Sat 25th Oct 2014 | Last updated: Fri 24th Oct 2014 at 18:39pm

Facebook Logo Twitter Logo RSS Logo
Hot Topics

Latest News

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.

  • Benedict Carter

    Good Lord!

    Something to at last be pleased about. 

    I must lie down.

  • Ben Trovato

    Good news indeed! I hope the Archbishop follows it through.

  • paulpriest

    Excuse me – there is NO SUCH THING as same sex marriage in this country at present.

    Therefore those same-sex couples undergoing ‘marriage’ preparation are about to engage in a civil partnership.

    Which His Grace has repeatedly declared ‘The Church DOES NOT OPPOSE’

    [Yes I know - we all know the Church does oppose them - It states a duty to oppose - then in the CDF 2004 Consideration it reiterated its position on same-sex unions - irrespective of the moral justice within certain aspects of the rights entailed within such legislation [joint ownership, rights to legacy, hospital visitation etc] we must not co-operate in any way with the formation of a civil union which scandalises marriage in its emulation]

    …and yes, Conference has republished in December 2011 its 2003 deposition declaring we ‘strongly oppose’ Civil partnerships making this the precedential position of the National Church…


    The Vatican reprimand which demanded His Grace clarify his position led to +Vin making a statement which obfuscated, equivocated and far from clarified the official position.

    …and may I remind everyone that the ‘authoritative, but not official’ statement made on behalf of the Bishops by Catholic Voices persists in saying [para]

    “We do not oppose Civil Partnerships..rather the only thing wrong with them is their same-sex exclusivity” & in repeated media interviews

    …to such an extent that only last week a member of Catholic Voices declared that

    “Rome has not spoken on the issue…

    [ one may only assume that Catholic Voices are saying the Civil Partnership legislation does not conform to Rome's definition or Conference's 2003 definition of same-sex unions and is therefore open to debate? This seems hardly credible!!! ]

    …therefore this is solely a matter of informed conscience and individual prudential judgment!!”

    One can only assume that this chaotic fiasco will continue until His Grace actually does what the Vatican told him to do in the first place…

    State Catholic teaching that we oppose Civil Partnerships!

    Over to you Your Grace: You can’t make ridiculous attempts to paper over the cracks while your representatives continue to perform actions grounded upon that to which your declarations gave the green light….

  • nytor

    Most unusual – Vincent Nichols saying something politically incorrect. It won’t last.

  • Sower

       Par.2357 of the Catechism of
    the Catholic Church reads:

       “Homosexuality refers to relations between
    men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual
    attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of
    forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological
    genesis remains largely unexplained.

      Basing itself
    on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity,
    tradition has always declared that ‘homosexual acts are intrinsically
    disordered.’ They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to
    the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual

      Under no
    circumstances can they be approved.”

  • orapronobis

    Nobody tell the Tablet. There’ll be one heck of a furore!

  • paulpriest

    There certainly will be when all Terry Prendergast is doing is allowing preparation for Civil Partnerships which +Vin has repeatedly said the Church does not oppose…

    He’s being scape-goated and reprimanded for what he’s been told: “it’s ok!” – from the highest authority [i.e. the President of Catholic Marriage Care AND his own Archbishop]

    …and in a Press Conference Nov ’11

    ‘We would want to emphasise that civil
    partnerships actually provide a structure in which people of the same
    sex who want a lifelong relationship [and] a lifelong partnership can
    find their place and protection and legal provision,
    a Church we are very committed to the notion of equality so that people
    are treated the same across all the activities of life. The Church
    holds great store by the value of commitment in relationships and
    undertakings that people give. Stability in society depends upon the
    reliability of commitments that people give. That might be in offering
    to do a job but especially in their relationships with one another.
    Equality and commitment are both very important and we fully support

    after Dr Oddie rightly objected on this very blog [for which he's accused of being mischievous]

    [and a widely leaked reprimand from the Vatican]

    - we had this: [from 9:25]

    [where inserted is a sneaky contradicting 'which we objected to'!!?]

