Something funky happens with Open ID whenever I try to use it over at Anglican Curmudgeon, a website run by California attorney A.S. Haley that discusses the multiple Episcopal Church litigations throughout America. Because Mr. Haley is tied into so many different cases as they are going on, he is probably the foremost expert on the crisis in contemporary Episcopalian and why the denomination seems to be circling the drain, spiritually and financially.
I am more to the left than Mr. Haley’s readership, I believe, but I still like to post there.
Here were my remarks, which won’t make any sense unless you visit the post.
Ah, it’s so frustrating when that happens. I hit “preview” and the software wants me to verify my name and data–then it tells me there has been some cookie error. Everything I wrote vanished.
I. The duties of a Pennsylvania nonprofit corporation officer, when the corp. is a religious society
a. Is the duty back to the parishioners (majority of parishioners), or is it to some strongman-bishop? Or standing committee? Where is this spelled out in PA law? Where is this spelled out in canons?
b. The ejectment seat canon (I.17.8) only seems to indicate that the vestry member has a fiduciary duty. Who judges a potential breach? The bishop? Standing committee? Aren’t there supposed to be separate PA law standards that are divorced from religion?
c. If the real reason was employing Fr. Moyer, an unlicensed priest, why didn’t Judge Ott just say so? If you say you are running the Red Cross, but run it as if it’s the Purple Cross, then you haven’t done your fiduciary duty, have you?
d. Is the duty to “the hierarchy”? How does the deference rule require this?
e. Judge Ott specifically says that Pennsylvania trust law does not come into play? Does Pennsylvania corporate law? Why not?
II. St. Clement’s Church
My case from 20 years ago. Vestry was not following canons, but the Philadelphia Orphans’ Court wouldn’t let the case go forward. They wanted an “adjudication” from the bishop (but no discovery, so, in effect, no result). Where did “membership adjudication” arise within the Episcopal Church? The rule is clear. Where did the new rule come from? Pennsylvania law? Why does “the hierarchy” get to decide this, if they choose (or not)?
III. Pittsburgh parishes affiliated with ACNA (former Diocese of Pittsburgh)
The Pennsylvania trial court said that the diocese could not disaffiliate without leaving the property behind. Where did this rule come from? Isn’t it still the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh? Where did “the hierarchy” get the right to change the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh into something else?
In all three cases above, it’s clear that “the hierarchy” is cleaned up language for the rule in Roman Catholic Church, if what we had before us was a Roman Catholic matter. As I have previously remarked, this is what was inelegantly referred to in the 19th century as “popery”–the imposition of the rule of Rome for the laws of the United States of America.
The deference rule only meant that the civil courts are supposed to refer to rules as already determined within the religion that has hierarchical governance. It’s not supposed to defer to any desire (or silence) that comes out of hierarchical officials.
I think the Pennsylvania bench has been incredibly derelict in this area of the law, and none of the trial court level judges are doing anything to clean it up.