The man tipped to be named as the new Archbishop of Birmingham today has played a strong part in reaching out to gay Catholics.

In 2007, Rt Rev Bernard Longley, currently the Auxillary Bishop of Westminster, helped integrate the Soho Masses Pastoral Council into the diocese. The group puts on special Masses for gays and lesbians.

He also helped the group write a statement on ministering to gay Catholics which, while following Catholic teaching on homosexuality, recognised that gay and lesbian believers wanted to be involved with the church.

Rev Longley told the BBC that it has “never been the practice of the Catholic church, as it were, to ‘means-test’ people before admitting them to the celebration of the Eucharist. It would be a mistake to jump to conclusions or to generalise about anybody’s particular lifestyle, or their state of grace.”

He was criticised for helping the group and was urged to step down from holding a rosary procession through London.

He replaces the Most Rev Vincent Nichols, a staunch gay adoption opponent, who has been appointed Archbishop of Westminster.