Pope Francis confirms trans people can be baptised, act as godparents

Pope Francis

Pope Francis has stated that trans people may be baptised and act as godparents or witnesses to marriage under the same conditions as any other adult.

Responding to dubia (aka a request for clarity from the Vatican), the pontiff confirmed that adults who identify as trans may partake in all of the above Catholic practices, so long as there is no risk of causing scandal.

Additionally, he noted, children and adolescents who are beginning to identify as transgender may also be baptised if they are “well prepared and willing.”

This announcement from Pope Francis was just one response to a number of questions posed to the Vatican by Bishop José Negri of Santo Amaro, Brazil, who was unsure of the “possible participation in baptism and weddings by transexual persons and homo-affective persons.”

Pope Francis
The Pope has said that trans people can be baptised and act as godparents. (Vatican Media via Vatican Pool/Getty Images)

In response, the Pope wrote that there was “nothing in current universal canonical legislation that prohibits” a transgender person, or any LGBTQ+ person, from serving as a witness at a Catholic marriage.

Additionally, he wrote, a transgender person can be a godparent “under certain conditions”, and “pastoral prudence” is required to avoid the “danger of scandal” or confusion among Catholics.

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While far from perfect, the Vatican’s vocal acceptance of transgender people is a major step in the right direction for the Catholic Church.

In response to this week’s update from the pontiff, the President and CEO of GLAAD, Sarah Kate Ellis, said in a statement: “Pope Francis’ latest LGBTQ affirmation sends an unequivocal message to political and cultural leaders around the world to end their persecution and exclusion of transgender people. 

“Pope Francis is continuing to break down barriers that have kept LGBTQ Catholics away from full participation as members of the Roman Catholic Church and is instead calling on global leaders to create welcoming spaces for LGBTQ people.”

Pope Francis smiles while giving a thumbs up
The Vatican’s vocal acceptance of trans people is a major step in the right direction for the Catholic Church. (Antonio Cotrim – Pool/Getty Images)

Pope Francis regularly uses his position to push for the church’s acceptance and support of LGBTQ+ people.

Just last month, the pontiff said for the first time that same-sex couples could have their unions blessed, reversing the church’s long-held stance.

In a letter to five cardinals who sought clarity on same-sex unions, Pope Francis wrote: “When you ask for a blessing, you are expressing a request for help from God, a prayer to be able to live better, a trust in a father who can help us live better.”

The letter added that the clergy must use “pastoral prudence” and “pastoral charity” to guide their responses to same-sex couples who request a blessing.

Back in January, the pontiff reminded followers that “homosexuality is not a crime” and that countries who criminalise same-sex relationships are “unjust” in doing so.

And, the year prior, the Pope urged parents to support their children with “different sexual orientations” and not to “hide in an attitude of condemnation.”Within the same month, the Pope demoted an archbishop who was reportedly responsible for a document that had stated the Church could not bless same-sex unions because God “cannot bless sin” – a statement that sparked major global backlash.