+Mouneer Anis: The State of the Anglican Communion and The Way Forward [Transcript]

Now, the way ahead for us ”“ I am concluding with this:

The first point is we have to follow through with the recommendation of the previous Primates Meeting and Windsor Report. This is the only way we can restore the trust between the churches of the Anglican Communion.

The second thing ”“ we need to urgently recognise and support the faithful orthodox Anglicans who were excluded and unjustly treated.

And the third thing is recover conciliarity and this is very important. Unless we do this we will have many, many crises in the future.
Listen to it all and you can find an unofficial transcript below of the address Presiding Bishop Mouneer Anis gave to the recent conference in Toronto:

I am bringing greetings from your brothers and sisters in Egypt, and we very much appreciate at this very time your prayers which I receive every day ”“ letters from all over the world including Canada here ”“ people praying for us in Egypt, where the church is facing difficulties, but we have hope and anticipation at this time. I will talk more about this later.

I was asked to speak about ”˜why the Covenant matters?’ and I prefer to speak about the future of the Anglican Communion. But before I speak about the future of the Anglican Communion, I just want to remind you of the DNA of the Anglican ”“ the Anglican DNA – which is the Scripture, the church fathers, the mission, unity, and the Reformation and the Catholicity of the church. So we are Reformed and Catholic, and we long for unity all the time. We hold on to the Scripture all the time too.

And because of this longing for unity, a very few years after the first gathering of the bishops from around the world in 1867 to form the Anglican Communion, not long after that, the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral was formed in 1888, which is the basis for unity among denominations, not just among the Anglicans. But the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral, the four principles, were especially formed in order to bring unity in the church of Christ as a whole. And you may remember the efforts of the Anglican Church especially in the formation of the World Council of Churches.

And because of this, the unity of the Anglican Communion matters a lot to us. We all feel that the Anglican Communion is a gift from God, and not only that, but we long to see the whole church of Christ in a communion together. That’s why we have dialogue with different denominations – almost all denominations and us. The Anglicans have dialogue in order to come together, even with our diversity, to become one in Christ – because we are one, because Christ is one – and we go for mission because Christ sends the disciples.

That is why again when we had the problems within the Anglican Communion, the crisis, it makes us groan: the pain is very much bigger than any pain, because we are a family and we are a communion. We are not just a federation. So our unity and the Communion together matters and is very important.

And before I start to talk again, I just remember – because Bishop Stephen talked a lot about MRI, about which I also shared that it is magnetic resonance imaging, the mutual responsibility and interdependence – I remember the words of Cardinal Ivan Dias from India who came as an ecumenical partner to the 2008 Lambeth Conference. And he said this: A Church that forgets its roots is a church that suffers from ecclesiastical Alzheimer’s, and a Church that – its components, different churches – behaves separately and independently and unilaterally, is a church that suffers from ecclesial Parkinson’s. He said that and I think it is very important that we need to keep these two things, the Alzheimer’s and the Parkinson’s as I talk. Remember this very well.

Now the question is: Is it realistic now, is it realistic to call the Anglican Communion a communion? Is this realistic? It is a question that we need to ask, are we still a communion?

Many people spoke about this and used this term ”˜the fabric of the Anglican Communion is torn to its deepest level.’ There was a lot of worrying about this before the consecration of Gene Robinson and there were signs even before this. And we are torn as a communion. We are torn as a family.

Now, again because of my medical background, I would say what are the signs and symptoms of this torn fabric of our Anglican Communion?
– There are already provinces which have broken communion with other provinces.
– There are other provinces that didn’t break communion; however they don’t have relations at all with others in the communion. So that is impaired communion.
– There is broken Eucharistic communion when we gather as the Primates Meeting and a group of Primates cannot conscientiously receive communion ”“ the bread and wine with their colleagues ”“ so the broken Eucharistic communion.
– And complete separation from the Anglican Communion we have some movements that separated itself completely from the Anglican Communion; and also new movements that work independently, so it walks its way and takes its action regardless of what is happening in the rest of the Anglican Communion.

