The Vatican has recognised “LGBT” for the first time, as bishops admitted that the Catholic church must be more inclusive.
In a working document published on Tuesday senior Church figures said “LGBT youth” wanted to “benefit from greater closeness” with the Church.
The shift marks a departure from previous language used by the Vatican, which has in the past included “persons with homosexual tendencies”, while more recent documents have used the term “homosexuals”.
Pope Francis has also used the word “gay” at press conferences and in interviews.
The document also recognised that “some LGBT youth” wanted to “experience greater care by the Church”.
At a press conference Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, the secretary general of the Vatican’s synod office, told reporters that the term was included because it had been used by young people and the church was following suit.
“We are open. We don’t want to be closed in on ourselves,” he said.
The report was released ahead of the Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, which will cover the topic “Young people, the faith and vocational discernment”, and will be held in October this year.
“The Synod’s primary aim is to make the whole Church aware of her important and not at all optional task of accompanying every young person, without exclusion, towards the joy of love,” said the Cardinal.
The “Instrumentum laboris” document, which was published in Italian, also said pre-synodal meetings had welcomed “young people from other Christian confessions, from other religions and even from non-believers”.
“It was a sign that the young welcomed with gratitude, because it showed the face of a hospitable and inclusive Church able to recognize the wealth and contribution that can come from each for the good of all,” it said.
Pope Francis has been widely regarded as having more progressive views on issues such as marriage and sexuality than his predecessors.
Last month a sexual abuse victim claimed he was told by Pope Francis that God had made him gay.
Juan Carlos Cruz, a victim of Chile’s most notorious abusive priest, Fernando Karadima, said: “He told me ‘Juan Carlos, that you are gay does not matter. God made you like that and he loves you like that and I do not care.”
However, last week the Pope also said that opposite-sex couples were the only ones able to form families.
“The family [as] man and woman in the image of God is the only one,” he said in unscripted remarks to a group of Italian Catholic families.
The Catholic Church’s catechism says that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered” and “contrary to the natural law”.