The chief executive of a marriage charity has said that there is no evidence that children do better with heterosexual parents.

Terry Prendergast, the chief executive of Marriage Care, which has strong links to the Catholic Church, also said that those who are not in traditional two-parent families are often “consigned to the dustbin” by the church, despite living “good lives”.

“They want to live good lives according to the precepts of the Gospels. They are an advert for the Church, an advert that the Church often ignores or consigns to the wastebin.”

“We see, for example, that statistically children do best in a family where the adult relationship is steady, stable and loving – you should note here perhaps that I stress adult, not married, since there is no evidence that suggests that children do best with heterosexual couples.”

He also called legislation allowing civil partnerships “groundbreaking” and “helpful”, and said God was present in all relationships where there was “commitment, consent and covenant”

Prendergast is to address Quest, a group for gay Catholics, this weekend.

However, a spokesman for the church in England and Wales told the Catholic Herald newspaper: “Defining ‘family’ is a notoriously difficult task. Yet the views expressed by Terry Prendergast about the definition of family and marriage are clearly not a reflection of the Church’s teaching, nor those of the Bishops’ Conference.

“Responding to the needs of children is also complex. The Church’s vision is that the crucially important quality of stability in family life needs gender complementarity and role modelling too.”