A gay couple in Brazil received the surprise of a lifetime when they came home to a letter from Pope Francis congratulating them on baptizing their three children.
In June, Toni Reis, head of the Brazilian LGBT organization Grupo Dignidade, sent a note to the Vatican sharing the news that his kids Alyson, Jessica, and Felipe, had all been baptized. Even so, the response from Francis, written on official Vatican letterhead, was “unexpected,” Reis told The Washington Blade.
“We are extremely pleased to have received this unexpected message and what it means for families with same-sex parents.”
The letter congratulated Reis and his partner David Harrad, stating that “Pope Francis wishes you happiness, invoking for your family the abundance of divine graces in order to live steadfastly and faithfully as good children of God and of the church.” It was written in Portuguese by Monsignor Paolo Borgia of the Vatican Secretariat of State.
Later, officials from the papal office released a statement noting that the correspondence was a typical courtesy response and not indicative of the pontiff’s political leanings.
Pope Francis has a complex history with the LGBT community: Despite multiple statements condemning transgender people and gender-nonconformity, he welcomed Luxembourg’s gay prime minister and his husband to the Vatican earlier this year. Francis has also called on the Church to apologize for its historical persecution of LGBT people.