01 March 2010

United States Supreme Court rejects schismatics appeal

The Supreme Court of the United States has denied a request to hear the appeal in the case of the former congregation of St. Luke's Episcopal Church in La Crescenta, California. The action was just one of a long list of other petitions they denied.

According to Episcopal News the official publication of the Diocese of Los Angles,

The U.S. Supreme Court today announced that it has denied a petition to hear an appeal from a breakaway congregation seeking claim to the property of St. Luke's Episcopal Church of La Crescenta, California. The court posted its action, together with dozens of other petitions denied, on its web site.

Meeting in conference on Feb. 26, the high court declined to hear the petition filed by St. Luke's Anglican Church of La Crescenta, whose members voted in 2006 to disaffiliate from the Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Los Angeles.

The property, a landmark stone church complex at 2563 Foothill Blvd., was returned to the Diocese of Los Angeles by court order on Oct. 12, 2009, following the California State Supreme Court's Jan. 5, 2009 ruling affirming that Episcopal Church property is held in trust for the mission of the local diocese and the wider church.

The Rt. Rev. J. Jon Bruno, ordinary, said:
I thank the Justices of the U.S. Supreme Court for their clarity in declining to hear an appeal regarding Episcopal Church property in La Crescenta, California, which has served local residents for more than 80 years.

Likewise, last October, the U.S. Supreme Court also declined to hear a similar case involving Episcopal Church property occupied by a breakaway congregation in Newport Beach.

This matter was decided by the California State Supreme Court in its January 5, 2009 opinion affirming that Episcopal Church property is held in trust by a local parish for the present and future ministry of the Diocese and the wider church.

We now await the California Court of Appeal ruling for enforcement of this decision -- which was requested by the Diocese before the Court on November 17, 2009 -- and the Superior Court's subsequent action that will begin an orderly transition bringing the properties in Newport Beach, Long Beach and North Hollywood into direct administration by the Diocese of Los Angeles.

I remain hopeful that it will be possible for Christian reconciliation and healing to occur in these contexts, and I look forward to an end to the costly litigation that has spanned more than five and a half years.

I ask for the diocesan community's continuing prayers with regard to these matters.
Another blow for the schismatics. Regardless of the possible Duncanite spin, this is a huge defeat for the so-called Anglican Church in North America and it's property grab scheme. Once again the SCUSA has set the tone for possible future appeals by the schismatics.

Having said that, I predict that those who say "this isn't about the property" will continue to fight one cruet stopper at a time proving that it really is only about the property.

One blog posted an article in which we find this
St. Luke’s legal representatives maintain that under longstanding law, no one can unilaterally impose a trust over someone else’s property without their permission. But California courts have now ruled that certain denominations - those that claim to be a "superior religious body or general church" - can unilaterally impose a trust on the property of spiritually affiliated but separately incorporated local churches, resulting in the local church forfeiting its property if it ever chooses to leave the denomination. These rulings in California conflict with similar rulings in other states and St. Luke’s lawyers intended to argue that California violated St. Luke’s first amendment rights by giving preferences to certain kinds of churches that claim to be hierarchical; rights that other churches and non-religious associations are not entitled.
That's very interesting. I suppose 78 years of acknowledging the hierarchical nature of the PECUSA and its trust of property mean nothing to the schismatic legal team. Their tactic is simply to rewrite historical fact to suit their own demented take on reality.

Remember to pray for the people of St. Luke's; they will need our prayers as they face reality.

Jim Naughton's post at the Episcopal Cafe is here.