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Pope Francis says ‘trans’ people can be godparents, homosexual ‘parents’ can have children baptized

The Daily Knight

Pope Francis/ Cardinal Victor Fernández; Vatican News/Mazur/

Pope Francis' latest document comes despite the fact that the Catholic Church teaches that deliberate bodily mutilation and homosexual acts are gravely sinful, and that those requesting baptism for children must intend to raise the children in the Catholic faith.

Pope Francis has approved a text drawn up by Cardinal Victor Manuel Fernández attesting that “transgender” individuals can be godparents for the sacrament of Baptism, as well as allowing homosexual “parents” to have their children baptized.

Pope Francis’ latest document comes despite the fact that the Catholic Church teaches that deliberate bodily mutilation and homosexual acts are gravely sinful, and that those requesting Baptism for children must intend to raise the children in the Catholic faith.

In an Italian document issued November 8, the Dicastery (formerly Congregation) for the Doctrine of the Faith issued a series of responses to six dubia questions submitted by Bishop José Negri of the Diocese of Santo Amaro in Brazil. The text was compiled and signed by Fernández, and was approved and signed by Pope Francis on October 31.

An unofficial English translation can be read here.

The questions are as follows, although the original July 14, 2023 request from Bishop Negri was not published:

  1. Can a transgender person be baptized?

  2. Can a transgender person be a godfather or godmother at baptism?

  3. Can a transgender person be a witness at a wedding?

  4. Can two homo-affective persons be counted as parents of a child, who must be baptized, and who was adopted or gained by other methods such as surrogacy?

  5. Can a person who is homo-affective and cohabiting be godfather to a baptized person?

  6. Can a person who is homo-affective and cohabiting be a witness at a wedding?

1: Transgender baptism

Taking the questions in order, Cardinal Fernández wrote that a “transsexual” individual could receive Baptism with the same ease as any one else. Such a person, he wrote, “who had also undergone hormone treatment and sex reassignment surgery – can receive baptism, under the same conditions as other believers, if there are no situations in which there is a risk of generating public scandal or disorientation among the faithful.”

Continuing the lengthier response of the six, Fernández added that Baptism could also be given to “children or adolescents with transgender issues, if well prepared and willing.”

But continuing in a lengthy argument, presenting factors for discernment, Fernández outlined the offering of Baptism to everybody, citing Pope Francis in doing so. Such aspects, he wrote, were to be considered “especially when there are doubts about the objective moral situation a person is in, or about his or her subjective dispositions toward grace.”

Fernández stated that “even when doubts remain about a person’s objective moral situation or about his or her subjective dispositions toward grace, one should never forget this aspect of the faithfulness of God’s unconditional love, which is capable of generating even with the sinner an irrevocable covenant, always open to development, also unpredictable.”

The new cardinal added that such “is true even when a purpose of amendment does not appear in a fully manifest way in the penitent, because often the predictability of a new fall ‘does not undermine the authenticity of the purpose.’”

2: Transgender godparents?

For this, and for all the remaining questions, Fernández’s answers are considerably shorter. When asked if transgender individuals could act as godparents at Baptism, he replied in the affirmative, though outlining caveats. His full reply is as follows:

Under certain conditions, an adult transsexual who had also undergone hormone treatment and sex reassignment surgery may be admitted to the task of godfather or godmother. However, since this task does not constitute a right, pastoral prudence demands that it should not be allowed if there is a danger of scandal, undue legitimization or disorientation in the educational sphere of the church community.

The Catholic Church teaches that the role of a godparent is not merely symbolic, but carries a very real duty. The catechism states that:

For the grace of Baptism to unfold, the parents’ help is important. So too is the role of the godfather and godmother, who must be firm believers, able and ready to help the newly baptized – child or adult on the road of Christian life. Their task is a truly ecclesial function (officium). The whole ecclesial community bears some responsibility for the development and safeguarding of the grace given at Baptism. (Paragraph 1255)

The Code of Canon Law 872 stipulates that “a sponsor also helps the baptized person to lead a Christian life in keeping with baptism and to fulfill faithfully the obligations inherent in it.”

Canon 874 outlines the necessary qualities of a sponsor, including being “a Catholic who has been confirmed and has already received the most holy sacrament of the Eucharist and who leads a life of faith in keeping with the function to be taken on.”

Indeed, Fernández’s dubia response not only contradicts Catholic teaching but it contradicts the Vatican’s response to the same issue from as recently as 2015. At that time, Bishop Rafael Zornoza Boy of Cádiz and Ceuta asked the CDF for clarification after a woman, living as a man, asked to be the godfather for her nephew.

