By its order, the writ panel expressly refused to consider the Diocese’s and ECUSA’s cross-assignments of this claimed error, so Judge Bellows’ ruling on that specific point will stand. And as I explained in this earlier post, that means that the Dennis Canon has no effect in Virginia. Instead, according to Judge Bellows, Virginia courts will look to other indicia of “proprietary interests in” (i.e., actual ownership and control over) parish property.
The result, as we saw in Judge Bellows’ ruling, can still come out the same as if the Dennis Canon had applied. At least now, however, the degree to which Judge Bellows went, in holding that factors such as restraints on alienation, episcopal visits and even the furnishing of Sunday service bulletins were decisive, will receive a fresh review by the full Supreme Court.