Tuesday, March 27. 2007
Where do you come down? What should be done? Who should do it?
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I just finished posting a clarification of my coupon/financial I.O.U. suggestion for the previous listing. But since it's not up yet and there just appeared a minute ago this spot to reply to the the newest editorial, I thought I'd mention that I just sent in my clarification to that other suggestion and refer y'all to it in the previous series of responses so you can see what you think. It has to do with putting all donations in a personal and informal escrow and then giving them all to your local parish as soon as the two stipulations are met. In that way, it's not causing any financial collapse, it just becomes a matter of timing and putting pressure on when it needs to be put on. As I said, you can check out the specifics on the previous set of threads ( I think it's slated to appear as a "response" to someone's note in the early 60s of the numerical ordering).
#1 EPA on 2007-03-27 11:50
Would appreciate a 'guest list' of those attending Kame-kazi Joe's big birthday bash overlooking swanky Central Park South..........We are a fairly new up-and-coming takeout service, and would like a chance to expand into the big time.
#1.1 Metropolitan Caterers, Inc. on 2007-03-27 17:14
While my idea is a lot less involved than yours, I setup a simple website to determine what kind of funds could be raised if this scandal ever got rectified. Come and sign the petition/pledge:
Feel free to send any feedback.
Your idea still punishes presbyters, parishioners and parishes instead of their higher-ups presumed of wrongdoing. Parishes cannot pay their mortgages, utilities bills or salaries on the basis of IOUs or funds held in a "personal, informal escrow" and not released until one's conditions are met. They simply close their doors and starve, which does the Church no good whatsoever. If you don't want the least bit of your money to go to Syosset, better to just earmark your weekly offering for "parish operating expenses" and at least let the parish survive in the midst of this mess.
#1.3 Gregory Orloff on 2007-03-28 16:59
Dear Gregory, Mission Priests, et. al.,
What we're seeing here, in arguments about whether/whether not to act drastically at this point through monetary withholding at the parish level, is a truly fundamental disagrement about the nature of the crisis in the Church. In a sense, I think, it reflects a radically discordant take on how important it is to have bishops whose basic Orthodoxy is not in question. Unless we believe that bishops are just figureheads in sparkly hats, the need to remove the metropolitan and thereby insist in his place on a bishop that stands for Truth is paramount. It represents the triumph of Truth over falsehood itself. If bishops ARE just disconnected figureheads, then all of this talk on this site is very hollow. Are not ALL willing to suffer with those who are asked to stand up on the people's behalf? As one very eloquent posting from a few days ago framed it, virtually all of the OCA bishops have become associated with the lies of the Evil One and chosen spiritual death instead of life, entombing themselves and tempting all to follow them into death "as their archpastors." Do we think that that has no ramifications on the whole Church, bills paid or not in any particular parish?
I am rather saddened to hear voices stingingly criticize those who would act drastically by witholding funds, who, after all, are emboldened by the example of our Lord overturning the moneychangers who polluted the Temple. If mission priests are worried about the bills, perhaps the IOU plan would encourage them to contact those very prestigious 70 priests who are ready to stand with them (who are probably 70 times 7 in number by now), charter some buses, and go to St. Tikhon's on an emergency pilgrimage to speak on behalf of the bleeding flock entrusted to them as presbyters. Either the bishops are behaving as criminals and counterfeit archpastors or they are not. If they are, then the Body must be healed... NOW; if you think they are not, then why are you reading this site?
Gregory, what makes you so sure that financial witholding of national proportions would accomplish nothing? It would get EVERYBODY'S attention and force immediate action. Mission priests, it would get those of you (and, as I said, many other priests) who agree with those posting on this site in spirit but who are too afraid to speak for the souls entrusted to them to actually do something rather than hide and try to "carry on." Carry on for what? What is the use of a mission parish, or any other parish, for that matter, if the antimension under the broken Body of Christ is signed by those who, in their spiritual sickness, openly and brazenly advance the cause of the Devil?
Remember, the presbyter is the representative of the bishop-- as the icon of Christ-- in the absence of the bishop's person. Of course bills must be paid, but are they to be paid at the cost of the Church's Soul? The Lord will provide... IF, that is, we follow His will rather than being "careful and troubled about many things." If no one takes or has any responsibility to act boldly, then where IS the responsibility?
If you cannot find the courage then that's okay, but don't lambaste those who think that the IOU measure is the only logical response to desperate times. The money will come tumbling back in... once the Truth is placed back where it belongs. For those whose primary concerns are monetary, you'll have that carrot to sustain you in the period of action. For those whose eyes are focused on Truth, you have THAT carrot to sustain you in the period of action. The stick is the concerted and bold response. Those of BOTH minds will by pushed to act as if it were the mother of all crises that they were dealing with. Because... IT IS.
I will close by reminding the OCA priests who are afraid to stand with their people (but who still read this site) of the words spoken by one strayed shepherd, the late schismatic bishop of Rome, John Paul II. John Paul struck fear in the hearts of Poland's totalitarians by wielding the "invincible weapon of Peace" as embodied in one blaring word, Truth. He showed up, in person, and risked all in order to speak boldly to a people whose fear had been seared, year after frightening year, to the core of their beings by their leaders who themselves thrived on that fear. In his inestimable courage and yet protected by simple faith, John Paul went to Communist Poland and boldly proclaimed the Scriptures by telling the people "Don't be afraid. Only Believe!" The communists, who had kept the people in abject subjugation for so long suddenly quaked in their boots.... THAT is the power of faith in Truth. Our Lord takes care of the rest.
Forgive me if I have offended you, and may God forgive us all.
#1.3.1 What Profiteth it A Man? on 2007-03-28 20:01
We could give our opinions and facts on this forum, and it is a good picture of where we are and where we would like to be. Until a national organization is set up, establishing and working for goals, we are only spinning our wheels. Private and public pressure on those that are part of the conspiracy to deceive must be sought and exposed, by way of legal and public means. I am certain that many people in the OCA are looking for leadership and would gladly join and contribute morally and monetarily.
Name Withheld by Request
#2 Anonymous on 2007-03-27 11:56
Exactly! While this site is great for getting news and comiserating, we need to organize and come up with a battle plan to be effective. Mail me. email@example.com.
#2.1 Bob Czech on 2007-03-28 08:29
"The OCA will now not be able to produce a 2006 audit, since no official audits can be certified until the question of who owns the Alaska lands is."
Mark- as a CPA with over 30 years experience, I have to disagree with this statement. The accountants can issue an "except for" opinion, in which they certify all the other financial information, and state in their opinion letter that "except as noted in Note X..." and Note X would describe the dispute over the ownership of the land in Alaska.
IMHO, for the accountants to say that they cannot give any opinion seems to me the easy way out. However, there may be other matters preventing an opinion; that we have not been told.
#3 Michael Strelka, CPA on 2007-03-27 12:12
When you have to use technicalities to justify your actions, you've lost already. Case closed.
Nikolai is using it to justify not making it to the meeting. Approaching his 6th anniversary as a bishop, all of a sudden this canon comes to mind - how convienent. Should his election to the episcopacy be called into question because it was made at a spring time meeting? I suppose that the election was technically a violation of the canons because it was done at an uncanonical meeting! Was it canonically proper to have the consecration in Dallas (of ALL places)? Dmitri is using technicality to refuse to honor the rescinding of the transfer. Herman dimisses Greg over what? You, got it! A TECHNICALITY!
Technicality, technicality, technicality. Schmechnicality! Meaningless. Downright Bogus! Adherence to the Spirit - never crossed their minds. There are greater canons coming from God that don't even come into play when it comes to this bunch. Again and again, God is not the ultimate factor whether its who they fear or who's command they follow or who they ultimately love. Its me, myself, and I. That's the trinity they worship! It's that spirit that guides their actions.
Nice try with the technicalities... next excuse? Maybe there will be a technicality by which God refuses them entry into Heaven.
Both cases remind me of another infamous person who lacked character and integrity, Bill Clinton. Remember when he tried to use the technicality of what the meaning of the word "is" is? Nevermind he did what he was accused of, it was technicality that he hoped would spring him and ultimately vindicate him. Sound familiar? Wasn't it technicality by following Robert's Rules of Order by which someone tried to prevent Kondratick's name being mentioned in the MC recommendations? Again, if you have to use technicalities, you've lost your argument.
How deaf, dumb, and blind do these guys take us to be? More and more, the mentality is shining forth: that we should shut up and not question, send in our money, and don't forget to clean up after coffee hour! And if you DO question us, we'll come up with some kind of technicality for why you are in grave spiritual danger for doing so!
We're as mad as hell and we're not going to take it anymore!
This is no longer a struggle to get to the bottom of the financial and moral crisis facing us. This is a fight for the very soul of the Church. We will be defined by what we do to preserve the honor and sanctity of the Church.
#4 Bob Czech on 2007-03-27 12:13
The retired bishop of the West has treated us all to a exposition of the rightness of Bp. Nikolai's actions over on the Indiana list.
I'm with Bob on this one -- when you start so publicly straining at gnats, it really just tempts the rest of us to point out the logs.
Rather than justifying themselves and gaining support, the whole gang that participated with, enabled and continues to defend the former chancellor are just galvanizing the rank and file who have to date remained silent to act.
Every absurd duplicitous statement just helps the cause!
#4.1 Rebecca Matovic on 2007-03-28 06:39
How many years was HE on the Synod and NOW its an issue when the meeting is held?
How thinly sliced would you like you baloney?
Maybe his exposition was another thought while waiting for the immodium to kick in!
#4.1.1 Bob Czech on 2007-03-28 08:32
Today I spoke with my father, a retired traditionalist Episcopal priest, about the situation in the OCA. I said "At least this is merely about money and accountability, and not about the basis of the Christian faith and betraying the clear teaching of the Lord and the church." His response was telling.
"Betrayal is betrayal. Whether it is Judas betraying Jesus, or Peter denying Jesus, it is still betrayal. Sin is sin, big or small, the wages of sin is death. The mess in the OCA is no different from the mess in the Episcopal Church in this regard: they are both betrayals of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and serious sins. The difference between Judas and Peter of course is remorse and repentence. And until your leaders begin to show those things by CHANGING THEIR SINFUL BEHAVIOR, the OCA is frankly no better than the Episcopal Church because it is sunk in sin. That does not mean that there are not hundred of thousand or even millions of good, dedicated Christians, clergy and laity, in the OCA. But it does mean that you can't pat yourselves on the back like the Pharisees saying 'we're much better than those Episcopalians!' because while you may not be in the same boat, those boats are still sinking fast. Demand accountability, ESPECIALLY from those who try to play the 'bend over and take it because I'm in charge' card. But first of all, get on your knees and pray: for those who have precipitated this crisis, for the church, for its faithful people, and for yourself."
A wise man, my dad. Defused my anger AND my self-righteousness with a few well-placed words.
I shall be patient, and attend services, and worship the Lord, and see where we go from here. And I will pray.
#5 Kevin Nikolai Payne on 2007-03-27 12:27
After reading Black Friday, I have come to the conclusion that +Dimitri is being controlled by Fr. Bob K. and Fr. Fester (who probably wrote the letter about Fr. Bob K. doing a wonderful job in Florida and not releasing him to Metropolitan Herman), and also convinced +Dimitri to have Fr. Brum consecrated to be a Bishop. Newly elected + Brum will replace the retiring +Dimitri and then Fr. Fester will be the Diocese Secretary and Fr. Bob will be the Diocese Chancellor. How convenient for all of them. And one big happy Diocese.
#6 MT Diocese of the South on 2007-03-27 13:12
Lord have mercy on me, but I would not want to be in the Diocese of the South where Frs. Kondratick (our former-Chancellor) and Fester (the former-Chancellor's assistant) are in the ascendancy! Your scenario, sadly, makes a lot of sense. I pray for them, that they be guided only by the Holy Spirit and glory only in Christ, and Him Crucified.
