No Money, No +Herman
• Two Day Meeting Closes With Four Resolutions
• “No Confidence” Passes 80-24
• “Continued Withholding” Passes 88-19
• “+Herman Step Down” Passes 95-10
• Diocesan Council Given Authority To Decide
Following Archbishop Job's call for Metropolitan Herman to step down (read his speech here), the Archdiocese of the Midwest spoke loudly and clearly in a series of four votes (with increasing pluralities) taken yesterday afternoon at the 46th Diocesan Assembly held in Cleveland.
In the first resolution, entitled “No Confidence”, Holy Trinity parish in Overland Park, Kansas proposed that:
“Whereas, the Metropolitan of the Orthodox Church in America supervises the internal and external welfare of the Church; and
Whereas, the Orthodox Church in America has been embroiled in a financial and ecclesial crisis since at least October 2005; and
Whereas, the Metropolitan has acted in ways that have exacerbated the crisis;
Be it Resolved that:
the 46th Diocesan Assembly of the Diocese of the Midwest has “no confidence” in Metropolitan Herman.”
The measure passed with only minor debate by secret ballot, 80-24.
Withholding To Continue
A second motion, which proposed spending the monies being withheld on worthy projects inside and outside the Archdiocese, was withdrawn at the last minute by its sponsor. A third motion, proposed by St. Paul parish in Dayton, Ohio was then discussed. There was no debate, only minor modifications agreed to by the sponsor based on questions and clarifications requested by the delegates. The motion reads:
“Whereas the member of the Diocese of the Midwest have an abiding desire to maintain the unity of the Orthodox Church in America while promoting the integrity and holiness of our Church;
We, the clergy and lay delegates to the Diocesan Assembly,
-express no confidence in His Beatitude, Herman, Metropolitan of the Orthodox Church in America, nor the Acting Treasurer Fr. Paul Kucynda. We no longer believe they are acting in the best interest of the OCA. They have failed openly and full to resolve the ongoing scandal in the OCA most recently expressed in their opposition to a free and unhindered Investigative Committee and the failure to release all the preliminary Report of the Special Commission. The good of the Church requires them to step down from their respective offices as soon as a Treasurer can be appointed, and a new Metropolitan elected at the forthcoming 2008 All American Council.
- reaffirm the decision of the Diocesan Assembly in 2006, as expressed by the Diocesan Council in 2007, to withhold all assessments from the OCA until all the stated benchmarks are fully met, without further alteration or change. That is, until a Special Commission, confirmed by the Metropolitan Council, is re-established and allowed to continue its investigations as it determines, free from outside interference, and the preliminary Report of the Special Commission is released. The questions of the Special Commission must be answered publicly:
What exactly happened?
Why did it happen?
What can be done to prevent this from happening again?
What is the proper course of action for the Church to take with those responsible for permitting it to happen?
-believe the way forward to health and integrity for the OCA is the full releasing of all financial reports, audits and investigative reports of the central church administrations, including those related to past All American Councils since 1992.“
The resolution passed, again by secret ballot, 88-19 with one abstention.
Resignation or Retirement?
A fourth motion was then made by the Resolution Committee itself, in light of the Archbishop’s speech the day before. This motion provoked the most discussion; as to exactly how the Metropolitan should be asked to resign. In the end it was agreed to simply quote the Archbishop’s words from the day before, as all agreed they best expressed the Assembly's intentions. The resolution reads:
“We, the 46th Diocesan Assembly, gathered in Cleveland, Ohio, On October 1-3, 2007, having heard the report of His Eminence, Archbishop Job, hereby with one voice express our opinion that we have been blessed by his words and thoughts. In addition, we offer our full support and confidence in our Archbpastor and acknowledge to the world our support of his ministry to the Diocese of the Midwest and his efforts to seek a resolution to the alleged financial, administrative, and moral malfeasance exhibited by the Central Administration of the Orthodox Church in America. The Assembly, echoing the words of His Eminence, asks Metropolitan Herman “to step down as First Hiearch of the Orthodox Church in America in order to assuage the suffering of the Church and her people.”
This, too, passed 95-10- again by secret ballot. The resolution symbolically adds 6,000+ signatures to the national petition, now approaching 1,000 names itself, asking for Metropolitan +Herman to step down. (Read that petition here)
All-American Council Participation
In the final session of the Assembly the delegates discussed the possibility that withholding might lead to the Archdiocese being denied seating at the forthcoming All-American Council, currently proposed for Pittsburgh in either July or November 2008. (The actual dates will be decided at the forthcoming meeting of the Metropolitan Council.) Since the Diocesan Assembly will not meet again before the July 1, 2008 deadline for paying assessments (See the OCA Statute, Article III, Section 4 here) the Diocesan Council asked for formal authority from the Assembly to make a decision for the entire Archdiocese. (The Diocesan Council was wary of much criticism that by setting benchmarks for Syosset last July, rather than beginning to withhold as authorized, they had ignored the previous Assembly's directions....) Given the uncertainties and variables that could occur in the next nine months, the issues raised in the discussion were many. In the end, in a show of unity, the Archdiocese voted to leave the final decision to the Archbishop and the Council by a unanimous voice vote. Thus the Assembly agreed that the Council may release withheld funds, even if the benchmarks are not met nine months from now, to insure participation in the All American Council. On the other hand, the Assembly agreed that should the Council and the Archbishop so decide, the entire Archdiocese would forego particiation in the All-American rather than release funds if the benchmarks have still not been met.
New Metropolitan Council Delegate Elected
Among the elections held was that of clergy representative to the Metropolitan Council. Fr. Michael Matsko was nominated by the Deans of the Archdiocese to suceed Fr. Vladimir Berzonsky. Several other candidates subsequently declined nomination in a show of support for Fr. Matsko, who was elected unopposed. Fr. Matsko, the long-time pastor of Holy Transfiguration parish in Livonia, Michigan has served on the Diocesan Council for many years, and on the Metropolitan Council itself in the early 1980’s. He is a graduate of St. Vladimir’s Seminary and a former police officer from Los Angeles. Shortly after being elected, Fr. Matsko spoke to the Assembly of the need for transparency and accountability throughout the OCA, and promised to faithfully represent the Archdiocese's positions while on the Metropolitan Council.
- Mark Stokoe
Saturday: Syosset Strikes Back