In a new ruling by the Vatican’s doctrine department, significant changes have been made allowing for the possibility of Catholic baptism for transgender people and babies of same-sex couples.
The ruling, which is dated October 31, is based on a set of questions submitted to the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith (DDF) by Brazilian bishop Giuseppe Negri.
According to the new rules, a person who identifies as transgender can be baptized like any other adult, as long as there is no risk of causing scandal or disorientation to other Catholics.
Children who identify as transgender can also be baptized, as long as they are well-prepared and willing.
Under certain circumstances, transgender people, including those who have undergone gender reassignment procedures, can now be godparents and witnesses in Catholic weddings.
Additionally, children of same-sex couples can be baptized, provided that there is a “well-founded hope” that the child will be educated in the Catholic religion.
However, it is important to note that the document also emphasizes that people who live in homosexual relationships are still committing a sin, and that baptism must come with repentance for such sins. The ruling cites several sermons by Pope Francis as the basis for its decision.
Commenting on the ruling, Francis DeBernardo, executive director of the New Ways Ministry, a Catholic LGBT advocacy group, expressed approval for the Vatican’s affirmation that transgender people should be welcomed in the church’s sacramental life. However, DeBernardo warns that the ruling may not go far enough, as it could be used to establish other policies that exclude such people from other areas of church life.
DeBernardo also hopes that church leaders will apply these guidelines by following Pope Francis’ example of extravagant welcome, rather than using them to continue old restrictions.
This shift in the Vatican’s stance on baptism for transgender people and children of same-sex couples is seen as a reversal of a previous decision and a signal of the Catholic Church’s ability to change its mind about certain practices and policies.