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International News Archive
May 01 - May 06, 2000


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This page contains news for the period Saturday, May 01, 2000 through Thursday, May 06, 2000.



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Tuesday, May 2, 2000

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 felt.

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.


Monday, May 1, 2000

British Archbishop says celibacy rule may go

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 reform.

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 right."


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