By Hilary White

LONDON, July 16, 2009 ( – Homosexuals can “lay equal claim to their married heterosexual counterparts when bringing up children in stable relationships” the head of the highly regarded British Catholic marriage counselling service, Marriage Care, will tell a gathering of homosexualist activists this weekend.

Marriage Care is registered as a Catholic charity whose president is the sitting Archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Nichols, who is represented on the board by Fr. Michael Cooley. The organization, formed after the Second World War, calls itself “a Christian organisation, developed from within the Catholic community.” The group operates from 80 locations and 53 relationship counselling centres in England and Wales.

Terry Prendergast, Chief Executive of Marriage Care, is to be keynote speaker at the annual conference of the homosexualist organisation Quest, a group that is trying to convince the Catholic Church to abandon its “policies” on sexuality and the nature of marriage. Prendergast will call upon the Catholic Church to “rethink” the nature of the family this weekend.

“Statistically, children do best in a family where the adult relationship is steady, stable and loving,” Prendergast will tell the group in his prepared remarks. “Note that I stress adult, not married, since there is no evidence that suggests that children do best with heterosexual couples,” he will add.

In a press release, Quest said it was looking forward to the appearance of Prendergast at its annual conference this coming weekend, the theme of which is “We Are Family: New Thinking for the Twenty First Century.” Quest describes Prendergast’s upcoming talk as focusing on the “romantic image” built up by the Church of a “golden age of the nuclear family” which excludes those who “do not fit.” These, the group says, include single parent families, “and also co-habiting and same-sex families.”

The group describes marriage as “a covenant between two people” that can include same-sex partnerings. The group’s website openly admits that it supports homosexual liaisons, saying “we accept those who come to the organisation for help, support or education without any judgement or discrimination in relation to their marital status, creed, race, age, gender or sexual orientation.”

Of its annual £900,000 income, the portion received from Catholic parishes and dioceses directly is £89,000, with one diocese paying the rent for the counselling centre.

Terry Prendergast told in an interview that a significant source of the group’s funding and other support comes from Catholic dioceses, one of which pays the rent for offices, and from individual parishes across the country. But, he said, the group’s purpose is not necessarily to uphold the Catholic teaching on marriage and family.

He wants to speak to the Quest conference this weekend, he said, on the “debate that needs to start” between the “teaching Church” and the “needs of those who find themselves marginalized in the Church.”

Catholic teaching, he said, is not necessarily compatible with the lived experience of those in the Church. Prendergast blamed the insistence by the “teaching Church” on adherence to “the rules” on sex and marriage for the large number of people dropping the practice of their faith in England and Wales.

Prendergast said his group has been praised by a high-ranking member of the English Catholic hierarchy for being “ideally placed to reach out to people on the margins where the teaching Church finds it difficult to go.” These people, he said, are those in “what the Church identifies as irregular situations” like being divorced and remarried without annulment or who are in active same-sex relationships.

He vehemently denied that the “teaching Church” and the “pastoral Church” are one and the same thing.

“There are pastoral concerns,” he said, “that conflict with the Church’s teaching. I think priests and bishops are faced with that kind of dilemma every day.”

To contact the archdiocese of Westminster with concerns:

Archbishop Vincent Nichols
Vaughan House,
46 Francis Street,
London SW1P 1QN
Phone: (+) 020 7931 6007
[email protected]

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