Court file No.01/--1/3-4—/
SUPERIOR COURT OF JUSTICEBETWEEN:
THE POLISH NATIONAL CATHOLIC CHURCH OF CANADA
Plaintiff - and -
IONAL CATHOLIC CHURCH and ANTHONY A. MIKOVSKY Defendants
STATEMENT OF CLAIM
TO THE DEFENDANTS:
A LEGAL PROCEEDING HAS BEEN COMMENCED AGAINST YOUby the plaintiff. The claim made against you is set out in the following pages.
IF YOU WISH TO DEFEND THIS PROCEEDING,you or an Ontario lawyer acting for you must prepare a statement of defence in Form 18A prescribed by the Rules of Civil Procedure, serve it on the plaintiffs lawyer or, where the plaintiff does not have a lawyer, serve it on the plaintiff, and file it, with proof of service, in this court office, WITHIN TWENTY DAYS after this statement of claim is served on you, if you are served in Ontario.
If you are served in another province or territory of Canada or in the United States of America, the period for serving and filing your statement of defence is forty days. If you are served outside Canada and the United States of America, the period is sixty days.
Instead of serving and filing a statement of defence, you may serve and file a notice of intent to defend in Form 18B prescribed by the Rules of Civil
Procedure. This will entitle you to ten more days within which to serve and file your statement of defence.
IF YOU FAIL TO DEFEND THIS PROCEEDING, JUDGMENT MAY BE GIVEN AGAINST YOU IN YOUR ABSENCE AND WITHOUT FURTHER NOTICE TO YOU.
If you wish to defend this proceeding but are u able t legal aid may be available to you by contacting a loc
1110114 39 L
011; Date: January 28, 2013 -rsity Avenue Toronto, ON
TO: POLISH NATIONAL CATHOLIC CHURCH 1006 Pittston Ave, Scranton, PA 18505 Scranton, PA 18505
ANTHONY A. MIKOVSKY
1006 Pittston Ave, Scranton, PA 18505 Scranton, PA 18505
1. The Plaintiff claims:
a) A declaration that the Right Rev. Sylvester T. Bigaj continues to be a Bishop of the Polish National Catholic Church ("PNCC") and the head of the Polish National Catholic Church of Canada;
b) A declaration that the decision of Anthony A. Mikovsky and others expressed in the letter from Mikovsky to the Right Rev. Sylvester T. Bigaj, dated December 17, 2012 whereby the said Mikovsky purported to remove Bishop Bigaj as the head of the Canadian Diocese is contrary to Constitution of PNCC and contrary to the principles of natural justice, and is therefore void and of no effect;
c) A declaration that the decision of Mikovsky and others expressed in a letter dated January 17, 2013 addressed to the parishes of the Plaintiff is contrary to the provisions of the Constitution of the PNCC and contrary to the principles of natural justice, and is therefore void and of no effect;
d) A declaration that any and all steps taken by the Defendants at the meetings referred to in paragraphs 16, 17, 18, 19, 24, 25 and 26 hereof pursuant to the authority purportedly exercised as a result of such meetings, are illegal and invalid;
e) Permanent, interim and interlocutory injunction prohibiting the Defendants from interfering with the status of Bishop Sylvester T. Bigaj as the head of the Plaintiff;
f) Punitive or exemplary damages against Mikovsky only in the amount of $2,000,000.00.
h) Such further and other relief as this Honourable Court may deem just.
2. The Polish National Catholic Church of Canada is a Canadian federal corporation. It was initially established in 1951 by a special act of the Parliament of Canada, and in 1975 it was continued under its current name by letters patent issued under the Canada Corporations Act.
3. The Polish National Catholic Church ("PNCC") is a voluntary religious association established originally in Scranton, Pennsylvania, in 1897, by Americans of Polish origin, who established there their first church.
Over the years, the church grew to the point where it now is comprised of some 140 parishes through out North America, with over 25,000.00 parishioners.
4. The Constitution of PNCC governs its affairs, and it prescribes its structure, governing organs, property rights, and rights and duties of the members. It describes and limits the authority of the Prime Bishop, the Bishops, the Clergy, and organs of the Church. The Constitution provides that the highest body of the church is the General Synod convened every four years. This Supreme Council administers the Church between the synods. The Synod and the Supreme Council are presided over by the Prime Bishop.
5. By consensus, although a separate Canadian legal person, the Plaintiff to date was also designated as a separate diocese of the Defendant Church.