    If the Tablet wants to do that which it does best we aren’t going to be able to prevent them…

    Of course if +Vin had done his job in the first place and kicked the Tablet out; removed its permission to use the title ‘Catholic’ then maybe he wouldn’t now be facing the consequences :)

  • Rizzo the Bear

    I checked the calendar – it’s not April Fool’s Day.

    Why just stop at a ‘warning’? Why not wind the whole operation up?
    That money could be used to fund authentic Roman Catholic project.

    Is Archbishop Nicholls waking up at last? OR is it a case of whistling dixie?

  • Dunstan Harding

    Children are better off in the care of two dads than in the care of priests.

  • Terence Weldon

    It is entirely correct that ”
    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.” However, they also have an ethical responsibility to act with integrity, and in accordance with the law.

    Marriage care receives the majority of its funding from the state. In terms of the law, heterosexual marriage and same – sex civil partnerships are equivalent in all but name, and discrimination between them is illegal. If the bishop really wants the charity to impose Catholic dogma in contravention of the law, he should reject the state funding that Marriage Care depends on.

  • Basil Loftus

    And the Chief Executive Officer employed by the Archbishop is Terry Prendagast who coined the phrase “the family that prays togethers prays on others by their self righteousness” !

  • nytor

    Any Catholic organisation is first and foremost bound to observe Church law or it cannot function as a Catholic organisation. That is why the adoption agencies have either had to close or sever ties with the Church. This will also have to happen here unless the organisation acts in accordance with Church law. As for civil law – it has no place here, unless there is a legal challenge civil law on civil partnerships should be ignored.

  • nytor

    He did? I’m not at all sure what he means…

  • EndTimes101

     I wouldn’t get too excited, V.Nichols is just ultra skillful at jumping
    back under the shadow and protection of Church teaching when he feels a
    little too exposed. He will resume his usual position (leading the
    English Catholic Church to merge with a corrupt world) when he feels any
    danger has passed overhead.
    Standard tactics for him and his
    ilk…….standard Communist tactics actually, one step back in order to
    take two steps forward in the future.


    Years ago as a young assistant priest I had a threatening phone call from Margaret Clitherow House for politely requesting that Natural Family Planning be promoted instead of the ‘well we use contraception’ line that our couples were getting from their MarriageCare preparation course. 
    MarriageCare has really always been thoroughly dissident and compromised: if it had been tackled long ago by certain senior clergy it would never have come to the ridiculous state it is now….

  • andreagregorio

    Well done Mr. Prendergast!  The resolution is simple.  Withdraw from the Catholic interference, drop the description ‘Catholic’ (which would anyway enhance the authenticity of the ‘broadly Christian’ definition) and then ask the gay community to provide the £63,000 current provided by the Church – that would easy, one whip round on a weekend in Soho or an Ad in Pink Paper would raise that for such an excellent cause. Then, the new structure would be in place and functional ready for the enactment of the UK 2015 gay marriage equality legislation….  This way keeps everyone happy, with Catholics able to preach discimination to their ever-diminishing straight congregations and the rest of Society able to progress….

  • Marion Luscombe

    Why do I feel a tad cynical about His Graces remarks? Whilst they are more than welcome, (and unexpected) there is still the question of the Soho Masses that His Grace  is quite keen on. Might this sudden onset of Roman Catholicism have something to do with Cardinal Murphy O’Conner having reached retirement age last week?  Surely not.

  • andreagregorio

    Dear Father. 

