Egypt church buildings play matchmaker as Christians’ marriages decline

CAIRO – An historical church is coming below fireplace for making an attempt to assist its single female and male members get married.

The matchmaking program on the Blessed Virgin Mary Church within the southern Cairo district of Maadi asks members who need to get married to fill out a kind with details about themselves and the kind of life associate they need to have.

Those managing this system classify the candidates after which attempt to match women and men who swimsuit one another. They then arrange conferences, and candidates who’re attracted to one another can take severe engagement steps below the supervision of the church.

But this system is frightening the ire of some members of the Christian group, round 10 p.c of Egypt’s inhabitants of over 100 million.

“I totally reject such a program because it demeans Christian girls and treats them as a commodity,” Kareem Kamal, a number one Christian activist, advised Al-Monitor. “This is the first time the church plays such a role.”

However, many different church buildings are leaping into the matchmaking area, motivated by a pointy decline within the variety of marriages amongst Egypt’s Christians, the Arab Middle East’s largest minority. A Christian getting married today is turning into a rarity, observers say.

Statistics about marriages within the Christian group are onerous to return by, however the identical observers say the speed is falling dramatically. “There is a noticeable decline in the number of marriages among the nation’s Christians,” Christian lawyer Mamdouh Ramzi advised Al-Monitor. “It all boils down to current economic conditions.”

Egypt has been performing nicely economically, based on official figures about financial progress, the exports and manufacturing. However, the identical progress has been accompanied by a continuous rise in commodity costs.

“The prices of food and housing are rising dramatically, while salaries remain the same,” Nadia Radwan, a sociology professor at Port Said University, advised Al-Monitor. “This makes it difficult for a large number of men and women to get married.”

Marriage has its personal specificity in Egypt. A bridegroom has to purchase or hire a flat, purchase many of the furnishings for the wedding and pay many of the marriage prices. Radwan says many younger males want to save lots of for a minimum of ten years to get married.

Covid-19 has had an affect as nicely. In his bid to curb infections, Christian Pope Tawadros II determined in April final yr to restrict the quantity of people that can attend marriage ceremony ceremonies at church buildings to 6, along with a priest and a deacon.

The clergymen of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church in Maadi say that oldsters who pray on the church requested the matchmaking program. “Most of the churches have similar programs,” a church priest  advised Al-Monitor on situation of anonymity. “We give the chance to young men and women to know each other under the supervision of the church.”

Apart from containing private data and a private photograph of the folks making use of inside the program, the shape crammed out by these candidates additionally consists of details about the completely different private, bodily and academic {qualifications} of the companions they’re looking for.

The church additionally organizes seminars and invitations all candidates to debate a variety of social and non secular points. As they converse, these attendees show their academic ranges and a few of their private traits. Afterward, the boys can to go to the organizers and request a date with one of many girls current.

The St. Mark’s Church, in Maadi as nicely, has the same matchmaking program. Over 400 folks attend, based on Isis Habib, a church employee answerable for organizing these occasions.

“Males usually outnumber females, who are always shy to attend such events,” Habib mentioned. She added that women and men of all ages go to her church to take part within the matchmaking program.

The Coptic Orthodox Church, which is adopted by the overwhelming majority of Egypt’s Christians, refused to touch upon the matchmaking program. However, the church sponsors one other program to assist women and men on the marriage age choose the correct associate. Senior church clergymen speak to children in regards to the particular person they need to choose to spend the remainder of their lives with.

Some church buildings, based on Ramzi, supply monetary assist to marriage aspirants.

Nevertheless, this angers folks like Kamel. “The church has a religious role to play and it should not deviate from this role,” Kamal mentioned. “Churches play a social role, including by running schools and hospitals, but they cannot turn into dating agencies.”