20 April 2011

Circumcision

From this website:
This little one is not screaming. He is not sleeping. But he has gone into shock: a semi-comatose state that the human body slips into in order to physically survive extreme pain and trauma.

After the cutting of his genitals is complete, this little baby may sleep for many hours a day over the next several days or weeks (much more than is normal or healthy for a newborn, and similar to the deep depressive-state sleep that adults often slip into after trauma). He may experience severe 'colic' for weeks and months to come, as his body attempts to heal itself and deal with the very real pain and suffering of both a festering amputation wound, and post-traumatic stress. His cortisol levels (stress hormones) remain high. His metabolic brain functioning has changed. He may have trouble nursing or gaining weight, and he has a significantly greater risk of being deemed a 'failure to thrive' case. He will likely experience pain to a heightened degree in the future, even into adulthood. And his normal sexual functioning is forever impacted as a result of this alteration in form.
The General Council of Vienna held that "Christians may not be enticed into Judaism; neither may they be circumcised for any reason." The Council of Florence, in "Cantate Domino" (1441) signed by Pope Eugene IV, taught:
All, therefore, who after that time [Christ's sacrifice] observe circumcision ...it declares alien to the Christian faith and not in the least fit to participate in eternal salvation, unless some day they recover from these errors.
And in the "Bull of Union with the Copts", the same Pope warns:
Therefore it strictly orders all who glory in the name of Christian, not to practise circumcision either before or after baptism, since whether or not they place their hope in it, it cannot possibly be observed without loss of eternal salvation.
I stayed in the room with my son Michael when he was circumcised; although I was completely against it, my husband had insisted. I pleaded with him to change his mind many times--to no avail. The nurse suggested I wait outside while the procedure was done, but there was no way in hell I was going to let my newborn undergo this trauma while I flipped through a magazine in the lounge. I requested anesthesia, and watched as the doctor strapped his legs down onto a plastic tray stained with blood and stuck an enormous needle into his little testicles while he emitted a piercing shriek. The rest of the time was spent uselessly attempting to comfort him, and praying interiorly for strength for him (and for myself) as he lay there wailing till he was purple. How does one console anyone--adult or child--as he takes a scalpel to the most sensitive part of his body? And considering that a newborn has more nerve endings per square inch than an adult, and has not yet developed any defense mechanisms to deal with pain, the procedure is doubly cruel.

I wasn't terribly fond of my husband for a long time afterwards.

Here, Fr. John Dietzen discusses the morality of circumcision.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church states, "Except when performed for strictly therapeutic medical reasons, directly intended amputations, mutilations and sterilizations performed on innocent persons are against moral law" (N. 2297).

Elective circumcision clearly violates that standard. It is an amputation and mutilation, and, to my knowledge, and as you note, no significant medical group in the world defends it as having any therapeutic value. In 1999 the Council on Scientific Affairs of the American Medical Association stated that neonatal circumcision is nontherapeutic because no disease is present and no therapeutic treatment is required.
Catholic Dads: if you insist on having your sons circumcised because you want him to "be like you," the Magisterium teaches that that isn't a sufficient reason. And Catholic Moms--what the hell are you thinking?
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