The Most Reverend Vincent Nichols, a staunch opponent of gay adoption, has been named as the new leader of the Catholic Church in England and Wales.

Archbishop Nichols, currently the Archbishop of Birmingham, 63, will take over from Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor next month.

He was strongly against the Sexual Orientation regulations that forced Catholic adoption agencies to accept same-sex couples as potential parents.

In November 2007, he told the Birmingham Post: “I don’t think for a minute that a same-sex couple would produce a gay child, but they would not be as complementary as having a mum and dad.”

He warned that granting equal rights to gay people meant creating “a new norm, a new moral law, and that, I believe, is not broadly accepted in our society”.

Archbishops Nichols has also criticised provisions to protect gay pupils from bullying in schools.

In 2006, he told the Commons education committee that there is no need for policies on addressing homophobic bullying.

When asked by Liberal Democrat MP Stephen Williams what faith schools were doing to address anti-gay bullying, the archbishop retorted that there is no need for such policies.

He told the committee of MPs that specific issues of bullying should not be singled out, insisting that the Church had no problems with a person’s sexual orientation, but “sexual intercourse belongs within marriage.”

Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, 76, is the first Archbishop of Westminster to retire in post.

He had previously accused gay rights laws of being “intolerant”, claiming that religious people were being forced to accept “a different version of our democracy, one in which diversity and equality are held to be at odds with religion”.