Bishop Toal pointed out this was expected of all Catholics who are not married

The Bishop of Motherwell has asked his priests to encourage those experiencing same-sex attraction to “lead a chaste life”.

Bishop Joseph Toal issued his statement after a diocesan priest published a Facebook post that was subsequently widely shared. The priest, Fr Paul Morton of St Bride’s Church in Cambuslang, wrote: “We must do everything we can to redress the harm that has been done in the past by the negative stance we seem to have taken up [about gay people].”

Bishop Toal said he had been asked about the subject by a number of priests. “One such approach commended to me is to make available the Courage ministry/programme,” he said.

“This encourages those who live with same-sex attraction to live a chaste life – which is also expected of all heterosexual Catholics who are not married – supported by the sacramental and prayer life of the Church.”

Bishop Toal said that “many scoff at this option as unrealistic in today’s society”, but that “it is the way of life proposed in the Church’s tradition”.

A note said the statement was a response to coverage of the 50th anniversary of the decriminalisation of homosexuality.