Thursday, July 17, 2014

A.S. Haley: Huge Setback for ECUSA at South Carolina Trial-Their Expert Concedes the Case

July 16, 2014

Yesterday, July 15, was the seventh day of the ongoing trial involving Bishop Lawrence's Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina and thirty-four of its parishes, as plaintiffs, seeking to quiet the title to their real and personal property against the claims made by ECUSA and its rump group, the "Episcopal Church in South Carolina" ("ECSC"). The defendants say that the Diocese and its parishes all forfeited their property when the Diocese voted to amend its governing documents so as to make it no longer a constituent member of ECUSA.

According to the official line promulgated by ECUSA, "people may leave, but dioceses may not." ECUSA claims to be made up of 110 dioceses (actually, now 109 following the merger of Quincy into the Diocese of Chicago), but four of them are not true dioceses -- they are the rump groups set up by 815 to act as plaintiffs (or, in some cases, when they cannot organize fast enough, as defendants and counterclaimants) in the lawsuits brought to recover the bank accounts and real properties that belonged to the dioceses and their member parishes that voted to withdraw. Those rump groups, although each newly organized, have never formally been admitted as proper "dioceses" into union with General Convention, as required by ECUSA's own Constitution.

And one sees right away why: if ECUSA were to go through the formalities necessary to admit them as new dioceses, it would give away its argument that "dioceses cannot leave." Instead it has the rump groups pretend to be the ongoing original dioceses, and then has General Convention recognize them as such and seat their deputies.

Thus far, only two trial courts -- one in Pittsburgh, and the other in Fresno, California -- have been taken in by this ruse. Judges in Texas and in Illinois, meanwhile, have not. (A ruling is expected any day now from the Illinois Court of Appeals which will affirm a lower court's judgment that the [now Anglican] Diocese of Quincy properly amended its own governing documents so as to remove itself from ECUSA.)

And now ECUSA may have shot itself in the foot in South Carolina, as well. Let's have the Press Office of the Episcopal Diocese tell us what happened on Day 7 of the trial, with ECUSA and ECSC putting on their portion of the case... the rest


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