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Principle 80: Ownership and administration of church property

Saturday, July 26, 2008 • 3:50 pm

Transcribed from page 81 of “The Principles of Canon Law Common to the Churches of the Anglican Communion

Principle 80: Ownership and administration of church property

1. Churches should satisfy those requirements of civil law which apply to the acquisition, ownership, administration and alienation of church property both real and personal.

2. Property is held by those authorities within a church which enjoy legal personality as trustees or other entities of a fiduciary nature under civil law and competence under church law.

3. Ecclesiastical authorities are the stewards of church property.

4. Ecclesiastical authorities must hold and administer church property to advance the mission of a church, and for the benefit and use of its members from generation to generation, in accordance with the law of that church.

5. Church property is held in trust for a church and should not be alienated or encumbered without such consents ans may be prescribed by law.

6. Ecclesiastical trustees may sell, purchase and exchange property in the manner and to the extent authorised by law.

7. The central assembly of a church, or other designated assembly, may frame laws for the management and use of property held in trust for that church.

8. Commissions, boards and other bodies may be appointed to advise church trustees on the development and administration of any property held by those trustees.

9. The management and day-to-day administration of church property at the local level are vested in parish assemblies or other legal entities and are subject to such prerogatives of the clergy as may be provided by law.

10. National, regional, provincial, diocesan, parish or other church trustees must perform their functions under the order and control of the appropriate assembly to which the law of a church renders them accountable.

11. No one shall deny or obstruct access to any ecclesiastical person or body lawfully entitled to enter or use church property.

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Don’t ever say Grannie G didn’t tell you so..

Its over on the DB thread..


[1] Posted by Grandmother on 07-26-2008 at 04:27 PM • top

I’m not convinced this book is terribly important overall, but isn’t #5 just a tad problematic for the Church of England?  Though I’m sure the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Southwark would be happy to let Williams continue to use his palace at least until after the conference.

[2] Posted by pendennis88 on 07-26-2008 at 04:32 PM • top

This is not a restatement of the law - it is direct interference in the US litigation - presumably organised by Beers who Williams put on this bogus committed.

[3] Posted by Pageantmaster ن on 07-26-2008 at 06:07 PM • top

Define “Ecclesiastical authorities.”

[4] Posted by Jeffersonian on 07-26-2008 at 06:39 PM • top

This is almost comical in its “descriptive” minutia.  Is the “ecclesiastical authority” (who seems to hold all decsion making power) a bishop of a diocese or the PB and/or archbishop? Does the ambiguity matter? Hmmm….

And “me thinks they do protest too much” that these very specific and detailed “laws” are descriptive rather than prescriptive. Should that claim be taken at face value, or should we look closely at what the language really says?

Nevermind the man behind that curtain!

[5] Posted by cityonahill on 07-26-2008 at 07:20 PM • top

The curtain is an iron one.


[6] Posted by BabyBlue on 07-26-2008 at 09:54 PM • top

I can not see how locally purchased, build and maintained churches become property of TEC, these arrangements aren’t the same as if the church decided to purchase land and pay to build, nor are they paying maintenance over the years. When congregations band together resources, build and maintain a property, they do it because they have a stake in this.

These concerns aren’t a matter of people walking away from their faith, and that stake in their community, they are walking away from an attempt to violate their religious beliefs and freedoms.

The members of the churches in question have not abandoned their faith, the appointed figureheads have sought to displace the faith, with more regard for the property and how it will profit them, than in the basic tenents of the faith.

The church members have contributed money, which has been used to pay for the church buildings in other countries, these contributions were made out of their commitment to those same religious beliefs. They have to have some standing

[7] Posted by mari on 07-27-2008 at 11:11 AM • top

This is not bad actually. The only changes really needed are the points later which mention law without stating whether it is church or civil. Point 1 makes plain however that civil law requirements must be satisfied first. In other words if your name ain’t on the deed you don’t own it as this is where civil law has been going for a long time. Point 5 seems problematic till you see the word “should” as opposed to “can not”. In other words this is what should happen if other points, most especially 1,  are satisfied. This trust is exactly that trust, not a legal entity.

