The Most Rev. Dr. Mouneer Anis has been an incredibly strong leader in the Global South. He exemplifies one who recognized early on the signs of the impending Episcopal/Anglican crisis and has worked hard from within to try to bring the Communion back to its biblical roots. There are prophets and there are peacemakers. Mouneer Anis we have come to see is a man with peace in his heart. He speaks boldly and desires to find a peaceful solution - as would one who has seen the alternative close up and personal.
So to read this report, which reads more like a personal testimony than anything else, is heartbreaking. But it's honest and its true - and it's very sad. He presses on.
By the time I finished the meetings of the JSC, I realised that I lost many of the hopes which I had before the meeting. Several friends discouraged me to attend the JSC meeting but I insisted to go as I don’t believe in withdrawal. Jesus is our best example in this regard. He spoke the truth boldly everywhere He went. Some accepted the truth, some refused and some wanted to murder Him, but He never stopped speaking the truth and meeting His friends as well as His enemies.
My hopes diminished for the following reasons:
• I cannot see any desire to follow things through as decided before.
The Windsor Report (TWR) recommendations, which was accepted by everyone since it was produced in 2004 is a very good example. These recommendations were affirmed during the Primates meeting in 2005, everyone waited for TEC and Canada to respond. TEC’s responses were unclear and the Primates at Dar es Salam requested a clear response by the 30th of September. The response was clearly inadequate as Archbishop Rowan mentioned in his Advent letter. What action did we take or recommend in the JSC meeting? The answer is nothing. Moreover, the very people who cause the current crisis are invited to Lambeth Conference and this contradicts with TWR as will as Dar es Salam recommendations. This widens the gap and distrust between the two sides within the Communion.
This makes me ask, “Are we ready to take decisions as Anglican Councils”? I do appreciate the “via media” in worship but not when we are dealing with a crisis. When will we become decisive?
• The first thing that upset me is that while we emphasise the importance of listening, very little time was given to discussing the important issues. Such issues were pushed to the last day of the meeting. I had expected that the very issues that are tearing the Communion apart would be given more time and priority.
I came to listen and share but there was not enough time for that. I expected that we would engage in constructive listening and discussion, especially while the Presiding Bishop of TEC was with us. How can we expect our congregations to be involved in the listening process when we ourselves are not?
• While the presence of the Presiding Bishop of TEC was so important during discussions, her presence as we decided about resolutions of assessment of the response of TEC inhibited other members from speaking freely. This was clear from the comments of some other members outside the meetings.
• I was shocked when the time line of the covenant process was presented. The plan that it would be enacted in 2015 gives the impression that we are NOT in a state of crisis and that there is no desire to move towards a solution. In my opinion, if we wait until 2015 or even 2012 the Communion will be fragmented. If we truly are in a situation that makes us “seriously concerned”, as mentioned in the JSC resolution, how can we wait another four or seven years?
• I was also very surprised that some now speak of the ambiguity of the Windsor recommendations and the meaning of “moratorium”. Where have these people been since 2004? Why were these questions not raised in Dar es Salam?
I am sorry to share my heartaches in this report, but I hope that this will encourage all of us in the Communion to pray especially for Archbishop Rowan and the Windsor Continuing Group so that the right decisions would be taken.
I realise that the forthcoming Lambeth Conference may add to my disappointment but I am determined to go, to listen and share with an open heart and firm stand.
The Most Rev. Dr. Mouneer Anis
Bishop of Egypt, North Africa and the Horn of Africa