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Circumcising the Root of All Evil January 18, 2017

Posted by Tantumblogo in Basics, catachesis, Christendom, Domestic Church, family, General Catholic, huh?, manhood, sadness, silliness, Society, Tradition.

The post title is a bit tongue in cheek, Sensus Fidelium on Youtube posted the video below yesterday, an upload from a recent episode of the Crusade program of the St. Benedict Center in New Hampshire.  The topic is voluntary male circumcision, which is done to the large majority of males (Jewish or otherwise) in infancy, generally at the hospital within a day or so of birth.  I’ve always thought circumcision was mostly a question of taste with perhaps some overtones of cleanliness and moderation, but it appears at least one Catholic philosopher/ethicist has determined circumcision to be a barbaric practice that causes a huge gamut of (potential) deleterious health effects.  None of which any of the males on either side of my family has ever experienced going back at least 4 generations, and all of which were circumcised.

I’m posting this not because I really care either way, this is a very personal decision.  There are pros and cons on both sides and you can decide where you line up.  It’s quite possible the medical benefits of circumcision have been overstated, but I think the dire claims made in the program of negative effects are also being dramatically overblown.  Love, and do what you will, and all that.

The reason I’m posting this is the fascination I had with the responses on  Youtube.  People who had almost certainly never heard such a detailed (and one might even say, extremely opinionated) presentation on this subject before were suddenly lining up declaring circumcision to be a barbaric practice that must be stopped NOW.  Which is odd, because, this is just one presentation, which may or may not be accurate. Why are folks getting so exercised over something they may have never heard a cogent argument on before? Are those expressing instant shock and outrage really in a position to judge whether or not this guy is really telling the truth, or maybe has gone a bit around the bend?

There was another aspect to that drew my attention – some pretty hardcore comments regarding Judaism.  Certainly circumcision and Judaism have a long connection, but some of the direct commentary – leaving alone snide implications – regarding filthy Jews, et. al., was a bit extreme.  I found that unfortunate.

As I said there are arguments on both sides, some people say circumcision negatively effects a man’s ability to feel certain pleasures, some say being uncircumcised can lead to accumulation of dirt and disease.  I’ve never known anything different, so I have no way of knowing if these claims are right or not. I do think maybe we should tone down the instant outrage generation on every single little issue that comes along.  If one wants to argue that circumcision is a bad practice that has outlived its usefulness, fine.  He’s probably right.  But for folks to turn it into a giant conspiracy and start to allude that you’re somehow less Catholic if you’ve been involved in this very optional, tangential practice, I think that’s where the circular firing squad and the shrinking of the membership of the True Remnant Church (TM) down to one (me!) starts to get a little extreme.



1. Baseballmom - January 18, 2017

Some of the grandsons are circed, some not…. no big deal… all seven of mine were…. it was routine back in the day. But folks sure can get passionate about this 😀

Tantumblogo - January 18, 2017

There are bigger fish to fry in these days.

Baseballmom - January 19, 2017


2. Brian Springer - January 18, 2017

This is not really a topic I care for, but I recall reading a comment on SuscipeDomine which quoted a former Pope decrying the practice and excommunicating anyone who voluntary procured circumcision. I imagine that it was seen as sign of apostasy since it was a Jewish practice.

I don’t know if the penalty of excommunication still stands (and if it does, I imagine almost no one is affected by the sentence since they are unaware of the prohibition in the first place), but I think that those who argue against the practice are probably right. As for the supposed medical benefits of circumcision, I have no contribution to make.

I second your closing thoughts though. Thankfully, I’ve only seen this attitude online (and in limited quantities).

Tantumblogo - January 18, 2017

I think we’ll be OK here, if only the usual gang comments. If it attracts wider attention, it could lead to fireworks. We’ll see.

SoccerMom - January 18, 2017

I think what you might be referring to is “Cantate Domino” by Eugene IV. I don’t know about excommunication, but the document states: “Therefore, [The Catholic Church] commands all who glory in the name of Christian, at whatever time, before or after baptism’ to cease entirely from circumcision, since, whether or not one places hope in it, it cannot be observed at all without the loss of eternal salvation.”

Not sure if this would still apply today, especially for parents who are convinced there is a medical benefit to be gained.

For what it is worth, fisheaters has an article on the topic where they sight some sources showing that the biblical practice of circumcision was far less invasive than the circumcision usually given to boys today.

Numbskull - January 18, 2017

So there is No Salvation With Circumcision?

SoccerMom - January 18, 2017

I guess it might depend upon whether there is a such thing as: Uncircumcision by blood/desire

SoccerMom - January 18, 2017

And whether implicit desire is sufficient…

Tantumblogo - January 19, 2017

Heh. Good. Good riff.

