A transgender man and his fiancée reportedly had a private meeting with Pope Francis over the weekend. The man, Diego Neria Lejárraga, wrote a letter about being rejected by his parish in Spain and being called “the devil’s daughter” by a priest.
“For the pope to meet with a transgender man about to be married, and for that meeting to result in this man feeling more hopeful about his place in the church, shows a concern for those at the very margins of our church. I hope the pope listened carefully to this man’s experience and will speak about what he heard,” Marianne Duddy-Burke, who heads the LGBT Catholic organization Dignity USA, told the Washington Blade. According to the Blade, the story was originally reported by Hoy, a Spanish-language publication in the nation’s Extremadura region. A translation of the Spanish text indicates that Lejárraga said the pope embraced him and that he now feels at peace.
Pope Francis has a mixed record when it comes to LGBT people. Many have hailed him for shifting the Catholic Church’s tone when it comes to LGBT issues. At the same time, he’s garnered criticism for a lack of policy changes — not to mention some public comments he’s made criticizing same-sex marriage and nontraditional families. The Vatican has also held a “traditional marriage” summit under his leadership.
Duddy-Burke previously told The Advocate that it is a “complex question” whether the pope is making substantial change or whether it’s all tone and perception. She credits Francis for focusing on poverty but expressed concerned about his use of “some very right-wing rhetoric” when it comes to families.
Within the Catholic Church, transgender issues are so sensitive that one nun has for years run a secret ministry for trans people under the moniker Sister Monica.