hi Matt,
why not using the Java XML parsers which come with the JDK?
take a look at javax.xml.*, it's quite intuitive to use it (Get an instance of a DocumentBuildFactory, then get your DocumentBuilder, then parse the file/stream and retrieve its Document instance), and I'm sure you could easily find a tutorial for parsing XMLs in Java.
Since you are using Jython, utilizaing the java classpath to your needs is a very simple (and smart) operation to perform.
Moreover, this API also simplifies XML validation against XSDs, XPath queries, transformations and more...
Good luck!

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