And as a sign of this also, of the torn fabric of the Communion, our communion partners – the Catholics, the Oriental Orthodox, the Greek Orthodox – they said we are going to stop and freeze the ecumenical dialogue until the Anglicans sort out their own problems.

As a sign and symptom, 250 bishops did not attend the Lambeth Conference in 2008. 15 Primates did not attend the Primates Meeting in 2011 in Dublin. One bishop and 3 Primates, all orthodox, resigned from the Anglican Communion Standing Committee – this is the standing committee which works for the future of the whole Communion – and the orthodox voice was completely disregarded.

So what happened? Why did this happen? Is it all about sexuality? That’s an important question. People think that the consecration of Gene Robinson led to the crisis ”“ that’s true ”“ but actually it was the consecration of Gene Robinson that revealed the weakness that revealed the difficulties that were hidden within the Communion. The crisis tore the fabric of the Communion and revealed the real issues behind this.

What are the real issues?

The real issues are the interpretation and the authority of the Scriptures. We have major differences in the interpretation of this picture, and we have differences even in the Doctrine of the Trinity. And this started back in the [Fifties]. The person and the work and the resurrection of Jesus Christ ”“ some people even doubt it – some people really don’t believe in it in these things.

So the diversity within the Anglican Communion started to widen and widen to the degree that one can call it an unlimited diversity; not a limited diversity; not a diversity in the non-essentials, has started to encroach the essentials of faith of the Anglican Communion.

The real issues are: the acknowledgement of Jesus as divine, and the one and only means of salvation; the doctrine of sin; the forgiveness; reconciliation; transformation by the Holy Spirit through Christ. There are big differences in these issues. The sanctity of marriage and teaching about morality that is rooted in the Bible ”“ all these are the much deeper issues that are at stake within the Anglican Communion.

The causes of failure to deal with the crisis. We face the crisis and as a family facing any crisis we should have the ability and the mechanism, and the ability, and the ways to sort out this problem and deal with the crisis.

But why are we not capable of doing it up until now?

The failure I would say is a failure of the instruments of unity, or the instruments of Communion as some people say; either because of the unwillingness to fulfil its role or because they became dysfunctional and ineffective. I would like to take one instrument of unity, one after another:

The first one, the Archbishop of Canterbury: ”˜I have no power’ ”“ many Archbishops of Canterbury say this, ”˜I have no power’ ”“ which is true. The Archbishop of Canterbury doesn’t have power, because he is Primus Inter Pares, so all the archbishops who are in the Anglican Communion are equal and each province has autonomy. So he has no power to say to any province: ”˜do this’ or ”˜not to do this.’ This is true, but Archbishops of Canterbury, they have influence, much greater influence, but it depends if they want to use it, or not use it. ”˜I have no power,’ beginning with the desire to hold everyone together.

I have survived three Archbishops now [laughter]. Every one wants to start with holding everyone together, and at the end, when they know that this is an impossible task, they don’t want to do anything. So at the beginning they want to hold everyone, and at the end they give up ”“ or give in, completely!

The Primates Meetings recommendations were not followed through. The Primates Meetings of 2005, 2007 and 2009 were not followed through regarding sorting out the crisis of the Communion. The Primates meet, they have an ”˜enhanced responsibility’ according to the Resolutions of the Lambeth Conference 1988 and 1998. However, every decision and every recommendation they took was not followed through. And I remember that one of the strongest resolutions that every Primate agreed upon was in Dar-es-Salaam, because the Archbishop of Canterbury went from one Primate to another asking: ”˜do you agree’, do you agree’, ”˜do you agree’, and everyone said ”˜we agree’. And the recommendations of this Dar-es-Salaam meeting were never followed through.

