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Last Updated: Friday, 19 September, 2003, 10:54 GMT 11:54 UK
Church slams Chile divorce plans
Chile street
Chileans are not allowed to divorce
The head of the Roman Catholic Church in Chile has criticised government plans to introduce the nation's first divorce laws.

The Roman Catholic archbishop Francisco Errazuriz said divorce would threaten the family and undermine the sanctity of marriage.

Chine is one of the only two democratic countries in the world, along with Malta, that does not allow divorce.

The archbishop's annual speech at a religious service to mark the country's Independence Day reaffirmed the Church's moral position on marriage.

The speech, coming a week after the 30th anniversary of Chile's military coup, also made a strong attack on the previous military government of Augusto Pinochet.

"Never again," said the Archbishop repeatedly, referring to the 1973 military coup of Augusto Pinochet.

General Pinochet ruled Chile for 17 years and more than 3,000 political opponents were killed or disappeared.

General Pinochet
Thousands of citizens were killed during General Pinochet's rule
The Archbishop said the armed forces should never be politicised again.

He also said there should never be any persecution of political opponents and violations of human rights.

BBC correspondent Clinton Porteous in Santiago says the Roman Catholic Church worked hard to defend human rights during the Pinochet years.

But there was much controversy in 1987 when Pope John Paul II visited Chile, our correspondent says.

The Pope met with General Pinochet, as well as torture victims.

He preached to massive crowds about non-violence, as well as moral standards such as no sex before marriage.

Chile marks 30th coup anniversary
11 Sep 03  |  Americas
Sexual revolution in Chile
27 Apr 00  |  Crossing Continents
Pinochet profile: Saviour or tyrant
08 Dec 00  |  The Pinochet file

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