Thursday, September 13, 2012

Still Waiting for Catholics to Comment on Circumcision

The grandmother carried the sleeping infant boy on a white pillow toward the synagogue’s altar, and passed him to her son. Her son carried the infant toward the mohel, or Jewish ritual circumciser, who stood amid a cluster of chanting men.
The mohel lifted the infant’s clothing to expose his tiny penis. With a rapid flick of a sharp two-sided scalpel, the mohel sliced off the foreskin and held it between his fingers. Then he took a sip of red wine from a cup and bent his head. He placed his lips below the cut, around the base of the baby’s penis, for a split second, creating suction, then let the wine spill from his mouth out over the wound.
You can read the whole story here
[New York City] estimates that metzitzah b’peh is used in some 3,600 local circumcisions each year. The city’s health department says that, between 2000 and 2011, 11 babies contracted herpes as a result, and 2 of them died. This spring, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention declared that the procedure created a risk for transmission of herpes and other pathogens and was “not safe.”
So on Thursday, the city’s Board of Health is scheduled to vote on a proposal that would require parents to sign a consent form indicating that they are aware of the risk of herpes transmission when a circumcision procedure, or bris, includes direct oral contact.
So soon after the "Obama Will Force Catholic Employers to Violate Their Religious Beliefs by Providing Free Contraceptives" hysteria, the issue that circumcision is evil, backward, disfiguring, etc. is on the table.  They are trying to ban it in Germany, San Francisco, and other prominent places. 

Where are the Catholics?????  It seems clear that trying to ban or limit the practice of circumcision is a complete and total infringement on religious freedom.  The circumcision of males is a central tenet of the Jewish faith and I'm told, the Muslim faith.  If I'm wrong on the latter, please correct me.  But, maybe there is something to limiting this practice.  Two babies died from herpes!!!

I'm starting to think that if no bishop, cardinal, bubble dwellers want to tackle the circumcision issue, it makes the whole "Fortnight for Freedom" look like it was really a Fortnight for Not Letting Anybody Employed by Catholics Get Free Birth Control.  If Catholics are pro religious liberty, they are morally compelled to take a stand against any government, federal, state, or local that limits the practice of circumcision.   


  1. Well... I'm a Catholic and I think that circumcision shouldn't be banned. I'm not in favor of the practice, myself, but I support the rights of others to do it for religious reasons.

    Then there's this:

    And this:

    So... your belief that Catholics aren't speaking out against this is false. The thing is that it's more of a local issue, whereas the HHS Mandate is a national issue (not to mention a time-sensitive one, given that the presidential election could very well decide if it stands or not).

    Perhaps you should do a simple Google search before proclaiming that Catholics don't care about this issue?

  2. Arguably, same-sex marriage is not a national issue. It's only on the ballot in a handful of states, yet the USCCB website lists "marriage and family" on their list of urgent issues.

    Even though this issue has shown up in a few blog posts by Catholic individuals, I don't see the Catholic community rallying to the aid of the Jewish community, even though outlawing circumcision represents a far greater threat to freedom of religion than the "freedom" of employers to coerce insurance companies into not offering contraceptive coverage to their female employees. The silence of the USCCB is deafening.

  3. With "the first gay President" refusing to defend DOMA, and the Prop 8 decision heading to the U.S. Supreme Court, gay marriage very much is a national issue.

    Also, if the federal government was proposing a ban on circumcision, then yes, the USCCB would be involved. However, it's illogical to think that the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops would organize a campaign/protests against Germany's laws, and the Archdiocese of San Fransisco has spoken out against the city's local ban on circumcision.

  4. Joanna, why do a google search when you do the work for me? Thanks, and I stand somewhat corrected. I suppose my point was why were the bloggers that were so involved in the contraception coverage issue had nothing to say about circumcision? I don't read any Catholic blogs except for infertile Catholic blogs so that's my sphere.

    Again, I appreciate your comments on this issue. I find it strange that you only come out for my controversial posts. You call yourself a Catholic ten ways until Sunday but you appear to lack any sort of Christian compassion. Why bother reading my blog if you can't show any support? I write about my personal life and share what matters to me. Christians should show kindness. I guess that's what I've found funny about some Catholics since I've become one. They have so much love for the Church's teachings, they can't bother to spare some for Christians.

  5. I try to limit my commenting, Airing, because you've made it clear before that you dislike my comments, no matter what they are. The last time I tried to post a supportive comment, you just about snapped my (virtual) head off, and ended up deleting my comment and then the entire post. I thought I was doing you a favor by praying for you instead of publicly commenting. Now that I know that my refraining from commenting offends you as much as my commenting apparently does, I'm not quite sure how I would go about not offending you at all. But please do continue showing me an example of Christian compassion and kindness. It seems I have a lot to learn from you.

    Still, I thought I would participate in this thread given that you seemed to be very misinformed about the Catholic response to the issue of circumcision. If it were a local issue for many bloggers, or if a ban on circumcision was being considered at a federal level, you would probably hear more about it. Thankfully, San Francisco seems to be the only city in the United States trying to quash religious freedom via banning circumcision (and given that the AAP recently issued a statement in favor of the choice of routine infant circumcision, there doesn't seem to be a danger of a ban being implemented in the US).

  6. JoAnna, I think we're finally getting somewhere. My memory is a bit fuzzy but I think the deleted comment and post was about my desire to not get my period for a while by using BCPs. I said how trying to get pregnant and failing had become so stressful, I was feeling literally crazy. You, I believe, had suggested I see a shrink to address my "real" problems. You said your husband dealt with similar issues so you felt my plight.

    In actuality, no woman that has ever conceived can possibly know the particular pain felt by women that can't conceive. I still don't know why certain mommy bloggers like the infertiles, but this is the internet and you can go where you want. So, the way to not offend me is to not get personal or pretend you know what I'm experiencing. Because you can make love with your husband and get pregnant. I can't.

