Skip to comments.PITTSBURGH: Court tells diocese to turn over documents by January 31
Posted on 01/28/2007 7:40:08 PM PST by Huber
A judge has agreed with a request by Calvary Episcopal Church in Pittsburgh to speed up the disclosure of information it requested from the Diocese of Pittsburgh in connection with a court case meant to enforce a ruling prohibiting the diocese from transferring title or use of real or personal property to any entity outside of the Episcopal Church.
The normal time for such so-called "discovery" is 30 days; the parish asked for a 21-day limit. Calvary argued the limited time frame is needed in part because it said that the court should rule before the meeting of the primates of the Anglican Communion February 15-19 in Tanzania. Calvarys December 19 petition said that some of the primates and Duncan are planning to use the meeting to further their efforts to set up an alternative Anglican structure in the United States.
The diocese must comply with the discovery request by January 31.
Calvarys petition alleged that "despite assertions to the contrary -- persons and property within the Diocese are effectively being removed or have been removed from the Episcopal Church" in the wake of the diocesan convention's decision in early November to request a relationship with a primate other than Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and to withdraw consent to membership in the Episcopal Church's Province III.
Neither the constitution of the Anglican Consultative Council, the Anglican Communion's main policy-making body, or the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church contain provisions for alternative primatial oversight.
In October 2005, a Pennsylvania state court judge approved a settlement in an earlier Calvary lawsuit challenging a 2003 diocesan convention resolution asserting that congregations own their buildings and that neither the diocese nor national church structures could claim them if a parish decides to leave.
According to the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church, dioceses are created or dissolved only by acts of General Convention (Articles V and VI) and dioceses create or dissolve Episcopal congregations in their midst. Congregational property is held in trust for the diocese, and the diocese holds property in trust for the wider church (Canon I.7.4 of the Episcopal Church).
The Calvary settlement, announced October 14, 2005, stated that even if the majority of the diocese's congregations decide not to remain in the Episcopal Church, any diocesan real estate and endowments would be held by the remaining diocesan structure.
Calvary's December 19 court petition asks that the October 2005 settlement be enforced because it claims that Duncan, among others, signed a "pledge of allegiance" to a number of Anglican primates from outside the United States during a mid-November meeting with them in Virginia. The petition claims that those present at the meeting "discussed strategies, to be dictated by the foreign primates, to facilitate the creation of a separate ecclesiastical structure in the United States."
The collection of court filings dating to the initial 2003 filing is available here. Many of the documents number more than 300 pages and take considerable time to download.
We are watching a major denomination in its death throes.
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