A Croatian archbishop today asked for a pardon from gay people who felt rejected by the Church, an unprecedented move in the staunchly Catholic country.

Archbishop Mate Uzinic warned that some Catholics wanted to "serve Christ and the Church with discrimination, aggression and violence... targeting homosexual people".

He used the international day against homophobia today to express regret that some Catholics still refused to accept 2016 guidelines widely seen as softening the Church's stance on homosexuality.

In the 2016 document, Pope Francis wrote that "every person, regardless of sexual orientation, ought to be respected in his or her dignity and treated with consideration.

"I regret that there are still Catholics who do not agree with this," Uzinic, archbishop of Rijeka, wrote on Facebook.

"I seek pardon from homosexual people for they can still feel rejected from the Church due to that ... and also for not getting a careful pastoral guidance that should be guaranteed to them," the archbishop said.

Croatia, an EU member since 2013, where almost 90% of people are Catholic, has seen a gradual liberalisation of gay rights in recent years.

But gay people still face threats and the country's conservative society remains under the strong influence of the Catholic Church, which still refuses to accept the legitimacy of gay unions.