Copts demanding right to divorce will collectively leave Church

Emad Khalil
Yomna Mokhtar

The Right to Life Movement, a Coptic group, said a large number of its members will collectively leave the Coptic Orthodox Church, while retaining their Christianity, in response to the Church’s refusal to permit divorce and second marriages except in cases of adultery.

A senior bishop, who asked not to be named, downplayed the decision, saying the number of those who intend to leave can be counted on two hands and the idea of mass resignation is strange and illogical.

Mariam al-Naggar, a leading figure in the Right to Life Movement, told Al-Masry Al-Youm they were resorting to this move because all doors were shut in their faces, especially as Copts are not allowed to move to another denomination.

Naggar said they reject the church law which limits reasons for divorce to adultery only because it has negative psychological consequences on children, while changing religion to get a divorce causes sectarian strife.

Naggar said that the move to submit mass resignations is the first of its kind in the history of the Orthodox community, adding that the movement has prepared a request concerning this issue to submit to court next Thursday. She said it would also stage a protest in front of the Ministry of Justice next Thursday.

The Right to Life Movement demands a personal status law that would deal with issues of marriage and divorce separately from church regulations.

Ayman George, the coordinator of the movement, told Al-Masry Al-Youm that he demands the return of 1938 bylaw that permitted Copts to divorce on grounds of impotence, abandonment, abuse and mental disability. Pope Shenouda III amended the law to restrict divorce to cases of adultery or conversion to another religion or to a different Christian sect.

George said that their demands and problems have been ignored, they have been dealt with as if they were sinful, and punished by being deprived of a basic human need.

Translated from the Arabic Edition