Comments: Virginia property dispute: further rulings

I'm more than a little amused at CANA's headline...a victory for "freedom of religion", indeed! It is freedom of religion for a church's discipline of its own members to be subject to a state law?

Posted by Pat O'Neill at Friday, 19 December 2008 at 8:27pm GMT

"The Diocese expects to file its appeal to the Supreme Court of Virginia shortly."

If this much time, money, and effort was expended in the spread of the Gospel I doubt the church would be in the state it is in. Alas, it is a sad commentary that the machine would rather litigate than evangelize.

Posted by Steve at Friday, 19 December 2008 at 8:38pm GMT

Over on Episcopal Cafe is a letter from the rector of The Falls Church, Episcopal, commenting on the decision, but also describing a vigorous and growing congregation that is currrently not able to use their building because of CANA. It makes an instructive contrast with Minns' duplicitous lies [I guess that's redundant]. And please remember, no matter how many times Minns and the other Neo-Africans portray themselves as victims, THEY initiated the lawsuits in order to alienate the property held in trust for TEC.

Posted by Cynthia Gilliatt at Friday, 19 December 2008 at 9:25pm GMT

Steve, do you happen to recall exactly who filed these lawsuits that have you all righteously indignant?

Posted by JPM at Saturday, 20 December 2008 at 3:04am GMT

This is not news. With the rulings on the constitutional issues from a few months ago by htis same trial court, today's outcome was a foregone conclusion. What this is the first step necessary so that the Docese can go to the appeals court and have their real challenge heard. Trial courts rarely rule laws unconstitutional. They only tend to do so when there is clear precedent against the law being challenged. Otherwise, trial courts tend to enforce the laws as written and the appeals courts deal with the very significant constitutional issues here.

This case may very well end up the the US Supreme Court.

Posted by ruidh at Saturday, 20 December 2008 at 5:39am GMT

I suppose like most Anglicans in other countries and jurisdictions than TEC, I am not surprised by the complexity of the present sitution of complex litigation to secure Church property in the USA. Given the diversity of institutional beginnings of the American Church, one realises the need for legal protection - which pertains in the USA - in the medical world, and in almost any field of human activity at all. This reality, of course, inevitably leads to a thriving community of busy practising lawyers.

One of the most troubling aspect of this, is that one is at the mercy of lawyers, whose effective presentation of their case is not always based on objective truth, but rather on one's particular skill and ability in purporting to represent it.

Fortunately for the Anglican Diocese of Sydney, there is no way in which it's Calvinistically-inclined Archbishop, Peter Jensen, could win a legal case for expropriation of Church property, for any plan to separate out from the official Anglican Church in Sydney, his diocese having been founded differently from those in the USA. This is probably why he will not seek to do what has been done by bishops of the same ilk in the USA. He would rather support the current 're-Asserters' from the safety of the side-lines - oh! And the cover of the Secretariate of GAFCON.

Civil 'justice' can be a tricky arbiter of what might be called 'true justice' (mishpat).

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Saturday, 20 December 2008 at 5:44am GMT

"Alas, it is a sad commentary that the machine would rather litigate than evangelize."

Who says they rather would? You?

Hasn't this litigation been forced upon them from outside, by outsiders?

Have you read the Chapman memo?

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Saturday, 20 December 2008 at 6:49am GMT

"If this much time, money, and effort was expended in the spread of the Gospel I doubt the church would be in the state it is in."

Well, most people here have been saying this for quite some time. Thing is, GAFCONites seem to think the Church has more important things to do right now than spreading the Gospel. Things like lying about, misrepresenting, and oppressing gay people, slandering anyone who thinks that kind of behaviour is counterproductive and brings the Gospel into disrepute, and purging the Church of any "impure" ones whose beliefs do not match those of GAFCON. It's truly sad, really, especially since GAFCON's behaviour is as close to the opposite of evangelism, at least in the Western world, as you can get. I doubt there's many in Western society who'd want to be involved with that kind of small minded, self justifying, fear-generated hatred. What's worse is that it reflects on the rest of us, so it becomes twice as hard to witness to the faith as it would have been before that kind of hate-filled fearful behaviour was, yet again, represented to the world as, somehow, "Christian".

