Thursday, November 9, 2023


 My astute comments embedded in the Vatican News text in RED:

Transsexual and homosexual persons and the Sacraments

The Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith responds to questions concerning the participation of transsexual persons and persons with same-sex attraction in the Sacraments of Baptism and Matrimony and related ceremonies.

By Vatican News

Transsexual persons, even if they have undergone hormone therapy or sex reassignment surgery, may receive the Sacrament of Baptism “if there are no situations in which there is a risk of generating public scandal or confusion among the faithful”. The children of homosexual couples should be baptized even if they are born from a surrogate mother, provided there is a well-founded hope that they will be educated in the Catholic faith. (I presume this is any priest’s discernment, not the local bishop’s. That is a big burden and priests have their own ideologies that some like to push onto others in political terms, being either conservative of liberal. In the early 80’s as a young priest involved in the RCIA, we were told then that the RCIA team had to discern if a candidate for baptism had actually converted and moved away for pagan or non-Catholic practices. I always thought that was a bit much that a group of people decided who would be or would not be Catholic. Call me clerical, but I see that discernment with the priest. I did have two lesbians, I did not know they were, one pregnant, who were in the RCIA. I did not learn until later that they were partners, conception by artificial insemination, etc. I hope they are practicing Catholics and their child, now an adult is practicing. I don’t know though.)

These clarifications were issued on Wednesday in a response to questions (dubia) submitted to the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith (DDF) by Bishop José Negri of Santo Amaro, Brazil.

The document, signed by Cardinal Victor Manuel Fernandéz, the Prefect of the DDF, and approved by Pope Francis on 31 October, answered six questions concerning the possible participation of transsexual and homoaffective persons in the Sacraments of Baptism and Matrimony.

The answers “re-propose, in substance, the fundamental contents of what has already been affirmed in the past by the Dicastery concerning these matters.”

The DDF affirmed that transsexual persons, whether adults, children, or adolescents, can be baptized, provided they are “well-prepared and willing, and that there is no occasion of scandal." (I’m not sure what gives scandal today when it comes to any kind of sex. If they are in a civil union, euphemistically called, marriage by civil law, does that give scandal or morality doesn’t matter what you do war and sex?)

In the case of doubts “about the objective moral situation in which a person finds themselves”, or concerning “their subjective dispositions towards grace” (and so also in situations where there does not appear to be an intention to amend), the DDF proposed certain considerations.

The Church teaches that when the Sacrament of Baptism “is received without repentance for grave sins, the subject does not receive sanctifying grace, although they do receive the sacramental character”, as we read in the Catechism. The indelible character “remains forever in the Christian as a positive disposition towards grace". (Actually, I like this clarification—I prefer to let Catholics make their bed and sleep in it too So if an adult is baptized but has no intention following Catholic moral or doctrinal matters, that is between them and God.)

Quoting from St. Thomas and St. Augustine, the Dicastery recalls that Christ continues to seek the sinner, and when repentance comes, the sacramental character already received immediately disposes one to receive grace.

This is why, according to the document, Pope Francis has repeatedly said that the Church is not a “tollhouse” and, especially with regard to Baptism, the door should not be closed to anyone.

The question of whether a transsexual person can serve as a godfather or godmother at Baptism is more complicated. The Dicastery said that this “can be allowed under certain conditions," while noting that being a godparent is not a right. Therefore, it said, “pastoral prudence demands that it should not be allowed if there is a danger of scandal, undue legitimization, or confusion in the educational sphere of the ecclesial community”. (I think canon law says you only need one godparent or sponsor. In our country and elsewhere normally there are two. Let one be a truly practicing Catholic and the other a whatever!)

Concerning the possibility of a transsexual person serving as a witness to a marriage, the Dicastery noted that there is nothing “in current universal canonical legislation” and therefore it is permissible. (Yes, you only need a body who could be an atheist. They are merely witnesses, nothing else.)

The DDF document went on to address several issues concerning homoaffective persons (that is, persons “who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex [CCC 2357])”.

