VATICAN CITY, Nov 8 (Reuters) – Transgender people can be godparents at Roman Catholic baptisms, witnesses at religious weddings and receive baptism themselves, the Vatican’s doctrinal office said on Wednesday, responding to questions from a bishop.
The department, known as the Dicastery of the Doctrine of the Faith, was vague however, in response to a question of whether a same-sex couple could have a Church baptism for an adopted child or one obtained through a surrogate mother.
Bishop Jose Negri of Santo Amaro in Brazil sent the doctrinal office six questions in July regarding LGBT people and their participation in the sacraments of baptism and matrimony.
The three pages of questions and answers were signed by the department’s head, Argentine Cardinal Víctor Manuel Fernández, and approved by Pope Francis on Oct. 31. They were posted on the department’s website on Wednesday using the Italian word for “transsexuals”.
Francis, 86, has tried to make the Church more welcoming to the LGBT community without changing Church teachings, including one saying that same-sex attraction is not sinful but same-sex acts are.
In response to a question of whether transgender people can be baptized, the doctrinal office said they could with some conditions and as long as there is “no risk of causing a public scandal or disorientation among the faithful”.
It said transgender people could be godparents at a baptism at the discretion of the local priest as well as a witness at a Church wedding, but the local priest should exercise “pastoral prudence” in his decision.
“This is an important step forward in the Church seeing transgender people not only as people (in a Church where some say they don’t really exist) but as Catholics,” Father James Martin, a prominent Jesuit priest and supporter of LGBT rights in the Church, said on X, formerly known as Twitter.
Francis has met with transgender people and in July, he told a transgender person: “Even if we are sinners, he (God) draws near to help us. The Lord loves us as we are, this is God’s crazy love.”