Comments: Virginia court ruling issued

The judge has fallen for the CANA canard of the Anglican Communion as a worldwide church...a description that flies in the face of the very reasons for there being a Church of England and Anglicanism at all.

I also cannot see how, in a nation with separation of church and state so firmly established in constitutional law, a court can rule that a state statute trumps the internal canons of a church.

Posted by Pat O'Neill at Friday, 4 April 2008 at 11:24am BST

Before people run off in all directions, a word of caution. First the Washington Times headline is wrong; the court awarded nothing. All the court said was that the situation fell within the definition of the Virginia statute. The court will next hear arguments on whether application of the statute violates the U.S. Constitution. The basic applicability of the statute was addressed first, because if the court had found the statute did not apply, there would have been no need to look at its constitutionality. This is a fairly basic principle of U.S. law.

(By the way, although I am an attorney, I have no connection with this case, other than by being an Episcopalian.)

Posted by Paul Davison at Friday, 4 April 2008 at 12:15pm BST

It's important to note that:

the particular law that underpinned the verdict is only active in Virginia. I don't believe Texas, Pennsylvania, or California have similar laws, meaning that breakaway churches there will have no similar grounds. American laws can vary substantially state by state.

this is going to get appealed. the ruling doesn't give the property to CANA yet. it rules that a division has occurred in the Anglican Communion. the court, or an appeals court, could still find that the particular statute is unconstitutional, based on the broad latitude given to religious groups.

Posted by Weiwen at Friday, 4 April 2008 at 12:52pm BST

"there is no constitutional principle of which this Court is aware that would permit, let alone require, the Court to adopt a definition for a statutory term that is plainly unwarranted"

It seems that Griswold style Episcopal-speak doesn't fly in a court of law.

Posted by James Crocker at Friday, 4 April 2008 at 1:27pm BST

It hardly seems likely that, in the end, US courts will seek to intervene in canon law as regards Episcopal Church property. Imagine, for example and comparison, a Virginia court ruling that a breakaway Roman Catholic parish - perhaps one not willing to be closed down or merged, were the case to arise - did not need to heed their dioceses and bishops and, in fact, were entitled to keep the parish property, no matter what the church hierarchy said!

Posted by christopher+ at Friday, 4 April 2008 at 2:20pm BST

Weiwen is quite right. Because it is based on a particular and unique Virginia statute, this decision will have no impact in any other state. I'm not sure that it would even give any help to a Virginia congregation which attempted to join the Southern Cone or some other jurisdiction.

Posted by Jim Pratt at Friday, 4 April 2008 at 2:20pm BST

It was a bizarre strategy for David Booth Beers to argue that there is no division. Katherine Jefferts Schori used the term, herself in a speech a year ago. (Now, of course, they are very careful not to use the "d" word.) Unlike pornography, which "I know it when I see it", division is measurable and objective. In particular, the judge simply states,

"The Court finds that, under 57-9(A}, a division has occurred within the Diocese. Over 7% of the churches in the Diocese, 11% of its baptized membership and 18% of the diocesan average Sunday attendance of 32,000 have left the Diocese in the past two years."

Another black eye for David Booth Beers in less than a month's time.

This truly is a tragedy. The diocese of Virginia was in negotiations for amicable division till the vindictive "take no prisoners" interventions by Katherine Jefferts Schori (who was described by Bp Lee as a "new sheriff in town").

Posted by robroy at Friday, 4 April 2008 at 2:52pm BST

As I recall, the law in question dates from a time when the State was engaged in treason, so it's valididty under the US Constitution is questionable.
Also, the Suprem Court decisions all line up in TEC's favor. Unless, of course, the neo-Con dominated court decides to bow to the tortured Dominionist logic and lets this travesty stand.

Posted by John Robison at Friday, 4 April 2008 at 2:53pm BST

"I also cannot see how, in a nation with separation of church and state so firmly established in constitutional law, a court can rule that a state statute trumps the internal canons of a church."

The court hasn't even considered the constitutional issues yet. Rather than issuing a final order, the court has ordered more briefing on the constitutional questions which are substantial.

""The Court will hear oral argument on the constitutional issues in accordance with the Order issued today. The Court will hear oral argument on the constitutional issues in accordance with the Order issued today. The obvious advantage to the Court and the parties in bifurcating the issue of statutory interpretation and applicability, on the one hand, and constitutionality, on the other, is that the parties at oral argument on the constitutional issues will not have to engage in speculation regarding the Court's interpretation of the statute but, rather, will know the precise contours of the Court's reasoning.

Second, the Court does not address or decide in this opinion the validity of the various votes taken by the CANA Congregations to disaffiliate from the ECUSA and the Diocese. The Court will reach that decision, as necessary, at a later point in time.

Finally, this opinion does not address the merits of the ECUSA's and the Diocese's declaratory judgment actions, which have been set for trial in October 2008."

And another reply:
"this is going to get appealed."

Not for some time yet.

