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2.6.06

Three Part Series Continues:
The Culture of Fear,

Half Truth and Deception: Part Three

        We conclude the series with the revelation of a startling new document that demonstrates how those in power in Syosset have misinformed, misdirected and deceived the hierarchy, clergy and laity of the OCA since 1995. -Editor

At the heart of the present administrative culture of the OCA, a culture that is sustained by threats and manipulated by half truths, is deception, deception concerning money.

New Document Revealed

A document entitled "Strategic Plan for the (Russian) Orthodox Church in America Regarding St. Catherine's Embassy Church Moscow Russia" recently given to OCANews, details the beginnings of a funding stream from the foundations of Dwayne Andreas, former chairman of the Archer Daniels Midland Corporation, that would eventually total almost $4 million in donations to the OCA between

1995 - 1999.

The "Strategic Plan" an initiating request for $1.5 million, outlines, in explicit detail, who is requesting the funds, what the funding is for, who will administer the funds, how the funds will be administered, and how these funds will be accounted for by a "Big Six" accounting firm.

In its details, the "Strategic Plan" discredits each and every one of the claims Syosset has made regarding these funds in the past decade, and exposes that the truth has been kept from the Holy Synod, the clergy and the laity of the OCA.
(Read the first page of the 'Strategic Plan' here)

Not "Discretionary"

The "Strategic Plan" makes clear that none of the ADM grant monies were originally intended to be placed under the sole "discretion" of the Primate, but were, in fact, to be part of the regular funds of the OCA. The grant proposal is clearly made in the name of the "(Russian) Orthodox Church in America" - not as a private grant for Metropolitan Theodosius. Indeed, the "Strategic Plan" specifically mentions that the monies are to be administered not by the Primate, but by the Chancellor, Fr. Robert Kondratick. The "Strategic Plan" states: "The oversight for the plan will be headquartered in Syosset, New York, under the Chancellor of the OCA, Fr. Robert Kondratick."

By suggesting otherwise for almost a decade, Syosset has deceived everyone in the OCA.

Critics, such as Protodeacon Eric Wheeler, have charged that much of the misdirected money from ADM made its way into the St. Sergius Chapel Fund, an unaudited "discretionary fund" controlled by Fr. Kondratick. With the confirmation in the "Strategic Plan" that it was Fr. Kondratick, not the Primate, who was to administer these funds, critics
now wonder why Kondratick's accounts cannot be audited. Although the Holy Synod has stated that the Primate's discretionary funds may not be audited, no such
blanket exclusion exists for the Chancellor's accounts.

Not "Confidential"

The "Strategic Plan" makes clear that neither this request, nor its objectives were "confidential" in any way. The "Strategic Plan" lists eight objectives for which funding would be used. They are:

"• Central administration funding sources for the (Russian)
Orthodox Church in America (OCA) and to enhance the influence of the OCA and the Moscow Patriarchate in the United States and Russia as it relates to East-West relations of all kinds.
• The full development of the St. Catherine's physical plant in Moscow.
• Funding and influence of St. Catherine's in the City of Moscow.
• Nurture relationships with key donors and potential donors in the United States for support of infrastructure development within the OCA related to St. Catherine's.
• The full programmatic development of St. Catherine's.
• Leadership development opportunities for clergy and laity in cooperation with the Moscow Patriarchate.
• Provide conference facilities to gather influential business, political, education and church leaders to discuss crucial issues affecting Russia and its societal development.
• Nurture the brotherly relations between the Moscow Patriarchate and the OCA as it relates to the
OCA's responsibilities regarding Orthodox Christian administrative unity in North America and in ecumenical endeavors."

Not one objective suggests any confidentiality is attached. Indeed, just the opposite - the objectives are clearly aimed at making the OCA, the Moscow Patriarchate, St. Catherine's Embassy Church and the proposed "International Conference Center" all the more well known in both Russia, the United States and ecumenical circles.

To Be Audited

The "Strategic Plan" specifically indicates that all funds received by the OCA will be subject to audits. Indeed it highlights this fact. The Plan states:

"Cooper & Lybrands, or one of the other "Big 6" international accounting firms with offices in Moscow, is currently being considered to provide both strategic and tactical assistance in all aspects of the development plan. It is the OCA's desire to select an accounting firm with offices both in New York and in Moscow. The thinking here is that the involvement of an internationally recognized auditing firm will lay the foundations for the OCA to attract substantial sponsors in its ongoing efforts to promote greater cooperation in all areas of human life between Russia and America."

