Trial Set To Resume July 6th
The Church Court of Fr. Robert Kondratick, former Chancellor of the OCA, is scheduled to resume on Friday, July 6th in Syosset.
The first day of the Church Court was held June 11, 2007. At that time 14 formal charges were leveled against Father Kondratick, documentation supporting those charges was reviewed and witnesses were questioned. Syosset has not made public the formal charges, nor a list of witnesses called. The documentation supporting the charges, however, is known to have come from the still-unreleased Report of the Special Investigative Commission, itself based on evidence provided by Proskauer Rose.
In the second phase of the Church Court, to be held tomorrow, the panel of four judges are scheduled to receive Father Kondratick's response to the charges, and then determine "if any further action is appropriate". Penalties range from dismissing the charges, to suspension for a period of time, to deposition from the priesthood.
In recent postings on the internet, Fr. Kondratick's advisor, monk James Silver, has indicated that "While the substance of most of the accusations is true, the notion that FrRK (Kondratick) is the responsible party is not." Fr. Kondratick's defense seems to be the classic Nuremburg defense, that he was "only following orders". Silver writes: "It seems that the Proskauer Rose report was deliberately skewed, shifted about 45 degrees to the left of a central body of information, making it appear that he -- not the metropolitans he served -- had made all the financial decisions for which he is now wrongly being held accountable."
The first session of the court began with Fr. Kondratick and his team decamping. As Silver records it: "...we had previously agreed -- we would not proceed unless a permanent record of the trial were made. For that, AbpN (Archbishop Nathaniel) declared us in contempt, and we were told to 'pack up (our) things and leave', which we did." The court however, continued, in Fr. Kondratick's absence. It is not the custom in the OCA to make a 'permanent record' of the proceedings of Church Courts, as in most cases the decisions are not contested. In this case, legal observers have pointed out that a 'permanent record' of the Church Court could be of use to Fr. Kondratick in any forthcoming civil trial as a means of impeaching witnesses, or demonstrating discrepancies in the evidence. Hence his insistence on having one; and Syosset's equal resistance to providing one.
It is not known if Fr. Kondratick will attend this second session of the court or not. In either case, whether he is present or not, the Court's decisions must be ratified by the Synod of Bishops at their next meeting, currently scheduled later this month, on July 31st in Syosset.
- Mark Stokoe