Egypt’s Coptic Pope Tawadros II cancelled his weekly sermon in St Mark’s Cathedral Wednesday after a group broke into protest, Al-Ahram Arabic news website reported.
A group of attendees, who reportedly have been demanding changes to personal status laws, started talking loudly at the beginning of the sermon. Arguments quickly broke out among attendees.
The Pope made a prayer and cancelled the sermon soon after.
Later, the Coptic Church issued a statement saying a group of people engaged in “riots and loud voices” that do not reflect “respect for the Church,” adding that clergy tried to calm down the people, but their efforts were not successful.
For long, many Copts have voiced complaints over personal status laws involving marriage and divorce that — even though civil —rely on religious rules.
Coptic activist groups have been calling for the re-implementation of 1938 bylaws that permitted Coptic Christians to obtain a divorce under nine conditions.
The current Church restricted divorce in 2008, under Pope Shenouda III, to cases of adultery, conversion to Islam or to another Christian denomination.