Body Art and the Catholic Church
I have always wondered if the Catholic church approved of tattooing and body piercing. I am not the type of person that most people think of when they think of tattooed or pierced individual. When I tell people that I have tattoos, people always say “but you don’t seem like the kind of person who would get a tattoo.” I personally do not believe that certain kinds of people get tattoos and I wondered what my religion would think of my “art.” I have gone to a Catholic church my whole life; I am actually very active in my church. I teach a four year old CCD (or Catholic Sunday school) class and I used to play my flute in the choir. CCD registrations this year made my mind burn with this unanswered question. Do I need to cover up my tattoo while I am teaching?
Now most people don’t think that I have as many modifications as I do. If you look at my ears, they are actually pierced eight times, and counting my navel ring and eyebrow ring, that makes ten. I also have two tattoos. One tattoo is on my lower back. The tattoo is a small penguin. He is about two inches tall. The other takes up almost all of the side of my right foot. My best friend designed this one for me; it is an orange flower with tribal designs and vines coming from both sides of it. I am very proud of my tattoos, because they mean something to me and represent something about myself. Because I am a fairly shy person, my tattoos (or navel piercing) are not revealed unless someone asks to see them. When I got all of my modifications done, I never considered my religion. I believe that if I am a good person who loves God, my tattoos will not matter. Now that I have a visible tattoo on my foot, I wondered if all of my dress shoes will have to cover it while I am in the classroom.
I began searching for an answer. The first site I found, the Latin Mass Magazine, said that tattoos can be morally wrong if the modifications become excessive. The author of the article even seemed to have trouble drawing the line of excessive. The author, Father Peter Joseph, states that he can not clearly say what is right or wrong, but he tries to point out “facts” that should be considered before becoming inked; satanic tattoos are defined as being a sin as well as tattoos that show the ugliness of the world. For example, a floral tattoo that is filled with vibrant colors can become faded and ugly over time, therefore even the most beautiful tattoos can become ugly. The text also says that tattoos and piercing are considered to be self-mutilation. Father Peter Joseph said that “The human body was not made by God to be a pin cushion or a mural (Joseph).”
I did not agree with this text at all. I think that the person who wrote this was trying to say that tattoos and body piercing are wrong, but he didn’t want to literally say that. He tiptoed around the issue so that all tattooed or pierced people appeared to be vain sinners.
The information that I found so far...