27 January 2015, The Tablet

Pope receives transgendered man at Vatican

Pope Francis has received a transgendered man at the Vatican.

Diego Neria Lejárraga, a 48-year-old Spanish man wrote to Francis last year to tell him that he felt like an outcast from the Church since he had the gender-reassignment surgery.

Mr Neria said that he was told not to take Communion by some his fellow parishioners at his church in the western Spanish city of Plasencia, where a priest denounced him as “the devil’s daughter”.

He wrote to the Pope to ask if there was room in the Church for him but was amazed when Francis rang him twice to arrange a meeting.

Mr Neria told Spanish newspaper Hoy: “After hearing him speak on many occasions, I felt that he would listen to me.”

At a meeting last Saturday in the Domus Sancta Marthae Francis embraced the Spaniard, who was accompanied by his fiancée.

He told the Spanish newspaper he agreed not to undergo the sex-change while his mother was alive, and contacted a plastic surgeon a year after her death, when he turned 40.

There is no official church teaching on transgender issues but the Catechism forbids amputations, mutilations and sterilisations except for “strictly therapeutic medical reasons”.

Pope Benedict XVI said people should not reject the gender “ordained by God” for them.

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