Unfortunately, our hierarch is +Herman. Years of neglect and/or punishment is all we've experienced. +Herman, I pray for you. Please retire, Vladyka, to your beloved St. Tikhon's.
God cleanse me a sinner!
I think we should humbly ask Gregg Nescott to stand for the Church once again and refuse to be dismissed unlawfully from the Metropolitan Council. We should earnestly ask the Council to refuse to accept his unlawful dismissal. We should ask the Special Commission to publicly retain Attorney Nescott as counsel to the Commission.
If Bishop Job deems that the time is right, I wish that he would release the report of the Commission, as the Council and the Synod both agreed to do.(Did they agree that +Herman would release it when he thought the time was right??)
I am all for the idea, suggested by several in previous threads, that we earmark our parish contributions for priest's salary, mortgage payments, utility bills, local charity collections, while sending letters to our parish treasurer, diocese and Syosset that our Fair Share contributions are being held in escrow (IOU) until further notice. They've got that 1.7 million apparently still sitting in the bank, so I doubt the withholding would actually "starve the beast" any time soon. But if those of us taking that step could sen our letters approximatley at the same time, perhaps the pile of mail would make a statement. Why not by Pentecost?
#7 Rachel Andreyev on 2007-03-27 13:40
Oh, Rachel, I wish it could work as you've suggested, but, at least in my diocese (EPA), personally holding your assessment in escrow isn't possible. The parish receives a bill for the head tax every month from the diocese which is based on the census we provided at the end of last year. They then send on the national portion to Syosset. The treasurer has to pay whether those listed on the census desire it or not, and I've never seen any method for amending the census during the year, whether to add or subtract names. Other dioceses probably have different systems. As the treasurer of my parish it is getting harder and harder to sign those assessment checks every month.
I would encourage everyone to talk to the treasurer and other council members of your parish and express your outrage. Don't just do it here in cyberspace. If they don't see that those in the parish know and care about what is going on it makes "business as usual" much easier to sustain.
#7.1 Elizabeth Gaither on 2007-03-28 08:31
You are right! A few of us spoke with our treasurer tonight and she said it is just as you explained it. We are in the diocese of New England, which passed a resolution similar to the Midwest's last fall, so it looks like our next step will be expressing our wish to the diocese that they begin withholding money from Syosset. Someone else present tonight pointed out that we wouldn't want to undermine our diocesan programs either (mission support among other things) so this feels right, even if it is a much less dramatic gesture.
#7.1.1 Rachel Andreyev on 2007-03-28 19:37
At times like this I often remember, "Put not your trust in princes, in sons of men, in whom there is no salvation."
When I have been seriously let down by leaders I trusted, this verse does not mean to me that I can never trust again, but rather it points me to my Lord, the only One in whom I can place my hope and never be disappointed. Take heart all. He is faithful and true.
#8 Joan Moulton on 2007-03-27 13:59
In the context of these spiritual and moral failings, financial fraud seems par for the course, but well in line with the lack of seriousness regarding the truth of the Orthodox Faith to stand on its own apart from bribing hierarchs overseas and maintaining the trappings of a tsarist/byzantine church with the wealth those societies showered on the Church ( e.g., golden crosses and expensive panagias to everyone as they progress in the normal course of their service).
I continue to believe that the Orthodox Church is the true Church regardless of the errors of individual Orthodox Christians in one abnormally born jurisdiction in an abnormal part of the Orthodox world - be they layman, priest, bishop or Metropolitan - I'm just not sure if people in our hierarchy and administration also believe that the Church is the Mystical Body of Christ and not simply an organization that they must personally 'save', by any means necessary. Perhaps ROCOR's "Sergianist" and compromising critiques of the OCA were not far off. Or, perhaps compromise with the world is always a danger and the reason why the Desert Fathers suggested that one run away when one sees a bishop's mitre coming over the hill.
Stonewalling, dragging out the investigation, dragging out the release of information, and stalling on taking action to ensure the public's trust in the Church's hierarchs, priests, institutions and The Church in general only serves to agitate people. Rumors, which the above whisperings may only be, begun to seem more believable. People begun questioning motives and conflicts of interest, and looking to see what else may have 'slipped by' over the years.
The father of a family, the priest of a parish, the bishop of a diocese, and a Metropolitan stand in the place of God in the minds of the people of the Church. How these men act is, unconsciously, how people begin to expect God to act. Do we really want to be teaching our children that the saints could withstand martyrdoms, but not investigations? Do we mean to teach them to protect ourselves from getting in trouble when partaking of the Sacrament of Confession? Do we mean to say teach that as long as we receive absolution for our mistakes and perhaps didn't mean to do anything wrong that we should not have to pay the price for our errors (i.e., Zacchaeus had no need to pay back anything to those from whom he stole)?
#9 Anonymous on 2007-03-27 14:49
Moral authority is earned. Let us ask ourselves: Who is earning such authority in the midst of this crisis? Who is exhibiting the wisdom, courage and humility we need to find our way; virtues that only come from the Holy Spirit? These will be the people that God is raising up to lead the OCA out of this dark night of the soul.
#10 Name Withheld by Request on 2007-03-27 16:14
This website, through the hard work of Mark, has performed a tremendous service to the entire Orthodox world by exposing wrongdoing at the highest levels of the OCA and thereby raising everyone's consciousness of same. In the process, an army of talented, motivated and outraged persons has been created that now needs leadership and direction. While posting to and perusing on this website is very useful in providing information and motivation, it apparently does little to change the hardened hearts in Syosset or bring meaningful change to the OCA.
The time has now arrived for concerted and coordinated action. Many of the ideas promoted on this site need to be implemented immediately. The attorneys in the OCA who did so much to get the ball rolling need to consider further steps. The 70+ priests, who by now should be 70x70, need to also become more active again. And the rest of us need and want a mission or assignment that is directed and led.
While I am a great believer in individual initative and effort, the reform of the OCA requires leadership (lay and clerical) and coordinated action. Hopefully, this is beginning to happen. We need to "strike while the iron is hot."
The first order of business is to restore Mr. Nescott to his OCA positions that were illegally and immorally taken from him. Certainly the postion on the MC is still his, and the Metropolitan's action should be considered null and void. That must be the position of the other members of the MC, and the secular courts should be involved if necessary. The Special Commission position is somewhat murkier, since it was created and its members appointed by MH. But the morality of it is clear, and the disingenuous reasons of the Metropolitan for removing Mr. Nescott spurious. As Mr. Nescott implied (the real reason for his termination) it is MH and his minions who are conflicted in their current positions.
Release of the Commission's preliminary report and further action on the final report are also priorities. To achieve these results, a vigorous campaign will be required.
The army of faithful is ready!
#11 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2007-03-27 16:37
The restoration of "Holy Order" to the OCA is clearly the solution we all seek. As you have noted, our priests are a key component to this restoration. Because the overwhelming number of the faithful called into "Holy Orders" are priests, the active involvement of our priests is crucial in this effort. The responsible members of the laity should encourage and support those priests who decide to act to restore Holy Order to the OCA.
#11.1 Marc Trolinger on 2007-03-28 06:10
Your comments are "spot on." As a convert to Orthodoxy (25 years ago), I am absolutely sick to my soul regarding this financial scandal. Just when you think transparency has at long last been achieved, the rug is pulled out from underneath us. It is incredulous that + Herman would dismiss Gregory Nescott from the Special Commission and then boot him off the Metropolitan Council. It is equally stunning that the Synod of Bishops would rescind their signed Archpastoral Statement dated 3-22, removing Fr. Kondratick from all priestly duties and agreeing to release the findings of the Special Commission. What, pray tell, happened between March 22 and March 23? I'm convinced we'll never be privy to the truth.
At the risk of sounding cynical, this ongoing saga rivals HBO's "The Sopranos" for drama. Perhaps cable television would like to create a weekly series about this mess...with all the twists, turns and deceptions, it would make for great viewing.
Kudos and prayers to Archbishop Job for his unrelenting pursuit of the truth. The emotional, physical and spiritual damage he has suffered would have killed a lesser man. It's long past time for the "rank and file" members of the OCA to rise up and tell our Hierarchy that this behavior cannot and will not stand!
Sue Barna - Holy Transfiguration Orthodox Church, Livonia, MI
#11.2 Susan Barna on 2007-03-28 10:11
OCA Statutes link state that members of the Metropolitan Council are elected by the All American Council, or, in Mr. Nescott’s case, by his respective Diocese. While the bylaws detail the election of members to the Metropolitan Council, there is NO mention of the process of removal of one of the members. Bylaws (OCA Statutes) should be specific in this regard. A legitimately elected member of a governing body should not be summarily “fired” without due process, which should include a fair hearing. Nowhere in the Statutes (posted online) does it say that members of the Metropolitan Council serve at the pleasure of the Metropolitan. Perhaps I’m missing something here?
#12 Michelle C. on 2007-03-27 16:53
You're not missing anything, at least as far as I can tell. It is possible...not particularly sound, in my view, but possible...to argue, based on Article VI,4,f, that the Ruling Hierarch of a Diocese has the authority to remove a member of the Metropolitan Council elected by his Diocesan Assembly. The cited section gives to the Ordinary the "right of pastoral action and discipline in reference to the diocesan clergy and laity in all cases not requiring the action of a Church Court."
It could be argued further and by extension that the Metropolitan has the right to the same kind of "pastoral action and discipline" with regard to those members of the Metropolitan Council elected by the All-American Council.
But as I understand it, Mr. Nescott was elected by the Assembly of the Diocese of Western Pensylvania. Therefore (and if the arguement based on Article VI,4,f, have any validity, of which I am doubtful), lawful removal of Mr. Nescott from the MC could only have been done by His Eminence, Archbishop Kyrill, not Metropolitan Herman.
#12.1 Igumen Philip (Speranza) on 2007-03-28 03:37
Trust has been squandered by the church leadership. There was just enough for a small downpayment on the OCA's future as late as last week, when even here there were some expressions of hope due to recent news. Like an improvident husband, however, our leadership looked at the pathetic little pile of trust scraped together, said something very like "what the heck" and blew it at the racetrack. Expect to see lots of I.O.U.s scribbled in the margins of pages torn from the Gospel.
If it were merely a loss of trust in a person or two, that would be one thing. But the OCA has lost institutional trust in all of this. We no longer have confidence that the OCA is strong enough to compensate for the weakness of men, or good enough to outwear their badness.
Leaving aside for a moment "what should be done?" let's look first at who should do it, since that is easily answered by process of elimination. Everyone who has not stolen church funds, lied about it, hid behind clouds of denials, delays, expensive lawyers and petty retributions or tolerated those who do, please stand up. I told you this was the easy part.
There have been various suggestions on this site about what should be done now, and all of them have some degree of merit. Most of them are worldly wise: withhold funds, protest, send letters, make calls, seek another jurisdiction, throw the bums out, get the right man for the job. On one level, a combination of these solutions may eventually compel change, maybe even for the better.
There is another part of the solution, however, that looks at the problems from a different perspective.
This is our church. As sinners it is as much a reflection of each one of us, as well as the various targets of our posts here, mine included. Even as we work to strengthen our institutions over time, we must look into the mirror of the OCA and see ourselves brought low with her. Even as we ask for better leadership, let us not believe we somehow merit it. Even as we struggle with our loss of trust in our church, let us not come to think we are too good for her now.
This scandal can define our church only if we let it. Where I am, at any given time, there is the Orthodox Church. I respectfully invite you to think about that for a moment. It is more than a little scary and maybe even pathetic, but it is true, and it is true for you, too.
