Pope Francis confirmed in a new statement that trans individuals can be baptised and act as godparents and marriage witnesses under the same conditions as their cisgender Catholic counterparts.
The statement comes following a dubia (a request for clarity from the Vatican) on the space held for trans individuals in the Catholic Church. The pontiff responded to the dubia stating that trans people can partake in all of the same Catholic practices as cis individuals, so long as their participation does not put the church at risk of undue scandal.
Pope Francis similarly announced that trans children and adolescents can be baptised as members of the Catholic Church so long as they are “well prepared and willing.”
The pontiff also responded to a number of other questions posed to the Vatican by Bishop José Negri of Santo Amaro, Brazil. Bishop Negri brought the questions to the Vatican, stating that he was unsure of the “possible participation in baptism and weddings by transexual persons and homo-affective persons.”
In a statement responding to Bishop Negri’s questions, Pope Francis wrote that there was “nothing in current universal canonical legislations that prohibits” members of the LGBTQ+ community from serving as witnesses to Catholic marriages.
Further speaking on the role of trans individuals in the Church, Pope Francis stated that transgender people can act as godparents “under certain conditions.” These conditions include “pastoral prudence,” which the pontiff declared is necessary to avoid the “danger of scandal” and confusion amongst Catholics.
While the Pope’s statement does not give trans individuals equal status in the Catholic Church, the Vatican’s vocal support and acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community in recent months has resulted in widespread acclaim.
In response to Pope Francis’ most recent statement, Sarah Kate Ellis, the President and CEO of GLAAD, wrote: “Pope Francis’ latest LGBTQ affirmation sends an unequivocal message to political and cultural leaders around the world to end their persecution and exclusion of transgender people.
“Pope Francis is continuing to break down barriers that have kept LGBTQ Catholics away from full participation as members of the Roman Catholic Church and is instead calling on global leaders to create welcoming spaces for LGBTQ people.”
Throughout the course of his time as Pope, the pontiff has regularly used his platform to encourage the Catholic Church to be more accepting and supportive of LGBTQ+ individuals.
In October, Pope Francis announced that same-sex couples could have their unions blessed by the Catholic Church for the first time in its 2,000-year history. In a letter announcing the decision, the pontiff wrote: “When you ask for a blessing, you are expressing a request from God, a prayer to be able to live better, a trust in a father who can help us live better.”
Similar to his most recent statement, however, Pope Francis also commented that the union of same-sex couples was subject to “pastoral prudence” and “pastoral charity.”
In January of this year, the pontiff similarly reminded members of the Catholic Church that “homosexuality is not a crime,” as well as condemning nations who treat it as such, calling them “unjust.”
Pope Francis’ most recent statement on the role of transgender individuals in the Catholic Church was co-signed by Argentinian Archbishop Víctor Manuel Fernández. Archbishop Fernández was recently appointed as the new prefect of the Vatican’s Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith – the body responsible for promoting and defending Catholic doctrine.
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