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Archbishop Nichols reminds Marriage Care to follow Church teaching

By on Thursday, 20 September 2012

Archbishop Nichols issued a statement after it emerged that Marriage Care offered counselling to same-sex couples (Photo: Mazur)

Archbishop Nichols issued a statement after it emerged that Marriage Care offered counselling to same-sex couples (Photo: Mazur)

The Archbishop of Westminster has warned Marriage Care that it must conform to Catholic teaching after it emerged that the charity is offering marriage preparation services to same-sex couples.

The charity, which receives money from the Catholic Church, states: “Our counselling service is open to and welcomes everybody over the age of 16, married or not, straight or not.” It also offers marriage preparation and “welcome all couples considering a committed relationship such as marriage”.

Chief executive Terry Prendergast has previously said that the group offers “focused marriage preparation” for same-sex couples.

But, the Catholic Church is opposed to same-sex marriage and Archbishop Vincent Nichols earlier this year issued a letter opposing plans to change its definition of marriage.

A spokesman for Archbishop Vincent Nichols, president of Marriage Care, said his role was exercised “solely on the basis that the charitable objects… are to provide relationship counselling, marriage preparation and relationship education services to ‘promote and support marriage and family life in accordance with the Church’s vision of marriage as a vocation of life and love’.”

He added: “It is the legal and fiduciary responsibility of the directors of the company to ensure that the charitable objects of Catholic Marriage Care Limited are observed and fulfilled. The provision of services in accordance with the teaching of the Catholic Church is also a requirement for Catholic Marriage Care Limited to maintain its continued use of the title Catholic within its designation and to retain the patronage of one of the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales.”

The charity, which was started as a marriage counseling service for Catholic couples, now receives almost £500,000 a year from the state, accounting for the majority of its income, with its website stating that it has a “broadly Christian ethos, by which we mean that we acknowledge the value and uniqueness of every human being regardless of gender, age, race, creed or sexual orientation”. It received more than £63,000 from the Catholic Church last year.

It is currently the second largest marriage counselling service in England and Wales. Mr Prendergast has previously said that children are not harmed by being raised by same-sex parents.

As The Catholic Herald went to press he was unavailable for comment.

  • scary goat


  • scary goat

     I’m never sure what Mr Loftus means.

  • polycarped

    Yes, I don’t understand what all the fuss is about. It’s very simple – if they’re not faithfully adhering to Catholic teaching on marriage when engaged for that purpose (whatever their formal orientation), JUST DITCH THEM.

    Marriage preparation is one of those critical areas where the Church is coming into regular contact not only with poorly catchised and/or lapsed ‘Catholics’ seeking the ‘church wedding’ but also with husbands and wives to be who may not have been brought up as Christians/Catholics at all. This is often an important window of opportunity for bold catechesis and evangelisation and, as in every other situation, only the truth in all its splendour is good enough.

    I personally participated in a marriage preparation course run by Marriage Care, quite recently, which was hideous and frankly very upsetting; it was full of many of the problems mentioned in this article and some of the comments – basically about as Catholic in content and orientation as the operating manual for my electric oven. Actually very offensive in some areas and dissenting from Catholic (even general Christian) teaching in nearly every respect. Most of the other attendees had little idea – they were naive and sadly went away poor or even deceived. My fiancee and I left in disgust, making it very clear why, and reported our experience formally and in great detail to the clergy.

    Whilst it’s good that +VN is calling Marriage Care to heel, I’m afraid it’s just not good enough to be farming this important catechetical and evangelising work out to organisations and trusting them to do a good job. Surely this is something that should be organised at parish/deanery or diocesan level (depending on size), run by faithful Catholics with sufficient oversight of responsible clergy?  I for one have communicated my willingness to give my time to help with this (I would see it as a great opportunity to support the Church and to evangelise) but, suprise suprise, there has not been a glimmer of interest.

  • paulsays

    The vague feeling that the world is moving on, and we aren’t… Life as a catholic in the 21st century. Don’t worry Marriage Care – we’ll have got over gays in around.. say 50 years – give or take a few decades. 

  • Benedict Carter

    Because CAFOD’s leadership is in favour of, and has made official, the organisation’s active support for the distribution of contraceptives and abortion services. 

  • scary goat

     Oh. Ok. Thanks. :-(