The Catholic Church reached a huge milestone today when bishops declared that gay partnerships have value and that LGBT people have plenty of "gifts" to offer the church. Even though gay marriage is still off the table, conservative Catholic groups are pissed.

The bishops announced their findings in a preliminary report from Cool Pope Francis's "family life" meeting at the Vatican. The bishops were likely moved to take a more progressive stance on gay life today after the Pope said he wouldn't "judge" gays last year.

In the report, the bishops said the church is fully ready to welcome gays into the community, "accepting and valuing their sexual orientation without compromising Catholic doctrine on the family and matrimony." They even admitted that "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."

Conservative Catholic groups feel "betrayed" by the bishops' report. Maria Madise of Voice of the Family told the Associated Press,

What will Catholic parents now have to tell their children about contraception, cohabiting with partners or living homosexual lifestyles? Will those parents now have to tell their children that the Vatican teaches that there are positive and constructive aspects to these mortal sins? This approach destroys grace in souls.

The conservative Catholic blog Rorate Caeli called the report "heresy, homoheresy."

Gay Catholics, however, have been waiting for a statement from bishops like this for a long time. Human Rights Campaign president Chad Griffin told the AP, "For the LGBT Catholics in the United States and around the world, this new document is a light in the darkness—a dramatic new tone from a church hierarchy that has long denied the very existence of committed and loving gay and lesbian partnerships."

[Photo via AP]