7.21.06 Latest News
'Silenced' Monk Silent No Longer
Breaking the silence imposed on him by Metropolitan Herman for his criticism of the Metropolitan following the dismissal of Fr. Robert S. Kondratick in March 2006, James Silver, a raisaphor living as a self-described "urban monk" in New Jersey for the last 15 years, has written a scathing ten page letter to the Metropolitan, the Synod of Bishops and the Metropolitan Council speaking out against the Primate and his policies. The monk (better known as "Monk James" or "Father Silver " from his frequent internet postings), a member of the Canonization Commission of the OCA and a volunteer in the Archives in Syosset, claims insider knowledge of events and to have seen undisclosed documents which he shares in the letter in order to urge " ...the Metropolitan Council to withdraw its approval of the loan" and encourage the Metropolitan "to resign at the earliest opportunity".
Silver, who had been very active on the blogosphere as one of the chief "Restorationists" (those who want Fr. Kondratick returned to office, and the Metropolitan removed for having "wrongfully" dismissed him), was ordered as an act of monastic obedience to be silent by the Metropolitan earlier this Spring. In his letter to the Metropolitan dated July 19th, Silver now justifies breaking his imposed silence by writing:
"You have to realize that silencing me, among others, does nothing to bolster your position. In fact, silencing your critics rather than engaging them is the mark of frightened dictators much more than the sign of enlightened leaders. A truly loyal opposition is worth its weight in gold to honest and sincere leaders, but I don't think you get that. You and Fr Paul Kucynda, whom you've appointed as your enforcer and 'attack dog', are behaving like power-mad bullies, not as leaders with authority divinely given and recognized by our people, who have every expectation of depending on you and the rest of our bishops to help us work out their salvation..."
Silver's opinions aside, it is certain claims that he makes in his letter, not publicly disclosed before now, that merit attention.Often the information he claims to be privy to, or the documents he claims to have seen, could only come from Fr. Kondratick himself.
On The Loan
Regarding the $1.7 million loan from the Honesdale Bank Silver writes:
"I thought it was interesting that Wachovia Bank, with exponentially larger resources than the Honesdale Bank, turned down your application several times."
On The Flow Of Information
"In order to stir the Metropolitan Council and our bishops to action while there is yet time to ward off this financial disaster, I'm providing a copy of this letter to each of our bishops and council members, since it's become clear to me that most of them have not seen the documentation which would allow them to make better and more prudent decisions, especially in financial matters. Instead, they've merely been taking your word (and Fr Paul Kucynda's) that this loan is an appropriate option for the OCA. You and Fr Paul Kucynda keep trying 'soviet style' to manipulate people by controlling the flow of information, letting them know only as much as you want them to know. But there's a lot of information available to them in spite of that.
You tell the bishops and the Metropolitan Council just as much as you want them to know so that they will perforce vote for your proposals, but there is always the loyal opposition with which you must contend. You've consistently failed to show both bodies all the available documentation, since you know that full disclosure would weaken, if not destroy, your position.
... You and the other bishops should have produced Mr Andreas's letter when the Fund's administration was first questioned. That little bit of forthcomingness on your part THEN would have saved us a great deal of our embarrassment NOW. Instead, you and the Holy Synod effectively stonewalled the OCA, closed ranks and said nothing. This did not enhance your credibility as individuals or as a synod.
Some of the bishops are paralyzed by their own embarrassments and dare not speak out against you since they know your vindictive nature. Other bishops are too old and ill to oppose you with any vigor, and some others are so junior so as not to have gained their voices yet. Most of the laity in the Metropolitan Council are so dazzled just to be there that they feel that they have no option other than to support you, and the priests are afraid to oppose you because they know your history of intimidation and recrimination. You rule 'out of order' anyone who challenges you, even benignly. But I say that it's very wrong of you to play both sides against the middle, keeping both the Holy Synod and the Metropolitan Council at bay by telling each body that it's the other body which must determine whatever issue you want to avoid discussing."
On Stavropegial Institutions
Silver makes specific mention of potential trouble with the State of Pennsylvania regarding St.Tikhon's, a fact which Bishop Nikolai of Alaska alluded to in his letter of March 13th. Silver writes:
"Three of the stauropegial institutions for which you are directly responsible are now in serious financial trouble. St Tikhon Seminary has laid off several instructors, and we'll just have to hope that this trend doesn't eventuate in jeopardizing the Seminary's hard-won accreditation. St Tikhon Bookstore's financial relationships with the State of Pennsylvania and the federal government are already being called into question in the matter of sales and import taxes at the same time as the monastery's income is diverted from the necessary projects which would assist the community's growth. People are aware of this, and they're getting ready to move on it. St Vladimir Seminary recently passed a deficit budget for the new fiscal year, clearly indicating that expenses are expected to exceed income; this can't go on very long if the Seminary is to keep its doors open. And then there's this very vexed matter of funding the OCA's central church administration and our church-wide initiatives."