Posted by ruidh at Friday, 4 April 2008 at 2:56pm BST

As an addendum to my earlier comment, one should also keep in mind that you can never tell how a legal case will come out. where the law has gray areas, it can depend a lot on the judge's political beliefs, and the law is rather gray

I believe it is proper for TEC to demand that congregations follow canon law, unless that law conflicts with higher principles like state or federal law or constitution. but we must remember, this is just buildings.

re robroy's comment. I suspect that David argued that division is not possible in a hierarchical church. from a lay perspective there is a division. however, canon laws don't make provision for a division. the judge chose to go with state law rather than canon law. now, we determine if his reading of state law is in line with the US Constitution.

Posted by Weiwen at Friday, 4 April 2008 at 3:39pm BST

"The diocese of Virginia was in negotiations for amicable division till the vindictive "take no prisoners" interventions by Katherine Jefferts Schori (who was described by Bp Lee as a "new sheriff in town"). "

As has been pointed out many many times, this is simply not true, and saying it over and over will not make it so. It was the CANA churches that filed the lawsuits.

The Virginia law was designed post-civil war to deal with disposition of property for churches like the Presbyterian and Baptist, which had in fact divided nationally. CANA may claim a large chunk of Dio of VA numbers, but is hardly a split [i.e. half of ] with TEC.

Posted by Cynthia Gilliatt at Friday, 4 April 2008 at 3:56pm BST

"Finally, the Court finds that the term “branch” must be defined far more broadly than the interpretation placed upon that term by ECUSA and the Diocese and that, as properly defined, CANA, ADV, the American Arm of the Church of Uganda, the Church of Nigeria, the ECUSA, and the Diocese, are all branches of the Anglican Communion and, further, CANA and ADV are branches of ECUSA and the Diocese."

Really, the man bites dog headline is in that last clause, "Court rules Episcopal breakaway group is branch of Episcopal Church."

Posted by Caelius Spinator at Friday, 4 April 2008 at 4:28pm BST

Robroy,
Whatever one's position on the presenting issue, the simple fact is that Church Tradition clearly considers church buildings to be gifts given to God by the people who built them, and held in trust by the Church. Frankly, I don't care what a secular judge says. Societal concepts of ownership of property do not apply. The Virginia schismatics might well get control over the buildings they now worship in, but the fact they are trying to do so and the way they try to justify this are yet more examples of how little they understand of the tradition they claim to be defending.

Posted by Ford Elms at Friday, 4 April 2008 at 6:08pm BST

"The judge has fallen for the CANA canard of the Anglican Communion as a worldwide church"

Among several CANA canards, Pat: including the whopper that this is some huge STAMPEDE of embattled martyrs, seeking safe harbor---rather than a few squeaky wheels (w/ sticky fingers, to mix metaphors) who just want shop bishops, to protect their hivemind.

Posted by JCF at Friday, 4 April 2008 at 6:32pm BST

Yes Robroy -- the "new sheriff" seems to have managed to turn a win/win (diocese got money/ parishes got buildings) into a lose/lose (diocese spends endless money on court cases/ parishes have no certainty of their future).

Really sad for all concerned.

Posted by Margaret at Friday, 4 April 2008 at 8:34pm BST

"The diocese of Virginia was in negotiations for amicable division till the vindictive "take no prisoners" interventions by Katherine Jefferts Schori (who was described by Bp Lee as a "new sheriff in town")."

Would that be like an "amicable divorce" in which one party gets all the property and the other party nothing?

Posted by Pat O'Neill at Friday, 4 April 2008 at 9:03pm BST

I think one of the overlooked passages in the judgment is this one:

This Court views each of the four experts who testified as sincere professionals, each bringing a wealth of expertise to their task, and each attempting in good faith to assist the Court in its obligation to interpret 57-9. Having said that, the Court finds the testimony of the two CANA congregation experts-Dr. Valeri and Dr. Irons-to be more persuasive and convincing. The Court found the opinions of the CANA experts to be tied directly to the particular and pertinent historical record relevant to the instant case. Some of the significant opinions offered by ECUSA/Diocese experts did not appear to be so tethered; rather, they appeared to be expressions of opinion based on the experts’ general knowledge.

This difference in what is used to evaluate words has wracked the theological debates as well.

Posted by Margaret at Friday, 4 April 2008 at 9:53pm BST

Given the norms of the judicial process in the United States, I never look to the ruling of a single jurist as what is likely to prevail, whether it favors what I believe or whether it is in opposition. Let's face it, we have some individual judges -- speaking generally, and not necessarily about the trial judge -- who occasionally, or more frequently for a few, provide bizarre and ultimately non-sustainable judgments.

After the appeals process in the Commonwealth of Virginia is completed we will have a more reliable understanding of what will prevail and, as others have already noted, in Virginia and not necessarily in other states. There is a reason that my former employer global bank, and its various outside counsels, would use loan documents drafted in accordance with New York Law, or with English law, and no other.

