USCCB, Altering the baptismal register of a person who has undergone a “sex change” operation, 2003.
This entry concerns a letter from Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger to Bishop Wilton D. Gregory, President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, regarding the altering of parish sacramental records, specifically the baptismal record of someone who has undergone a sex change operation. What follows is a letter from Bishop Gregory to all the bishops of the United States, which clarifies the position of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on this matter.
Your Eminence/Your Excellency,
I have recently received from Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger a confidential letter in which he asked me to communicate to you the conclusions of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith regarding questions which have been forwarded to it relating to "sex-change operations" and official parish records. To that end, Cardinal Ratzinger asks that "the appropriate way be found to inform the parishes in each Diocese, possible through some form of Notification in a diocesan publication."
The Congregation notes that official parish books may not be altered for any reason, except to correct errors of transcription. Therefore, even in cases of such operations the records are not to be altered. Specifically, the altered condition of a member of the faithful under civil law does not change one's canonical condition which is male or female is determined at the moment of birth. However, should a situation rise in which some sort of notation is determined to be necessary, it is possible, in the margin of the entry for Baptism, to note the altered status of the person under civil law. In such case, the date and relevant protocol number of the civil juridic act or document should be included along with, where possible, a copy of the documentation itself at that page of the Baptismal Registry.
With gratitude for your attention to this matter, I am
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Most Reverend Wilton D. Gregory
Bishop of Belleville
USCCB, Altering the baptismal register of a person who has undergone a “sex change” operation, 2003, CLSA, Roman Replies and Advisory Opinions, 2003, 18-19.