Out of curiosity, people tend to ask a lot of questions about the do’s and don’ts of a Catholic Priest. “Can a priest do this?” “Can a priest do that?” And one of the most asked questions about what a priest can or cannot do (aside from getting married) is on getting a tattoo. In this blog post, we will answer, Can a Catholic Priest get a Tattoo?
Catholic Teaching on Tattoos
Before we specifically delve into the priest getting a tattoo, let’s begin by discussing Catholic teaching on this matter.
The Catholic Church does not have teaching or rules on getting tattoos. It does not prohibit and it does not allow it either. That said, the Catechism warns the faithful about the immorality of body mutilation.
CCC 2297 Except when performed for strictly therapeutic medical reasons, directly intended amputations, mutilations, and sterilizations performed on innocent persons are against the moral law.
To define what mutilation is, it is when a procedure affects the structure and function of the body. In tattooing, there is an argument that it is just a form of bodily decoration such as wearing jewelry or make-up and not some sort of major surgery that alters the body’s original purpose.
Originally, based on the scriptures, getting a tattoo is a sin.
“Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the Lord.”
But, this is followed by warning the people against customizing their bodies, such as cutting, braiding, or dyeing their hair. This however, is from the ceremonial laws which are not longer in effect because of Christ’s death on the cross.
Therefore, getting a tattoo is now under the moral law, which is up and running to this day.
Since mutilation is what the Church is against, getting a tattoo is fine. However, one must discern well.
These are some of the considerations when getting a tattoo.
- Disobedience to parents– When you are under the authority of your parents, their approval is necessary. According to the 4th Commandment, “Honor your father and your mother.” If you disobey them, you might break this and thus be sinful.
- Health risk– If getting a tattoo could affect your health adversely, it is also sinful and is considered mutilation which the Church forbids.
- Image– The image to get also can determine if it is sinful or not. If it promotes profanity, vulgarity, satanism, or sex, it is apparently wrong.
These points should be considered in having a tattoo. Since having one is under moral law, it could break this law and fall as a sin.
Priest vs Laity
The Church’s stand on getting a tattoo applies to both clergy and laity. Just like a lay Catholic person, a priest also subscribes to what the Church believes on getting a tattoo.
So to answer the question.
Can a Catholic Priest get a Tattoo?
Yes. A Catholic Priest can get a tattoo. The Catholic Church does not prohibit getting one. However, it is essential to have a proper discernment, knowing the intention. If is against the Church and its teachings or for the common good, one must avoid getting one.
You are probably discerning for priesthood and confused if it would hinder you from getting a tattoo. As Catholics we are given freewill. But, we must use it with clear conscience.
There is nothing wrong with getting a tattoo. The Catholic Church does not forbid it however, we must be responsible of its repercussions not only in ourselves but also for others, assuring that we are still following what the Church teaches.