Vatican: It’s “impossible” for trans people to be godparents

The Catholic Church has confirmed that transgender people cannot be godparents, as they aren’t “leading a life according to the faith.” From the Catholic News Agency:

After writing to the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith about the issue earlier this month, Bishop Rafael Zornoza Boy of Cádiz and Ceuta was told that since transsexual persons are not consistently living Church teaching, its “impossible” for them to fulfill their duties as a godparent.

The bishop wrote the letter after Alex Salinas, 21 years-old and born a woman, had requested to be the godfather of her nephew.

Setting aside for the moment the CNA’s misgendering of Salinas — who requested to be the godfather of his nephew — the Vatican’s rationale for barring trans people from being godparents doesn’t make very much sense. As they said in their statement, identifying as transgender:

…reveals in a public way an attitude opposite to the moral imperative of solving the problem of sexual identity according to the truth of one’s own sexuality…Therefore it is evident that this person does not possess the requirement of leading a life according to the faith and in the position of godfather and is therefore unable to be admitted to the position of godfather or godmother.

Of course, if “leading a life according to the faith” is a requirement for all godparents, then you can cite practically anything as being a reason why someone is unfit for the title. Does the Catholic Church hold that divorcees can’t be godparents? What about people who look at porn? Or who are gay?

Before you get the wrong idea, know that the Catholic Church isn’t discriminating against Salinas because he identifies as a man; they just won’t let him become a godfather because he identifies as a man. As their statement continued, there’s “no discrimination toward [Alex], but only the recognition of an objective lack of the requirements, which by their nature are necessary to assume the ecclesial responsibility of being a godfather.”

See the difference?

All this is to say that, as I’ve noted before, Pope Francis’s “cool dad” papacy has been, when it comes to social issues, a lot of talk. He may be presenting conservative, discriminatory policies with a smiling, welcoming face, but he hasn’t changed the fact that Catholics who don’t adhere to longstanding patriarchal, heteronormative stances regarding sexuality have less of a place in the Church than its leaders would like to claim.


Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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