• Herman to +Dmitri: "I Am Confused..."
• +Job to Midwest: "Comedy of Errors..."
• NY-WA Diocese Cancels Metropolitan's Dinner
• New Questions Surface Concerning 2002 Finances
The dispute over the status of Fr. Kondratick continued to dominate news from the OCA as Metropolitan Herman responded to the Archbishop of Dallas in a letter posted on the OCA website. The letter offers no new information, but rather reasserts the Metropolitan's position - that former chancellor Fr. Kondratick is once again under the Metropolitan's jurisdiction, regardless of what the Archbishop may say.
The letter begins with deference, offering the elderly Archbishop several ways to diffuse the stand-off with the Synod of Bishops: "...When I read the thinly veiled threats to sue the Church, the members of the Holy Synod and/or myself, it became clear to me that persons close to you must have 'assisted' you in preparing the letter since I am confident that you, who have given your life in service to Christ's Church, would never consider such an option. Nevertheless, I must still clarify the confusion that has been caused, perhaps inadvertently, by the letter and the posting." It ends, however, more forcefully: "Let me be clear on this point Your Eminence, Fr. Robert S. Kondratick is no longer under your omophorion; he was reassigned to Stavropeghial Status and he shall be permitted to serve in Venice until I send him further instructions."
Any further discussion of the matter with the Archbishop (and 'instructions' to Fr. Kondratick) will apparently have to wait. The Metropolitan concludes his letter: "Your Eminence, let me respectfully suggest that that with Holy Week upon us that we focus our attention on Christ, the author and finisher of our faith, and speak no more of this matter until after the feast of Pascha." (Read the letter in full here)
Archbishop Addresses the Midwest
The Archbishop of Chicago posted a letter to all his parishes this evening, offering his comments as the Church begins Holy Week. The letter begins:
"Glory to Jesus Christ!
We enter into Great and Holy week amidst great distraction and confusion with regard to the crisis which continues to plague our Orthodox Church in America. Recent news concerning the Metropolitan Council, Holy Synod, decisions rendered by both, disregard for some of them, removal of one member of the Special Commission, his suspension from the Metropolitan Council, the testimony of the former Chancellor before the Holy Synod, the rescission of his transfer by the Metropolitan with the concurrence of the Synod, the change of mind on the part of the Archbishop of Dallas regarding the decision, the resulting canonical and logical chaos, etc. etc. form a mind-boggling litany of complications which having thoroughly 'muddied the waters', could be described as a comedy of errors. But no one can laugh; it is proper for us only to weep.
I intend, by means of this communication, to offer clarification regarding some of the more perplexing issues:..."
The Archbishop then discusses the removal of Gregory Nescott from the Special Commission and his suspension from the Metropolitan Council (which he feels was a "mistake"); the report of the Special Commission (which he thinks should be released to the Church); and the fate of Fr. Kondratick ("suspension").
The Archbishop also reveals he has "considered the possibility of convening an extraordinary diocesan assembly shortly after Pascha in order to discuss fully all concerns, but I have been persuaded that perhaps the time is not right in order for it to be effective." (Read the full letter here)
Voice From the Parishes
The Archbishop was responding, in part, to growing uproar in parishes throughout the Midwest. OCANews.org has already published the letter drafted by clergy now circulating throughout the Minneapolis Deanery. In another example, the parish council in St. Paul's in Dayton OH, sent the following letter to Archbishop Job, with copies to all parishioners, on March 28th. It reads:
With the conclusion of the most recent meeting of the Holy Synod and Metropolitan Council, we have noted that the Metropolitan and Archbishop Dmitri seemingly fail to understand the severity of the financial and moral scandal that erodes the life and mission of our church, oblivious to the serious legal ramifications already set in motion. Moreover, we have yet to receive any report regarding the planned distribution of the last three church-wide appeals, or the repayment of charitable funds that were to be covered by the OCA's recent ($1.7 mil) loan.
Meanwhile, letters of genuine concern go unanswered, leaving the appearance of a detached and arrogant leadership. In the absence of clear, transparent, and accountable management, the faithful are left to believe that nothing has changed or is likely to change in how the church operates, or in how its funds are managed, utilized and disbursed.
To paraphrase the Archpastoral Letter which the Synod of Bishops issued to us the faithful of the OCA: It must be confessed that during early 2006, there were many of us who believed that the notion that the Synod of Bishops would properly deal with the allegations were exaggerated, and that they would simply offer explanations that the allegations were 'misunderstandings.' In March of 2006, it appeared to us that we were wrong in these beliefs and that there was substance behind the Bishops' desire to investigate the allegations. But then our hopes were shattered by yet another impasse in the Synod, more obstacles being put in the way of the church's efforts to deal with the truth of the scandal and failure of the leadership to deal with wrongdoing and sin by some of its most important leaders.
