10/12/2008

Churches in Court not only in the Decadent West

There is considerable pious wringing of hands about how awful it is that there are lawsuits in the US over church property. The greatest of the hand wringers are from the United Front for an Improved and Purified Anglican Communion - mostly bishops and churches from the Global South. Religious Intelligence writer George Conger points us to a messy lawsuit brought by one bishop and another in Pakistan. Read the whole thing HERE. Mr. Conger writes:


"The Bishop of Karachi, the Rt Rev Ijaz Inayat brought a suit againt the Bishop of Peshawar, the Rt Rev Mano Ramalshah and representatives of the Diocese of Lahore, charging they had unlawfully alienated church property, turning over the Afghan Mission Hospital in Peshawar in 2006 to a developer --- who has since demolished the structure to make way for a shopping centre.

Bishop Inayat charged Bishop Ramalshah with fraud, alleging he and three other Church of Pakistan bishops were pocketing the bulk of the proceeds from the sale of the hospital --- a charge denied by the bishops’ lawyers during last week’s hearing.

The Bishop of Karachi urged the government to pursue criminal sanctions against the defendants, contending the disputed sale violated laws designed to protect Pakistan’s Christian minority.

The fighting amongst the bishops of Pakistan, which have led at times to rival moderators and bishops for the million-member church, has spawned numerous lawsuits and been the subject of a failed intervention by former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey."

Lawsuits in the Episcopal Church have generally been relatively civil. This one seems quiet a mess. Outside the law courts, of course, we have the fine example of the Anglicans in Harare who were in pitched battles, breaking up one another's services, calling in the police and generally giving a fine example of why law courts are not the worse sort of thing we can suffer.

Explain to me again how there is necessarily greater purity of faith in the Global South?

19 comments:

  1. The world has more to learn that the constitutions of the Church of Pakistan have been abused time and again.

    Bishop Malik replaced the constitution of Lahore Diocese (thus no more a part of the Church of Pakistan) and that of “Lahore Diocesan Trust Association” with out the approval of authorized forums for his personal benefit.

    Copies of the same can be obtained from us on request.

    A team may be appointed by the universal Church for fact finding.

    There can be no peace any where in the world with out justice.

    No lawyer appeared or denied any allegation in the two member bench of the Peshawer High Court which heard the petition on 24th September 2008.

    You may follow the link here.

    http://dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2008\09\25\story_25-9-2008_pg7_52

    ReplyDelete
  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Fred: I think it is time you took a break. Some of your comments, although caustic, are pretty interesting, but the one I just deleted served no purpose except to dump on everyone in sight. I get quite a few negative comments here, but usually they relate in some useful way to the thread or threads growing out of conversation or the post itself. Yours often are just a dump.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Didn't the present Bishop of Jerusalem have to go to court with his predecessor about a school?

    ReplyDelete
  5. With respect, Mark, I don't think we saw the "example of the Anglicans in Harare who were in pitched battles, breaking up one another's services, calling in the police . . ." My recollection is that it was one side of that dispute which engaged in breaking up the services of the other, with the assistance of the state authorities.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Let's not forget that during the Lambeth Conference the Primate of Sudan called on the Episcopal Church to end its lawsuits against breakaway parishes, after which it came to light that the Sudanese Church had succesfully sued a breakaway faction laying claim to its property--and that Episcopalians had paid the legal fees on the Primate's behalf.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Well, if homosexuality is the one overriding criterion for purity then you get away with everything, provided you keep your gays in the closet.

    On a more serious note, although I know why there is so much hand-wringing about going to court, it is not intrinsically un-Christian.

    Surely, the principle behind the bible's stipulations is not that law courts are the wrong solution, but that no quarrel should ever get to the stage where they become the only solution.

    But if each of two parties genuinely believe they are right and if they cannot compromise, then some kind of arbitration is helpful and constructive. In our society, that happenes to be the law courts.

    We should welcome it instead of pretending that not going to court would somehow solve the underlying difficulty.

    ReplyDelete
  8. No Province is as pure as wind-driven snow. TEC or otherwise. But, it's still important to note that our snow is quite dirty and WE have work to do...that we aren't ADMITTING NEEDS TO BE DONE.

    Brad Drell interviewed Canon Cameron recently. Cameron noted:
    "We’re in a situation at the moment where about 14 of the provinces have said that they have declared or believed themselves to be in a state of impaired or broken communion with TEC". and "I think if TEC were to reject the (Anglican) covenant and there to be broad acceptance elsewhere, it would further isolate the church from the mainstream life of the Communion and ultimately set them on divergent independent paths."


    Is THAT the goal? If not, then let's get to cleaning up our Province. We will not clean up by ignoring rogue bishops and their innovations, sharpening depositions, installing canons to punish/silence the laity, grab property, or lose thousands more members by exit.

    How about a microscope on TEC? All sides. And come up with fixes and compromise? It's not happening...and it shows.

    Any servant leaders out there in the haze of pensionists?

    ReplyDelete
  9. Allen....good point. I agree that we have a great deal of work to do.

    Your list cuts both ways:
    rogue bishops come in many forms - as do innovations.
    Sharpening depositions can be seen to include Bishop Bennison and the dual Muslim/Christian priest,as well as Clergy who have left the Episcopal Church,
    Canons that now punish /silence clergy (and I admit they often do, both from the progressive and conservative side) extended to the laity presents a problem: is this unjust or simply spreading the pain more widely?
    As to grabbing property, that works both ways as well. Sometimes it appears the vestry changes locks, at others bishops do.
    The exit of members is either really really bad news, or good. The exit of members from the Christian faith, leaving in disgust of the whole thing, would be bad news indeed. And, as I read it people stop being Christian much more because they see the church as unjust and unChristian. If they don't like a particular way of being Church, they join another.

