October 26, 2011

P-G: No Supreme Court Appeal

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette finally got around to reporting on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s refusal to hear an appeal from Bob Duncan, et al., in the Calvary Church litigation. (See “Pa. High Court Rejects Duncan Appeal.”) Ann Rodgers’ story “Property litigation involving Episcopal Diocese is over” appeared in today’s edition.

There was not much that is new in the Post-Gazette article, but there was this:
After the Pennsylvania Supreme Court last week denied an appeal from the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh, which had argued that it owned the property, the Anglican decided diocese it will not appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, spokesman David Trautman said.

“This whole string of litigation is ended, is done,” he said.
Appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court seemed foolhardy, since the issue adjudicated by the courts in the Calvary litigation was the plain meaning of the stipulation agreed to be all parties in 2005, not the interpretation of church canons or trust law. Prudence has not always characterized the legal moves of church dissidents elsewhere, however, so it was a relief to know that litigation, at least over the diocesan property in Pittsburgh, is at an end.

“We remain committed to reaching a negotiated settlement [of outstanding issues] with the Episcopal Church diocese,” Archbishop Duncan has declared. (See “Duncan Responds to Supreme Court  Order.”) Although Duncan and the people of the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh have no right to occupy the properties that were part of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh before the October 2008 “realignment,” it may eventually take lawsuits and sheriff’s deputies to evict the squatters from Episcopal churches, particularly in the case of large and valuable churches such as Church of the Ascension.

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