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Blogger David Trimble has an excellent follow-up to the Sauls' memo on non-ECUSA churches which Greg Griffith posted on Stand Firm yesterday:
Bishop Sauls' memo begins:
Subject: REQUEST FOR INFORMATION FROM HOB TASK FORCE ON PROPERTY DISPUTES REGARDING OVERSEAS INTERVENTIONS
Re: Overseas Anglican Interventions in TEC
The HOB Task Force on Property Disputes is attempting to catalogue all cases of congregations in all Episcopal dioceses claiming to be overseen by bishops of the Anglican Communion other than bishops of The Episcopal Church. This would include AMiA, CANA, Uganda, Kenya, Bolivia, the Southern Cone, etc. but not so-called Continuing Churches. We would like to have this information as complete as possible before our September meeting.
Here's an excerpt from David Trimble's analysis:
The "test case" method of litigation has been honed by class action attorneys, who will seek to get their best cases to trial in their best jurisdictions, hoping that a big win will intimidate their opponents into settling the remainder of the cases. This is why an individual win in a drug case in Mississippi or Illinois, for example, has such great impact on the remaining scope of cases throughout the country. Similarly, a big win by TEC in any of these cases could serve to give other parishes second thoughts about tilting at this particular windmill.
Likewise, the e-mail could in and of itself have the purpose of discouraging dissenting parishes from trying to take their property, the "chilling effect" mentioned above. I note that the e-mail seeks information on all dissenting parishes that are under alternative (non-TEC) primatial oversight and separately requests information on "status of property". Given that TEC seems on the surface to be less concerned over dissenting and departing membership than it does about losing buildings, this is a significant point of distinction.
Another is for +Sauls to be able to advise the HOB of the scope of potential litigation and the probable expense were TEC to escalate the litigation and sue more parishes nationwide. This, of course, would run into multi-millions, for the law firms TEC uses do not come cheaply. I would be stunned if TEC has not already incurred legal fees in the range of a million dollars or more. As a lawyer worth his salt, +Sauls should be in position to give his client, the HOB, an analysis of the whole picture, not only of pending litigation, but of potential litigation. The Dar Communique specifically asks TEC to forgo litigation against American parishes, and this e-mail could be an information-gathering effort to put some clear names and numbers on exactly what such forbearance would mean to TEC, and/or the overall cost to TEC were it to let these parishes go and stop fighting versus continuing the lawsuits.
An Anglican optimist or a ComCon could take this last point to mean that the HOB may be considering compliance with this point of the Dar Communique as a concession/compromise to allow the ABC an easier time to claim that TEC is in compliance. While this would not meet the "immediate cessation of litigation" request, it would be something TEC could dangle as a compromise of their previous position. Or, it does lend itself to very idle speculation that the upcoming HOB meeting could turn into a negotiation for the separation of the orthodox from TEC, or at least negotiation of some procedures or provisions for the orthodox, with the ABC acting as mediator.
The full text is here.
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