Posted by Jerry Hannon at Friday, 4 April 2008 at 10:13pm BST

"Yes Robroy -- the "new sheriff" seems to have managed to turn a win/win (diocese got money/ parishes got buildings) into a lose/lose (diocese spends endless money on court cases/ parishes have no certainty of their future).

Really sad for all concerned."

The only thing "sad" about this, Margaret, is that a group who call themselves "conservative" can have so little regard for canon law.

Posted by Pat O'Neill at Friday, 4 April 2008 at 11:57pm BST

Margaret, agreed. The situation for the diocese of Va is "heads, you win; tails, I lose."

If they win the lawsuits and the empty buildings and turn out tens of thousands of Christians out of the churches, the amount of ill will generated would be staggering. If they lose in court, they will have spent millions for nought (and probably would be liable for legal costs for the ADV).

People on both sides need to be saying stop the insanity.

Posted by robroy at Saturday, 5 April 2008 at 12:14am BST

What is quietly remarkable about this judgment, when it is set beside the popular language of our debate, is ithe overriding sense of care and patience and respectful deference to the good faith of the commitment of each party to this dispute that it conveys. As it moves to its perhaps dry or even arcane legal conclusion, not pretending to weigh matters of faith, but weighing matters of law, this judgment manages to mount an incidental discourse that capturing the deep sincerity and gravity of this debate, the commitment of its partisans and the outstanding reconciling examples of Bishop Lee and the other leadership of other international leaders of the church.

The best lesson of In Re: Multi District Episcopal Property Litigation may be not how a century and quarter old statute is to be interpreted but rather, its leadership for a standard of discourse that it almost accidentally gives.

There is much here to be learned—only a very tiny part of it, law.

Posted by tantallon at Saturday, 5 April 2008 at 12:23am BST

I'm the outlier on this one, I'm sure, but reflecting on the article by Mark Oakley posted earlier, I have to agree with the ruling of the Virginia judge. There has been a division, not only within the Episcopal Church in America, but throughout the Anglican Communion. It is, as Mark Oakley said, a division between those who are willing to adhere to Anglican principles of moderation and comprehensiveness, and those who are led by their Calvinism to seek a pure church of the elect.

Such divisions aren't without precedent -- a much earlier one gave us the Dissenters, whether Presbyterian, Congregationalist, or Baptist. The only difference today is that a generous dollop of Pentecostalism has been mixed in with the Calvinism, making the particular revelations vouchsafed to individual saints entirely immune to criticism or challenge of any kind.

It is a noxious brew. Having (unwillingly) been a member of a Network Church for a few years, and a member of a Network Diocese (Central Florida) for several more, I can witness to their being nothing Anglican (let alone Episcopalian) about them.

The formation of CANA, Common Cause, and GAFCON all witness to this division. Their followers, worldwide, now worship in a separate denomination. So there can be no further objections to the deposition of John-David Schofield; by joining this denomination, he has indeed abandoned the communion of the Episcopal Church as effectively as if he had joined the Presbyterians or Baptists.

Whether, however, the Virginia statute will be able to trump the US Constitution's guarantees of freedom of religion, which would seem to permit the Episcopal church to organize itself hierarchically, is another matter. There has been no ruling yet on that issue.

Posted by Charlotte at Saturday, 5 April 2008 at 12:43am BST

It's not like PBKJS has a choice.

She is bound to protect the assets of the TEC or could be subject to a lawsuit herself for not carrying out her fiduciary responsibility as chief officer of the TEC, a corporation according to US law.

Posted by toujoursdan at Saturday, 5 April 2008 at 1:12am BST

To Pat O'Neill: The orthodox have little regard for just the Dennis canon. We see it as merely a way to separate us from our churches so that they can be sold and turned into restaurants or scandalous night clubs. The liberals have contempt for rest of the canons. The utter disregard for the canons in the deposition of the godly Bp Cox have disqualified them of ever citing canon law with any credibility.

Posted by robroy at Saturday, 5 April 2008 at 1:27am BST

I must admit that I enjoy all the macho metaphors being used by the right-wingers to describe Bishop Schori. So much for the usual mushy, squishy, wooly, soft metaphors used to describe liberals and progressives. These same folk who so value aggressive decisive action whimper when when some lefty weeny turns around and kicks their butts. She's finally standing up to the subversives after years of her predecessors looking the other way, and saying anything to avoid conflict.

I would imagine that there are other churches, Rome for example, who are watching this with great interest. There are few churches these days that do not have some form of internal tension or conflict. Indeed, there is far more conflict within churches than between them these days.

Posted by counterlight at Saturday, 5 April 2008 at 1:55am BST

Pat -- you commented --The only thing "sad" about this, Margaret, is that a group who call themselves "conservative" can have so little regard for canon law.

If only that were so, how much better off we would be.

No rather this whole situation is very deeply saddens the whole of Anglican church, and even further afield than that.

Posted by Margaret at Saturday, 5 April 2008 at 4:08am BST

"It is favourable to the breakaway congregations."

No it isn't.

