Olear v. Haniak

Decision Date11 July 1939
Docket NumberNo. 24957.,24957.
Citation131 S.W.2d 375
PartiesOLEAR et al. v. HANIAK et al.
CourtMissouri Court of Appeals

Appeal from St. Louis Circuit Court; M. G. Baron, Judge.

Suit for an injunction by George Olear and others against Reverend Joseph Haniak and others. From a judgment for plaintiffs, defendants appeal.

Reversed.

Paul Dillon, of St. Louis, for appellants.

John C. Vogel and A. P. Kaufmann, both of St. Louis, for respondents.

SUTTON, Commissioner.

This is an injunction suit.

The St. Mary's Assumption Ruthenian Greek Catholic Church of St. Louis, Missouri, was organized in the year 1900 as a voluntary religious society of the Catholic Faith. The church property is located at Dolman and Hickory Streets, in the City of St. Louis, and was purchased by the society in 1910. Afterwards, in the same year, the society was incorporated, under the provisions of the statute relating to benevolent, religious, scientific, fraternal, beneficial, educational, and miscellaneous associations, now article 10 of chapter 32, Revised Statutes, 1929, Mo.St.Ann. § 4996 et seq., p. 2288 et seq., under the corporate name of St. Mary's Assumption Ruthenian Greek Catholic Church of St. Louis, Missouri, by a pro forma decree of the Circuit Court of the City of St. Louis, and the church property was conveyed to the corporation in its corporate name.

The statute, section 4997, R.S.1929, Mo. St.Ann. 4997, p. 2290, under which the church was incorporated, provides that the secretary of state shall issue a certified copy of the articles of agreement, with the several certificates thereon, as filed in his office, "which certified copy shall be the charter of the corporation."

Section 5005, R.S.1929, Mo.St.Ann. 5005, p. 2294, reads as follows: "Every corporation created under this article shall make by-laws for its government and support and the management of its property, and therein provide, unless such provision is already made in its charter, for the admission of new members and how they shall be admitted, and prescribe their qualifications. Provision may also be made in such by-laws for the removal of officers for cause, and for the expulsion of members guilty of any offense which affects the interests or good government of the corporation, or is indictable by the laws of the land: Provided, always, that such by-laws shall be conformable to the charter of such corporation, and shall not impair or limit any provision thereof or enlarge its scope, and shall not be contrary to the provisions of the Constitution or laws of this state."

The constitution of the corporation, as set out in the articles of agreement, is as follows:

"Article I.

"The name of the Congregation shall be the St. Mary's Assumption Ruthenian Greek Catholic Church of St. Louis, Missouri.

"The said Congregation shall always be connected and united with the One Holy Apostolic Church, which recognizes the Catholic Roman Pope as the head on earth in the Church of Christ. The said Church, however, uses in all its divine services only the Greek Catholic Rite in the ancient Slav language and in this is distinguished from the Roman Catholics, who use the Latin Rite.

"Article II.

"Said Congregation may acquire and own its own church and parsonage and the real estate upon which the same may be situated or located, but the Congregation and its church, with all its belongings, shall always be under the jurisdiction and under the absolute supervision of the present Greek Catholic Ruthenian Bishop in the United States of America, Right Rev. Soter Stephen Ortynsky, and, in case of his death or resignation of his rightful successor in office of the same rite, duly appointed by the Roman Pope, and no decision of the church members, or trustees of the church, can deprive him or his successors of those rights of jurisdiction and authority over the said church.

"Article III.

"Males and females of the church who will abide by this Constitution and live up to the obligations of the church as Christians, that is, attend the church services, go to confession at least once a year and contribute regularly to the monthly collections, may become members.

"Article IV.

"Only a Greek Catholic Ruthenian Priest, having authority from his Ruthenian Bishop, can hold services in the aforesaid church and there perform his pastoral duties. He shall, by virtue of his office, be president of the congregation, and no meeting of the congregation can be held without his knowledge.

"Article V.

"The number of the members of the Board of Trustees shall be five and shall consist of the pastor, who is President by virtue of his office, Vice-President, Financial Secretary, Recording Secretary and Treasurer, elected at annual meeting for one year.

"The duties and obligations of the members of the Board shall be prescribed in the By-Laws of the Congregation, to be adopted by its members.

