A Response from the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith on LGBT Questions

Source: FSSPX News

The Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith (DDF), whose president is now Cardinal Victor Manuel Fernandez, published a response addressed to José Negri, Bishop of Santo Amaro, Brazil, “containing some questions regarding possible participation in the sacraments of baptism and marriage of transsexuals and homo-affective people.”

This response received the signed approval of Pope Francis during an audience on October 31. It contains six questions relating to the possibility of baptizing transgender people, their admissibility as godfather or godmother at a baptism, or as witnesses at a marriage. Then comes the case of homosexuals as it relates to the baptism of an adopted child, sponsorship, and the possibility of being a witness at a marriage.

Preliminary Considerations

These responses are marked by glaring absences: the question of the sin committed, the situation of sin, and the persistence in a state of sin without repentance. The notion of scandal is mentioned, but the objective situation of people, with the consequences that it entails for the possibility of leading a Christian life or to give an example, is neglected.

It should be noted that the reformed 1983 Code of Canon Law abandoned the notion of “public sinner” and the legal connotation of “infamy,” which was associated with it. However, in the 1917 Code of Canon Law, infamy led to the impossibility of sponsorship.

The key that governs the entire reflection of the response is taken from the encyclical Evangelii gaudium: “Nor should the doors of the sacraments be closed for any reason. This is especially true of the sacrament which is itself “the door”: baptism. … The Church is not a tollhouse; it is the house of the Father, where there is a place for everyone, with all their problems.”

Despite certain precautions, this attitude was denounced by the fifth dubium of the five cardinals sent to the Pope in July, which concerns the necessity of repentance to receive absolution. While the latest questions concerns baptism and marriage, the basis remains the same.

The First Three Answers Regarding Transsexuals

The first question asked is, “Can a transsexual be baptized?”  The long answer begins by saying “yes,” while seeking, however, to avoid public scandal or the disorientation of the faithful. But, after quoting Francis (Evangelium gaudii), the rest is diluted and the possibility of baptism is confirmed, even if “the intention of amendment is not fully manifested.”

The question that should be asked is this: Does the one who requests baptism live in conformity with the faith and does he have the firm intention of renouncing the sin contained in transsexuality? This intention must be confirmed by actions. If the person does not have surgery and/or does not undertake treatment, are they ready to commit to not resorting to it? And, if the person has undergone an operation, is there true contrition?

In the absence of this firm intention, it is not possible to confer baptism. The DDF's response drowns the sin in the doubt about the person's objective moral situation or in the uncertainty of their subjective dispositions, believing that the future is unpredictable and that a chance must be given.

The second question asked is, “Can a transsexual be godfather or godmother at a baptism?”  The answer is yes, even if there was hormonal treatment and surgical treatment. But, the answer admits, since being a godfather is not a right, it should be prohibited if there is a risk of scandal, undue legitimization, or disorientation of the ecclesial community.

If the situation of the transsexual is public, the 1917 Code of Canon Law would refuse sponsorship. Because an adult who attempts to change gender commits a serious sin freely and would be considered a public sinner, that settles the question. If the situation is hidden, the response could be different, but the pastoral assessment would have to be careful.

Finally, the third question asked is, “Can a transsexual be a witness at a wedding?” The situation is different here compared to baptism, because the only condition required to be a witness to a marriage is the capacity for the function. The response says that “nothing in current universal canonical legislation that prohibits a transsexual person from being a witness at a marriage.”

But this answer is too short. By ecclesiastical law, that’s correct. But by natural and divine law, scandal must be taken into account. Therefore, there must be a distinction again between the public situation and the private case. In the first case, it seems difficult to avoid scandal, in the second the matter will have to be weighed according to pastoral prudence.

The Three Answers Regarding Homosexuals

The fourth question concerns the baptism of the children of a homosexual couple: “Can the child of two homo-affective people, whether adopted or obtained by another method such as surrogacy, be baptized?” The answer is yes, “if there is a well-founded hope that he or she will be educated in the Catholic religion.”

It is clear that we can only desire the baptism of every child, if the given condition is met. But the situation does not really give hope that it can be. How can a child being raised in the conditions of such a home escape the contamination of manners, ideas, or sin conveyed by this cohabitation?

The situation is clearly different from that of divorced and remarried people, in which nature is fundamentally respected. Thus, apart from extremely special cases, it does not seem possible to baptize a child under these conditions.

The fifth question asked is, “Can a homosexual person living in ‘cohabitation’ be admitted to sponsorship?” The answer is “yes,” if that person “leads a life consistent with the Faith and the task he or she assumes.” But if this cohabitation is clearly and publicly a “marital” life, then the answer twists and turns, ultimately leaving the matter to the pastor’s prudence.

The question ultimately lies in the private or public character of the sin. In the first case, the possibility is indeed open to the prudence of the pastor. But in the second, the situation of “public sin” exists, and sponsorship must be refused.

The sixth question asked is whether “a homosexual person living in ‘cohabitation’ can be a witness to a marriage?” The DDF's response is the same as for a transsexual. As for the traditional Catholic response, we must repeat what was said previously on the distinction between a public or private situation: there would be a scandal in the first case, and an open possibility in the second.


These responses are in line with the stand taken by Pope Francis on moral matters since Amoris laetitia: a progressive shift that is slow enough not to alert consciences, but intended to impose on the Church a new conception of morality and the Church herself.