Over 120 Copts surrounded the Clerical Council of Saint Mark's Cathedral in Abbasseya on Monday to protest against the orthodox church’s refusal to grant them the right to remarry.
The protesters prevented president of the Clerical Council, Bishop Paul, and the other council priests from leaving the building, due to what they described as “their intransigence in resolving their marriage and divorce-related issues.”
The protesters also demanded that Bishop Paul be removed from his post by Pope Shenouda III because of his stubbornness, and for treating the demonstrators as if they were “criminals”.
They called on the Pope to change the acceptable terms of divorce, no longer confining them to cases involving "adultery" or "change of religion”.
"We have many problems, and the church has ignored us and our circumstances,” said Michael Hanna, one of the protesters.
"We are Christians; it is our right to have the church to consider our problems which have been pending for years,” said Hanna. “Bishop Paul continues in his corruption, intransigence and discriminatory policies.”
“He allows divorces and marriages for people with power and influence, but not to the poor,” Hanna went on. “We have raised many complaints against him, which the Pope does not consider.”
Hanna pointed out that the protesters will not allow Paul to leave until he is removed from the council and the Pope issues “a decision resolving our problems, and finds a solution for them.
Meanwhile, a church source said that the Clerical Council is open to all, but that the actions taken by the dozens of protesting Copts was “unacceptable”.
“The Church does not discriminate between its disciples, and has trust in Bishop Paul,” the source affirmed.
Translated from the Arabic Edition