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Coptic patriarch: Desire to divorce leads Catholics to convert to Islam

September 03, 2010

Patriarch Antonius Naguib, the head of the Coptic Catholic Church, has provided a fascinating glimpse into the life of Christians in Egypt in an interview with Aid to the Church in Need. The patriarch, for example, noted that Egyptian law leaves marital issues to the different religious bodies, allowing the Church to uphold the indissolubility of Christian marriage.

Asked “Is it beneficial for a Christian to convert to Islam just for the sake of employment opportunities?”, he replied:

There are some cases but I would not agree to say that this is the primary reason. There are, I think, two principal reasons. One is based on marriage. The easiest way to get out of a marriage, for a Christian whether its the man or the woman, is to become Muslim - for them it is easy to divorce and have the benefit of full rights against the other partner or spouse and full custody of the children. The second reason is the weakness in one's faith. This is due to the lack of good formation in one's faith. There are some regions, villages and in some quarters of the city where there is not enough pastoral care. The Islamic appeal and the secular media greatly influences and easily contributes to this failure in one's steadfastness towards one's faith because of the lack of a solid faith foundation.

According to Vatican statistics, only 0.3% of Egypt’s 77.6 million people are Catholic; 10% of Egyptians are Christian, with the vast majority of Christians belonging to the Coptic Orthodox Church, which broke communion with the Holy See following the Council of Chalcedon in 451. The Coptic Catholic Church has an estimated 166,000 members.


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