I dont know where you get this misapprehension from. It says that the Virginia law exists and is going to be examined (constitutionality & c. ; = ).

The end result will quite possibly be the revocation of this law due to it's sordid background.

And don't forget the 1st Amendment!

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Saturday, 5 April 2008 at 6:42am BST

Margaret wrote: “The Court found the opinions of the CANA experts to be tied directly to the particular and pertinent historical record relevant to the instant case. Some of the significant opinions offered by ECUSA/Diocese experts did not appear to be so tethered; rather, they appeared to be expressions of opinion based on the experts’ general knowledge.”

Margaret seems to be alluding to the loud propaganda claiming that the 1930ies and 1830ies congregations of Truro and Falls Church were on the ground before TEC and the American Revolution...

But they were only on the ground before the American Civil War - and we are coming back to that one, it seems ; = )

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Saturday, 5 April 2008 at 7:10am BST

Robroy wrote: “It was a bizarre strategy for David Booth Beers to argue that there is no division.”

This is dependent on the “definition of if”, as you say in America. No sane person outside of aggressively antagonistic American Politics would ever think of less than 10 % as “a division”. A split perhaps…

B e i n g divisive seems the natural state where you come from, but it is not “a division”.

Robroy wrote: “This truly is a tragedy. The diocese of Virginia was in negotiations for amicable division…”

We have heard this line for a couple of years now… ; = )

The really remarkable thing is the inability for grown up people to speak the truth.

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Saturday, 5 April 2008 at 7:12am BST

Goran at 7:10
The passage you quote as being my words were actually the words of the judgment.

I thought I had made this clear in the way they were set out as a separate paragraph with an intro about how they were a neglected passage. Perhaps I should have also used quotation marks.

The final sentence is mine -- which is why I put it separately.

While I do not wish to put words into the judge's mouth, the context would suggest that he was commenting on the issue of how the words "division" and "church" were read at the time when the law was drafted, and how these were applied in subsequent judgments, and not the issue you have raised about the relative ages of the different institutions.

My point in highlighting this quote was that the interpretation of words has been one thing that has divided the two "sides" of this debate in the theological area as well, with the liberal side being far more willing to "reinterpret" words to have new meanings (the use of the word "inclusive" being just one minor example). This tendency has not only made theological discourse very difficult, but made many conservatives very suspicious of liberals when they say they do agree.

For instance, there seems to be a widespread belief that some liberals who have clearly written that they believe almost nothing of the Bible can still say the Apostles creed because they just reinterpret each phrase to mean something entirely different from the common meaning of the words spoken (ie "risen from the dead" means "gave the Apostles a good feeling in their souls when they considered his memory" etc).

Whether that is true or not in theological discourse, the judge clearly felt that the expert witnesses for the TEC did not anchor their discussion in "the particular and pertinent historical record relevant to the instant case" but rather in "expressions of opinion based on the experts’ general knowledge", and that he preferred the expert witnesses from CANA on those grounds.

Posted by Margaret at Saturday, 5 April 2008 at 8:45am BST

When the largest churches of the diocese vote overwhelmingly to disassociate, most people would call it a division, prima facie. Judge Bellows said division, division of the first magnitude, has occurred. Mr Koch-Swahne is free to call it a split, unpleasantness, tiff, etc.

Then Mr Koch-Swahne apparently disagrees with the contention the dio of Va broke off negotiations on the instigation of KJS. Hmmm, we have Bp Lee's own words describing the "new sheriff in town." We also have KJS's own words in the deposition video:

Q. You instructed the Episcopal Church to
intervene; did you not?
A. To join that litigation.
Q. You, yourself?
A. Yes.
Q. And you also instructed the lawyers for
the Episcopal Church to file suit, a separate
suit against the 11 congregations; did you not?
A. That has been our practice, that is what
we did.

Posted by robroy at Saturday, 5 April 2008 at 1:13pm BST

It seems that the diocese of Ohio is now preparing to sue five churches despite having touted a month ago that they had worked out a way to peacefully coexist. Details at livingchurch.org but in particular, we have (The Living Church article has embedded links to actual references):

"The question of pressure by The Episcopal Church to pursue litigation possesses additional credibility because during deposition testimony in November in the case involving 11 congregations which withdrew from the Diocese of Virginia, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori admitted under oath that she had personally intervened to prevent a protocol from being implemented which would have permitted the congregations to purchase outright title to the local property from the diocese. The protocol was developed by a diocesan task force appointed by Bishop Peter James Lee of Virginia."

Take no prisoners continues.

Posted by robroy at Saturday, 5 April 2008 at 2:40pm BST

What bothers me most in the opinion is that it seems to say that the AC has already divided. While it is certainly true that variuos member churches have problems with each other and this will quite probably lead to a schism in the AC, as far as I've ever heard all the Primates' are still invited to that meeting and all the provinces are still part of the ACC.

Do any of the British commenters have any response to an American judge declaring the Communion to be already ripped apart? Has any one told Archbishop Williams that his efforts to keep folks at the table has already failed fatally?

