The Bishop of Kerry Dr Ray Browne has apologised over a controversial homily delivered to parishioners in Listowel on Sunday, saying the views expressed by the priest were not representative of Christianity.
In a statement posted on the diocesan website on Tuesday morning, Bishop Browne said he is aware of "the deep upset and hurt" caused by the contents of the homilies in question delivered over the weekend.
Fr Seán Sheehy, a retired priest deputising for parish priest Fr Declan O'Connor, delivered the sermon on Sunday, claiming sexual sin is rampant in society.
He told the congregation at St Mary’s Church that sex between two men or two women is a sin and described transgenderism as lunatic and promiscuous behaviour.
He added that repentance would save people from Satan and his wiles and ways, and also condemned promiscuity and the distribution of condoms to girls by the HSE.
A recording of the sermon has been circulating on social media.
"You rarely hear about sin, but it’s rampant," the priest said. "We see it for example in the legislation, we see it in the promotion of abortion, we see it in the example of this lunatic approach of transgenderism and in promotion of sex between two men and two women," he added.
A number of people left the mass in protest and the comments have since been heavily criticised online.
Bishop Browne's statement stressed the views expressed during the sermon "do not represent the Christian position".
"The homily at a regular weekend parish Mass is not appropriate for such issues to be spoken of in such terms. I regret that this has occurred while a parish pilgrimage to the Holy Land is taking place," Bishop Browne said, in an apparent reference to Fr O’Connor being away on pilgrimage.
"The Gospel of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ is a Gospel of love and ever proclaims the dignity of every human person. It calls on us all to ever have total respect for one another," the bishop added.