The contentious debate over the Vatican's ground-breaking overture to gays has taken a new twist.

The Vatican on Thursday released a new English translation of the draft report of bishops debating family issues. The new translation significantly alters the section about gays, diminishing the welcoming tone from the original Italian.

The report has been highly criticized by many conservative English-speaking bishops — Americans and Africans mostly — primarily because of the welcome extended to gays.

The original text contained an entire section "Welcoming homosexuals," that asked the church to provide gays a "fraternal space" and said their unions constitute a "precious support" for the partners. The new English version is entitled "Providing for homosexual persons," speaks only of "fellowship" and "valuable support."

The Vatican said English-speaking bishops requested the changes.