Updated again Monday evening
The Diocese of Pittsburgh has issued this press release: Diocese Asks Court For Access To Funds.
Request Made In Case Which Defined “Episcopal Diocese”
Pittsburgh, PA – Today, January 8, 2009, the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh asked a court for control of church assets still held by former diocesan leaders who have left the Episcopal Church.
The request was made in the context of an existing court order which stipulated that local Episcopal property must stay in the control of a diocese that is part of the Episcopal Church of the United States.
“We’re not asking for anything the court has not already addressed, or for anything former leaders have not already agreed to,” said the Rev. Dr. James Simons, President of the diocesan Standing Committee, the group currently leading the Pittsburgh Episcopal Diocese.
The original court order was issued in October 2005 as a result of a lawsuit filed by Calvary Episcopal Church in East Liberty. The order prohibits any group that separates itself from the Episcopal Church from continuing to use or control Diocesan property. The order specifically defines the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh as being part of “the Episcopal Church of the United States of America.” In negotiations leading to the 2005 Order, former Pittsburgh Bishop Robert Duncan and his attorneys agreed this stipulation would apply regardless of the circumstances surrounding any separation, even if every parish were to leave…
…Approximately 27 congregations, or about 40% of the Pittsburgh Diocese prior to the October separation, remain active in the life of the Episcopal Church.
The Southern Cone-affiliated body has also issued a press release: New Diocese Attempts to Join Lawsuit
In an expected, but disappointing decision, the newly forming Episcopal Church diocese in southwestern Pennsylvania announced today that it intends to move forward with legal action against The Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh (Anglican) by attempting to claim all diocesan property.
“The document filed today in the Calvary litigation by Calvary and the new diocese created after the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh withdrew from The Episcopal Church is both procedurally and substantively improper. Moreover, it is regrettable that these groups have chosen to pursue more litigation rather than agree to equitable division of the assets.” said the Rev. Peter Frank, diocesan spokesman.
Initial press reports:
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Claim filed to control local Episcopal Church assets
Associated Press Pa. Episcopal church sues parishes for $20 million
Friday press reports
Associated Press Diocese seeks $20M from breakaway Episcopalians
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Episcopal Diocese claims $20 million in schism fight by Paula Reed Ward
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review Episcopal groups battle over assets by Craig Smith
Episcopal News Service PITTSBURGH: Diocesan leaders ask court for access to assets by Mary Frances Schjonberg
There is an excellent summary by Joan R. Gundersen of recent events in Pittsburgh in this post: A Pittsburgh timeline.