EGYPT: Coptic Church rejects second marriages despite court ruling
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The Egyptian Coptic Orthodox Church will not abide to a recent Higher Administrative Court ruling allowing Copts the right to remarry: ‘We respect the Egyptian judiciary, but no force on earth can make the Church violate teachings of the holy bible in order to execute a judicial verdict,’ Father Armia, Pope Shenouda III’s secretary, said this week. ‘Islam allows Copts to resort to its Shari’a and in turn, no one should interfere in the Church’s own practices and decisions.’
On Sunday, the pope lost an appeal to overturn a court verdict in favor of a Copt, who sued the church for denying him authorization to wed again after divorcing his first wife. The court said that, ‘By law, a Christian can remarry and the constitution guarantees his rights to have a [new] family. The appeal by Pope Shenouda III to prevent Copts from remarrying is rejected.’
The Administrative Court’s verdicts are final and cannot be appealed.
Egyptian Copts, who make up about 10% of the country’s population of 80 million, are forbidden to divorce except in the cases of proven adultery or the religious conversion of a spouse. However, many Copts turn to the civil law and some of its articles, which are based on the Islamic law to get divorced through courts rather than their church.
In the last few years many, Copts have converted to Islam in order to get divorced. Most of them end up recanting and rejoining to their original Christian religion after their divorce procedures were secured. Civil (non-religious) marriages, which permit divorces regardless of people’s religion, are not officially recognized in Egypt.
-- Amro Hassan in Cairo