Episcopal News Service February 26, 2007
Virginia property litigation to continue, church's attorneys say
By Mary Frances Schjonberg
[ENS] Lawyers for the Episcopal Church have told two attorneys representing some of the 11 Diocese of Virginia congregations involved in a legal dispute over possession of church property that "there is no basis at this time" to put that litigation on hold.
Washington, D.C. attorneys Mary A. McReynolds and Steffen N. Johnson asked by letter on February 22 that the litigation be put on hold after the communiqué (http://www.episcopalchurch.org/3577_82571_ENG_HTM.htm) issued at the end of the recent Primates' Meeting "urge[d] the representatives of The Episcopal Church and of those congregations in property disputes with it to suspend all actions in law arising in this situation."
The Primates' recommendation concerning litigation was one of a number of interrelated recommendations (http://www.episcopalchurch.org/3577_82570_ENG_HTM.htm) which they made concerning the way the Episcopal Church should deal with disagreements among its members.
In their February 26 reply, David Booth Beers, chancellor to Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, and his colleague Heather H. Anderson, first reminded the two attorneys that the Anglican Communion is a federation and not a "juridical or legislative body."
Thus, they wrote, it "has no legal authority over the affairs of its members."
"Rather, through a series of meetings of its members, the bishops and other representatives of the member churches from time to time adopt teachings and policies as recommendations to those churches," Beers and Anderson wrote.
In the case of the Communiqué, Beers and Anderson said that the Primates' recommendations are "interrelated," and they noted that the Primates recognized that the Episcopal Church must generate ways to handle differences among its members "within its own life."
The full story may be found at:
-- The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is national correspondent for the Episcopal News Service.
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