A group of transgender sex workers in Italy has received help from an unlikely source, after COVID-19 impacted their ability to work.
The women, who live in a beach town near Rome, sought help from their local priest in order to buy food. He in turn contacted Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, the Vatican’s distributor of alms, as COVID-19 had already impacted the parish’s resources, Reuters reports.
Krajewski, an appointee of Pope Francis who has been dubbed “the Pope’s Robin Hood,” sent money to the priest to help the women, a decision he dismissed as entirely normal for the Catholic Church to make — despite the church’s stance against transgender people.
“I don’t understand why this is getting so much attention,” Krajewski told Reuters. “This is ordinary work for the Church, it’s normal. This is how the Church is a field hospital.”
He added: “Everything is closed. They don’t have any resources. They went to the pastor. They could not have gone to a politician or a parliamentarian. And the pastor came to us.”
Krajewski noted that the sex workers are likely undocumented immigrants, which limited their ability access state benefits, and said that they “are really in difficulty because sometimes their passports were taken away by the mafia pimps who control them.”
The 56-year-old Krajewski is one of the Catholic Church’s youngest cardinals, and has a history of helping those in need, including homeless people and immigrants.
The Catholic Church’s official stance opposing LGBTQ identities is increasingly out of step with many Catholics, particularly Catholic Americans, who are among the leading religious communities who express support for LGBTQ issues.
Not helping matters is the somewhat mixed messages from Pope Francis, who has frequently expressed a more open and caring attitude towards LGBTQ people, including last year saying that who discard gay people “don’t have a human heart.”
However, Francis has also previously said that the issue of gay clergy members “worries” him and is a “serious matter,” and that sexuality must be “adequately discerned” from prospective clergy candidates. He also told bishops to seek out and prevent gay priesthood applicants, telling them to “keep your eyes open” and “if in doubt, better not let them enter.”
And in 2018 he condemned same-sex families at an event for Catholic families, saying same-sex couples did not deserve to have their families recognized by the Church.
“People speak of varied families, of various kinds of family [but] the family [as] man and woman in the image of God is the only one,” he said.
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