Posted by Ford Elms at Saturday, 20 December 2008 at 2:29pm GMT

Ron... I am sorry but you are wrong again....Australian Anglicanism is a loose federation of dioceses , which are internally self-governing and the property/endowments are vested in the diocese not the national Church.
Sydney would have never allowed any Dennis style canon. Sydney stays within the Federation, because the diocese has wider ambitions...currently taking on the theological education of many African provinces and directing the GAFCON initiative.

In all fairness to Judge Bellows he was simply interpreting the law as it stands in Virginia. He's a Jew and has no axe to grind in a Christian dispute. Judge bellows has cited the laziness of the Diocese of Virginia in not registering the property, when it could have done so. The fault lies with Bishop Lee and not Judge Bellows.

However the nasty comments on Stand Firm on this subject are appalling.

Posted by Robert Ian Williams at Saturday, 20 December 2008 at 9:00pm GMT

Among the many not-quite-true statements made by the breakaway churches is the claim that they were negotiating a property settlement in good faith on the basis of a mutually agreed upon protocol when the Bishop of Virginia abruptly "turned his back on his own protocol" and broke off negotiations. If you compare the wording of the protocol, the Virginia statute, and the questions voted upon at the parish meetings (all of which were on the CANA/ADV website, last I looked), you'll see that the ballot wording matched the statute, not the protocol. Who then was the first to turn their back on the protocol?

Posted by Steve Lusk at Saturday, 20 December 2008 at 11:39pm GMT

"Judge bellows has cited the laziness of the Diocese of Virginia in not registering the property, when it could have done so. The fault lies with Bishop Lee and not Judge Bellows."

Perhaps the fault lies with Bp Lee in that he talked to these people in good faith as they plotted to steal property. I wish he had done as the Bp of CT did with similar crooks and, the morning they were filing suits, had shown up with locksmiths, forensic accountants and the cops and taken charge of the property.

But what's done is done.

The judge ruled wrongly.

If the thieving NeoAfricans had simply left, none of this would have happened. It's not and never has been about apostacy - it's been about money and power. I guess Bp Lee now knows that.

What I say to the NeoAfricans is this: Go in peace. Leave the keys on the table, and don't let the door hit you on your way out.


Posted by Cynthia Gilliatt at Sunday, 21 December 2008 at 12:34am GMT

No the fault with Bishop lee was he or his predecessor never bothered to register the property.. Judge Bellows , a Jew is totally neutral..he is simply applying the state law...which is his job. Whether that law is unconstitutional, is for the Virginia Supreme Court to decide. My inkling is that it will be allowed to stand.

The Mormon Church lost its temple in Kirtland Ohio, to a breakaway group because it had not registered its property properly .

Posted by Robert Ian Williams at Sunday, 21 December 2008 at 12:02pm GMT

The situation in Virginia is unique. The state law upon which the separatists relied has no parallel in other states (which is one reason the separation occurred), and in other states the diocese/denomination has won property decisions. This decision will be appealed.

Posted by John B. Chilton at Sunday, 21 December 2008 at 5:46pm GMT

The Virginia case is unique to the state, but it will no doubt encourage other break-aways. Deplorable situation for any Christian organization, or even formerly Christian organization.

But the prospect of the Episcopal Church suing its way into financial extinction is real, especially after the collapse of its endowment. With a fraction of one percent of the US population, it's not likely to recover.

Posted by Austin at Sunday, 21 December 2008 at 9:11pm GMT

it is very unlikely that the Virginia Supreme Court will throw out the statute which has served Virginia so well...or allow an appeal to the Supreme Court in Washington.

The Episcopal Church has lost because of the incompetence of the Diocesan authorities who did not register the property, and also the Episcopal Church only wants to be a hierarchical church when it suits its self..

Cynthia I find your use of the phrase neo-Africans rather offensive.

Also whilst I question some of the attitudes of the departing congregations, and their double standard on morality (i.e. supporting divorce/re-marriage) they do genuinely believe that TEC has altered and betrayed the historic Christian Faith.

Failing to understand your adversary is a strategic blunder.

Posted by Robert Ian Williams at Sunday, 21 December 2008 at 10:10pm GMT

I still recall Bishop Lee refusing to vote for Bob Duncan's disposition even though it would help in our (the continuing diocese) legal battles to recover properties and monies.
Maybe Lee can call Bob up and ask his old personal friend for a little help in getting the property back (esp since Duncan sorta owes Lee a favor).

I wonder how much the CANA parishes have spent on litigation and what they could've done with the money had they just started new and walked away from what wasn't theirs to take???

Maybe future bishops need a little instruction in handling these matters.