Are you offended about a fancy birthday party? I submit you should be, under the circumstances, adn there is something you can do about it. Think about times when you have ignored the pain of others in pursuit of your own gratification, and fast in remembrance of your own sins. Has someone stolen money? Think about your own stealing, cheating, or mercenary nature and give more out of your own pocket. The current state of the OCA is merely our own individual sins writ large. We are certainly not the Suffering Church, living fat and happy in the U.S.A. Maybe we are The Lazy Church, The Complacent Church, The Naughty Church and would as individuals be better pleasing to God in repentance rather than indignation.
I am not advocating a feckless let’s-pretend-everything-is-wonderful, or a pseudo-pious doctrine of easy forgiveness. We are in a big mess, and our leadership is only making things worse. But the way out may be for each of us to look within and be the best Orthodox Christian we can be. We can't solve all the problems created by our leadership, but can start reform from the bottom up and hope God notices.
There is nothing particularly noble about such a response. It is asked of us anyway, but on a more practical level, it is the only thing that will work. Ask yourself this: how did we get here? How did it go on so long? Why can’t we fix things even after all this time? If the OCA is rotten, is it because we have too long neglected its maintenance ourselves, and turned a blind eye to the hirelings we handed her to?
Perhaps God’s role for the OCA is to serve as a bad example to others, but I hope not. It may be to also serve as an example of repentance and grassroots renewal as well. This may be a call to reexamine what is essential in Orthodoxy and what is merely in the way in this time and place. As this very site shows, the old days of whatever the clerical equivalent of the smoke-filled back room are over.
Being Christian means you never know when God’s hammer will tap and heaven will shine through a crack in the world. The autocephalous OCA may yet be a blessing to many.
#13 Tim Capps on 2007-03-27 17:36
Okay, yes, we should all be the "best Orthodox Christians" that we can be. But, that is not enough. I don't care if the OCA throws a birthday party for its Metropolitan, per se. I don't see this as a time to bring up whether or not the OCA should have fought for autocephaly. The point of the current crisis is very clear, and it's not about strategy or policy or coulda-shoulda-woulda. It's about THEFT. Many people provided funds from the sweat of our brow, depriving our own families of the use of those funds, depriving our survivors and heirs of a larger share of an improved retirement account, etc, in order to support the mission of the OCA as articulated in brochures, sermons, and so forth -- and this money was taken by one, two, maybe even a half-dozen or more men (men whom the church gave authority) for their own personal use. It is THEFT. The perpetrators used lies, deception, shredders, and the powers of their various offices to STEAL from the faithful and from the work of God. In any ordinary, secular organization, there are checks and balances to guard against such actions -- yet it still happens. In the OCA (or any church organization) the men placed in charge have the further "protection" of hiding behind their position in the name of God (supposedly). These men -- all directly involved -- are theives. Unfortunately, it is difficult for the victims to pursue justice within the structure of the church, because these men are established in their positions with life-time appointments, near total power over their victims -- and in this case, move forward with a blatant disregard for the "secular" rules governing their positions (that is, the OCA Statute).
It's not about me being a "better Christian." I need to be that. You know, in the military academies, the rule is, 'I will not cheat, NOR WILL I TOLERATE CHEATING ON THE PART OF OTHERS.' As pointed-out in scripture, if you do not seek to correct the error of your brother, then you're letting him continue down the wrong path. Through this Website and other for venues, we have communicated our concern to our Elders and superiors. This is all well and fine. It is time now, however, for us to act like the secular, incorporated, by-laws-based entity that we are. The Holy Synod is there and is failing. But, the real "Board of Directors" of our organization is the Met Council, as stated in our legally-constituted Statute.
From what I have read, the Metropolitan cannot "dismiss" elected members of that "Board." This Board represents the faithful AND the donors. And, we have been stolen from! Our Board (the MC) needs to file a legal action to enjoin the Metropolitan from (a) removing priests, (b) authorizing the consecration of Bishops, (c) spending money without the approval and authorization of a judge -- until the Holy Church can get its secular house in order -- AND the authorities who have granted this entity known as the OCA tax relief, can arrest, prosecute, fine, and remove from office lawbreaking, theiving criminals -- if any are found and convicted in a court of law. Yes, THEN upon their repentence, we the Flock can forgive them and pray for them. But, the larger society which is giving them -- and all of us -- a tax-free ride through the secular laws, well, they've been fleeced, too, and they may not be so forgiving.
Come on members of the Metropolitan Council, we are behind you! Take a breath, as for a special donation into an account held by the law firm of your choice, retain counsel, and file a motion. You know, marriage is a Sacrament -- but in the case of spousal abuse, one can -- and should -- seek protection from the secular authorities! We have been lied to, covenants have been broken, offices have been abused, and the abusers are STILL IN CHARGE! Or, at least, acting as though they are. The bishops are obviously not going to do anything, so the MC MUST! We elected you, and the statute authorizes it. As the secular document of our formal church organization, you have the right -- and now the responsibility -- to act to protect us from a runaway "CEO" and his theiving "COO" (the former Chancellor) before more damage is done.
(New) Rome is burning! MC, stop fiddling! If you set up an account, I for one will contribute to it as much as I can. Save this church! Don't plan for a "march on Syosset." The people there have proven that they don't care about such symbolic actions! They obviously also don't care about a down-take in funds. Only the power of the secular law can stop them at this point.
If a member of the MC wants to respond to this, and to show leadership -- like, as some have suggested -- drafting +Job to become acting administrator pending legal action -- then I'll be on board, real name and all! As a mere layman at this point, I have no "standing" in law or within the church, except as another annonymous complainer. Those with official power -- the MC as a body -- had better act, or I'm going to be forced to get my Spiritual Groceries from another Orthodox Grocery Store!
#13.1 Committed Convert on 2007-03-28 07:09
Your misunderstanding of Orthodox ecclesiology is almost breathtaking. There is no "secular side" to Church adminsitration. The Church is administered -- run -- by her pastors.
If the Church, with her bishops, has estanblished a Statute (a contract with one another), it ought to be followed, absolutely. I can appreciate that the MC needs to step up and not merely be at the mercy of the Metropolitan, but the Church is still governed in all things by her pastors. One cannot practice or usurp an authority that is uncanonical -- outside the purview of the bishops.
Indignation for the good of the Church is all well and good when rightly directed, but we are still Orthodox Christians within an Orthodox polity. Anger ought not drive our reason. Rather, our Faith ought, and that includes certain beliefs and practices regarding the governence in the Church.
If we speak as a rabble, it won't be long before we acting as one.
#13.1.1 Rdr. John on 2007-03-28 22:51
Sorry, John, but Committed Convert is right. Our bishops have failed (who knows at this point how many are in collusion). We have tried to clean house for over a year now and it's STILL business as usual. Well, the time has long since passed that we need to start making changes based on a business model. The MC IS our Board of Directors and legally has the right to petition the courts to issue an injuction like Committed Convert suggested. Otherwise, we will not see an end to this disaster until all of the players are dead and frankly, I'm not willing to wait that long.
#126.96.36.199 Alexander Ivsky on 2007-03-29 06:48
Begging to differ, please re-examine the history of the Church.
The Patriarchs, Bishops and presbyters never operated independent of state oversight, especially in matters of administration and finance. Recall that most of the ecumenical councils themselves were called and chaired by the Emperor, not the Patriarch. The Czar certainly kept tight reign over the Church's finances and administration. In many (if not most) Orthodox cultures, the Church is part of the state -- we recall our separation of Church and State in the US is a rather recent and novel concept.
We are struggling with how to adapt our Orthodox ecclesiastical structure to a democratic form of governance "of, by, and for the people."
The canons alone are insufficient to guide us -- they were written in another place and time, and with another paradigm. Archbishop JOB is one of the first OCA hierarchs to understand this concept and to listen and respond to his diocesean council. God created us as free men and women, not as serfs or peasants to be controlled, manipulated, and used. God desires our fellowship. God needs our freely offered obedience, not our blind robotic obedience. To follow is an act of response to love, not a response to authority.
Sdn. JohnMartin Watt
Martin D. Watt, CPA (Inactive)
#188.8.131.52 Marty Watt on 2007-03-29 07:07
Both you and Alex are absolutely right! And ask yourself, what would our Lord make of his disciples successors who behave as autocrats and tyrants?
#184.108.40.206.1 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2007-03-29 07:22
Yes, Reader John, I understand you, and I know that. But, as a recognized entity in secular society, given tax relief as a not-for-profit organization, the tax relief was granted on the basis of the OCA's submitted and duly-approved Statutes -- which presumably was also agreed to by the Holy Synod at one time.
When that organization's ecclesial powers (the bishops) stop following that Statute, it is not just about "the Church," which as you say is run by the bishops. It's also about our secular status and tax exemption. As such, it must follow its own approved rules, or risk secular interference and oversight, or such exemption might be taken away. Then, how may multi-million-dollar donations would be given to the Church for the unscrupulous to pilfer.
I am not a serf struggling in the dark by a torch-light, trying to understand my mighty church elders with all of the answers my friend! I know all I need to know about theology and ecclesiology -- It's about The Truth. Everything else is just vanity and window dressing!
#220.127.116.11 Committed Convert on 2007-03-29 08:28
In fact, the early Church appointed deacons to handle the money precisely to free up the pastors for their primary work. Perhaps returning the Holy diaconate to the ancient model, as opposed to the current merely liturgically ornamental style, is yet another item that needs to be considered in the recovery of a genuinely Orthodox ecclesiology.
#18.104.22.168 another nameless member on 2007-03-29 09:22
This is a comment that is truly a good suggeston, to my mind. And it supports my point that the administraton of the Church is still within the purview of her pastors (who oversee the diaconate), that there is no "secular" side to Church governance.
The other replies to me, unfortunately, are only so much opinion and reaction to the current state of affairs, which are understandable but would make for very poor administration.
Ought our bishops to be accountable? Of course. Ought we to find a better way than we've had heretofore? By all means. I was certainly not suggesting any support for the current state of business (although I find the attacks on His Eminence Bishop Dimitri to be frighteningly devoid of understadning his perspective, which is, after all and as a bishop imbued by the Holy Spirit with the grace of ministry).
Clearly, terrible wrongs have been committed and must be reported and addressed and disciplined and reforms made.
The suggestion, however, that the MC can/should act independently of the Synod, who are the pastors of the Church. If the Synod has canonically, via the Statute, transferred necessary authority to the MC over the OCA's financial matters to hold them acountable, then so be it. Let them follow the Statute.
But if they have authority, it is, nonethless, derived from the living apostolic ministry in the Church. And if not, then I'm not sure what Church I'm a member of.
As for Emporors and Czars...Good heavens! Bring back the glory days of Peter the Great, Catherine the Great, Ivan the Awesome, those caesaro-papist emporors of Rome... Since the Church considered them God-ordained and the secular equivalent of a bishop so-to-speak (Did I read Norwich incorrectly?), does it say the same for our Constitution (as hold American Protestants)?
And that's a real question.
If so, what does St. Paul mean when he tells Christians they ought to solve their disputes in a Church court, not a secular one? And he also believed that the emporor was God-ordained (Did I misread Romans?).
And that's also an honest question.
#22.214.171.124.1 Anonymous on 2007-03-29 22:48
"Anything less and one will be hard pressed to say anything but that Fr. Kondratick has simply 'retired' to Florida, where he is still serving Liturgy"
What's the deal with retirement in Florida? Retirement to Florida seems to be the appropriate place for likes of the Saintly Theophan Noli (d1965). Retirement to sunny Florida should not be a subterfuge for the reprobate. For this we have, the American Siberia. Omaha, Nebraska.
Wouldn't exile to a mission in the frigid hinterland be more appropriate for a sentence of community service, especially if it were under the gaze of Archbishop +Job?
A mission assignment in Omaha, Nebraska would certainly offer a better opportunity for repentence - perhaps even the opportunity for sublimation and spiritual resurrection - an American Dream. in the manner of Mighty Ducks.(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Mighty_Ducks_(movies))
I move the services of Attorney Nescott should be retained by the laypeople to bring charges of fraud against the OCA management team.
