Philippines Bishop Bans Pregnant Brides

Feb 26, 2003 04:53 PM EST

A Roman Catholic bishop in the Philippines has banned heavily pregnant brides from having public weddings.
Bishop Jose Sorra said that for a woman to marry in church when she was visibly pregnant was contrary to the meaning of Christian marriage.

Mr Sorra said he was acting to prevent the sacrament of marriage from being ridiculed.

He told the Associated Press news agency that one of his priests had been officiating at a wedding when the heavily pregnant bride went into labour and had to be taken to hospital.

"Brides who are conspicuously pregnant are to be discouraged and disallowed from having public weddings," Mr Sorra said in a letter to his pastorate in the diocese of Legazpi, 340 kilometres (210 miles) south-east of Manila.

"They may be married in a private ceremony within the parish church or chapel (not in a house unless very sick or bedridden), or may postpone such church marriage until after having given birth," he added.

He said pregnancy outside marriage was "a counter-symbol to the purity, chastity and beauty of the bride of Christ, the Church".

"A white bridal gown over a conspicuous pregnancy is a contradiction of symbol or a ludicrous confusion of symbols," he said.

The bishop's policy is being implemented in the dioceses of Legazpi and Davao.

But he admitted that the Vatican and other dioceses in the Philippines - an overwhelmingly Catholic country - had no ruling on the issue.

By Albert H. Lee
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