Tantumblogo - January 19, 2017

I’m doomed.

Tantumblogo - January 19, 2017

And I thought you didn’t love me anymore. So glad you’re back, we need more humor.

SoccerMom - January 19, 2017

Nah, nothing personal. Just waking up from a drowsy first trimester.

Tantumblogo - January 20, 2017

No that was meant for Numbskull, who is someone who’s been around for a long time under different names. My apology for the confusion.

SoccerMom - January 19, 2017

Oops, I’ll have to check my eyes. Didn’t realize it was a response to numbskull. 🙂

3. Brian Springer - January 18, 2017

And since this thread is probably going to heat up given the controversial subject matter, We might as well make it a party by writing — women wearing pants. One, two, three, go!

SoccerMom - January 18, 2017

Well, now you’ve done it. We may as well just throw another one out there: Trick or treating

NickD - January 19, 2017

Harry Potter, for good measure

4. tg - January 18, 2017

This reminds me of a comment my sister made about her son, who is not circumcised. He was very promiscuous and she wondered if it was because of that. She said maybe God ordered the Jews to do it so they wouldn’t be promiscuous. I know of one other man who was uncircumcised and very promiscuous. Just my two cents.

Mrs. H. - January 19, 2017

Ummmmm? Let’s try for facts. Particularly because God does not require anyone to be circumcised beyond the Old Testament times. Let’s not saddle those who are uncircumcised with the expectation they’ll promiscuous. I’m sure you can find many promiscuous men in both camps.

5. Numbskull - January 18, 2017

There is a little known but direct correlation between the uncircumcised and self-absorbed neo-Pelagianism.

Tantumblogo - January 18, 2017

Aright Woody.

6. Mrs. Maureen Avila - January 19, 2017

As a retired RN who witnessed hospital circumcisions in the USA in the 1960’s and 70’s when their incidence was at it’s peak, I think the procedure of infant circumcision is too risky re the possibility of damage the the penis ,which could be grave.Often the procedure was relegated to inexperienced interns. I also never believed that the pain involved was insignificant

The incident of an infant boy, who lost enough penile tissue during hospital circumcision that doctors were prompted to surgically transform him to a girl to be raised as such, got a lot of media attention and almost completely cancelled out in my mind all the ‘benefits’ of circumcision being touted at the time, although I agree that careful hygiene is more important for the uncircumcised.

This very detailed and informative video clears up a lot of questions I had about the Biblical circumcision by explaining that it was much less drastic , removing much less tissue of the foreskin, as opposed to complete removal of the foreskin done by the second century Jews, then copied in the 1800’s first in England, then in the USA ,Canada and Australia, and continuing mostly in the USA to the present time.

7. Brother André Marie, M.I.C.M. - January 19, 2017

As the host of the Reconquest show, I have one request, one suggestion, and two paragraphs of additional information.

The request is that the listener assess the arguments based on their own merit (i.e., rationally), and not based on the demerits of the YouTube commentators. This question, like certain other hot-button issues, invite the uncharitable, irrational, and frankly mad ravings of hateful people. But that does not mean that the issue is not a valid one to discuss. (Try discussing Just War Theory in a dispassionate manner on YouTube.)

The suggestion is for readers to look at the brief piece I wrote after producing the show: http://catholicism.org/ad-rem-no-283.html . It’s full of links to good resources for further study.

However much Jewish doctors may have been involved in the spread of the practice of circumcision here in the US (and there were some, a minority), the fact is that it was English Protestants who promoted the practice with great vigor, leading to its adoption all across the Anglosphere. In the nations of former Christendom outside the Anglosphere, the practice is virtually unknown. And in most of the Anglosphere it has been abandoned, we Americans being the notable exception.

Some of the most vociferous anti-circumcision advocates are Jews, like Leonard Glick, author of Marked in Your Flesh: Circumcision from Ancient Judea to Modern America: http://amzn.to/2ilLBfc

Thank you for posting the video, Tantumblogo.

Tantumblogo - January 20, 2017

Sorry this was held up! Just got it out of spam. My apologies. I think it was the multiple links.

8. Tim - January 19, 2017

I’m certainly glad that we covered 2 of the greatest evils of modern times…..circumcision and the slightest interest in NFL football…..i.e….bread and circuses. I now know what mortal sins I need to confess.

9. dthy - January 23, 2017

If it were immoral, Mary and Joseph wouldn’t have allowed it for Jesus. Nor did Jesus condemn the practice. The Church used to observe the occasion as a Holyday on January 1st, and morality doesn’t change.

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