It's time to band together officially, and organize officially as a non profit organization in a quest for the truth.
Such an organization can band together taking each of our core competencies and professions and use them in the quest for the truth.
We can also bring about a class action suit against the OCA, bring the scandal to the public at large, through the various media outlets available to us. We can organize demonstrations, key date would be over the Memorial Day Pilgrimage to St. Tikons. Most of the "brass" will be in attendance that day, and it would be a great time to strike out at Joe in his own diocese (and in his own backyard).
We need to move quickly, quicker than Joewho is looking to quickly end the OCA as its known today.
Looking at the cross in my kitchen...I can'e help but notice that it's shaped like a "T". The first letter in TRUTH.
#15 K.K. on 2007-03-27 19:28
People want to know what they can do? Start by protesting outside of the Athletic Club on April 23rd. Then do not go to the Pilgrimage this year.
#15.1 Bob Czech on 2007-03-27 21:10
Please provide information for those of us who would like to participate in the protest.
#15.1.1 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2007-03-28 07:17
Contact me... firstname.lastname@example.org
#126.96.36.199 Bob Czech on 2007-03-28 18:59
“I move the services of Attorney Nescott should be retained by the laypeople to bring charges of fraud against the OCA management team.”
I second the motion.
#15.2 Ande on 2007-03-27 22:19
Although I appreciate the vote of confidence, please understand that, by virtue of my employment, I am not permitted to act as an attorney in any church matters. I have been an attorney for nearly 30 years and have sat on various church bodies on the local, diocesan, and national levels for all of that time, but I have always made it clear that I sit as a layman, and not as an attorney.
Indeed, since my return last year to the Metropolitan Council and my appointment to the Special Commission, I have consistently taken pains to make it clear that I act and speak as a layman, and not as an attorney. My employment has nothing to do with what I say or do as an Orthodox layman within my Church, and what I say or do has nothing to do with my employment.
I just wanted you to understand the parameters of what I may or may not do.
#15.3 Gregg Nescott on 2007-03-28 07:23
Do you know by what authority (statute) you were dismissed?
I would also like to extend my gratitude to you for your dedication to the OCA and truth.
#15.3.1 Anonymous on 2007-03-28 08:42
I'm glad you're still reading. I suppose it makes sense that +Herman could remove you from the Commission that he created. However, what do you say to those who suggest that you are, in fact, still a member of the Metropolitan Council? The above observations (e.g. that your own archbishop is the only hierarch who even remotely might have the power to remove you) seem accurate to me.
Though it bears some resemblances, there is one way that this situation is decidedly unlike the current national debate over U.S. Attorneys: those on the Metropolitan Council do not serve at the pleasure of the Metropolitan. Perhaps +Herman is just confused by the name, which does make it seem as though it is his council.
What could the Metropolitan do if you were to continue your duties on the Council?
#15.3.2 Zach Borichevsky on 2007-03-28 09:23
Gregg, thanks for the reminder that your client is "The United States of America." There was a famous talk that Robert Jackson had with U. S. Attorneys where he said that the job of the prosecutor was not to convict people, but to do justice. Would that the same level of conduct was required in Syosset.
On a different subject, Fr. Stavros Strikis is now being blamed for "losing receipts." If Fr. Rodion (Bob) acted as the administrative head, then does responsibility not come back to him for keeping an inadequate comptroller on the payroll for so long in an important job that did not use his talents properly.
#15.3.3 Ed Unneland on 2007-03-28 10:47
Could you possibly...refer us to an attorney, or provide advice around what kind of quit to bring? Strictly in an advisory role, leveraging your profession but not engaging you directly?
And...keep the fight up. You were unjustly removed. Flex your muscles sir, you and the entire OCA was wronged by that move.
#15.3.4 K.K. on 2007-03-28 14:07
Thank you K.K!
This is exactly what I have been thinking. We cannot wait for the IRS to go thru their machinations while Met Herman keeps lying and Fr. Kondratick is allowed to go scot-free in Florida (Loved the idea of being in a mission in Nebraska -but really - Why not Minot? Let him preach to the tumbleweeds!!).
Yes, let us retain Mr Nescott and file a civil suit against Herman, Theodosius, Kondratick, et al. These guys need to serve jail time, big time! It is amazing to me that they are so entrapped in their web of lies, enabled by others, and are so clueless that they no longer fear God, let alone the IRS. I think the Save the OCA group would be the place to funnel the money to for this.
We can no longer sit idly by and let "the perps" continue to control this situation. WE must take action to save our Church.
#15.4 Pauline Costianes on 2007-03-29 10:03
Perspective! Perspective! Perspective! We should not be surprised or despondent by these developments, but rather strengthened in our resolve to overcome these challenges. For the last ninety years the Orthodox Church of Christ has been subject to the worst persecutions and tribulations in all her one thousand nine hundred and seventy four year history. Witness the fact that more Christians have been martyred for the Faith during these last ninety years than in all the previous history of the Church. We should all be encouraged, because these tribulations are all indicators of our soon to be realized deliverance at our Lord’s Second Coming.
As faithful Orthodox Christians we must remember the nature of the spiritual warfare we have been called to wage. We have to acknowledge that Satan will always seek to deceive our leaders first, thus disrupting the command and control of the Church. When one of our bishops becomes the instrument of Satan, through deceit and lawlessness, we must acknowledge the loss and remove the impediment from our midst. Thus Joseph Swaiko is no longer an overseer and bishop of God’s Church by the standards given through the Apostles and recognized by the faithful for almost two thousand years. No true bishop has the authority to abuse and intimidate anyone. Although it might take time, effort, and patience for the faithful to realize what has already taken place; Joseph Swaiko, and any other bishop or priest that acts with lawlessness, has already been severed from God’s Church. We can only pray that our Lord will have mercy on them.
Given the current state of the Orthodox Church of Christ, perhaps the multiple jurisdiction in the Western World is a blessing. It allows those faithful who are afflicted with a bishop who is either satanically deceived, or just plain senile, to find another parish under the omophorion of a God fearing and righteous bishop.
#16 Marc Trolinger on 2007-03-27 19:38
Brethren, first of all, I always sign my own name when I post. I get alot of 'fishing' calls to see if 'that was you.' It makes me feel special. If I write it, it has my name on it.
What we are witnessing, of course, is a fight for the future of our Church in America.
Will it be the OCA or the *OCK*?
You know what that stands for. The OCK cannot save us.
The OCK is lining up its ducks - low friends in high places placed strategically for a full court press. They will call the bluff of anyone who tries to stop them.
Friends, this is not about money.
It's about *power*.
The OCA, if it is to survive, must fall in behind the man in whose lap this entire mess has fallen: Archbishop JOB.
I am not a confidant of his, but I hope that he can discern between the advice of those who stick their finger up to check the wind before speaking, and those who know what is actually happening to us, and that more is at stake than their pension plan, posturing for when the dust settles.
Already, parish after parish is exclaiming its resolve to refuse money to Syosett. Archbishop JOB will not be able to stop them.
He will, however, be able to do what God has given him to do in these dark times.
Here is what I think.
My dad, may God rest his soul, told me that if you want to be like someone, you should do what they do, and not do what they did not do. You get the point.
We celebrate Palm Sunday this Sunday.
What our Lord Jesus Christ did was to go to the Temple (a type of the Church) and throw out those who defiled the Temple. They had been corrupt for generations. Our Lord was a threat to their entire way and system of life. (He still is!) So, of course, they killed Him.
Friends, we are sunk if Archbishop JOB does nothing.
We are sunk of Archbishop JOB allows nothing to be done.
We are sunk if Archbishop JOB does not take the twin cords of authority and right belief and drive out the OCK.
You can look for their version of a 'scorched earth' policy if he does. That is the normal M.O. for such authoritarians. That's another thing I learned in Alaska. May God protect Archbishop JOB from the fate of the late Bishop INNOCENT.
BUT, as a parishioner of mine surprisingly said to me this evening,
"Father, I read it all and see all the anger and frustration from so many people like me...and I suddenly feel a deep sense of hope."
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness.
They shall be filled.
#17 Fr. John A. Peck on 2007-03-27 19:53
"Father, I read it all and see all the anger and frustration from so many people like me...and I suddenly feel a deep sense of hope."
I'm with your parishioner, Fr. John.
I was thrown totally for a loop by the events of Black Friday, but the outpouring that has resulted gives me hope.
There's lots of talk on and off about ecclesiology, which is one of those high fallutin' words -- but in the end it's pretty simple: What is the church? And guess what? The synod of bishops isn't the church. We are all together the church and they can't be church without us.
#17.1 Anonymous on 2007-03-27 20:40
I do not know what OCK stands for.
#17.2 OCK? on 2007-03-28 15:39
A lot of people have been posting complaints on this web site. And though this web site is useful as a tool for information dissemination it doesn’t have a direct impact on the Metropolitan Herman. I think it is time for direct action. This is what I am doing:
1. Praying to our Mother to remove Metropolitan Herman and all those who work with him to deceive the Church, abuse the members of Christ’s Body, and steal the Lord’s money.
2. My wife and I are no longer members of the parish where we attend. This will keep money from going to Syosset. Also, I give no money to any OCA causes. No seminaries. No no charitiy appeals. Nothing, save my own parish. Not one penny until Metropolitan Herman is deposed or resigns, AND a full explanation is given to the Body. We can not be good stewards by handing money over to an organization headed by thieves and liars.
3. We are calling Syosset once a day (the phone numbers are on the OCA website) and asking Metropolitan Herman to resign. Today when I called I asked for metropolitan Herman. When the receptionist asked why I was calling I answered, “To ask him to resign.” She transferred me to Fr. Paul “The Liar” Kucynda’s voice mail. I said “Everyone knows what Metropolitan Herman has done. I think it is time for him to resign.” Just imagine what kind of impact several hundred phone calls like that every day might have.
4. I am doing nothing anonymously. The way I see it is that every time Herman sees “anonymous” he knows someone is afraid. I think he is counting on that fear to get him though this crisis. I want him to know that some people are not afraid of him.
5. I am writing to everyone who works at the OCA chancery to ask them to resign. Not because they have done anything bad, on the contrary, they are doing good and important work. But by staying in Syossett they lend their good names to wicked men. As long as the vaious employees in Syosset keep things running relatively smoothly, the other bishops will not be anxious to depose Herman.
So, that is what I am doing. Please, join me. Or, if you have a better plan, please post it here so I can join with you.
Here is what I am not doing. I am not talking about this problem with anyone in my parish. I have no idea what the spiritual state is of anyone else and do not want to do anything that might cause them to lose faith in the Lord or the Church. It is important that those of us who know what is going on do something to fix the problem. (God knows the bishops aren’t.) But it is equally important not to cause someone to stumble. If someone does not know about the trouble in the OCA Chancery I am happy for them. I wish I had not read the Washington Post on that horrible day.
Always enjoy your posts from the "Tikhon wasteland."
I'm not sure I agree with your last paragraph as a general proposition, but your action plan in outstanding! It gave me some ideas.
#18.1 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2007-03-28 07:27
Do not be sorry you are informed about the OCA scandal. Intentional ignorance may be bliss but it is never blessed.
If there is anything to be learned from the molestation of minors scandal in the Roman Catholic Church, it is that the intentional ignorance of "don't tell me, I don't want to know about it" kind among the people in the pews made it possible for the evil to thrive in their midst.
Openness to being educated, through discussion free of exaggeration, rancor and desire for retaliation, of the facts of the present situation in the OCA is the unavoidable duty of every parishioner.
There is no sand deep enough to bury one's head in and no rug big enough to sweep what has happened under.
Let your own courage to face the truth in its fullness inspire, and your confidant trust in God's provident care reasure your fellow members of this troubled community of believers as we all discover what we can hardly bare to know.
