Friday, April 20, 2007

dennis canon fails again

Read the whole thing.

The Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society of the Episcopal Church (abbreviated DFMS) was told by a New York supreme court judge that it could participate as little more than an observer in the property dispute lawsuit by the Episcopal Diocese of Central New York against St. Andrews Church in Syracuse. Supreme Court Justice James P. Murphy in a written decision earlier this week ruled that "DFMS only asserts that St. Andrew's property is held in trust for the benefit of the Episcopal Church as promulgated by certain Episcopal canons, and as such, the Court finds its legal interest to be insufficient." The judge allowed DFMS to intervene in the ongoing lawsuit, but "that the permissive intervention of the DFMS should be limited."

Note this is not quite a repudiation of the Dennis Canon (I.7.4-5), but it is an expression of skepticism on the part of the judge that that canon makes TEC a significant party in the lawsuit. As far as the court is concerned, it's a dispute between the parish and the diocese, and 815 may only watch. The Dennis Canon states, "All real and personal property held by or for the benefit of any Parish, Mission or Congregation is held in trust for this Church and the Diocese thereof in which such Parish, Mission or Congregation is located." This decision is typical of those to which we've drawn your attention at Whitehall - judges tend to treat the Dennis Canon with skepticism, as a rule that applies to internal squabbles and not to real legal affairs. It's as if the local Yale Club (just an example) passed a by-law that it now owned all the cars belonging to its members, without all the members actually agreeing to hand over their titles. The Dennis Canon depends only upon internal coercion, strong-arm tactics, and threats for its effectiveness. The courts don't seem to recognize it. Luckily for 815, the aforementioned activities are a well-used part of the playbook. Yessiree, we at TEC are all about eliminating oppression in the world, as per the MDG's. If it were Akinola doing to his liberal parishes what TEC's bishops are doing to their conservative ones, we'd hear plenty of squawking on behalf of the powerless.

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