A STAFF REPORTER
THL Catholic Marriage Advisory Council calls for a change in the law to protect marriage counsellors m its annual progress report issued last week. As the law stands. a counsellor may be compelled to give evidence and he has no privilege to withhold information given him in confidence.
This danger to confidentiality was underlined last July in a High Court case, when a foi flier client of the CMAC served a subpoena on a member who had counselled him. In this case the court ruled that the counsellor had no 11Qht of privilege of his own, ilia would be compelled to give evidence if both husband and wile who had been counselled waived their privilege.
But in this case, the wife maintained her privilege, so the counsellor was not called. The case showed the need for the statutory protection of marriage counsellors.
The report says that the council has set up a family research trust which aims to promote educational, sociological and medical research in the interests of the family. So far £860 has been subscribed, mainly from CMAC workers. Six other bodies working for the family have been invited to name members for the management committee and after the first meeting a publicity campaign will be arranged.
Because of the danger that some of the smaller centres might become isolated, the council has appointed a cornmunications officer. Besides keeping liaison between the centres and ensuring consistency in committee work, he will help individual centres with problems of finance, staff and training.
The report also tells of the revision of the counsellors' training course, increased from 14 to 18 sessions and now divided in three parts. There are five sessions on Marriage, four on Human Development and Behaviour and seven on Counselling. The sessions last three hours and are based on the counselling method so as to meet the needs of both educational and remedial work. The full course is designed to last one year, and makes use of tutors who have had residential training.
For the year ending March, 1970, there were 57 centres at work in England and Wales staffed by 243 medical advisers and 77 legal advisers. Interviews totalled 22,313 and 7,795 families made use of the council's services. The nremarriage courses were also well attended, 4,051 couples taking 161 different courses.
On the educational work of the council, the report say,: that 9,237 parents took part in 140 home-school programmes, 1,155 teachers in 83 staff courses and 7,927 school pupils in family life courses.
TWO Italian missionary priests have been allowed to say Mass in Communist China. According to reports, Frs. Morrine Renato and Ettore Turrini had flown in to Canton from East Pakistan where they had been studying conditions after the recent cyclone.
They spent several days in Canton before going by train to Hong Kong.
The reports described them having been granted entry visas by the Chinese as "a diplomatic bombshell." They had been allowed to say Mass in their Canton hotel room.
Observers think that their permitted entry to China was connected with the recent recognition of the Peking government by Italy.