That we have reached this stage in our common life is a sign that as a Communion we have failed and are failing to present “a true sign of hope in a world of bitter conflict and rivalry”. Although the removal of provinces from representative ecumenical and faith and order functions is now a necessity this does not entail ”“ as the Archbishop has repeatedly stated ”“ an ending of all relationships. The issues of sexuality that have triggered this conflict will not go away and they continue to be live issues in many provinces of the Communion. The Continuing Indaba Project is one means of seeking to keep conversations going on various issues and to deepen mission relationships even in the midst of the differentiation now being implemented at other levels of the Communion and it would appear, from the letter, that other possible patterns of ongoing conversation are being discussed.
For almost a decade the actions of the American church and groups within it and the responses to these by other provinces have often dominated the life of the Instruments as well as damaging our united mission. The decision to confirm and consecrate Mary Glasspool was a clear signal that the American church is unwilling to heed the pleas of the wider Communion and desist from such divisive actions….
The Archbishop’s letter is perhaps in part an attempt to defuse the current difficulties by acknowledging that there is a fundamentally different vision of faith and order in TEC and releasing key Communion institutions ”“ the Instruments, faith and order and ecumenical bodies ”“ from being caught up in the tensions and conflicts that result from this reality. By removing those responsible for breaches of the moratoria from these bodies, they may be better able to focus on their task as Instruments of communion and the church’s mission. Alongside this, the tensions and disagreements over issues related to the moratoria may now be able to be addressed in other contexts which are less symbolically significant and where the issues that continue to divide us can be addressed without being distorted by the recent history of difficult meetings of the Instruments since at least 2003. As noted above, this will likely require carrying the logic of these decisions through into the Instruments, Standing Committee and covenant process. However, painful as it will be, if this is what is being done then it is possible that the Pentecost letter will ultimately be seen as having set a path which will assist the Communion’s renewal in the Spirit.