Jon

Posted by Jon at Saturday, 5 April 2008 at 3:16pm BST

So you were talking of something alltogether different then, Margaret?

Well, it allowed you to change the subject...

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Saturday, 5 April 2008 at 4:48pm BST

Robroy,

I wasn’t addressing the apparent anger (divisiveness) among the anti Moderns, but the effects of their anger.

And no, I don’t really think that less than 10% amounts to a “division”. Show me 50% and I would be more interested. Sorry.

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Saturday, 5 April 2008 at 4:53pm BST

And exactly why should the executive officer of TEC *not* take action to prevent her diocesan bishops from setting precedents that could seriously damage the church in the future?

Posted by Pat O'Neill at Saturday, 5 April 2008 at 5:16pm BST

"No rather this whole situation is very deeply saddens the whole of Anglican church, and even further afield than that." - posted by Margaret.

Now, take a deep breath, Margaret, and repeat after me:

There is NO Anglican "church."

There is only an Anglican Communion of Churches, including the Church of England, the Scottish Episcopal Church, the Church in Wales, the Church of Ireland, The Episcopal Church, the Anglican Church of Canada, and so forth.

You must be confusing us with the Roman Catholic Church, as if your hopes were that we could become Roman in structure and discipline, and Baptist in principles and beliefs.

Sorry, but we're not that now, and won't be that in the future.

Posted by Jerry Hannon at Saturday, 5 April 2008 at 5:28pm BST

"And exactly why should the executive officer of TEC *not* take action to prevent HER diocesan bishops..."

This shows little understanding of the Episcopal Church. The presiding bishop has basically no authority within a diocese. For example (from Jim Naughton's site), "the Presiding Bishop does not have the authority to prohibit Bishops Diocesan from authorizing the blessing of same sex unions in their dioceses nor can she prohibit future General Conventions from authorizing such blessings."

Again, Mr Koch-Swahne may call the division what he wants. Judge Bellows seems to believe that ~20% of the membership splitting off is more than a minor tiff.

Posted by robroy at Saturday, 5 April 2008 at 7:36pm BST

Any reason why this Virginia statute wouldn't apply to a Roman Catholic parish that disagreed with the Pope?

Posted by Paul Davison at Saturday, 5 April 2008 at 9:23pm BST

"Do any of the British commenters have any response to an American judge declaring the Communion to be already ripped apart?"

According to other documentation the only body which can add or remove provinces from the AC is the Consultative Council. AFAIK, no province has requested to be removed, and the provinces have not been asked to approve the removal of a province.

The AC may be in disagreement, but no province has left the communion, so it is not divided.

Unless you know different.

Kennedy

Posted by Kennedy at Saturday, 5 April 2008 at 10:38pm BST

"The presiding bishop has basically no authority within a diocese. For example (from Jim Naughton's site), "the Presiding Bishop does not have the authority to prohibit Bishops Diocesan from authorizing the blessing of same sex unions in their dioceses nor can she prohibit future General Conventions from authorizing such blessings."

But she does have the authority to prevent the canons of her church from being violated...one of those canons that parochial property is held in trust for the diocese and diocesan property for the national church.

Posted by Pat O'Neill at Sunday, 6 April 2008 at 12:09am BST

Robroy, a frequent commenter on Stand Firm and TitusOneNine, writes that in the Episcopal Church "the presiding bishop has basically no authority within a diocese." Yet, after her election, it was necessary for the Network dioceses immediately to demand something called "Alternative Primatial Oversight" lest they come under her non-authority. Why was this, Robroy?

In recent weeks, John-David Schofield uncanonically attempted to transfer himself with his diocese to the Province of the Southern Cone, lest he come under the Presiding Bishop's non-authority. Why was this necessary, Robroy?

Posted by Charlotte at Sunday, 6 April 2008 at 2:34am BST

Goran at 4:48

I did not change the subject. I gave a fuller explanation of why I thought this passage of the judgment was significant, but that was the reason that I posted it in the first place. If you look at my 9.53 my current explanation was the topic of the sentence I put below the quote ie the same topic that I have expanded on here.

I am quite happy if you (and others) do not wish to discuss this point, but I do object when you falsely accuse me of doing something that I have not done. That is also why I made sure your previous erroneous attribution of some of the words from the judgment to me was also corrected as again you were falsely accusing me of holding a view that was in fact a view of the judge.

Posted by margaret at Sunday, 6 April 2008 at 2:49am BST

Jerry -- re your "there is no Anglican church"

Regrettably Standfirm has come to the same conclusion and now refers to TEC as TEO. The Episcopal Organisation.

Personally, I do not agree this, and I am sad to see such name calling happening, though I can understand why they might feel so after so many doubtful actions in recent years.

Posted by Margaret at Sunday, 6 April 2008 at 2:52am BST

Robroy commented that some have an attitude of "Take no prisoners continues"

That's what has aroused the Shekina's attention and why she doesn't give up and withdraw despite the rudeness and ignorance of some players.

