“The church is a part of the people, whoever they are. For us they have value.”

True Christian charity at work.

Details from RNS: 

The day before Easter this year, a group of transgender people came to the Vatican at the invitation of Pope Francis to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, according to an official who oversees the pope’s charitable works.

Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, the papal almoner, confirmed in a phone interview that about 50 individuals arrived at the Vatican on buses on April 3 from a parish in Torvaianica, near Rome, where the Rev. Andrea Conocchia has been ministering to a transgender community for several years. On April 24, the group returned for their second shot.

It has already been reported that Francis had asked Krajewski last year to provide food and financial support to members of the community who were struggling without work due to the pandemic. But as Easter approached this year, Krajewski reached out to Conocchia, suggesting that he bring the transgender individuals under his care to the Vatican to be vaccinated.

“It was truly Easter,” Conocchia told RNS on Friday (July 2), calling the occasion “a day of life and resurrection” for his community.

The group also included volunteers working at Conocchia’s parish, as well as immigrants and refugees under the care of the Community of St. Egidio, a Catholic aid organization, as well as struggling families and divorced parents supported by the Catholic charity Caritas.

Juan Carlos Cruz, a clerical sex abuse survivor and activist who was appointed last March by Pope Francis as a member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, told RNS on Thursday (July 1) that when the two buses from Torvaianica arrived saying they had been invited to be vaccinated, Vatican officials called the pope for guidance.

“Absolutely vaccinate them!” Francis said, according to Cruz, who also said that the pontiff had the sensitivity to tell Vatican employees “to ask for their names, ask for anything they need, but do not ask them about their sex.”

The group was taken to the Paul VI Audience Hall, where they received their first dose of the vaccine.

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