Court rules Diocese of South Carolina, parish churches own property instead of national church

A South Carolina court has ruled that the national Episcopal Church has no claim on the property of the breakaway Diocese of South Carolina or its parish churches.

Circuit Court Judge Diane Goodstein wrote in a decision handed down Tuesday that the diocese and its churches are "the owners of their real, personal and intellectual property" in which the national church has no legal interest.

In 2012, the conservative Diocese of South Carolina separated from the more liberal national church over a variety of theological issues. The breakaway churches sued to protect the use of the diocesan name and half a billion dollars' worth of property.

An attorney for the diocese's bishop hailed the ruling.

Officials from the Episcopal Church didn't immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday night.