The Government’s controversial plans to redefine marriage represent “one of the greatest acts of ‘social engineering’ in our history”, the Roman Catholic Bishop of Shrewsbury has warned.
The Rt Revd Mark Davies warned that marriage “lies at the very foundation of the family”, and he urged politicians to strengthen traditional marriage.
Speaking on Monday he said: “Today we see a Government, without mandate, disposing of any credible consultation, seeking to impose one of the greatest acts of ‘social engineering’ in our history in uprooting the legal definition of marriage.
“Marriage lies at the very foundation of the family. For all generations to come one generation of politicians sets out to demolish in the name of an ‘equality agenda’ the understanding of marriage that has served as the timeless foundation for the family.
“The Government is seeking to do this at the very moment when marriage as an institution has been more weakened than ever before.”
He added: “So far from weakening and confusing the foundation of the family we invite our political leaders to give back to the institution of marriage and the family the recognition and confidence it deserves.”
The Bishop also questioned assurances from the Government that redefining marriage would not threaten religious freedom.
Bishop Davies’ comments come as the Westminster Government is holding a public consultation on the matter.
Last month Owen Paterson, the Northern Ireland Secretary, became the first Cabinet Minister to openly oppose the plans to redefine marriage.
A number of other ministers, including the Secretary of Defence, have expressed reservations.
Over half a million people have signed a petition calling for the definition of marriage to remain unchanged.
But last week the Government minister in charge of policing and criminal justice said that being opposed to gay marriage was “not acceptable”.
Nick Herbert specifically related his remarks to people who want to uphold the current law on marriage.