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Expert says rocky marriages need church help

Chair of the Federal Government's National Marriage and Family Council Pauline Frick has called on the Catholic Church to back up its passion for the institution of marriage with funding for marriage counsellors in poorer dioceses.

The Southern Cross reports that Ms Frick has also questioned whether priests - often the first "port of call" for couples with marriage trouble - are adequately trained in marriage counselling.

Ms Frick, who heads Centacare Catholic Family Services in Whyalla, South Australia, says training priests in marriage counselling should begin in the seminary.

"I know some [couples] are helped by priests, and some could be helped more, not through lack of goodwill from the priest but through lack of knowing where to take the problem," she said. "I have priests ring me and our [Centacare] agency saying 'we have this couple in trouble, can you assist me where to go now?'"

Ms Frick said the church provides marriage education and some Centacare offices receive marriage counselling funding, but some dioceses do not have adequate funds to help stop marriages disintegrating.

"The church is a great encourager of marriage and if we believe in marriage and say that's the way to go, what do we put in place to assist people?"

Southern Cross