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Vatican bans transsexuals from religious orders

The Vatican has sent superiors of religious orders a confidential document prohibiting transsexuals from entering consecrated life and requiring expulsion or suspension of religious who undergo "sex- change" operations.

Citing the issue's complexity and the danger of scandal, the document instructs superiors of men's and women's religious orders to submit cases of transsexualism to the Vatican's doctrinal congregation, which it said was designated by Pope John Paul II to handle all such cases to ensure uniformity.

The three-page document was prepared by the doctrinal congregation and sent to superiors with a 15 January cover letter from Cardinal Eduardo Martinez Somalo, prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life.

The text acknowledges that transsexualism is a "rare pathology" but said issues surrounding sexual identity and sex change were commonly accepted in modern culture and "also raise important problems in the ecclesial ambient."

Cardinal Martinez's letter said the document was intended as "an aid for competent superiors who must respond to such questions."

Catholic News Service

Vatican moves to ban all sex-change priests, nuns (Sydney Morning Herald)
Vatican denounces transsexuals (AP)
Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life
Transsexualism: A Primer (The Looking Glass Society)
Christian Institute Briefing: Transsexualism - mind over matter

3 Feb 2003