Circumcision

Wish there was a “history” forum, I’m not sure this is the right one, but…here I go anyway:

Does anyone know if circumcision was practiced throughout the greater history of the Church? I know early on it was made clear that it was not mandatory for adults (and infants, I assume), but was it generally practiced anyway? I’ve read that in the US it was “started again” in the 1870s (of course, this would be “protestant America” and I’m interested in the practice of the Church). Does anyone know what the Church’s practices has been throughout most of her history? I’m not wanting to know the morality of it (even though I’m in the moral section) unless it was actually discouraged by the Church, I just want to know what the practice was. Thanks for any help you can offer!

I don’t believe you will find anything in Church practice about circumcision after the Council of Jerusalem. After that, it was a question for the family to determine.

On the other hand, some doctors believe it prevents future disease…both in a man and uterine disease in a woman married to a circumcised man. The practice is up in the air, medically, and not firmly defined.

Hm. I was looking into this a while back as I was a new mom.

St. Thomas Aquinas (1227-1274) believed in it.

More resources from New Advent include:
REMONDINO, History of Circumcision (Phila. and London, 1891);
ANDREE, Ethnographische Parallelen und Vergleiche (Leipzig, 1889),
Beschneidung, pp. 166-213;
BARNEY, Circumcision and Flagellation among the Filipinos (Carlisle, Pa., 1903); ARNOLD, Circumcision in New York Medical Jour. (Feb. 13, 1886);
EBERS, Aegypten und die Bücher Moses (Leipzig, 1868);
MACALESTER in HASTINGS, Dict. of the Bible, s.v.

Here is also a Google History Timeline with references to the Catholic Church.

I think that in the Church, there has only been the reminder that we are not to place our trust in circumcision. Whether it is practiced or not has essentially been a non-issue for Christians.

Circumcision is not endorsed nor is the Church against it. It is up to the family to decide whether or not to circumcise any male children. I feel this choice should be kept in the family. I have read recently about states attempting to ban circumcision. This is wrong. If a parent wishes to do so, the state shouldn’t be allowed to stop them. It is a religious and according to some a health related issue.

don’t understand the question.
the Catholic Church has never had a “practice of circumcision” so it has not changed.

in most of Europe throughout history Christians have not been routinely circumcised while Jews of course have. It became an accepted practice in American about 100 years ago (I don’t know about Europe) for hygienic, not religious reasons, and except for Orthodox Jews most circumcisions are done in hospitals shortly after birth. As hospital birth became more common than home birth, so did the practice of circumcision and other routine health practices after birth–anointing eyes, vaccines, tests etc–become more common.

It is a medical decision to be made by the parents in consultation with their doctor, there is no religious dimension to it for Catholics other than to as always exercise the virtue of prudence.

Thank you everyone!

What you find is that in cultures where it is done, that is what you see, and where it isn’t, that is what you see.

So in North America and I think to some extent the UK you see it in the Victorian period, where they called it a “hygiene” issue, by which they meant they thought it would decrease masturbation. And then in the 60’s and 70’s there is a jump, and then it goes down. I don’t think it has ever been common in continental Europe, but that may be a bit of a broad statement. The Philippines does have a tradition of it. Right now it is still most common in the Philippines, and America.

But it isn’t a religious issue.

Nowadays, there are Catholics who make religious arguments for not doing it as a routine intervention, so that could be considered a religious argument.

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