Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church of Canada St. Mary Cathedral, et al. v. Teshome Aga, et al.
(Ontario) (Civil) (By Leave)
Courts - Freedom of religion (s. 2(a)), Freedom of association, Jurisdiction, Appeals, Standard of review - Charter of Rights and Freedoms - Freedom of religion - Freedom of Association - Freedom of speech - Multiculturalism and legal pluralism - Courts - Jurisdiction - Judicial review - Private parties - Appeals - Standard of review - Whether superior court can review decision by religious organization regarding membership - Whether issues are ecclesiastical and non-justiciable - Whether religious organizations constitution and by-laws form a contract - Do a voluntary association’s by-laws always form a contract giving the court jurisdiction - Can charitable donations be contractual consideration - Are the respondents pursuing non-justiciable claims and remedies - Would the relief claimed by the respondents violate the Charter of Rights and Freedoms - Did the Court of Appeal overturn or make factual findings without applying the palpable and overriding error standard of review?.
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Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church of Canada St. Mary Cathedral is a non-share capital corporation incorporated under the Corporations Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. C.38. Teshome Aga, Yoseph Beyene, Dereje Goshu, Tseduke Gezaw and Belay Hebest are members of the congregation and were members of a committee that investigated a movement of members within the congregation. The committee reported to Archbishop Dimetros that the movement was heretical. The committee recommended action including purging of heretics. Archbishop Dimetros imposed other discipline. Teshome Aga, Yoseph Beyene, Dereje Goshu, Tseduke Gezaw and Belay Hebest objected. They were warned that steps would be taken to expel them from the congregation if they did not cease expressing dissatisfaction. They were suspended from membership and expelled. They commenced an action. The appellants applied for summary judgment dismissing the action. The Ontario Superior Court of Justice granted the application and dismissed the action. The Court of Appeal for Ontario granted an appeal, set aside the summary judgment dismissing the action, and returned the matter to the Ontario Superior Court of Justice for trial.
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