"Such further officers may be elected by the Congregation as may be determined in the By-Laws.

"Article VI.

"Annual meeting of the Congregation shall be held at 3:00 p. m. on the last Sunday of each year. Quarterly meetings and special meetings may also be held at such times as may be fixed in the By-Laws."

The by-laws are a copy of the Constitution with certain additional provisions.

One of these additional provisions is as follows: "Said Bishop, and his rightful Successors in office, shall keep for all time, the Church properties entirely in his own name: in trust, however, so that said Church may not fall into the hands of people of other Religions or Nationalities, and the temporal administration of the Church property shall remain in the hands of the Church officers, under the supervision of the aforesaid Greek Catholic Ruthenian Bishop."

Another is as follows: "The monthly dues for married members shall be one dollar and for single members fifty cents."

Another is as follows: "A person cannot remain a member of this congregation who fails to go to Confession and Holy Communion at Easter, who causes public scandal by his manner of living, who attends the services of non-Catholic Churches, or who begins or conducts a lawsuit against this congregation, with a view to transferring it into the hands of its enemies. Any member who is guilty of any one of the aforesaid acts, ceases to be a member of this congregation, and by such act loses all rights to its property."

Another, respecting meetings of the congregation, is as follows:

"A majority of votes shall decide all questions. Twenty-five members shall constitute a quorum. A member wishing to speak shall give his name and surname to the Presiding Officer, must confine himself to the subject, and speak respectfully and not insult others; otherwise, he will be deprived of his right to speak.

"Every member who has paid his congregation dues and is not in arrears more than two months (unless he has been out of work or in ill health for some time) shall have the right to speak at meetings, and, after being a member for six months the right to vote at any meeting."

Defendant Reverend Joseph Haniak was a member of the Catholic Church of the Oriental Greek Rite, having been duly ordained as a priest in Europe. He came to this country in 1921. He became the pastor of St. Mary's Assumption Ruthenian Greek Catholic Church of St. Louis, on January 1, 1933. He was appointed as pastor by Bishop Bohachevsky, of Philadelphia, as follows: "This is to certify that Rev. Joseph Haniak is appointed by me as Bishop of the Ruthenian Greek Catholic Diocese pastor of Assumption of the B. V. M. Ruthenian Greek Catholic Church in St. Louis, Missouri, and of St. Mary's Greek Catholic Ruthenian Church in Madison, Illinois, and as such he is duly authorized and empowered to celebrate the Holy Mass and administer the Sacraments to the Ruthenian (Ukranian) Greek Catholic faithful in the said cities."

Reverend Joseph T. Donovan, a teacher of canon law at Kenrick Seminary, testified as follows:

"There is but one Catholic Church. It has many rites. The church in question belongs to the Oriental Greek rite, under the Pope of Rome. The Bishop appoints the pastors in the Oriental Greek Rite churches. The Bishop is appointed by the Pope. In no place have the parishioners anything to do with the choosing of the parish priests in the Catholic churches. Within the church there are provided tribunals for the hearing of complaints, and they have graduated steps until they reach Rome. The matter of running the church and conducting the service is left largely to the priest and Bishop. If one is dissatisfied he takes the matter to the Bishop. If he don't get relief from the Bishop he appeals to the Apostolic Delegate in Washington. He is supposed to settle all controversies that are brought before him within three months having to do with the Greeks and Ruthenians. It can be brought before him by writing a letter, or in a formal way, and the Apostolic Delegate, if he considers the complaint entirely unfounded can disregard it, otherwise he will pass on the complaint one way or the other, and those dissatisfied with his ruling can take it immediately to the Congregation of Oriental Affairs in Rome. And if he is dissatisfied with either the Diocesan or Apostolic Delegate's ruling he can take it before the Congregation of Oriental Affairs, or appeal directly to the Pope.

"This Greek Ruthenian Catholic Church located in St. Louis is not part of the Diocese of St. Louis. It is not under Archbishop Glennon's jurisdiction. It is under a Bishop located in Philadelphia. That Bishop is appointed by Rome, and is given jurisdiction over certain churches within a certain district, over all the Greek Ruthenian Churches in the United States of the Greek rites, and the local diocesan authorities have no control over that Bishop. The Bishop can remove a pastor at will. The removal of a Priest is under canon law.

"This is a Greek diocese here in St. Louis. The people...

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