The Vatican has released guidance that indicates that transgender people can be baptised, serve as godparent and witness weddings in the Roman Catholic church.

The document signed by Pope Francis and Cardinal Víctor Manuel Fernándezl on 31 October was published on the department’s website on Wednesday (8 November).

The new guidance published by the vatican department of the Dicastery of the Doctrine of the Faith states that “a transgender person, even if they have undergone hormone therapy and sex-reassignment surgery, can receive baptism under the same conditions as other faithful, if there are no situations in which there is a risk of generating a public scandal or disorientation among the faithful.”

Furthermore, a trans person “can be admitted to the role of godfather or godmother” and that “there is nothing” in canon law denying transgender people the right to act as a witness for a marriage ceremony. This includes people who are in a same-sex relationship. Yet, priests should utilise “pastoral prudence” in their decision to do so.

The document inferred that children conceived via surrogacy or those adopted by same-sex parents cannot be baptised. It further implied that people in same-sex relationships should not be godparents to baptised children.

The response was triggered by a six question dubia posed by Bishop Jose Negri of Santo Amaro, from Brazil in July. He enquired for further clarification on LGBTQIA+ people’s participation in Catholic practices.

In an official statement Sarah Kate Ellis, president and CEO of GLAAD, has said: “Pope Francis’ latest LGBTQ affirmation sends an unequivocal message to political and cultural leaders around the world to end their persecution and exclusion of transgender people.

“Pope Francis is continuing to break down barriers that have kept LGBTQIA+ Catholics away from full participation as members of the Roman Catholic Church and is instead calling on global leaders to create welcoming spaces for LGBTQ people.”

Francis DeBarnardo of New Ways Ministry issued a statement that reads: “We applaud that statements about transgender Catholics are generally positive, and that the Vatican affirms that children of same-gender couples can and should be baptized [sic]. We hope that church leaders will apply these guidelines by following Pope Francis’ example of extravagant welcome, rather than using them to continue old restrictions.

“Welcoming transgender people more fully to the Sacraments is a good step; that welcome needs to be expanded even more now, including to Catholics in same-gender marriages who want to support their family members and friends in the practice of their faith.”