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Vatican takes ‘step’ towards transgender Catholics

Vatican City (AFP) – LGBTQ rights campaigners welcomed a Vatican statement that transgender people can be baptised as a step towards a more inclusive Catholic Church, but denounced caveats that provide cover to those who object.

In a document published on Wednesday, the powerful Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, one of the main departments that manages the affairs of the Holy See, said transgender believers can be baptised if it would not cause scandal or confusion.

The document, written in response to questions from a Brazilian bishop and approved by Pope Francis, also raised no objections to baptism for the children of same-sex couples, either adopted or born through surrogacy.

In reality, such baptisms already occur in different dioceses around the world.

But by putting it in black and white, the Vatican appears to be insisting on the importance of the vision promoted by the pope since he took office in 2013, that the Church should be “open to all”.

‘Feel part of their church’

“It is definitely a step towards a more inclusive church and a reminder that transgender Catholics are not only people but Catholics too,” US Jesuit priest James Martin, a well-known advocate for LGBTQ believers, told AFP.

“In many parishes and dioceses they have been severely excluded. I hope that this Vatican ruling now makes it easier for them to feel part of what is, after all, their Church too.”

For observers, it was a sign of the pope's delicate balancing act
For observers, it was a sign of the pope’s delicate balancing act © Andreas SOLARO / AFP

Jean-Michel Dunand, founder of the French community of Bethanie, which serves gay and transgender believers, said the Vatican statement was “consistent with the magisterium (teaching) of Pope Francis”…


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