To state in a grant proposal that audits will take place, and then specifically deny any attempt to audit the funds once they have been received, as Syosset has for the past ten years, is blatantly deceptive.

Andreas' Reaction

The deception committed against the Church and its institutions is certainly a legal question - but more importantly from an Orthodox perspective, are the moral and practical questions such deception raises.  Mr. Andreas has never publicly spoken on the fact that his money was misdirected into secret accounts or that it was used for purposes other than applied for. According to Deacon Eric Wheeler, when the existence of the ADM funds was first revealed, Andreas was approached, and gave, Metropolitan Theodosius a letter that attempts to circumvent potential legal problems with the administration's actions. It cannot, however, circumvent, the moral issues the deception raises. How long can a Church exist that deceives its own donors? Coincidentally, it should be pointed out, ADM funding stopped that same year.

Deceiving the Holy Synod

Following the revelation of the ADM monies in June 1999, the Holy Synod of the OCA, in response to a request by Metropolitan Theodosius, declared the following in July 1999:

"...An issue has come before us. The issue in question is the
Primate's discretionary funds. We, the Holy Synod of Bishops, have reviewed this matter and we find that the Primate, and his predecessors, have always had and maintains full authority over such funds. The Primate has the canonical right to maintain those funds in privacy and confidentiality; not only the privacy of the Primate but also the confidentiality of the donors and the anonymity of the beneficiaries of these funds. The Primate's discretionary funds are used in accord with the wishes and directive of the donors and to promote and advance the Holy Orthodox Church.

It is has also come to the attention of the Holy Synod of Bishops that demands have been made upon the Primate to violate the privacy and confidentiality of the discretionary funds in his care. We unanimously exhort the Primate to deny any form of audit, or any other intrusion into the confidential nature of the funds in the care of the Primate and/or the privacy of the Office of the Primate...."

The major justification given by Syosset since that time for refusing to audit any accounts of the Primate has been the desire to protect the "confidentiality of the donors" and the "anonymity of the beneficiaries". The "Strategic Plan" now makes clear that in this case the donor had no expectation or desire for confidentiality. That is especially hard to argue when the proposed International Conference Center was to be named after the donor, Dwayne Andreas.

Nor were the beneficiaries anonymous. At least, not the stated beneficiary for whom the grant was written. As the title states, the grant was written specifically for St. Catherine's Church in Moscow. The objective, as stated again and again in the "Strategic Plan", was not to keep St. Catherine's anonymous - but to turn it into an
international showplace of Russian-American friendship and cooperation. The "Strategic Plan" makes clear that the monies were not "discretionary" in any way, nor is the statement that the funds were used "in accord with the wishes and directive of the donors" fully accurate.

In short, the "Strategic Plan" makes clear that "confidentiality", "anonymity" and "discretionary" were bold faced lies concocted by Syosset, and swallowed hook line and sinker by the Holy Synod. In the Holy Synod's defense, they were never allowed to see this grant proposal. This was confirmed in Archbishop Job's letter to Metropolitan Herman in November, 2005:

"...I take exception to the explanations given that the financial concerns first brought up in 1999, and now resurrected and augmented in 2005, were discussed and resolved by the Holy Synod and Metropolitan Council as early as 2000. Your Beatitude, the only matter brought to the attention of the Holy Synod and Metropolitan Council was the Metropolitan's 'Discretionary Account". No details were provided ....As a hierarch of the Holy Synod I dealt only with maintaining a principle regarding the nature of a discretionary account...."

What Will the Synod Do?

With the deception revealed, the question facing the Holy Synod is what to do about it. In its conclusion, the "Strategic Plan" states: "We believe that the Church can and should hold its feet to the fire regarding its accountability for optimal results." The choice for the Synod is now clear. There can be a full, open investigation and audit of this deception, and the manifold others alleged by Protodeacon Eric Wheeler and confirmed by Paul Hunchak; or once again they can attempt to "put it all behind" as the administration in Syosset so desires. But the latter is only possible, if the Synod agrees to the deception. And that is not a legal question, or a challenge to hierarchical authority. It is a moral question, the answer to which the whole OCA now awaits.

                                       -Mark Stokoe


 

 
     
 

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