The Catholic Church has historically sent out pretty mixed signals when it comes to circumcision.
In the early days of the church, circumcision was considered immoral, sinful, and against the teachings of Jesus Christ.
In later days, though, people like Pope Pius XII taught that circumcision could be morally permissible – so long as it was being done to prevent a disease that could not be cured otherwise.
Today, the Catholic Church doesn’t have a tremendous amount of things to say about circumcision – either against the practice or in favor of it.
Below we explore this a little more in-depth.
Catholics Church’s Views On Circumcision
The early Catholic Church condemned the practice of circumcision for all Christians. They made this position known explicitly at the Council of Florence, which many find interesting considering the fact that we know Jesus himself was circumcised.
This meeting of church leaders in 1442 resulted in the Roman Catholic Church stating very firmly that circumcision would result in a loss of salvation.
Church leaders stated that the baptism overtook circumcision, but many historians also believe that this was done strategically as a direct attack on Coptic Christians who were continuing to promote and practice circumcision.
Paul the Apostle also famously attacked the idea of circumcision in the Bible, though he was not always consistent in this belief. Paul, after all, personally circumcised Timothy and even goes on to praise the idea of circumcision in Romans 3:1 – 2.
We read about this circumcision in the Gospel of Luke (the second chapter), but historians have long said that this shouldn’t surprise Catholics – or any Christians – since Jesus was born a Jew and the circumcision would have been performed in full accordance with the requirements outlined by the Torah.
Today, though, the church remains pretty neutral and is neither explicitly for or explicitly against the practice of circumcision.
A lot of today’s parents choose to circumcise their child not for religious reasons at all but for cultural and societal reasons. The church does not come between those parents and the decisions they make for their sons.
Circumcision Across Christianity
While we know that the Catholic Church takes a more neutral outlook on circumcision today, we know this isn’t necessarily the case with other Christian faiths.
The Lutheran Church, for example, has historically (and continues today) to say that circumcision should not happen for Christians.
On the flip side of things, the Coptic church, Protestants, and Oriental Christian denominations by and large embrace the idea of circumcision for the faithful.
Again, though, a lot of this has to do with cultural norms, societal norms, and tradition in those parts of the world as well.
Should I Circumcise My Catholic Son?
At the end of the day, the decision of whether you’ll circumcise your Catholics on or not rests squarely on your shoulders.
As a parent you have the responsibility to make this decision, and it’s not a decision you are going to want to enter into lightly.
You’ll want to speak to medical professionals about this decision so that you can fully understand it, but it’s not a bad idea to speak to leaders in your church to get their perspective on this decision as well.
No small amount of parents throughout time have even got down on their knees and prayed about the decision to circumcise their Catholic sons. It’s never a bad idea to search your faith, pray to the Lord for guidance, and move forward from there.
When you get right down to it, though, you should remember that the Catholic Church does not condemn this practice even if it doesn’t wholeheartedly endorse it, either.
You are not inflicting any pain or spiritual damage on your son by making a decision to circumcise or not circumcise.
The decision to circumcise your son (or not to circumcise) is certainly a question that will test your Catholic faith.
Understand, however, that the Catholic Church will not condemn you and your faith will not be lessened regardless of the decision that you make.
The church remains neutral on this practice today and there are millions of Catholics around the world that are circumcised and millions more that have decided to circumcise their children, too.
This is something you’ll have to settle on, leaning on your faith, your church, your own beliefs, as well as input from your doctors.