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Archbishop of Mumbai: Catholic church ‘never considered gay people criminals’

Thursday, December 12, 2013
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MUMBAI — The Archbishop of Mumbai and president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of India, said Wednesday that the Church has “never considered gay people criminals.”

Cardinal Oswald Gracias

AP (File)
Cardinal Oswald Gracias

Referring to the Supreme Court of India ruling that reinstated a law banning homosexual acts, Cardinal Oswald Gracias — one of the Pope Francis’ eight closest personal advisers and a member of the Council of Cardinals advising the Pope on Curial reform — said “the Catholic Church has never been opposed to the decriminalization of homosexuality, because we have never considered gay people criminals.”

“As Christians, we express our full respect for homosexuals,” said Gracias.

“The Catholic Church is opposed to the legalization of gay marriage, but teaches that homosexuals have the same dignity of every human being and condemns all forms of unjust discrimination, harassment or abuse,” he said.

The Cardinal’s remarks came as India’s Supreme Court overturned a 2009 ruling by the High Court of Delhi which decriminalized homosexual acts.

The High Court said it was up to Indian lawmakers in parliament to legislate the issue.

According to Section 377 of India’s criminal penal code, a 153-year-old colonial legacy as British imposed law, a same-sex relationship is an “unnatural offense” and punishable by a 10-year jail term.

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