May 8, 2009
Diocese files motion to dismiss lawsuit

In response to an April 14 filing in the 141st District Court, brought by a rival diocese formed in February 2009, the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth has filed a Motion to Dismiss on grounds that the court lacks subject-matter jurisdiction. Notification of today’s filing is being made to each of the plaintiffs by certified letter.

The 12-page response by Bishop Iker and the Corporation of the Diocese seeks a complete dismissal of the unmerited claim made against the Diocese in an effort to misappropriate diocesan property.

“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,” says Dr. Franklin Salazar, President of the Corporation.

Also submitted with today’s filing are verifications by the Trustees of the Corporation attesting to their elections in accordance with the Texas Non-Profit Corporation Act and the articles of the Corporation. In a separate statement, Bishop Iker verifies that the special meeting held Feb. 7, 2009, to form the rival diocese was not called in accordance with the diocesan Constitution and Canons, making any litigation based on that meeting null and void.

The motion asks the court to take “judicial notice,” based on citations from the Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church, that – among other things – TEC is a voluntary association of dioceses and is not hierarchical above the level of the diocese. “Judicial notice” is not a judgement, but an acknowledgement of a point of fact. Based on the points it lays out, the motion concludes that a civil court lacks jurisdiction because in order to grant the plaintiffs’ requests it would be required to resolve an ecclesiastical dispute.

A second section responds to specific claims in the April 14 petition. It asks the court to confirm that the leadership of the Diocese and Corporation have not changed since the Diocese last met in convention in November 2008. That being the case, it concludes that the Diocese cannot sue itself.

Attached to the filing are supporting documents (5mb PDF) from the TEC Constitution and Canons.



  The story concerning service of the lawsuit is here.
Bishop Iker’s April 15 comment on the suit is here.