A joint statement of the Rabbinical Centre of Europe, the European Jewish Association, the German Turkish-Islamic Union of Religious Affairs and the Islamic Center Brussels, said that the Cologne verdict was “an affront to our basic religious and human rights.”
The critics of the Cologne verdict were supported by Cardinal Joachim Meisner, the Catholic Archbishop of Cologne. “We have to speak out against the tendency to restrict religious freedom and the right of parents to raise their children in a religious way,” he said. He was supported by Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Mueller, the Vatican’s Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The Protestant Church also criticized the verdict. Hans Michael Heinig, the president of the Institute for Ecclesiastical Law of the Evangelical Church, called the verdict “a triumph of antireligious zealots.”
The verdict also drew criticism from Germany’s three major political parties, the Christian-Democrats, Social-Democrats and Liberals. Last Thursday, the governing Christian-Democrats and Liberals teamed up with the oppositional Social-Democrats to call on the government to “present a draft law in the autumn … that guarantees that the circumcision of boys, carried out with medical expertise and without unnecessary pain, is permitted.” The cross-party motion explicitly acknowledges that “circumcision has a central religious significance for Jews and Muslims” and adds that “Jewish and Muslim religious life must continue to be possible in Germany.”
The new law would overrule the decision of the Cologne court. For the time being, however, the verdict still stands, as does the advice of the German Medical Association for doctors not to perform religious circumcisions.
An opinion poll indicates that, despite the political initiative to have the Cologne verdict overruled by a law later this year, a majority of Germans favors a ban of male circumcision. In a Europe that is becoming ever more secular, there is a real danger that religious practices will gradually be pushed aside in order to assure that the impression is not given that little children and (in ritual slaughter) animals are made to suffer.
It is indicative of this trend that the doctors’ associations in Germany are mostly in favor of the ban on religious circumcision of boys. Outside Germany similar attitudes are gaining ground. In the Netherlands, for instance, the Royal Dutch Association of Physicians published a paper two years ago advocating a ban on non-medical circumcision of boys, analoguous to the ban on female genital mutilation. In violation of their Hippocratic Oath to do no harm, doctors are interpreting a medical practice in purely religious terms — choosing religion over science.
Originally published by the Gatestone Institute http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org