Vatican Approves Baptism, Godparent Roles for Transgender Catholics
The Vatican’s doctrinal office has confirmed that transgender people can be godparents at Roman Catholic baptisms, witnesses at religious weddings, and receive baptism themselves. The Pope has previously met with transgender people and has expressed a desire to make the Church more welcoming to the LGBT community without changing Church teachings. However, the Church was less clear on whether a same-sex couple could have a Church baptism for an adopted child or one obtained through a surrogate mother.
Vatican Approves Transgender Participation in Church Sacraments
The Vatican’s doctrinal office has declared that transgender people can be godparents at Roman Catholic baptisms, witnesses at religious weddings, and can receive baptism themselves. The announcement came on Wednesday as a response to inquiries from a bishop.
Lack of clarity, however, remains in the question of whether a same-sex couple could have a Church baptism for an adopted child or one obtained through a surrogate mother. These questions were posed by Bishop Jose Negri of Santo Amaro in Brazil, who sent six questions concerning LGBT people and sacraments of baptism and matrimony to the doctrinal department in July.
The responses were signed by the department’s head, Argentine Cardinal Víctor Manuel Fernández, and were approved by Pope Francis. They were posted on the department’s website using the Italian term for “transsexuals”.
Pope Francis has strived to make the Church more welcoming towards the LGBT community, maintaining that same-sex attraction is not sinful, but same-sex acts are. The document further indicated that a person in a same-sex relationship could be a witness at a Catholic wedding, citing the absence of any prohibition in the current Church canonical legislation.
As for the baptism of transgender people, the doctrinal office noted some conditions and emphasized the need to avoid causing a “public scandal or disorientation among the faithful”. The office further stated that transgender people could be godparents, subject to the discretion of the local priest, who should exercise “pastoral prudence” in his decision.
The Vatican’s decision marks an important progression in the Church’s view of transgender people, not only acknowledging their existence but recognizing them as Catholics. This is seen as a significant step towards LGBT inclusion in the Church.
In previous encounters, Pope Francis has shown compassion to transgender individuals, assuring them of God’s unconditional love, regardless of their status as sinners.
Guidance was sought regarding if a same-sex couple who adopted a child or had one through surrogacy could have the child baptized in a Catholic ceremony. The response specified that for a child of a same-sex couple to be baptized, there should be a “well-founded hope that it would be educated in the Catholic religion”. A similarly nuanced response was given to the question of whether individuals in same-sex relationships could be godparents, stating that the person should “lead a life that conforms to the faith”.
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