Pope Francis has thrown open the doors of the Vatican for a private audience with a transsexual man once dubbed the “devil’s daughter” by a Spanish priest.
Diego Neria Lejárraga, was born a woman, but since then, the 48-year-old has undergone sex reassignment surgery to become a man.
Last year, Diego wrote to Pope Francis explaining he felt like an outcast from the church, and how he was rejected 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”
In a landmark gesture of acceptance by a pope, Francis, who is renowned for his moderate tone on homosexuality, rang Diego on Christmas Eve and invited Mr. Lejárraga and his female fiancee to the Vatican for a private audience.
The Daily Mail reports that Francis has built a reputation for acceptance and even appeared on the cover of LGBT magazine The Advocate after responding to a question about gays, saying, ”Who am I to judge?”
Speaking to Spanish newspaper Hoy, Mr Neria explained why he first made contact with the pope.
“After hearing him speak on many occasions, I felt that he would listen to me.”
During an interview with an Italian Jesuit magazine, Pope Francis explained why he takes a different stance on homosexuality compared to his predecessor Benedict XVI, who described gay sex as ‘”intrinsically disordered.” He also explained how the church has grown “obsessed” with gay marriage, abortion and contraception.
Washington Blade reported that José María Núñez Blanco, president of Fundación Triángulo, described the pope’s meeting with Neria as “a piece of good news.”
“It is absolutely absurd that a believer is prevented from living their religious beliefs. Some proclaim the religion of love and dedicate themselves to spreading hate. Hopefully the Catholic Church ceases to be a machine of hate and suffering for the good of believers and non-believers.”
Conservative Catholics claim the views of Pope Francis on homosexuality, abortion and marriage directly contradict the Bible and over 1500 years of church dogma on morality and family. Should Catholics adapt to changing social norms or follow “Biblical doctrine” that teaches homosexuality is a sin and marriage is only between a man and a woman? Or as some conservative Catholics are fond of saying, should the Roman Catholic Church and the Pope obey the words of St. Augustine, who wrote, “Cum dilectione hominum et odio vitiorum.” or “With love for mankind and hatred of sins?”