09 January 2009

The Bish' got a wonderful, awful idea.

As many of you know, on 8 January the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh asked the courts to release to it the property and assets that belong to it by right of being the continuing diocese.

According to the diocesan web page:

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. ...

“Whatever Robert Duncan and his followers may claim to be, they cannot claim to be ‘the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh of the Episcopal Church of the United States of America’,” the Diocese argues in its papers filed today.

Take particular notice of the emphasized portion above. Part of the press relasae of the schismatic group states:
The Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh (Anglican) will defend itself.

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.
First, the facts prove it is the schismatics who have formed a new organization. The group that petitioned the court is the continuing Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh.

Second, the schismatic group's press release sounds like they have amnesia or are being blatant dishonest.

Third, telling the court that the same court misunderstood the terms of the 2005 agreement won't endear the schismatics to the legal establishment. Each time the schismatics speak, there is a new spin on the facts.

But the standard tactic is to tell the lie long enough and loud enough and people are sure to believe it -- eventually, hopefully.

In the legal case before the courts, the tactic seems to be "Tell enough versions of the story one of them is bound to be swallowed by someone with enough power to give us a victory and legitimize the new organization."

The heart of the matter is "A rose by any other name." The schismatics must convince the courts that they are the continuing diocese. At stake, as mentioned in the application to the court yesterday, are multi millions of dollars in cash and real estate.

In 2005, the court in Pennsylvania stated that the property must remain with the continuing diocese. This is the reason the schismatics have retained the diocesan name (and in three cases the name "Episcopal") - hoping the courts will be so obtuse that they won't notice who actually left The Episcopal Church.

The recent ruling in California has most certainly ended any hope Schofield might have of retaining the property and money appropriated from The Episcopal Church. That is the prevailing opinion of the legal experts.

Two courts have ruled in favour of the National Church. We surmise that, given precedent being established by two state courts, the same will be true in Ft. Worth and Quincy. Texas courts are certainly unpredictable, though.

When the new Duncan organization has to vacate the buildings and turn over the cash (including that cash spent since they misappropriated TEC funds), we shall see how deep their conviction is. David Schofield will not enjoy giving up the trappings of the cathedral and moving into a store-front with only the vestments he purchased with his own money and a fruit crate as the altar.

That is the main reason they did not do the honourable thing and just walk away. They don't want to start anew - they want the spoils of others labours and donations. They want a ready made church with ready made buildings and endowment funds. It's all about greed, not theology.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect to the recent events is that there is dead silence from the Global South cohorts. But, that is intentional, in my opinion. These must be seen by the world as an internal U.S. squabble. If the Africans or Sydneyites weigh in, it will not bode well. Also, those GS primates are hard at work trying to secure (read bully) enough AC primates to back the schism at the February meeting. If they lose there, it's all over but the shouting, and they realize that.

The photo was sent to me my a reader and I added the caption. My apologies to the unknown artist. If you contact me, I will gladly credit you or remove the image if you so request.