#18.2 Jean Langley Sullivan on 2007-03-28 08:46
Good action plan Matt! However I am a little puzzled by your decision not to talk with your fellow parishioners about this scandal. The wolves are in the sheepfold, and the sheep who are aware should warn the other sheep of the danger.
#18.3 Marc Trolinger on 2007-03-28 09:30
As I recall, any donation to a parish that is earmarked to a certain fund or project is not counted for purposes of calculating how much the parish must pay to the diocese or the national church. If you do not want any money to go to Syosset you can make an earmarked donation.
There are many great parishes in the OCA that are well managed by honest and responsible stewards. I believe that Holy Trinity Cathedral in San Francisco is one of them.
#18.4 Robert Vasilios Wachter on 2007-03-28 18:16
Do you know if the website that was posted in yesterday’s comments is OK and is being run by the right people???
“to determine what kind of funds could be raised if this scandal ever got rectified. Come and sign the petition/pledge:”
Is it for funds to speed up resolving the mess, or just money for the OCA? Is it being run by the OCA or us laypeople?
#1.2 STO (Link) on 2007-03-27 20:13
(Editor Note: I do not know what " the right kind of people" are, but the site is being organized by OCA laypeople. )
#19 Ande on 2007-03-27 23:41
Will the Orthodox Church in America be governed by principles, rules and laws? Or will it be governed by the personal whims of the Metropolitan?
Mr. Nescott's dismissal was unlawful. The OCA Statute confers no authority on the Metropolitan to unilaterally remove a council member. The issue is therefore appears to be governed by the New York Nonprofit Corporation Law. Section 706 of that statute explains the procedures for how to remove a director (a director is defined as a member of the governing board, even if the entity uses a title other than "director"). The law says that a director may be removed for cause by an affirmative vote of the members (if the organization has members) or "by vote of the directors provided there is a quorum of not less than a majority present at the meeting of directors at which such action is taken."
There was no meeting. There was no quorum. There was no vote. Therefore Mr. Nescott is still a member of the Metropolitan Council.
Anyone who wants to read the law can find it here:
You may also be interested in the New York statute that recognizes the Orthodox Church In America and requires that the Church follow the OCA Statute:
Disclaimer: I am not licensed in New York, so perhaps a New York attorney can comment on my interpretation of the law.
#20 Robert Vasilios Wachter, Esq. on 2007-03-28 01:19
You keep hiding the truth of all the receipts and notarized documents fr. bob and david lucs have. Strikis lost so many receipts , he is most of the blame. Start telling the truth. Every check was signed by herman , get the facts straight. You tell one side of every story. Maybe Nescott should represent Fr. Bob against Herman now.
#21 Anonymous on 2007-03-28 07:13
Fr. Bob has seen what they have against him. Let him come to this forum or anywhere else, or arrange a place and time, where he can speak to us and show us where the lawyers and commission have gone wrong. We WANT to see, we WANT to listen, but those on Fr. Bob's side want to hide behind anonymous and "you'll see" prognostications. We WANT to be convinced of his innocence, in all seriousness. You say we'll see, we'll see. Well SHOW US!
No more of this anonymous BS. Sign your name, be proud of your defense of Fr. Bob and show us the money! What's he have to hide? An innocent man would be shouting his innocence from the hilltops and in every forum available. The silence is deafening other than from those that want to hide behind Anonymous, throw stink bombs into this and other forums, and provide no concrete information to back up the odor they leave. His silence can ONLY be interpreted as one of avoiding self incrimination. For a man who knew how to manipulate images, the image being given as a result of the silence, is to be honest, damning.
Until you guys on that side can produce the goods the more you say, the more its discounted to nothingness.
#21.1 Bob Czech on 2007-03-28 09:21
There is evidence that Fr. Bob was VERY busy at the shredder during his last days as chancellor. That was reported at the time, and is included in the Commissions report, I've been told. So, you are wrong to try to blame all on Fr. Strikis.
#21.2 Name withheld on 2007-03-28 11:27
A serious charge. Are you certain Mark is affirmatively hiding these facts? If they are hidden, how do you know of them? If you know of them, why are you not disclosing them? Are YOU hiding them, too? If so, why? Hiding something requires action or intentional omissions; what actions or omissions by Mark are being taken (or not taken, as the case may be) to suppress these facts from coming to the surface? And since you seem to know of them, how is Mark keeping you from sharing them? I don't mean to be merely flippant ... these are legitimate questions. If there is any hiding of something important and you have evidence tending to prove or disprove something material to this crisis, you really need to come forward and disclose it!
#21.3 Hmmm.... on 2007-03-28 15:34
Yesterday I mailed copies of my post (the Kool-Aid one) to all members of the Synod and the Metropolitan. I emailed every priest in our diocese of New England as well as others I know personally and some I don't. I did not discuss this action with anyone in my parish including our priest. I do not think putting him, or any priest, in the firing line is appropriate. They are all taking many blows at this time. If I am excommunicated he can truthfully say he knew nothing about it. So far the only response has been from Father William Dubovic who says that I have been guilty of poor taste in comparing our bishops to Jim Jones. I am ready to do more, even in "poor taste," but think we need to unite in our actions - as the Ethiopian proverb says " many strands in a spider web can catch a lion." Alice Carter Holy Trinity Orthodox Cathedral Boston
#22 Alice Carter on 2007-03-28 09:17
In the avalanche of events and posts, I haven't had the opportunity to tell you how tasteful I found your post! A perfect analogy that I'm sure drew blood (metaphorically! ).
#22.1 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2007-03-28 19:27
Is there only one possibility? Only one motive behind the aged Vladiko? Is it his sinister plot to sweep this mess under the rug? Maybe he's sitting in his "episcopal palace" rubbing his hands with a smirk on his face thinking of other scandals he can stir up? Maybe finally he's getting what he's been working so hard for over 30 years in the South to accomplish. Maybe he's expecting a large sum of money for his part in the sinister plot? Maybe he's already been forwarded the sum? But where has it gone? It couldn't have gone into his "episcopal palace", which is nothing but a pile of rotting matchsticks and flaking paint. Maybe into his transportation. I doubt that though. He still drives around that old brown 1980 town car. Maybe it goes into his "servants", maids, etc. Probably not. Like the rest of us joes he walks into the nearby Kroger and buys his own groceries. Maybe the money goes to paying his expensive cassocks. That's hard to believe if you take one looks at his sun bleached cassock the kind ladies at church patch up for him occasionally. Maybe he is using the money to pay for his rounds of golf at the Four Seasons or some of his other hobbies. The truth is he doesn't have many hobbies, just passions: passions for writing scriptural commentaries on his 20+ old typewriter. And when he's not doing that he's busy cooking. For whom, well he cooks up a good spread and freezes so that after the fast he cannot open up his shack to the whole parish, and have an honest to goodness feast. Maybe it goes into his medical expenses. I don't think so. To the chagrin of most of us, he refuses to do something about that mouth full of rotting teeth, for which he carries around a tube of orajel to help with the pain. He doesn't see the point of seeing a doctor about the pinched nerves in his legs, probably caused from standing so many years at the divine services. On more than one occasion has he pretty much collapsed during the services. Maybe the money is paying his "escapades" south of the border. I don't see how. His two or three days in Mexico are packed with services. He only goes after theophany, so he spends most of his time blessing the waters and visiting the parishes, then its back home to Texas. Maybe the money has gone into financing his "pilgrimages" to Russia or the Holy Land? Some of us wish he would take us up on the offer. The more I know Vladiko Dimitri, the more I think that for him, his Holy Land is here in this country, in his diocese, in his parishes among his people. So where is the money? Show me the money!
What I'm getting at is where is the motive? What past actions, I mean over the past 50 years of his priesthood and almost 40 years of his episcopacy warrant such hostility and out of hand condemnation. All we have is circumstancial evidence at best with respect to Vladiko Dimitri. Show us some hard facts, numbers, dates, names. And if you can't produce them, then establish a clear, definite motive. Look over his 50 years of service to the Church, look for the pattern of deceit and dishonesty, of neglect for his flock, and any other dirt you can find to establish a motive. If you honestly cannot, I urge you, brothers and sisters to please think twice before writing such blazing condemnations.
Is it out of the realm of possibility that the motive for receiving Fr. Kondratik into his diocese and subsequently "protecting" him is a genuine pastoral concern? Could it not be that he is genuinely concerned of the spiritual ramifications for Fr. Kondratick if he is completely cut off? Could it be that he refuses to use Fr. Kondratick as the lone scapegoat? I guess where you stand colors your perspective and guides one's interpretations of facts. Some of us see Vladiko more as the father who despite being on the receiving end of the harsh criticism of those who have always obeyed the Father, always been right, for waiting for and even receiving the prodigal son.
Have you, brother, and all of the other brothers and sisters who are coming down heavily on Vladiko Dimitri, looked so clearly into the heart of this aged pastor who's worked tirelessly for his diocese always promoting the spread of the gospel, the spread of missions, the building up of churches and communities, and have seen only one motive there? Could his “ban” on becoming preoccupied with the “scandal” be real concern that his flock will loose perspective on what’s most important and get caught up in the polemics and politics of the scandal? Before you answer commit yourself to a position, don't forget all things we have said or even thought, we will be called to give an account for at the judgment. If you have plumed the depths of his heart and only see ill motives, then be prepared to stick to your decision when you are called to give an account for it before the Judge.
If I am wrong, we are wrong, those of us who stand behind Vladiko Dimitri, then we will be guilty of being naïve and deluded. But, we won’t be guilty of placing ourselves in the place of God and judging him. Maybe some will say we, by standing behind him, become accomplices to …..well …..what? What are the solid, concrete charges and evidence against him anyway?
Brothers and sisters, before we defame and discredit this aged and well beloved hierarch, let us look at the whole picture of his life.
Brother Nicholas, I still retain enough of the protestant in me not to set any man above reproach. However, in light of the years I have known him, I respect him very deeply. I’ve seen his faults, enough to know he’s one of us, made of clay and puts his pants on one leg at a time. But, I’ve also seen his deep love and zeal for the Church, Christ, his Diocese, Parishes and flock. Does having some of the syosett people here in our Diocese frighten me, yes. But the Church is greater than these men, if they are indeed the ones ultimately to blame. I won’t stand up for them, but I’ll stand up for Vladiko Dimitri. If these new men in our diocese turn out to be frauds, then I'll be the first to go.
In any case,
Christ is Risen, Christ is on his throne, and nothing, nothing, can seperate us from him.
#23 A different perspective on 2007-03-28 10:43
I think there were two parts about the sheep to the wolves mission: being as wise as serpents, but as harmelss as doves. Most of us are getting that first part down pretty well.
I respectfully invite people answer one question for me. Is this problem the result of bad people getting into power, or is because our institutions are poorly equipped for the realities of a 21st Century American mission? It seems clear to me that an autocratic ideal is propped up in a thousand ways large and small and there has been little real transperency or accountability.
We, as laypersons, are reduced to taking out our frustrations online, talking about withhold some money, waiting for someone to step in and save the day, without ever really discussing the mechanics of how that might happen. I really regret that all of this has finally just come down to personalities.
There is an opportunity here, I believe, for a very interesting discussion. This opportunity might not last for very long. Let's say there are changes in management, people settle down, and OCA News sells its domain name to Optimist Clubs of America. Then try to get anyone to listen whether we need to rethink our ecclesiology, or find a meaningful role in church governance (i.e. one with a stick) for the laity. (Unless that would result in dancing altar girls and guitar divine liturgies, in which case, never mind.)
#24 Tim Capps on 2007-03-28 11:05
We are being told in Canada by our priests, our chancellor, and our hierarch that this is an 'American' issue and not a Canadian issue. Thus, we should be quiet and simply watch from the sidelines. Yet this approach raises a number of issues: '
- are we not one church?
- does not our bishop sit on this very synod?
