Gay couples can lay equal claim to their married heterosexual counterparts when bringing up children in stable relationships, according to the head of a Catholic charity that supports marriage.
Terry Prendergast, Chief Executive of Marriage Care, will deliver his message in a speech to members of QUEST, the community of lesbian and gay Catholics, at their annual conference this weekend.
His remarks come as a timely contribution after many Catholic adoption agencies have, in recent months, considered 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 will say. “Note that I stress adult, not married, since there is no evidence that suggests that children do best with heterosexual couples.”
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 has not found expression in reality, often with unwelcome consequences for those who “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 will say 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 will lay out seven norms or criteria for evaluating the richness of relationships and family, including; Equality, Commitment, and Social justice.
Terry Prendergast has been Chief Executive of Marriage Care since 2000.
The charity operates across England and Wales, from 54 Centres, with 80 counselling locations. Its volunteers are mainly though not exclusively, drawn from within the Catholic community.
The 2009 Quest Conference will take place between 6pm on Friday July 17th and 4pm Sunday 19th July at John Foster Hall at the University of Leicester