Gay men will be allowed to be Roman Catholic priests as long as they can prove that they have been celibate for a minimum of three years.

The Vatican report which was commissioned by the Pope, Benedict XIV, says that the church will ban gays who “publicly manifest their homosexuality or show an overwhelming attraction” to homosexual culture even if it is only intellectually”.

The document is supposed to state “Candidates who show a homosexual tendency will not be allowed into the priesthood unless they can demonstrate that they have been able to remain chaste for at least three years.”

The Vatican’s current stance on homosexuality dates back to 1961 where a ruling said that being gay was a “perverse inclination”.

The gay rights group Stonewall expressed sadness at the bar on practising gay men from becoming priests. The charity’s Chief Executive, Ben Summerskill said, “it’s deeply sad that the Vatican should be indulging in this offensive posturing. Expressions of prejudice by church leaders both abroad and in Britain validate the discrimination that gay people face on a daily basis.”

Earlier this year, the Church of England said that it would allow gay vicars to marry in a civil partnership as long as they promised to be celibate.