Egyptian Copts Rally in Support of Church
By Mary Abdelmassih
6/11/2010 Egypt (AINA) — Thousands of Christian Copts from all over Egypt rallied on Wednesday within the grounds of St. Mark Cathedral in Cairo during Pope Shenouda’s weekly sermon, to protest a recent court ruling ordering the Church to issue re-marriage permits for divorcees, a ruling deemed inconsistent with the doctrine of the Coptic Orthodox Church (AINA 5-30-2010). The Coptic Church does not allow re-marriage except in very limited circumstances of adultery (to the non-guilty partner only) and conversion of one partner to another faith.
Approximately 10,000 demonstrators chanted their support for Pope Shenouda and the Church’s stance on rejecting the decision of the Supreme Administrative Court, which the Copts view as unprecedented interference in church affairs and contrary to religious beliefs. They also chanted that all Copts in Egypt and abroad are behind the decision of His Holiness, and “our personal affairs should only be regulated only according to the teachings of the Bible, and it is not for the judiciary to interfere in our religious affairs.”
The demonstrators carried banners showing “O faithful leader, we are with you” and “No provisions and no laws will make us violate the teachings of the Bible.”
The Cathedral was overcrowded with thousands of visitors, coming to show support for Pope Shenouda, who was met with a standing ovation and cheers of support for nearly 10 minutes, with chants such as “We love you Pope Shenouda” and “Pope Shenouda, Protector of our Faith.”
Among the visitors were clergy from all Christian denominations, Coptic human rights organizations and renowned Muslim journalists and Coptic personalities. The Pope’s sermon spoke of Human Rights, and a person’s rights to freedom of worship, among others.
The head of the Egyptian Church also said “The Coptic Church respects the law, but does not accept rulings which are against the Bible and against its religious freedom, which is guaranteed by the Constitution.” He went on to say “Marriage is a sacred bond for us, not just a civil matter,” adding that the Church “can never implement the court’s decision which is not acceptable to our conscience.”