Posted by bobinSwpa at Monday, 22 December 2008 at 2:26am GMT

Robert Ian Williams wrote: “… supporting divorce/re-marriage”.

Traditionally, questions of Marriage (e.g. if not adhering to the 829 AD 7 Forbidden Degrees of Neo Platonist Emperor Louis), Divorce and Remarriage were decided in Chapters, as best suited the parties and Harmony in the local community. More complicated cases were decided by the (elected) Clergy during Parliamentary Sessions. This can be studied in the protocols of said bodies.

The Absolutist State hostile take over of the Church of Sweden (and of political Liberty) in the 1686/1687 “Church” Law Ordinance changed this, made marriage and divorce a prerogative of the King’s Absolutist Majesty until a Governmental Ordinance in 1810 turned this around, allowing for “Copenhagen divorces" (one of the parties feigned “elopement” to Copenhagen or America – routinely a week sufficed to “prove” Abandonment and thus Divorce - until the new Marriage Laws of 1920).

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Monday, 22 December 2008 at 5:58am GMT

RIW writes -"it is very unlikely that the Virginia Supreme Court will not throw out the statute which has served Virginia so well...or allow an appeal to the Supreme Court in Washington."
Correct me if I am wrong but when did State courts accrue to themselves the power of limiting appeals to the Supreme Court??? I am amazed if your statement is correct in that regard.

Posted by ettu at Monday, 22 December 2008 at 12:42pm GMT

ettu
There's a long history of state courts limiting appeals to the US Supreme Court. It's called "adequate and independent state constitutional grounds". In other words, if the state court bases its decision narrowly and solely on the state constitution, there is no question of federal law or the US Constitution which may be appealed to the US Supreme Court. This is why gay marriage cases in Vermont, Massachusetts, California and elsewhere never went to the Supreme Court.
However, the trial court decided that the Virginia statute was not in conflict with the First Amendment. There is a federal question in this case which probably will go to the US Supreme Court after the Virginia Supreme Court has its chance.

John Chilton,
I would take your comment one step further. Given the uniqueness of the Virginia statute, the argument that CANA advanced and won, in my opinion, works to the detriment of breakaway congregations in other states. The court has found that there is a split in TEC, and that CANA/ACNA is the departing faction. Applying that finding of fact to cases outside Virginia, the ACNA parishes have left TEC and have no claim to the property.

Posted by Jim Pratt at Monday, 22 December 2008 at 2:59pm GMT

"Cynthia I find your use of the phrase neo-Africans rather offensive."

I find the collusion between African prelates and the likes of Minns and Duncan and others offensive.

Attempted theft offends me.

Bigotry, lying, and hatred offend me.

Cloaking such activities in the language of religious puritanism is even more offensive.

Accepting financing from some of the sources behind this [see Anderson memo, Naughton's Folllow the Money] offends me.

Neo-African simply means newly-African.

That is, they have adapted to some of the attitudes and beliefs of people like Abp Akinola and others, whose biblical exegesis is pre 19th century and whose understanding of human sexuality is not informed by modern science.

However, if the phrase offends you, I will try to refrain from using it. I would be curious to know how many others are offended by it.

Posted by Cynthia Gilliatt at Monday, 22 December 2008 at 8:08pm GMT

"Also whilst I question some of the attitudes of the departing congregations, and their double standard on morality (i.e. supporting divorce/re-marriage) they do genuinely believe that TEC has altered and betrayed the historic Christian Faith." - Robert I williams -

Robert, your posts never cease to astound me. How can you as a Roman Catholic, so often defending your own magisterium as the only truly 'Catholic' Faith, say what you have said here? Also, I find intriguing your constant reference to Christians who err in the matter of divorce and re-marriage - to which now you add 'contraception' as one of the major SINS. You must well know, as a former protestant anglican yourself, that these matters are no longer considered venial sins within the Anglican community. Why do you keep going on about them on a site for 'Thinking Anglicans'? Are you trying to get us to join you?

