ONLY £10,000 FOR GUIDANCE
THE National Marriage Guidance Council
has complained that a Government grant of 110,000 is not enough. It says that the taxpayer pays over £21 millions yearly in helping people to get divorced, and in supporting children of the divorcees.
For instance, to quote the Council's annual report, just published, £1 million is spent annually on legal advice for divorce; over 15 millions for children in public care: over £3 millions for children in approved schools; and over £1 million for youths in Borstal.
Most of this is because when people want to get divorced, we let them; when they put their children's interests second to their own feelings, we pay the State to mother and father their
The Catholic Marriage Advisory Council, which helps Catholics in their own marital and family problems. sympathises with the National Council, because it, too, is short of money.
The C.M.A.C. hopes, says Fr. Maurice O'Leary, the National Cheirman, with whom I discussed the point, that " the Government will see its way to being more generous ".
The Government has indeed increased its grants to both the National and Catholic Councils, and those made to allied organisations: for instance, the National Council received £8.000 in each of the two preceding years, while the Catholic Council, to quote Fr. O'Leary, was given £1.835 during its first year (1955 to 1956); £2,125 in 1957, and £2,600 this year.
" But our expenditure is about double the grant ", Fr. O'Leary pointed out, " and if it wasn't for the charity of Catholic individuals, and the subscriptions of members, I don't know where we would be".
As it is, Fr. O'Leary, together with his opposite numbers on the National Council and others engaged in similar work, makes a point of regularly contacting members of Parliament in order to keep their mission well publicised in the quarter where most good can be done.
The National Council has had a good press with the publication of the annual report referred to, and has explained its point of view on television.
But Catholics can be sure that, despite similar financial restrictions, its own Guidance Council is supplying an important need. " We have already 25 centres in 14 of the 18 English and Welsh dioceses ". said Fr. O'Leary, "and more will be opened shortly.
"Training for the post of unpaid counsellor is rigorous. long and careful. This ensures a very high standard among counsellors. We prefer them with an educational and cultural background. even university ".
A new national headquarters was started in August at No. 15, Lansdowne Road, London, next door to the Knights of St. Columba Club, and by the desire of the Archbishop of Westminster, the President of the Council, it is known as Clitherow House, thus honouring the Patroness of the work, Blessed Margaret, the English Martyr.
Here, courses of preparation for marriage are held, which is a highly important part of the Council's work. "If we can got more support ", said Fr. O'Leary, " we can open more centres, and train more counsellors. Requests for our help and advice are many".