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The morality of body piercing
Q. I am the mother of three girls, ages 17, 15 and 11. Our two older girls have been asking permission to have their navels pierced. For now, my husband has told them "no," but he has promised to reassess once the girls have taken the time to present to him a list of "pros and cons."
Is there anything in Catholic teaching that opposes body piercing? The girls are straight-A students and participate in Life Teen (which is a Eucharist-based program of youth ministry). They say they want the piercing because it "looks nice." I'm not opposed to it, but I'd like to know first what the church thinks. (Murrells Inlet, S.C.)
A. The Catholic Church has no fixed position on body piercing. The church does, of course, prohibit mutilation (Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 2297), but that really means altering the functioning of a body part, for example, plucking out an eye or cutting off a finger.
The catechism also says that "life and physical health are precious gifts entrusted to us by God" and that "we must take reasonable care of them." Caution would preclude using dirty needles that might cause bodily infection. As to your daughters' view that a pierced navel "looks nice," I suppose beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Anyhow, you didn't ask my opinion on that!
Questions may be sent to Father Kenneth Doyle at firstname.lastname@example.org and 40 Hopewell St., Albany, NY 12208.