The Vatican has affirmed that transgender individuals, including those who have undergone medical transitions, can be baptised as Catholics.
This pivotal announcement comes from the Vatican’s Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, responding to questions posed by Bishop José Negri of Santo Amaro, Brazil.
Baptism on a Case-by-Case Basis
The ruling states that transgender individuals, even those who have undergone hormone treatment and gender affirmation surgery, may receive baptism under the same conditions as other faithful.
However, a crucial condition is emphasised: there should be “no risk of causing scandal or disorientation” among the faithful.
In addition to baptism, the Vatican’s declaration asserts that transgender individuals are eligible to serve as godparents and witnesses, provided “pastoral prudence” is exercised.
The Vatican, however, does not support individuals in same-sex marriages serving as godparents, but said children of same-sex couples can be baptised, provided there is a “well-founded hope” that the child will be raised in the Catholic faith.
Calls for Further Inclusion
Francis DeBernardo, the Executive Director of LGBTQ Catholic group New Ways Ministry, welcomed the Vatican’s new guidance as a largely positive move.
“Significantly, not only does this doctrinal note, known as a responsum ad dubia, remove barriers to transgender people’s participation, it proves that the Catholic Church can — and does — change its mind about certain practices and policies,” DeBernardo said.
However, he called for further inclusivity, particularly for Catholics in same-sex marriages who seek to support their family members and friends in practicing their faith.
This development aligns with Pope Francis’s earlier suggestion in October, allowing priests to apply “pastoral prudence” and “pastoral charity” when considering forms of blessing for same-sex unions.
While the Church is making strides toward inclusion, it maintains its position that same-sex relationships are “objectively sinful,” and marriage is exclusively between a man and a woman.