CAIRO: Naguib Gobrael, head of the Egyptian Union for Human Rights Organization, proposed a bill to the Ministry of Justice, allowing adoption among Christians.
The bill is proposed at a time when differences among the three main Egyptian churches — Orthodox, Catholic and Evangelical — are riled over articles included in the personal status law for all Christians.
"The bill considers the fact that Islam forbids adoption among Muslims, but Christianity allows it," Gobrael told Daily News Egypt.
"The bill regulates the adoption process and guarantees it’s applied only to Christians. There are severe penalties for those who violate the conditions of adoption specified in the bill."
"The laws that are implemented at the moment forbid adoption, which led to many Christians being accused of child trafficking, the most prominent case involved an American and his wife and the trial is ongoing.”
Meetings held between the three churches during the last couple of days shed light on their differences over a number of points in the unified status law.
The first point is adoption. Although the Orthodox Church approves of adoption, Pope Shenouda III, head of Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Church, believes this issue can be postponed so it doesn’t impede the proposed unified status law. Meanwhile, the Evangelists and Catholics insist that adoption be included in the law.
The second point of contention is the Evangelical Church insisting that the Orthodox Church recognize Evangelical marriage, an issue completely refused by Pope Shenouda because the rituals of Evangelical marriages violate that of the Orthodox Church.
Sources from inside St. Mark’s Cathedral told Daily News Egypt, "The orthodox church held a poll recently about Christians position on adoption. The poll included 500 people, 357 of them said they approve of adoption."
The bill, a copy of which was obtained by Daily News Egypt, cites a number of conditions to regulate adoption, including the prohibition of adoption in case the child is of a different religion than the parents’.
The National Council for Motherhood and Childhood would be responsible for approving and regulating the adoption process, according to the bill, and the Ministry of State for Family and Population would be responsible for drafting the regulations that enforce penalties that could reach three years in prison for those who violate the conditions of adoption.
Ikrami Lamei, professor of theology in the Evangelical church, told Daily News Egypt that his church insists on including adoption in the unified personal status law.
"We also insist that the Orthodox Church recognize Evangelical marriage," he said, adding that the three main churches approve of adoption and call for it.
Salib Mata Sawiris, member of the Coptic Ecclesiastical Council, told Daily News Egypt that the Pope believes that issue of adoption can be postponed, so others won’t use it as an excuse to hinder the issue of the personal status law because Islam doesn’t approve of adoption.
"Despite that, matters are still under discussion and it’s possible that adoption be included in the bill," he said.