Friday, August 26, 2011

Accord; Catholic Marriage Advisory Council

‘Accord’ is the name of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ marriage counselling agency.  It used to be called the Catholic Marriage Advisory Council - and that’s what it was, and that’s what it did, in the past.   Today the organisation and its focus gives cause for concern. No doubt there is some good work done by members of the agency today, in advising and helping couples to prepare for marriage, and counselling married couples whose marriages are going through difficult times. But why the change of name?    
Over recent years, advice that has been handed out by the agency has not exactly been in keeping with Catholic teaching.  Is that why the name has been changed? 
I have personal knowledge, for instance, of a number of young couples that have participated in marriage-preparation courses offered by ‘Accord’.  These young couples have been quite frankly appalled and devastated by the information offered to them during such courses, in that such information was totally in opposition to Catholic teaching in relation to the sanctity of marriage, and commitment in marriage.
A newspaper account of the recent launch of the Annual Report of ‘Accord’ tells us that:
‘Asked if Accord was willing to offer counselling services to same-sex couples, Ms Barror [National Director of ‘Accord’] said: “At the moment we are open to everybody, but our expertise and our current focus is very much on the traditional married couple … We will embrace everybody but we will refer appropriately if it is outside our expertise.”’
Are the Irish Bishops aware of what they are supporting?