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baptism(CNS photo)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) –The Vatican's doctrinal congregation upheld a Spanish bishop's refusal to allow a transsexual person to be a godparent.

Bishop Rafael Zornoza Boy of Cadiz and Ceuta said in a written statement that the Catechism of the Catholic Church says godparents must be "firm believers, able and ready to help the newly baptized ... on the road of Christian life" (1255).

The church teaches that sponsors must live a life of faith that is in keeping with their function as someone who must "seriously assume" responsibility for the development and safeguarding of the grace given at baptism, he said in the statement that was published on the diocese's web site Sept. 1.

If it is not possible to find a person who has all of "the necessary qualities," the priest can confer the sacrament of Baptism without godparents, he said.

Given "the confusion" among some of the faithful concerning this decision, the bishop said, he also formally consulted with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which reaffirmed the "impossibility" of allowing an openly transsexual person to be a godparent.

Transsexual behavior represents a public display of an attitude that goes against "the moral requirement to resolve the problem of one's own sexual identity according to the truth of one's own biological sex," the bishop cited the doctrinal congregation as saying.

The congregation said such behavior shows the person does not meet the conditions required for living a life in conformity to the faith and, as such, cannot be accepted as a godparent.

This position does not reflect an act of discrimination, the doctrinal congregation said, but is "just the recognition of an objective lack of the requirements" that are necessary for the ecclesial responsibilities of a godparent.

Bishop Zornoza said the church welcomes everyone with charity and mercy, wants to help everyone in his or her own particular situation and invites all people to take part in a journey of faith without, however, ever "denying the truth it preaches."

Pope Francis has said a person must respect his or her own body just as they must respect all of God's creation.

"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, whereas thinking that we enjoy absolute power over our own bodies turns, often subtly, into thinking that we enjoy absolute power over creation," Pope Francis wrote in his encyclical, "Laudato Si'."

"Learning to accept our body, to care for it and to respect its fullest meaning, is an essential element of any genuine human ecology. Also, valuing one's own body in its femininity or masculinity is necessary if I am going to be able to recognize myself in an encounter with someone who is different. In this way we can joyfully accept the specific gifts of another man or woman, the work of God the creator, and find mutual enrichment. It is not a healthy attitude which would seek 'to cancel out sexual difference because it no longer knows how to confront it,'" the pope wrote.

alertAt the Spring Assembly of the U.S. bishops, Cardinal Joseph Tobin suggested that a delegation ofbishops go to the border to see for themselves what was happening to newly arrived immigrants, families and children. On July 1 and 2, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the U.S. bishops conference, and five other bishops conducted a pastoral visit to the diocese of Brownsville, Texas. Stops included Mass at the Shrine of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle with the community, a visit to anHHS/OBR Shelter and Mass for the families there, a visit to the Customs and Border Patrol processing center in McAllen, TX, and a press conference at the end of their visit. Catholic News Service accompanied the bishops on their border trip. 

  1. Backgrounder and analysis of the bishops’ trip to the border: Cardinal DiNardo told CNS, “You cannot look at immigration as an abstraction when you meet” the people behind the issue.
  2. At final press conference, Cardinal Daniel Dinardo said the church was willing to be part of any conversation to find humane solutions because even a policy of detaining families together in facilities caused “concern.”
  3. Bishops serve soup to immigrant families at a center run by Catholic Charities and listen to their stories. Scranton Bishop Joseph Bambera said he found hope in hearing the people in the room talk about what’s ahead. They didn’t speak of making money but of finding safety for their children, he said, driven by “the most basic instinct to protect your family.”
  4. At an opening Mass he Basilica of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle-National Shrine near McAllen, Texas, Bishop Daniel Flores of Brownsville told Massgoers, “The bishops are visiting here so they can stop and look and talk to people and understand, especially the suffering of many who are amongst us,”

A delegation of U.S. bishops goes on a fact-finding mission at the U.S.-Mexican border to learn more about Central American immigration detention.

Following their visit to an immigrant detention center, U.S. bishops said they are even more determined to call on Congress for comprehensive immigration reform.