Pope Francis approves baptism for transgenders in major step forward for Church

In a significant move towards inclusivity, the Vatican has declared that transgender individuals can now be baptised “under the conditions of other faithful” and can serve as godparents or witnesses at weddings.

The clarification comes in response to inquiries addressed to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Pope Francis has endorsed the statement issued by the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, emphasising a more inclusive stance within the Church.

Cardinal Victor Manuel Fernandez of Argentina further clarified that the child of a same-sex couple, whether adopted or conceived through surrogacy, can also be baptised. The clarification marks a notable step forward for the Church, aligning with Pope Francis’s recent statements highlighting the Church’s openness.

As early as August, Pope Francis had reiterated the Church’s openness during a press conference after returning from Portugal. “The Church is open to everyone,” he said, acknowledging that there are regulations governing life within the Church. He stressed that saying someone “cannot receive sacraments” does not mean the Church is closed.

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The Pope’s words came in response to questions about the perceived inconsistency regarding the access of gay individuals and women to sacraments.

“Everyone encounters God in their own way within the Church, and the Church is a mother that guides each person on their path,” Pope Francis added. He criticised the reduction of the Church to mere ideas, calling it a “gnostic” and “unhelpful” perspective.

Regarding homosexuality and acceptance in the Church, Pope Francis spoke in an interview with La Civiltà Cattolica in August, saying in reference to the LGBTQ community: “To spiritually and pastorally accompany people, it takes a lot of sensitivity and creativity. But everyone, everyone, everyone is called to live in the Church: never forget it.”

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The latest Vatican’s directive outlines that a transgender person, even if they have undergone hormonal treatment or sex reassignment surgery, can now receive baptism under the same conditions as other faithful, provided there is no risk of causing public scandal or confusion among the faithful.

In the case of transgender children or adolescents, the Vatican guidance states that, if well-prepared and willing, they can also receive baptism. Transgender individuals can also be witnesses at weddings or serve as godparents under certain conditions, with pastoral prudence being exercised to “avoid scandal”.

The document also addressed the question of gay parents or those who have children through surrogacy. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith responded to a query from a Brazilian bishop, stating that for a child to be baptised, there must be a “well-founded hope that the child will be brought up in the Catholic religion”. This response acknowledges the diversity of family structures and signals a more inclusive approach within the Church.

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