THE Catholic Church has denied it is backing Kirstene Hair for re-election after parishioners were given a briefing setting out her opposition to same-sex marriage and abortion reform in Northern Ireland.

Parish priests handed out a leaflet to mass-goers on Sunday highlighting Hair’s opposition to both issues when legislation on them was voted on in the Commons.

The former Conservative MP for Angus is fighting to regain her seat at the General Election on Thursday after taking the seat from the SNP in 2017. Dave Doogan is the SNP candidate on Thursday and the party has been campaigning hard to win back the constituency.

One Catholic parishioner in Angus hit out at the leaflet which he believed was an implicit endorsement of Hair, telling The National: “We went for tea or coffee after mass and several people approached me and to a person we all thought the leaflet was a recommendation to vote for Kirstene Hair. No one was happy. I will absolutely not be voting for her.

“I have never voted Conservative in my life and I’m not going to start now. For the very first time I will be voting SNP. Tactically in my area it is the best vote to get the Tories out.”

READ MORE: General Election Analysis: SNP close to beating Tories in Angus

The leaflet drawn up by the Catholic Church’s parliamentary officer Anthony Horan seemed to be out of step with a Bishops’ pastoral letter read out at 500 parishes a few weeks ago.While raising abortion as one of the issues Catholics should press candidates on, the pastoral letter sent out in November suggested people should also take account of a broad range of a candidate’s voting record and views, including on poverty and inequality and whether they backed the two-child benefit cap and the renewal of Trident. It stated: “Too many people still struggle to make ends meet, homelessness is on the rise, and the two-child limit on tax credits is disproportionately affecting families of faith. This reality cannot and should not endure in our country in the twenty-first century. Reliance on food banks, particularly for families, is a telling criticism of a society that has forgotten its poor people in its midst.”

However the briefing last weekend only explicitly set out Hair voting record on allowing abortion up to 28 weeks, decriminalising abortion, and whether same-sex marriage should be permitted in Northern Ireland.

A Scottish Catholic Church spokesman said: “As you will be aware 59 different messages were sent out each one referencing the voting record of the incumbent MP. They show a range of voting behaviour and do not indicate support or otherwise for any candidate, rather they offer publicly available information to parishioners on the most fundamental moral issues ... addressed in the last parliament. Had there been a vote on Trident that would have been included.”