6. Frequent disagreements emerged over the years between the Plaintiff and the Defendant Church over administration of the internal affairs of the Plaintiff, and specifically with respect to the fact that PNCC attempted to administer the affairs of the Plaintiff by imposition of an American Bishop as the head of the "diocese".
Anthony A. Mikovsky
7. The Most Rev. Anthony A. Mikovsky ("Mikovsky") is the current Prime Bishop of PNCC, having been elected to such position in October of 2010. He was consecrated as a bishop on November 30, 2006.
Bishop Sylvester T. Bigaj
8. The Right Rev. Bishop Sylvester T. Bigaj ("Bishop Bigaj") was consecrated as a Bishop in the apostolic succession tradition of the Christian churches on the 30 th day of November, 2006, together with Mikovsky. Upon his consecration he became the President of the Plaintiff and the head of the Canadian "diocese" on behalf of the Defendant Church. Thus, with the consecration and appointment of Bishop Bigaj, the differences between the USA and Canadian sister churches were put to rest.
Background of the Dispute
9. During the course of 2007 and 2008, the Polish National Catholic Churches of USA and Canada developed concerns over governance of the affairs of their sister church in Poland. The then Prime Bishop, Robert M. Nemkovich appointed Bishop Bigaj as an overseer of the Polish affairs. Nemkovich was given the Supreme Council's authority for such appointment.
10. Much of the concern had to do with a perception that the affairs of the Polish Church and its assets were maladministered by Bishop Wiktor Wysoczanski, the head of that Church.
11. Upon installation of Mikovsky he has formed a very different relationship with Wysoczanski. Also, one of Mikovsky's US Bishops, one Sobiechowski, had a personal relationship with Wysoczanski. The attention of the Head Office of the Church to the affairs in Poland has substantially decreased. Indeed, the continuing concerns which were voiced to Mikovsky and PNCC by Bishop Bigaj and others were met with complete silence. The Defendants failed and refused to pay the accounts of Polish and Canadian counsel retained with respect to certain court proceedings commenced in Poland, and they ignored requests for information with respect to such matters.
12. In or about the month of November, 2012, Mikovsky removed Bishop Bigaj as the overseer of the affairs in Poland. Mikovsky's decision was done completely unilaterally, and without any authority
on his part. As Bishop Bigaj was appointed by the decision of the Supreme Council, it was only the Supreme Council that had a right to remove him as the overseer of the Polish affairs.
13. The difficulties in Poland continued and one group of parishioners and clergy decided to seek pastoral guidance from Bishop Bigaj. The Polish parishioners and clergy applied for registration in Poland with the Polish government authorities of their separate religious organization, and they developed a website with respect to such matters.
The Letter of December 11 th, 2012
14. On or about the 11 th day of December, 2012 Mikovsky sent to Bishop Bigaj a letter in which he required him to report to Scranton, Pennsylvania three business days later, on a 17 th day of December, 2012, and on that date to provide a proof that Bishop Bigaj has terminated the application to the Polish government authorities for registration of the religious organization and the website, both of which are referred to in paragraph 13 hereof.
15. Bishop Bigaj immediately responded indicating that his business engagements did not permit him to attend on such a short notice for a meeting in a foreign country, in a location some 700 kilometers away, and that because of his recent illness his physician advised him not to travel at such distance for the next few weeks. He further advised that the application and the website were not his, and he had
no power to terminate them, and he suggested a meeting early in January to address the matters.
16. In response, Mikovsky forwarded to Bishop Bigaj a note dated 18 th day of December, 2012, in which letter he advised Bishop Bigaj as follows:
a) Bishop Bigaj was stripped of his authority as the head of the Canadian "diocese";
b) he was not permitted to celebrate a mass as a Bishop; c) he was not permitted to wear insignia of his consecration.
17. Mikovsky advised Bishop Bigaj that such decision was made by him and by a "College of Bishops".
18. The decision was completely contrary to and in gross excess of the powers and jurisdiction granted to Mikovsky by the PNCC Constitution. None of such steps were permitted to him. Further, and in any event, the "College of Bishops" referred to by Mikovsky, does not exist, it is not authorized by any of the provisions of the PNCC Constitution, and none of the Bishops individually nor the Bishops collectively are granted or possessed of any such powers.
19. Further, and in any event, Mikovsky's decision was contrary to the norms of natural justice for the following reasons:
a) it offended the principle of audi alteram partem;
b) it was made without notice, and without any procedural fairness; c) it was made maliciously, unreasonably and for no valid reasons.
