India may prohibit church weddings for inter-faith couples
A story published today by The Times of India reports that if a bill
pending in the federal legislature passes, a Christian man and a Hindu woman eager to
marry will no longer be allowed to solemnize their union in a church.
According to the draft Christian Marriage Bill 2000, only Christian
couples will be allowed to marry in church. Mixed couples will be compelled to marry under
the Special Marriage Act.
The Bill, which Union law minister Ram Jethmalani is keen to pass in
the current session of Parliament, will also make priests liable for up to seven years
imprisonment if they deviate from the marriage process prescribed by law.
Delhi archbishop Alan de Lastic said such stringent penalties were
unheard of in the case of pandits or maulvis marrying couples under their respective
enactments. If passed, such a provision could be misused to target or harass priests, he
Church leaders and women's organizations have been demanding reforms
in the 1872 law governing marriage, divorce, adoption and succession for Christians and
had even submitted four separate Bills in 1997.
British Archbishop says celibacy rule
A story published today in the London Guardian reports that the
Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, the Archbishop of Westminster and new leader of the 4.1 million
Catholics in England and Wales, has said he believes the church's centuries-old tradition
of a celibate priesthood could be changed.
The archbishop, who was installed at Westminster cathedral in March
in succession to Cardinal Basil Hume who died last year, is a theologically orthodox
figure but made it clear in an interview with the Guardian that he believes in church
There is unlikely, however, to be any compromise in the archbishop's
support for the Catholic church's line either on abortion or its opposition to the
ordination of women, despite a growing campaign by women within the church.
On celibacy - which has already been breached in Britain by the
Catholic Church's acceptance of some married Anglican clergy who have left the Church of
England over the issue of women priests - Archbishop Murphy-O'Connor said:
"Disciplines can change. When a priest accepts celibacy when he is ordained that rule
should be kept. But is it (marriage) incompatible with priesthood? The answer is obviously
no. I would not rule it out. The matter will come up again."
On other issues of personal morality, it appears the new archbishop
will take a more low-key approach. "People should try to understand what the church
is saying. Society can't divorce sex from marriage and children. I am not going to make a
judgment about a couple, that is not my job and ... I would encourage tolerance, but if
people are in a relationship outside marriage, heterosexual or homosexual, that is not