By Advocate.com Editors
Originally published on Advocate.com February 01 2003 12:00 AM ET
The Vatican has demanded that members of religious orders who change their sex be expelled and that transgendered people not be allowed to enter religious orders in the first place, according to a document published Friday by the Catholic news agency Adista.
The confidential document, which the Vatican did not want made public, makes clear that the church has been forced to face head-on the issue of transgendered people among its members. The document was signed by Cardinal Eduardo Martinez Somalo, the Vatican's head of religious orders, and urges its recipients not to divulge the contents, owing to "the delicacy and complexity of the situation."
The document says that any member of a religious order who "undergoes a sex change must be expelled from the religious house for the good of all the souls."
It also says that priests do not have the right to change baptism registers to reflect a believer's new sex, even if the change is recognized by civil authorities. The document also quotes the Vatican's head of doctrine, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, as firmly rejecting the admission of transsexuals into religious orders.
"When there is a sensible doubt over the presence of transsexualism due to obvious external attitudes and evidence given by those charged with selecting candidates, the Superior can demand a careful medical and psychological examination," Ratzinger said.
"In the case where there is a grave and irreversible pathology of transsexualism, the candidate cannot be admitted in a viable way to the institute or religious society."