COUNCIL VOTES TO AFFIRM SPECIAL COMMISSION'S MANDATE,
RECOMMENDATIONS, DESPITE METROPOLITAN'S OPPOSITION
The two-day Metropolitan Council meeting concluded at 4 PM (EDST) today in dramatic fashion when, following an impassioned appeal by Archbishop Job, the Council voted to reject the lead of Metropolitan Herman and overwhelmingly support the work of the Special Commission. It was a stunning reversal of fortune for the Metropolitan, who only the evening before seemed to have convinced Council members to disband the Commission, suppress its report and end any further investigation into the financial scandal plaguing the administration.
Following Tuesday morning's address of the Metropolitan, the speech was immediately posted on the OCA's website. (Read the press release here)
The Council's subsequent naming of candidates for the offices of Chancellor, Treasurer and Director of Ministries and Communications were also posted yesterday afternoon. (Read that press release here)
Yet late into the night still nothing appeared on the OCA website concerning the centerpiece of the day's work, the report of the Special Commission.
According to witnesses, Tuesday afternoon's report of the Special Commission began with Archbishop Job, chairman of the Commission, presenting a 9-10 page written report, with 3 pages of endnotes and more than 200 pages of exhibits. Members of the Council sat silently as the report outlined in devastating and incontrovertible detail, listing dates and amounts, how Church funds were misused and misappropriated. The Commission report concluded with a number of recommendations; most importantly, that the Commission be empowered by the Council to continue its investigation, that the report be sent on to the Synod and later be made public to the Church, and that the Synod suspend former Chancellor Fr. Robert Kondratick from all priestly duties, pending a church trial.
No sooner had the Commission finished than the first voices were raised against it; not against the integrity or facts of the report, but that the Church had had enough of scandal; that the report should be kept secret; that the Commission should now end its work " for the good of the Church" ; it was time to "move on" given the reorganization and new appointments; and that no actions should be taken against anyone. The Metropolitan concurred. Commission members and those who supported them were stunned. The meeting ended with no decisions taken, but the clear impression was given that Metropolitan's position would be affirmed the next morning. And so, unlike the other two reports earlier in the day, nothing appeared on the OCA website regarding the Special Commission or its work....
Following a morning Pre-sanctified Liturgy, the Council meeting resumed. Among the presentations was an hour-long talk by Attorney Jim Perry warning of potential civil liabilies arising from the Special Commission's report.
At this point Archbishop Job of Chicago rose and addressed the Council, saying he was "appalled and amazed" that the Metropolitan and the Council would consider repressing the report and the further work of the Special Commission. Citing the day, he delivered a long, passionate reflection that the Council "not turn our backs on the Cross.""I do not know if my conscience would allow me to remain in such a Church," he concluded - and with those words, left the room and the meeting.
Others then rose to speak, including Commission members Fr. Berzonsky, Mr. Nescott and Dr. Skordinski. Former long-time Administrative Committee member under the Kondratick administration Fr. Gregory Safchuk, joined the Commission members, to the surprise of many, saying that his parish "would accept nothing less that the truth and the Commission's work must be allowed to continue." The meeting passed its designated ending time - and several members had to leave.
Finally, Fr. John Reeves stood holding the Commission's report in one hand, and a Bible in the other. "We have spent too much time talking about this book, and not enough about this one," he said raising the Scriptures. Fr. Reeves went on to speak forcefully of Ananias from the New Testament, and the Prophet Amos from the Old. Fr. Matthew Tate then moved the question - and the Council voted 22-1 to reaffirm the Commission as an "independent body" responsible to the Council to continue its investigations. The Council then voted unanimously to recommend to the Synod of Bishops (which meets next week in Syosset) that Fr. Kondratick be suspended pending an ecclesiastical trial. The Council then voted to recommend to the Synod that the Commission's report be released to the Church following its presentation to the Synod (albeit in a redacted form so as to minimize any potential civil liabilities). The meeting adjourned soon thereafter.
- Mark Stokoe