Pope Francis' words, "Who am I to judge?" are still resonating all around the world, including in Mumbai, where the Hindustan Times reported that Archbishop of Bombay, Cardinal Oswald Gracias, wrote a moving letter to an LGBT group, Queer Azaadi Mumbai (QAM).
Gracias responded to QAM's concerns about a sermon at St. Thomas Church, Goregaon, where a priest allegedly called homosexuality "a great sin" and also opposed gay marriage, a mere day before Francis' historic statement.
The archbishop responded on August 31 in a letter which assured the LGBT community that "the Church loved everybody, including those with different sexual orientations," and told them that he would advise priests to be more sensitive when talking about gay issues.
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.
QAM said they were satisfied with the response, and other LGBT activists applauded the archbishop for his words. A QAM member who had attended the sermon in question commented, "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."
Harish Iyer was recently included in the 2013 World Pride Power List as one of the top 100 influential LGBT activists, and he said, "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."