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Federal court rules against Pennsylvania nuns in pipeline lawsuit

pipeline in nature, near forest


J-P Mauro - published on 11/10/22

The Sisters Adorers of the Blood of Christ were said to have waited too long to raise concerns over the pipeline on their property.
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A community of nuns who have been fighting a pipeline constructed on their property has been denied compensation by a federal court. The Adorers of the Blood of Christ in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, say that the presence of the pipeline violates their religious beliefs, but the court has ruled that the sisters took too long to voice their complaints. 


According to Reuters, the sisters claimed that the pipeline, run by the Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Co LLC, “defiles God’s creation by accelerating global warming and climate change,” suggesting that its presence on their property violates their rights under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. 

Furthermore, the sisters cited Pope Francis’ 2015 environmental encyclical Laudato Si’, which calls for all Catholics to take action to preserve and care for the environment for future generations. In their lawsuit, which was initially filed in 2020, the sisters claim that the presence of the pipeline has “substantially burdened” their religious practices. The pipeline was installed in 2018. 

Court decision

A three-judge panel of the 3rd US Circuit of Appeals rejected the sisters’ appeal for compensation, stating that the nuns had waited too long to voice their concerns. The court noted that the religious community had “ample opportunity” to raise their objections during the period of review by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). 

It was also the opinion of the court that awarding such damages to the religious community so long after its construction would risk “adding undue financial burden to the pipeline operator.” This in turn could wind up raising the price of gas to customers who are supplied by the pipeline. 

Read more at Reuters.

ChurchEnvironmentLawNunsUnited States
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