An Italian archdiocese has permitted a transgender person to receive the sacrament of Confirmation, and the priest who celebrated the sacrament explained: “everyone has a place in the house of God.”
The Archdiocese of Turin approved a request from Fr. Antonio Borio to celebrate Confirmation for a trans man who had undergone a legal gender transition. According to Luce! (via Google Translate):
“At the beginning of April, a request for confirmation arrives in the Turin parish of the Stigmata of San Francesco d’Assisi. A man who wants to receive the sacrament with a civilly registered male name makes it. However, on his baptismal certificate there was still the female name that had been given to him at birth. Fr. Antonio Borio, born in 1947 and ordained in 1974, not knowing what to do in the face of the request of the man who had faced the path of gender transition, asked for clarification in the [archdiocesan] curia from Fr. Alessandro Giraudo, advisor and collaborator of the archbishop Don Roberto Repole.
In permitting the confirmation of this post-transition man the archdiocese creatively interpreted a 2003 directive from the Italian Episcopal Conference that disallows changing baptismal records for trans people:
“The problem with the confirmation consisted in the fact that the baptismal name is marked in the parish registers and no subsequent changes to the registry are foreseen. For this reason, the parish priest asked the curia for clarification on how to grant the sacrament of Confirmation to a man who at the time of baptism appeared to have another name, as a woman. According to the daily LoSpiffero, the Diocese of Turin authorized confirmation after finding the following solution: to confer Confirmation on the man with the new name and still record the name of the baptism, but ‘by adding at the bottom the date and protocol number of the sentence of the civil court certifying sexual reassignment’.”
Fr. Borio spoke about the decision to celebrate the sacrament, saying more such cases will occur:
“The choice to receive some sacraments, such as Communion, Confession and Confirmation, does not depend on sex. Then of course, all the sacraments foresee faith, but we cannot measure it if a person comes to us and feels he is right with God. Certainly there is no discrimination before the Lord for the sex one has. Saint Paul said it: “There is no longer Jew or Greek; he is no longer a slave or free; he is no longer a man or a woman”. . .
“‘Everyone has a place in the house of God and there is no discrimination based on the sex one has’.”
Officials in the Archdiocese of Turin rightly decided to prioritize the human person who presented himself, making bureaucratic considerations secondary. Good pastoral care often requires such creativity when there is tension between (or even just ambiguity about) the church’s rules and life’s realities. As trans and non-binary people become more publicly visible and seek the sacraments, hopefully church leaders elsewhere will likewise choose to put people’s dignity and humanity first.
—Robert Shine (he/him), New Ways Ministry, May 24, 2022