| 21st March 2004 | Modified: 15th October 2014 | Christianity, News Releases | Seen 25 times | Liked 0 times

21 March
Mar 21
21st March 2004

Statement from Cardinal O Brien on Scottish Executive s Family Law Bill  

Responding to reports that the Scottish Executive plan to introduce  
legislation to speed up divorce proceedings, Cardinal Keith O'Brien,  
President of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Scotland, commented;  

I am deeply concerned by the suggestion that the Scottish Executive are  
considering a reduction in the time period for non-contested divorce cases  
from two years to one year. Such a move risks severely undermining the  
permanence and stability of marriage and as pilot trials in England and  
Wales have demonstrated is only likely to encourage divorce and marriage  

What Scottish couples whose marriages are in difficulty need is quick and  
convenient access to professional support and counselling. It is a national  
disgrace that in a country where there are almost 1000 divorces per month  
there are only two national agencies offering support and reconciliation  
services, namely Couple Counselling and Scottish Marriage Care .  

Evidence from around the world proves the effectiveness of early  
intervention in rescuing marriages, which avoids considerable financial and  
emotional costs and protects children from trauma and suffering.  

A study conducted by Accord marriage counselling in Ireland between 2000  
and 2002 found that counselling helped almost half of the couples involved  
to improve their relationship quality. It also found that most clients (85%)  
were stressed at the point of presenting for counselling. Stress levels  
following counselling were vastly improved, with around half the clients  
surveyed moving from being ˜stressed or very stressed to ˜stress free .  

Counselling was shown to work equally well for both men and women and for  
all social classes. Lastly, not only does counselling help unhappy  
marriages, but also its effectiveness is relatively quick. The study found  
that the optimum number of counselling sessions required by Accord clients  
was 7-8.  

Clearly Scotland has much to learn from evidence such as this and I would  
ask the Scottish Executive to consider an immediate and dramatic increase in  
the funding made available to counselling agencies whose goal is to restore  
and repair damaged marriages. In the long term, the work they do is of  
enormous benefit not only to the couples involved and their families, but  
also to all of society. Equally important and deserving of state support is  
the work these agencies do in the field of pre-marriage preparation.  

Marriage has traditionally been regarded as the building block of every  
society “ may it long continue to be the foundation on which Scottish  
society rests.  


Peter Kearney  
Catholic Media Office  
5 St. Vincent Place  
G1 2DH  
0141 221 1168  

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