A Brief Note From OCANews.org
As We Begin 2009
With this posting OCANews.org begins its fourth year of publication. Last year we began the year by noting that there was light visible at the end of the long tunnel of scandal through which the OCA has been passing. This year, with the uprising in Alaska and the forced resignation of Bishop Nikolai, the publication of the SIC Report and the forced resignation of Metropolitan Herman, as well as the continuing restitution of diverted funds, we are clearly much closer to that light than ever before. Thanks be to God.
Some may argue that given the above, as well as the recent All-American Council in Pittsburgh and the surprise election of Metropolitan Jonah, the new financial transparency in Syosset and the renewed sense of accountability emanating from the Metropolitan Council (not to mention the beginnings of a real Strategic Planning program) the OCA has finally left the tunnel of scandal behind.
After so long in the dark, the growing light may indeed seem bright - but hope is not the same as fact, and desire is not the same as reality. We are still in the tunnel of scandal, friends, even if we are on the path towards the light. As Fr. Michael Tassos suggested in his recent posting of the OCA's finances, there is much about them that remains confusing and unknown. Questions remain, such as what has happened to all the bequests left to the OCA over the past two decades? Does anybody really know? Is anybody really asking the question? Or will such questions, as in the past, just be swept under the rug?
There is still an ongoing investigation into the finances and questionable practices of St. Tikhon's monastery and bookstore. (Where, speaking of bequests, the former Metropolitan has moved into a home supposedly left to the Church, but actually left in his personal control for the rest of his life....) One can only hope that the current diocesan investigation will conclude with a public report that answers many of the outstanding questions from St. Tikhon's: Who owns what? How much of this patrimony of the OCA has been mortgaged? By whom? And where has all the borrowed money gone? Or will such questions, as in the past, just be swept under the rug?
Even a cursory reading of the year's past headlines shows we are still in the long tunnel we have been excavating for ourselves these past twenty years. The Koumentakos case remains unsettled. Why? Audits were called for in regards to the former Diocese of New York- New Jersey, where more than a hundred thousand dollars "disappeared", even as the former Metropolitan told compliant clergy not to ask any further questions. Will diocesan clergy now ask where their parishoner's hard-earned assessment monies went - and will any answers be reported back to the faithful? Or will such questions, as in the past just be swept under the rug?
Amid the self-congratulatory statements, photos, videos, events and commemorative books planned, we dare not forget these questions, or the others that exist but have yet to make the headlines. We dare not cease requiring answers from those who have now promised transparency and accountability. Otherwise, only the names will have changed this past year - but little else.
As the Church of God, we must continue to do better. As the People of God, we can.