Some one had to pick up all the "no prisoners" and "forsaken" souls.

Since the Christians refused to acknowledge them, the only soul left to "catch them" was the Shekina - under her covenant of peace as promised to the Daughter of Zion and the Gentiles.

Such souls might not end up in "heaven" with the "good" Christians, but they are within God's realms. For many of them (myself included), it is a blessed relief to know that God has made a space for us where we don't have to tolerate "gentle Christianity".

Posted by Cheryl Va. at Sunday, 6 April 2008 at 4:01am BST

"Judge Bellows seems to believe that ~20% of the membership splitting off is more than a minor tiff."

All this will prove very interesting, I’m sure – and the outcome will probably be full of surprises ; =

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Sunday, 6 April 2008 at 6:30am BST

Margaret wrote: “I did not change the subject. I gave a fuller explanation of why I thought this passage of the judgment was significant, but that was the reason that I posted it in the first place. If you look at my 9.53 my current explanation was the topic of the sentence I put below the quote ie the same topic that I have expanded on here.”

Why are you making things up, Margaret?

I misunderstood; that is understood “relevant to the instant case” to refer to the wide spread Propaganda about the actual Parishes (Truro and Falls Church) at hand pre-dating the American Revolution and TEC, not the Virginia statute itself (which will be examined only later – in October, it seems ; = ), that is clear, but then you used this to change the subject, which is wilful, adding accusations of things I never have done.

I didn’t get your Propagandistic accusation of Newspeak even, until you spelled it out in your 8:45… I don’t live in your world. Never will. And quite a few Europeans feel sure that the outcome of this brave new AGE of re-circulated 1920ies German Propaganda Techniques will be another Nürnberg.

Nor did I identify what you wrote as a quote. You said it was a “neglected passage”, ok, but you didn’t distinguish between what might be a quote and your personal interpretation of it.

Better put quotation marks the next time ; = ) It’s de rigeur in Europe.

But what matters is that you cited it as proof of something ; = )

(A cut-out – generally mis-leading – quote cited as proof of Maïtre Pierre Chanteur’s The Church Apostate… Do we see that often nowadays on the Ecclesio-Politico blogs? Obviously only Europeans seem to notice.)

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Sunday, 6 April 2008 at 10:00am BST

The change of subject I perceived was really the next part of your 8:45, transmogrifying the good Judges meticulous juridical method (Do read Tantallon’s 12:23 again!) into your own critique of what you p e r c e i v e as TEC’s Modern Errors and double speak.

You tried to “cut Pipes in the Willows”, as the Swedish saying goes.

Margaret wrote: “I am quite happy if you (and others) do not wish to discuss this point, but I do object when you falsely accuse me of doing something that I have not done. That is also why I made sure your previous erroneous attribution of some of the words from the judgment to me was also corrected as again you were falsely accusing me of holding a view that was in fact a view of the judge.”

Well, it doesn’t seem to be “the view of the judge”, see Tantallon’s 12:23 again ; = )

I am discussing the the well briefed ; = ) judge’s received and reproduced talking points. So does everybody else here as far as I am aware.

I am not evading.

You, on the other hand, seem to be incessantly denigrating, ridiculing, accusing, de-humanizing.

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Sunday, 6 April 2008 at 10:01am BST

"Any reason why this Virginia statute wouldn't apply to a Roman Catholic parish that disagreed with the Pope?"

The Virginia "division" statute applies only where property is held for the benefit of a congregation by court-approved trustees. The RCC does not and would not use this method, because it is out of keeping with a truly hierarchical polity.

Posted by DGus at Sunday, 6 April 2008 at 11:43am BST

How does Lambeth Palace, the ACC and the Primates view this. This judge has carefully reviewed the intervention of +Akinola, (and Uganda) in the U.S and, I believe it can be substantially argued, creditec him for the "division" Without his intervention, the "division", may not have happened. True, I believe +Cantaur's refusal of a Lambeth invitation came after the record may have been closed, but, by then the damage was done. This decision effectively eliminates the possibility of a hierarchical church in Virginia under its 57-9 statute. The ruling was based on the judge's interpretation of the words "branch" and "division". Who was responsible for the "division" and establishing a new "branch" of the communion? Primates who may be concerned about "division" "branch" and most important "intervention" in their provinces by unwelcome guests need only to look at this secular, unbiased judge's ruling to determine who was responisible for the "division" Again, the CANA attorneys made the argument that there were two "branches" of the Anglican Communion, one led by +Cantuar including everbody and one led by +Akinola and CANA belonged to the second.

Posted by EPfizH at Sunday, 6 April 2008 at 12:07pm BST

Robroy,

I accidentally found this on one of the Ecclesio-Politico blogs:

“The Archbishop of Canterbury has never denied that CANA is its members are a part of the Anglican Communion. Going off of memory, I believe he said something along the lines of if part of the Anglican Communion recognizes him, he considers them to be in communion with himself.”

