St. Barnabas’ legal battled as outlined on Virtue’s site

There is a lengthy post about the battle of St. Barnabas parish in Omaha, Nebraska to keep its building as it prepares to enter the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter over at Virtue Online.

The first part of the article by David Virtue [CORRECTION:  The article is by Mary Ann Mueller ] deals with the history of St. Barnabas as an Anglo-Catholic parish in the Episcopal Church.  St. Barnabas disaffiliated with the Episcopal Church and joined the Traditional Anglican Communion’s Anglican Church in America.

I thought the subsequent paragraphs were interesting, my emphases):

St. Barnabas’ legal name has never incorporated the word “Episcopal”. The church is legally titled Saint Barnabas Parish. And from the beginning its stated mission is: “the worship of Almighty God in accordance with the Anglo-Catholic ideals, practices and goals of the Oxford Movement of the Church of England and other religious and charitable purposes not inconsistent therewith.”

Archbishop Louis Falk created the Traditional Anglican Communion in 1991 with an eye on eventual corporate reunion with the Church of Rome. The Anglican Church in America is the American daughter of the TAC. In 2007 the TAC House of Bishops signed the Catechism of the Catholic Church and The Portsmouth Petition as their symbols and solemn pledge to actively pursue full communion with the Catholic Church and to accept the spiritual authority of the Bishop of Rome as the visible successor of Peter. 

When St. Barnabas aligned with the Anglican Church in America it was associated with an Anglican body whose very trajectory was to enter into the Roman Catholic Church. The Traditional Anglican Communion’s persistence was paramount in helping the Vatican see the need to promulgate Anglicanorum Ceotibus in 2009. Then the establishment of the various Anglican Ordinariates began in 2011, first with Our Lady of Walsingham in England, and then the Chair of St. Peter in the United States; and Our Lady of the Southern Cross in Australia in 2012.

St. Barnabas has never wavered in its desire to be a part of the Catholic Church. When Anglicanorum Ceotibus was released the Anglican Church in America created the Patrimony of the Primate and the Pro-Diocese of the Holy Family, under the direction and leadership of Bishop Louis Campese — who is now a part of the Ordinariate — to help shepherd Ordinariate-bound groups into the Catholic Church. St. Barnabas became a part of the pro-diocese ultimately seeking corporate entrance into the Catholic Church.

St. Barnabas wants to go into the Ordinariate, but they want to try and hang on the buildings if they can,” St. Barnabas’ attorney John Chatelain said.

“We’ve tried to talk to them [the Diocese of Nebraska] about settling the case and put some money on the table, but they would never commit to anything,” the attorney said. “They would never put a figure out there. It has been very strange; they don’t want the property. It’s all very troubling.

“I think the chancellor is on a mission of vengeance to squash and make a name for themselves within the national church by stamping out this little parish,” Pierson concluded about the stalled negations.

Meanwhile behind the scenes, Fr. Scheiblhofer has been quietly spiritually preparing his flock for entering into the fullness of the Catholic Church. During Lent St. Barnabas’ priest started the Rector’s Forum, which explores more deeply Catholic theology, faith and practice based on the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Vatican II documents, and the Apostolic Constitution. He sports a degree in Catholic theology and has practical experience living out the Catholic faith. He at one time was a member of the Christian Brothers, a Catholic religious order dedicated to evangelism and the education of youth.

It is his hope that his congregation can celebrate this Christmas in the Ordinariate as a full-fledged Catholic parish, but, with litigation still looming over their heads, that may not be possible until all the legal dust has settled on all sides and the Supreme Court has had its final say, should it choose to hear the appeal.

However, the possibility of St. Barnabas members coming into the Catholic Church, individualistically rather than corporately, is possibly in the offing with an early Advent celebration tentatively being planned as legal events continue to unfold.

Monsignor Jeffrey Steenson is keeping close tabs on the St. Barnabas situation. He is a mild-mannered man and can help bring calm to heated debate and frayed tempers. He has been out to St. Barnabas and has personally surveyed the situation.

“I am in the middle of discussions to resolve the issues between parish and diocese,” he said. “So I think I should just encourage prayer.”

How about joining Msgr. Steenson’s exhortation to prayer for the people of St. Barnabas?  I  pray the people at St. Barnabas get a clear leading concerning their legal battle and that the Holy Spirit intervene to provide a way for justice to prevail.

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5 Responses to St. Barnabas’ legal battled as outlined on Virtue’s site

  1. Rev22:17 says:

    Deborah,

    From your quotation: When St. Barnabas aligned with the Anglican Church in America it was associated with an Anglican body whose very trajectory was to enter into the Roman Catholic Church.

    So the Episcopal Diocese of Nebraska is suing a parish that’s transitioning from the Anglican Church in America to the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter over its real estate?

    This is very bizarre. It seems very likely that the courts will rule that the statute of limitations on civil suits by the Episcopal Diocese of Nebraska began when the parish left the Episcopal Diocese of Nebraska to join the Anglican Church in America (ACA), and thus has already lapsed. If not, it is equally likely that the parish can acquire title to the property by a claim of adversarial use, the reality being that the parish has maintained the property since its departure from the Episcopal Diocese of Nebraska.

    From your quotation: He sports a degree in Catholic theology and has practical experience living out the Catholic faith. He at one time was a member of the Christian Brothers, a Catholic religious order dedicated to evangelism and the education of youth.

    This also is very interesting. If accurate, it seems unlikely that he will be accepted for ordination in the Catholic Church. But who knows? Perhaps, if he is preparing his parish as well as the article describes and the bishop of the local diocese recommends it strongly, the Vatican will grant an exception to the general rule.

    Norm.

    • EPMS says:

      When you read the article, Norm, you will see that TEC has been litigating this for some time and has already received a favourable preliminary judgement. Their case of course is about the departure from TEC; the parishioners’ ultimate destination is not the legal issue.

    • Fr Gerard says:

      Actually Norm, there is some precedent for this, perhaps most interestingly in the case of Fr Ed Meeks in Christ the King, Towson.

  2. Don Henri says:

    That’s not an article written by David Virtue, but by Mary-Ann Mueller, which is the only VirtueOnline journalist having goodwill toward the ordinariate. Moreover, she’s a terrifically good journalist.

    + PAX et BONUM

  3. Pingback: St. Barnabas’ legal battled as outlined on Virtue’s site | Catholic Canada

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