A chaste life and closeness to Christ is the vocation of every Christian, Bishop Joseph Toal of Motherwell has said in response to questions about ministry to people with same-sex attraction.

“Our saints are our models in this journey of faith and life, and it is good to be led by the example of their commitment to fulfilling God’s will rather than our own particular desires,” Bishop Toal said July 26. “As Catholics we pray always for the wisdom to make wise choices and to be guided by Christ rather than the world around us.”

He cited recent questions about possible approaches to pastoral care to people who experience same-sex attraction, noting that the apostolate of Courage has been recommended to him. This ministry “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.”

“Many scoff at this option as unrealistic in today’s societies in which intimate same-sex relationships are condoned and have been afforded the status of marriage in some countries, but that is the way of life proposed in the Church’s tradition and the Church invites her children to abide by it,” he continued.

“Whatever situation one finds oneself in in life the Church wishes us to remain close to Our Lord and constantly invites us to seek a life of true fulfilment.”

The statement came in response to coverage of the 50th anniversary of the decriminalization of homosexual acts in England and Wales, the Catholic Herald reports.

One priest’s statement on the anniversary, Father Paul Morton of St Bride’s Parish Church in Cambuslang, in the Scottish county of Lanarkshire, drew media attention for a Facebook post that was taken as a warm welcome for those who identify as gay.

“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,” Fr. Morton said, adding “there should be no place in our language or our attitude which allows for prejudice or exclusion.”

The Scottish Episcopal Church, which is part of the Anglican Communion, recently voted to allow same-sex weddings in its churches.