A Vatican official has apologised for removing an LGBTQ+ resource link to a Catholic gay rights advocacy group from its website.

The Synod of Bishops, which is organising a two-year consultation assembly in Rome, has formally issued an apology for taking down a link to the New Ways Ministry on its site earlier in the week.

After facing backlash on social media and online, the Vatican restored access to the link which directed users to a New Ways Ministry webinar, a US group of ministers and LGBTQ+ Catholics that advocate for a greater feeling of community and inclusivity in the Catholic Church.

The webinar in question encouraged LGBTQ+ Catholics to break down stigmas via the consultation process, which aims to make the Catholic Church more welcoming and accepting of differences.

Alongside the video conference, the webpage included resources such as the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the archdioceses of Boston and Newark, according to ABC News.

The Catholic Church has called for gay people to be treated fairly and with respect, however, this has been constructed by their belief that same-sex relations and homosexual acts are “intrinsically disordered”, highlighting some level of hypocrisy in the institution’s attitudes.

Over the weekend, the link to the LGBTQ+ resources was restored by the Synod’s communications director, Thierry Bonaventura.

Following the action to undo the damage,  Bonaventura went on to apologise: “This brought pain to the entire LGBTQ community, who once again felt left out,” he wrote. “I feel that I must apologise to all LGBTQ people and to members of the New Ways Ministry for the pain caused.”

He urged others to contribute their reflections on the consultation process.

“In walking together, sometimes one may fall, the important thing is to get back up with the help of the brothers and sisters,” the communications director wrote in the Synod’s newsletter, according to a statement shared with The Associated Press.

Bonaventura’s apology received praise from the New Ways Ministry for the “historic” move to accept accountability.

“Apologies are powerful in their ability to build bridges of reconciliation and justice,” said the group’s executive director, Francis DeBernardo. Praising Bonaventura by name, he said such actions “are an example of the amazing grace which can be brought to life when one practices honesty and humility, and is concerned about how one’s actions may harm other people.”

“Vatican officials rarely apologise, and they almost certainly have never apologised to LGBTQ people or an LGBTQ Catholic ministry,” he added in a statement.

Earlier this year, on March 15, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has declared the Catholic Church will not bless same-sex unions.

The Vatican ruled that Catholic priests cannot bless same-sex unions as homosexual partnerships are “not ordered to the Creator’s plan”.

In response to being asked whether priests can bless gay couples, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) issued a two-page statement on the subject of same-sex unions.

The decree declared same-sex unions cannot “be considered licit” as they are not between a man and a woman, the Vatican ruled.

Following Catholic teachings, same-sex relations and unions defy the religious teaching that marriage can exist only between men and women, as a part of God’s plan, and is intended for the creation of children.

The Vatican have argued gay unions and same-sex relations are “not ordered to the Creator’s plan” and, therefore, cannot be blessed.

Francis DeBernardo, executive director of New Ways Ministry, supports the greater inclusion and acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community in churches. He believes the Vatican’s ruling will be overlooked by some Catholic figures.

“Catholic people recognize the holiness of the love between committed same-sex couples and recognize this love as divinely inspired and divinely supported and thus meets the standard to be blessed,” he said in a statement.

In 2003 the Vatican issued a similar statement regarding same-sex unions. The CDF ruled that they could not offer “legal recognition of homosexual unions” as it would “obscure certain basic moral values” and lead to the “devaluation of the institution of marriage”.

The statement later addressed homosexuality as “deviant behaviour” and that offering same-sex unions the “same level as marriage: would lead to the approval of the unions which the Church refused to “defend these values, for the good of men and women and for the good of society itself.”