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Being gay no sin: Cardinal Gracias 

Cardinal Oswald Gracias

Mumbai: Cardinal Oswald Gracias, the head of the Indian Catholic Church, wants priests to become more sensitive while discussing homosexuality in their sermons and public statements.

“The Church does not accept gay marriage because the Bible teaches us that God willed marriage to be between man and woman. On the other hand, to say that those with other sexual orientations are sinners is wrong,” the cardinal, who is the archbishop of Bombay, wrote to a group of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people.

The group, Queer Azaadi (freedom) Mumbai (QAM), had complained to the prelate about a parish priest in Bombay archdiocese who had criticized homosexuals during his sermon in late July.

In his statement to QAM dated August 31, Cardinal Gracias, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India, promised to advise his priests to become more sensitive in “our homilies and how we speak in public.”

The cardinal’s comments came a month after Pope Francis told reporters that he would not judge gay people who are earnestly seeking God, reported The Hindustan Times today.

Cardinal Gracias is in an eight-member permanent advisory body the Pope set up last April to advise him on Church reforms.

The controversy in Mumbai arose after a priest of St. Thomas Church, Goregaon, described homosexuality as “a grave sin” and opposed gay marriage.

Some Catholic members of QAM had written a complaint letter to their archbishop in August, besides discussing the issue in social media circles.

Cardinal Gracias responded saying, “Going by the data in the letter, some of what the priest said is alright and some part is inappropriate.” He also said the Church loved everybody, including those with different sexual orientations.

LGBT activists have lauded the cardinal’s stand.

“We are grateful to the Church for categorically stating that they are not against homosexuality. The Archbishop of Mumbai has set a benchmark for everyone else,” said Harish Iyer, who recently figured among the 100 most influential LGBT people in the world.

The QAM members said the prelate’s response has satisfied them.

“The archbishop’s response was very reassuring for the community. It gives me confidence as a member of the Church that I will not be discriminated against,” said a Goregaon parishioner and a QAM member who had heard the priest’s sermon.

The priest reportedly brought up the issue in light of gay marriage being legalized in England.