In a recent letter following the first session of the Synod on Synodality, Pope Francis opened the door to allowing the baptizing of transgender people into the Catholic Church, at the discretion of the parish pastor, and to also allow them to be sponsors and godparents. There was an article on this website in response to these decisions where the author described her own journey back to the Catholic faith, how at first she wasn’t really willing to do things on God’s terms but rather her own and so when she received the sacraments she knew she didn’t have the right attitude but God worked through her because He recognized that she did have a desire for holiness despite her confusion. She also argues that while we should take care to protect the sacraments and Jesus is the Lamb of God, He is also the Lion of Judah and He needs no defense, He will take care of Himself. These arguments, while they do have truth to them, fall short in recognizing the duty of the Church and the people Jesus put in charge of Her to minister to the world.
The first argument that the author makes, by comparing the allowance of transgender people into the Church to her own journey and poor attitude toward the sacraments when she received them, doesn’t match up because there is a difference in just an inwardly confused and poor attitude, which is what we can all have when we receive the sacraments, and outwardly manifesting confusion in a manner that has been condemned by Church teaching. Unless the transgender person has repented and has begun trying to transition back to their God-given gender, they are abusing the sacraments and there is no way that these sacraments will help them to holiness because the person has no intention of repenting and ever doing God’s will, only their own. This is also why transgender people should not be sponsors and/or godparents. By making the promises that they do as sponsors and godparents, they are promising to lead the child in the ways of the Catholic faith and to adhere to what She teaches. This is impossible as long as they continue to promote their lifestyle and have no intention of really following the Church’s teachings. They will only succeed in confusing the child.
The author goes on to say that Jesus needs no defense, He is the Lion of Judah and He only needs to be unleashed and He will do His work and take care of Himself. This is true, as no tomb or even the power of death could keep Him from rising again, He is God and He has the power to do as He wills. However, it was His will that He delegate the governing of His Church to the apostles and their successors, and so having been given this special duty, much is expected of them and they will be judged on the last day according to how well they took care of the Church and Her flock. And in fact, giving scandal, which St. Thomas Aquinas defines as a word or action that is evil in itself and causes another’s spiritual ruin, which would include promoting things that are not in line with Church teaching, is a grave offense which Jesus Himself warned against (Matthew 18:6-7). And that goes for the laity as well as the clergy. We all have a duty to protect Jesus and His Church from blasphemy and scandal because He willed to give us that duty.
How can we love those who have chosen to live the transgender lifestyle without admitting them into the Church without repentance? We have to continue to be firm in our position that they cannot be in communion with us and yet also be firm that we love them, not as society loves them but as God loves them. We have to show that they are loved and valued by God and us as they originally are, in their original gender. People change genders because they don’t feel comfortable or good enough as they were originally made and we have to show them that they are good enough and that God made them a man or a woman for a reason and that they have a purpose. This is real love, not affirming how they want to be and saying it’s okay if they come into the Church as they are. That’s not love. It’s not love of neighbor because we are allowing them to sin by abusing the sacraments and it’s not love of God because we are exposing His sacraments to abuse.
Lastly, I know there are some of you who will still say, “But Pope Francis said…” It doesn’t matter. A pope is not always infallible, as he is human just like you and me. He did not claim in this letter to be speaking ex cathedra, from the chair, and he did not claim to be speaking infallibly, both which are conditions for a papal pronouncement to be considered infallible. Furthermore, there have been instances of popes teaching errors, such as Popes Honorius I and John XXII. Popes can make mistakes just like the rest of us. What we must do in response is pray for them and educate them as well as those they are misleading. We aren’t acting against the Church, in fact we are acting for Her and doing our best to lead our Holy Father back from his errors and be the shepherd that he is called to be. We are showing him and others true love when we go against the tide of society and instead teach what Jesus has taught us.