CAIRO: The Supreme Administrative Court rejected on Saturday Pope Shenouda’s appeal and obliged him to allow divorced Orthodox Copts to remarry.
The Administrative Court had issued a ruling in favor if a Copt, Hani Wasfi, allowing him to remarry after obtaining divorce through court. But Pope Shenouda III, head of Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Church, appealed the court’s ruling in-front of the Supreme Administrative Court.
The Court stated that it based its verdict on the fact that "the right to establish a family is a constitutional right, which is above all other considerations. The court respects religious sentiments but its ruling is based on the law, and the judge has no choice but to execute the law."
The controversy over Orthodox Copts’ right to a second marriage was reignited recently after tens of Copts turned to the judiciary system to receive court orders compelling the church to issue authorizations for them remarry.
Member of the Ecclesiastical Council Fr Salib Sawiris told Daily News Egypt, "We respect the courts’ verdicts, but Orthodox (church) has a special religious view of marriage and it should be implemented according to the teachings of the bible."
"The church doesn’t acknowledge these rulings and there’s no power on earth that could make us violate the teachings of our Lord the Christ."
Sawiris mentioned that the church’s position on remarrying is consistent and will not change. "The court won’t issue any statements allowing a second marriage for divorced (Orthodox Copts). Whoever wants to remarry in another church can go ahead and change his sect," he said
"If the state wants to apply civil laws in Christian marriages which are governed by church laws, then officials need to reconsider the (act proposed) to unify the personal status law for Christians."
"There was a big debate about that law between the state and the three churches, Orthodox, Catholic and Evangelical, then it suddenly disappeared." he said.
The head of the Egyptian Union for Human Rights Organization Naguib Gobrael told Daily News Egypt, "the verdict isn’t obligatory on Pope Shenouda who can’t violate Christian teachings under any circumstances."
"This case is completely religious and the court shouldn’t interfere with it."
Gobrael said he would appeal the ruling in front of the Supreme Constitutional Court.