Appeals court upholds decision against sisters in gas pipeline suit

People sit at an outdoor chapel on the property of the Adorers of the Blood of Christ in 2017 in Columbia, Pennsylvania. (CNS/Mark Clatterbuck, courtesy Lancaster Against Pipeline)

A federal appeals court issued the latest legal blow to the Adorers of the Blood of Christ in their stand against a natural gas pipeline crossing their land in southeastern Pennsylvania.

In a ruling filed July 25, a three-judge panel for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit upheld a lower federal district court's decision from September to dismiss the case because it lacked jurisdiction.

The appeals court affirmed the sisters did not follow proper procedure in filing a complaint against the pipeline's construction by Oklahoma-based Williams Companies and said they should have followed guidelines under the Natural Gas Act, which regulates pipeline construction, rather than seek relief from the alleged burden on their religious practice through the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).

While the appeals court said the Adorers could have raised their religious freedom concerns through the process spelled out in the Natural Gas Act, the judges did not weigh in on whether the pipeline's construction on the order's land constituted such a violation.

In a statement, the Adorers expressed disappointment in the decision and said they are exploring what options they have left "to address this wrong."

"Even though the Adorers are up against a powerful federal agency and a massive oil and gas industry with unlimited resources, the Adorers believe that their faith and religious beliefs will ultimately prevail. At issue is nothing less than the future of our sacred earth," the sisters said in their statement.

Sr. Janet McCann, a member the Adorers' leadership team for the U.S. region, told GSR the sisters are determined to push their case forward and "to see what we can do to have our voice be heard."

Read the full story at Global Sisters Report

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