5.29.07 The Nescott Dismissal: Part Three
“No Reason Why He Shouldn’t Serve”:
+ Kyrill Reinstates Nescott to Metropolitan Council
The drama surrounding the dismissal of Gregg Nescott from the Special Investigative Commission and his suspension from the Metropolitan Council by Metropolitan Herman took a surprise turn when it was announced on Saturday, May 26th, that Archbishop Kyrill of Pittsburgh has rejected the Primate’s action regarding his diocese's representative and reinstated Nescott to the Metropolitan Council. In a clear, short and forceful letter to the Metropolitan, +Kyrill wrote:
Following the meeting of the Holy Synod in March, you announced that Metropolitan Council member Gregory Nescott was being suspended from the Council after consultation with me, his diocesan bishop. The reason
given by you at that time for the suspension was Gregg’s alleged disclosure of confidential information from the report of the Special Commission, in an article published on OCANews.
Following a careful and exhaustive review of the circumstances of his suspension, and after meeting at length with senior priests of my diocese and with Gregg, I have concluded that there is no basis for
denying him his seat as our diocesan representative on Metropolitan Council. He was elected overwhelmingly last October by the Diocesan Assembly, and he should continue to serve in that role. Because there
appears to be no reason why he shouldn’t continue to serve on the Metropolitan Council representing this Diocese, I expect him to be seated at the next and future meetings of the Council.
Your Brother and Concelebrant in Christ,
Early during the meeting of the Synod of Bishops, March 20-22, the Metropolitan had expressed his intention to dismiss Nescott from the Special Commission in retaliation for publication of his remarks on OCANews.org on March 18. By the last day of the Synod meeting, however, this morphed into an indefinite "suspension" of Nescott from the Metropolitan Council as well. He was removed from the Council's mailing list, and thus, effectively dismissed from the Council.
Clergy and laity from across Western Pennsylvania, as well as others submitting comments to OCANews.org, were outraged at Nescott's removal from the Metropolitan Council, and made their opinions known to Archbishop Kyrill. The claims of alleged disclosure of confidential information which were the basis of the suspension were reviewed step by step. So began the “exhaustive review of the circumstances” which ultimately motivated the Archbishop to reinstate Nescott when all the evidence was examined.
The Metropolitan has had no official comment on this reversal of fortune. Nor has Nescott made a public statement. Nescott, however, has lost no time in making up for the two months he was removed. In a letter to OCA Secretary and Acting Treasurer Fr. Paul Kucynda, dated May 26 and copied to members of the Metropolitan Council, Nescott wrote:
“Dear Father Paul,
On March 23, 2007, His Beatitude sent all the members of the Metropolitan Council an e-mail that announced that he was dismissing me from the Special Commission and suspending me from further participation on the Metropolitan Council, due to an alleged disclosure of unspecified confidential information from the report of the Special Commission.
That suspension followed the publication on March 18 on OCANews of my reflections on the nature of the truth, conflicts of interest, and “for the good of the Church,” remarks presented to the Metropolitan Council meeting on March 14, but edited by me before publication to remove confidential information.
In his e-mail of March 23, His Beatitude said that his decision to suspend me from the Metropolitan Council 'was made after consultation with and the agreement of Archbishop Kyrill,' my diocesan bishop.
I was thereafter removed from the Metropolitan Council, removed from the MC search committee attempting to find a new OCA Secretary, and
deleted from the MC mailing list.
I have this week received a letter from Archbishop Kyrill, reinstating me to the Metropolitan Council as the duly-elected lay representative of the diocese of Western Pennsylvania. (I attach at the end of this e-mail a copy of that letter.) In pertinent part, Archbishop Kyrill concluded:
'Following a careful and exhaustive review of the circumstances of his suspension, and after meeting at length with senior priests of my diocese and with Gregg, I have concluded that there is no basis for
denying him his seat as our diocesan representative on Metropolitan Council. He was elected overwhelmingly last October by the Diocesan Assembly, and he should continue to serve in that role.'
I therefore ask that you restore me to the mailing list for the Metropolitan Council, and provide me with any documents that may have been sent to the other members over the past two months that I did not
Because I did not receive the normal travel and accommodations information, please send that information to me as soon as possible, so
that I may make arrangements to participate in the June meeting.
Thank you for your consideration.
The past two months have become increasingly difficult for the beleaguered Metropolitan and his administration - and Nescott’s return to the emboldened Metropolitan Council at their June 12-13 meeting is surely more unwelcome news.
• Syosset recently informed the Council that two Treasurer candidates have withdrawn their names from consideration. The Task Force itself is now working with the Selection Team to “ reopen and broaden the search” in order to find someone who wants to be OCA Treasurer. A nomination for position of OCA Secretary, for which Syosset could find no suitable candidates earlier, is expected to be made at the June meeting, though.
• The Metropolitan Council made eight recommendations to the Synod in March according to its still-unpublished Minutes. Three of these requested specific action by the Synod, only one of which has been accomplished, one left in limbo, and one just left behind.
“(1) Immediate suspension of Father Kondratick by his bishop. (Based upon the facts established thus far, failure to remove him immediately from access to any and all sources of Church funds demonstrates irresponsibility with regard to fiduciary duties on behalf
of the Holy Synod and Metropolitan Council and significantly increases the liability risks of the OCA.)”
As reported by OCANews.org, the Metropolitan and Archbishop Dmitri subsequently agreed to rescind Fr. Kondratick’s transfer to the Diocese of the South, thereby allowing his former – and future – diocesan
hierarch, Metropolitan Herman, to suspend him. The plan went awry when a day after agreeing to the rescission, Archbishop Dmitri repudiated it.
