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Thursday, August 18, 2011

“We Don’t Want To Be Cruel”

As you may have noticed, lately I have been posting more blog entries about the property issues between the TEC-Pgh Diocese and our Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh. Given what has transpired so far, I don’t have a lot of hope for an amicable resolution between us. As I have been thinking about all this, I recalled the following quote from TEC-Pgh bishop Ken Price posted by The Living Church magazine on- line. “We have some principles to uphold, but we don’t want to be cruel,” said the Rt. Rev. Kenneth L. Price Jr., Bishop of Pittsburgh, in an interview with The Living Church. Price said the diocese consulted with David Booth Beers, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori’s chancellor, throughout the negotiations. For complete article, click here

Let me parse this dichotomous statement from the bishop. The first word is “We” and just who, pray tell is “We”? Is the bishop speaking for himself and the entire TEC-Pgh Diocese or is he talking for himself and the TEC-Pgh Legal Team or is he including David Booth Beers, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori’s chancellor and the Pee Bee herself in the “We” as well? Methinks, given the context of the whole paragraph, Price is including KJS and Beers in his statement.

Second, what are the “some principles to uphold”? These can be found in two places. First, are in the statements released by the TEC-Pgh Diocese this past February, “Pastoral Direction For Parishes Seeking To Resolve Property Issues With The Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh” Click here and “Property Settlements Guidelines.” Click here and from the 815 perspective, we have KJS’s interview with Ann Rodgers during her Holy Week visit to Pittsburgh posted on her Faithburgh blog. Click here.

Both the TEC-Pgh Pastoral Direction and the Guidelines include “disaffiliation”and the “value of all property and assets”. KJS on the other hand has been quoted as saying that, “She does have two principles that she would like to see followed. ‘Our task is to see that the value of those gifts [to the Episcopal Church] not be inappropriately disposed of. We have to recover some approximation of fair market value for properties,’ she said. The second principle ’is that we shouldn't be in the business of setting up competing ecclesiastical interests with Episcopal Church resources’."

KJS seems to be saying that these two principles are not hard and fast rules but two things she would like to see upheld but may or may not be insisted upon. “Wishes” if you will. A good question might be, “Is Ken Price operating under the mantra, ‘Your wish is my command?’ Who knows? He is if nothing else(and well intentioned or not) the commensurate institutionalist

KJS also claims that she is not instructing the TEC-Pghers on how to conduct the negotiations, Ann Rodgers reports, “Judging by some of the e-mail I get, many members of the Anglican diocese believe that she is orchestrating the legal battle, and running the negotiations from New York. That's not true, she said. "It's not being run from New York. I would remind you that this legal business happened before Bob Duncan and some others decided to leave the Episcopal Church. It was led by Episcopalians in this diocese. The wider church wasn't part of it at that point. We didn't join it until later." Those negotiations are directed by Pittsburghers, and an agreement reached in civil court "is governing the way the negotiations are happening in this diocese," she said”. She is slick as snot! I don't believe, even for a New York minute, a word she says!

The second half of Price’s quote is, “but we don’t want to be cruel,” What does that mean? He seems to be saying the ‘some principles” will be upheld even if their application is interpreted as cruel ---even though this is not our intention. Or perhaps, ‘we don’t want to be cruel but we will if we have to be in order to get what we want.’ Again, who knows?

So if we are to predict how these negotiations will go, at least for the 23 parishes whose deeds are now held by the TEC-Pgh Board of Trustees, we have the St Philip’s settlement and a recent communication to another parish and both insist on disaffiliation and fair market value and the statements mentioned above. As I said, I am not holding out much hope.

1 comment:

  1. I remember Judge James making the statement on several occaisons throughout the legal process that he didn't want to see any congregation get thrown out of its buildings. He was quite emphatic on that point. Unfortunately we have already seen two ACNA parishes put out on the street and we will most certainly see many more ACNA parishes ejected from their buildings. It's clear the Shylockian legal victors will demand their pound of flesh...