    The status of that organisation is not ‘ridiculous’, that is a subjective and frankly pejorative description.  The status of the organisation in one which derives from policy and that policy will have resulted from the consideration of a range of arguments of which the Catholic Church’s is only one.  As you will see, I have suggested below that MarriageCare withdraw from clinging to a Catholic ethos (which the greatest part of modern Society are suspicious of for clear and understandable reasons, given the child abuse scandal on the one hand and invective homphobia and medievalism on the other), remove the workd ‘Catholic’ from their title (which would serve to emphasise the broadly Christian, rather than partisan, character of the organisation) and then seek to raise the £63,000 annual Catholic contribution from the LGBT Community instead.  I feel entirely certain that such monies would be raised with great rapidity for such an excellent cause.  Such actions would keep everyone happy.  Catholics could maintain their reductive reasoning over what constitutes a human person (versus the gender conveyed by external and internal genitalia) and what therefore constitutes marriage (a union between two persons, not humans of differing reproductive apparatus, representing and enabling love and commitment and stability).

    As you well know, we were trained to understand that homosexuality was a deviance, a ‘grave offence against the natural order’, even as world level philosophers were arguing about what constitutes a ‘person’ (certainly not genitalia or a small chromosomal variation!) and how the Church’s concept of the ‘Natural Order’ was itself instrinically intellectually disordered!  But the moral theology of homosexuality, indeed Moral Theology generally, is far removed from having any form of infallible status and is eminently subject to modification and revision based on major developments in the scientific and clinical (ets) understanding of huiman behaviour. We do Mankind in general and those individual souls for whom we have spiritual and pastoral responsibility, a grave (that much loved word again!) disservice if we imagine that notions of what is ‘natural’ and what is not can be set in aspic.  That is a recipe for stasis and paralysis, where there should be authetnic progress and advances in understanding.  Modern moral teachings can easily be particularised to the individual case within the Confessional and outside, but that does not mean the general provisions are not in need of urgent change.

    The weakness of the Church as well as its strength is in the Papacy itself.  The centralisation of power and authority in one man is a recipe for disaster as we have seen with the so called reforms of the Litturgy, so that the ‘fruits’ of the Council have been in their main ‘bad’.  If this were so, we would not now have a collapse in vocations to the sacred priesthood and the religious life, a collapse in Mass attendance, sexual scandals of vast extent and political impact – ETC.  Things have to change urgently – and as part of such change the Church’s archaic attitudes to the nature of the person and the nature of relationships seems to be indicated beyond measure.  If we do not attend to such matters, the power base of the Church will move away from Europe towards the Developing World and there will be a catastrophic collapse in funding.  This will be the beginning of the end of the Church as we have known it through History.    

  • Benedict Carter

    After an hour with a wet towel on my forehead I came to the same conclusion.

  • Sixupman

    +Nichols is absent of the mind.  Marriage Care Limited is no longer a Catholic Charity, the term “Catholic” having been excised from the name on June 2012.  Its only obligation, now, is to comply with the requirements of the ‘Piper’ [he who calls the tune] Cameron’s government, and we all know where he stands. It has no legal obligation to Mother Church.

    I know not if +Nichols is still “President” of the organisation, he was described so in the March 2011 Accounts filed on the 20th. December last.  I do know that one priest [Southwark] and one permanent deacon [Shrewsbury] remain as Director/Trustees.

    From the “Trustees Report” of 31 March 2007, page 12, Para 1: ” …… Marriage Care agreed to a request from the English and Welsh Bishops to publicise its Helpline to Gay and Lesbian Groups.” – +++Murphy-O’Conner then President. So was LGBT activity was formalised.

    Prima Facie, circa £1,000,000 of cash and assets has been transferred from a Catholic Charity into a Non-Catholic Charity – this in 2006 or thereabouts.

    Will anyone account for this turn of events?

    Michael McDermott

  • Sixupman

    Apologies:  I forgot to mention Clifton Diocese [referred to as Bristol.] put £215,000 into this jamboree!

  • Benedict Carter

    What a nonsensical comment. 

  • Benedict Carter

    He won’t. It’s all blah blah. 

