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Trans Catholic confesses conflict between identity and faith, Pope Francis responds

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Pope Francis — Photo courtesy of CNS / Vatican Media
Pope Francis — Photo courtesy of CNS / Vatican Media

"God loves us as we are," Pope Francis told a young Trans person on a July 25 podcast.

The pope appeared on a Vatican-sponsored podcast aimed at young Catholics ahead of a planned trip to a Catholic youth festival in Portugal. One of the young people, identified only as Giona, told the pope they felt "torn by the dichotomy between faith and transgender identity."

Francis replied that "the Lord always walks with us . . . Even if we are sinners, he draws near to help us. The Lord loves us as we are, this is God's crazy love."

Although the pontiff did not elaborate on the theological implications of his remarks, this latest statement seems to be a softening of his prior views on Transgender people.

In a 2015 encyclical — a document intended to provide guidance for the church — the pope was critical of modern gender theory.

"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," the pope wrote, "whereas thinking that we enjoy absolute power over our own bodies turns, often subtly, into thinking that we enjoy absolute power over creation."

The official teaching of the Catholic Church which, as pope, Francis must uphold, does not recognize gender affirmation. Instead, the Church says that gender affirming medical treatments are sinful because they seek to alter "God's plan" for the individual.

Similarly, Francis has called on Catholic churches to welcome Gay and Lesbian parishioners while still maintaining that sex outside of a lifelong one-man, one-woman marriage is sinful.

According to Francis, however, not all sins are equally bad, and "sins of the flesh" are not as bad as other kinds of sins.

In 2021, commenting on a French bishop who resigned when it was alleged that he was in a romantic relationship with a woman, Francis said "Sins of the flesh are not the most serious." According to Reuters, the pope listed pride and hatred as the worst sins.

A World Youth Day pilgrim waves a Progress Pride Flag in Lisbon, Portugal — Photo by Ana Brigida Stringer / AP  

The pope's history on LGBT issues
As archbishop of Buenos Aires, Francis — then known as Jorge Bergoglio — opposed Argentinian legislation to legalize same-sex marriages. At the same time, however, he supported the idea of civil unions for same-sex couples, something other prominent Catholic bishops condemned.

In an impromptu press conference shortly after his election to the papacy in 2013, Francis said, "The key is for the church to welcome, not exclude, and show mercy, not condemnation."

"If a person is Gay and seeksĀ GodĀ and has good will, who am I to judge?" he continued. "The problem is not having this orientation. We must be brothers."

The pope's off the cuff remarks scandalized many conservative church officials, as did a 2015 letter blessing a Gay couple. Immediately after the letter was publicized, the Vatican issued a disclaimer saying that the pope's letter was in no way "meant to endorse behaviors and teachings unfit to the Gospel."

In a 2020 documentary film, the pope reiterated his support for same-sex civil unions — but not marriage.

In the film, Francis says, "Homosexuals have a right to be a part of the family . . . They're children of God and have a right to a family. Nobody should be thrown out, or be made miserable because of it."

He voiced support for same-sex civil union laws again in September 2021, saying, "If they want to spend their lives together, a homosexual couple, nations have the possibility civilly to support them, to give them safety with regards to inheritance and health."

In February 2023, Pope Francis said that criminalization of same-sex acts in many countries in Africa and Asia is wrong, a sin, and an injustice.