News From Around the OCA
• +Herman Banned From Serving At St. Tikhon's
• Investigation Begun into New York/New Jersey
In a recent press release announcing that the law enforcement has been called into the investigation of St. Tikhon's monastery and bookstore, Metropolitan Jonah said: "Evidence of financial mismanagement and possible wrongdoing discovered during the investigation has led to disciplinary actions against certain employees." No names or actions were cited, but OCANews.org has confirmed that during his recent visit at St. Tikhon's Monastery and Seminary last week, Metropolitan Jonah met with retired Metropolitan Herman. He informed +Herman at that time that the Synod had decided that +Herman was no longer blessed to serve at the monastery. Just as retired Metropolitan Theodosius is restricted to serving only in Canonsburg, PA; Metropolitan Herman is now only blessed to serve in Uniondale, some 16+ miles from St. Tikhon's. (The retired Metropolitan had served there as a parish priest in the 1960's.) +Herman was also informed that he was no longer blessed wear his white klobuk. An official announcement of both decisions is expected in the near future.
In related news, it has been reported to OCANews.org that Metropolitan Herman's former Archdeacon , Alexei Klimitchev, has been suspended from all clerical duties. His photo and information have been removed from the OCA website. He had been earlier removed as the manager of St. Tikhon's bookstore at the end of 2008.
• Syosset, New York
The OCA announced late last week that "In compliance with a long term recommendation of the Special Investigating Committee [SIC], the Diocese of Washington and New York is now preparing for an external audit of its 2008 financial records and for a financial review of the records of the former Diocese of New York and New Jersey." That is not fully accurate. The SIC, on page 35, recommended that the records of the diocese of NY/NJ be audited, not reviewed. There is a significant difference, as the OCA has so painfully discovered in these past years.
The recommendation for the audit stemmed from questions concerning use of diocesan monies by the late Archbishop Peter, Metropolitan Herman and former Chancellor Robert Kondratick, who controlled Diocesan funds during the late Archbishop's lengthy illness. As OCA.org reported on December 8, 2003:
"Delegates to the annual assembly of the Orthodox Church in America's Diocese of New York and New Jersey at Holy Assumption Church here December 3, 2003 adopted a far-reaching proposal to address the administrative and financial difficulties brought about by 'poor bookkeeping and the lack of administrative oversight.'
At the center of the discussion was the diocese's failure to remit $126,000 in parish assessment payments to the Orthodox Church in America's Chancery in Syosset, NY. Diocesan officials explained that, due to the lengthy illness of His Eminence, Archbishop Peter of New York and New Jersey, the diocese had experienced a number of administrative challenges and unforeseen financial expenditures.
It was also noted that approximately $105,000 had been spent on unexpected expenses surrounding Archbishop Peter's care and emergency repairs to the diocese's Bronxville, NY offices and episcopal residence. With no significant savings or endowment from which to draw funds for the extraordinary expenses, these expenses were paid by the diocese out of assessment revenues received from diocesan parishes."
It is unclear why the Diocese should have been responsible for the Archbishop's healthcare costs, since the Archbishop, who had Medicare and health insurance, was, in addition, personally wealthy.
Moreover, the other "administrative challenges and unforeseen financial expenditures" cited by former Chancellor, Robert Kondratick have never been explained. When several priests attempted to inquire about such things in 2005, they were told to be silent. Quoting one (who wrote to OCANews.org at that time): "I can say as an eyewitness at the last diocesan assembly that RSK & Metropolitan Herman simply did a top-down, no questions allowed, 'here is the way we're going' thing. When people continued to raise their hands for questions, +Herman has a fit & said: 'Enough. No more questions. There will be no audits. You will never get to the bottom of this. You will never find where the funds went. Just forget about it & get on with the work of the Lord, for the good of the Church.'"
Syosset also reported this week that: "In related news, the Diocese of Washington and New York also reported that it is currently renovating its property in Bronxville, NY, for use as a diocesan center." Last renovated in 2002, the question arises as to why the property is in need of additional renovation only six years later? The retired Archbishop did not live there for most of that period, as he had built a home in the Caribbean. And is well-known, Metropolitan Herman did not use the residence during his tenure (2004-2008). If the Diocese of Washington and New York is being asked, yet again, to repair the residence, is it not reasonable the Faithful be told why?
- Mark Stokoe