The Roman Catholic Bishop of Shrewsbury has launched a sharply-worded attack against equal marriage, demanding that MPs work to keep what he described as the traditional definition of marriage.

The Rt Rev Mark Davies made his comments during the annual pilgrimage of the National Association of Catholic Families to the Marian Shrine in Walsingham.

Attacking Nick Clegg’s recent comments on equal marriage, the Bishop said: “The Deputy Prime Minister was recently reported as saying he could not understand why Christians and other people of faith saw a legal redefinition of marriage as a matter of conscience: it would not, he claimed, impinge on religious freedoms.”

He added, according to the Daily Telegraph:

Experience, of course, might make us cautious of such assurances, even those given by a Deputy Prime Minister, that this agenda will not threaten religious freedom.

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. Yet it asks: why are people of faith concerned?

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.

His comments come on the same day the Pope, speaking in Milan, reiterated his opposition to equal marriage.