Two earlier posts dealt with the court order issued by Judge Joseph M. James today in the Calvary litigation. They are available here and here.Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas judge Joseph M. James issued an order today in the litigation first brought by Calvary Episcopal Church against then-bishop Robert Duncan and other diocesan leaders in October 2003. (You can read that order here. This PDF version is searchable and has all pages in an upright orientation.) A year later, the parties filed a stipulation agreeing that diocesan-owned property would stay with The Episcopal Church, come what may. The stipulation also described a process to be followed if a diocesan congregation wanted to leave The Episcopal Church. Since a majority of deputies to the diocesan convention voted in 2008 to remove the diocese from The Episcopal Church, litigation has focused exclusively on the diocesan-property issue.
Although Duncan, through his attorneys, argued that the stipulation does not mean what it seems to mean, Judge James disagreed and, in October 2009, issued an order that the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh should “hold and administer the real and personal property that is subject to Paragraph One [which deals with diocesan property].” That property was inventoried by a special master appointed by the court, attorney Stanley E. Levine.
Today’s order states that:
- The court accepts Levine’s inventory as a list of property subject to paragraph 1 of the stipulation. It leaves open the possibility that the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh could seek additional property.
- There is to be both a public and a confidential version of the court order. Since the report of the special master is attached to the order, the public version includes a redacted version of the report that eliminates confidential information such as account numbers. The confidential order is under seal.
- Financial institutions and repositories holding diocesan funds are to take instructions only from the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh. A similar requirement is placed on trustees and fiduciaries.
- Real property listed by the special master is rightfully held and administered by the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh. None of the property can be sold or current occupants removed without the permission of the court.
- Recipients of “altar artifacts” (presumably liturgical furnishings owned by the diocese but on loan to parishes) should take instructions regarding their disposition from the Diocese of Pittsburgh and may not sell, transfer, or move the artifacts to another location without the permission of the court.
- Persons or entities having taken out loans from the diocese are to take instructions for repayment from the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh.
- Defendants are to provide to the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh within 20 days financial and other records needed by the diocese to hold and administer the property covered by the order. They are to provide “ongoing cooperation” to implement the provisions of the order.
- The order takes effect immediately, and the court “retains jurisdiction over the parties and the subject matter to enforce the Stipulation and Order of October 14, 2005, the Opinion and Order of Court of October 6, 2009, and [the current] order.”
- $22 million in cash, cash equivalents, receivables, and investments. This includes some $2.5 million in parish funds held in a common investment pool.
- Various trusts, not all of which have specific values attached to them.
- Approximately $1 million in outstanding loans due the diocese (included in the $22 million, above).
- A substantial amount of real property, including the “Donegal Property,” 151 acres of rural property on which Duncan once proposed building a conference center, and Sheldon Calvary Camp, a summer camp facility in Ohio on Lake Erie. Also included is Old St. Luke’s, an historic church without a congregation, and two cemeteries.
Update (1/31/2009): My statement above about Trinity Cathedral is incorrect. See comments for more information.