- are not the issues more around the culture of how this church functions (and that is no different in Canada)?
I have heard that our finances are separate. However, the financial issue in the States is simply the symptom of the systemic disease. The disease is how this Church functions and that is no different either north or south of the 49th parallel.
We Canadians can not sit here with smugness and ignore what is going on. It is here as well.
#25 Withheld on 2007-03-28 11:07
Thank you so much Mark for this website...After reading the OCA website my stomach just churned..How they must think we are fools..No we "are fools for CHRIST, & his holy church..
I'm only hoping that after Holy Pascha Bishop Job will make a drastic move on all of this...He has the support of his flock here in the Midwest... My heart is heavy for Bishop Job as he is being attacked..Please remb. him in your holy prayers...As it would be very easy for him to just resign or move on to another jurisdiction..(He would be welcomed with open arms too...) It's so hard to believe & understand WHY his fellow Bishops remain silent...WHAT DO THEY FEAR?! How can they preach love, truth, & light when they live in DARKNESS!
I also find the news coming out of the diocese of the South to be very disturbing to say the least...This diocese has ben growing so fast & to think who might end up ruling it is very sad.
Can somebody please explain who actually owns the individual parishes in the OCA...I can't find the by-laws on this...I have heard so many conflicting stories on how the OCA owns all church properties...
#26 Anoymous on 2007-03-28 13:25
Editor: please keep my comments anonymous (I'm sorry - I'll be deposed in two seconds if I reveal my identity).
Here are a few comments reacting to Bishop Tikhon's recent defense of Bishop Nikolai's absence from the meeting of the Synod of Bishops and Archbishop Dmitri's reflection posted on the web site of the Diocese of the South:
1) We can wait all we want. The Synod of bishops is never going to take any positive action in releasing the truth about the crimes that have occurred in the OCA. Bishop Tikhon's customary incomprehensible and vain babble tells the whole story. He praises Bishop Nikolai for adhering to the canons. Nothing is more urgent than adhering to the canons. Breaking the canons for an important meeting to attend to God's business is not acceptable. Being a poor and irresponsible steward by condoning prodigal spending and literally stealing money - which happens to break at least one of God's commandments - is acceptable.
2) While Archbishop Dmitri's words were much more eloquent, the same principle applies here. Who knows what reasons bishops might have used to suspend or depose priests in the past? Apparently, allegations of the most obscene deliberate misappropriation of funds which violate Gospel commands are 'okay,' because they don't violate the canons.
These bishops are trying to turn our Church into an organization of jurisprudence - not one of truth and divine justice. (If you want pure jurisprudence, become a Muslim). Sure, any reasonably literate person can clearly see the pharisaic image at play here. The problem is that they delight in obscure canons, for the sole purpose of preserving the 'power' of the episcopacy. The exercise of this power has resulted in scandal, and worse, the legitimization of this behavior by these bishops is just plain anti-Christian.
Why has this happened? It goes beyond statutes, best practices, and laws. The roots lie in what Fr. Hopko has been trying to tell us all along: our beautiful Orthodox ecclesiology is beautiful only on paper. In praxis, in our OCA, it is a sham. It has become this way because we have bought into the dubious fear that comes with episcopal governance by canon. Nevermind the fact that neither the canons nor the Typikon are venerated by the Church's liturgy - this is reserved for the Gospel, which alone lies on the altar table, which will be the center of our worship during Holy Week. The Holy Scriptures are clear - the epistles to Titus and Timothy define clear, good qualifications for bishops. While they certainly touch on governance and stewardship, they do not require celibacy, nor monastic tonsure. Yet for the OCA, it appears that these are the only requirements for episcopal ordination. Integrity, ethics, and ability be damned! It's like shopping used to be in the old Soviet Union - you took what you could get! This phenomenon has caught up with us during a crisis, which is precisely the time that we are supposed to rely on the grace of the Holy Spirit exercised through the bishop's ministry. The bishops who are doing everything in their power to hide the facts are leading anyone who follows them on a path to hell.
Fact: Dostoevsky wrote prophetically. His one error is that the Grand Inquisitor who doesn't want Christ to "mess things up" dwells in the personalities of a handful of Orthodox bishops in the OCA. Don't look for the antichrist - we have a few of them right here in our midst.
We need to consider the possibility, as far-fetched as this may sound, that we are indeed being usurped by genuinely evil agendas. Is it possible that we have former KGB plants in our midst, doing this evil work? Don't be fooled - stranger things have happened.
Perhaps this is a message to us from God that the time has come to put our trust in Him. After all, the prophets tell us all about the failings of kings, princes, and priests. If the FBI does indeed end up restoring order to our situation, I, for one, will interpret that as another manifestation of His unconventional work in the world, done in a way no one expected. May His will, and His will alone, be done.
#27 Anonymous on 2007-03-28 14:26
Its very funny if it wasn't so sad and downright pathetic. What we
have here with Bishop Tikhon's exposition is an attempt to cloud the issue and move the debate away from the spirit under which something was done to the technicalities under which it is a valid action.
Let's take the hypothetical example of a person who's received ill
gotten money of say, $95,000. He goes to the bank maybe every week and makes a deposit of $9,500 ($500 under the limit to be reported just for the sake of caution). The bank is not obliged to report this transaction following the letter of the law. After 10 weeks the entire $95,000 is in the bank, effectively laundered, and no laws were broken. Of COURSE the person used the law technically to avoid having the bank report the transaction thereby keeping himself outside of the realm of scrutiny, but he was breaking the SPIRIT of the law. When you work at a financial institution you have to take courses to alert you to money laundering. There are no hard and fast rules, there are warning signs that alert you to the offense. You look for the spirit of the offense, not a confusingly worded rule that defines it.
Its all to obvious for the bloviating bishop to understand. When
you live in a world where you can't see the forest from the trees
and where you can't be bothered with the facts to figure out what's going on, you can't see this. In some cases its seen, but
disregarded because it doesn't constitute a problem on one's moral radar. Yes, of COURSE, they are following the good order of the canons and that's commendable and a responsibility of their office. But its the spirit under which the canons were written that are being violated. Its ironic that the canons which are used to keep good order and decency in the Church are being used to protect miscreants out to harm her!
We understand the letter of the canons and their importance, that was never an issue, we cannot understand the spirit of these actions in accordance with those canons.
#27.1 Bob Czech on 2007-03-28 19:10
Fr. Thomas Hopko's statement about it being beautiful "only on paper," is reminiscent of John Adam's comment about the U.S. Constitution. What with the ACLU defending the likes of the Illinois Nazis and NAMBLA and so forth under the banner of "free speech," John Adams wrote hundreds of years before, "Our Constitution will be effective only in the governance of a moral people. It is wholly unsuited for the governance of any other." This is where many posters here and elsewhere counseling, "Just obey your bishop!" go wrong. The OCA does respect the Holy Synod and the bishops and the Metroplitan. But, it was those very individuals and bodies (or their predecessors) which drafted, approved, and agreed to unhold the day to day operating procedures embodied in the OCA Statute in the first place, which from a legal perspective govern the OCA as an organization. Were the predecessor-bishops and honest fathers all wrong -- and the current group right?
I don't think so.
One rule of the sea is to obey the Captain of the ship. But, if you are a crewman or merely a passenger on a cruise ship, if you notice a fire in the engine room, and you report it to an officer or to the Captain himself, it is not prudent, right, or proper to "obey" if he tells you, "We'll get a fresh coat of paint on that as soon as it burns itself out -- just don't worry about it for now, and for goodness sake, don't tell any of the other passengers - they might panic." And if you go to the other officers, and they say, "Well, the Captain says in due course things will be fine and return to normal." No - you go pull the nearest fire alarm! In this case, that would be the equivalent of bringing in the outside/secular powers to investigate what is a bungled mess at best, and a criminal cover-up at worst. THEN we can all argue about the role of bishops, "obedience," Orthodox Tradition, and autocephaly.
Right now, it's just a fire, and it's spreading!
#27.2 Committed Convert on 2007-03-29 11:55
A suggested sign for Joey's B-day bash:
OCA - orthodox crooks in America
Our motto: Give until it hurts and we'll just take the rest.
Our fallback position: Jesus forgives, we're sure you will find a way to forgive us too.
#28 anon on 2007-03-28 15:39
Reliable sources have confirmed that Fr. Kondratick has been in steady contact with the Ecumenical Patriach who is prepared to appear in any spiritual court if necessary. The Ecumenical Patriarch lives within the canons of the church, even though it is difficult to live within the confines of his see, unlike Herman who choses to break the canons and live outside his diocese. Herman, Kucynda and company seem to make up rules as they go along!
#29 Michael Simpko on 2007-03-28 18:07
I love to start to the morning with a big laugh...
Now, let me get this straight. Dmitri refuses to give back Kondratick to the Metropolitan stating that it would not be "canonical". The bloviator of Los Angeles, the former Bishop of the West, gave us a long exposition on the non canonicalness of the Springtime Synod Meeting and justifying Dmitri's actions.
And NOW, Kondratick is going to use that pillar of Orthodoxy, Bartholomew, the Ecumenical Patriarch as a shining example of canonical perfection! LOL! Isn't this man involved in a canonical showdown with Moscow over his non canonical acceptance of Bishop Basil out from under the Moscow Patriarch. We aren't impressed but we do enjoy the irony.
Again and again, rules, canons, laws, don't matter unless they want them to. What matters is whatever is needed for this bunch to move ahead their agenda.
This laugh will put a spring in my step on this chilly morning.
#29.1 Bob Czech on 2007-03-29 05:28
Reading this reminded me, in many ways, about another 'black weekday' article apropos the Orthodox Church. From Voithia, 1/14/99 - Harry Coin
Patriarch Betrays US Church
Metropolitans Double-Crossed in Istanbul
ISTANBUL-Sharply rebuffing the Holy Synod of the U.S. Greek Orthodox Church, Patriarch Bartholomew ordered his "blindly loyal" Archbishop, Spyridon, back to America.
The Patriarch issued his order on Tuesday January 12 during a meeting in Istanbul with his own synod, the five Metropolitans of the U.S. Synod, and Spyridon. "He will be your Archbishop until the day he dies," the Patriarch reportedly told the U.S. Metropolitans.
Bartholomew had invited them to Istanbul to present their position about the situation in the American Church. They were armed with a lengthy statement unanimously demanding Spyridon's resignation.
But Bartholomew had called a meeting of his own synod and made his decision before they arrived. The Metropolitans reportedly said they felt "set-up," "double-crossed," and "betrayed."
U.S. Church members were devastated. "It's a black day for our Church," said Dr. Thomas Lelon, an Archon of the Patriarchate and a past President of the Church's theological seminary in Boston. Lelon is Executive Director of Greek Orthodox American Leaders (GOAL), a group that supports the U.S. Synod and has led the movement for Spyridon's removal.
"To have the Patriarch turn on us by sending back an Archbishop who is a mismatch for America has left us grieving for our Church here and for the Ecumenical Patriarchate," Lelon explained. "But Christ built this magnificent Church through our parents and grandparents, and we will not let anyone destroy it," Lelon emphasized. "While we will always love our Mother Church, we cannot support the actions of this Patriarch," Lelon added.
Bartholomew's selection as Patriarch was approved by the Turkish government in 1991, after his predecessor Patriarch Demetrios died under questionable circumstances after his return to Istanbul from a visit to the U.S. (Please see "Inside the Patriarchate" by Fr. C. N. Dombalis). In 1995 Bartholomew abruptly announced the resignation of revered former U.S. Archbishop Iakovos, a few months after Iakovos convened a pan-Orthodox meeting of 29 U.S. bishops in Ligonier, PA, that called for steps toward Orthodox unity in the U.S.
