THE CATHOLIC CHURCH in Argentina has accused the nation's supreme court of an "anti-democratic usurpation of powers" from the Congress after a ruling that a constitutional ban on divorce was unjust.
In a 3-2 decision the court dismissed an 1888 article of the constitution which barred the remarriage of either spouse when the other was still alive. Ruling on the case of a former judge, Juan Sejean and his wife, both of whom want to remarry, the court declared the 1888 ban in violation of equal rights provisions in the constitution because it relegated people separated from their original spouse to the second class status of "concubinage". The uncertain legal status of any children of a second union is also unjust, the court ruled.
The Church has fervently opposed moves to legalise divorce in recent months. The House of Deputies voted overwhelmingly in favour of the liberalisation in August, but the measure is now blocked in the conservative Senate until April — directly after Pope John Paul's planned visit next year.