Cruise files for divorce after war of religion

The Times (London)/February 8, 2001
By Damian Whitworth and Helen Rumbelow

Tom Cruise last night filed for divorce from Nicole Kidman, his wife of more than a decade.

Just two days after the surprise announcement that the couple were separating, the actor began formal proceedings in court in Los Angeles. His spokesman offered no other information, but the television programme Access Hollywood said that Cruise was citing irreconcilable differences and wanted joint custody of their two adopted children.

The action comes just two months after Cruise, 38, and Kidman, 33, renewed their marital vows on their tenth wedding anniversary, according to an article to be published in the next issue of Us Weekly magazine.

There have been numerous rumours linking the couple to third parties, but the line from Cruise's agent was that divergent careers were keeping them "constantly apart."

Reports yesterday suggested the break-up of the marriage may have occurred because of the growing religious, rather than physical, chasm between them; that they disagreed over the extent to which the Church of Scientology should govern their family.

Kidman, a Roman Catholic, is said to be increasingly angry that Scientology, an organisation started by L. Ron Hubbard, the writer, is winning the battle. Cruise is intractably dedicated to the organisation, which believes that in the past billions of surplus beings from other planets were herded to earth and slaughtered by an evil alien called Xenu. These dead beings are supposed to haunt us and are the cause of all ills.

Scientology has been refused the status of a religion in Britain by the Charity Commissioners, which decided that it did not benefit the public. Despite Cruise's secrecy about his beliefs, Kidman has repeatedly aired her down-to-earth Australian attitude to her husband's spiritual life. "I believe in a bit of Scientology, Catholicism, Judaism and the Eastern philosophies. I take a bit of each, I am a hybrid," she has said. "I would never have married Tom if he had insisted I become an out-and-out Scientologist, that would have been forcing me to do something I didn't want to do." She often states that she was raised a Catholic and that a "big part" of her is still Catholic.

Asked by Sue Lawley, on Desert Island Discs, whether Scientology would help her to survive as a castaway, she replied: "No . . . Catholicism will keep me going. I'm a Catholic girl. It will always stay with you."

The brief statement from Pat Kingsley, Cruise's publicist, that the marriage was not working because they were away so much has raised eyebrows. The stars have been well known for travelling together to work.

What little Scientology and Catholicism share is probably an abhorrence of divorce. Marriage is held sacred in Scientology and adherents say that Cruise would have been under considerable peer pressure to involve his wife in their labyrinthine marriage counselling process.

Instead the matter is now in the hands of lawyers. It is expected that Kidman would have signed a pre-nuptial agreement limiting her claim on their estate, estimated at more than £250 million.

She is likely to want their £7 million home overlooking Sydney Harbour, while he will probably want to keep the £8 million mansion overlooking the ocean in Los Angeles.

The deal would also include their £4 million apartment in Manhattan, where they stay en route between the United States and Britain, as well as their nine-bedroom home in London, the villa in Monte Carlo and the estimated £4 million-worth of cars, motorcycles and speedboats.

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