22 September 2007

+Mouneer Anis speaks plainly

Thanks to BabyBlueOnline, we have a report of the sermon Bishop Mouneer Anis preached to the HoB. Here's a snippet:
I understand that it is difficult for you in your context to accept the tandard teaching of the Anglican Communion. This is why you refused to accept Lambeth Conference Resolution 1.10. You also ignored all the warnings of the Primates in 2003, 2004, and 2005. Your response to the Windsor Report is seen by the Primates as not clear. You cannot say you value being a member of the Anglican Communion while you ignore the interdependence of the member churches. The interdependence is what differentiates us from the other congregational churches. I would like to remind you and myself with the famous resolution 49 of the Lambeth Conference of 1930 which declares "the Anglican Communion is a fellowship of churches that ... are bound together not be a central legislative and executive authority, but by mutual loyalty sustained through the common counsel of the bishops in conference." With respect, I have to say that those who would prefer to speak of laws and procedures, constitutions and canons, committees and process: you are missing the point! It is our mutual loyalty and fellowship, submitting to one another in the common cause of Jesus Christ that makes us of one Church on faith and one Lord.

It is clear that your actions have resulted in one of the most difficult disputes in the Communion in our generation. You may see them as not core doctrinal issues. Many like me see the opposite but the thing that we cannot ignore is that these issues are divisive and have created a lot of undesired consequences and reactions. For the first time in centuries, the fabric of our Communion is torn. Our energies have been drained and our resources are lost; and it is difficult for both of us to continue like this.

My friends, if you really believe that the truth revealed to you is different from that shown to the rest of the Communion, then you need to uphold that claim with boldness even at the risk of losing unity. If you think it is right and necessary to ordain and consecrate practicing homosexuals and that you should bless same sex partnerships or even marriages, you should be true to what you believe is right and accept the consequences.

However, if you appreciate being members of the global Anglican family, then you have to walk along side the members of your family. Those who say that it is important to stay together around the table, to listen to each other and to continue our dialogue over the difficult issues that are facing us are wise. We wholeheartedly agree with this, but staying around the table requires that you should not take actions that are contrary to the standard position (Lambeth 1:10) of the rest of the Communion.
This is, frankly, a position that we Americans need to hear. The Communion moderates (again, these folks will seem "conservative" to most folks from ECUSA) would like to be sympathetic, but they need to hear an articulation of what we're doing and why. It will not do to duck behind polity and say we haven't done what we've done.

Now, it should also be noted that Lambeth 1.10 also talks about pastoral care for GLBT people, and that provision has been roundly ignored in the so-called Global South. The Lambeth resolutions on this topic of 1978, 1988, and 1998 have called for a "listening process" which has never gotten off the ground. Moreover, in the past, Lambeth Conferences have changed their positions on matters of moral theology. Oh, and no one seems to want to juxtapose Lambeth resolutions 1.9 (Ecology) with 1.10 in view of all the airplane travel to sustain a bitter feud over who has sex with whom. So what we have is an effort to elevate this one resolution to the status of inerrancy, but even these people only want to enforce one part of the resolution.

But back to the sermon. Much of what he says should be listened to by Americans -- listening works that way too! We have acted at times with hubris and insensitivity. But it is also true that this "crisis" was not precipitated by +Gene Robinson. Anglicans have never been of a single mind on all matters of moral theology, and this situation has been the result of systematic effort of wealthy Americans and a few Africans.

In my view, the ECUSA's direction toward approving same-sex blessings and toward ordaining GLBT people in partnerships is the way we should be headed. But we should tread carefully and deliberately, always saying why we're doing it -- as Christians, not just based on human rights -- and taking responsibility for our positions. If we can remain faithful, there is a good chance, I think, that we can stay in relationship with faithful Anglicans around the world, even as we may not agree on some matters dear to us.

Let us make sure we all hear the Gospel in the sermon. Let us make sure we all hear the whole Gospel.

1 comment:

C.B. said...

Scott - This is so well said. I hope the bishops are thinking along the same lines. So much more can be said and more would be the hearers as well, if we could find a voice that resonates with humility, avoids arrogance and seeks the Lord.