This Principle clearly establishes the primacy of civil law over canon in the matter of church property. If TEC had this in their own canon they wouldn’t stand a chance in most states in their current law suits. TEC has never made any effort to satisfy the requirements of civil law.

[8] Posted by Rocks on 07-27-2008 at 11:30 AM • top

In my view, this is one of, if not the most, important sections that document.

As an orthodox, evangelical, creedal, confessing, catholic Anglican Christian pilgrim, a neo-paleo-conservative politically, a com-fed-con former Episcopalian ecclesiastically, and a Lockean-Friedman capitalist, I firmly and passionately believe that a church, meaning a local parish, cannot, and will not ever be able to, freely practice the faith of its members, in accordance with their understanding of the faith once delivered to the saints, the Scriptures and the dictates of their consciences, if they cannot, do not, own, in a secular, legal, sense, the church building in which they worship and the land on which it stands.

The first paragraph is the most important, with respect to the United States:

1. Churches should satisfy those requirements of civil law which apply to the acquisition, ownership, administration and alienation of church property both real and personal.

In the U.S., my country, the civil laws regarding the “acquisition, ownership, administration and alienation” of real estate is the province of the 50 states.  Each has its own laws, there are commonalities and there are differences.  No church, regardless of its “hierarchical” structure, should be able to supersede, overrule those state laws.  To do so violates the second amendment establishment of religion clause, in my view.  To allow a sectarian entity to enforce rules regarding “acquisition, ownership, administration and alienation” of real estate which rules a contrary to or inconsistent with the laws of the state(s) involved, potentially gives that sectarian entity, church, sovereign powers superior of the state and therefore “establishes” a religion.

Many sectarian entities have carefully and meticulous observed the laws in the several states and established, clearly, the ownership of the local church’s real estate by the diocese or national entity; the Roman Catholic Church, is an example of one which has.  Sectarian entities which do not follow, observe, the state laws regarding real estate should not, must not, be allowed, to impose their own rules, canons, on the individual churches, citizens of any state in which they have failed to follow the law.  Allowing that violates the establishment of religion clause, in my view.

I have personally experienced, witnessed, the agony involved in contemplation, negotiation, disputation and litigation over this issue.

TEC (USA) seems to place great emphasis on control of assets.  We all know the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.  There is another, more worldly, version of that:  He who has the gold makes the rules.

Let’s not continue to aid and abet TEC by giving them the “gold” to support their continued heresy and apostasy by abandoning to them the church properties which, in most cases, were bought and paid for by the local parish.

Mouse Stalker and other attorneys, I would like to hear your take on this issue.

[9] Posted by Ol' Bob on 07-27-2008 at 05:53 PM • top

Any place in existing or proposed canons of any Western Church where that Church can change articles or expressions of its faith, and still consider itself the same church that existed before said change?

Just asking. Now I’ll go away and leave you alone…

Rdr. James
Orthodox Eastern and happy to be here.
Olympia, WA

[10] Posted by rdrjames on 07-27-2008 at 07:40 PM • top

If TEc wishes to own all the properties in the USA it should have been set up as the Roman Catholic Church is. That way the diocese owns all property within its territorial boundaries. The downside to that is, of course, that the diocese is responsible when its clergy are guilty of misconduct and can be sued into bankruptcy.

It seems to me the TEc wants it both ways and it can’t have it both ways. It has always been a mixture of episcopal and congregational forms of government, good or bad. But this is really the truth of the matter.

So, it seems to me, that either you have to go the Roman Catholic route or be prepared for the ambiguities that we have in a mixed form of polity.

[11] Posted by FrRick on 07-28-2008 at 10:22 AM • top

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