American Roman Catholic bishops may give the green light to new guidelines this week, which would mean gay Catholics would not have to try to change their sexual orientation.

Bishops convene today in Baltimore for their annual meeting. The guidelines will also encourage clergy to baptise the children of same-sex couples who agree to raise them in the Catholic faith.

The Roman Catholic Church will continue to stress that they believe same-sex relationships are immoral.

Cardinal Francis George, vice president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops told The Chicago Tribune: “We are trying to find a language that does not betray the teaching of the church, but will perhaps express it in ways that are not so offensive.”

Clergy are also battling to be able to deny Communion to any Catholic who does not agree with the Church.

For example, during the 2004 Presidential campaign some bishops threatened to deny Communion to Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts, a Catholic who supports abortion rights.

But many Catholics have criticised the Church’s preoccupation with the gay issue, and have said that instead the new guidelines should focus on the Iraq War.

Sam Sinnett, president of DignityUSA, a gay Catholic group said: “They’re much more concerned with whether two homosexuals are going to get married or not. They’ve lost focus on the needs of the human race.”

The Roman Catholic Church will currently allow gay members, but will not bless same-sex unions or marriages, and will not ordain priests with “strong homosexual tendencies.”

Catholicism is the largest faith group in America, with 26% of the population identifying themselves as Roman Catholic.

Yesterday, a coalition of US faith leaders issued a letter to religious and political leaders.

They called for a more faith-based approach in America which would support different sexual orientations and gender identities.