Monday, January 29, 2007

Property fight looms :: Reuters (Jan 27)

The diocese cited state law and a diocesan law stating all real and personal property is 'held in trust' for the diocese.

'Show me the paper that has the names,' responded Jim Pierobon, spokesman for Falls Church and Truro Church, saying no such trust formally exists. 'Virginia law doesn't favor denominations -- it favors congregations.'

David Virtue, a critic of the Episcopal leadership, said Jefferts Schori is wrong, as cases in California have shown.

'It is not as black and white as she says,' Virtue said. 'In some dioceses, the bishops have lost. In others, they have won.'

Wicks Stephens, chancellor of the Anglican Communion Network, a conservative group within the church that claims to represent about a quarter of a million Episcopalians, said a 1979 U.S. Supreme Court decision made it clear state courts can look at church property disputes.

He said court history shows that a 1979 Episcopal Church law called the Dennis Canon -- which reserves all property for the church -- 'is not enforceable, and when properly defended against, it will be defeated in a lawsuit.'

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