The Lambeth Conference ”“ in this last Lambeth Conference of 2008 they had this great invention of Indaba. And Indaba is, a word that is used in South Africa, to sit and listen and sort out a problem, not just to listen. But they took the first part which is listening only and put aside the other part of the Indaba process which is making a decision and working on achieving the solution. So the Indaba ”“ I was in the preparation with Archbishop Ian Ernest, the preparation for Lambeth 2008, and as soon as we heard about the Indaba process, we felt that this is a divide and rule process. Lambeth 2008 has no resolutions, intentionally; that we would not make any resolutions. And someone asked what will we call Lambeth 2008? And a great figure in Lambeth 2008, he said this: ”˜operation succeeded and patient died.’ [laughter]

The Anglican Consultative Council is now like a parliament of the Anglican Communion. It has the majority that are non-orthodox and they exclude the voices of the orthodox. So I would say that the rule is the tyranny of the majority in the Anglican Consultative Council. And again the Indaba process and the Indaba game was used in the Anglican Consultative Council.

This is about the influence ”“ when we come again to think ”˜what happened’ we see that the Anglican Communion lost the conciliarity completely. In Lambeth 2008 there were no resolutions, so the ”˜mind’ of Lambeth does not come to a resolution to say ”˜this is the direction we want to have’. I know a resolution of Lambeth doesn’t have an executive power but it has a moral authority. We don’t have a resolution in Lambeth but every voice is heard and every voice is recorded and that’s that. We saw the conciliarity that we heard from the early church in the ecumenical councils is not used whatsoever. And also in Lambeth 2008 about one quarter or even one third didn’t attend the conference.

The Primates Meeting in 2011 ”“ they said we meet for leisure, thought, prayer and deep consultation, but not to have an enhanced responsibility, as it was decided in Lambeth 1988 and Lambeth 1998 that the Primates Meeting ”˜should exercise an enhanced responsibility in offering guidance on doctrinal and moral and pastoral matters’. So again it is stripping the most important two meetings, our most important two instruments from their conciliar nature ”“ the Lambeth Conference and the Primates Meeting.

The third thing is the failure to make boundaries led to unlimited diversity and losing inter-dependence, failing the covenant. In any game there is a framework, in any thing we need to have a framework in order to play the game ”“ in order to really do the sorting out of everything. But here we don’t have any boundaries. It is unlimited completely. And the call for listening and the call for reconciliation is a wonderful call; however everyone needs to stop what they are doing that hurts us in order to start thinking of sorting the problem. A husband who is committing adultery with another woman, cannot say ”˜I want to reconcile with my wife’ and keep committing adultery, while listening to his wife. It does not work like this. So it is very important that we come and talk together in order to sort the problem.

The loss of trust is a big issue. Reasons for this are:
– not following through on the recommendations;
– reluctance to support the orthodox, the faithful orthodox, the orthodox meet and talk and that’s it, we should leave them, and even those who were oppressed ”“ ten bishops were deposed, about 1,200 priests in The Episcopal Church were also deposed and no one supports them, no one talks about them ”“ not even pastoral care given to them;
– and the failure of the Anglican Communion Office to be a real representative of the Anglican Communion

There is no trust because of these things.

The wrong assumption which people have about solving the crisis:
”“ ”˜it will solve by itself in time so give it the time and everyone will forget about it’ – Now we are actually ten years on and it’s still there.
– ”˜it will be resolved merely by listening to each other, the Indaba’ – we have been listening for many years and it is still there.
– ”˜it can be resolved by giving financial aid from the North to the South’ ”“ it didn’t work, again
So these are wrong assumptions.

There are three attitudes towards the future of the Communion, and these are our responses, our attitude:

The first is those who are hoping for restored communion: ”˜we long for unity, we long for communion.’ And if you ask me can we meet as a federation or do you want a communion, I would say from the depths of my heart I would like still that we will be a Communion because the Communion is a gift from God [applause] and these people see it as a unique family and a gift from God that should not be wasted. This is fulfilment of Jesus’ prayer ”˜that all may be one.’

The other attitude is of those who prefer the Communion to become a federation: ”˜we don’t care about this much.’ You remember the two mothers that stood in front of Solomon. They had the baby, and the baby is the Communion. The real mother wanted Communion and the not real mother said, ”˜ok – cut the baby, make it a federation.’ [laughter] This would give every Province in federation more autonomy and more space for unilateral actions, but it takes away the interdependence.

