The Bishop of Portsmouth says Catholic politicians who voted for same-sex marriage should be denied Holy Communion.

“We need to discuss this as a bishops’ conference,” Portsmouth Bishop Philip Egan said to an anti-abortion Christian website.

“When people are not in communion with the Catholic Church on such a central thing as the value of life of the unborn child and also in terms of the teachings of the church on marriage and family life – they are voting in favour of same-sex marriage – then they shouldn’t be receiving Holy Communion,” Bishop Egan told LifeSiteNews last week.

He added: “I personally would be in favour of saying that somebody should not be receiving communion myself here within the diocese.”

Bishop Egan claimed denying Communion was “always an act of mercy”. It is done, he said, “with the hope and prayer that that person can be wooed back into full communion with the Church.”

“Nobody is forced to be Catholic. We’re called by Christ and He’s chosen us, it’s a free choice. We live under the word of God. It’s not my truth, its God’s truth,” he said.

“One would hope that in that case it would encourage someone to come back to seek communion with the Lord with the truth and say I’m sorry I got lost.”

Catholic Labour MP Siobhain McDonagh said Bishop Egan was “an old-fashioned diehard” and that most Catholics “would be horrified if anyone was barred from communion simply for voting to support other Catholics who are gay.”

Terry Sanderson, President of the National Secular Society, said: “These Catholic prelates are truly frightening. They do not seem to care that what they advocate presents a danger to democracy. Trying to blackmail politicians to vote in the way that you want them to is shocking and disgusting.”