Tuesday, 18 October 2011

PA Supreme Court rejects Archbishop Duncan's appeal

Updated Wednesday evening

The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania has rejected the last appeal made by the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh (ACNA).

From the court document (PDF):


         And now, this 17th day of October, 2011 the Petition for Allowance of Appeal is hereby DENIED.

From the diocesan website:

On October 17, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court denied the request of the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh to appeal the ruling of the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania.

18th October, A.D. 2011
Feast of St. Luke


Dearest Brothers & Sisters in Christ,

I write to you today to inform you that our appeal to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has been rejected. We accept that the courts have not found in our favor and will, of course, comply with all court orders.

We remain committed to reaching a negotiated settlement with the Episcopal Church diocese. In light of this judgment by the courts, we will redouble that commitment to reaching a final resolution of all issues between the Episcopal Church diocese and the Anglican diocese through negotiation.

We intend to persevere in our mission, which is to be Anglican Christians transforming our world with Jesus Christ. We do this chiefly by planting congregations. As at every annual Convention since realignment, congregations are being added to our diocese both locally and across the country, for which we give thanks to God. We pray God’s continued favor on our mission, his grace towards those who remain within the Episcopal Church, and his help for our beloved Communion as we move into the challenges and opportunities of this new millennium. May the Gospel of our Lord Christ find a fresh hearing all across his Church and his world!

Faithfully your Bishop and Archbishop,

The Most Rev. Robert Duncan
Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh
Archbishop of the Anglican Church in North America


The Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh has issued this statement: Supreme Court Declines to Hear Appeal of Property Rulings.

n an order issued October 17, 2011, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania rejected an appeal seeking to challenge lower court rulings holding that, under the terms of the 2005 settlement of the Calvary suit, the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh of the Episcopal Church was the rightful trustee of diocesan-held property.

The Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh is pleased with the Supreme Court’s decision. The issues presented to the court had been adequately reviewed and ruled on, first by the Common Pleas Court of Allegheny County, then on appeal by Commonwealth Court. Each ruling consistently supported the position of the Episcopal Diocese. We hope that all litigation over these issues will now cease.

The Court’s ruling also affirms that the Episcopal Diocese holds the title to the property of a number of parishes where congregations had ceased to actively participate in the Diocese. We will continue to encourage them to return to active participation in the Diocese, and in the meantime to be good stewards of the property. This Diocese remains committed to working through these issues with each of the affected congregations.

A previous diocesan statement, which includes a link to the Commonwealth Court decision, is available here.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 18 October 2011 at 11:45pm BST | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: ACNA | ECUSA

And so the frankly offensive misappropriation of the word Anglican continues... Sigh.

Posted by: Dan Barnes-Davies on Wednesday, 19 October 2011 at 12:25am BST

"We remain committed to reaching a negotiated settlement with the Episcopal Church diocese. In light of this judgment by the courts, we will redouble that commitment..."

Pursuing every possible legal maneuver over a period of years until each appeal has been rejected by the court is a curious way to encourage a negotiated settlement. I suppose now the breakaway group will indeed have enough incentive to redouble that "commitment".

Posted by: Neel Smith on Wednesday, 19 October 2011 at 2:59am BST

We remain committed to reaching a negotiated settlement with the Episcopal Church diocese¨ +Duncan of the ACNA

This is my favorite bit of twisted thinking-- after non-negotiating the very lifeblood out of innocents, destroying friendships, alienating thousands of fellow pewsitters and smearing/excluding LGBT Episcopalians at all levels of Church life...after exhausting diocese resources as well as ¨finding a place to stand¨ (a solo performance) exclusively and finding lots of encouragement to poach beyond Pittsburgh and foster more and more destructive ill-will at TEC -- presto/changeo, suddenly good-will towards all...it´s starting to look a lot like Christmas (perhaps there will be gifts?)

Posted by: LeonardoRicardo on Wednesday, 19 October 2011 at 3:18am BST

I note that, according to its website, Duncan's group no longer calls itself the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh but now concedes that it is the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh. Their argument before the lower courts that they remained the true "Episcopal" Diocese of Pittsburgh just seemed a tad slimy to me.

