On Wednesday, the Vatican released a document declaring that people who believe themselves to be “transgender” will now be allowed to be baptized and be named as godparents, with certain limitations.
As reported by Fox News, the document in question was an official response to a dubia seeking guidance on how to deal with the issue, submitted by Brazilian Bishop Giuseppe Negri of Santo Amaro. The document was signed by Pope Francis himself and promoted by the Vatican’s Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith.
The announcement specifies that, if an individual who believes themselves to be transgender is to be baptized, it must happen in a way that does not cause “scandal” or “disorientation.” This same requirement was declared for those who want to become godparents or be witnesses for a marriage.
The ambiguity of the document’s declaration has led some to worry that priests will have a hard time understanding what the right decision will be in certain cases. Father Brian Graebe, with the Archdiocese of New York, said that while he didn’t consider the document to be a contradiction of the church’s teachings, nevertheless described it as “deficient.”
“There’s nothing in the document that contradicts church teachings. My reaction to it when I read it yesterday was that it’s deficient,” said Graebe, who also has a doctorate in theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. “The problem isn’t so much in what it says as in what it leaves unsaid.”
“What I was disappointed not to see in the document was affirmation that in the right of baptism itself, whatever name the person has, we call it a Christian name [or] their baptismal name […] what we must affirm is that the correct biological pronouns are to be used,” Graebe added.
“No matter what this individual perceives themselves as or sincerely believes themselves to be gender-wise, we have to affirm the truth of God’s creation and refer to this individual as the male or female that God created that person to be,” Graebe continued.
While Pope Francis has been criticized by some as too liberal on matters such as immigration or global warming, he has been critical of gender ideology and transgenderism, the false and scientifically-debunked theory that there are more than two genders, and that any person can simply choose to change their gender at any given time. The Catholic Church has described such beliefs as a “grave disorder” that must be cured, while Francis himself has said that “gender ideology, today, is one of the most dangerous ideological colonizations.”
In March, Pope Francis said that “all humanity is the tension of differences. It is to grow through the tension of differences. The question of gender is diluting the differences and making the world the same, all dull, all alike, and that is contrary to the human vocation.”