Dr Stephen Noll on Bp Mouneer Anis's resignation

Feb 1, 2010 by

Dr Stephen Noll

 As always, Bp. Mouneer wears his heart on his sleeve, which is quite a contrast with the bureaucrats at the Anglican Communion Office and the Archbishop of Canterbury. In my opinion, the hopeful direction which he sees for the Communion and the Covenant will only become reality when the orthodox primates take the Covenant “process” out of the hands of Canterbury and the Communion Office. There is no reason why they cannot do so. The December draft of the Covenant is not sacrosanct. It should be approved by provinces only when the problems cited by Bp. Mouneer (and the ACI) are addressed and corrected.

From Titusonenine

(Post Updated)

The letter from Bp. Mouneer Anis is a bombshell in the midst of the Covenant process, On Bp. Mouneer’s resignation, I note the following:

1. Bp. Mouneer’s bold and sad resignation needs to be seen alongside Abp. Orombi’s absence from the last three (Joint) Standing Committee meetings in New Orleans, in Jamaica and in London. I do not speak for Abp. Orombi, but I think his actions reveal that he views the illegitimacy of the Standing Committee in the same way as Bp. Mouneer. One can argue whether absence or resignation is the better course of action, but the fact remains that the creation of the “Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion” was a putsch by the Communion bureaucracy.

2. Bp. Mouneer assumes that the Standing Committee of the ACC is one and the same as the “Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion,” so much so that he abbreviates it “SCAC.” If a former member who is not in favor of the direction of the Standing Committee nevertheless assumes that it is the one and only Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion and the one mentioned in the Covenant sec. 4, we have got to assume that this is what the other members of the Standing Committee, including the Archbishop of Canterbury, think. If Rowan Williams has a different understanding, let him speak out clearly on this subject.

3. In his sec. 1, Bp. Mouneer mentions the diminishing authority of the Primates in the Communion. This is indeed a major fact of Communion politics since 2007. It needs to be addressed and put right before the provinces go ahead with adoption of the Covenant. The Primates’ Meeting, for instance, was totally left out of the approval process of the Covenant draft, and will be in the future as well, if Canterbury has its way (note approvals of the Draft are to be sorted out by ACC-15, which will meet after the next “scheduled” Primates’ Meeting in 2011).

4. In sec. 2 on the Covenant, Bp. Mouneer indicates that he is not in favour of the latest draft in toto: “There are many good aspects of the Covenant but…” This is correct. At the very least, the identity of the “Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion” must be sorted out, as the ACI points out. How would it be responsible for a Province to adopt the Covenant with this kind of obscurity with regard to the very entity that will oversee Communion discipline?

5. In his sec. 2B, he continues to hold the position of the Primates at Dar that TEC and its representatives should not be sitting on the ACC and the Standing Committee, which they are, at the invitation of the Archbishop of Canterbury. Indeed is there any doubt that Ian Douglas, who sat on the Resolutions Committee at ACC-14 had a hand in the confusion that ensued over the approval of the Ridley Cambridge Draft? I might note that it was the very overturning of the Primates’ demands at Dar that led Henry Orombi to boycott the New Orleans meeting, which was called arbitrarily by Canterbury.

6. In sec. 2C. Bp. Mouneer says he believes that sec. 4.1.5 of the Ridley Draft giving dissenting “churches” in heterodox provinces should still be in effect, but this was the very section changed by the SCAC in December. There is no record and no minutes either from the ABC’s hand-picked Covenant Working Group or the Standing Committee meeting itself, apart from Kearon’s letter and Abp. Williams You Tube address promoting the December draft. Was Bp. Mouneer was outvoted on the changes? Are we to assume that there is no place for minority reports in the Standing Committee, and resignation is the only alternative?

7. In sec. 2D, Bp. Mouneer’s. reading of the Covenant sec. 4.1.6. is interesting indeed. He seems to think that only Covenant members should be eligible to elect members of the ACC and the Standing Committee. I agree with him fully, but sec. 4.2.8 of the latest draft assumes that there will be non-Covenanting members of the ACC and Primates, and Rowan Williams has gone out of his way to speak of a “two-track” Communion, in which the non-Covenanting members will still be represented at the Anglican Consultative Council and the Primates’ Meeting, except in cases where discipline of Covenant members is at issue.

As always, Bp. Mouneer wears his heart on his sleeve, which is quite a contrast with the bureaucrats at the Anglican Communion Office and the Archbishop of Canterbury. In my opinion, the hopeful direction which he sees for the Communion and the Covenant will only become reality when the orthodox primates take the Covenant “process” out of the hands of Canterbury and the Communion Office. There is no reason why they cannot do so. The December draft of the Covenant is not sacrosanct. It should be approved by provinces only when the problems cited by Bp. Mouneer (and the ACI) are addressed and corrected.

Updated: 

One interesting question arises following Bp. Mouneer’s resignation. How will he be replaced? According to the secret ACC Constitution (art. 3.4) “Trustee-Members [of the Standing Committee] appointed by the Primates shall hold office for so long as they shall remain members of the Primates’ Standing Committee.”

But what if one resigns? So far as I know, the Primates’ Standing Committee – the Primates’ Meeting for that matter – has no constitution or even rules of order. In fact, I am not even sure the Primates’ Standing Committee exists, except as a legal fiction. E.g., is there any record of their meeting except for the reception of the Windsor Report in October 2004? As for the whole idea that the five members of the PSC shall come from the Americas, Europe, Africa, Mid-East and Far East, is this written down somewhere or just oral tradition?

So how will Mouneer be replaced? The next Primates’ Meeting will not convene until 2011, if the ABC so deigns. Can they hold a conference call? Do the Mid-East Primates get to choose by themselves? Or maybe the ABC himself as presiding officer of the Primates’ Meeting may simply appoint Mouneer’s successor.

For those of us schooled in the doctrine of the separation of powers, it seems rather dubious to have one Instrument (Canterbury) with authority to convene all three of the other Instruments and to appoint members to their representative Standing Committee. But then the direction of Anglican Communion governance at present is not toward a separation of powers, but toward a “primacy of jurisdiction,” i.e., a centralized bureaucracy. 
 

Related Posts

Tags

Share This