The Archbishop of Bombay, Cardinal Oswald Gracias, assured the city’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender ( LGBT) community that he would advise priests to be more sensitive while referring to homosexuality during their sermons or in their public statements, a month after Pope Francis, the head of the Roman Catholic church, said that society should not be judgmental about homosexuality.
The Archbishop’s statement came in response to a letter from Queer Azaadi Mumbai (QAM), an LGBT group, about a sermon at St Thomas Church, Goregaon, where the priest allegedly described homosexuality as “a great sin” and opposed gay marriage.
Some Catholic members of the group had written a complaint letter to the Archbishop last month, and had discussed the issue on social media.
The sermon had taken place just a day before the widely-discussed statement by Pope Francis, in which he said: “If someone is gay and seeks the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?”
Cardinal Gracias, in his letter dated August 31, said “Going by the data in the letter, some of what the priest said is alright and some part is inappropriate. 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. I do think we must be sensitive in our homilies [sermons] and how we speak in public and I will so advise our priests.”
He added that the Church l oved everybody, including those with different sexual orientations.
Members of QAM said they were satisfied with the response.
“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 parishioner of the Goregaon Church and member of QAM who had attended the sermon.
LGBT activists lauded the archdiocese’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 Archbishop was not available for comment on Sunday, as the community was celebrating Mother Mary’s Feast.