4.8.06 Latest News
+Nikolai Threatens +Herman,
& Attacks OCA Statute:
Second Appeal for 'Silence'
Issued from Syosset
Two recent letters from Bishop Nikolai of Alaska reveal not only his profound disagreements with Metropolitan Herman, but his opposition to the current investigation of finances of the OCA. They also reveal his clear antipathy towards the OCA's governing Statute. In the first letter to the Metropolitan, dated March 13th, that is, three days before the dismissal of OCA Chancellor, Fr. Robert Kondratick, +Nikolai warns Metropolitan Herman:
"....Don't you see that any steps further than what we as a Synod agreed to by audits from 2001 to present is your imminent downfall? And how could it be any other way? Dear Vladyka, to allow for an audit beyond your tenure is imminent downfall. It will not include an audit of only the Central Church but all institutions of The Orthodox Church in America.
I don't know all the particulars of what accounts were discretionary and/or hidden and who was paid what but I am loyal to the oath which I took and that means that I have to be of one mind with my brothers. It means also that you are to mediate and to bring consolation and unity to us. You didn't do that after the consecration of Bishop Alejo. Archbishop Job stated in your presence in that classroom at St. Tikhon's that you approved of his coming late to the liturgy and not serving and he emphasized that again at Holy Synod recently - what a shame.
And now you bring to us the request to seek outside legal council? Have you notified Russin and Vecchi of this present situation? What are you doing with regards to Protodeacon Eric Wheeler? He is maligning and openly defiant toward one of your brothers and yet nothing appears to be taking place? This is not a diocesan matter - it is a Church matter and I have as much an investment in it as you. I chose to be in The Orthodox Church of America and want this Church to be the best she can, but we look weak and lacking leadership in the world and you look weaker still as the Primate who is doing nothing.
It is my conviction, dear Vladyka, that you must stand by your letter on November, take responsibility, close the doors and move on. If you don't do that, I am confident that audits and witch hunts will proceed beyond anyone's control and your tenure as Metropolitan will be blackened in history...
It is my firm conviction dear Vladyka and brother hierarch that the proper direction and your only hope to succeed as the primate is to:
Put and (sic) end to this. Declare that the November 9, 2005 statement at the Metropolitan Council Meeting is what are you standing on. Declare this to the Holy Synod, Metropolitan Council, Administrative Committee and the entire world. Take responsibility by stating that you are taking the responsibility for peace during his Lenten period, asking forgiveness for whatever sins may have caused pain and temptation but it is over!!! Be a leader and don't allow yourself to be led by infidels whose agenda is wrong and sinful.
Suspend Protodeacon Eric Wheeler demand that Archbishop Job direct his parishioner Mark Stokoe to stop that web site.
I suggest you ask your brother bishops for their support before it will be too late to support you.
Your Beatitude's Intercessor,
(Read the November 9th statement here.)
+Nikolai's Second Letter
+Nikolai's advice clearly went unheeded as on March 16, at the Administrative Committee meeting in Syosset Metropolitan Herman announced the dismissal of Fr. Kondratick as well as the hiring of Proskauer Rose LLP to investigate OCA finances back to 2001. These decisions prompted a second, scathing letter from the Alaskan Bishop, clearly written only days after Kondratick's dismissal but dated March 21st (in anticipation of +Nikolai's 5th anniversary of his episcopal ordination.) Following a brief introduction, this second letter to the entire Holy Synod (as well as the auxiliary Bishops of the OCA) begins with self-reflection. +Nikolai writes:
"....Today I find our Church under siege. I find us as a Holy Synod to be weak, ineffective and with little credibility among the clergy and virtually not respected by our Primate whom we elected. And it's our own doing. I am also compelled as a member of the Holy Synod to give advice to my brother bishops as they are to me at any time, even a right to do so, therefore, I write this.
