By David W. Virtue
February 26, 2010
The (original) Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh is appealing to the Commonwealth Court of PA seeking to overturn property disputes with the rump Diocese of Pittsburgh, arguing that they are the rightful owners.
Attorneys representing the leaders of the diocese, including Bishop Robert Duncan, are appealing the decision of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County that determined the rightful trustee of diocesan assets to be the new Episcopal Church Diocese of Pittsburgh led by Bishop Kenneth L. Price, Jr.
The new Diocese expressed frustration over the ongoing litigation for the church's assets. "We are disappointed that those leaders have chosen to continue legal action on a matter that Judge Joseph James of the Common Pleas Court determined last October was settled long ago, in an October 14, 2005 Stipulation and Court Order that was clear and unambiguous.
"The 2005 Stipulation and Court Order was a court-approved agreement stating an "amicable resolution" to litigation over the control of property in the event of a separation from the Episcopal Church. The undisputed evidence shows that the former diocesan leaders who are now seeking to appeal agreed in 2005, through their attorneys, that the property would remain with the Episcopal Diocese "regardless of what circumstances might arise.
"The parties agreed in the 2005 Stipulation that "their claims in this action have been settled and resolved" and Judge James has ruled the Stipulation means what it says. We will continue to enforce the 2005 agreement, and will respond with an appropriate defense within the courts."