Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Trial involving suit brought against Diocese of New Westminster begins

The trial before BC Supreme Court Justice Stephen Kelleher over the lawsuit brought by members of four dissident congregations against the Diocese of New Westminster began today (May 25) in Vancouver.

Those bringing the suit, 22 leaders in the four congregations, including three former diocesan priests, have left the Anglican Church of Canada, but want to keep their parish buildings, which the Diocese of New Westminster says it owns.

In court the lawyer for the plaintiffs, Geoff Cowper, QC, took the morning on his opening statement. The crux of the dissident’s position is that, as church leaders, they hold the properties pursuant to a trust for “historical, orthodox Anglican doctrine and practice.”

Cowper argued that same-sex blessings, begun in the diocese in 2003, were a violation of the trust they hold. They also can’t live with the vote of the Anglican Church of Canada’s General Synod in 2007 that blessings were not in conflict with its “core doctrine.”

The diocese’s lawyer, George Macintosh, QC, will get to present the diocese’s arguments at the beginning of next week (June 1), but in a preliminary session he said that the Anglican Church of Canada’s “sophisticated governance structure supersedes any trust.”

Much of Cowper’s argument centred on the “Solemn Declaration,” a document adopted by the Canadian Church’s founding first synod in 1893, which the lawyer called “the DNA of the Anglican Church of Canada. It states that the Canadian Church is to be “in full communion with the Church of England throughout the world.”

“It was central to its identity that it would remain in full communion with the Anglican Communion throughout the world,” said Cowper.

More here-


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