, but for grown men, that is VERY sensitive skin down there, and it takes several very painful days to heal.
I admire the ancient patriarchs who had the courage to undergo this procedure in obedience to God. You would have had to have had fourteen hulking men to hold me down to get me to submit to it. The very idea makes me shudder.
On the other hand, I am glad I WAS circumsized as a baby because,
not to be very graphic here,
but having spent a lot of time in locker rooms when younger, you can’t help but sometimes notice your fellow man’s endowments and an uncircumsized you know what is frankly, downright hideous IMHO. I mean, WOW, that’s ugly…
This issue, among others, is the reason the Council of Florence is tricky, and not very suitable for people trying to discover the Church’s teachings on issues, at least without reading a great number of books on the context of the Council.
The part that you quote is from the Bull of Union with the Copts. This and the bull for Union with the Armenians have not been considered by the magisterium or by theologians as an authentic expression of the magisterial teaching of the Church. This is why it is not in the Catechism and why priests don’t say anything about it.
The decree for the Armenians, for instance, follows almost to the letter the sacramental theology of St. Thomas Aquinas, and says that the ‘matter’ for the sacrament of ordination is the handing over of the instruments. Pius XII seemed to have no problem with the fact that the Council of Florence said this, when he said that the matter for ordination is the laying on of hands (I’m leaving aside the question of whether, for certain sacraments, the Church can ‘change’ what the essential rite is).
Simply put, accepting these statements creates a whole host of contradictions with other teachings. The Church doesn’t teach one way or the other on the issue of male circumcision, except for the valid principle which Florence correctly states, that a Christian cannot do it thinking that they are submitting to a requirement for salvation.
Even if this document were authoritative, what it is really speaking about is the ritual practice of male circumcision as practiced in Judaism as part of the law, imbued with religious meaning, not the medical practice of it. This is an important distinction.
"Upon discovering that circumcision is considered “gravely immoral” many Catholic parents email me with great anxiety about the spiritual ramifications of circumcising their sons.
Remember, for a sin to be mortal, three conditions must be present:
It must be a grave act
The person must know it is grave
The person must freely and deliberately do it
These three conditions are probably rarely present within the context of routine circumcision. I rarely meet parents who are fully informed about routine circumcision and still freely consent to it for their children."
It may be a blog but it’s still valid thinking
As a means to salvation, it is condemned. As a medical means, it is permissible. Look up the Council of Jerusalem, in Acts of the Aposrles chapter 15.
The Council of Florence is condemning it’s use as a way to salvation. Catholics can’t get circumcised if they belief it is the only way to attain salvation. That is, if they think all non-circumcised Catholics are automatically damned, then the practice is condemned.
There is an uproar!
The rationale for circumcising males is for hygienic purposes and past stats that an uncircumcised man is more likely to contract diseases based on the anatomical make-up and the foreskin being a breeding ground for bacteria. I don’t think that holds true so much today, since people are more hygienic than in centuries past…
Circumsion of women/girls is done solely to remove the aspect of pleasure in sex and to “seal her up” until she is cut open**** (usually be means of a knife as filthy as the one used for her circumcision) on her wedding night by the groom that paid the highest dowry to her father!
There is a quite a difference in the reasons for circumcision for either gender and quite a difference in the pain. If you have a strong stomach, look up details for the procedure for females and see how they still suffer from horrible effects and pain from it even into old age (if they live that long).
The solution is clear from the statement of the council quoted by the OP. The issue is with with following ‘legal prescriptions’ do do with circumcision, the Sabbath etc. This would mean the religious ceremony of circumcision, not the operation itself.
Get serious! Pulling up something from a disputed council over 500 years ago is a bit ridiculous.
The early Church was divided on the subject until St. Paul convinced St. Peter that Gentiles did not have to conform to Jewish Ritual Laws which called for keeping Kosher as well as circumcision for males. St. Peter realized that a requirement for keeping Jewish Law would be a hinderance in attracting converts from the Gentiles. Thus the
Church has no official stance one way or another to this day. The Council(s) at Florence and all the dictates from it have fallen into disrepute over the years because of the secular political bias and pressure on its members.
In the USA, all male babies born in a hospital-which is most of them- since around 1900 are routinely circumcised. Jewish babies are not circumcised by doctors in the hospital, but are circumcised by a Moyl in a religious ceremony, called the Bris, 8 days after they are born.
As for me, I am uncut because my parents (German and Polish immigrants) were smart enough to realize that was not a smart thing to have done, especially considering how popular Hitler and the Nazis were in the US, and no one knew whether or not that disease would take hold over here. Since circumcision was not popular among the masses in Europe, the Nazis used circumcision as a test to determine whether or not one was Jewish!
It’s actually being phased out here. A family member of mine tried to get her son circumcised and the hospital refused. Also, San Francisco is making it illegal too (too bad for Jewish people I suppose)
That weird, there was both extremes shown in this thread. One guy in the beginning, I think the OP said the Dr almost wouldn’t let him leave until it was done. Then here you have it being outlawed. Is it a East Coast West Coast rivalry. Mine is the same way as my Dad’s period. The reason was this is how mine is, it’s how your is gonna be. It doesn’t matter which one so quit wondering! ANyway, I had a friend at summer camp who was uncut and his best friend said it was because he was Catholic so I thought none of you guys had a turtleneck to specifically make yourselves different from Jews. I know there were different Popes that were concerned with differentiating from Jewish people as much as possible, some not as concerned. Isn’t that how we got church on Sunday?
In Europe, South Africa (mostly white people) and here in Malaysia (the Chrisitians) are hardly circumcised… I was considering circumcision, but with this very document I changed my mind. I once read, that not being circumcised is on of the Christian symbols, as we are not Jew’s any more, and in the previous century, this was also used to detrimen whether one is a Jew, Christian or Muslim.
Personally I feel, that this is a strong symbol for Christian men, yet I have heard many other stories from America… But what can I say
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