jump to navigation

Egyptian court allows Christians to remarry: The Church of England Newspaper, Dec 10, 2010. December 10, 2010

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Coptic Orthodox, Marriage.

Pope Shenouda III of Alexandria

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

An Egyptian court has tossed out the appeal of the Coptic Church challenging a lower court ruling permitting Orthodox Christians to remarry after divorce.

On Nov 30 the State Council’s Administrative Court” upheld its May decision “permitting the Coptic Orthodox sect to remarry, refusing a legal challenge filed by two lawyers to halt the ruling,” state news agency MENA said.

The decision places the embattled Coptic church at odds with the government of President Hosni Mubarak, giving it the choice of either changing church teaching on marriage, seeing divorced Copts who wish to remarry join another church or convert to Islam, or defying the state.

The court on May 29 held that the Coptic Church must permit remarriage for its members, rejecting an appeal by Pope Shenouda III who argued that church law does not permit remarriage after divorce, except in the limited circumstances.

“The Egyptian constitution guarantees that anyone may remarry and form a new family,” said Judge Mohamed El-Husseini, head of the Supreme Administrative Court. “The appeal made by Pope Shenouda III to prevent Copts from remarrying is accordingly rejected.”

The Coptic Orthodox Church, which is the Middle East’s largest Christian community with over 12 million members, allows remarriage only in cases of proven adultery and after the death of a spouse.

The May ruling was suspended by the Supreme Constitutional Court in July in order to allow the Coptic Church to make a challenge.

The case involved the petition of Hani Wasfi, a Copt who filed suit asking the government to force the church to allow him to remarry after his first marriage was dissolved.

Egypt’s personal status law does not recognize civil marriage, and requires a religious ceremony to give legal status to a nuptial union.  Copts who wish to remarry after a divorce must either obtain a dispensation from the church showing they were the innocent party in a case of adultery or convert.

“Although we respect the judicial system it is not binding on the church. Marriage is one of the church’s seven sacraments. Nothing on earth will oblige us to abide by anything that contradicts with Biblical teaching,” Shenouda told reporters on June 2.

%d bloggers like this: