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Thursday, March 30, 2017
Head of Marriage Care urges Church to re-think the family
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Gay couples are as capable their married heterosexual counterparts when bringing up children in stable relationships. That will be  one of the claims made  by Terry Prendergast, Chief Executive of Marriage Care, the Catholic marriage counseling service,  in a speech to members of QUEST, the community of lesbian and gay Catholics at their annual conference this weekend. His remarks come after many Catholic adoption agencies have, in recent months, had to agonise about whether to fall into line with new legal arrangements which oblige such bodies to make adoption available equally to same-sex as well as heterosexual couples.

Mr Prendergast will address the gathering in Leicester with his wife, Kate, a lecturer in social policy at Brunel University. The conference theme is:“ We Are Family: New Thinking for the Twenty First Century.”

“Statistically, children do best in a family where the adult relationship is steady, stable and loving, “ he says. “Note that I stress adult, not married, since there is no evidence that suggests that children do best with heterosexual couples, “ he adds.

A dominant theme of his address centres on how the Church has often built up a romantic image of a golden age of the nuclear family which, in truth, has not really found expression in reality, often with unwelcome consequences for those that “do not fit.” These include single parent families, and also co-habiting and same -sex families. He says that often “those individuals…want to live good lives according to the precepts of the Gospels. They are an advert for the Church, an advert that the Church often ignores, or consigns to the waste bin.”

He says that in all relationships, the institutional aspects are less important than the sacramental qualities, “the presence of God mediated through commitment, consent and covenant. The move from the institutional to companionship, choosing for love, has been marked, possibly more deeply, in co-habiting and same-sex couples.”

Inspired by Professor Margaret Farley’s book, Just Love: A Framework for Christian Ethics,  Mr Prendergast lays out seven norms or criteria for evaluating the richness of relationships and family:

Do no unjust harm,
Free consent,
Social justice.

Terry Prendergast has been  Chief Executive of Marriage Care, formerly CMAC, since 2000.  He was born in West Yorkshire and joined the Montfort Fathers in 1967.  He left the Montfortians in 1970, marrying Kate.  He trained as a social worker in 1975 and as a Psychotherapist in 1980, but has been involved in management in the charitable sector since 1989. He has an MA in Managing Change in Community, from Bradford University.  He is concerned about long-term relationships, their management and support, as well as the development of their spiritual and sacramental aspects
Kate Prendergast’s address is entitled: “Chance, Choice and Caritas,” and will also feature as part of the conference proceedings.

Sir Stephen Wall, a former adviser to both Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor and Tony Blair, will be the after dinner speaker on the evening of Saturday 18 July. Sir Stephen has been a member of Quest since January 2008.

The 2009 Quest Conference will take place between 6pm on Friday 17 July and 4pm Sunday 19 July at John Foster Hall at the University of Leicester.

For more information see:

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Tags: gay couples, Marriage Care, QUEST, Terry Prendergast

Members Opinions:
July 18, 2009 at 3:39pm
A number of people have called us today with comments about this article. The Comment section has just been activated. If you would like to add a comment - please join the ICN group.

July 18, 2009 at 10:25pm

Fr Aiden Murray SDB writes:

I make this response, not because I think I’m qualified, but because someone has to challenge the stance taken by the Head of Marriage Care. It beggars belief how this man, Terry Prendergast, was given this job in the first place.

It reminds me of an incident about ten years ago. A parishioner (with a degree in theology) checked out a large Handbook that purported to be an outline of a Marriage Course put in place by Marriage Care.....(“Preparing for Marriage – Creative Resources for Group Leaders”). He said it could have been written by anyone from a secular organisation. It had nothing of the Catholic spiritual understanding of marriage as a covenant designed by God. So maybe the rot had set in before Mr Prendergast was appointed. But what were our Marriage Tribunals doing? Didn’t anyone question what Marriage Care was up to?

Mr Prendergast says “there is no evidence that suggests that children do best with heterosexual couples”. What about the report sponsored by Ian Duncan Smith?

There are none so blind as those who don’t want to see.

But the biggest error is the failure to recognise marriage as designed by God right from the start. The Trinity is a Community of Love; a Family of Love. When God created Adam and Eve as a married couple it was so that their love would reflect the love of the Trinity. It was a Covenant....not just between a man and a woman, but also between them and God......a sworn promise of fidelity even unto death.

This is very different from a contract (don’t start me on pre-nuptial contracts).

A contract is an agreement regarding the exchange of goods and/or services.

A covenant is a sworn commitment to exchange persons: Husband gives himself totally, even unto death, to wife. Wife gives herself totally to husband, even unto death. Both give themselves totally to God, even unto death. And God has already given himself to them, even by dying on the cross for them. This is truly a solemn that has been trivialised by today’s throw-away generation.

Marriage today needs to be re-discovered, not re-invented.

Fr Aidan Murray SDB
July 19, 2009 at 5:18pm
Almost speechless!!!
These folk on the Catholic payroll ought to be made to sign a statement of fidelity to the teaching of the Catholic Church, along with the contract of employment, and sacked if they can't/won't be true to it.
I shan't be putting any money to 'Catholic' marriage care,(it's a charity) in any Church collections as of now.
What's worse, I understand that 'Catholic' Marriage Care undertakes marriage preparation courses throughout much of the UK.............will somebody please wake up our Bishops!

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