Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Our Lady of Perpetual Litigation

I should say I am not the first one to dub the Presiding “Bishop” of The Episcopal Church, Katharine Schori, Our Lady of Perpetual Litigation. But better late than never.

A detailed series on her and TEC’s litigious ways over at the Anglican Curmudgeon inspires me. And she has so pushed the abundance of litigation that it almost seems unfair to blame the rest of The Episcopal Church. This following fact is particularly eye-opening:

Frank Kirkpatrick, professor of religion at Trinity College, wrote in a survey article in 2008 that "there were, as of December [2007], 55 [Episcopal Church] property disputes in one state or another of resolution around the country." (You may find a listing of those lawsuits in this post from August 2008, and see also the latest report from the American Anglican Council.) Of those fifty-five lawsuits, I estimate that ECUSA itself was a party to about half of them. Thus from the five lawsuits to which it was a party as Bishop Griswold ended his term in November 2006 (the Pawley's Island case in South Carolina, the three Los Angeles lawsuits, and a case involving St. James Church in Elmhurst, in the Diocese of Long Island), the number increased by five times in the first full year of Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori's term.

One instance comes to mind. The then Bishop of Virginia, Peter Lee, seemed close to an agreement with congregations departing from his diocese . . . until . . .

Katharine Jefferts Schori stepped in. According to sworn testimony given in court proceedings, Bishop Lee told the leaders of the departing congregations that "there is a new sheriff in town." Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori directed him to sue the congregations and not let them leave with their property.

There is little question the wave of litigation was her policy:

There are no records in the minutes of the Executive Council during this period to show that it was ever consulted before any of these multiple filings in the name of the Church took place; as quoted in the previous post, the Presiding Bishop held the view that only she personally, and neither the Council, nor even General Convention, had any authority over litigation. Thus she simply gave her Chancellor free rein -- and ECUSA's legal bills began to mount exponentially.

Many of my knowledgeable readers are well aware of how litigious Schori is. I thought I was thus informed as well. But the extent of how much she has pushed litigation not only on the orthodox but on The Episcopal Church itself astounds. TEC is among her victims as well.

Again, the Anglican Curmudgeon is patiently examining Schori’s litigiousness in great detail.

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