Saturday, May 24, 2008

Where with Mouneer?

In the last few days Archbishop Mouneer Anis of Egypt and North Africa has declared he will not go to GAFCON. Some aspects of the debate around the interpretation of what he said in his letter, and indeed the significance of the declaration itself, can be followed up here.

What is emerging in the build up to Lambeth is a recipe for perfect Chaos. Consider these ingredients: Lambeth without all bishops (heading for the three-quarter mark), Lambeth deliberately designed to emit no resolutions (environmentally-friendly), GAFCON without all conservative bishops, TEC unrepentant on any front (New Hampshire, litigation, property disputes), ditto Canada, and in the Anglican blogosphere some pretty cruel things being said by conservatives against other conservatives. Now Chaos might prove to be a very satisfying dish in the long run. But right now I have a hunch that many Anglicans would like the Lambeth recipe to yield a dish called Clarity. I find it hard to see that coming out of the oven!

Back to Mouneer. I do not know if he feels confident there is a way to mix the ingredients to get Clarity. Nor do I know if he has an ingredient or two in the back of his pantry which might lead to Clarity, or even to any dish other than Chaos. But I think we can be sure that he is uneasy about the GAFCON ingredient in the recipe. Good on him for professing that uneasiness. If we are going to end in Chaos, let's get there with courageous honesty. But I think Mouneer is pointing out something else with his decision: the church is the church (in this case the Anglican Church is the Anglican Church), and difficulties in the church ultimately need to be addressed by the church. A conference of some of the church may be a helpful event in resolving difficulties shared by the whole church if the conference findings are communicated to the whole. But the particular hurdle GAFCON has got to jump if it is really really serious about the whole Anglican Church is demonstrating how its wisdom will be taken onto Lambeth. Some bishops are going to both. How much better if all at GAFCON were also at Lambeth - not just some, because Lambeth is all the bishops meeting.

Mouneer's critics will say he should be at both, setting an example, as it were. I suspect part of his non-attendance at GAFCON is a prophetic judgement-action against the fact that GAFCON bishops have not resolved en masse to go to Lambeth.

We shall see where Mouneer's lead takes us.

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