9 An Agreement
20. The counsel for the Plaintiff then immediately contacted the counsel for the Defendant church, Ernest J. Gazda, Jr., a Scranton, PA, lawyer. As a result of a discussion between lawyers for the parties, and with a subsequent agreement of Mikovsky it was agreed that:
a) Mikovsky represented that he has not forwarded the letter to any of the parties shown on a face of it as recipients of copies;
b) Mikovsky undertook not to distribute any copies of the letter and not to pursue the consequences set out therein;
c) No steps will be taken by Mikovsky in accordance with the terms of the letter;
d) The parties shall meet early in January, 2013, and attempt an amicable resolution of the dispute.
Breach of the Agreement by Mikovsky
21. On or about the 20 th of December, 2012, Mikovsky forwarded to counsel for the Plaintiff an email note reneging upon the agreement. He distributed his December 17 th , 2012 letter to members of the Supreme Council of PNCC, and he called a meeting of the Supreme Council for January 7, 2013. Mikovsky also indicated to the counsel that no legal representation of the Bishop would be allowed.
22. Mikovsky then distributed to members of the Supreme Council a letter with respect to the matter. He gave a notice of the meeting to the Council members. Although Bishop Bigaj was at all material times a member of the Supreme Council no notice of the meeting was given to him, and the notice was deliberately withheld from Bishop Bigaj by Mikovsky. Although Mikovsky's letter to Council members indicated that the matters referred to in the letter of December 17, 2012 to Bishop Bigaj would be discussed, no agenda was presented nor notices of any motions.
The Decision of 27th of December, 2012
23. On a 27 th day of December, 2012 the Council of the Plaintiff met and resolved to authorize this proceeding.
The Meeting of the Supreme Council
24. The meeting of the Supreme Council took place. At the meeting Mikovsky strongly criticized Bishop Bigaj. No motions were presented at the event, no resolutions were taken and no decisions were made at the Supreme Council meeting.
Mikovsky's Letter of January 17 th, 2013
25. Further meeting of the Council of the Plaintiff was called for 7:00 p.m. on the 17 th day of January, 2013. Approximately two hours prior
to the meeting Mikovsky distributed a letter to the parishes of the Plaintiff, advising that on the 7 th day of January, 2013 the elusive "College of Bishops" had met, apparently in secret, presumably in Scranton, Pennsylvania, and that the US Bishops presided over by Mikovsky removed Bishop Bigaj not only as the head of the Canadian church, but also as a clergyman. To the date of this pleading no notice of such steps was given to Bishop Bigaj.
Effect of the Decision of January 7, 2013
26. The purported decision of Mikovsky and the "College of Bishops" is unlawful, void, and of no effect for the same reasons as the reasons set out in paragraphs 18 and 19,
The Meeting of January 17th, 2013
27. On January 17th , 2013 the Council of the Plaintiff met, and it voted to reject the terms of the letter referred to in paragraph 25 hereof, and it reiterated its decisions of December 27 th , 2012, as set out in paragraph 23 hereof.
Punitive or Exemplary Damages
28. Mikovsky's conduct was outrageous. It was malicious, unlawful, in breach of the laws of the Church and deliberately designed to harm the Plaintiff and its Head Pastor. Such conduct deserves
condemnation by this Honourable Court through an award of punitive or exemplary damages.
29. Pursuant to the provision of Rule 17.02(h)(i) of the Rules of Civil
Procedure the Statement of Claim in this matter may be served
without leave of this Court.
Place of Trial
30. The Plaintiff proposes that the trial of this action take place at Toronto.
DATED: January 28, 2013 TUFMAN & ASSOCIATES Barristers & Solicitors
439 University Avenue, Suite 2300 TORONTO, ON M5G 1Y8
MAREK Z. TUFMAN, C.S.LSUC #18634B Tel: (416) 360-1689 Fax: (416) 350-5001 Lawyers for the Plaintiff
POLISH NATIONAL CATHOLIC CHURCH OF CANADA v.POLISH NATIONAL CATHOLIC CHURCH and ANTHONY A. MIKOVSKY
Court File No.:
SUPERIOR COURT OF JUSTICE
Proceeding commenced at Toronto
STATEMENT OF CLAIM
TUFMAN & ASSOCIATES Barristers and Solicitors 439 University Avenue, Suite 2300
Toronto, Ontario M5G 1Y8 Marek Z. Tufman LSUC#18634B1A Tel: (416) 360-1689 Fax: (416) 350-5001 Solicitors for the Plaintiff