I ask you where our credibility with the clergy and faithful is when after having discussed ad nauseam the alleged financial improprieties we still pursue this direction. It was again reiterated in Special Session on March 1, 2006 that these allegations were presented in the (sic) 1999 and dismissed. I personally presented this in 2002 and now in 2005 they are resurrected to new life, rather sure death in every detail. Was it not the decision of the Holy Synod to have the audits completed 2001 to the present and thereafter? And now we read in the papers that the audits will be done from 1990 to present - a quote from the acting Treasurer. These same reports make it look as if our former Chancellor is the culprit. Such a sad state for us! How much time we spent to draw a document that everyone was willing to sign and for what? And didn't we agree to have these audit reports presented at the Spring Session? We agreed after lively debate but with one voice!
And now I received as you did this letter to the Administrative Committee from our Primate dismissing the Chancellor. And to boot, this was done with two attorneys in the committee meeting. Who authorized outside counsel? Was this at the direction of our Church legal counsel? Who is paying for this? Are we so weak that this behavior of a primate who is acting like a ruthless pope has now compromised the audit? Have you seen the report from the computer company that states anyone with access could or could have changed any figures and now what? Was this termination another smoke screen to obscure what the real issue is? I want a copy of those Administrative Committee minutes unaltered and unsealed not like the minutes of the last Special Session that were never approved. And let me say those minutes, too, need to be read to us and approved not sealed away for the Metropolitan's eyes only. I don't like how he sees things!"
+Nikolai Challenges the Metropolitan
and the Statute
The Bishop goes on to criticize the Metropolitan for not residing in his diocese, and launches a personal attack on the credibility of Acting OCA Treasurer Fr. Paul Kucynda. The letter resumes:
"This is not a Primate that can be respected. ... Outside attorneys in an Orthodox Committee meeting, what's he hiding behind? What about the Primate stating that he has five bishops on his side. I am not interested in being one of those five but ask, are you, have you been consulted? What's wrong with the order of the Church that we may disagree and even be confrontational in session but that voice comes as one, not divided? Has he now purposely divided the Holy Synod to make himself look good or worse yet - powerful? I think it makes us all look very bad. We had a discussion right after he was elected about Primatial Prerogative. This is given by the Holy Synod and not something that he can assume or do at will. Article IV, Section 2,l, is not papal authority and neither is this termination of the Protopresbyter pastoral or for the good of the Church at this time. And that same reference upholds the canons.
My Dear (sic) brothers in Christ, I am advocating here in this letter for us to act responsibly in compliance with the oath we all took and to follow the canons. I didn't take an oath to uphold the Statue. They need to be revised and that should be our first priority but not to use what is uncanonical as a smoke screen. And that means all of us and most especially the primate. A violation of that oath is grounds for a church court if we cannot resolve an issue among ourselves. We are using the Statutes, that archaic, outdated and uncanonical document as we please while the true order of the Church is negated for the secular. We cannot serve two masters.
All of the active hierarchs are being copied on this letter as well as His Beatitude and I am not fearful to say anything to anyone in truth. I am also enclosing a letter I wrote to him on March 13, 2006. My dear brothers we must ensure the integrity of the office of the Metropolitan and be willing to die for the sake of Jesus Christ.
Asking your holy prayers during this holy Lenten season,
A Second Appeal for 'Silence' From Syosset
Given +Nikolai and +Tikhon's letters to the Holy Synod it is not surprising that both bishops will not allow the Metropolitan's Archpastoral letter for the Sunday of St. Mary of Egypt (April 9th) to be read in their respective dioceses. (Read +Tikhon's letter here.)
Syosset has since posted the text of the Archpastoral Letter on the OCA web site at OCA.org. (Read the letter here.) A day later, on April 6th, a second appeal was posted, this time by Serge Schmemann, chairman of the OCA Department of Communications.
(Read the statement here.)
Heir to one of the most famous names in the OCA, Schmemann's posting marks a new level of response by Syosset. It is notable not for what it suggests - Schmemann reiterates the Metropolitan's earlier plea to 'cease and desist' - but that it was posted at all. Until now the OCA website has avoided any reference, let alone reflection, on the crisis, apart from press releases announcing decisions of the Metropolitan. The Primate has clearly called for reinforcements.
- Mark Stokoe