Egypt’s churches to sign unified personal status law after Ramadan

Egypt’s three main Christian churches are preparing to sign a final draft law regarding personal status for Christians, after Eid al-Fitr.

The law is intended to prevent any possible crisis between the Church and the judiciary and to also address the issue of Copts seeking divorce, some of whom have staged sit-ins since 2011.

Legal adviser to the Catholic Church, Jameel Halim said that the law includes the identification of all cases for different denominations, with agreement on clauses regarding engagement, reasons for marriage and the method of marriage, to become a recognized document.

According to Halim, the law sets consequences of separation or divorce, such as spending, custody and others, and as for differences between the the different churches, for example the Catholic Church does not recognize divorce but there is separation, and the law identifies cases for different sects.

He added that the law for the first time formulated a committee to resolve disputes within the Church, which will be related to the primary courts in the governorates.

Halim said that the government and the churches are interested to pass the law and there will be quick procedures after the final signature of the churches on the bill and submit it to the House of Representatives.

“The law will come out soon,” Halim said. “There is an intention from the government and us to provide a solution to different cases.”

Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Church allows divorce for only two reasons while the Catholic Church forbids it and the Evangelical Church allows divorce in very few cases.

Al-Masry Al-Youm learned that the signature date was originally set to 15 May, however the date was postponed due to Pope Tawadros II, the Pope of Alexandria, visiting Europe.

Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm

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