His bringing up these issues ends in a veiled warning that increased scrutiny might bring more trouble:
"All of these recent financial worries emerge from a context, a history of mismanaging resources, as in your persecution of St John the Baptist parish in Mayfield PA and your foolish prosecution of those good people in civil courts, which cost our OCA dearly in 1984. We lost about $800K then for that expensive mistake on your part, made with incompetent legal advice. Central then raised an appeal for help to meet operating expenses, and our faithful people rallied to the cause and contributed $1.3 million, as I recall. Our people are good and generous, and they want to help the church, but they're not fools and they have long, nearly indelible memories. It's unreasonable to expect them to bail us out now by quietly going along with your proposed $1.7 million loan.
My Father, it's beginning to look like you and your advisers aren't very good at institutional finances, and it's certainly not a good idea to borrow $1.7 million, given all these present troubles which might worsen if continued calls for more thorough audits and greater financial transparency at all three stauropegial institutions are taken as seriously as they ought."
The Current Situation In Syosset
In the context of his continuing criticism of the wisdom of the loan, Silver reveals the following:
"Fr Paul Kucynda's paranoid suspicions about the integrity of everyone still left on the Chancery staff have demoralized everyone, even as he continues to bully and intimidate them. He changed the locks yet again, even on the bathroom! We're going to lose some very dedicated and competent people because of this."
Continuing his attacks on Fr. Kucynda, acting OCA Treasurer, even those commenting on OCANews get sideswiped:
"Except for the often out-of-focus and confused (but very loud) comments appearing on Mark Stokoe's website, the laity generally feel that they have no voice, and so will react primarily by withholding their financial support. The clergy, on the other hand, are intimidated by you and Fr Paul Kucynda, aware of how petty and vindictive you have been in the past, and afraid of your very predictable recriminations should they disagree with you now."
On Fr. Kondratick
Silver then lists his reasons for opposing the loan, at length, all of which have been previously noted by others. He does, however, offer the following information in a long section dedicated to a defense of Fr, Kondratick. Silver states:
"...You gave three reasons for dismissing Fr Robert Kondratick from his post as chancellor of our OCA, and you made them public.Ê But all of them are untrue, and as I've told you in person and in writing you railroaded him out of office and scapegoated him for the failings of others, most notably yourself and your predecessor, Metropolitan Theodosius, and for the acting treasurer and his predecessors....
You accused Fr Robert Kondratick's attorney, Harry Kutner, of threatening you, and in your person threatening the entire OCA. I read that letter, and no such thing is true....
And for that letter, which you clearly didn't understand, you fired Fr Robert Kondratick, enlisting a respected member of the Metropolitan Council to witness your handing him your letter of dismissal. (Editor's note: Mr. Robert Kornafel) Yet neither that member, nor any members of the Metropolitan Council had seen the letter which as you stated provoked you to fire Fr Robert Kondratick. That was ignoble of you and clearly demonstrates how you manipulate the Metropolitan Council by controlling information so as to let them know only so much as would support your position. Why do you do that?
Yet you fired Fr Robert Kondratick, making it APPEAR that he was somehow responsible for all the financial confusion which so disturbs Pdn Eric Wheeler. But it's not Fr Robert Kondratick who's responsible for ANY of this. It's you, and your predecessor, Met. Theodosius, and the OCA treasurers over the last fifteen years or so who are to be held to account."
On Proskauer Rose
What is most interesting is that Silver claims to have insider knowledge of the findings of the Proskauer Rose report - a report that even the Bishops have not seen as yet. Silver writes:
"WITHOUT AUTHORIZATION FROM THE METROPOLITAN COUNCIL, you hired Proskauer, Rose to 'investigate' the Chancery's financial affairs. Then you informed the Metropolitan Council of what you had done and asked their approval; you violated our OCA Statute by not asking for approval first. Without authorization from the Metropolitan Council, you obligated us to a $100K retainer in just the same self-referential, arrogant way. Well! Now Proskauer, Rose has investigated for months and found NOTHING. But they get to keep the $100K, and we have nothing to show for it. There's no more money to keep Proskauer, Rose on the job, so we're going to have to live with an expensive exercise in irresolution..."