Further, when you admonish Cynthia for her use of the term 'neo-Africans', I think you have so easily misconstrued her meaning, which is not pejorative towards real Africans. Cynthia is talking about a class of non-Africans who have been illicitly ordained, by 'real Africans' for the express purpose of infiltrating TEC and the Anglican Church of Canada. I see no problem.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Tuesday, 23 December 2008 at 2:03am GMT

Apropos the culture of CANA in America, I have just read this opinion given by David Virtue on his web-site 'Virtue-On-Line' quote:

"The spiritual logjam in which ortho­dox Anglicans have been living since 2003 has broken. The Anglican flotilla will accelerate slowly and then carry forward in a rush. Over the next year more dioceses will leave The Epis­co­pal Church. Common Cause Part­ner­ship will morph into a North Amer­i­can Anglican province replacing The Episcopal Church as the official voice of orthodox Anglicanism in the United States. It will be recognized by the Primates of the Global South."

This 'Prophecy of David Virtue', ought to be seen for what it really is - a cynical attempt to convince the Sola Scriptura School in North America that some thing is actually going to happen about normalising a '39th Province of the Anglican Communion - in opposition to TEC and the Anglican Church of Canada. We shall see! Prophecy is only accounted viable with fulfilment.

It seems more likely, that after the lawyers have cleared away the dust, there will be seen to be a great need for further resources to put Mr David Virtue's dream onto any sort of actual footing in reality. Short of certain African Primates, and the Primates of Sydney and Southern Cone coming up with a finance rescue package, there may be little remaining of this fictional 39th Province -which may just have to resile (under a different nomenclature) to the homelands of its distant promoters.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Tuesday, 23 December 2008 at 4:18am GMT

Ron, to characterise the CANA people as anything but sincere is a sin against charity.... God alone knows their hearts.

Yes they are confused on divorce and contraception...but they are simply holding to the the traditional line on homosexuality...which incidentally is held by two thirds of Christendom.

You can be a thinking Christian and a thinking Anglican and believe that the practice of homosexuality is still a serious sin.

Indeed Martin Reynolds does not accept Bishop Gene Robinson because he is divorced.

You are too Black and white Ron...a fundamentalist liberal, without the guiding balance of an infallible Magisterium.

Posted by Robert Ian Williams at Tuesday, 23 December 2008 at 9:38am GMT

"the guiding balance of an infallible Magisterium."

That would be the one that took several hundred years to notice that the world is not a flat disk covered by a dome and floating on Sheol?

That would be the one that supported Franco in Spain?

That would be the one that is still not quite sure about evolution?

Gosh - I'm sure sorry the Anglican Communion doesn't have one!

Holy Cow!

Posted by Cynthia Gilliatt at Tuesday, 23 December 2008 at 1:11pm GMT

No, that's the same magisterium that sent Christian missionaries to the pagan Anglo-Saxons, that preserved learning during the dark ages and preserved Europe from being Islamized. The same Catholic Church which founded the Universities of Oxford, Cambridge, Glasgow, Paris and Padua. The same Church which gave you many famous scientists like Madame Curie and Gregor Mendel.The same Church which held up women so that they could not be simply thrown away by their husband...the same Church which upheld monogamy....the Church that ended infanticide, abortion, crucifixion and human sacrifice amongst the Aztecs.

As for Spain, France, Italy...they have accepted contraception... and their native populations are heading for implosion.

Nice one, Cynthia!

Posted by Robert Ian Williams at Tuesday, 23 December 2008 at 8:16pm GMT

"No, that's the same magisterium that sent Christian missionaries to the pagan Anglo-Saxons..."

Where they found quite a number of people who were already Christian thanks to the Celtic missionaries from Ireland - enough so that eventually there had to be a decision about following Rome or the Celtic way - Council of Whitby. I once read a speculative fiction short story based on "What if the Council of Whitby had voted for Celtic Christianity?" Instructive.

And yes, the RC Church has done many good things and has had, and has, many great minds, although she has also sought to silence some of them from time to time.

Infallible? Not so much.

As for contraception - if the only reason to have children is to outbreed immigrants and Muslims - I'm speechless.

Posted by Cynthia Gilliatt at Tuesday, 23 December 2008 at 9:27pm GMT

Celtic Christianity was latin based liturgically and recognised the Pope. They were upset though that the Anglo-Saxon immigrants were being evangelized by Rome, and this caused friction, but it was healed at Whitby.

Some of the English Reformers tried to make out that the Celtic Church was primitive Protestantism..it has no basis in fact.

Posted by Robert Ian Williams at Tuesday, 23 December 2008 at 10:43pm GMT

'Prophecy of David Virtue'

Sadly, the unjustified claim of prophetic status is not limited to David Virtue, or his coreligionists.

Posted by Ford Elms at Tuesday, 23 December 2008 at 11:15pm GMT
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