The Vatican announced Wednesday that transgender people can be baptized and become godparents under certain conditions, as well as serve as witnesses to church weddings.
The Pope’s Support of Transgender Ideology
Pope Francis, who has made reaching out to L.G.B.T.Q. Catholics a hallmark of his papacy, has made clear that transgender people can be baptized, serve as godparents and be witnesses at church weddings, furthering his vision of a more inclusive church.
The statement, which was written in Portuguese, was made in response to a Brazilian bishop who asked the Vatican about the church’s stance on transgender people within its congregations.
The pope’s embrace of transgender people’s participation in the church was revealed in a Vatican document that he approved on Oct. 31 and that was posted online Wednesday.
A transgender person “may receive baptism under the same conditions as other faithful,” so long as this does not cause “scandal or disorientation” among other Catholics, terms that were not further defined in the document. It also says that transgender people “can be admitted to the role of godfather or godmother” and that “there is nothing” in canon law prohibiting transgender people from witnessing marriage ceremonies.
It goes on to say that people in same-sex relationships similar to marriage, which the church opposes, do not conform to the faith, suggesting they should not become godparents.
Answers from the Vatican were vague regarding whether same-sex couples could hold a baptism for a child who had been adopted or was born via surrogacy.
“Welcoming transgender people more fully to the sacraments is a good step,” Francis DeBernardo, the executive director of New Ways Ministry, a Maryland-based group that advocates for gay Catholics, said in a statement.
The decision “signals Pope Francis’ desire for a pastorally focused approach to L.G.B.T.Q.+ issues is taking hold,” he added.
The church document was signed by Argentine Cardinal Víctor Manuel Fernández, head of the Dicastery of the Doctrine of the Faith, and was subsequently approved by Pope Francis last month, reported Reuters.
The Vatican said the document Francis approved last month simply clarified church teaching and did not constitute new policy or a change in policy.
“There are no doctrinal changes here — the importance of the document is typical of Francis’s whole papacy — namely, it takes a very pastoral approach to some very thorny issues of the church today,” said Nicholas P. Cafardi, a prominent canon lawyer in Pennsylvania.
“People with homosexual tendencies are children of God,” said the pope in February. “God loves them, God is with them.”
The guidance published by the Vatican is not new and largely stems from a “confidential note” on “transsexualism” published in December 2018, the Dicastery said.
The decision follows shortly after the pope showed an openness to blessing same-sex unions in the church.
In January of this year, the pope said in an interview with the Associated Press that while homosexuality itself “is not a crime,” same-sex sexual relations are a “sin.” He also made a point of saying that parents of LGBTQ+ children should not “condemn” them.
Francis has removed conservative officials who once led the powerful Dicastery on Vatican doctrine and placed Fernández, an Argentine cardinal considered close to him, at its helm.
Last month, Fernández and Francis issued guidance that opened the door to blessings of same-sex couples, as long as a distinction was made with the sacrament of marriage.
Get the news you need at It’s On News.