ROME — Pope Francis reportedly welcomed a transgender man and his fiancé in a private audience last weekend, after the Spaniard wrote the pontiff a letter explaining the suffering his parish community had caused him.
As is customary with private papal audiences, the Vatican refused to confirm or deny the meeting with Francis.
Neria Lejárraga was born a woman and raised in a Catholic family, but after the death of his mother eight years ago, he decided to undergo sex reassignment surgery.
A Spanish daily published an interview with Lejárraga, who said the backlash from his neighbors led him to write to Pope Francis last year because after hearing him speak, he felt the pontiff would listen to him.
Lejárraga told the Spanish newspaper Hoy (Today) that he decided to undergo the transformation because his feelings of disillusionment had increased with age.
“My jail was my own body,” he said. “Because it absolutely didn’t correspond with what my soul felt. I didn’t know one happy summer when I could go to the pool with my friends.”
He also said he waited until age 40 to undergo the surgery because his mother, “the soul of my life,” asked him to wait until after she had died — “And for her, I’d wait one and a thousand lives.”
He said his mother wasn’t rejecting him, but rather, she was afraid that those in their small city of Plasencia, in Spain, would reject him.
She was right, he said: Rejection came from his neighbors and from members of his parish. Some of them called him too worthless to attend church. Once, while he was walking down the street, a priest called him “the daughter of the devil.”
We are only getting one side of this story. I would like to hear from her neighbors and members of her parish and the priest that allegedly made this remark.
Maybe this woman was merely told mutilating her body is contrary to Catholic teaching and that’s all it took for her to feel persecuted.
And, lest anyone read into this meeting the Holy Father’s approval of sex change operations and gender theory, Hilary White at LifeSite has a more balanced report on this.
Catholic teaching, however, considers gender “reassignment” an impossibility and a violation of the Creator’s intention.
Pope Francis himself has criticized fluid notions of gender. During his in-air interview on January 19, the pope called the imposition of “gender theory” a form of “ideological colonization.”
Also, last year, Austrian Bishop Andreas Laun related that in a meeting with the pope, Francis condemned “gender ideology” as “demonic.”
“Indeed, gender ideology is the destruction of persons, which is why Pope Francis was justified in calling it demonic,” wrote Bishop Laun. “The core thesis of this sick product of reason is the end result of a radical feminism which the homosexual lobby has made its own.”
In her letter, Neria had specifically noted that she felt excluded from the Church because of her decision, and that she was now “afraid” to receive Communion. She did not tell Hoy what the pope said, only mentioning that he embraced her.