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Dr. Mouneer Anis says he won’t attend Gafcon: CEN 5.30.08 p 8 May 29, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Coptic Orthodox, Episcopal Church in Jerusalem & the Middle East, GAFCON.

The Presiding Bishop of Jerusalem and the Middle East will not attend the Global Anglican Futures Conference (Gafcon).

In a May 8 letter posted on his diocesan website, Dr. Mouneer Anis said he supported the aims of the gathering and joined the participants in their disquiet over the recent innovations of doctrine and discipline taken by the North American churches.

However, local and regional issues have weighed against Dr. Anis’ participation in Gafcon. His colleague in Jerusalem, Bishop Dawani had urged the organizers to relocate the conference away from Jerusalem so as not to inflame political tensions in the region.

The stance of the leader of the Coptic Church in Egypt, Pope Shenouda III had also made Dr. Anis’ participation difficult. In 2006 Shenouda issued an anathema, forbidding Copts from visiting the Christian holy places in Jerusalem under pain of excommunication, until the Arab-Israeli question is solved. By publicly attending Gafcon, Dr. Anis would divide the Christian churches in Egypt, during a period of heightening persecution.

In his letter explaining his reasons for declining the Gafcon invitation, Dr. Anis said that he agreed that action must be taken and hoped the Lambeth Conference, the “most important Anglican council” would address the divisions within the Communion. “It is wrong to sweep all these problems under the carpet,” he said.

While sharing the strategic aims of American, British and Australian conservatives, he parted company on the proper tactics to be used in resolving the Anglican crisis. The best “strategy for safeguarding orthodox faith and unhindered mission is to have parallel processes for building unity among those loyal to the biblical historic faith and ethics in both the South and the North,” he argued.

There was a danger of Western orthodox leaders crowding out the voices from the Global South, he said, and the concerns and work of the churches in the developing world should not be “driven by an exclusively Northern agenda or Northern personalities.”

Sources within the Gafcon leadership team said they were not surprised by Dr. Anis’ announcement. The Egyptian Anglican leader has taken the lead in pressing the conservative case within the joint primates-ACC standing committee and has agreed to serve as an Episcopal visitor in the proposed Anglican Communion partners plan for North American conservatives, but has not supported calls to boycott or downgrade the Lambeth Conference.


1. Perpetua - May 31, 2008

Thank you. This is very helpful in understanding Dr. Mouneer Anis’s situation and decision.
I am wondering about the final phrase of this sentence “By publicly attending Gafcon, Dr. Anis would divide the Christian churches in Egypt, during a period of heightening persecution.”
I have been seeing that there is heightening persecution of Christians in Iran and Algeria. Do you have any particular links you can recommend regarding the situation in Egypt?

2. geoconger - May 31, 2008

For information on Christians in Egypt please see Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW)’s country report.


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