Women Protest Doctrine of One Man, One Wife
By Edem Edem (Saturday, August 25, 2007)
They flung copies of the Holy Bible through the windows as they marched out of the crowded hall, all shouting, “We no go gree!” They raised fists and possibly forgot the words of Matthew chapter five, verse five, which promises, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” They want their inheritance both on earth and in heaven.
Their grouse? The canon law of one man, one wife is anachronistic, conceived by early western missionaries to discourage polygamy in Africa.
Not satisfied with a minor protest, the women, suspected to be Roman Catholic faithful, have threatened the church’s canon law.
The women, our investigations revealed, have mobilised and sensitised women in other parts of the state on the need to embark on the proposed rebellion, which will kick off in Obudu local government area of Cross River State, any moment from now.
The doctrine, our investigations revealed, has triggered off controversy in some parishes of the church in the area, especially Obanliku local government area, where the aggrieved women married to polygamous husbands have vowed to quit the Catholic church if the issue is not redressed.
According to the canon law practiced by the church, a man is expected to marry only one woman at a time and if married to more than one, such a man can only be allowed to be joined to his first wife in church.
This does not go down well with the women, who are insisting that their husbands must wed all of them at the same time.
Consequently, the women in their hundreds have constituted themselves into a pressure group, advocating for equal rights with other married women in the church.
They described the doctrine as colonial-oriented. The women, in a chat with our correspondent, argued that such law was only adopted by early Western missionaries to discourage polygamy in Africa.
They maintained that a situation where only monogamous married couples were carried along by the church, especially for Holy Communion and for the sacrament of holy matrimony, amounted to the marginalisation of polygamous families in the church.
Although this doctrine is also practiced by other churches the world over, the Roman Catholic Church is said to be more rigid in its application of the law.
The protesting women told our correspondent that the doctrine has relegated some women in the church to second class citizens and has also adversely affected their spiritual lives, a situation which has forced many to quit the Roman Catholic church for new generation fellowship centres.
Leadership Weekend reliably gathered that some polygamous husbands in the urban areas who were married to their first wives as permitted by the church, now parade only the first wives at public functions and important church activities, while the other wives and their children have been banished to villages. The development, it was gathered, has led to broken marriages in the area, which calls for urgent intervention by the hierarchy of the church.
Although the Roman Catholic Church is not known to be canvassing for followership, the issue, according to our sources, has become a disturbing phenomenon. The women have called on the Pope, the spiritual head of the Catholic Church in Rome, to look into the matter, to save them from the embarrassing situation.
A priest in the area told our correspondent that they were not in the position to alter the law, as only the hierarchy of the church can do so. They affirmed that it was impossible for one man to be married to two women at a time, as such was not permitted by the Church anywhere in the world under the Christian faith.
Originally appeared in Leadership in Nigeria.