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What did people find harsh and uninformed in that 1986 Vatican letter?

It backed away from the prevailing ethical opinion that a homosexual orientation is morally neutral. Reaffirming its 1975 opinion that homosexuality is a "pathological condition," the Vatican now called it "an objective disorder." These statements refer to homosexual orientation itself, not just to its genital expression. Despite massive evidence to the contrary in medical, psychological, and sociobiological research, the official Vatican opinion is that gay people are sick. This teaching is unmistakable in the Vatican's 2005 Instruction on gay seminarians. It holds that gay men lack "emotional maturity" and cannot "relate correctly to both men and women." In addition, supposedly, they are defective in "love of the truth," "a sense of justice," "integrity," "respect for others," "compassion," and "balanced judgment and behavior."

In fact, however, stating what many bishops were known to believe, Bishops Charles Buswell, Thomas Gumbleton, and Walter Sullivan publicly criticized the 1992 document. The bishops in Florida, Maine, Michigan, Oregon, and Washington also opposed discriminatory legislation and/or supported gay rights legislation. However, in 2003 the Vatican called on all public officials to oppose gay marriage as "contrary to the common good," and under Pope Benedict XVI the Catholic bishops have waged an all-out campaign against any civil recognition of lesbian or gay relationships.