Saturday, June 16. 2007
Your comments, reflections, ideas, and perspectives on the Metropolitan Council meeting are welcome.
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Never in my wildest imaginations would I have thought that it is likely that Herman is going to ride out this storm!
While nothing was resolved and some stuff got passed, in the end, it was a non event in the sense that Herman got a pass. It doesn't sound like he was called on much and didn't get much grief when he made stupid or non responses. Got to give it to the old guy, his perseverance might save him. Stay the course. It will kill the OCA because no matter what the window dressing and rearranging of chairs on the deck of the Titanic there is no confidence in him. He is the symbol of corruption and to see him ride this out as the person who is going to stay the helm while it gets back on track is inconceivable. While he maintains that office and there is the continued lack of confidence no money is going to flow in to make any function of the central administration likely other than to tread water and maintain their own jobs.
It doesn't appear that he is man enough to take responsibility for something and when it comes to his place he just says he didn't know, or was whatever-in-name-only, or in the latest case, it was Kyrill's fault and wound up being a big misunderstanding! Mark, was anyone who attended the meeting and heard that able to keep a straight face? People pay good money for a night of comedy like that!
The problem with this meeting is that it's likely to lead the Midwest to conclude that it needs to wait some more time as the latest MC meeting produced results. That is the image that we have and its likely that a lot of furor will die down. So, we can write off the Midwest meeting as leading to anything substantial.
Lastly, the Synod is breathing a sigh of unwarranted relief. We still have grave moral corruption present in the administration and that needs to be dealt with but now that it appears things are going better they can go back to ignoring the core problems and remain bishops in name only. It's likely they will punt too.
I guess the report will never see the day of light because this trial is going to go on as long as they can delay it.
Good job, people, good job!
The net outcome this week is analogus to putting speed bumps on a runway. Got to give it to you Herman. You're good. If only you were as good as an example of Christian and Orthodox behavior we'd all be in good shape!
#1 Publius on 2007-06-16 13:32
GOSSIP! GOSSIP! GOSSIP! AND JUST MOCK THE CHURCH AND ITS LEADERS! EVERYONE WHO COMPLAINS! THEY THINK THEY CAN SOLVE ALL THE PROBLEMS IN THE WHOLE WORLD! AND THESE PEOPLE WHO ARE SO EDUCATED ON THIS WEBSITE I DOUBT IF THEY CAN TIE THEIR SHOES IN THE MORNING! THEY ARE THE SAME PEOPLE WHO PUT A DOLLAR IN THE BASKET ON SUNDAY! AND COMPLAIN HOW MUCH MONEY THEY GAVE, FOR SO MANY YEARS! HOW DO THEY FUNCTION IN LIFE! IF THESE PEOPLE, WOULD FOR ONCE IN THEIR LIFE, SAY SOMETHING GOOD ABOUT SOMEONE! THEY WOULD NOT ONLY MAKE THEMSELVES HAPPY! BUT OTHERS AROUND THEM! I PRAY THAT GOD WILL BLESS THE CHURCH AND ITS LEADERS! PLEASE REMEMBER JESUS SAID "LOVE ONE ANOTHER" NOT HATE! LETS BRING OUT THE BEST IN EVERYONE!
#1.1 Anonymous on 2007-06-18 15:40
Quite to the contrary, our good friend! These are the people who are going to be the foundation of the new OCA. Just look at these people over at savetheoca.org. Every time Herman speaks more sign up.
#1.1.1 Publius on 2007-06-18 19:35
Who are you?
#1.1.2 Anonymous on 2007-06-18 19:54
well said,thanks and GOD bless you!
#1.1.3 Anonymous on 2007-06-18 20:05
You have struck a nerve. I am here at my office, 3:00 am having worked all day and now just completing a report to meet a client deadline. I check the website and find your comment essentailly saying that I (and everyone else who is trying to raise the issues and get this mess corrected) have not contributed to the church. Are you the same anonymous that says do not judge someone else? Please, think about what you write.