The third attitude is those who reject any kind of fellowship, and want to go their own way or becoming congregational, which would be a very, very sad thing, very sad thing.

Now, the way ahead for us ”“ I am concluding with this:

The first point is we have to follow through with the recommendation of the previous Primates Meeting and Windsor Report. This is the only way we can restore the trust between the churches of the Anglican Communion.

The second thing ”“ we need to urgently recognise and support the faithful orthodox Anglicans who were excluded and unjustly treated.

And the third thing is recover conciliarity and this is very important. Unless we do this we will have many, many crises in the future.

Recovering the conciliar nature of the Primates Meeting ”“ that when we meet, what affects all should be decided by all, and this was in Section 4 in the Covenant but it needs to be enforced and it needs to be empowered.

Recovering the conciliar nature of the Lambeth Conference as well ”“ so when 900 bishops in the world meet together and discuss an issue and come to a conclusion, this should have – not just a moral authority ”“ a real authority. So the Lambeth Conference needs to have a conciliar nature.

Adopt a more collegial and participatory approach in order to build a sense of ownership. We in the Global South ”“ we think that everything is prepared or pre-cooked in London, at Lambeth or at the Anglican Communion Office. I know the current Archbishop of Canterbury doesn’t want this to happen. His links and his work in Nigeria make him feel that it should be mutual and we should all own this, the Anglican Communion.

The way ahead is re-establishing a covenantal relationship that affirms the interdependence with acceptable diversity ”“ acceptable diversity within the non-essentials. What affects all should be decided by all.

Unfortunately the Covenant that we have now does not really reflect the hopes and the dreams, and it is not going to solve the problem at all:
– The Covenant should affirm our inheritance of faith as it was in section 1;
– should affirm our Anglican vocation as it is current section 2;
– should affirm our unity and common life, that is section 3 in the Covenant;
– should affirm our interdependence ”“ and this is where the division and difference is. It should involve a clear mechanism. The current covenant doesn’t have a clear mechanism of dealing with crisis. Again everything [in the current draft] should go back to the Archbishop of Canterbury to decide if the issue is important or not important ”“ so again back to the ”˜colonial way’ of solving the problem. It should involve a clear mechanism for adoption of the Covenant ”“ how should this become [adopted] ”“ and involve a clear mechanism to withdraw from the Covenant.

Another thing which is very important is the restructuring of the Anglican Consultative Council so that it would represent the Anglican Communion, the reality within the Anglican Communion. Right now, 1 million members are represented by 3 members of the ACC and 20 million members are represented by 3 members of the ACC. This should not happen ”“ it should be different ”“ we need to look at this as well, real representation on the ACC. It should not be like a parliament where the majority rules would crush the minority votes.

The last thing I want to say is that the restructuring of the Anglican Communion Office which is now almost dominated by Western staff; we have no say in Africa or in the Global South in the exchanges of the Anglican Communion meetings at all. We struggle a lot to just change the agendas of some meetings. The Anglican Communion Office should support the Archbishop of Canterbury, should not work independently, but should work alongside the Archbishop of Canterbury and to help him deal with the Communion issues.

So we do need a Covenant, but the current Covenant was watered down all the time, all the time, until now it is ineffective. Even if every Province adopted the Covenant it would not help our situation because section 4 now says that every Province can come with all the resolutions and canons that they already have taken before signing the Covenant. So if a Province decided about a very controversial issue it will come into the Covenant with the package they are carrying at the same time. So we need to have a difference in this.

These are the points I wanted to share with you about the future of the Anglican Communion. Thank you so much. [Applause]


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10 comments on “+Mouneer Anis: The State of the Anglican Communion and The Way Forward [Transcript]

  1. Ralinda says:

    He is very clear and I’m sure it gave the Canadians fits. Are the ABC and ACO listening or are they wearing earplugs made of greenbacks?

  2. Katherine says:

    Thank you for publishing this transcript of Bishop Mouneer’s address. If only more people would listen to him!

