In an event signaling a notable shift in the Catholic Church’s approach to inclusivity, transgender women from the Italian town of Torvaianica, located about 35 kilometers south of the Vatican, were invited to dine with Pope Francis. This invitation, extended during the Church’s World Day of the Poor, marks a significant moment for the transgender community, who have often felt distanced from the Church.
A Personal Connection at the Vatican
Among the attendees were Claudia Victoria Salas, 55, and Carla Segovia, 46, both Argentinian trans women, who joined about 1,200 poor and homeless individuals at the lunch. Salas, a former sex worker, expressed her surprise and gratitude at being seated opposite Pope Francis, also Argentinian, highlighting a personal connection that transcended their different life paths.
A Step Towards Acceptance and Love
This event is not only a gesture of inclusivity but also aligns with recent Vatican statements allowing transgender individuals to participate in key Church sacraments, including being godparents and witnesses at religious weddings. While this move has been welcomed by LGBT rights advocates within the Church, it has also sparked controversy among conservatives. Nonetheless, it represents a significant step towards broader acceptance and understanding within the Church.
Support During the Pandemic
The connection between the transgender community in Torvaianica and the Church was strengthened during the COVID-19 pandemic, when Father Andrea Conocchia, the pastor of the Blessed Immaculate Virgin parish in Torvaianica, provided crucial assistance to them. The Vatican’s involvement went beyond financial aid, extending to offering COVID vaccinations and facilitating this landmark meeting with the Pope.
A New Era of Church Outreach
This luncheon, attended by about 50 individuals from Conocchia’s parish, including both foreign-born and Italian transgender people, signifies a remarkable moment in the Church’s history. Segovia, expressing her joy and gratitude, highlighted the importance of this event for the transgender community, viewing it as a fantastic opportunity for acceptance and recognition. This gathering at the Vatican represents a groundbreaking step in the Church’s journey towards inclusivity and compassion for all, regardless of gender identity.