A Vatican official apologized to the LGBT community for initially removing from the official website a link to reference material from a controversial U.S. ‘Catholic branch’ that works to include homosexuals and transgender people in the church. The Vatican reinstated the link after issuing an official apology.

Thierry Bonaventura, the Vatican’s secretary-general for the Synod of Bishops, apologized Monday, Dec. 13, for removing a link from the official Synod website that led to reference material from New Ways Ministry, a Catholic branch that caters to LGBT Catholics.

“This brought pain to the entire LGBTQ community, who once again felt left out,” he wrote, according to Reuters. “I feel that I must apologise to all LGBTQ people and to members of the New Ways Ministry for the pain caused.”

” In walking together, sometimes one may fall, the important thing is to get back up with the help of the brothers and sisters,” he wrote in the Synod’s newsletter.

After issuing the official apology, the Synod of Bishops website reinstated the New Ways Ministry material link in the ‘references’ section.

Other ministries in the references area are the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Archdioceses of Boston and Newark.

The Synod of Bishops is an event that will take place in 2023, and before the meeting through the website, the Vatican does a two-year consultation with its Catholic base.

Initially, the reference to the controversial pro-LGBT Catholic branch was included but was removed over the weekend, according to reports, under pressure from the conservative wing of the bishops, although there was no official explanation.

But the decision drew criticism on social media, and the restoration of the link and public apology appears to be a response to this.

Catholic doctrine holds that homosexuals should be treated with dignity but that homosexual activity is sinful.

According to a May 1999 Vatican notification, Sister Jeannine Gramick, and Father Robert Nugent founded New Ways Ministry in 1977 and have been engaged in pastoral activities for homosexuals for more than twenty years in the Archdiocese of Washington to promote “justice and reconciliation” among gay and lesbian Catholics and the Catholic community at large. They are the authors of the book ‘Building Bridges: Gay and Lesbian Reality and the Catholic Church’ and ‘Voices of Hope: A Collection of Positive Catholic Writings on Gay and Lesbian Issues.’

For failing to present Catholic teaching on homosexuality correctly, the ministry of New Ways was expelled from the archdiocese, telling them “they were not to exercise any apostolate without faithfully presenting the Church’s teaching regarding the intrinsic evil of homosexual acts.”

However, last December 8, according to the National Catholic Reporter, Pope Francis sent two letters to the New Ways ministry where he assured them that he is aware that the “history” of the New Ways Ministry “has not been easy,” but that loving one’s neighbor remains the second commandment, linked “necessarily” to the first which is to love God.

As a result, the controversial New Ways ministry published the letters and assured its followers that the Pope was in favor of including the LGBT community in the church.

“We weren’t planning on making the correspondence public,” a spokesperson said, “but given this situation, it’s important for people to know. We do believe [Francis] wants LGBTQ people speaking, and we think it’d be helpful for him and helpful for his message and his invitation of inclusion, that people know that he has been corresponding with us.”

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