Cairo (Agenzia Fides) - The authorities of the Coptic Orthodox Church wanted to strongly reaffirm their opposition to the celebration of combined marriages by family units that involve boys and girls at an early age. A statement released by the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate reiterated the prohibition of celebrating marriages between very young children in Orthodox Coptic churches, stressing that such practice violates the right of every young person to find the right person with whom to start a stable marital relationship and characterized by the conscious promise of mutual fidelity. The document adds that "early" marriages imposed by family units end up creating problems not only for the young couple, but also for their children, and for the whole community.
According to data provided by the Egyptian government in 2015, so-called "early" marriage represents 15 percent of the marriages celebrated in Egypt. Last May 9 (see Fides 10/05/2016), the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate and the Islamic University of Al Azhar - considered the most authoritative theological-academic institution of Sunni Islam - had signed a document in which their shared commitment to combat all forms of violence and child abuse was outlined. The joint statement, prepared under the auspices of UNICEF, outlined the protection of children as common priorities, shared by both the Islamic and the Christian sensibility, and indicated early marriage as a form of violence against children, as well genital mutilation, kidnapping and sexual abuse. (GV) (Agenzia Fides 20/09/2016)