    I always welcome prayers for me and especially appreciate supportive comments. There are ways to extend a little bit of compassion when a blogger is dealing with life difficulties no matter what they are without offering advice that's not needed.

    1. You're not remembering accurately. My comment had nothing whatsoever to do with your TTC journey.

      As I recall, you made a comment about having manic-depressive episodes around the time your period arrived, and rather than dealing with the manic-depressive episodes themselves, your plan was to use contraception so you wouldn't menstruate any longer. Given that my husband has lived with bipolar disorder as long as I've known him (and I was the one who had to live with and through his manic-depressive episodes until, through trial and error, he got on the right medication), I suggested that perhaps medication to treat the manic-depressive episodes would be a better way to go, since skipping your period wouldn't solve the the underlying problem.

      I've very fortunate that infertility has never been my particular cross to bear, but that's really irrelevant and doesn't negate my experience of living with an individual with bipolar disorder, and I can tell you that the right medication made all the difference in his life and in our marriage.

  7. I'm not negating your experience with your husband. What I said was that living with his experience gives you absolutely no insight into my issues. I strongly object to you judging my situation saying that stopping my period would not solve my problem. That was my problem; extreme sadness over not getting pregnant (evidenced by my period) after trying very hard to do so. The only reason, I suspect you object to BCPs is because the Catholic Church says it's a no-no. Not because you think it won't solve my individual problem.

    Before you comment on this thread again, I suggest review your statement, "I've very fortunate that infertility has never been my particular cross to bear, but that's really irrelevant...." It's far from irrelevant, JoAnna if you don't know what it's like to not have your husband's child, someone you love and treasure with your whole being. I don't ask for pity but to wholesale dismiss infertility as something that you're fortunate not have experienced is patently offensive to me. So, if you can't keep equating your non-related experiences to mine and can't muster a simple, "I'm sorry 'x' happened to you" or "I'm so happy for you and your husband because of 'x', I suggest you give up on me and go somewhere else.

    1. What I said was that living with his experience gives you absolutely no insight into my issues.

      I don't believe I claimed that it did.

      The only reason, I suspect you object to BCPs is because the Catholic Church says it's a no-no.

      This just proves you know absolutely nothing about me or my journey to Catholicism. Learning about NFP was one of the pathways that led me to the Church, not the other way around.

      And no, contraception alone won't solve your problem. Removing one of the triggers for manic-depressive episodes doesn't cure or even manage bipolar disorder; it only means another trigger for episodes will eventually surface in some form.

      I don't think you quite get what I'm saying or why I'm saying it. I understand that your infertility is a trigger for your manic-depressive episodes, which is completely understandable. Being able to identify your triggers are important; however, as I said above, removing the trigger will only do so much.

      My husband's bipolar disorder was at one time so severe that we had to separate for several months. I had no idea if our marriage would survive, or if I'd ever have more children (because I knew I would stay married to him even if we had to remain separated indefinitely). Thankfully my husband was able to get good help, better medication, and we were able to reconcile. But it was pure hell for a few months and I don't wish that on anyone. Even now he's very careful about taking his meds regularly, and he sees a psychiatrist once per month as well as a therapist -- and all that is in addition to removing as many triggers as possible from his life.

      I'm sorry you're in pain, but I'm happy you're in a better place now. Peace?

  8. I will say that some of the darkest moments I've ever had have been CD 1. The emotional rollercoaster of PMS, plus the debilitating pain I go through each month, plus the disappointment of not being pregnant again, plus the anxiety that I will never get pregnant. The only thing that has kept me from self-harm is that I can't bring myself to inflict that kind of pain on my husband and family.

    I totally understand why you would need a time-out from TTC.

  9. Well, this is the first I've heard of the issue! I certainly think that a ban on this practice would be ridiculous (while it has ritual significance for some religions, it's also recommended for hygienic reasons by doctors). If there is a disease transmission issue, wouldn't a RATIONAL ordinance be targeted at the sterilization of instruments? By the logic they're using here, PAP smears should be banned - there is certainly a risk of transmission of herpes. But instead, they require the procedures to be sterile. Novel thought! I also note that the incidence of complications (and infection) from abortion is through the roof by comparison, and apparently we just can't ban THAT, despite the fact that the right to same is only in an "emanation" of a "penumbra" of a handful of largely unspecified amendments, rather than not explicitly stated in the very first amendment ("Congress shall make no law...respecting...the establishment of religion, or the free exercise thereof").

    I should note, though, that the American institutional Church (i.e., the USCCB) is extremely slow to get its act together, and has shockingly poor judgment on when to do so and how. In my opinion, its unusually active response to the HHS mandate is not a product of moral outrage (sterilization and abortifacients are contrary to the good of the human person and should not be used!) but the direct impact on its own operations. (I really don't think it's the money, by the way, since the ninnies supported the health care statute in general and that's obviously much more expensive than the previous scheme, but I can't be sure what's in their heads.) That's sort of nice, in that the bishops are exercised about the idea of being required to cooperate materially in evil, but it would be nice if they also noticed when their flocks were going to face similar requirements. Which they more or less haven't MENTIONED.

    Back to the circumcision bit, though - while Catholics in other locations may not react that strongly to the law in NYC and Europe, on this issue I think our sympathies with the Jews are especially strong. Circumcision is not a religious ritual for Catholics, but it is traditional - I don't know of many, perhaps any, men who were raised Catholic and are not circumcised. (Not that I go around asking, but whenever the subject comes up, that is the information I get.)

    I have a feeling that Jewish voters in the NYC area are well able to take on this issue, though, and I am very interested to see how they will do so.