From Religious Intelligence:
Sunday, 17th May 2009. 7:35am
By: George Conger.
The Diocese of Fort Worth has filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit brought by the Episcopal Church and its allies seeking control of church property in North Central Texas. On May 8 lawyers for Fort Worth Bishop Jack Iker said the April 14 suit brought against the conservative bishop and diocesan officers should be dismissed as the court lacked “subject-matter” jurisdiction to hear the dispute.
Fort Worth moves to dismiss Church lawsuit
Lawyers for Bishop Iker asked the court to take “judicial notice” that the Episcopal Church was a voluntary association of dioceses and not a hierarchical church organization with dioceses and bishops subordinate to a metropolitan or national church. The court lacked subject matter jurisdiction to hear the dispute, the motion said, as the underlying petition brought by the national church was seeking to resolve an ecclesial dispute by resorting to secular law --- a course of action forbidden under the American principle of separation of church and state.
“We hope this response will bring an end to the sad process that threatens to bring two groups of Christians to court against one another,” said Dr Franklin Salazar, president of the Corporation of the Diocese of Fort Worth.
At its 2008 synod, the Diocese of Fort Worth withdrew from the Episcopal Church. US Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori responded by deposing Bishop Iker and calling a special convention of those in the diocese who wished to remain part of the Episcopal Church. Rather than organize a new diocese, the loyalists group stated that it was the true Diocese of Fort Worth under Texas law and has since begun legal proceedings to claim ownership of all 56 congregations in the breakaway diocese.