The question was asked whether the children of homoaffective parents can be baptized, even if they were adopted or conceived through other methods, such as surrogate motherhood. The Dicastery replied: “In order for the child to be baptized, there must be a well-founded hope that he or she will be brought up in the Catholic religion”, citing the Code of Canon Law. (I have baptized children, adopted or whatever of homosexual couples. We had children of such parents in our schools. I always made sure that someone would be responsible for the child’s Catholic upbringing, usually grandparents. I am flexible on this and don’t want to punish children over parent’s sins.)

The document then addressed the case of a homosexual and cohabiting person who asks to be the godfather or godmother of a person to be baptized. The Dicastery said that in order to be a godparent, a person must lead “a life in conformity with the faith and the task he or she assumes”.

The case is different when two homosexual persons are involved in a relationship that does not consist simply of cohabitation, “but in a stable and declared relationship more uxorio [after the fashion of marriage] that is well known to the community”. The Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith said due prudence is necessary in such cases 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.” (Let’s face it, there is so much doublespeak here. The ultimate goal is to change the paradigm of Catholic moral teaching in sexuality and marriage and leave it to each individual to make their own decision without the Church’s judgment or interference. It is individualism to the nth degree to soften the ground for a major synodal change in Catholic doctrine as it concerns sex, marriage and Holy Orders.)

The Dicastery went on to say that consideration of “the genuine value the ecclesial community places on the duties of godfather and godmother, the role they play in the community, and the consideration they demonstrate with regard to the Church’s teaching” is also required.

The document suggested the possibility that “another person from the family circle might act as guarantor of the correct transmission of the Catholic faith to the baptized person.” (I like this, but it is all so wishy-washy! All of it is just opinions and all opinions equal. Good grief!)

Further, it noted that the Church also offers the possibility, besides being a godparent, of assisting in the baptismal rite as a witness to the act of Baptism.(I said this above. I am glad they like my opinion!)

In response to a final question, the Dicastery said there is nothing to prevent a homoaffective person from being a witness to a marriage, even if that person is cohabitating. (No problem here, anyone can witness a marriage.)

The full text of the document, in Italian and Portuguese, can be found on the website of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith.


rcg said...

Does a transgender person actually exist?

Paul said...

Yes, I think transgender people exist; but they are quite rare.

The explosion in recent times of people claiming to be "trans" is a different matter - in fact, I believe - a sinister matter.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Paul, you are right and it does seem to be a kind of “kinky” fad for some, especially experimenting with a variety of sexual behaviors that may not be the person’s orientation. The problem is that when teenagers experiment, one prays that it is just a matter of growing up or maturing sexually. But when surgery is involved, that too is sinister.

rcg said...

Then I will channel my inner paranoia and draw fire from FrMJK for being a right wing loon: what needed clarification? It is pretty obvious that anyone with any affliction can be drawn to and accepted by God. The degree to which they are competent to do so varies by the situation and person. So why send out a letter? To set the ground for acceptance of these disorders as normal.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

rcg - The process of "clarification" did not begin with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The Congregation's letter was a response to a question it received.

"The document answering these and other sacrament-based questions for those who identify as transgender and people in same-sex relationships was generated in response to questions posed to the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith (DDF) in July by Bishop Giuseppe (José) Negri of Santo Amaro in Brazil. The guidance comes amid ongoing discussions within the Catholic Church about pastoral care for the LGBTQ community in light of Francis’ focus on accompaniment and synodality." CNA website 9 November.

Paul said...

There is no more an LGBT "Community" than there is a left handed Community, a red haired Community or a herpes simplex suffering my humble opinion.

rcg said...

@FrMJK, yes, I saw that but the question seemed more like a basic RCIA catechism question than something for the CoF. I can’t think of a priest I have ever known who could not have answered that during donuts and coffee.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

rcg - That may generally be the case, but I don't know what Bishop Giuseppe Negri's particular situation is - what caused him to seek CDF guidance.

George said...

I hope that those desiring to be baptized in our Holy Catholic Church are required to go through the OCIA process first. Every Easter vigil I have
attended has had some catechumens who received the Sacrament of Baptism. Entrance into our Church is rightfully a solemn (as well as joyful) event which is preceded by a lengthy preparation. as well as an affirmation of our Faith.
As far as witness to a marriage, It would be better to have a practicing Catholic, but I realize that is not always possible.