  • EndTimes101

     LOL – good man. i thought you might be going soft for a minute ;-)

  • Jon Brownridge

     To go a little deeper to the relevant context in Moral Theology, homosexual acts, though in themselves reprehensible, are not the real issue. It is the “unnatural attraction” between persons of the same sex that constitutes the disorder of homosexuality.

  • Frankjudge

    Who wants to become Cardinal?

     Marriage Care constantly demonstrates the compassionate and caring side of the Catholic Church.

  • Benedict Carter

    It is sinful ACTS that send souls to hell. So it is indeed the homosexual acts that are the real issue. 

  • paulpriest

     No Benedict – contracepting heterosexual couples commit an even graver sin by wilfully defying their inherent procreative ability in the act; thus spitting in the face of God during a ‘sacramental’ act where, in the words of St Paul, we are most Godlike  – homosexuals mutually masturbate and merely abuse their partner for gratuitous ends. Yes grave sin is involved but nowhere remotely as ‘desecrating and sacrilegious’ as denial within the act of lovemaking itself.

    The REAL issue is the scandal against the very nature of marriage by giving them a communal equivalent recognition and dignity – no-one is denying the opportunity for same-sex couples to live in a disaffecte exclusive friendship – with access to all the individual rights inherent in the civil partnership legislation – BUT NOT the Civil Partnership emulation of marriage itself.

  • Jon Brownridge

     Section 243 of “Moral Theology” (Jone-Adelman) states: “Homosexuality is the abnormal sexual attraction towards persons of the same sex.It must be distinguished from the sins committed with persons of the same sex which are sometimes committed by those who have no occasion to have relations with persons of the opposite sex.”

  • Benedict Carter

    But we weren’t talking about contracepting heterosexual couples. 

  • paulpriest

     No – we were talking about what’s wrong with the +Vinster acting like a scallywag – again!!!!

  • ngpl

    Archbishop calls for Marriage Care to be, well, less catholic.

  • Notholdingbreath

    Believe it when it happens!!!!!!!!

  • brendan

    Ed West’s article states, “The Catholic Church is opposed to same sex marriage”.  The statement is sloppy!  The Catholic Church teaches that marriage is between one man and one woman.  The Catholic Church also teaches that sodomy or other sexual acts between people of the same sex are gravely sinful.  It follows that the Church will be opposed to same sex attempts at marriage, but that is not a mere political position but the necessary stance required by faithfulness to what the Church believes and teaches.  If there were more precision in what is said concerning the Church and its teaching, there would possibly be less confusion causing some to believe that the Church is changing the Truth Christ sent it to teach.

  • Anna

    Typical.  The church wants taxpayers money but wants to impose its own prejudices.

  • Cjkeeffe

    I wonder if he’ll put a stop now to teh gay Massess at Warwick St whcih openly floate (spelling) church teachings? Perhaps not as they are not in the secular front page!

  • GulliverUK

    They’re not going to take any notice from some Catholic bishop.  It’s not called “CATHOLIC Marriage Care”, just “marriage care”, and it received a lot of money from the state.  It’s NOT a Catholic-run for-Catholics guidance service.  The Bishop needs to get over himself – he really doesn’t have any sort of authority to tell them what to do.  If he carried on this way, the same thing as happened with the adoption agencies will happen — they won’t close down, they’ll just cut any and all ties with the Catholic church.

    They have to obey the rule of law, and it sounds like they also operate with a large dollop of common sense and decency in including everyone, and working with people to understand what works for them, and if that means using the pill rather than some other forms, then that’s better than trying to push people in to things which won’t work for them.

    This service doesn’t belong to Catholics — it’s state funded and if the church feels so annoyed they should remove their contribution completely, and immediately.  You’ll find someone else will come in and make up that amount.   And £63,000 is a pittance – they spent £50k in Scotland on anti-gay anti-equality ads to fight against equal marriage, and have already pledged another £100k.