  3. CSeitz-ACI says:

    Thanks for transcribing this; that is hard work. +Mouneer delivered this hard message without rancor. It was a Doctor’s diagnosis. Very strong and firm.

  4. tjmcmahon says:

    This is perhaps the most forthright and accurate assessment, to date, of the circumstances of the Anglican Communion. While the ABoC may be the “primus inter pares,” in many ways, Bishop Mouneer is the real leader of the Communion, he can say what must be said with love and without nuance. He is always a pastor, in everything he writes.
    Bishop Mouneer also is, perhaps, the best representative of the “center” of the Communion – a man of great personal courage and faith, unshakably orthodox. Committed to restoring a true communion between Anglicans, but realistic in his recognition that some of today’s “official” Anglicans may not want to be part of that communion- they have already gone to far, and have no desire to return.
    It is very gratifying to read Dr. Seitz endorsement of Bishop Mouneer’s speech. To perhaps extend his analogy, the Doctor gave not only a diagnosis, but also a prescription. Let us all pray that the ABoC and others within the Communion pay attention, follow the Doctor’s advice, and stop relying on the placebos of “standing committee” meetings and “indabas.”

  5. CSeitz-ACI says:

    We at ACI are indeed honored to count Bishop Mouneer a close friend and co-worker and I would agree he is a central leader in this season. That is why we invited him on behalf of TCI and Wycliffe. We are also hoping to assist with theological education in Egypt.

  6. Karen B. says:

    I’m so thankful for ++Mouneer and his clear words here. This is speaking the truth in love.

    Thanks to the elf who worked so diligently to make this transcript available. A great blessing to have this in print.

  7. Pageantmaster Ù† says:

    I am deeply grateful. There is a battle going on for hearts and minds and it is mainly spiritual. It comes down to who we say Jesus is, and the efforts of those who seek to deny Him or His teaching to control the agenda and discourse. Thanks indeed to Bishop Mouneer for setting things out so clearly and to correct those who seek to declare year zero and get us to forget about how and by whose actions we got into this position. Thanks also to those who brought us his message.

    We are richly blessed by having Bishop Mouneer as a faithful pastor to the Church. Prayers for him and his brothers and sisters in Egypt who have such courage and witness in adversity and yet who reach out and bless us.

  8. New Reformation Advocate says:

    I belatedly join in celebrating this frank and clear analysis by the astute and honorable ++Mouneer Anis of what went wrong within Anglicanism in recent times, and what needs to happen in order to set worldwide Anglicanism back on the course to health and vitality again. I join with others above in thanking Wycliffe College for hosting this important event, commemorating the vision of the Toronto Anglican Congress in 1963, with its justly famous call for embracing “Mutual Responsibility and Interdependence.” Alas, what we’ve sadly witnessed over the last two decades or so is the very opposite of that, as the rogue, wayward American and Canadian provinces have insisted on going their own way and “walking apart,” stubbornly refusing any accountability or real interdependence, wishing to enjoy unlimited autonomy instead, while still pretending to be Anglican and wanting to be recognized as such.

    In particular, I call attention to something at the end of this major address. The noble Egyptian primate hit the nail on the head when he suggested that there can be no restoration of trust among provinces or leaders across the globe without the current Instruments of Unity/Communion being radically transformed. He is obviously right, although I don’t think he went nearly far enough.

    So let me go a step or two further. First of all, and this is the indispensable preliminary to the more radical changes needed, the ACC must be completely overhauled so that it becomes truly representative of the Anglican world as it actually exists today, so that the Global South is much more adequately represented, and the Global North’s colonial-style dominance is ended once and for all. That is a prerequisite to the ACC being truly conciliar, i.e., a church “council” worthy of the name.