    All of which is to underline your first point: we have work to do.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Mark,
    You had me agreeing with you for the most part. If you really want to solve a problem, here's what our little church sees:

    1. We were started by mission-minded laity in the 1920s back when TPEC believed in spreading the Gospel with words (and not substituting words for mere safe deeds evangelism).
    2. People gave property, goods, services, etc. for the formation of the church. The diocese didn't. The deed states that our church property is held in trust for the religious congregation of "...".
    3. Today somebody declares that marriage according to the Prayer Book (and Bible) will be changed to same-sex couples (Jesus and 2000 years of heritage were mistaken), that our church will have to accept a same-sex coupled rector, that MDGs are the Word of the Lord to our world, that after GC '09 we must turn the deed/keys over to this current leadership, and that if we argue back we will be "churched" in a way unheard of since the 1662 Prayer Book when it gave room in the service to list the "excommunications" of the week. In addition, anybody who doesn't like these things can just go and leave their ancestors' hard work and their own hard work of property maintenance, building additions, etc. behind because they aren't with "us" anymore.

    As long as that it is push and shove or reappraisers then we won't solve a damn thing. No jury in our region will take the deed from a small church who has held it for 85 years and give it to an organization who just declares that they want it. TEC has kept our loyalty so far. Now you're pushing it and we won't be pushed but so far.

    Repeat this scenario 10,000 times across the denomination.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I wish that Allen would learn another hymn.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Allen
    blah, blah, blah blah.boohoo, boohoo.

    ReplyDelete
  13. that our church will have to accept a same-sex coupled rector?

    Don't you get to call your own rector, like every other parish in the US?

    that MDGs are the Word of the Lord to our world

    No, no - wouldn't do to have all that nonsense about ending poverty and hunger cluttering up the pure reservoir of the Faith Once Delivered! (I'm still pretty sure that the initiative for this originally came out of Lambeth Palace, and so can't be laid at the feet of ECUSA, no matter how angry you are about the idea that God might have an opinion on reducing the child mortality rate).

    ReplyDelete
  14. billyd:

    Hearken back to the pro-WO arguments of many-a-GC-ago. Promises were made that no parish would be forced to accept a female priest against their conscience. Well, only a few years later a "canon" was enacted that ensured that women priests would have no such hindrances, and would have to be accepted. Once the SSBs are firmly established by GC and Louie Crew's plan of withering down opposition continues, how many years will it take before parishes are told that same-sex-coupled persons are to have no barriers to be rectors in our parish?

    Yep, MDGs are great. Rotarian stuff that. Good United Way efforts. But, WORKS that give no credit to Jesus Christ, that are just good works are not the Good News of the Kingdom. A cup of cold water "in My Name" means that. Our works are to point to and glorify Christ...or else they're just works. The Anglican/Episcopal world has a disturbing habit of hiring out relief work and calling it mission...even if Jesus gets absolutely no notice in the effort.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Well, only a few years later a "canon" was enacted that ensured that women priests would have no such hindrances, and would have to be accepted.

    I hadn't heard that. Just which canon is that? And what parishes have been forced to call women priests?

    Yep, MDGs are great. Rotarian stuff that. Good United Way efforts. But, WORKS that give no credit to Jesus Christ, that are just good works are not the Good News of the Kingdom. A cup of cold water "in My Name" means that. Our works are to point to and glorify Christ...or else they're just works.

    Are you saying that whenever an Episcopalian does something to further an MDG that s/he never does so giving credit to Our Lord, or that they never point to and glorify him? That seems like an awfully sweeping generalization.

    ReplyDelete
  16. billyd,

    Somehow, I don't think that the U.N. has a notion to give any credit to Jesus Christ when they use our money for their programs.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Somehow, I don't think that the U.N. has a notion to give any credit to Jesus Christ when they use our money for their programs.

    So for good works to be effectively Christian, the recipient has to be aware that they are receiving the largess of Christians? Does a Chick tract have to accompany every bag of rice for Our Lord to be pleased with it? Let's assume that the only way that Anglicans approach the MDGs is by donating to the UN; doesn't the witness involved in bringing our attention and our neighbor's attention to the problems involved - in the name of Jesus Christ - generate anything other than money?

    I'm still waiting for you to point me towards the canon that says that parishes are obliged to call women priests. I've looked through the Constitution and Canons online, and I can't find it. I'm also curious as to whether or not you can name a single parish forced to accept a woman priest.

    ReplyDelete
  18. allen, I just went over to the UN's MDG website at http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/ . Even they don't think that the only way that people promote the MDGs do so by contributing to UN programs. They urge people to work through NGOs, their own governments, and other means to achieve the Goals. They even have sections on their websites from religious groups, like the Sisters of St Joseph, outlining their actions in support of the Goals.

    Please go over and take a look for yourself. I really think you are working on the basis of faulty information and misunderstanding.

    ReplyDelete
  19. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your alms may be done in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
    Matt 6: 3 & 4

    Seems that it could even apply to the MDGs. Funny how folks are always "adding" what they think is necessary for things to be acceptable to God.

    ReplyDelete

OK... Comments, gripes, etc welcomed, but with comment moderation but with some cautions and one rule:
Cautions: Calling people fools, idiots, etc, will be reason to bounce your comment. Keeping in mind that in the struggles it is difficult enough to try to respect opponents, we should at least try.
Rule: PLEASE DO NOT SIGN OFF AS ANONYMOUS: BEGIN OR END THE MESSAGE WITH A NAME - ANY NAME. ANONYMOUS commentary will be cut.