ROME (AP) — Pope Francis has met with a fourth group of transgender people who have taken refuge in a church in Rome, the Vatican newspaper reported Thursday.
L’Osservatore Romano said the meeting took place on Wednesday on the sidelines of Francis’ weekly general audience. The newspaper quoted Sister Genevieve Jeanningros and the Reverend Andrea Conocchia as saying the Pope’s welcome brought hope to their guests.
The Community of the Blessed Immaculate Virgin in the Torvaianica neighborhood on the outskirts of Rome has opened its doors to transgender people during the coronavirus pandemic.
Francis has already met some of them on April 27, June 22 and August 3, the newspaper said.
“No one should suffer injustice or be cast out, everyone has the dignity of being a child of God,” Sr. Jeanningros was quoted by the newspaper as saying.
Francis has earned praise from some members of the LBGTQ community for his outreach. Asked in 2013 about an allegedly homosexual priest, he replied: “Who am I to judge? He met individually and in groups with transgender people during his pontificate.
But he firmly opposed ‘gender theory’ and did not change the church’s teaching that homosexual acts are ‘inherently disordered’. In 2021, he authorized the release of a Vatican document claiming that the Catholic Church cannot bless same-sex unions since “God cannot bless sin.”
Recently, Francis wrote a letter praising the initiative of a Jesuit-led ministry for LGBTQ Catholics called Outreach. The online resource is managed by Reverend James Martin, author of “Building a Bridge,” a book about the need for the church to better welcome and serve LGBTQ Catholics.
Francis praised a recent outreach event at the Jesuit Fordham University in New York and encouraged organizers “to continue working in the culture of encounter, which shortens distances and enriches us with differences, to the way of Jesus, who made himself close to everyone. ”
The Roman Catholic Church’s first Jesuit Pope spoke about his own ministry to gay and transgender people, insisting that they are children of God, loved by God and deserving of the Church’s accompaniment.