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Call to accept Christian polygamists

Muslim values push Church leaders towards a U-turn

A number of Christian households are now polygamous A number of Christian households are now polygamous
  • ucanews.com reporter, Lahore
  • Pakistan
  • November 7, 2012
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Several Protestant clergy and Catholic priests have called on their leaders to consider taking the extraordinary step of relaxing attitudes towards Christian polygamists, or risk a drop in Church membership.

The call comes just two years after Church leaders called for leading Christian polygamists to be prosecuted.

Although Christianity promotes marriage to only one spouse at any one time, the heavy impact of Islamic society is taking its toll on religious minority families, they now say. Muslims in Pakistan are allowed up to four wives.

They were voicing their concerns at a recent seminar titled “Christian Families,” jointly organized by the Theological Institute for the Laity and the Presbyterian Church.

There are no official figures illustrating how many Christians – Protestant and Catholic – have more than one wife. Sources within the Catholic Church say there are more than 50 such cases in Lahore’s 12 parishes.

“Some marry twice for progeny; those who are poor keep more than one wife for financial assistance. However most of the rich polygamists simply do it for pleasure,” said Father Emmanuel Yousaf Mani, director of Catholic Bishop’s National Commission for Justice and Peace.

“We baptize their children but prohibit sacraments especially Holy Communion to such couples.”

But Liaqat Qaiser, principal of the Full Gospel Assembly Bible College in Lahore, said: “They are merely victims. Though they may not become Church leaders, we have to encourage them to continue attending services. Excommunication is not the solution."

Father Morris Jalal, who has been organizing family fellowship programs for decades in Lahore archdiocese, also called for a softer approach.

“We have to expand pastoral care to these fallen families. Western churches are emptying due to their stance, based on canon law, on polygamists. The same can happen here if we do not offer a compassionate heart,” he said.

Related report

Christian polygamists should be charged 
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