Let us quote the Archpastoral Letter: 'The body of evidence that was presented was detailed and quite frankly, shocking. The confirmed instances of the abuse of Church trust were determined to be centered on one person, the former Chancellor of the Church.' The report presented reliable and verifiable evidence to support the allegations leveled against the former chancellor of the OCA. The Metropolitan Council voted unanimously to recommend the 'Immediate suspension of Father Kondratick by his bishop.' Despite these most damning statements, at this point the Synod of Bishops for whatever reason still has not been able to bring itself to deal forthrightly with its own conclusions.
The Synod wrote to us saying,' During these final days of Great Lent, we ask you to join us as your Archpastors. Let us stand together before our God of mercy, and beg His forgiveness for our sins, known and unknown. Let us re-enter His presence and the joy of His love and choose life, by following Him as the true and living way, our Companion, Guide, and Guardian during our earthly journey.' This we want to do. We beg God to forgive us for carelessly and in poor stewardship sending the money of our parishioners to men who wasted it like the prodigal son. And we repent of this lack of concern for God's people and for the poor, and promise true metanoi. We will not send any more money to the OCA until the situation is corrected, and righteous order is restored to the Church. We will continue to send to the Diocese of the Midwest that portion of the assessment which funds the Diocese. We are withholding payment only on the portion which the Diocese forwards to the OCA.
Effective immediately, the undersigned faithful of St. Paul the Apostle Orthodox Church's Parish Council, Dayton, OH, call upon Your Eminence, and the Diocesan Council, to cut off all funding to the Orthodox Church in America. As a parish we cannot in good conscience nor with any sense of godly stewardship continue to fund the OCA because of the failure of its Synod of Bishops.
This was the overwhelming consensus of the 45th Diocesan Assembly, which demanded the implementation of quarterly reporting on the budget and total adherence to the Statute of the OCA, among other things. These were given as conditions for our continued financial support of the national church. Neither of these is happening.
We recognize the great strides which the Metropolitan Council has taken in bringing about financial, personnel and policy changes to the OCA.We cannot wait any longer for the Synod of Bishops to do its part. The more we delay action, the more we demoralize and disillusion those whom we were called to serve.
Your Eminence, your tireless efforts to seek the truth, to correct the problems, and to restore the trust of the faithful have only increased our gratitude to God for your ministry. Please be assured that you have our unwavering support.
Seeking your prayers and asking God to uphold your ministry, we call upon you to act now, for the sake of the weaker brethren.
Many years, master!
The Parish Council:
New Website Appears
Nor is the response limited to the Midwest. A new website, created by OCA laymen in the Washington-New York diocese entitled SaveTheOCA.org has taken a novel approach to the scandal. The website, started earlier this week, states:
"Throughout the ongoing scandal, the members of the OCA have stood quietly by waiting for leadership and action by those managing our church. However, the hierarchy of our beloved church has failed to act, and now is the time for us, together, to pledge our support for change and accountability.
How can we help? By proving that we, the community of the church, are willing to contribute and help rebuild what is left of our beloved church. We ask that all OCA members complete our pledge form. To be clear, we are not taking your money. We are taking your word - a promise to help rebuild the OCA when the conditions of our fund raising effort are met. Those conditions are:
1) The current leader of our church, Metropolitan Herman, must step down either by resignation or by termination;
2) All results of the Special Commission will be legally distributed to all dues paying members of the Orthodox Church in America and publicized in its entirety on OCA.org;
3) All parties implicated by the special commission will receive a just penalty for their parts in any activities against the by-laws of the church; likewise; if the report specifies that any illegal activities ensued, that those responsible parties will be turned over to the proper civil authorities."
The site keeps a running total of pledges received. In the first 24 hours almost $25,000 has been pledged.
Diocese Cancels Birthday Dinner
Priests in the Diocese of New York and Washington DC received the following notice in a brief fax sent by Fr. Samuel Kedala, Dean of the New Jersey Deanery, this afternoon, March 30, stating:
"The 75th dinner for His Beatitude is cancelled. The checks sent to the diocese will be returned to the parish priest for his distribution to those who had made reservations."
No reason for the cancellation was given.
New Questions for the Metropolitan Concerning 2002 OCA Finances
Serious new questions were raised about OCA finances in the year 2002 in a reflection by Wayne Tatusko, a commercial real estate lawyer and former President of St. Mark's parish, Bethesda MD, outside Washington DC. Using figures published by the OCA itself, Tatusko points out that more than $1 million 'went missing' in the year Metropolitan Theodosius resigned, and Metropolitan Herman entered office. Where this money - taken from invested funds - went has never been discussed before. Tatusko raised this question with the Metropolitan during the latter's recent visit to St. Mark's, and was dissatisfied with the answer he received.
(Read his reflection here).
- Mark Stokoe
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