The CDF’s response is notably not found on the CDF website, but is included in the statement Bishop Zornoza released at the time, and which is now only found on an archived web-link. Zornoza presented the CDF’s 2015 response as follows:

On this matter I inform you of the impossibility of being admitted. The same transsexual behavior publicly reveals an attitude opposed to the moral requirement to solve one’s sexual identity problem according to the truth of one’s sex. Therefore it is evident that this person does not have the requirement to lead a life according to faith and the position of godfather (CIC, can 874 §1.3), therefore not being able to be admitted to the position of godmother or godfather. There is no discrimination in this, but only the recognition of an objective lack of the requirements that by their nature are necessary to assume the ecclesial responsibility of being a godfather.

3 and 6: Transgender and homosexual witnesses for a wedding

In a short, one line response, Fernández approved the possibly of transgender individuals being witnesses at weddings. “There is nothing in current universal canon law that prohibits a transgender person from being a witness in a marriage,” he wrote.

This same response he repeated for the sixth dubia response, which asked if a person who is “homo-affective and cohabiting” could be a witness for a wedding. Fernández again replied in the affirmative.

While the term “homo-affective” is not a commonly used one in modern parlance, nor was it defined in the text, it appears to be used equivalently to “homosexual” in the CDF’s document.

Current canon law doesn’t stipulate that a witness at a wedding is required to be practicing a Catholic life.

4: Homosexual ‘parents’ presenting children for Baptism?

Once again, in an incredibly short response, Cardinal Fernández fielded a question on whether “homoaffective persons” can present their children for Baptism. Without clarifying his answer, the cardinal wrote:

For the child to be baptized there must be a well-founded hope that he or she will be educated in the Catholic religion (cf. can. 868 § 1, 2o CIC; can. 681, § 1, 1o CCEO).

Canon 868, which he cited, states that “the parents or at least one of them or the person who legitimately takes their place must consent.” It further adds that for Baptism to be permitted, “there must be a founded hope that the infant will be brought up in the Catholic religion; if such hope is altogether lacking, the baptism is to be delayed according to the prescripts of particular law after the parents have been advised about the reason.”

Fernández did not outline how two individuals living together in a homosexual lifestyle could exhibit a “well-founded hope” that the child – whom would not naturally be theirs – could be brought up in the Catholic faith, which they are actively rejecting by their homosexual lifestyle.

5: Homosexual and cohabiting people as godparents to baptized individuals?

Fernández’s fifth dubia response pertained to the question of “homoaffective” individuals serving as godparents to those being baptized, despite the fact that such “homoaffective” people are cohabiting.

He replied by citing Canon 874, stating how “anyone who possesses the aptitude (cf. 1o ) and ‘leads a life in conformity with the faith and with the office he or she assumes’ (3o ; cf. can. 685, § 2 CCEO) can be a godparent.”

In an apparent differentiation, Fernández stated that it would be “different” – seemingly prohibited – if the homosexual persons’ lifestyles consisted not just in “a simple cohabitation, but in a stable and declared more uxorio relationship, well known to the community.”

But the cardinal added a caveat to both his answers on the question, saying that regardless of such statements “due pastoral prudence demands that every situation be wisely weighed, in order to safeguard the sacrament of baptism and especially its reception, which is a precious good to be protected, since it is necessary for salvation.”

He appeared to suggest that priority should be given to Catholics in the wider family, since the Church places a “real value” on the “duties of godparents and godmothers.” The cardinal wrote:

At the same time, it is necessary to consider the real value the church community places on the duties of godparents and godmothers, the role they play in the community, and the consideration they show toward the teaching of the Church. Finally, the possibility that there may be another person from the family circle to act as guarantor of the proper transmission of the Catholic faith to the baptizing person should also be taken into account, knowing that one can still assist the baptizing person, during the rite, not only as godfather or godmother but, also, as witnesses to the baptismal act.

The document has caused instant consternation amongst Catholics online. Deacon Nick Donnelly wrote that Pope Francis and Cardinal Fernández were, by the dubia response, “equating sodomite unions with God’s institution of marriage.”

Not unsurprisingly, prominently pro-LGBT activist priest, Father James Martin SJ welcomed the document as “an important step forward in the church seeing … transgender people not only as people (in a church where some say they don’t really exist) but as Catholics.”

In Christ Crucified and the Most Victorious Heart of Jesus.

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