Global South, GAFCON and two Popes

cairo-1

From Chris Sugden in Cairo

The sixth conference of the Global South Primates of the Anglican Communion opened at All Saints Cathedral Cairo on Monday evening October 3rd.

The chairman and host Archbishop Mouneer Anis welcomed Archbishops and their representatives from fifteen provinces and guests from the Anglican Church of North America and the UK, along with representatives of the Egyptian government and foreign embassies.

The preacher at the opening communion service was Archbishop Nicholas Okoh, the chairman of GAFCON. The Papal Nuncio brought a greeting from Pope Francis and greetings were also given by representatives of the Coptic Orthodox Church Pope Tawadros II and of the Grand Imam of Al-Hazar.

Archbishop Okoh preached on the theme of peace. As he recalled the conflicts in Syria, Nigeria, and Somalia and terrorism in Kenya and Uganda, he noted that while the Church has the peace of the Lord which does not depend on outward circumstances, such circumstances do disorient people and interfere with their wellbeing. As children of peace, the people of God have the responsibility to be peacemakers, and need to take into account justice and fairness in so doing. Referring to intense discussions in the Anglican Communion on sexuality, he said that the choice was between the apostolic faith and new age faith. He called on the gathered bishops to be faithful.

In his opening address, Archbishop Mouneer made it very clear that the conference would reflect on the lessons from the history of the Church in North Africa where for example Athanasius of Alexandria stood against the Arian heresy which was supported by the state. Though the world was against him, Athanasius stood against the false teaching adopted by majority of the church. But in the end the Arians disappeared and the orthodox churches flourished,

Archbishop Mouneer urged the primates and bishops to stay faithful to the teaching of Jesus Christ received through the apostles for “truth will prevail in the end”. His hope was that during the coming days they would find ways to deal with these challenges of false teachings which undermine the authority of the scripture, and gave as an example the redefinition of marriage by same-sex marriage or approval of same-sex relationships by prayers of blessing, These were described by the Primates at Canterbury in January 2016 as a fundamental departure from the teaching of Anglican provinces for which Lambeth 1,10 represents the standard which recognises marriage only between a man and a woman. “The whole truth is revealed to whole church,” he said. “Unilateral decisions have torn the fabric of the communion over the last 13 years, as some provinces went on their way without regard to the rest.” “Some churches are pushing a new form of ideological slavery on us and we must and resist financial and ideological slavery.”

Noting the many challenges in their own Global South societies of polygamy, tribalism, corruption, the harsh treatment of women, false teachings of the prosperity gospel, of Jehovah’s witnesses and the mormons, and the terrible statistics of displaced people, poverty and ill health, Archbishop Mouneer concluded: “We cannot focus on the faults of others while neglecting the needs of our own people. The Global South needs a theological framework – a statement of faith or covenant of what we subscribe to, and a strong structure to guarantee out sustainability, for without unity we cannot sustain our response to these challenges.”

The conference meets until Saturday 8th October.

Pictures here http://anglicanmainstream.org/global-south-conference-opens-in-cairo/

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