A letter (abridged) from Bishop Mouneer Hannah Anis , written on the occasion of the visit to Cairo of the
Arch-Bishop of Canterbury, Justin Selby.
In the Middle East, Africa, and much of the non-Western world, extending honour is among the chief virtues. “Without doubt, the lesser person is blessed by the greater,” writes the author of Hebrews. “Honour one another above yourselves,” writes Paul in Romans.
Our Anglican Communion is blessed to have a leader who embodies not only this cultural value, but also its Biblical roots.
On April 20, our diocese of Egypt was blessed by the visit of Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury. He came to offer condolences over the martyrdom of 21 Christians killed by ISIS in Libya.
Archbishop Justin came in humility, as a man of the West visiting the East, he proved the reality of these verses in his life and leadership.
In attendance were Coptic Orthodox Bishop Angaelos and Coptic Catholic Bishop Antonius Aziz, themselves men of humble service there to honour his visit.
Aware the representatives of these churches could not share in an Anglican Eucharist, the archbishop desired to demonstrate his appreciation for their churches in a land whose children produced such a testimony of faith.
Archbishop Welby left the communion table, knelt before the two bishops, and asked them to pray a blessing for him. Immediately moved in spirit, they knelt as well, and asked the same of him. He then returned and offered body and blood to God’s holy church. Both privately expressed how they were touched by his gesture.
“Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant,” said Jesus to his disciples. “Those who honour me,” said God in I Samuel, “I will honour.” …
The virtue of honour is one the Eastern Church can share with the Western. Our Anglican Communion is blessed to have so many from all cultures who, in humility, show this.
May the Lord bless you in his service.