Catholics and Circumcision Oct 26, 2018 17:55:07 GMT -5 via mobile
Post by RitaMarita on Oct 26, 2018 17:55:07 GMT -5
The answer to this is really simple. Pope Eugene is referring to a religious ritual called circumcision. He is not talking about medical circumcision. How do we know this? Well, aside from the fact that it's implied if not obvious within the text itself (i.e., he talks about observing a practice-- very religious language), medical circumcision didn't exist when this document was written. It doesn't come along until five hundred years later. Circumcision only had one possible meaning at the time of the Council of Florence: observation of the Old Covenant.
By the way, there's a huge difference between the circumcision of the covenant and medical circumcision. The circumcision of the Old Covenant was a very minor snipping of the foreskin, leaving the entirety of it intact and functioning. Medical circumcision is the complete removal of it. It's like the difference between piercing your hear and cutting it off. I say this not just "so you know" but also so it's clear that it isn't just the intent behind the circumcision, it's what the circumcision actually entails which count toward its morality.
I don't think that medical circumcision is good. Objectively, I think it's mutilation. Parts are good inasmuch as they contribute to a whole, and the foreskin not only aids the generative act but protects the male faculty from injury. So, to justify excising it (which again, Old Covenant circumcision did not do) you need to have a commensurate reason. Suppose an infection sets in which, if the foreskin is not removed, would cause serious permanent injury to the man's potency. That would be an instance where medical circumcision could be justified.
The usual medical argument is that circumcision promotes cleanliness. First off, even if this were true, it's not a proportionate reason to actually cut off the foreskin. There are lots of body parts that might be easier to clean if we chopped away at them. Second of all, even if this were true, the result of circumcision is the scarring of the male faculty since it is left unprotected... forever. Thirdly, the whole "it promotes cleanliness" argument is ad hoc. The real reason circumcision became popular is that a Protestant doctor in the nineteenth century believed it was an effective strategy to discourage self abuse among boys. Now after a while that isn't a very good reason to be billing parents for the procedure, so they had to give a more medical reason to continue justifying the practice. And that's that it's "clean" to circumcise. Just wash, problem solved.
And to be clear, while I say that medical circumcision is an evil, I certainly don't mean to imply that parents who've done it are guilty. I don't think they are, generally speaking. We're supposed to trust in professionals. The problem is that the professionals lied to us. Such are wrong in a matter of fact. I think they should be made aware so they can make a different decision, but it isn't something over which I think parents incur guilt.
Finally, with regard to the material posted, I believe Fr. Kelly is laboring under the wrong medical facts. This is what makes medical morality so challenging: we can know all the principles, but we have to actually know the science at play to understand if/when the principles apply. And how do we know the science? Well, we ask the doctors... who can be wrong. And who don't always admit to being wrong when they are. Kelly does not appear aware or considerate of the purpose of the foreskin, and seems also to be under the impression that some proper medical good can be delivered through medical circumcision. If he were right about these things he'd be right in his defense of the procedure, but since he's not, he's not.
Anyways, that's my opinion on circumcision. Inadvisable, objectively an evil (inasmuch as it is mutilative), but not something for which parents are normally incurring guilt over, and totally outside the scope of the Council of Florence's condemnations.
How well put Mithrandyl! Thank you! 😊
May I please quote what you have written for an article on my blog to explain it to other people who might be confused about it?