(Here we go) the Catholic Church and tattoos


Hello all! Always a pleasure being here on the forum with you!
Today I wanted to post and ask for the church’s position and personal opinions on tattoos. I have one tattoo on the back of my leg that is the soldier from the cover of Hybrid Theory by the band Linkin Park (my favorite band of all time). It has important meaning behind it, as the band helped me through some extremely hard times and helped me come out of my shell when I was a kid by starting to play drums in front of people! I think I would like to get another tattoo, but this one with religious significance behind it. I came to the Catholic faith from Protestantism, and my faith is really important to me. I think it would be cool to possibly get a rosary tattoo or possibly the text “I am a Catholic, please call a priest” as a tattoo.
Like I said before, I just wanted to see if the church has an official teaching on this, and I wanted to see other people’s opinions on it. Obviously it must be a sensitive topic for some, and I’m sure it has been brought up on here many times before. What do you think?


What is it with the sheer number of tattoos by people in indiana!? I moved here from the west. Not that there are not a good number of tattoos in the west but it is less prevalent. Is it something to do with the “blue collar” mindset?

I suppose there will be some reference to defiling your body which I can see as a point, but honestly I just do not understand why someone would get a tattoo. You can carry a rosary or a piece of paper that says what you wish. Personally I think getting a tattoo of the soldier from the cover of an alternative rock band is immature.

I am not saying these things to be mean, I just honestly don’t understand the mindset.:shrug:

I mean first you get a tattoo of a soldier which invokes violence then it represents the band who’s message is not exactly christian, then you want to advertise your new found faith. Actually bumper stickers are cheaper and easier to remove. What if next year you think hello kitty is where it is at?


My opinions on tatttoes is that the church is silent on the matter. I have several myself, both religious and secular.

But face it. This is a very conservative forum, filled with many conservative people. So naturally some are going to be quite negative about getting a tattoo.


I would not call this forum conservative. :shrug: I’ve seen conservative forums…

But in general this forum is a religious forum that would have that type of posters and discussion. Many times I have thought this forum is less than conservative. But in contrast to the general public it is probably conservative. Would you define a tattoo as liberal?


I don’t think the Church has any teaching about tattoos in general. The content of the tattoo could be a problem if it’s pornographic or sacrilegious.

While I would never get a tattoo - mainly because I don’t like the idea of being poked with a needle multiple times! - my daughter & her husband both have a lot of tattoos. Not something I’m happy about, but I accept them & would never say anything negative about them. I want them back in the Church & I’m not about to put up roadblocks of my own making.


Go for it! If you feel strongly that you want a tattoo, then get it.

God bless you.


Tattoos are fine. Now, allowing Linkin Park to be your favorite band of all time… that I would strongly encourage re-thinking. :smiley: :stuck_out_tongue: :slight_smile:


This forum is definitely dominated by conservative members. There are places on the interweb that are more radical in their conservatism, but the general tenor of most posts by self-idenfied Catholics is very “traditional.”

And yes, I would generally characterize tattoos as part of a more-liberal culture.


From an European (and specifically an Irish) viewpoint this comes across at times as a hard core conservative forum where the real meat and concern is the battle between the two main political parties in the US with a vestige of Catholicism chucked over that.

As to tattoos I’m totally neutral with the caveat that whilst some can look attractive one wonders how great they will look when older and also they cost a fair bit of cash for any of the larger types.


The Catholic Church has no rule against it, (although I’m told that there is a general rule against priests with face tattoos). The Old Testament law forbids tattooing, but it also forbids eating shellfish… the New Testament does not say anything specific about tattooing.

That being said, I have some tattoos I regret, and some I still cherish; use wisdom, as it is a very difficult decision to reverse.


I thought I was the only one who had picked up on this particular bias. American Catholics are oblivious to how politicized their form of religion has become, perhaps because they are bombarded with political messages in the guise of religious instruction by the popular media?

As to spending the fair bit of cash, I would add that it is DEFINITELY WORTH spending a chunk of change, rather than getting it done on the cheap. It’s going to be there a long time–you want to start out with a quality product so that, as it deteriorates with time and age, it still looks okay. If you start out with a junk tattoo, it will just get worse.


There is at least one Christian Church in which having a tattoo was common, although mind you it was always of the cross. That is the Ethiopian Orthodox Church where women often had a tattoo of the cross on their forehead. Although the tradition is apparently dying out.





But this thread is running 51/2 to 1 for tattoos. So much for the idea that the answers here will be "conservative’ Whatever that means. On the spectrum of Catholicism this forum is not conservative. In the spectrum of life it probably is. It probably has something to do with all of us being able to afford internet access and going to Church…:stuck_out_tongue:


Sometime around my conversion to Catholicism, either in my RCIA period or just after, I heard an old, kindly priest on EWTN say categorically that tattoos and all other forms of bodily alteration are forbidden, aside from changes to the body’s “natural decorations” (or some such phrase), which I took to mean hair since the priest was not sporting the Dumbledore look. This was a priest who usually gave the impression of holding moderate, mainstream positions.

Because of that, for years I remained under the impression that tattoos and even piercings were sinful bodily mutilations, but I have yet to find any clear Church teaching on that. In fact, religious tattoos are even a traditional practice in Ethiopian Christianity, though I don’t know if this has been retained in the Ethiopian Catholic Church.

The Church does forbid bodily mutilation (except as necessary medical procedures) but presumably this does not include circumcision as God himself once commanded it for the Israelites, and if circumcision does not count than it would seem “mutilation” means only the most extreme measures. I therefore think the decision probably just comes down to prudence and taste.


Go to World News and you will quickly learn just how conservative this forum really can be.

Not liberal, really but it is usually conservative people who object to, and like tattoes less than others.


Here are some answers on tattoos from CAL Senior Apologist Jimmy Akin at this link and a follow-up link.

CA Apologist Michelle Arnold notes her dissenting opinion and reasons as well.

In short, if prudential judgement is applied, the Church has no real objections on them.


Perhaps needles don’t bother me so much because I have been in the hospital so many times for my ailments. You get used to it after a while.


This forum is most certainly very conservative. In fact there is a thread in World News that asks is it possible for a Catholic to vote for the Democratic party.

Not only do the huge majority say it is impossible. but most even call the Democratic party the “Democrat” party in a very uncharitible way.

No one says a word about it, even though everyone is expected to be charitable.


I’ve never had an urge to have a tattoo myself but I have seen some that were well done and aesthetically pleasing and some that were dire. One of the nicer ones I saw was on an Italian girl I worked with years ago who had a pattern of flowers on her ankle that went up to the knee, it was noticeable but discreet and easily disguised for job itnterviews or in work roles where it would not be suitable. One of the worst I’ve seen was an old boss who had a British bulldog on his neck that you could still see over his shirt collar. It made him look thuggish.

As to to the forum a number of non US users have similar views and we also find it hilarious when our nations or Europe is talked of and people attempt to foist US political obsessions onto us.

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