Posted by: dr.primrose on Wednesday, 19 October 2011 at 5:52am BST

Does ACNA have women priests? (No, I'm not thinking of joining, just curious if that is one of their no-nos)

Posted by: Sara MacVane on Wednesday, 19 October 2011 at 11:22am BST

What else could the 'Archbishop' of ACNA have expected? No doubt the schismatic church will now have to consider its future. Robbie can only hope that the P.B. and TEC will be more eirenic than he and his mates in GAFCON have been - in any future 'negotiations' with the dissidents. Perhaps they will need to rely on a GAFCON hand-out - through the new 'Diocese of Nigeria in North America'

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Wednesday, 19 October 2011 at 11:23am BST


ACNA does have women priests. Components of the church are split over the ordination of women. For now, they have agreed to disagree, something they decry elsewhere. Anyway, ACNA has agreed to have no women bishops.

For what it’s worth, Duncan has supported the ordination of women.

Posted by: Lionel Deimel on Wednesday, 19 October 2011 at 4:20pm BST

I believe people such as Duncan CAN be sued for unlawful use of a copyrighted brand name such as "Anglican" or "Episcopal Church". I have a feeling something may be in the works that will bear this out. I think Fr. Ron Smith's post in this thread is an accurate reading. We need to follow the money. Most of us have a fairly good idea that there is Right Wing funding at play here. Also look for The Episcopal Church to recover court fees and cost. I bet we will be reading something about this issue as well. The effects of Duncan's homophobia (by speaking against the GLBT communities), by their disenfranchisement, hurts real people in very significant ways.

Posted by: Chris Smith on Wednesday, 19 October 2011 at 8:55pm BST

Not only does ACNA have women priests (albeit with some dissent), but either they or the other ACNA clones held a press conference a few years back denouncing GLBT priests, or bishops, or same-sex marriage -- I can't remember which, maybe all three -- in which they pushed women priests to the forefront of the press conference.
The irony of it all, using women priests, which they probably bitterly opposed years before, as spokespeople to show how modern or moderate they were, to denounce GLBT aspirations.
And somehow, the irony got lost on the women priest spokespeople. I guess either their revulsion of GLBT people or their happiness to simply be there overwhelmed their sense of logic and history.

Posted by: peterpi - Peter Gross on Wednesday, 19 October 2011 at 9:06pm BST

Now TEC have the property and the endowments..but what of the people?

Posted by: Robert ian Williams on Thursday, 20 October 2011 at 4:55pm BST

"I believe people such as Duncan CAN be sued for unlawful use of a copyrighted brand name such as "Anglican" or "Episcopal Church". "

No, this will not happen. In the US there is the United Episcopal Church, the Reformed Episcopal Church and the Charismatic Episcopal Church. (two are now a part of ACNA) You cannot trademark the word 'episcopal' which just means governed by Bishops.

Posted by: Josh L on Thursday, 20 October 2011 at 5:03pm BST

As always my heart goes out to those in the diocese who followed their leaders with trust and confidence believing what they were told, now many find the promises cannot be kept.

You have to be impressed by the demeanor of those who have remained as the Episcopal diocese of Pittsburgh, and even now one suspects their impulse is to be respectful and kind to the new denomination that is being formed by Duncan and clan.

Does anyone know just what is the present position? Has Duncan been in occupation of diocesan buildings that are the subject of this litigation? What is the position at the Cathedral? Who has held the trusts? If Duncan has been using Trusts does he now have to repay all this? What about the money the diocese held on the day of the UDI?
What about Duncan's house?
Is there an account anywhere?

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Thursday, 20 October 2011 at 11:57pm BST

You can't use the trademark shield with the wording: "The Episcopal Church" which, would confuse or lead the public to believe they are the same organization as those "renegade congregations" who have left The Episcopal Church. I believe this to be fully protected under Copyright law.

Posted by: Chris Smith on Friday, 21 October 2011 at 1:19am BST

speaking of splits and property disputes, the latest SAMS newsletter recently came across my desk (not sure why my parish is on their mailing list), and as I flipped through it I happened to notice a mention that 3 parishes have split from the Diocese of Bolivia and that Bishop Lyons is involved in a court battle with them over the property. Anyone know if this is related to the global issues, or a more local dispute?

Posted by: Jim Pratt on Friday, 21 October 2011 at 8:33pm BST

When they left the Episcopal Church, the ACNA group kept EVERYTHING - the computers, furniture, bank accounts, records and the parishes that left kept everything. When the court ruled that diiocesan property belonged to those in the Episcopal Church and they had to turn over the assets, we got the endowments, the archives (but not most current records)and some pictures, but NONE of the office stuff. We also got the deeds to 22 church properties occupied by ACNA groups. We now have control of three of these. The cathedral staff stayed in TEC, but ACNA and TEC have been sharing the cathedral.

Posted by: Joan Gundersen on Saturday, 22 October 2011 at 10:24pm BST
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