Left-Handed People and the Catholic Church

Did you know that “Centuries ago, the Catholic Church declared left-handed people to be servants of the Devil? For generations, left-handers who attended Catholic schools were forced to become right-handed. They justified this belief on the basis of several bible quotations that stigmatized left-handedness.

There are also quite a few superstitions about being left-handed. It wasn’t until we realized, in the last century or so, that there are legitimate biological reasons for left-handedness, that people were no longer forced to use their right hand. I’m not the only person who sees the parallels between being left-handed and being gay. You can read a lot more about left-handedness at this site.

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8 comments on “Left-Handed People and the Catholic Church
  1. Kathleen says:

    I’ve read this many times, and I am reasonably sure the church would have made such a declaration. But I have yet to find a citation for a specific church document. Can anyone provide a reference to a church issuance?

  2. I haven’t found a citation for an official church policy, but it certainly has been cited that there was one in numerous published works on left-handedness:
    http://uncletaz.com/at/janfeb04/lefthandedness.html
    That page does a good job of citing the 25 references in the Bible that portray left-handedness as bad, and of citing published scholarly works that discuss Catholic church practices regarding left-handedness.
    Among them:
    http://www.amazon.com/dp/0226569950/
    Right and Left; Essays on Dual Symbolic Classification. (Hardcover)
    by Rodney Needham
    http://www.amazon.com/dp/0091553709/
    Gooch, Stan
    “Creatures from Inner Space”, 1984. Published by Rider & Company, London, UK. Chapter 11 is on left-handedness.
    Discouraging the use of the left hand, to the point of tying a hand behind the back or even disabling permanently the left hand in schools and in church worship was a certainly a Catholic Church practice; one only has to Google to find numerous personal accounts of it. And it continues to this day, if you check out this discussion between members in the forums at catholic.com:
    Quote:
    We have a manner of prayer and worship that incorporates the flesh as a language. People might claim that “it’s no big deal” if I want to do it my way, but I say if “it’s no big deal” then speak the language of your culture. In this case, using the right hand.
    The mosaic of trifles adds up. As a CCD teacher, I re-school any of my kids who genuflect on their left knee or make the sign of the cross with their left hand. We re not a “me-myself-and-I” operation.
    http://forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?s=d07f1abaebf843d2df804f30c90f65aa&t=245545&page=2
    More quotes:
    Matthew 25:31-46 In case you don’t have a Bible handy here’s a summary:
    “When the Son of Man comes as King and all the angels with him, he will sit on his royal throne …. He will put the righteous people at his right and the others at his left. Then the king will say to those on his right, Come you are blessed by my Father …. Then he will say to those on his left “away from me, you that are under God’s curse! Away to the eternal fire which has been prepared for the Devil and his angels.”
    http://forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=245545&page=3

  3. Kathleen says:

    Dear Steph -
    Thanks for your response. Converting lefties was practiced in public school as well in my day (1950′s & 60′s). I know how powerful this belief and practice have been, especially in Catholicism which is extremely rigid (al a the CCD teacher you quoted).
    And as you pointed out there are plenty of scriptural citations that reflect the superstitions held by those who wrote the Bible.
    But I am still looking for any actual church writing upon which the oft alleged ‘the church declared…’ is based.
    Such a declaration may or may not exist, but citing what has been published in another article may just perpetuate an unproven claim and turn it into fact.
    Can anyone cite an actual church source for this ‘declaration’ on left handedness? Thanks

  4. Well, both of those amazon links above seem to be citing a source. I’m fine with that level of reference, but since you’re the one interested in tracking down a church source, I think the responsibility lies with you to check the hardcover books. Not all research can be done on the internet, unfortunately. Sometimes you actually have to get books for this sort of thing. If you’re worried about “debunking” the issue, I recommend getting your own blog and pursuing the issue. I consider the case closed, here.

  5. Darwolf says:

    My dad started left handed and dad broke it until he start using his right hand and he was a preacher.

  6. ED slipper says:

    the catholic church is wrong (not a first for religion!) and its pope is a bastard. left handed people are good and infact they are better than right handed people. they have higher IQs and are more creative. and if that isnt good enough for you religious swines the greatest, most powerful man in the universe, Barack Obama is also left handed. perhaps he will give us equal rights!

  7. Bob Lee says:

    My mother in law was treated very badly because she was left – handed. She attended a standard state secular junior school with a Christan bent. I.e. Singing hymns and saying prayers. The school was called Alaw Juniors and it was during the 1930′s in Glamorgan South Wales.

  8. steph foster says:

    my daughter started r.c school in meir stok-on-trent. She was 5-year-old; now she 18 year old and she still now has problem in which hand to use. She was left handed, now right handed but uses right handed scissors upside down. Now I’ve got another daughter which left handed, and we are moving to blackpool the nearest school to us is r.c school. Now are they still making left handers right handed? I am worried about her, because she got other problems.

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