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Monday, August 28, 2006

The "Connecticut Six" respond to Federal court decision

The Connecticut Six, a group of Episcopal parishes and their vestries (officers) has replied to the recent Federal Court decision dismissing their case against the Episcopal Bishop of Connecticut. Here are excerpts:

The Episcopal parishes and their lay leaders known as the Connecticut Six today expressed dismay over diocesan Bishop Andrew Smith's most recent mischaracterization of their pending federal lawsuit. In a press release discussing the opinion of a federal judge, Bishop Smith suggests that the lawsuit has ended, but this a misrepresentation of facts.

Significantly, the court determined only that the lawsuit lacked federal jurisdiction and pointedly left the parishes and the individual plaintiffs free to pursue state law claims in the Connecticut courts, without prejudice. Furthermore, Bishop Smith failed to acknowledge that his own motion for summary, final judgment was denied by the federal court in the process, thus leaving the basic charges against the bishop and the diocesan defendants unresolved....

The lawsuit charged that Bishop Smith had also seized investment funds from Bishop Seabury Church, Christ Church, and Christ & The Epiphany Church; converting this property to his own use and defying repeated demands by the parish vestries for the release of their assets. These assets of more than $350,000 were eventually returned to the congregations long after the suit was filed.

Accordingly, the Connecticut state courts are also now free to determine whether Bishop Smith and the remaining diocesan defendants will be required to pay triple damages and punitive, as well as compensatory, damages for claimed "violation of Connecticut's prejudgment remedy statutes, trespass, theft, conversion and breach of fiduciary duty," specifically identified by the federal court....

Bishop Smith has repeatedly refused to accept the effort of the Archbishop of Canterbury's Panel of Reference to effect reconciliation.

That tribunal has returned the applications of the parishes to the Archbishop of Canterbury, thus leaving the parties to their civil law remedies.

Accordingly, at this point the parishes will carefully consider the federal court's comprehensive opinion before pursuing their state court and federal appellate remedies.

You can read the entire press release at Virtue Online.

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