The Bishop of Egypt, Mouneer Anis, has received an official award from the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, for his “invaluable” contribution to the work of peace and reconciliation. The Hubert Walter Award for Reconciliation and Inter Faith co-operation was presented to Bishop Mouneer last night (Wednesday) during a meeting of the Anglican Inter Faith Commission in Cairo. He was presented with the award by Dr Josiah Idowu-Fearon, the Secretary General of the Anglican Communion, on behalf of Justin Welby at Cairo Cathedral.
The citation for Bishop Mouneer’s award recognises his relationship with the Grand Imam of al-Azhar, the leading Islamic mosque and educational institution in Alexandria. It says that Bishop Mouneer “has made a unique contribution and example through his ability to establish deep relationships; this is largely because of his openness, creativity and ambition to move people towards reconciliation. At times, this inevitably makes him a counter cultural voice within his setting.
“Particularly of note is his role as a bridge builder between the most important official international Christian-Muslim dialogue that the Anglican Church has with al-Azhar al-Sharif and is a most highly trustworthy representative for Archbishop Justin to the Grand Imam himself.
“Moreover, Bishop Mouneer is incredibly generous with his time: cultivating relationships with those from different faiths and background whilst running the Cathedral in Cairo, all within a context in which Christians are a vulnerable minority. He also maintains good contact across different institutions, with charitable and political leaders and is able to bring together all of these networks for the common good.
“His contribution, overall, to reconciliation is particularly significant and one which is worthy of praise and celebration.”
The citation singles out the Imam-Priest Exchange, founded by Bishop Mouneer, and described as an “ambitious, internationally acknowledged project” which has “brought hundreds of priests and imams together to learn about one another’s traditions and beliefs and to commit to working alongside one another. His vision and efforts has enabled this programme to not simply consist of meetings, but of tangible follow up projects at grassroots level.”
Responding to the presentation, Bishop Mouneer said: “I am greatly honoured that Archbishop Justin would award me with this distinguished recognition. It was a real pleasure to receive it in the context of the first meeting of the Anglican Inter Faith Commission from Archbishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon. I feel I don’t deserve this great honour.”
The Hubert Walter Award is one of the new official Lambeth honours that Archbishop Justin Welby established in 2016 as a reward for deserving individuals. It is named after the 12th century Archbishop of Canterbury Hubert Walter, who led negotiations with Saladin, the Sultan of Egypt and Syria, on behalf of King Richard the Lionheart during the Third Crusade. Its design incorporates a scarab beetle, a motif favoured by Archbishop Walter, which some scholars believe may have denoted the resurrection.
The Hubert Walter award recognises those who have made an outstanding contribution in the areas of reconciliation and interfaith cooperation – reconciliation is the second of Archbishop Justin’s three ministry priority areas. Previous recipients include Roman Catholic Bishop Paride Taban, for his reconciliation efforts in South Sudan; Rabbi Dr David Rosen, the former Chief Rabbi of Ireland; Leicester Imam Shaykh Ibrahim Mogra, the Assistant Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Great Britain; and the international commercial mediator Bill Marsh.