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JAMAICA: Egyptian Archbishop Questions Listening Process Affirming Homosexuality

JAMAICA: Egyptian Archbishop Questions Listening Process Affirming Homosexuality
Mouneer Anis Says Money Used as a Weapon to Influence TEC's Pro-gay Agenda

By David W. Virtue in Jamaica

The Rt. Rev. Mouneer AnisThe Rt. Rev. Mouneer H. Anis, President Bishop of the Episcopal/Anglican Church of Egypt and the Middle East, told delegates to the Anglican Consultative Council-14 that if the Anglican Communion tolerates the practice of homosexuality, it will require a different kind of dialogue.

Speaking from the floor following a presentation by Canon Philip Groves who heads the London-based Listening Province, Archbishop Anis asked what (the Anglican Communion) would like to achieve. If we are to achieve better pastoral care and to prevent homophobia, we need to know how to care for people with homosexual orientation. Homosexual practice does not go with Christian love, he said.

"But if the achievement is to tolerate the practice of homosexuality, it requires a different kind of dialogue. We cannot just listen to people who are homosexual but we need a cultural dialogue as well. For me in our context I am aware of people of homosexual orientation, but for youth seeking help it is something abnormal, it is shameful thing in our culture and it is a crime and people can be punished for supporting its practice."

"It is very difficult in some provinces to have us listen to homosexuality being accepted. The Listening Process needs a theological debate across the provinces about this."

Anis then said that he had spoken to several bishops who told him that they disapprove of practicing homosexuals and that it is contrary to Scripture, but they cannot speak up because their dioceses depend upon donations from the West. "I have heard from several people about this. They are financially dependent on Western churches, so they cannot speak up."

"This is not about orientation, but about approving homosexual practice which is contrary to Scripture. There is another dimension to listening."

Stanley Isaacs, lay delegate from Southeast Asia and an evangelical, told VOL that while "we accept the report on the Listening Process (outlined by Canon Groves) and the proposal to continue with the Listening Process with those who have homosexual relationships in the church, we hear that the Episcopal Church is fractured and causing many members to separate themselves from TEC resulting in new parishes and dioceses and a proposed province to be created.

"These people have been severely affected by the affirmative action of The Episcopal Church on matters of human sexuality and they have gone through certain measure of suffering and in some cases persecution and therefore we feel it is necessary that the Listening Process be extended to include a hearing of their case including hearing from those who have called for primatial oversight from outside North America and also to hear from those who have agreed to provide that. It is only in this way that the hearing is said to be balanced so that there could be a possible hearing and restoration of the church in North America."

Isaac said that this matter of the Listening Process being extended to them was discussed and approved in his discernment group. He is hoping that their proposal will find its way into the proposed resolution of the Windsor Continuation Group. Canon Groves gave a spirited defense of the Listening Process, arguing that the monitoring process is designed to ensure trust and transparency.

"I found a great deal of resources in our history. I see people meeting at cross differences and seeking the resources to go on into the way of Jesus Christ." Arguing that he was not taking sides, but merely listening, he said the church must be diverse because humanity is diverse;, the church must be one because Christ is one. He said diversity is based on a commitment to and authority of Scripture and Jesus Christ.

"Listening requires common ground and safe space. We need the mind of God in every generation and culture. We need to speak to gay and lesbian people and say that they are loved by God and are full members of the Body of Christ." Listening, he said, requires a safe space. Gays, he said, feel alienated and isolated. He condemned unnamed persons who are "unloving" and labeled them as "homophobic". He said that the two sides need to come together. While they may not be in agreement, gays and lesbians need a safe space to be heard.

Ironically, Groves, who is based in London, did not attend either 2007 or 2009 Sex and the City conferences held in London, put on by Anglican Mainstream that dealt with reparative therapy for homosexuals. Distinguished therapist, Dr. Joseph Nicolosi and psychiatrist/physicist, Dr. Jeffrey Satinover both argue that homosexuals who are motivated can change and move away from same sex attractions.

Groves said there are no simple answers and referred to a hymn delegates had earlier sung which went like this:

Lord of our Diversity
Unite us all we pray
Welcome us to fellowship
In your inclusive way

Sanctify our listening
And help us get the sense
Of perplexing arguments
Before we take offence

Teach us all to have respect
To love, and not deride
Save us from the challenges
Of selfishness and pride

Teach us that our opinions which
At first may seem quite strange
May reflect the glory of
Your great creative range

May the Holy Spirit
Show us the way preferred
May we follow the commands
Of your authentic word



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