The Vatican has refused permission for a transgender Catholic to act as a godparent, saying that "moral" issues made it "impossible to allow" a transgender person to serve in such a role, according to media reports on Friday.

The ruling is the ultimate response from the church to a request from Alex Salinas, a Spanish man who was asked to serve as godfather to his nephew. Salinas was born a woman, but has undergone hormone therapy, and is awaiting gender surgery. He is identified as male in his native Spain.

Salinas' request to act as a godparent was rejected by his local Catholic bishop, Rafael Zornoza Boy of Cadiz and Ceuta. He was prompted to seek a ruling from the Vatican's doctrinal council on the issue, after it became the focus of media attention.

“After speaking with the bishop he said that in the church’s eyes, I was still a woman,” Think Progress quoted Salinas as saying. He was offered the role “spiritual godfather” instead, a position the church designates for people ineligible for the role of godparents.

It its ruling, the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which enforces Catholic doctrine, said that transsexual identity “reveals in a public way an attitude opposite to the moral imperative of solving the problem of sexual identity according to the truth of one’s own sexuality.”

The statement added that the ruling was not intended to be discriminatory, Religion News reported.

The Spanish Observatory Against LGBT Phobia, a Spanish LGBT rights group, called the church's initial decision not to allow Salinas to become a godparent "ethically reprehensible," Newsweek reported.

In a statement on his diocese’s website, Zornoza Boy said: “Pope Francis has effectively said on several occasions, in line with church teaching, that this behavior is against man’s nature.”

The church “wants to help everyone in their own situation with a compassionate heart, but without denying the truth it preaches,” the bishop added, according to the Guardian.