Alex Salinas, a practicing Spanish Catholic, was “thrilled and honored” when his sister asked him to be his nephew’s godfather. As required under Catholic law, he sought permission from his local church to assume the role. The process was halted, however, due to what the priest considered to be Salinas’s inability to “live in accordance with the faith.” The reason? Salinas is transgender.
Image via Facebook
Salinas, saying that the priest’s decision felt like a “kick in the stomach,” appealed to the bishop of the Dioceses of Cádiz and Ceuta. The bishop overturned the priest’s decision. However, citing “confusion among some of the faithful” and the heavy media attention, the bishop wrote to the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith for guidance.
Although the Vatican does not have an official position on transgender people, it responded to the bishop’s inquiry by stating that it is “impossible” for transgender persons to fulfill their duties as godparents because they are not seen by the Catholic church as consistently living the Church’s teachings.
Specifically, the Vatican stated that transsexual behavior “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.” It continued that “it is evident that [a transgender 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."
Despite its rationale, the Vatican denied any discriminatory motive, stating that there was
“no discrimination toward [Salinas], 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.”
Although the Vatican’s response seems clear, Pope Francis’s position on transgender people is less so. In an encyclical on the environment, the Pope, although not referring to transgender people specifically, wrote “The acceptance of our bodies as God’s gift is vital for welcoming and accepting the entire world as a gift from the Father and our common home.”
via Diliff on Wikipedia
However, Pope Francis has reportedly met with transgender individuals in the past, including in the Vatican. And he has generally been evolving the Church’s stance on LGBTQ issues to be more inclusive, including by famously saying “If someone is gay and searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?”
After the Vatican’s response, Salinas took to Facebook to express his “disgust, anger [and] sadness” with the decision, which he will continue to fight – perhaps even in Spanish civil courts on discrimination claims.
As for the would-be godson, he will not be baptized. Salinas’s family has chosen to forego the ceremony in a church that has made them feel discriminated against, even if that was not the church’s intent.
Editor's Note: References to "transgendered" within the article have been corrected to "Transgender" (per GLAAD guidelines).
Featured image via Flickr user torbakhopper