TORVAIANICA, Italy/VATICAN CITY, Nov 19 – The seaside town of Torvaianica, located approximately 35 km (20 miles) south of Vatican City, has become a symbol of acceptance and support for transgender women in Italy. Through unexpected events that unfolded during the COVID-19 lockdown, the local transgender community found themselves drawn closer to the Catholic Church, culminating in an extraordinary invitation to join Pope Francis for a special lunch.
Claudia Victoria Salas, 55, and Carla Segovia, 46, both hailing from Argentina, were among the transgender individuals who were given the opportunity to attend the lunch with Pope Francis on the Church’s World Day of the Poor. To their astonishment, Salas, a former sex worker, found herself seated directly across from the Pope at the main table in the auditorium where the pontiff holds his general audiences in winter.
The encounters in Torvaianica and the subsequent lunch have touched the lives of the transgender women in meaningful ways. “We transgenders here in Italy feel a sense of humanity that is truly uplifting, as Pope Francis brings us closer to the Church,” expressed Carla Segovia while standing on the solitary and windswept beach of Torvaianica. “What we really need is love,” she added.
The Vatican’s doctrinal office has recently made a significant announcement, affirming that transgender individuals are eligible to be godparents at Roman Catholic baptisms, witnesses at religious weddings, and can receive baptism themselves. This move has generated mixed reactions within the Catholic Church, with some advocates of LGBT rights embracing the decision while others express concerns over potential confusion pertaining to sexual morality.
Pope Francis, 86, has been actively working to foster an environment of inclusivity and acceptance within the Church, without altering its fundamental teachings. The Church’s stance on same-sex attraction remains unchanged, asserting that it is not sinful, while same-sex acts are deemed inconsistent with Catholic teachings.
During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Father Andrea Conocchia, the pastor of the Blessed Immaculate Virgin parish in Torvaianica, went to great lengths to assist the transgender community by providing food and other forms of support. Due to limited resources at the parish during that time, as many people faced financial difficulties, Conocchia sought aid from a cardinal overseeing the pope’s charitable efforts. In response, the cardinal not only provided financial assistance but also enabled the transgender individuals to receive COVID vaccinations within the confines of Vatican City, ultimately leading to their unprecedented meeting with the Pope.
“For us, Father Conocchia is a true saint,” Salas proclaimed affectionately while reflecting on the support they received. On the day of their encounter with Pope Francis, Conocchia accompanied approximately 50 impoverished individuals from Torvaianica, including transgender community members of both Italian and foreign origins.
“This is a fantastic opportunity for all of us within the transgender community,” expressed Segovia, sharing her excitement as she entered the auditorium. She concluded her statement by sending the Pope a heartfelt message, “I send the Pope a big kiss.”
The Torvaianica story stands as a testament to the power of compassion and understanding, offering hope and inspiration to the broader transgender community in Italy. The recognition and acknowledgment received from Pope Francis have resonated deeply, reaffirming the shared humanity and inclusivity that lie at the core of the Catholic faith.
What is the significance of Torvaianica in relation to the transgender community in Italy?
Torvaianica, a small beach town located south of Vatican City, has become a symbol of acceptance and support for transgender individuals in Italy. Through a series of events during the COVID-19 lockdown, the town’s transgender community experienced a remarkable rapprochement with the Catholic Church, leading to a special lunch with Pope Francis.
What announcement did the Vatican’s doctrinal office recently make regarding transgender individuals?
The Vatican’s doctrinal office stated that transgender individuals are eligible to be godparents at Roman Catholic baptisms, witnesses at religious weddings, and can receive baptism themselves. This decision has elicited differing reactions within the Catholic Church, with some advocating for progressive inclusivity and others expressing concerns about potential confusion regarding sexual morality.
How has Pope Francis worked to create a more inclusive environment for the LGBT community?
Pope Francis has endeavored to make the Catholic Church more welcoming to the LGBT community without altering its fundamental teachings. While the Church maintains that same-sex attraction is not sinful, it continues to view same-sex acts as inconsistent with its teachings.
How did Father Andrea Conocchia support the transgender community in Torvaianica during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Father Andrea Conocchia, the pastor of the Blessed Immaculate Virgin parish in Torvaianica, provided food and other assistance to the transgender community during the difficult period of the COVID-19 pandemic. He sought aid from a cardinal overseeing the pope’s charitable efforts, which resulted in financial assistance, COVID vaccinations for the transgender individuals, and ultimately, their memorable meeting with Pope Francis.