This led to two weeks of turmoil, until the Archbishop was convinced to honor the recission again. (Read that story here) Fr. Kondratick was subsequently returned to the omophorion of Metropolitan Herman,
formally suspended some weeks later, and scheduled for an ecclesiastical trial on May 18th.
OCANews.org has confirmed that the Kondratick trial has now been postponed until June 11th, and is expected to conclude no more than a week to 10 days thereafter. In recent weeks supporters of Fr.
Kondratick have made it known that Fr. Kondratick has a) not been informed of the canonical charges against him, b) not been allowed to see all the evidence against him and c) been informed that any witnesses he may wish to call have to be approved by the judges of the ecclesiastical court. Archbishop Dmitri and Fr. Kondratick have both written to Syosset complaining about the process - or lack of same. Syosset continues to maintain total silence about the trial.
It has been reported to OCANews.org that Fr. Kondratick intends to be represented by Mr. Harry Kutner Jr., his civil lawyer. Fr. Kondratick’s internet supporters have always intimated that Fr. Kondratick’s strategy would be to create chaos with the process. Now on their second accuser, second presiding judge, second date for trial, and still refusing to release any information about the trial at all, including the charges, it seems Syosset is intent on assisting the descent into chaos.
“(2) Call Metropolitan Theodosius before the Holy Synod to answer questions relating to his responsibilities and duty of care for the OCA
while serving as Metropolitan of the OCA. “
No invitation has been extended.
“(3) Confirm for the record that there are no prohibitions against investigating the discretionary accounts.”
The question lies at the root of some $5+ million given by the Andreas and Archer Daniel Midland Foundations between 1994-1999 that remains unaccounted for. Protodeacon Eric Wheeler has alledged the monies disappeared into discretionary accounts controlled by Fr. Kondratick and Metropolitan Theodosius. The Special Investigative Commission was not allowed to pursue this line of questioning.
According to the OCA report of the March Synod meeting though: "The members of the Holy Synod asked the special commission to continue its work until it is brought to a conclusion. They further affirmed that all financial records using the OCA's name and/or charitable status, discretionary or other, past, present, or future, are subject to independent audits.”
In short, they affirmed, technically, that some discretionary accounts were liable to "audit", if not explicitly to "investigation". (Not that this makes a great deal of difference now that the Metropolitan has suspended the Commission indefinitely anyway.) But the further question is this: what does it mean that the Synod officialy stated that the Commission should "continue its work", but the Metropolitan arbitrarily suspends it? It seems the Metropolitan is dismissive not only of the wishes of the Council, but of the Synod as well.
A further five recommendations concerned the Metropolitan Council itself. Only two have been fulfilled.
“(1) Determine and authorize a working budget for the Special Commission to bring its work to completion.”
There is no longer a need for a budget as the Metropolitan has indefinitely suspended the Commission.
(2) “Appoint Deacon John Zarras, OCA Transition Officer, and Alexandra Makosky, Esquire, to be responsible for overseeing the proper filing
and securing of OCA documents and records, especially those maintained by the current comptroller.”
This was done, but of course, one copy of the reports locked up within Syosset was reported lost within 36 hours of the Metropolitan Council meeting. The staff meeting to investigate the loss was held more than two weeks later. Clearly, the loss was not a priority.
(3) “Release this entire written report to the Holy Synod. (The Special Commission will prepare a Summary of the report and present it to the members of the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox
Church in America at their Spring 2007 Meeting, and recommends to the members of the Holy Synod that they release that Summary to the entire Church.)”
A 13 page summary was prepared, but never released to the entire Church.
(4) “Require the Treasurer to submit the invoices of Proskauer Rose to the Special Commission for review and comments before paying them, even if the amount is within the authorized budget for 2006-2007.”
As the Commission has been suspended, this has not been done either.
(5) “Authorize Lambrides to conduct a special-purpose audit for 2006, which would include reviewing the appeals, endowment funds, and trust funds.”
Lambrides presented a letter of engagement to do the same on Wednesday, March 13, 2007. In the meantime, Syosset published its first quarter 2007 statement in an attempt at increased transparency and accountability. Unfortunately, the figures provided omitted the two most important sets of numbers - both in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. The costs of repaying the diverted charitable funds, and who has been repaid, and who has not, was passed over; as have all fees for the lawyers and accountants as a result of the Scandal.* Did they think no one would notice the omissions?
The Metropolitan Council
Clearly the suspension of the Special Commission, the attempt to disenfranchise a prominent Council member and the failure of Syosset to take the unanimous recommendations of the Metropolitan Council seriously, means Syosset has greater issues with the Council than just the return of Gregg Nescott and his persistent questioning in the search for truth.
Moreover, the Council itself is changing. Long-time member and ardent supporter of Fr. Kondratick, Fr. Michael Westerberg, clergy delegate from New England, has resigned. Bishop Nikon has appointed Fr. Mark Sherman of Salem MA in his place. Fr. Sherman’s views on the scandal are not publicly known.
On the other hand, since the Kondratick trial and Metropolitan Council meeting are to be held at the same time, it is unclear how Dr. Faith Skordinksi, who is
to serve as the “Accuser” in the trial, will be able to attend both. As Dr. Skordinski was the most vocal and persistent critic of “Best Practices” as presented by Syosset, her potential absence at the Metropolitan Council meeting may influence the decision on “Best Practices” as well.
The next Metropolitan Council meeting is scheduled for June 12-13th at an as-yet-undetermined location - Syosset itself being occupied by the trial.
• OCANews has learned that Syosset has paid Proskauer Rose LLP its full fee (over $700 an hour) to read and monitor OCANews.org.on a regular basis. Our financial statement shows we cannot fund evangelism, education or youth work, indeed, practically any programs beyond salaries - but we could afford to pay lawyers to read a free site for a Metropolitan and administration that claims not to? Madness.