Comments: US Supreme Court declines to review California property decision

"St. James is now aligned with the Anglican Church of North America, a network of seceding Episcopal parishes and other congregations that was formed by theological conservatives as a rival to the Episcopal Church" - Associated Press

At last! This definitive statement, covering the proceedings from the U.S. Supreme court in Washington - which refused to interfere in the affairs of TEC on this issue - tell it 'how it is'
With such a judgement hanging over the dissident parishes and dioceses of ACNA, this will make them pause and think about their actions which have occasioned the use of civil law cases, in order to prove something they are not able, in law, to substantiate.

This is a victory for Justice and the Church. Rivalry was never a good look for the ongoing ambitions of the Dissenters. Perhaps this will convince them that TEC is a hierarchical Church.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Wednesday, 7 October 2009 at 10:22pm BST

The Supreme Court Order is simply an order of non-action. It lets stand the California Supreme Court decision recognizing that The Episcopal Church is a hierarchical church; that the civil courts must respect its polity; and that the polity of the Church includes a requirement that all property held by subordinate units such as Dioceses and Parishes is held in trust for The Episcopal Church.

Unfortunately, the ACNA dissenters have, for the most part, chosen to ignore those simple, long-understood and long-established principles. The fact that the Supreme Court has refused to weigh in is viewed by them as of little or no consequence to their scorched-earth policy. Of more significance will be the recent trial court rulings requiring the Duncan and Schofield breakaway groups to turn over diocesan property (including trust funds) to the diocesan leadership elected by those who remained loyal to The Episcopal Church. Those rulings will prevent significant Episcopal assets from being used to finance the dissidents' strategic campaign of harrassment and extortion by seizure and occupation of Episcopal assets. As importantly, those rulings should convince more and more ACNA followers that they are wasting their own personal resources in making contributions to fund the resulting legal warfare being waged by their self-appointed leadership.

Posted by Robert at Thursday, 8 October 2009 at 4:00pm BST

"this will make them pause and think about their actions which have occasioned the use of civil law cases, in order to prove something they are not able, in law, to substantiate."

I wouldn't hold my breath, if I were you. They have never seemed to have much interest in things like self-examination and self criticism. They are the Righteous Ones, the "orthodox", the True Believers. Why should they pay any attention to the judgements of an Earthly court? Given the choice between taking the opportunity to reassess their behaviour or spin this as yet another example of the persecution of the righteous by the evil society, they will choose the latter. I'll buy you a coffee if I'm wrong.

Posted by Ford Elms at Thursday, 8 October 2009 at 4:10pm BST

Mostly the two cases, Dio Pitts and Dio Los Angeles are very different and so not a lot of influence of one with the other.

In the Pittsburgh case, the judge is merely ruling on an interpretation of his own previous stipulation. Duncan, with bad advice from his attorneys, tried to play a word game with the previous court case which one of his parishes brought against him in the past. In that case the diocese was bound to a ruling that the assets of the Diocese of Pittsburgh would stay with the Diocese of Pittsburgh in the event folks left TEC for other realms. So he tried to play the game that they are still the same Diocese of Pittsburgh even though they have left TEC and became part of the province in the Southern Cone. But the judge has not bought into his game. The judge has told him that when they withdrew from TEC, they ceased to be the Diocese of Pittsburgh, regardless of the name that they used. And he has ruled that the Diocese of Pittsburgh continues with the reorganized diocese which is still a part of TEC and the assets belong to the continuing diocese, the true Diocese of Pittsburgh. So diocesan assets revert to the control of the Dio Pitts and TEC. I believe that the same stipulation agreed that the continuing diocese would negotiate with individual parishes regarding their assets should they leave TEC. So there may be no lawsuits over parishes in Pittsburgh.

What should prove interesting is that the Dio Pitts, when it was still a part of TEC, lent money to (now) Archbishop Duncan and he has used it to build a home on diocesan property and the diocese had agreed in writing that he or his wife can continue to live in the home as long as one of them is still living.

The situation with the case in CA is that it has never actually been argued in court. Before the case went to court the defecting parishes asked for a ruling on a issue that went to an appeals court and finally the CA Supreme Court. The Appeals Court and the CA SC have now ruled on that issue in favor of the Dio Los Angeles and TEC, and referred the case back to be argued in the lower court. The parishes still hope that they will win. But if they loose, they will probably appeal if they can get the financial support to drag it out.

Posted by David | Dah•veed at Friday, 9 October 2009 at 6:41am BST

A comment to update the status of the California cases. After the case went back to the trial court, the diocese and the national church essentially made motions to the trial court to grant them judgment in their favor against the schismatic parishes as a matter of law without the need to go through a trial. The trial court refused to do so

The diocese and the national church then essentially asked the California Court of Appeal to overrule the trial court at that point rather than forcing the parties to go through a trial. The California Court of Appeal refuses to intervene at this point 95% of the time.

In this case, however, the California Court of Appeal agreed to take up the question of whether the the diocese and the national church should have judgment in their favor as a matter of law. The Court of Appeal will hear argument on the case on November 17, 2009. .

A decision is required in 90 days but it's likely that the Court of Appeal will not take that long.

Posted by dr.primrose at Friday, 9 October 2009 at 9:19pm BST

There is another California case involving the Diocese of San Joaquin and former Bishop Schofield that I was referring to in my comment above. See:


Posted by Robert at Saturday, 10 October 2009 at 9:55pm BST
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