By Simon Caldwell A CATHOLIC marriage organisation has been severely criticised for its alleged links with a leading birth control group.
Marriage Care, a "social welfare society" of the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, has teamed up with the Family Planning Association (FPA), a major promoter of contraception, abortion and "sex education".
Fertility UK, the natural family planning (NFP) service of Marriage Care, receives government funding to train clinic-based family planning nurses in modern scientific natural methods, which are as effective as the Pill and free from side effects.
But many Catholic doctors and NFP teachers fear that Catholic teaching on married love was being undermined by presenting the sympto-thermal methods, in particular, as simply other forms of contraception.
They are worried that condoms in particular were being promoted as acces
sories to natural methods so couples did not have to abstain from intercourse for a short period each month to avoid pregnancy.
Fears are also mounting that Fertility UK, because it is now listed in the FPA literature alongside organisations such as the Brook Advisory Service, is giving respectability to groups which promote abortion and contraception.
Dr Patrick Coyle, former master of the Guild of Catholic Doctors, said his organisation had written to Marriage Care to express reservations about references to birth control groups on Fertility UK's website.
"We have been very, very concerned about the whole direction in which Marriage Care has been going," he said.
Terry Prendergast, chief executive of Marriage Care, said links with the FPA were established two years ago with the support of the bishops, many of whom took the view that it was necessary for natural methods to be accepted by wider society if they were to succeed.
"We don't wholly support the work of the FPA at all," said Mr Prendergast. "In lots of ways this is more about women's health."
He added: "We are an organisation of Catholics. We adhere to Catholic teaching and we are supportive of the bishops' conference. Certainly, Fertility UK does not support the use of any barrier methods at all."
However, sources have told The Catholic Herald that last month there was open acceptance of contraception at a Marriage Care NFP study day at St John's Wood Conference Centre, London.
The event featured a talk from the FPA director of information, Toni Belfield, called Accessing Information Through . . .
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