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« Yet More on Tattoos | Main | Sinful Thoughts? »

March 06, 2004



I understand the Catholic Church does not have a position against tattooing. But, do you think it's appropriate for a priest to bless a person's tattoo of religious nature i.e. the virgin or a cross?


The Church does not have an official position on tattoos and ear piercing. However, Fr. Mitch Pacwa points out that in the Old Testament – I believe it’s in the Book of Deuteronomy – it talks about not marking the body.

Fr. Pacwa always puts it this way: he says it’s like putting a mustache on the Mona Lisa. When you understand – and, again, that’s not a dogmatic teaching of the Church – but there are principles in Sacred Scripture that tells us that the body is sacred.

To put these tattoos and such, we have to be reasonable. If somebody gets a small tattoo or pierces their ears, we’re not going to say that that’s a sin. However, we have to be moderate; let our moderation be known to all, as Scripture says. Keep this principle in mind, that our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit.

In the Old Testament, we do have laws that say you’re not to mark the body and there are reasons for that. Now, that doesn’t mean it’s a sin for a lady to get a little rose on her ankle. We’re not saying that. We have to be circumspect and in all of these matters, we should be different than the world. We should have a higher standard. Don’t go too far on this saying that whoever gets a tattoo is sinning, but at the same time keep in mind these principles. Moderation is the key here. But that’s about as far as we can go.

Just look at some of these folks that have so many holes in them that if they took a drink, they may just end up like the cartoon character with liquid squirting out of the holes from their bodies. Our culture has just gone crazy with this sort of thing and one does have to think about that sort of paganism; the context in which God condemned marking the body in the Old Testament.

That may well come into play with some of these examples of extreme piercing. These can be external manifestations of a deep spiritual problem. Somebody who wants to poke holes all over their bodies is perhaps revealing that there is a deeper problem that someone (e.g., a parent or relative) may need to get to.

Though those of us in the Church aren't going to be running around and condemning everybody for piercing their nose but we should be, as Catholic Christians, concerned about the hearts and the souls of folks who resort to those kinds of practices.

Some Day

Remember, the Sacred Order of the Universe, the way God wants and created the Universe, must be respected. Doing things with your body tha are against true beauty, that is the reflection of God in Creation, is a sin.

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