|Pope Francis is said to be more relaxed about homosexuality than his predecessors|
A preliminary report written by bishops during a Vatican synod said homosexuals had "gifts and qualities to offer".
The report does not challenge the Church's long-held opposition to same-sex marriage, but some gay rights groups hailed it as a breakthrough.
Conservative groups rejected the report, one labelling it a "betrayal".
More than 200 bishops have been taking part in the synod since 5 October. It was convened by Pope Francis to debate abortion, contraception, homosexuality and divorce.
Monday's report, issued half-way through the two-week meeting, said: "Homosexuals have gifts and qualities to offer to the Christian community. Are we capable of welcoming these people, guaranteeing to them a fraternal space in our communities?"
Analysis: David Willey, BBC News, Rome
Pope Francis' emphasis on concentrating upon positive rather than negative aspects of human sexuality seems to have won over many bishops attending the synod.
His predecessor Pope Benedict referred to homosexual relationships as "intrinsically disordered" in a Vatican document written in 1986 - when Benedict was chief theological adviser to Pope John Paul II.
Pope Francis on the other hand told journalists returning from a Catholic Youth Festival in Rio de Janeiro last year: "If a person seeks God and has goodwill, then who am I to judge?"
Pope Francis is the first pontiff ever to have used the word "gay" in public rather than refer to "homosexuals".
|Pope Francis arrives to celebrate a mass in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican,|
Sunday, Oct. 5, 2014
The document adds: "Without denying the moral problems connected to homosexual unions, it has to be noted that there are cases in which mutual aid to the point of sacrifice constitutes a precious support in the life of the partners."
Human Rights Campaign, a leading US gay rights organisation, said the document set a "dramatic new tone".
The London-based Catholic gay rights groups Quest called parts of it a "breakthrough".
However Voice Of The Family, a conservative Roman Catholic organisation, rejected the interim report as a "betrayal".
The group's co-founder John Smeaton called it "one of the worst official documents drafted in Church history".
Last year, a survey launched by Pope Francis suggested that the majority of Catholics rejected Church teaching on issues such as sex and contraception.
So, I wonder if this is the motivation for the church changing its attitude toward gays? Is Catholicism a democracy or a theocracy? Shouldn't the church's attitude on homosexuality be formed by the Word of God? Is the Word of God the least bit ambiguous about how God feels about gays?
One would think that after the church was nearly destroyed by myriad gay pedophiles in the priesthood, that the church would adamantly oppose any attempt at inclusion of gays. One has to think that they are totally focused on the gays here, and unconcerned about how it will affect the church. Yes, gays have gifts and qualities to offer, but they also have negative qualities, like a much higher ratio of pedophiles than do heterosexuals.
One more issue is that the church could end up endorsing members engaged in sex outside of marriage, and inevitably, priests engaged in gay sex. I don't see how anything good can come out of this.