ISLAMABAD: Christian clergymen from across the country along with minority lawmakers on Wednesday opposed the proposed Christian Marriage and Divorce Bill, 2016 but agreed that the age of a Christian girl at the time of her marriage should not be less than 18 years, The Express Tribune has learnt.
Bishops and pastors as well as lawmakers from ruling PML- N and opposition groups gathered in the capital to reach a consensus on the proposed bill. However, the Christian representatives from all churches opposed the divorce bit.
Sources said the consultative meeting was held between the religious leaders and Human Rights Minister Kamran Michael, who tried to persuade the bishops and pastors to develop consensus on the proposed legislation.
However, the minister failed to convince them and resultantly the consultative meeting was deferred till September 10. Meanwhile, the participants were provided copies of the bill so that they could read it thoroughly and make further deliberations.
During the meeting which lasted five hours, the participants expressed their views on the bill and noted that marriages of Christians should be registered with the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) as they termed non-registration of marriage a fundamental issue.
Bishop of Lahore’s St Anthony Church, Emmanuel Yousaf Mani, appreciated the government’s initiative to reform the old laws. However, he said there is no space for divorce in Christianity and he will never allow anyone to amend it.
“There is nothing important than the Bible in which it is clearly mentioned that there is no option of divorce,” Mani later told The Express Tribune. He said bishops will not compromise on the Bible.
Bishop Dr Nasir Samuel also attended the meeting and endorsed the statement of Mani. “Bible does not allow inserting divorce in the religion and nobody has the right to amend this rule.”
Samuel, however, appreciated the proposals especially the one about the minimum age for marriage of a Christian girl.
Khalil George, a PML-N lawmaker, told The Express Tribune that while he was representing the PML-N, he did not support the divorce and asked Kamran Michael to amend the bill.
Meanwhile, the media boycotted a press conference to be addressed by the Human Rights Minister Kamran Michael at the Ministry of Human Rights after the meeting. Michael was expected to brief the media on the consultative session at a committee room on the second floor of the building at 1:45pm.
However, there was no one to attend to the media personnel even one hour after the appointed time.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 11th, 2016.
Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.
For more information, please see our Comments FAQ