Monday, February 1, 2010

Mouneer Anis resigns from ACC

Mouneer Anis, primate of Jerusalem and the Middle East, has resigned from the Anglican Consultative Council. Here is his letter to the ACC, explaining his decision. Coming soon after the Covenant document's release, this development is a serious blow to the process as a whole. The bishop's complaints are perfectly straightforward, and I think they are problems that have been apparent for some time.

"I have come to the sad realization that there is no desire within the ACC and the SCAC to follow through on the recommendations that have been taken by other Instruments of Communion to sort out the problems which face the Anglican Communion and which are tearing its fabric apart. Moreover, the SCAC, formerly known as the Joint Standing Committee (JSC), has continually questioned the authority of the other Instruments of Communion, especially the Primates Meeting and the Lambeth Conference."

I think it would be incorrect to paint this move as a conservative reaction to the process. This is not merely a declaration that, "you all are abandoning the Gospel!", although doctrinal concerns are certainly an aspect of the wider situation. But the point of the frustration with the ACC in particular is that there exists a paralyzing dysfunction within the instruments of communion that makes productive work next to impossible. Whatever one's intentions for the future of the Communion, the ignoring of resolution after resolution with impunity leaves little visible ecclesial structure left with which to do anything after the dust has settled. This is also what lies at the heart of many criticisms of Rowan Williams's episcopacy, I think-- it's not just that people think he's wishy washy, or that people can't appreciate the nuance with which he attempts to balance the various voices in the Anglican crisis. I think that most everyone is thankful for that moderation and attention to sometimes-frustratingly-ambiguous charity. The problem comes when all good faith in the mutual bonds of recognition and love is abandoned, and the deliberative bodies of the Communion simply choose to plug their ears to one another (I discussed these sorts of failures of institutional structures and the need for reform in my 2007 article, "Instruments of Faith and Unity in Canon Law").

Further, Bishop Anis is not generally seen as the fiery figure that Akinola or Orombi tend to be in inter-Anglican affairs... Orombi, for instance, remains a member of ACC but simply hasn't even bothered to attend! For Anis to make this move signals, I think, a growing impatience amongst even those who are more willing to continue with canonical processes that, thus far, have not really tended to effect all that much on the inter-provincial level.

Folks should take note. The exit of people like Anis from the deliberative process tends to signal a looming tipping point.


  1. The church should start handing out dramamine.

  2. I wonder if I should start practicing my Divine Liturgy?

    It goes to show how little I understand about Canons and even the Instruments of Communion, despite my having read a ton of stuff about them, that I'm not exactly sure what this means.

    Let the record show that I've called that if Anglicans don't get over a fear of "authority," be it "juridical" or whatever, this will continue to spiral out into various ideological groups. The Evangelicals will "win"

  3. "It goes to show how little I understand about Canons and even the Instruments of Communion, despite my having read a ton of stuff about them, that I'm not exactly sure what this means."

    I don't think you're alone in this-- I would certainly consider myself in a similar position. And I would venture to guess that this incoherence is in many ways a primary symptom of the deeper instituional problems that are upon us.

    By the way... I know I need to get back to you about Anglican matters. I haven't forgotten!

  4. You've probably meditated on it with 30 times more acuity than me. Don't school a poor undergrad such as myself.