Bartholomew promptly rejected that call. Ironically, Iakovos had convened the Ligonier meeting after Bartholomew had sent Spyridon, who was then Metropolitan of Italy, as his official representative to deliver an inspiring message to the Church's national Clergy-Laity Congress in Chicago in 1994 calling for steps toward Orthodox unity in the U.S.
Bartholomew named Spyridon as Iakovos' successor in July, 1996, despite serious questions about Spyridon's qualifications for the job. At that time, Bartholomew delivered a speech in which he announced that Spyridon's "crowning qualification" as Archbishop of America was his "blind loyalty" to the Patriarchate. That statement shocked many theologians, because Orthodox theology calls for loyalty to Christ, not to any worldly institution or individual.
During his brief tenure in the U.S., Spyridon has caused an unprecedented public rift in the ranks of the previously staid U.S. Church. The five Metropolitans of the U.S. Synod, former Archbishop Iakovos, over 150 parish priests, the Chairman of the Archdiocese's $40 million endowment fund, GOAL, and the Orthodox Christian Laity (OCL) have all publicly broken ranks with the Archbishop.
Last summer in Orlando, the Church's Clergy-Laity Congress voted to ask the Archbishop to reinstate four priests whom he had removed from their positions as professors at the Boston seminary after they refused his orders to cover up an incident of alleged homosexual abuse there. The following morning Spyridon got a standing ovation by paying lip service to the vote, but that afternoon he announced to the press that he would not reinstate the priests.
More recently, Spyridon unilaterally sued GOAL in federal court to try to prevent it from using the Church's membership list to mail its newsletter. After losing in the district court, he filed an appeal on Christmas Eve.
The OCL last year called for a united self-governing Orthodox Church in America, independent of any of the old-world patriarchates. That view is increasingly shared by many rank and file U.S. Church members. A few parishes have recently withheld or threatened to withhold financial support from the Archdiocese in protest over the actions of the current regime.
Editor's Note: This story was originally published on January 13, 1999, and updated on January 14, 1999 based upon additional information obtained by Voithia.
#30 Harry Coin on 2007-03-28 19:19
Please withhold my name and email address ...
- - - - -
While the ultimate desire for closure and change is good, this forum has become a repository for many bitter, petty, juvenile and presumptive claims and accusations - primarily from members of the OCA. I do hope that those who frequent this site (and those who contribute regularly) realize the lasting impact of these comments, letters and essays.
Souls are wounded by words. These words will forever be available on the internet, even after this site is "taken down." False accusations and difficult truths will stand side by side (resembling each other), forever "burned" into searchable databases where those who would search the internet will find these words and be unable to discern fact from fiction. And we, as members of the OCA, will have been responsible for malice and dafamation that will live, in some sense, forever.
Words typed via a computer and posted on the internet are often typed in haste and without foundation. But, for some reason, we believe that it is our right to post anything that we might feel.
While some valuable content and edifying words have been posted to OCANews.org, much of what passes for "the voice of the faithful" is little more than generalizations and gossip. Many people who have passionately posted on OCANews.org will one day find themselves regretting the utterance of horrible words and accusations that will be proven wrong. Some accusations will likely be proven true, but I wonder what we will gain by so sordidly airing dirty laundry.
There is indeed precedent for dissent among the faithful and clergy when Church leadership strays from the narrow way. I see little on OCANews.org that is on par with the faithful confessors and leaders who have safeguarded the faith handed down by the Apostles.
Upon review of the comments on OCANews.org there is a continual drumbeat of, "Give us the details! We want to know exactly what happened!" ... as if the details of one person's, or many people's, sin must be placed on public display. I sin. My children sin. My friends sin. I have no more desire to contemplate the depths of anyone's sin but my own. I might correct my child for wrongdoing, but my desire is for repentence on his or her part. I want to see contrition, and I will weep as I watch them endure the consequences of their failings. But, I will not gloat in a self-righteous manner when I see someone fall. I will not call for the details of another's sin to be published for all to see. This is, I think, far from what we are called to as Christians.
While it would be naive to think that this site will go away before the present crisis comes to a close, I would like to encourage all participants on this forum to pray before submitting a comment. Wait a day or two before vocalizing your "opinions" and "hunches" about what is "really going on." I think that we would see far less mud slung if people were to "sleep on it" so to speak.
To the average American observer, OCANews.org looks like the epitome of democracy and conciliar decision making. It "lends a voice" to those who haven't had one before now. I am, frankly, embarrased by the tone and content in most of what I read here.
I would no more want to be guided by a petty, divisive, bickering and angry laity than by leaders who might or might not prove to be lacking integrity, honesty and genuine love for those they lead.
The voice of the people has been heard. It is clear that enough "people who matter" are willing to take a stand at this point and assure that proper remedies to failings are implemented. I think that it is time to tone down the rhetoric.
I doubt that anyone posting to this site in the style that currently prevails will evoke a loving response from those who have the power to make a difference in our beloved Church.
It might be time for us to refrain from "sharing our comments," since most of the comments obviously shouldn't have been made. It would be nice if the Yellow Journalism would cease - we don't need sensationalistic headlines to stir up the hornet's nest. What we need now, if not silence, is thoughtful and prayerful reflection in the spirit of those whose lives have been proven holy. We can stand bodly with St. John Chrysostom and others, who weren't loved by all in their own time, by speaking the truth in love ... or not speaking at all.
#31 Anonymous on 2007-03-28 19:34
No. It is not correct to say it is imporper to know the details. It is highly proper. It is disobedience to the command of St. Paul not to expose the financial sins of a priest. It is not to gloat that we demand the details, but that we can be sure that only the guilty are punished (I think we have all heard and read about enough people being punished for doing right.) and so that others might fear.
"Let the priests that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine. For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer [is] worthy of his reward. Against a priest receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses. Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear. I charge [thee] before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, that thou observe these things without preferring one before another, doing nothing by partiality." (1 Ti 5:17-21)
No it is not to gloat that I want the informatino released. It is only for the good of the Church, for obedience to St. Paul, that order and trust can be restored.
Please omit my name from this posting ...
- - - - - -
I think that this proof-text does not justify the extremes employed by many, if not most, of the posters on this forum. I nowhere in my post said that nothing should be made public - confession and repentance is quite often necessarily public.
I would pray that the publicity of any confession be decent and in order.
I indeed sense the sincerity in your words, but I think it is slightly misguided by the current of the crowd.
#31.1.1 Anonymous on 2007-03-29 05:50
I am guessing you are a priest. So... Bless me, father. (And excuse me if you are not.) I am sometimes worried about the rebellion I see here. The seeing joy at every new revelation or rumor of evil. Most of what I read on this site causes confusion in me. For example, what I have read here about the Archbishop of Dallas is not match up with what I thought I knew about him. Also, I do not think I have ever demanded Fr. Bob's head. I do think he ought to be tried by a spiritual court, though. I am surprised he hasn't asked for a trial to demand his accusors to put up or shut up. As far as I can tell, all of this problem is the fault of the bishops going back at least 14 years. I fault all of them (With the exceptions of Benjamin and Alejo. They are new.) I only refer to Fr. Kucynda as "the liar" because I read his lie with my own eyes. I call for Metropolitan Herman's resignation because he was treasurer when some of the money was stolen, is an ineffectual leader, is trying to do a cover-up now, and seems to be trying to pin the blame on Fr. Kondratik, who I strongly suspect is guilty, but I do not know.
As for proof-texting, I never know exactly what people mean by that term. To me the command of St. Paul to St. Timothy looks like something every bishop ought to obey. An Apostle's command is something we are to obey. For the same reason I am not criticizing the Alaskan Bishop for obeying a canon about when to have a synod meeting. In fact, I am shocked that the bishops have been violating the canon about when to have the meetings. Our fathers gave us the canons in the expectation that we would obey them. The fact that the bishops have been violating this canon makes me wonder about their earlier calls to update the Statute of the OCA to bring it in line with our canonical tradition. It seems to me that they could start obeying the canons that apply to when they are supposed to meet.
Every day I have less confidence in them.
i totally agree with you,very nicely said,GOD bless you and now lets have a truly meaningful and blessed holy week so as to joyfully meet the RISEN LORD on PASCHA and forgive all through the RESURRECTION as we sing in the paschal stihiry.XB.
#31.2 Anonymous on 2007-03-28 23:26
I am so very tired of this constant repetitive refrain couseling silence in the face of EVIL. Yes, EVIL. For is it not evil to crucify TRUTH on a cross of lies and silence?
And you Sir/Madame/Father/Whatever are a coward for hiding behind anonymity, when you are so obsequiously currying favor with the "powers that be." You are an enabler and toady of the forces that are destroying the OCA.
And by the way, I don't intend to retract or regret this comment now, or anytime in the future.
#31.3 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2007-03-29 05:39
I am deeply disturbed by the personal and scandalous attacks on the character of Vladiko Dimitri. Have his accusers seen the dilapidated "episcopal palace" in which he lives? Have they seen the ancient auto that he drives, the one in which the passenger must enter the back door and lean over the seat to open the front door which does not work from the outside. There is no chauffer to be found because one does not exist.
I have seen men and women who know nothing of Orthodoxy, oriental and Hispanic, come up to Vladiko and bow low and then hug the man because they feel so valued by his attention and his ability to actually speak their language. No pretense there! He reaches out to human beings and he cares about them. He takes time to speak with ordinary people. Vladiko Dimitri is no haughty hierarch.
This man is a true monk, and a holy monk at that. Think what you will about his recent actions, but do not scandalize this good man.
Finally, enough about his age. If old age is a disease, we should all hope to catch it. I am ashamed at some of the personal criticisms of Vladiko Dimitri which have appeared on this site. Speak out if you think he has done something wrong, but for the love of God, do not stoop to character assassination, it will only hurt your cause. Please use my name, Fr. John Hennies or St Dimitri of Rostov Parish, Los Alamos NM.
#32 Fr John Hennies on 2007-03-28 21:14
I respect your defense of your bishop, Father, but after Mark's latest post there are only two possibilities for explaining +Dimitri's recent email and actions.
The most charitable is that the email really isn't his, but just has his name attached and was penned by the Kondratickites who seem to be thriving in your diocese.
The other possibility is more dire. Namely, he is a conscious agent and supporter of Fr. Kondratick et. al.
In either case, he needs to resign. Now!
#32.1 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2007-03-29 06:15
So I guess, brother Kenneth, you have probed deep into his heart, you have not swallowed his "lie" that he has a deep spiritual and pastoral concern about the issue and has acted accordingly. Because that is the third option, you know. That he is genuinely seeking a peaceful, unrushed solution to the problem. Just remember, brother, when you stand before the judge, right or wrong, you will be called to give an account for all that you have said here on this site, and when Vladiko Dimitri is examined and crossexamined and all things hidden are revealed, will you still have the zeal and courage and certainty to defend your accusation and condemnation of him there? If you are dead sure, and you are right, then I pray your searing words are only matched by your fervent prayers and tears for this "mighty one" who has fallen.
#32.1.1 A different perspective on 2007-03-29 09:03
Dear brother "different perspective,"
Certainly, I do not presume to judge the heart of Archbishop Dmitri or anyone else for that matter! But actions and words speak louder then pious hopes or poses.
We will all be judged by our Creator for everything we do, say, think, and found wanting. I stand with Origen in hoping and praying that all mankind will eventually be saved and creation redeemed through the blood of our Savior.
I believe Archbishop Dmitri to be unworthy of his office because of what he has said and done, no matter how pure or impure his motives may be. Any secular leader performing as he has done in recent days, let alone the past, would have already been removed from office in a society that values and honors accountability. It is his competence and judgement I condemn--not his heart or soul.
#188.8.131.52 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2007-03-29 14:58
When the scandal was first exposed it took great courage to speak out against the status quo, so much so that many manyt critics had to sign their posts "Anonymous". Those who spoke out were viciously attacked and branded as gossips and troublemakers.
