The Catholic Church forbids circumcision for any reason!
#58
St. Augustine observes that the custom of Christians is not neutrality and a lack of preference one way or another when it comes to circumcising, but rather that the practice among Christians is to not circumcise. Augustine identifies the spiritual signification of this practice.

From his Reply to Faustus the Manichean, Book XIX, Paragraph 9. In: Dods M (ed). The Works of Aurelius Augustine, Bishop of Hippo. Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark. 1872. vol. 15, p. 334.

Quote:Accordingly, when you ask why a Christian is not circumcised if Christ came not to destroy the law, but to fulfil it, my reply is, that a Christian is not circumcised precisely for this reason, that what was prefigured by circumcision is fulfilled in Christ.  Circumcision was the type of the removal of our fleshly nature, which was fulfilled in the resurrection of Christ, and which the sacrament of baptism teaches us to look forward to in our own resurrection.  The sacrament of the new life is not wholly discontinued, for our resurrection from the dead is still to come; but this sacrament has been improved by the substitution of baptism for circumcision, because now a pattern of the eternal life which is to come is afforded us in the resurrection of Christ, whereas formerly there was nothing of the kind.

Just as the Jews signified their keeping of the covenant through the outward sign of circumcision, so through our being fleshly uncircumcised we signify the fulfillment of the covenant by Christ and we signify the nature of our spiritual circumcision through baptism.

I would note that the Council of Ferrara, on the matter of circumcision, was directed towards certain Eastern Christians who kept circumcision largely as a matter of secular custom, in deference to neighboring Muslims. This includes the Copts under Islamic rule, as well as certain other Christians in the Orient. In some circumstances, these Christians were forcibly made to circumcise their children by local rulers. Marco Polo relates one such example of an eastern bishop undergoing forced circumcision by command of a ruler in southern Arabia. Even knowing this, the fathers of the council prohibited it!

I also refer you to an old handbook on medical ethics that addresses circumcision as a medical procedure through the lens of Catholic ethical philosophy applied to medicine, written by a Jesuit priest in the 1950s, Medical Ethics by Father Edwin F. Healy, S.J. Loyola University Press, Chicago, 1956. Chapter 4, pp. 121-122:

The Ethics of Mutilation
Quote:MUTILATION IS AN ACTION (an excision or the equivalent) by which an organic function or the use of a member of the body is intentionally destroyed either partially or wholly.  The action consists of cutting out, crushing, burning, X-raying, or in some such manner directly destroying a part of the human body or of rendering an organ permanently inoperative. The mutilation may result in the suppression of an organic function- for example, the destruction of one's vision or power of procreation- or it may consist in the amputation of an arm or a leg.  To strip off skin from the body to use for grafting is not a mutilation, for in this operation no organic function or member of the body is destroyed. Neither would a blood transfusion, nor a face-lifting operation, nor dental extraction be considered mutilations in the technical sense of the term.  Even procedures such as these, however, which are not mutilations in the strict sense of the term, may not be licitly used without a justifying reason.

The general rule regarding mutilation is this, that mutilation is licit only when necessary for preserving the health of the whole body.  The reason that the scope of justifiable mutilations is thus limited is that man has the supreme ownership neither of the whole body nor of its various parts, and that he is therefore not permitted to treat them as though he were the supreme owner.  Man is merely the custodian of his body and its parts.  Directly to destroy the body or one of its parts is to exercise over that object supreme ownership.  One cannot act more clearly in a manner that implies ownership over a thing than by destroying it, for by so doing he puts an end to its very existence.

Mutilation is, however, licit if it is required to conserve the health of the whole body.   To save one's life even at the expense of losing part of the body is the act of a wise administrator.  The whole obviously is better than any single part; and since God has made us stewards of our bodies, we may presume that He desires that we sacrifice a part of the body if that is necessary to conserve the rest.

pp. 128-129
Case 55

Circumcision of Newborn Males
Quote:Dr. J makes it a practice to circumcise all male infants shortly after birth.  He says that this is merely routine procedure and that it is recommended by most competent physicians.

Solution.
Unless there is a positive indication for circumcision, the operation should be omitted.

Explanation.
It has been said that too many physicians practice routine circumcision and give little thought to the complications that can result. In by far the majority of the operations, it is true, there have been no serious complications, but in some cases severe hemorrhage and infection have developed from the surgery.  Unsightly scars, too, have at times resulted.  To expose an infant to such dangers, though they be remote, would not be justified unless there were present a compensating reason. . . In premature babies, or in those not gaining weight as they should, or in those suffering from a blood disease or some infection, there would hardly be sufficient reason to run the risks involved.   Some physicians, it seems, circumcise all male infants, and their motive appears to be mercenary.  Such physicians act in a manner unworthy of their high calling.
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Re: The Catholic Church forbids circumcision for any reason! - by Cyriacus - 02-28-2014, 10:55 AM



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