Berlin’s incoming Catholic archbishop says he will meet with gay activists who have criticised his appointment.

Archbishop-elect Rainer Maria Woelk said at a press conference last week: “We will meet with each other.

“I have respect and esteem for all people, independent of heritage, skin colour and individual nature. I am open to all without reservations.”

According to the Catholic News Agency, he added: “The church is not a moral institution that goes around pointing its finger at people.”

The appointment of Woelk, a former auxiliary bishop of Cologne, has dismayed gay rights campaigners.

German MP Johannes Kahrs told the newspaper Berliner Zeitung that the new archbishop was of a “backwards persuasion” and “openly has a problem with gay people”.