Transgender woman’s role at Mass stirs controversy in Argentina

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08/28/2020

Marking an historical first in Pope Francis’s home country, the Diocese of San Luis in northern Argentina invited a transgender woman Tuesday to read one of the prayer intentions at a public Mass celebrated by the local bishop. The invitation was issued to Francia López by civil officials to recognize the work she does among the city’s poorer, daily feeding 400 people from a soup kitchen she runs. It came without the advance knowledge of the new bishop, Gabriel Barba, who took over the diocese July 11, and who chose a small village outside of the diocesan metropolitan area to celebrate his first Mass. Due to COVID-19 restrictions as well as the small size of the town, there were only a few souls in attendance in that first liturgy: on a good day, no more than 100 people live in San José del Morro. At the end of Tuesday’s Mass, López told the media she saw the invitation as a “historic moment” and regarded it as “very hopeful, because it will allow us to build a Church as human beings, where the life options of diverse families have always encountered many obstacles to living their spiritual life.”

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