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The Metropolitan Council passed a unanimous resolution yesterday asking the Synod “in the strongest possible terms” to deny Metropolitan Herman’s request for a six month leave of absence “in view of the findings of the Special Investigative Committee’s Report”. The resolution asks instead that the Synod adopt the first recommendation of the SIC Report, that Metropolitan Herman be removed from office immediately.

The Synod is scheduled to meet today separately from the Metropolitan Council where it will discuss the matter as well as the other referrals for discipline. Other items on its agenda include the possible election of Archimandrite Jonah (Paffhausen) as Vicar Bishop for the Diocese of the South.

The SIC Recommendations

In other news of the first day of the joint meeting, Archbishop Dmitri, as the senior OCA Bishop, has indeed asked Archbishop Seraphim to chair the event, in the absence of Metropolitan Herman, who refused to attend. After hearing the SIC Report in its first session yesterday morning, both the Synod and Council agreed to sever the Report from its recommendations, as the first three recommendations were the canonical responsibility of the Synod alone.

The two bodies then unanimously voted to accept the Report of the Special Investigative Committee.

Later, in its separate meeting in the afternoon, the Council agreed, with minor changes, to adopt all the recommendations of the Report and forward the first three to the Synod for action. With one exception, these recommendations were adopted unanimously. These include:

- The referral of +Metropolitan Theodosius to the Synod for discipline prior to the 15th AAC.

- The referral of the former part-time Treasurers Father Paul Kucynda , and Father Dimitri Oselinsky and the former Comptroller Fr. Stephen Strikis to the Synod (HS) for discipline prior to the 15th AAC. 

- A joint HS and MC resolution of apology and repentance to the Church prior to the 15th AAC and a joint resolution of apology to and commendation for John Kozey acknowledging his vigilance and dedication to his fiduciary responsibilities in light of the
opposition he encountered.

- A joint HS and MC resolution of commitment to implement the SICs recommendations prior to the 15th AAC.

- To seek the recovery of funds from +MT and Kondratick immediately after receiving this report during the HS and MC joint session, September 3-5,2008.

- The OCA Legal Committee and legal counsel to review this report for possible referral to the Nassau County District Attorney and other appropriate authorities no later than September 30,2008, and report back to the HS and MC on that date. 

(This recommendation was the sole recommendation not adopted unanimously. One member objected.)

- A report by the OCA’s external auditors to the HS and the MC regarding the adequacy of the newly established internal financial controls and the release of the same on the OCA’s website at the 15th AAC.

- The establishment by the HS and MC of a committee to oversee and report on the progress of the SIC’s recommendations. This committee shall consist of one hierarchchosen by the HS, the three OCA corporate officers, and three MC members selected by
the MC during their meeting of September 3-5,2008.

- The designation of the MC’s Ethics Committee as the OCA’s ombudsman, aplace for whistle-blowers and others to bring concerns without fear of retribution,
beginning at the joint session, September 3-5,2008.

- The establishment of a presentation by the OCA’s legal counsel to the HS andMC concerning their fiduciary and other legal responsibilities as members of theirrespective bodies during the 15th AAC and annually thereafter.

- The MC’s selection of a committee during its September 3-5, 2008 meeting to develop a comprehensive crisis management plan, developing and adopting a policy of
immediate action within the Church, and a commitment to provide effective communications with members of the Church, while problems, issues, and crises are
being addressed. The committee will present a progress report to the HS and MC no later than the Spring 2009 HS and MC sessions.

-  Beginning with calendar year 2008, annual external financial reviews of all OCA bodies and institutions (including Stavropegial institutions) are to be mandated. Additionally, the financial records of the former Diocese of New YorkNew Jersey shall be audited. The
results of these audits will be presented to the HS and MC and published on the OCA’s website within 30 days of their presentation.

(This was a minor change from the SIC's recommendation.  A "review" is less costly than a full scale audit, but would uncover most irregularities, if any.  The Diocese of NY/NJ records, however, are to be audited.)

-  The establishment of qualifications for election as a member of the OCA’s Audit Committee during the 15th AAC.

- The OCA’s Annual Audit Committee reports shall be presented to the HS andMC and published on the OCA’s website within 30 days of their presentation.

- The publication of the OCA’s annual budget and monthly financial reports on the OCA’s website, beginning October 1,2008.

 Implement changes to ensure the OCA’s website is current with the goal of its
becoming a reliable source of Church information, and one to which answers reader’s
questions submitted to the OCA, beginning no later than January 1,2009.

The establishment at the 15th AAC of a long-term strategic planning committee to
review: (a) the relationship of the dioceses to the Central Church; (b) the appropriate
division of responsibilities and funding between the dioceses and the Central Church;
(c) the separate and joint roles and responsibilities of the HS and MC in the governance
of the Church; (d) the role, functions, structure, and funding of the Central Church
Administration and its geographic location; and (e) the development, documentation, and
implementation of sound business policies, procedures, processes, and practices. The
committee will conduct a comprehensive review of The Statute of the Orthodox Church
in America and all HS, MC, and Chancery policies to ensure accountability, openness,
and communication to the Church-at-large. The committee will report to the HS and MC
during their Spring and Fall sessions, beginning no later than the Spring 2009 sessions,
and semi-annually thereafter.

The meeting, including full discussions surrounding the SIC Report and its recommendations, as well as  questions and answers by the SIC, went  until past 10 PM Wednesday evening. 

- Mark Stokoe


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