We find this entry in the Wikipedia:

"Theodora of Alexandria was a saint and Desert Mother who was married to a prefect of Egypt. In order to perform penance for a sin she committed, she disguised herself as a man and joined a monastery in Thebaid. Her true identity as a woman was discovered only after her death."

Of late, there have been heartening news of transgender citizens gaining due acceptance in different walks of life. Though the Catholic Church has always been against ordaining women as priests, it is not known if such taboo exists in the case of transgender faithful. My question therefore, is: was any transgender person ever ordained as a Catholic priest ?

  • Popular legend suggests Pope Joan, said to be a woman who reigned as Pope. Whether you believe the legend or not is irrelevant. The point I'm making is that every woman who dresses in men's clothing to sit upon the seats of authority and power is not transgender. It's even hard to call them transvestite as they're not necessarily doing it because they want to be of the opposite sex. They're solving a sociopolitical problem. Are you asking if any biologically-born female has ever been ordained? Or are you specifically asking if a transgender has?
    – JBH
    Commented Jun 2, 2019 at 20:01

2 Answers 2


Was any transgender person ever ordained as a Catholic priest?

The short answer is no.

According to the Catholic Church's moral doctrine, homosexual attraction is disordered, and homosexual acts themselves are sinful. However, the Church does allow the ordination of men who may have, in the past, experienced same-sex attraction, but only on the condition that they have lived without engaging in "homosexual culture" or acts for several years, and that have no "deep-seated homosexual tendencies". Priests in the Latin Church are required to live by the Church's teachings, and most make a vow or promise of celibacy.

A 2006 survey suggests that Roman Catholic church-goers in the US were almost evenly split on whether homosexual men should or should not serve as priests or bishops.

A 2000 document from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith concludes that sex-change procedures do not change a person’s sex. "The key point," said the document, "is that the transsexual surgical operation is so superficial and external that it does not change the personality. If the person was a male, he remains male. If she was female, she remains female." However, those who have undergone such a procedure are prevented from ordination or admission to consecrated religious life. - Homosexuality and Roman Catholic priests (Wikipedia)

The Vatican is very clear on this matter:

Consequently, the document instructs bishops never to alter the sex listed in parish baptismal records and says Catholics who have undergone "sex-change" procedures are not eligible to marry, be ordained to the priesthood or enter religious life, according to a source familiar with the text. - Vatican says 'sex-change' operation does not change person's gender

Nevertheless some breakaway Catholic groups have ordained such persons as seen here and here. These ordinations are invalid in the eyes of the Catholic Church.

  • Rather than Wikipedia, its (and your second) source provides an excellent summary of findings at the end.
    – OrangeDog
    Commented May 30, 2019 at 16:23

Complete hermaphrodites cannot be validly ordained; hermaphrodites with the male aspect predominating (androgynia) can be validly, but not licitly, ordained.

Canonist Dom Augustine commentates on 1917 Can. 968 (= 1983 Canon 1024):

Concerning hermaphrodites, it must be said that complete hermaphrodites, whose sex cannot be determined, may not be validly ordained; whereas those with whom the male sex prevails may be ordained validly but not licitly.


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