The Archbishop of Singapore has apologised for a letter in which he condemned the gay “lifestyle” as “detrimental to society”, but has restated his view that homosexuality “contradicts the natural laws of God”.

Catholic Archbishop William Goh made his earlier remarks in an open letter on 21 June, in which he also called upon the Holy Spirit to “restore” gay people to “wholeness”.

He has today published a second open letter, in which he apologises for the “hurt, anger and disappointment” that his initial message caused.

“I apologize if my initial statement conveyed insensitivity as from your feedback, I have come to realize that there is much variation in thought and lifestyle within this community. I want you to know that I am not indifferent to your pain and frustration,” he said.

He continued: “I am not at liberty to change the truth as revealed in sacred scripture and that which is taught by the Magisterium of the Church… What I wrote was not new but simply a restatement addressed to the Catholic Faithful.”

However, he reaffirmed his position that “a sexual relationship between same-sex individuals… is not in accordance with the divine plan of God”, which he linked to the lack of any “concrete discovery of a homosexual gene”.

He suggested that if the nature-nature issue were resolved, “there would be no debate”, but explained that it is currently “clear according to scripture” that a same-sex sexual relationship “contradicts the natural laws of God”.

Defending his comments against equal marriage and adoption rights, he claimed that children of same-sex families had told him “how they face an identity crisis as to their sexuality and orientation and their confusion as to how they should relate to people of different sexes.”

“Some also shared the tendency to be unfaithful and to have multiple sexual partners,” he added, attributing this to “the sins of their parents”.

Yet he concluded his letter by apparently praising LGBT Catholics, telling them: “I am deeply edified by your courage and perseverance in spite of the challenges you face. Many of you are generous, caring and contribute to the common good of humanity by your good works. Some of you are amongst the most loving and lovable people I have come across.”

Gay rights are currently a particularly contentious issue in Singapore, where male same-sex acts are illegal, due to the increasing success of the Pink Dot pride rally, now in its sixth year.

This year’s event was forced to deploy security for the first time after increasing opposition from both Christian and Muslim religious groups.