Thousands of Catholic nuns unite to ‘wholeheartedly’ declare trans people are beloved by God

Image shows a group of nuns walking with their backs to the camera, in front of a backdrop of the transgender flag

A group of over 6,000 Catholic nuns has joined the fight for trans rights, writing in an open letter that trans and non-binary people are “beloved and cherished by God”.

The Sisters of Saint Joseph Federation, along with several other Catholic organisations, published an open letter on Trans Day of Visibility that supports the LGBTQ+ community and criticises the recent influx of oppressive and discriminatory legislation sweeping the US.

“As vowed Catholic religious and our partners in mission, we wholeheartedly affirm that transgender, nonbinary and gender-expansive individuals are beloved and cherished by God,” the letter read. 

“We mark March 31, International Day of Transgender Visibility, as a time to celebrate, acknowledge and uplift folks who identify as transgender, nonbinary and/or gender-expansive. We know our actions and commitments must extend beyond this day’s observance.”

The nuns’ letter added that trans people in the United States are “experiencing harm and erasure” due to anti-LGBTQ+ legislation, discrimination and “harmful rhetoric” from some Christian institutions, including the Catholic Church.

The Catholic groups who signed shared a wish to provide “deep belonging” for trans people in the church, and said the church will become an “oppressor” unless it accepts the LGBTQ+ community.

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“The Gospel call of unifying love compels us to actively interrupt harmful interactions in daily life and dismantle the systems that reinforce this rhetoric and violence in society,” the open letter read.

“We will remain oppressors until we – as vowed Catholic religious – acknowledge the existence of LGBTQ+ people in our own congregations.”

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The Sisters of Saint Joseph Federation told PinkNews in a statement that their letter was a “direct response to the sweeping anti-trans and anti-LGBTQIA+ legislation that has been threatening the lives of trans and non-binary people across the United States”.

They added: “We realised there was very little published in terms of Catholic support for trans and non-binary folks, and didn’t want hateful rhetoric to be the only thing people were hearing from the Catholic church.”

A close up photograph of Pope Francis, the leader of the Catholic Church, wearing white as he stares towards the camera
Pope Francis has explained that homosexuality is a ‘sin’ but ‘not a crime’. (Getty Images)

This message of LGBTQ+ acceptance comes shortly after Pope Francis’ clarification in January that he although he doesn’t think being gay is a “crime”, he still believes that homosexuality is a “sin”.

The Pope explained that he only believes homosexuality is a sin because all sexual activity outside of marriage is a sin. The Catholic Church currently does not recognise same-sex marriages.

“When I said it [homosexuality] is a sin, I was simply referring to Catholic moral teaching, which says that every sexual act outside of marriage is a sin,” he said.

“Of course, one must also consider the circumstances, which may decrease or eliminate fault. As you can see, I was repeating something in general.”

He added: “I should have said ‘It is a sin, as is any sexual act outside of marriage’.”

While the Catholic Church does not recognise same-sex marriages, some bishops have been willing to bless “committed” same-sex unions

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In a move that defied the Vatican, Catholic bishops in Belgium released new guidance in September 2022, stating that the blessing of same-sex unions was now authorised, but stressed that this was not “what the church understands by a sacramental marriage”.

It added that the blessing – which would include a ritual of prayers and a commitment to be faithful to each other – was part of being a “welcoming church that excludes no one”.

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