Egyptian Coptic Pope Shenouda III Fined For Stand Against Divorce

The Egyptian Supreme Administrative Court has issued a decision requiring Orthodox Coptic Pope Shenouda III to pay damages of approximately 19,500 Egyptian pounds to church member Magdi William who sued the Coptic Church over its refusal to issue a certificate to re-marry after he divorced his wife.

In May, the Supreme Administrative Court ruled in favor of another litigant seeking re-marriage, Hani Wasfi Naguib, stating that under Egyptian law the Coptic Orthodox Church must allow its members to divorce and remarry.

However, after an appeal of that decision by the Coptic Church, the Supreme Constitutional Court overturned the ruling by the Supreme Administrative Court, stating that marital matters are under the sole jurisdiction of the church because civil marriage without a religious ceremony is not recognized in Egypt.

The Orthodox Coptic Church forbids divorce and re-marriage except in cases of proven adultery or religious conversion of a spouse.

In the current case, Pope Shenouda lost an appeal to overturn the court verdict in favor of William, despite the Constitutional Court ruling.

According to Al-Masry Al-Youm news service, the Coptic pope has refused to pay the fine, and instead said he would defrock any priest who allows a divorced Christian to remarry, except under the allowed conditions.

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