The Vatican has banned a service for gay Catholics at a church in Bavaria due to its close proximity to a gay pride festival being held in the area.

Josef Heigl, vicar general for the diocese of Augsburg told the Reuters news agency that the Vatican had stopped the service, which has been taking place during the Christopher Street Day gay festival since 1999, to allay fears that it might give the impression that the Catholic Church endorsed gay rights.

Mr Heigl said that he backed the the services he personally backed the services, held at the St Moritz church, as it comforted those living with HIV and allowed the community to remember gay people murdered by the Nazis during the Holocaust.

“I stand by that because it was only ever about completely normal services and there was never a word spoken that suggested the Catholic Church somehow was endorsing homosexuality or that lifestyle,” Mr Heigl told Reuters. “It’s not out of the question that we will continue to hold services (at other times) with AIDS sufferers and homosexuals.”