CAIRO: Clashes between Pope Shenouda, the Patriarch of Saint Mark Episcopate, and the Secular Copts group have escalated after the latter presented the Ministry of Justice with a draft personal status law parallel to the one presented by the church.
Pope Shenounda denounced the group’s draft law, and accused the group of violating the Bible’s teachings.
Meanwhile, the Secular Copts group, which includes prominent Coptic figures, that the proposed law is based on the Bible’s teachings and does not in any way violate Christian ideology. The group accused the church of attempting to control Christians and oppose the civil state.
The Secular Copts group also announced that they will launch a campaign calling for legislation allowing civil marriage outside the church.
The Pope reacted by saying that the group “does not represent Christians,” adding that the church denounces their proposed law as well as civil marriages.
During his sermon in Alexandria on Sunday, Pope Shenouda said that the number of secular Copts who proposed the law does not exceed 10, adding that the term “secular” refers to the entire Coptic community outside the ranks of the church.
He said that the group does not have the legal authority or to propose such a law.
The Pope called on the secular group not to interfere in matters they have no knowledge about, especially with regards to the Bible’s teachings and the church.
“Civil marriage is against the Bible’s teachings and the church cannot approve it,” he said.
On the other hand, Kamal Zakher, coordinator of the Secular Copts group, claimed that all the articles in the proposed law are based on the Bible’s teachings.
“The Pope accused us of violating the Bible’s teachings, but the truth is we included articles in the law that are based on these teachings and fill gaping holes in the church’s proposed law,” he told Daily News Egypt.
Zakher accused the church of opposing the civil state and trying to control Christians and prevent them from expressing their opinions.
“We have reiterated that we do not represent Copts, we are merely a group of people presenting visions and ideas to solve pressing problems,” he said, “the Pope should respond in the same manner; it doesn’t matter who proposed the law, what matters is what that law entails.”
Zakher explained that the church never propose the law to Copts but is trying to impose its vision.
“The church should stop playing a political role, the ball is now in the Ministry of Justice’s court, which is responsible for drafting the law after studying all points of view and then presenting it to parliament.
“We were seeking dialogue with the church over a lot of issues, however, we didn’t receive any response because the Pope and the church are against dialogue and are only after controlling Christians and blocking their thinking,” Zakher added.