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Greek Orthodox leader to AO: Church alone will govern Christians' personal-status issues

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  • Bill Samsonoff
    http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/1/64/54049/Egypt/Politics-/Greek-Orthodox-leader-to-AO-Church-alone-will-gove.aspx Sherry El-Gergawi, Thursday 27 Sep
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 29, 2012

      Sherry El-Gergawi, Thursday 27 Sep 2012

      In a Thursday letter to Ahram Online, Archbishop Nicholas, spokesman for
      the Greek Orthodox Church of Alexandria, said that recent requests by
      the so-called '38 Copts Association' to make Egyptian Christians subject
      to Islamic Law in regards to personal-status issues – particularly
      divorce – was "unacceptable."

      "This group [38 Copts] does not reflect the church's opinion; it only
      represents itself and its own agenda," said Nicholas.

      He added that the group had "issued their demand merely to solve their
      own problems with the Coptic Orthodox Church to which they belong; this
      is an internal Coptic problem in which other churches should not get

      "Each church has its own rules governing marriage and divorce, approved
      by the state in which they are located and used in the state's
      personal-status courts," he added.

      Nicholas stressed that the Greek Orthodox Church continued to adhere to
      church regulations issued in 1937, "which include all regulations on
      personal-status issues; we therefore have no problems with our
      congregants in this regard."

      The archbishop went on to point to a proposed 'unified personal-status
      law' for non-Muslims, which would make the Christian churches the final
      arbiters of personal-status issues for their congregants.

      Drafted by Egypt's three main Christian churches – the Coptic Orthodox,
      Catholic and Evangelical churches – in 1978, the proposed law was
      rejected by the justice ministry at the time. Twenty years later, in
      1998, church representatives again proposed the law – with some minor
      amendments – but again failed to obtain ministry approval, even though
      Egypt's Al-Azhar gave the law its support.

      "Only the churches that sign onto the law will have to follow its
      clauses, as is the case with all churches in the world," he said. "Each
      church has its own rules for marriage and divorce, along with the
      registration of marriages with the state."

      In the event that the law is approved, asserted the archbishop, "the
      grievances articulated by the '38 Copts' group regarding divorce and
      second marriages would be made subject to the law."

      Notably, at a 22 August meeting with Christian leaders, Egyptian
      President Mohamed Morsi promised to approve the proposed law "soon."

      Some 300,000 Greek Christians constitute the Patriarchate of Alexandria
      in Egypt. The current primate of the Greek Church of Alexandria is
      Theodoros II, Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and all Africa.
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