News for Week Ending 10/12/2009
Women bishops in CoE dealt blowThe Church of England has, in principle, approved the consecration of women bishops, but implementation of that decision is proving controversial. In February, a committee was given the task of working out the necessary details. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) On October 8, 2009, that committee issued an interim report indicating that it had decided to make significant concessions to opponents of women bishops. It appears that the Church of England will not be able to have women bishops until at least 2014. Final recommendations by the committee will be reviewed by the General Synod next year. Additional details may be read in stories from Reuters and The Times.
Executive Council responds to Anglican covenant draftEpiscopal News Service reported October 8, 2009, that the Episcopal Church’s Executive Council has made an official response to the Anglican Consultative Council regarding the controversial Section Four of the Ridley Cambridge Draft of an Anglican covenant. Section Four, which is expected to undergo additional revisions, deals with enforcement of the covenant. The Executive Council report (available here), which is based on comments from General Convention deputations, is critical of the current version of Section Four of the covenant draft.
Court hands diocese major victoryAllegheny County Court of Common Pleas judge Joseph James handed the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh a major victory in the so-called Calvary lawsuit on October 6, 2009. At issue was the interpretation of paragraph 1 of the stipulation agreed to in October 2005 by Calvary Church and then bishop Robert Duncan and other diocesan leaders:
Property, whether real or personal (hereinafter “Property”), held or administered by the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh of the Episcopal Church of the United States of America (hereinafter “Diocese”) for the beneficial use of the parishes and institutions of the Diocese, shall continue to be so held or administered by the Diocese regardless of whether some or even a majority of the parishes in the Diocese might decide not to remain in the Episcopal Church of the United States of America. For purposes of this paragraph, Property as to which title is legitimately held in the name of a parish of the Diocese shall not be deemed Property held or administered by the Diocese.In a terse 5-page opinion, Judge James ruled that the “Diocese” in the paragraph refers to the diocese recognized as the Diocese of Pittsburgh by The Episcopal Church. The decision means that diocesan property currently controlled by Duncan and his supporters must be surrendered to the Episcopalians. James ordered that all parties meet with the special master, who has been responsible for inventorying diocesan property. The special master is to report to the judge, after which James will “enter an appropriate order for the orderly transition of possession, custody, and control over said property.”
The Episcopal Diocese issued this statement October 6. Archbishop Robert Duncan responded with a pastoral letter October 7 to be read in the churches under his authority. Duncan began, “We lost.” Duncan emphasized that parish property is not directly affected by the court decision and indicated that an appeal is under consideration.
The story was covered by Episcopal News Service, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, and other media outlets.