A Latin American Catholic Church group has apologised for the “confusion” caused by the publication of members’ accounts of a meeting with Pope Francis where he is quoted as referring to a “gay lobby” inside the Vatican’s secretive administration, the Curia.

The ANSA news agency reports the Latin American and Caribbean Confederation of Religious (CLAR) said the Pope’s alleged comments, published in Spanish on Tuesday by Chilean-based website Reflection and Liberation, “cannot with certainty be attributed to the Holy Father, only their general sense”.

CLAR has apologised to Pope Francis, saying it was “deeply sorry”, after “the personal accounts of those present at the event” were also picked up and translated by the Rorate Caeli blog, which is read in Vatican circles.

It stressed the Pope’s comments had not been recorded but were what CLAR members remembered of his answers to their questions.

Pope Francis was asked about the panel of cardinals he has set up to help him reform the Curia, the Catholic Church’s central administrative body.

He was quoted as replying: “…it is difficult. In the Curia, there are also holy people, really, there are holy people. But there also is a stream of corruption, there is that as well, it is true… The ‘gay lobby’ is mentioned, and it is true, it is there… We need to see what we can do…”

Vatican spokesman Father Federico declined to comment on the meeting, stressing its content was private.