The Archbishop of Westminster Vincent Nichols has announced that masses throughout Soho in central London, designed specifically for gay people, are to end.

According to the Catholic Herald website, Archbishop Nichols, who also leads the Catholic Church in England and Wales, is no longer prepared to sanction the ceremonies, which were set up six years ago by a group of openly gay Catholics.

In a statement released yesterday, Archbishop Nichols insisted that pastoral care for gay Catholics would continue at London’s Jesuit Farm Street Church in Mayfair each Sunday evening.

However, he announced that the Our Lady of the Assumption Church in Warwick Street, London, must stop holding masses that were specifically designed for gay Catholics.

The Telegraph columnist and religious commentator Damian Thompson welcomed the archbishop’s decision.

He said: “The ‘gay masses’ were an embarrassment, a relic of old-style gay rights campaigning that scandalised large numbers of Catholics. To give this lovely 18th-century church to the Ordinariate is a huge boost for ex-Anglicans who are setting up their own structure, worshipping as Catholics in a style informed by Anglican spirituality. Archbishop Vincent Nichols should be congratulated.”

As part of his Christmas Day message, Archbishop Nichols attacked the government’s plan to introduce equal marriage in England and Wales and described it as a shambles.