  • GulliverUK

    Alternatively, if Marriage Care can’t meet the requirements of the Equality Act, then it will have to stop accepting that £500,000 from the government, and find that money from elsewhere.   Two possible solutions.

  • JabbaPapa

  • JabbaPapa

    erm, the name is Catholic Marriage Care Limited

    The Bishop … really doesn’t have any sort of authority to tell them what to do

    In reality, Canon Law is applicable as to who does and doesn’t get to brand themself as “Catholic”, and the Bishop has not only the power, but the legal requirement to ensure that any and all organisations under his supervision using the word “Catholic” in their name MUST obey the rules and laws of Catholicism.

    They have to obey the rule of law

    Which is exactly what the Bishop is demanding of them.

  • JabbaPapa

    floate > flout :-)

  • GulliverUK

    Right – like he “owns” the trademark !  Not likely.  Anyone can call whatever they like Catholic or themselves, but they don’t need to obey the rules from the RCC.  The RCC might not recognise them, but they don’t have the right to force people to stop using that word.  Love to see it tested in court.  

    In any case, they ditched the “Catholic” name some time ago — too religious, putting people off.  Canon law isn’t real actual law my friend, it’s made-up and holds precisely zero influence in legal terms.  I think you might be confusing that with contract law, where two parties agree terms.  However, in this case, Marriage Care has a contract with the state with overrules any contract terms.  If they fail to make the service available to all, without prejudice, they risk the loss of their funding from the state — which is the majority of it.

    I wouldn’t expect you to understand any of this as you erroneously think RCC rules are actual law, when they are not.  This is also something the Catholic church is going to find out over the next couple of years, because they’ve been firing employees just because they are gay, or because they have a child and aren’t married, or because they support marriage equality.  The size nines of the law is going to catch up any moment now.

    You cannot and you will not take state funding for ANYTHING unless you obey the rule of law, of society, with equality for all.  You can put forward your view, but where you treat people unfairly, by sacking priests just for having a different opinion about marriage, you will find it won’t be allowed.  Furthermore, it smacks of authoritarianism and Nazi-like behavior, and nobody is going to tolerant it for much longer.

  • JabbaPapa

    Anyone can call whatever they like Catholic or themselves


    but they don’t need to obey the rules from the RCC


    Canon law isn’t real actual law my friend


    and holds precisely zero influence in legal terms


    You can put forward your view, but where you treat people unfairly, by sacking priests just for having a different opinion about marriage, you will find it won’t be allowed.

    This is just complete bollocks, Catholics are religiously required to disobey evil laws.

    Furthermore, it smacks of authoritarianism and Nazi-like behavior

    FALSE — in fact, that is pretty much exactly how I would describe this secularist totalitarianism that you espouse.

  • Holy Souls

    In recent years anyone criticising Marriage Care for its consistent disregard of Catholic morality, both in the areas of marriage preparation / counselling and sex education has been dismissed as a crank by the authorities in the Church. It would be nice to hope that things were changing, As the other comments show, confidence in the Catholic establishment needs some rebuilding.

  • Firenza

    Can anyone advise when it is safe to give the Bishops money (as in second collections)  I try to make sure any donations I give are only to those  Catholic organisations which are Catholic in deed as well as name.  

  • whytheworldisending

    This Sunday’s gospel is relevant. Cut off and throw away what is corrupt. This organisation is clearly corrupted. It shouldn’t receive another penny and should not be endorsed another day longer. If such aberrations are tolerated then the corruption spreads, and we’ll end up like the Anglicans where virtually anything goes as long as we are polite to one another.

  • Benedict Carter

    Don’t give to CAFOD.

  • Benedict Carter

    Liberal rant, rant, rant. 

  • Benedict Carter

    Its own prejudices? You mean – Catholic teaching?

    What should it promote? YOUR prejudices?

    I wonder about the sanity of some people.

  • Benedict Carter

    He said something as wicked as that?

    And what do you think of his statement, Mgr. Loftus? Agree with him, eh?