Times have changed. Now, more often than not, the ones who sign anonymously are the ones who attack this website, defend the status quo, defend the people at the center of the scandal, and urge pious reflection with no action.
I take that as a sign of progress. I expect that trend to continue until this matter is fully and finally resolved. I expect that as time goes on, fewer and fewer people who attack this website and defend the status quo will be willing to sign their names.
#33 Robert Vasilios Wachter on 2007-03-28 22:24
Again, please omit my name from this posting ...
- - - - -
I assume that you are responding to my post (#31) above.
I think you missed my point entirely.
I am not afraid to put my submit my name with my comments. I am not afraid of retribution. I am not ashamed to tie my name to anything I said above.
Mark Stokoe knows who I am, I submitted my name and he could contact me if there was a genuine need to do so.
I simply do not want to associate my name with what this site has become. I would be ashamed if many of the people I know, inside and outside of the Church, were to stumble upon the petty bickering and unfounded accusations that have become so commonplace in the "share your comments" section of this site.
The "Reflections" are often quite profound, and much of what Mark writes would, in my opinion, be commendable if it weren't disguised as news but riddled with commentary and speculation.
I sometimes find myself oddly appreciative of this site for encouraging our Church to conform itself to the self-emptying image of Christ. Most often I wish that the comments section would disappear and the the slanderous tone of the other sections would change ... but here I am, using the "Share your comments section."
I find the accusations focused on His Eminence, Archbishop DMITRI absurd and in poor taste. I think that those in other diocese of the OCA have no idea how beloved he is to our faithful. He does have our trust, and we are willing to be patient and wait for a proper remedy to the situation. We are not unintelligent lemmings down here in the Diocese of the South. We have a caring Archpastor who wants to see things change in the OCA, but not at the expense of decency.
Vladyka DMITRI is aged but not foolish. He is stern, when necessary, but he is, above all else, a wise and loving arch-pastor.
There is much praise on this site for His Grace, Bishop JOB, and it is obvious that most of the faithful in his diocese love him dearly. This same love and respect for Archbishop DMITRI prevails in the Diocese of the South. I think what you are seeing is a different (and I think, more appropriate) outpouring of love for our ruling hierarch. He has flatly said that it is entirely appropriate to discuss the issues that confront the Church; he has asked that we not stoop to the level of gossip and slander. The silence and anonymity that you perceive is nothing less than an outpouring of respect for a bishop that we love, respect and trust.
Archbishop DMITRI wisely asserted that "There is no fear in love." I assure you that you would be hard pressed to find anyone in the Diocese of the South who is afraid our our bishop.
... for what it is worth, I am a member of the clergy in the southeast. If you really want to contact me, I give Mark permission to pass your contact information on to me or mine to you.
A fellow servant of Christ
#33.1 Anonymous on 2007-03-29 06:16
Dear Father: I would agree that some comments (or maybe more properly called rumor and innuendo) would have been better off not being made in this forum. Having said that, I feel confident in saying that this web site, and all the nasty comments, would have disappeared, had the Holy Synod 13 months ago met the problem head on and dealt with it openly and honestly. Instead, they chose to shoot the messenger(s), and we are where we are today.
#33.1.1 Michael Strelka on 2007-03-29 07:41
"A fellow servant of Christ" states....."simply do not want to associate my name with what this site has become".
With all due respect, fellow servant, I find that statement to be the worst kind of hypocrisy. You voluntarily enter into the pig sty(i.e. this websiste) ---or it could be a brothel---and then rationalize and say that it's ok as long as noone sees you or knows where you spend your time. Is this a Christian attribute or just something thought up for this particular scandal? How dare you come onto this website and spout your propaganda and then insult everyone who posts on this website and say that the website doesn't meet some phony standard of yours and isn't good enough for you to put your name after your comment?
#33.1.2 nicholas skovran on 2007-03-29 08:10
I don't think that everything on this site is inappropriate. The bitter, vindictive, searing and angry words are (in my opinion) better left unsaid.
I entered the fray hoping to add some perspective. If I wanted to dive onto the national scene and gain visibility, then I would have signed my name. This isn't my desire.
I have said nothing here that I would have difficulty saying to anyone in person. I somehow feel that a growing percentage of the comments in this forum should be relegated to the, "...well, if this person was standing in front of me, then I might have phrased it differently," realm.
Maybe as I read these statements that are always accompanied by a "screaming tone" (in my mind), I shouldn't assume that the authors would likely be more civilized in person. Maybe they would scream at me if I were to meet them. Maybe they would defame my (and your) bishop face to face. I pray that this is not the case.
Yours in Christ,
#184.108.40.206 Anonymous on 2007-03-29 13:43
Consider the history of our Holy Orthodox Church. Can you think of a single instance of a scandal, heresy, major controversy, or other attack on Truth where all of the Orthodox Christians involved behaved like the cool-headed and warm-hearted servants of God we are called to be? I see this scandal, and the response to it, as being wholly consistent with our history as a Church. Rather than complain that there are some excesses, let us give thanks that no blood has been shed, that there have been no riots, and that people are at least speaking to one another.
People are upset, and for good reason. In my experience, people react differently when they are upset. Some may behave "childishly". Some may yell and shout. Some may say unedifying things. Some may turn over tables and chase people out of the temple. Anger is never pretty.
I wish we could all stay focused on the issues and never get caught up in personal attacks. But as long as the leadership of the Church refuses to see and confront this issues, the personal loyalties and the personal attacks will continue (and if you think about human nature, will probably get worse).
#33.1.3 Robert Vasilios Wachter on 2007-03-29 09:43
I appreciate your partial retreat from the shadows, which had you done so earlier, would have affected the tone, if not the substance, of my last post to your comments. Obviously, you sincerely value the character and leadership of your bishop. I beg to disagree.
#33.1.4 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2007-03-29 13:04
Forgive me Father!
I must say that many of the "accusations" posted on this site do appear to be spurious, gossip-driven, or worse. Frankly, I feel somewhat dirty for posting, and even dirtier when reading and shaking my head. But some comments are not spurious, if scandalous.
I will say, however, that this site could have been and still could be rendered completely unneccesary by simply a box of receipts provided by the former Chancellor for the past several years -- or a full and complete confession (not Confession) and outline of "where did the money go?" by the former Chancellor or his associates/colleagues. Unfortunately, the testimony given was called - not by us, but by the bishops themselves - "not credible," and the receipts - well, they've been shredded.
Nevertheless, it is sad that Archbishop Dmitri seems to have gotten drawn into the line of fire by his recent action/redaction. It is entirely unclear what his motives are and as you say, he may be driven by the purest of intent and compassion. Not knowning him or ever having met him, I assume again as you say that he's the most humble, long-suffering servant of God in this Church.
He is an Archbishop, however, and accordingly part of the governing body of the OCA, and that calls for some hard decisions to be made. As may be proper - and no doubt is proper and compassionate - he should be concerned about the former Chancellor being rail-roaded. No "right-thinking" person wants that. For these reasons, I call for the MC to solicit the secular legal authorities to intervene in this matter, because - with the exception of OJ Simpson - presumably the American justice system is not in the habit of mis-handling justice. The former Chancellor (and any associates as appropriate) would get their day in court, have justice served - and allow our bishops and priests to continue to worry about Spiritual matters.
I am not calling for the former Chancellor's head - I'm calling for justice, and an accounting re "Missing Property." Getting this into the courts will render this Website obsolete, and I can get back to reading "Lives of the Saints" instead of this - this debacle!
#33.2 Committed Convert on 2007-03-29 12:11
While I understand and feel some of the anger that was generated by this reversal, I have to agree that some of the postings in this topic have been filled with too much anger.
It is good to discuss these things and I thank God for the work that Mark is doing, but everyone should take a deep breath, cool down, and try to behave as Orthodox Christians who are about to enter into Holy Week and journey with our Lord, sharing in His suffering and dying to self.
A priest of the Midwest
#34 Name withheld on 2007-03-29 07:36
Let's not forget that Jesus kicked off Holy Week by chasing the money changers out of the Temple. And let us not forget His "Woe to you" sermon that we shall hear on Monday evening at Bridegroom Matins.
Maybe you think Jesus should have just stared at his navel all week. After all, why stir up the crowds coming to Jerusalem for Passover? Wouldn't it be better to just let them pray, fast, and get ready for the religious feast than to "clean house" during such a holy week? He could have cleaned house later. Maybe like the old bishop of the West keeps saying, he should have cleaned house during the 50day'er after Passover.
Poor Jesus didn't get his schedule right did He?
Marty (also in the Midwest)
#34.1 Marty McFly on 2007-03-29 08:26
If we want to imitate the Lord and “kick off the Holy Week by chasing the money changers” then let us be consistent and be prepared to bear the cross as He did. I am also deeply disturbed by the vulgar tone of many posters particularly at a time like this.
#34.1.1 Karina Ross on 2007-03-29 18:05
Oh, so when a hierarch lies in writing, we shouldn't get upset?
When a member of the faithful is kicked off the council for being overzealously truthful to other faithful, we shouldn't get upset?
What would Christ say Father?
Would he ask us to follow the hierarch or to simply follow Him.
Under your advice, we'd all leave Orthodoxy. Is that your wish?
#34.2 Daniel E. Fall on 2007-03-29 19:54
Why is almost every post that defend's Herman and the corruption in the OCA written by "anonomous"?
I am looking forward for more calls for silence and more sweeping under the rug suggestions from Fr. "Anonomous" and Vladika "Name Withheld"
At least the people who are writing comments are taking responsibility for their actions... something that Herman hasn't been doing since he became a bishop. I am not shocked by any of this. Anyone who knows Herman and Kondradick's past know that this is just business as usual.
This started in the 80's with Herman's awful actions in eastern, PA taking churches to court over the calendar, losing in embarassing fashion, slandering people who opposed him, and costing the OCA hundreds of thousands of dollars. Looks like things haven't changed...
If nothing gets done after Pascha. I think Memorial Day weekend is a good place to start a protest and truely voice opinions. I happen to know a place where all the bishops and priests will be gathering that weekend...
#35 Alex Uram on 2007-03-29 11:37
I have posted quite a lot on this Website recently, and under an pseudo-name, for two reasons. First, since the Metropolitan has complete authority over the lives of our clergy, I don't want him or his staff making a "tally" of some kind, using the membership roles available to them, as to "how many from Parish X" have posted against him/them. I don't need to see my Parish Priest penalized for something I might say on this site -- or that I might be the "parishioner of Parish X" who puts the number over the line, and causes him to be reassigned, defrocked, or otherwise have his life turned upside down. I will speak to him about all of this in due course -- but I don't want to see him and his family penalized for some comment from me. And make no mistake, the perpetrators of this situation are still "in charge" in one way or another. Second, having said that, as soon as the MC stands up and finds its voice - as they are by virtue of their office enabled to do - THEN I will stand with them, full name, donations, and all! As soon as they get a legally-binding injunction to prevent those involved from continuing to have essentially absolute power over clergy assignments and other retaliatory measures. If a member of the OCA Clergy wants to jeapordize his own career then my he be blessed; but I don't want to inadvertently do it for him!
#35.1 Committed Convert on 2007-03-29 22:21
Be angry and do not sin. We can be angry and pray for all the bishops and the Metropolitan recognizing that we are sinners as well. My post was angry but ended in the hope that God will have mercy on them. I love our hierarchs as my Christian brothers, my affection will never be diminished by my anger. But since I am almost 80, it's really quite possible that I may not see the end of this current crisis, and will miss out on the great celebration at its conclusion. So, expecting and trusting that our Metropolitan and the bishops, as well as any others involved in misconduct, will offer full disclosure of every wicked deed, repenting and seeking forgiveness from all, I rejoice in that future reconciliation however long it may take. Alice Carter Holy Trinity Orthodox Cathedral Boston
#36 Alice Carter on 2007-03-30 05:50
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