Not that I know if it's at all true, but logically it means that there can be no division, don’t you think?

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Sunday, 6 April 2008 at 3:18pm BST

Regarding church property, Robroy wrote the following yesterday on TitusOneNine:

"It seems outrageous to me that one party of a contract can change the rules and the other must live with it which is precisely what the Dennis canon does. The diocese and national church effectively states give me all your deeds to your parishes. How un-American."

I would be interested in hearing from members of the Church of England on this. Does it seem wrong to them to vest ownership of church property in the Church of England? Is it "changing the rules" for the Episcopal Church in America to do the same? Are there any Anglican churches that vest ownership in individual congregations?

Posted by Charlotte at Sunday, 6 April 2008 at 7:54pm BST

Charlotte, Ownership of Church of England churches' property IS vested in the Rector (or Vicar) of the parish!

I've no idea what would happen to non-liberal churches if the liberal cancer that is destroying TEC were to get a death-grip in England too but, fortunately, our nasty liberals are not in control - despite their strident noise and assertions of inevitable domination.

And, if the heirarchy ever allows itself to become truly representative of its churches and clergy (especially the successful ones), the risk of destruction due to liberal apostasy will recede even further.

Posted by david wh at Sunday, 6 April 2008 at 11:54pm BST

At 2:52 am Sunday, Margaret "responded" to a point which I made by choosing slander, which, of course, while repeating the slander, she disavowed by stating "Personally, I do not agree this, and I am sad to see such name calling happening, though I can understand why they might feel so after so many doubtful actions in recent years."

It is rather like my making a statement to the effect that "I have noted that Loony Blog X has called Bishop (insert the name of your favorite right wing fundamentalist extremist) an habitual pedophile."

"Personally I do not agree with this....etc."

Sorry, Margaret, please respond to the points that I made regarding the difference between your perception of an Anglican "Church," versus the reality of the Anglican Communion of Churches.

Do not try to divert us with such nasty tactics, in order to continue your evasions.

By the way, is Erika Baker still waiting for you to fully respond fully to her points?

Posted by Jerry Hannon at Monday, 7 April 2008 at 2:20am BST

The "conservatives" seem to have an acronym fetish. Every jumped up subcommitte from the Schism Planning Commission on down requires it's own little subset of the Alphabet Soup (that should be AS, of course.)

And now, having run out of their own permutations to name and acronymize, they are playing out their childish fetish against the Episcopal Church, replacing TEC with TEO (The Episcopal Organization) or as I saw elsewhere, GCC (the General Convention Church."

A marginal improvement over their usual level of debate. I'm surprized they haven't yet descended to "stoopy-poopyhead."

Oh, and if anyone tells you that they believe the CofE would tolerate a decamping congregation taking the property with them, they are lying.

Posted by Malcolm+ at Monday, 7 April 2008 at 2:20am BST

I did not write the presiding bishop has basically no authority within the diocese. Rather, I was quoting a liberal commentator on Jim Naughton's liberal blog, who (correctly) wrote about the presiding bishop's very limited powers, in this case, in reference to enforcing the DeS communique.

Pat O'Neill writes, "But she does have the authority to prevent the canons of her church from being violated...one of those canons that parochial property is held in trust for the diocese and diocesan property for the national church."

Pat, you need to go to wikipedia and look up the Dennis canon. In particular, it states, "All real and personal property held by or for the benefit of any Parish, Mission, or Congregation is held in trust for this Church [i.e., the Episcopal Church in the United States] AND the Diocese..."

In particular, there is nothing about diocesan property held in trust for the national church. Also, it says nothing about the situation where the diocese and the national church are in conflict (as in San Joaquin). In this case, I can't imagine a judge won't simply look at who name is on the deed.

Posted by robroy at Monday, 7 April 2008 at 3:14am BST

"Any reason why this Virginia statute wouldn't apply to a Roman Catholic parish that disagreed with the Pope?"

Generally, RCC property is held differently. Instead of a local religious corporation holding title in trust for the diocese, RCC church property is held in the name of the office of the bishop. Such an arrangement has advantages and disadvantages. An advantage is that individual parishes have quite an uphill slog when attempting to claim title to parishes. The disadvantage is that when the diocese loses a large lawsuit, all of the property of the diocese, including parish property, can be seized to pay the judgment.

Posted by ruidh at Monday, 7 April 2008 at 3:33am BST

Someone quoted the decision as follows:
"Finally, the Court finds that the term “branch” must be defined far more broadly than the interpretation placed upon that term by ECUSA and the Diocese and that, as properly defined, CANA, ADV, the American Arm of the Church of Uganda, the Church of Nigeria, the ECUSA, and the Diocese, are all branches of the Anglican Communion and, further, CANA and ADV are branches of ECUSA and the Diocese."

This kind of statement in an American court decision is extraordinary. This statement by itself is significant reason for this decision to be overturned on appeal. It is absolutely *outrageous* for a United States court to presume to decide who is a member of the Anglican Communion and who is not. This is a clear and incontrovertible interference in the internal affairs of a church and one which is absolutely forbidden to US courts.

