Egypt's Coptic religious leader Pope Shenouda III said that the ruling of an Egyptian court obliging the church to acknowledge a man's right to remarry after he obtained a civil divorce is not binding, press reports said.
"We only abide by the Bible. We cannot betray our principles and do something that is forbidden in our holy book. The court ruling is civil and not religious," Pope Shenouda told the Egyptian daily Al-Ahram on Tuesday.
Christians can get divorces under civil law, although the church will not recognize such divorces and refuses to endorse remarriage in such cases.
The Coptic Orthodox church, to which up to 10 percent of Egyptians belong, annuls marriages between Christians only in cases of adultery or if the marriage is invalid in some way.
"The party that committed adultery is not allowed to re-marry while the victim is granted this right," Pope Shenouda said. "Thus, the church cannot marry a divorcee for reasons other than adultery, and any minister who does that will be excommunicated."
"We adhere to our religion, and the constitution of this country grants freedom of faith," the Pope concluded.
(Translated from Arabic by Sonia Farid).