A Conflict of Interest
Silver continues by pointing out that half of the monies for the original retainer for Proskauer Rose LLP came from a loan from Matushka Mary Buletza Breton. In the letter Silver offers a partial answer to Fr. Kucynda's "Question #5": (Read about Question #5 here)
"There's an additional complication to Mary Buletza Breton's loan, which was not, contrary to Fr Paul Kucynda's paranoid suspicions "leaked" by someone at the chancery; it was made known here in New Jersey. Her own good intentions notwithstanding, that loan put her in violation of the 'conflict of interest' provisions of that very flawed 'Best Practices' document which we're supposed to adopt, and which she was asked to explain to the Metropolitan Council at the same time as you and she were violating it. You knew this, yet you exposed her to unfair criticism by placing her in that awkward position."
The Promissory Note
Silver also claims to have seen the note and spoken with the current administration about the promissory note to Fr. Kondratick:
"Finally, there's the matter of a legitimate debt of $250K we owe Fr Robert and Elizabeth Kondratick for their expenses in repairing and improving the Martin Drive house. Both you and Fr Paul Kucynda keep saying that this isn't a legitimate debt, that there is no documentation, and other falsehoods. Why do you go on doing that?The promissory note, which I've seen, is signed by Met. Theodosius and Fr Paul Kucynda among others, and appears to be in good order. It ought to be honored as we catch up with all our arreared accounts. Let's pay our just debts."
On Canon Law
Silver then turns to canon law. He writes:
"Through all this, in addition to your violations of the OCA Statute described above, you've committed two really serious violations of church law and that doesn't begin to address your silencing of me and others, forbidding us to comment on this tragedy in public.
First, you abandoned your diocese.....When I (among others) reminded you that the canons as well as our OCA Statute required you to live within the geographic borders of your own eparchy, you shouted at me: 'I'll decide where I'm going to live!' You don't really have that option if you're an obedient son of the Church. But you're not, as I've pointed out. What right have you to assert your putative authority as a bishop when you won't follow the rules yourself?Don't you see that your own irrational, uncanonical behavior suggests to your fellow Christians that 'if the bishop doesn't have to follow the laws of the Church, then neither do we?'
But you behave as if you're above the law, the emperor of the OCA..... Your nearly papal delusions about your 'power' have left most us in shock; you like the emperor are unclothed but you don't see it....
Now, it could not unreasonably be said that a bishop's place of residence shouldn't be a major concern as long as he's present and actively attuned to the parishes, priests, and people of his eparchy. But even if that were true, you're still is a violation of our Tradition as the Church, and it's certainly not true in your case, since you just flit in and out and never get to know anyone, and those who take the time to speak with you and answer your questions are just glad-handing you, hoping you'll just go away after they tell you what they think you want to hear, because they're afraid of you. You've successfully intimidated most of the clergy, but not all, and we need a bishop on the ground here in New Jersey to begin undoing the damage which you and Abp Peter have done these last thirty years or so...
At the moment, the DC-NY eparchy is paying $1000 a month to the eparchy of eastern PA to keep you in your preferred house, where Bp Tikhon of Philadelphia ought to be. Clergy and laity of the eastern PA eparchy are starting to make noise about that, and DC-NY could use that money better."
Silver concludes the letter by calling on the Metropolitan to retire by the next scheduled meeting of the Synod of Bishops in October.
A Simple Test
Ever since March 16th, the date of his dismissal, defenders of Fr. Kondratick have assailed the Metropolitan for the manner, method and meaning of that decision. Overlooking the fact that much of the criticisms he has leveled against the Metropolitan are for actions or situations created during the Kondratick adminstration, one of Fr. Kondratick's chief defenders has now laid down a marker: claiming to have seen the Proskauer Rose report, claiming to have seen the audits, claiming to have seen the letter from Fr. Kondratick's attorney, Harry Kutner Jr. Esq., that the Metropolitan himself claims precipitated the termination. OCANews cannot verify the veracity of any of Silver's claims: but Syosset can, and should, quickly.
Fr. Kondratick's defenders claim to know that the audit will reveal little. Silver writes: "In addition to all that, Lambrides & Co. have audited and audited, and found nothing more substantial than that receipts are lacking for some expenditures of some OCA charitable funds."
So publish it. Publish it together with the private letter to management that always accompany such Audits explaining what the real problems were. The one without the other will only mislead, if indeed receipts are 'missing'.
Publish the Proskauer Rose report – and the quicker the better. Better the Church publish it, than it leaks, piecemeal, over the next months, confusing everyone. And publish it in full right at the beginning, rather than leaving the inevitable impression of censorship by those Church bodies (the Administration, the synod of Bishops, the Administrative Committee, the Metropolitan Council, etc.) who may have reviewed it before being made public.
Finally, publish the Kutner letter and refute Silver publicly. No single act will do more to restore credibility to this battered administration; no single act will do more damage than to now continue to withhold it.