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Tuesday, 21 July 2009

The sacrament of cohabiting

The recent lecture given by Terry Prendergast to Quest: Family – norms and ideals for a new paradigm(?), has rightly caused concern among many Catholics. Prendergast is the Chief Executive of Marriage Care, formerly the "Catholic Marriage Advisory Council."

Damian Thompson has written a strong critique of the lecture (What is Archbishop Nichols going to do about Terry Prendergast?) and Catholic Action UK points to the criteria for entry in the Catholic Directory which seem to have been very clearly breached. (See: Marriage Care head on homosexual unions.)

The BBC reports a response from the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, quoting as follows:
The views expressed by Terry Prendergast about the definition of family and marriage are clearly not a reflection of the Church's teaching, nor those of the Bishops' Conference.
although there is, as yet, no notice of this on the CBCEW website - there is nothing at the Press Releases section and a search of the site for "prendergast" generates no results. It would be good to have the full statement available.

Prendergast's lecture is certainly "not a reflection of the Church's teaching" - it is a flat contradiction of it in many instances. For example he states that "there is sacrament" where there is "commitment, consent and covenant" in cohabiting heterosexual couples and same-sex couples, and he opposes "the point of view of Church" that a proper family must have a marriage in it.

It seems to me that this incident highlights two important needs. First, to support marriage and the family as understood in the teaching of the Catholic Church; secondly, to offer compassionate and sensitive support to Catholics with a homosexual inclination who are seeking to live the Christian life according to Catholic moral teaching.
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