Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Marriage Care: Dossier

Marriage Care was founded in 1946 as a Catholic organisation. It still finds a place in the Catholic Directory, claims to be a member of the 'Federation of Catholic Family Associations in Europe' (though does not appear on their site), has a priest (Canon Michael Cooley) on its board of directors, and absorbs Catholic resources, not least its volunteer counsellors, but it does not describe itself as a Catholic organisation: rather, 'It is a Christian organisation, developed from within the Catholic community, of people concerned about marriage, relationships and family life.' In actual fact it actively undermines Catholic teaching in a number of ways. In this it is typical of many good Catholic organisations which have undergone a collective apostasy: they deny the teaching of the Church, they undermine good morals, but they still want to use their traditional sources of support in the Church.

As long ago as its 1972 publication 'Preparing Engaged Couples for Marriage' it was dissenting from the Church's teaching on contraception, reaffirmed only four years earlier by Pual VI in Humanae Vitae. On page 81, in referring to sterilization, the Pill, IUDs, condoms, withdrawal and spermicidal creams it stated 'It is inaccurate to brand these methods as 'artificial' as though there was something necessarily wrong in man using artifice'

Today they manage the remarkable trick of denying that they are Catholic and yet giving the 'Catholic' contribution to debates on issues such as sex education. They are a member of the Sex Education Forum (see here); the Forum has as a formal aim 'To promote and raise the profile of children and young people’s entitlement to SRE through policy and advocacy work;' (see here). The Forum's 'fact sheets' include ones on the importance of teaching primary school children about the names of body parts, and 'safe' and 'unsafe' relationships (pdf) and the need to tackle homophobic bullying by promoting gay role models and getting in touch with such organisations as Stonewall (which voted Archbishop Nichols of Birminham as a runner-up 'bigot of the year') and the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement (whose recent conference banner denounced Pope Benedict XVI as a 'homophobe') (pdf).

Not content with their contribution to the Sex Eduction Forum, Marriage Care has its own sex ed materials. These, naturally, conform to the Government-approved non-judgmental model: the information the children are given to help them to make the most important decisions of their lives is almost exclusively value-free. Thus we see in a lesson plan preparing pupils for puberty:
Today it is common for sexual relationships to begin much earlier and the average age for first sexual intercourse is 17. ... Early sexual experience should not be taken lightly however, because of the dangers to health, both physically and emotionally. (See here)

To this is added information about contraception and sexually transmitted diseases:
Preparing young people for their journey onwards into adulthood necessarily includes the teaching of all aspects of sexual health. Although it is often one of the most difficult topics to talk about openly, by exploring these areas in the safe environment of school, young people are better equipped to make informed choices when presented with a new and potentially dangerous situation. (See here)

These excepts are taken from lesson plans intended for Key Stage 3, ie 13-14 yr-olds. This entire approach is contrary to the Vatican's guidance on sex education, which says that the 'age of innocence', during which children are not troubled by questions of sexuality, should be respected, and not violated by unwanted information and intrusive questioning, and that in general information should be given by parents, one-to-one, and in response to the questions and needs of the individual child (see here). It is almost incredible that a mixed-sex class-room of giggling 13-yr-olds should be described as a 'safe environment' in the context of exposing the most private aspects of children's physical and emotional lives.

Unsurprisingly Marriage Care espouses a 'modern' view of marriage which has little to do with Catholic teaching. For example, the Chairman, Terry Prendergast, repeatedly claims that the reason marriages were longer-lasting in previous generations was that they were 'patriarchal', whereas now women have taken on male roles, and that in the past marriages were made for a variety of reasons, whereas now they are made for 'love'. And of course the old conception and practice of marriage is much inferior to the new. (See here and here.) This combination of views may seem surprising in the head of an organisation dedicated to helping marriages stay together, but it is part of a feminist view that the rise in divorce is necessary for the liberation of women (despite the fact that women usually suffer more from it than men). The fact that earlier generations, imbued with Christian rather than materialist or feminist values, were loyal to their wedding vows is something Prendergast views with patronising pity: well, they didn't know any better, did they? He has also written in the Tablet in favour of sex before marriage, and is quoted condoning the blessing of illicit second marriages by priests (here), and praising same-sex partnerships (here).

The basic problem driving organisations such as Marriage Care out of the Church is the idea that they must be open to all comers: not so much from Christian love of neighbour as a desire for financing and acceptance by Government and the swarm of organisations that feed on the Government agenda. Thus Marriage Care tells us that '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, gender or sexual orientation.' But how can they claim that their counselling is informed by Christian values, and that they have a Christian conception of marriage as 'a covenant between two people and a sacramental union', if they are counselling gay couples about how to maintain their immoral relationship? Note that they describe marriage as a covenant between two PEOPLE, not a man and a woman. Without a Catholic understanding of what marriage is, they will not be effective in helping married people live out their vocations.

Marriage Care's work is a slightly modified or disguised version of the work of innumerable secular organisations which are working out the Government vision of value-free sex, homosexual marriage, and the combat of teenage pregnancy by teaching younger and younger pre-pubescent children how to use contraception. It is far more dangerous than these other organisations, however, even if it's message is toned down a bit, because it presents itself, and is presented by organs of the Church, as in some sense 'Catholic'. Thus, in addition to the damage they do directly by their counselling and sex ed. materials, they will lead astray individuals and schools, inside or outside the Church, who might be genuinly interested in a Catholic approach, and give comfort to those, like the Sex Education Forum, who want to claim that 'moderate' Catholics accept the sex education programme.

As with all pseudo-Catholic organisations, this damage must be opposed by exposing Marriage Care for what it is: a secular organisation feeding off the Church and the goodwill of Catholics, while actively undermining good morals and Catholic teaching.


Ash said...

Gay relationships are not immoral.
What a sad thing to see in modern times.

Hercules said...

The Catholic Church teaches that sex should be reserved for heterosexual marriage and be open to procreation.

If you don't like it, don't call yourself a Catholic.

Pope Leo XIII's Prayer to St Michael

Holy Michael, Archangel, defend us in the day of battle. Be our safeguard against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do thou, Prince of the Heavenly Host, by the power of God, thrust down to Hell Satan, and all wicked spirits who wander through the world for the ruin of souls. Amen