Diocese of Virginia issues a Statement

PANTS ON FIRE ALERT: It’s now official – Henry Burt is the Episcopal version of Baghdad Bob. From now on, he’s Baghdad Burt.

The Diocese again noted the regrettable necessity of these proceedings. “While we have hoped that the CANA congregations would propose a reasonable alternative to litigation,” said Henry D.W. Burt, Secretary of the Diocese, “the Church must vigorously protect the legacy of those faithful generations who have gone before for those who will follow.”

Do we have to go through this again? It was Katharine Jefferts Schori and the Diocese of Virginia that sued the congregations, it was Bishop Lee who cut off negotiations and sued everyone. We all had the Standstill Agreement – our petitions were not deemed hostile by the Diocese. The litigation was initiated by TEC and the Diocese. “While we have hoped that the CANA Congregations would propose a reasonable alternative to litigation …”

That has got to be the Pants on Fire Statement of the Year.

NOTE VERY CAREFULLY THE SPINMEISTING – Can you read between the lines?

Diocese Forgoes Voting Issue, Prepares for Appeal

September 22, 2008

The Episcopal Diocese of Virginia announced today that the trial scheduled to begin October 6 will focus solely on the issue of which properties occupied by the CANA congregations are actually subject to their 57-9 petitions.

Though loyal Episcopalians have expressed grave concerns about the validity and fairness of the voting procedures used by the CANA congregations, the Diocese will forego judicial review of that process to focus on those issues that will most effectively and quickly return Episcopalians to their church homes and result in the overturning of the 57-9 “Division Statute.”

The Diocese is preparing to mount a vigorous appeal that addresses the serious legal and religious questions and implications that have arisen from this unfortunate situation. The Diocese will explore fully every option available to restore constitutional and legal protections for all churches in Virginia.

In a trial beginning on October 6, the Court will examine precisely which property is subject to the Division Statute petitions filed by CANA congregations. The Court will determine several issues either before or during trial, including whether the congregation attempting to take the property actually owns the property they seek under its 57-9 petition, whether deed restrictions require the property to remain with the Episcopal Church, and, in one instance, whether a last-minute transfer of property was valid. Once these issues are decided, the Diocese will appeal the Court’s rulings on the applicability and validity of the Division Statute.

“In the Episcopal Church, congregations exist because they are in communion with the bishop of a diocese, through recognition by diocesan governing bodies,” said the Rt. Rev. Peter James Lee, Bishop of Virginia. “They cannot unilaterally disestablish themselves or remove themselves from a diocese, and take Episcopal property with them, using the secular court system to validate their actions.”

The Diocese is steadfast in its goal of returning faithful Episcopalians to their church homes and restoring the full and time-honored protections of the First Amendment and the Virginia Constitution for religious freedom.

“The court proceedings of the past several months have shown that the Division Statute, which exists only in Virginia, is uniquely hostile to religious freedom and our faith. We are resolute in our commitment to pursue every avenue in seeking the return of Episcopalians who have been exiled from their church homes,” said Bishop Lee.

The Diocese again noted the regrettable necessity of these proceedings. “While we have hoped that the CANA congregations would propose a reasonable alternative to litigation,” said Henry D.W. Burt, Secretary of the Diocese, “the Church must vigorously protect the legacy of those faithful generations who have gone before for those who will follow.”

LATER: It’s Monday Night and there’s still no posting of the Diocese’s statement on 815’s website. What’s up with that? After all, they are litigating together, in court they sit next to each other at the same table and share pens. 815 is quick to put up their tar & feather story on Bob Duncan, but the Diocese’s “statement” is still missing. Perhaps the 815 staff are out saying good-bye to Yankee Stadium. Or perhaps not.