Pope Francis on Sunday, hosted a group of transgender women in the Vatican as he tries to deepen an unlikely relationship that has come to underline his drive to make the Catholic Church more inclusive for a small transgender community.
The transgender group from Torvaianica, south of Rome, attended a lunch hosted by the Pope on the Church’s World Day of the Poor. They were welcomed along with around 1,200 poor and homeless people.
‘This is a fantastic opportunity for us transexuals,’ said Claudia Victoria Salas, 55, a transgender tailor and cleaner originally from Argentina who was seated opposite Francis. ‘I send the Pope a big kiss!’
Since Francis became the Catholic Pope in 2013, the Argentine has sought to take the Church in a more inclusive direction. In January, Francis called on Catholic bishops to welcome LGBTQ+ people and criticized laws criminalizing homosexuality.
Recall that the church’s doctrinal office in the Vatican recently declared that transgender people can be baptized, serve as godparents, act as witnesses to religious weddings, and also receive same-sex blessings.
Earlier this month, the Pope fired a Texan Bishop, Joseph Strickland, a fierce critic who has questioned the his leadership and decisions to allow gays and transgenders in the Catholic Church. Bishop Strickland is one of the leading voices opposed to the Pope’s reforms.