January 8, 2009

The Other Shoe Drops

Ever since the Presiding Bishop acknowledged that those who did not follow Bishop Robert Duncan out of The Episcopal Church represented the church’s Diocese of Pittsburgh, one question has hung in the air: When will Calvary Church go back to court to claim the real and personal property belonging to the Diocese of Pittsburgh?

The Calvary lawsuit, initiated in October 2003, resulted in a stipulation, enforceable by the court, that states in part:
Property, whether real or personal (hereinafter "Property"), held or administered by the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh of the Episcopal Church of the United States of America (hereinafter "Diocese") for the beneficial use of the parishes and institutions of the Diocese, shall continue to be so held or administered by the Diocese regardless of whether some or even a majority of the parishes in the Diocese might decide not to remain in the Episcopal Church of the United States of America. For purposes of this paragraph, Property as to which title is legitimately held in the name of a parish of the Diocese shall not be deemed Property held or administered by the Diocese.
The Presiding Bishop—not, of course, former Bishop of Pittsburgh Robert Duncan—is in a position to determine what organization represents the Diocese of Pittsburgh in the church that she heads, even though two groups call themselves “The Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh.” (See respective Web sites here and here. I see that Duncan’s group has now appended “(Anglican)” to its name on its Web site. Of course, the diocese in The Episcopal Church has an even greater right to call itself “Anglican,” since it is unequivocally in the Anglican Communion, whereas the status of the other “diocese” is unclear.) I should also point out that the court would risk violating the First Amendment by trying to second-guess Katharine Jefferts Schori.

Well, the other shoe has now dropped. Calvary Church, joined by the (real) Diocese of Pittsburgh, went to court today to demand the assets that it owns both by right and by virtue of the stipulation signed by both plaintiffs and defendants in the Calvary Lawsuit. The actual filing is not yet available—apparently it was being edited just before being presented—but a press release from the diocese is available here.

Stay tuned for more exciting court action from the Diocese of Pittsburgh, the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas, and the Anglican Neighborhood of Make-Believe.

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