Posted by ruidh at Monday, 7 April 2008 at 3:39am BST

Regarding Goran's comment about no divisions, I've heard many people who are against a covenant or against the Windsor report or against anything else a foreign bishop/primate says/does, say that the Anglican Communion is not one church. It's a fellowship or some such thing and that each individual church is it's own body and Canterbury doesn't really have any power over anything but the C of E. That's why they don't have to obey the primates or Church of England or anyone else outside their own province. That would then imply that if you are under a different primate of the communion, you're in a different church, aren't you? TEC has churches in Europe that belong to it, not the local Anglican province, so it is possible to have two parts of the Anglican Communion in the same country,right? Is Bishop Whelon under PB Jefferts Schori, or under another primate?

Doesn't sound like Judge Bellows was too far off the mark--at least on the point of different churches. TEC may still win out as far as property,etc.


Posted by Chris H. at Monday, 7 April 2008 at 4:28am BST

Charlotte,

This is Rome's "Canon" Law of the Gregorian World Revolution. The Anglican churches have remained too Roman for their own good (we remain pre Gregorian).

First edition 1243 as "the book with the Decretalia". Many new editions from the late 13th century, several in the 20th century, such as 1918 which, against the famous 1563 Tametsi, banned all weddings except those performed by a Roman Priest (which had been forbidden until Lateran IV 1215 ; = )

The Idea that the Diocese is everything (an abstract Institution first and foremost) and o w n s everything (the real estate, the buildings...) never caught on here.

Nor did we ever have Mandatory Celibacy (Lateran II 1139). The Cardinal of Sabina tried to impose it in 1248 (against Political support for an Usurpation), but the Archbishop of Upsala had Alexander IV to grant an exception in 1258 (for Upsala Arch-Diocese) and for the whole Province (of Sweden and Finland) in 1259.

Swedish Priests (and Bishops) remained married (and so are some of the Roman Priests here today).

Nor have we ever had the "Canonical" Testament. It has no standing in Swedish Law. All properties, left by testament to the Church, were re-ceeded back in 1527 (3 weeks after il Sacco di Roma ; = )

Here a testament ("last will and testament") remains in pre Gregorian manner the will of the diseased.

RE AC What I have read (several years ago) is that this part of Canon Law was indeed introduced, in TEC and others, around 1920. There was nothing about the circumstances. I have also read that each Parish joining TEC must sign an act of Accession leaving the real estate to the Church.

Now, as I have said, we do not have this. We have remained pre Gregorian all the time (no Reformation here, really, which made the 17th century Absolutist Calvinist Kings furious ; = )

The Parish owns the forests and the buildings and the church. It is, however, from 1911, m a n a g e d by the Diocese (which can also sell off bits and pieces)... Until then the Priest had his income from a farm. In 1911 these were turned into a Fund managed by the Diocese, which pays salary in cash.

Maybe what we are looking at is in reality an global development (cf marriage law above) in early 20th century Law?

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Monday, 7 April 2008 at 6:45am BST

ruidh, I am not so sure of your argument re how property is held in the Roman Church. In the case of each diocese, the property is held by the bishop who is a corporation sole. Judge Bellows making this ruling made it in the very constrained environment of an interpretation of the Va. 57-9 statute. He did not deal with the constitutionality of that statute. Does the statute effectively eliminate the possibility of a hierarchical church in Virginia? From my reading, and I think Judge Bellow's reading, yes. I always thought that The Episcopal Church's reading of "branch" and "division" were pretty weak and the legislators who created the statute were not looking at the words strictly in terms of governance but a broader more common understanding. The statute refers to division in a "church" or "religious society". Although the Anglican Communion is not a church, for the purpose of 57-9, is it a "religious society?" And can a court identify the existence of such an organization and whether or not a "division" has taken place, using the likely understanding of that word by the legislators? I think he can. Many courts have made similar judgments without undue intrusion into doctrine or governance. The real battle here is the constitutional issue of Va Statute 57-9. On the Roman Catholic issue of property, under Va statute, it would seem in the same fix as TEC

Posted by EmilyH at Monday, 7 April 2008 at 2:47pm BST

David Wh - so riddle me this, David. If a liberal vicar in the CofE decided (with the support of a majority of his parishioners) decided to take his parish and it's property out of the CofE and affiliate with the Anglican Church of Canada, how would that go over with, say, the Bishop of Rochester?

And if you tell me that Mike Roffen would let them go with his blessing. i'd have to question either your veracity or your sanity.

Chris H. - Clearly you don't get it. The "liberals" are not arguing that the Anglican Communion used to be one unified ecclesiastical end now it is not. The argument is that the machinations of the Prince Bishop of Abuja are quite irrelevant, and that the matter is about the Episcopal Church.

Posted by Malcolm+ at Monday, 7 April 2008 at 5:45pm BST
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