    Which leads to the second and even more important (and controversial) point. Anglicanism at its best has been heading in the direction of becoming a global conciliar CHURCH (singular), rather than being just a federation or motley loose association of Anglican churches (plural), similar to the Lutheran or Reformed world federations. But church councils don’t just meet so authonomous leaders can “consult” with one another, or to reinforce some vague “bonds of affection” or pass resolutions with no binding force. No church COUNCILS actually pass binding church legislation, make binding policy decisions, and issue binding canons. And that is precisely what is needed if Anglicanism is to survive, much less thrive, in the new global world of the 21st century.

    More to come…
    David Handy+


  9. New Reformation Advocate says:

    Clearly, this sort of radical proposal raises all sorts of difficult problems, not the least of which is that it will be utterly unacceptable to the “progressive” wing in the Global North. If they loathed and dreaded the idea of even the very mild enforcement mechanisms that ended up in section 4 of the current Covenant, they would obviously reject the much stronger medicine that ++Anis is suggesting. And the far more radical restructuring that I’m calling for would be totally unacceptable to them.

    Well, so what? Who cares? Let them depart.

    I mean that seriously. Let the Great Ejection of 1662 be repeaated in our time. Let thousands, nay, tens of thousands of Liberal clergy and lay leadders be BANISHED from Anglicanism henceforth, until they come to their senses, repent of their heresy, immorality, and sheer anarchy, and return to the biblical and historic Christian faith, as we Anglicans have historically received them. I really and truly mean that.

    Oil and water just don’t mix. Never have. Never will. The false gospel of theological and moral relativism that underlies the pro-gay agenda, not to mention other unbiblical and unAnglican outrages must be excluded firmly. Discipline must be restored, however harsh and severe the means must be.

    No, I’m not calling for a new edition of the Spanish Inquisition. I’m calling for the creation of entirely new institutional wineskins for the Anglicanism of the 21st century. Wineskins that are truly global and truly conciliar. And I again suggest that the best and wisest place to start is with the creation, for the first time ever, of a global Anglican Supreme Court, a wholly new judicial branch with the universally acknowledged power to overrule the legislative actions of rogue provinces like TEC or the ACoC and declare them null and void. And that Anglican Supreme Court’s decisions would be BINDING worldwide, across provincial lines.

    I can readily hear the immediate and strong objections to that. I understand the lurking Protestant fears of anything that smacks of “Roman tyranny” being reintroduced into Anglicanism. However, those fears just don’t resonate with me as an Anglo-Catholic. I don’t fear quasi-papal tyranny half as much as I’ve come to fear the Protestant anarchy we now see rampant in Global North Anglicanism.

    But please note that I’m appealing for a Roman style Curia here, dominated by a single man, but a collective group, a bench of distinguished Anglican judges (presumably bishops), chosen democratically in some fair fashion that adequately represents the Anglican world of today (i.e., dominated by the Global South). I’m calling for the creation of a wholly unprecedented system of “checks and balances” to be built into the New Anglicanism of the 21st century.

    Will that polarize the Anglican world? No, it simply recognizes that we’re already hopelessly divided. the polarization has already passed the point of no return in most places. Thus, the fateful time has come to recover the ability to put the Doctrine and Discipline back in the Doctrine, Discipline, and Worship of Anglicans worldwide, even if that means the forced expulsion of vast numbers of liberal Anglicans who will henceforth voted off the Anglican island until they repent.

    I really mean that. This is the Anglican Second Reformation. And reformations divide. That is tragic, but utterly necessary in our day. Let the apostate leaders of the false gospel of relativism be banished from Anglicanism. Let them be anathema!

    David Handy+

  10. New Reformation Advocate says:

    Oops. Let me correct a glaring typo or correction. In the 3rd paragraph from the bottom a key word, NOT, is missing. Although some may perceive it as a telling Freudian slip, what I meant to say is that in calling for the creation of an international judicial branch for Anglicanism, I am NOT appealing for the creation of some sort of Anglican Curia along Roman lines. On the contrary. The aim is to make Anglicanism MORE conciliar, not less. But again, church councils aren’t merely advisory boards that meet for occasional consultation. They are decision-making bodies.

    And if my dream of Anglicanism morphing into a true global CHURCH (singular) requires the disestablishment of the CoE. well, so be it.

    David Handy+