Presiding Bishop and LA Bishop Laud California Court ruling

david at david at
Fri Jan 9 16:58:41 EST 2009

Presiding Bishop and LA Bishop Laud California Court ruling
January 05, 2009

The Office of the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church has issued the following statement concerning the ruling in the California Courts on January 5, 2009.

We are pleased to announce that the Supreme Court of California today issued its decision in Episcopal Church Cases, strongly affirming that property held by a constituent congregation of The Episcopal Church is held for the general Church in accordance with The Episcopal Church's own clearly-stated rules. 

The Court declared that in California, disputes involving claims to church property will be decided using the "neutral principles of law" analysis approved by the United States Supreme Court in 1979, under which the courts will consider "sources such as the deeds to the property in dispute, the local church's articles of incorporation, the general church's constitution, canons, and rules, and relevant statutes, including statutes specifically concerning religious property." 

The Court's decision also stands as a ringing endorsement of this country's history of religious freedom, explicitly recognizing that judicial respect for a denomination's internal polity and rules is required by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, and is fully consistent with the application of the "neutral principles" analysis it adopts. 

While the decision specifically applies to the property of St. James Episcopal Parish of Newport Beach, California, its unequivocal reasoning applies generally throughout The Episcopal Church. 

We are hopeful that this decision will help to bring remaining property litigation in California and elsewhere to a speedy conclusion, and look forward to working with affected Dioceses toward reconciliation and on a continuation of The Episcopal Church's mission priorities.

Statement from Bishop J. Jon Bruno of the Diocese of Los Angeles:

"The Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles is overjoyed with the conclusive opinion of the California Supreme Court.

"We have prevailed in all areas of law addressed in this case.  "We look forward to the possibility of reconciliation with these congregations, and we assure that this Diocese and the people of The Episcopal Church that we will continue mission and ministry in the areas of these congregations.

"The mission of The Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Los Angeles continues, as our prayer book states, 'to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ.' We will continue to seek this reconciliation with fellow Christians in the communities of Long Beach, Newport Beach, and North Hollywood, as well as La Crescenta, where Episcopal church properties continue as part of the Diocese of Los Angeles in accordance with the Court's opinion announced today.

"We acknowledge that this opinion establishes a precedent. We further note the pastoral concerns at this time within The Episcopal Church, which continues in its mission of service, especially in providing food, shelter, medicine, and pastoral care to those in greatest need locally and globally, respecting the dignity of every human being."


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