[Update 12/21/11: As an aside in this old post, I want to point out that the remaining parish has a new website up at http://www.goodshepherdrosemont.net. I get a lot of hits because I have high SEO on the parish. The dot org site takes you to the people who left the parish.]
Let me throw this one in here, today, since I see that David Virtue has something up about Judge Stanley Ott’s ruling in the matter of the (Episcopal) Good Shepherd Rosemont case.
As people had either expected, or feared, the judge ruled that Father Moyer could no longer continue as rector of Good Shepherd, Rosemont. Additionally, two of the vestry apparently have been told that they are disqualified from serving as vestry members.
It does not look like the Diocese of Pennsylvania was able to do their land grab, however. This was under a theory that the Episcopal Bishop had the exact powers of a Roman Catholic bishop. (Everyday readers know that this nutty concept of super-deference was introduced into Pennsylvania law by Valerie J. Munson, an attorney once practicing here who used to take both sides of these church issues. Whatever got the money in.)
I have been closely following this case, because of my own matter involving St. Clement’s Church, 20 years ago, (which is why you see the zing at attorney Munson, of course.) I haven’t seen the opinion by Judge Ott yet, but I have a feeling that it’s exactly (notice I bold that) what I had argued twenty years ago–that an Episcopal church parish is bound by its canons AND the civil court is allowed to intervene in a parish situation under a “neutral principles of law” analysis.
This is what I said as a 27-year-old attorney, and would it have to take 20 years to be vindicated, if this is how he ruled?
I will post Judge Ott’s opinion as soon as I can track it down in PDF format.
[Update: commentary from the A.S. Haley, Esq., blogging at (or as) the Anglican Curmudgeon.]
[Update 8/31/11: The memorandum opinion is, unfortunately, not as neat and clean as I figured it would be, based on the relief granted. I am still studying the nine pager, that David Virtue has put up here. What stands out immediately as problematic is where Judge Ott diverges from a "neutral principles of law" analysis. He seems to be saying that an Episcopalian bishop cannot only qualify priests in his/her diocese, but also vestry members. That is troubling.]