Pope Francis Gives His Blessing for Tattoos

Thomas D. Williams, Ph.D. – March 20, 2018

There is nothing wrong with tattoos, Pope Francis told a group of young people Monday, urging them to be open to cultural expressions of “belonging.”

Asked about tattoos and other expressions of modern culture by a seminarian from Ukraine, the pope said that the problem is that some people exaggerate by covering their body with tattoos, but “the problem is the exaggeration, not the tattoos.”

Yulian Vendzilovych, a seminarian at Holy Spirit Seminary in Lviv, told the pope that some people sport tattoos to express beauty, and others as a cultural symbol, but it is not easy for a young priest to judge which parts of modern culture are good and which are not.

“Don’t be afraid of tattoos,” the pope responded, noting that for many years Eritrean Christians and others have gotten tattoos of the cross on their foreheads.

A tattoo “is a sign of belonging,” Francis said, and offers an opportunity to strike up a conversation with young people about what matters to them “and then you can enter into the culture of the young.”