The Archbishop of Egypt has greeted the news of the appointment of the Dean of Alexandria to the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Task Group with some small concern. The Most Rev. Mouneer Anis has told members of his leadership team that he very much doubts the Very Rev. Sammy Shehata will be part of the task group.
He characterized the selection of the Dean of St Mark’s Cathedral in Alexandria as a “game and a deceit” -- remarks that have underscored the growing chasm between the Archbishop of Canterbury and the staff of the Anglican Consultative Council and the Global South and GAFCON primates.
Formed by the Archbishop of Canterbury to monitor compliance by the US Episcopal Church with the church’s teachings on human sexuality in response to the requests of the primates at their January 2016 gathering in Canterbury, the Task Group quickly was discredited in the eyes of many of the primates by the exclusion of GAFCON from the group and the appointment of the Primate of the Episcopal Church and the Bishop of Huron to the group. The appointment of a Kenyan representative to the group was done without the consultation of the Kenyan church, and was seen as a deliberate slight by Archbishop Justin Welby to the African Church.
The situation further deteriorated with statements by the outgoing chairman of the Anglican Consultative Council to an American audience that the primates had no authority outside their own gathering, and by the empowerment of corrupt elements of the African church by the secretary general of the Anglican Consultative Council.
The Bishop of Nairobi forged the signature of his primate, the Most Rev. Eliud Wabukala, in a letter to members of the Kenyan delegation that he directed be posted to the provincial website purporting to say that the Kenyan church had reversed its stance on boycotting the meeting. Archbishop Wabukala was upcountry when the forgery was circulated and was unable to respond before the delegation left. Alerted to the forgery, Bishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon, ACC general secretary, responded by labeling Archbishop Wabukala a liar and un-Christian.
Attacks on GAFCON as schismatic and un-Christian by Dr. Idowu-Fearon over the course of the year have further driven the two sides apart. The ACC secretary general’s influence has further declined after emails he sent to Archbishop Welby criticizing Archbishop Anis for not following orders were forwarded to Cairo.
However, sources in Cairo say the Egyptian church is perturbed by Archbishop Welby’s silence in the legal battle the church is waging in the Cairo courts.
The Protestant umbrella group of churches in Egypt has been engaged in a power grab, attempting to incorporated the diocese’s property into its holdings with the assistance of the Egyptian government. Archbishop Anis asked the international Anglican world to come to their aid and pressure the Egyptian government to halt the coup. While numerous overseas leaders including the Archbishops of Melbourne and Sydney wrote to the Egyptian ambassadors in their country and alerted their nation’s representatives in Cairo of the attack on the Anglican church, Lambeth Palace remained silent.
Asked if the Archbishop of Canterbury would respond to Dr. Anis’ plea, a Lambeth Palace press spokesman said the archbishop was on vacation, nevertheless the staff would pray for Egypt in their daily chapel service.
Lambeth Palace has not responded to a request for clarification about Dr. Shehata’s status on the Task Group as of our going to press.