Pope Francis meets with trans group in Vatican

Pope Francis in Canada

Pope Francis has met with four groups of trans people who found shelter in a Catholic church, the Vatican has confirmed.

According to AP News, the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano reported that the Pope met with a group of trans people on Wednesday (10 August), having already met with other groups on 27 April, 22 June and 3 August.

They had found shelter in the Blessed Immaculate Virgin community in the Torvaianica neighbourhood of Rome during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Vatican newspaper reported that Sister Genevieve Jeanningros and local priest Andrea Conocchia said that the meetings with the pope had given the groups hope.

“No one should encounter injustice or be thrown away, everyone has dignity of being a child of God,” said Jeanningros.

In April 2020, Pope Francis approved donations to a group of trans sex workers who had approached the Blessed Immaculate Virgin community. The papal almoner Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, the administrator of the papacy’s charitable work, sent money to the community of trans women, who had suffered badly during the pandemic.

Father Conocchia said at the time: “I would say that we treat these (transgender) people as if they were invisible.

“If the coronavirus had never happened, I might have never met them in person, they might have never asked for help in a church and maybe we wouldn’t have had the chance to dialogue, know each other and share.”

But, despite his apparent willingness to meet with and donate to trans people, Pope Francis has not been a friend to the LGBTQ+ community.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church still states that same-sex relationships are “acts of great depravity”, and adds: “Under no circumstances can they be approved.”

Asked in 2013 for his thoughts of LGBTQ+ Catholics, Pope Francis famously responded: “Who am I to judge?”

But in 2021, the Vatican ruled that priests cannot bless same-sex unions, insisting that it “cannot bless sin”, and in an unprecedented political intervention that same year, announced its opposition to an Italian bill that would protect queer people from discrimination.