I am convinced that this website is the primary reason that the dollars my wife and I donated to the Mission Appeals, the Charitable Appeals, the Seminary Appeals, the Beslan Children, the Russian orphanages, the FOS requests and others may somehow be restored. As I noted in my other post, had someone been watching the store, donations such as the 911 funds, could have been invested over the past 7 years and now be doubled in value. Instead we will repay them with 2007 or 2008 or 2009 dollars. Ugh!
Thanks for belittling our past efforts. Up until 2006, my wife and I responded in good faith to the donation requests. We kept increasing donations over the years as we believed in the good efforts that were presented in the appeals. I remember in the beginning of 2006 before the scandal broke, my wife actually called me foolish and asked where her remodeled kitchen was. I would tease her and I would offer something back along the lines of “it’s helping the kids at Project Mexico, or those who tragically suffered at Beslan, or perhaps helping to build an orthodox presence in Iowa, or educating a Seminarian at St. Herman’s”. What ever the case, we ended up agreeing that there were many good, worthy causes that needed support.
No, we didn’t starve ourselves, and I'm not looking for sympathy, but we believed that helping those less fortunate and those who are working for the good of our Lord must be a primary focus in our lives. I have always felt that governmental social welfare programs are actually a disgrace to the Church. Feeding, clothing, healing, helping, educating, training are all assistance processes that the Church should be providing to those in need. We've turned down many outside donation requests, with the faith that donations made through the Church could help provide the best assistance to those in need.
Now look at what we have, a first quarter statement that shows the OCA operating in the black. Looks great, but is there any accounting of legal costs?
The inability to perform audits over the past several years, when the church was bleeding red ink, can only make one wonder what was going on with the entire administration. A lack of leadership is a total understatement. Anonymous, just think, if your expenses at home were exceeding your income what would you do? Would you continue to live the same and hope the problem would go away? Would you continue to travel? Would you fly first class? Would you travel with a group of assistants? Would you rent a Cadillac or a Taurus? Would you continue to keep all of your workers on staff or would you make cutbacks? If the financial situation did not turn around, wouldn’t you start looking at where every nickel was going? Wouldn’t you want to be involved in every financial decision? Wouldn’t you be looking at how to make more cuts and trim more expenses?
Shrink it down to a parish level, what would you do if you were $150,000 in debt and had expenses exceeding donations by $10,000-$15,000 per year. Would you embark on building a new conference room to recognize one of your past priests?
What has transpired over the past year has litterally made me sick.
You think things have been corrected? Go back and look at the financial details of the Honesdale loan disbursements presented on the OCA web site that identified how the seminary appeal funds were distributed. Great, we were finally forwarding monies collected since 2003 to the OCA Seminaries. St. Herman’s receives $51k, St. Tikhon’s $90k, and St. Vladimir’s $115k. But wait, the Chancery recently recognized that a check was already sent to St. Vladimir’s in 2005 for $69k. Hurray! We can put the $69k against the loan principle for the $1.7 million. Do you see anything wrong here? Up until that time, the treasury apparently had no idea that they had already paid out $69,000. How do we know they didn’t send St. Herman’s a check in 2004 or 2005? Do we have to call and ask people to review their records to see if we sent them any money? How in the world do we know what the fund balances should be to begin with? Is the 911 balance $260,000 or $90,000? Do we ignore the interest that should have been earned on that money since 2001? It’s amazing that of all the account balances listed, only one is repaid with interest. Can you guess? Yes, St. Tikhon’s was earning nearly $10,000 in interest, while the kids in Beslan didn't receive a nickel. Shame!
On this Earth, we will likely never know what happened to those donations and assessments that were made to the OCA. I’m not anti-OCA. I still believe in one Orthodox Church for North America. I’m also not looking for sympathy for my past errors in judgment for contributing to the OCA administration. I’m a sinner. I’ve made many mistakes. I’ve sinned many times against God and fellow man. I continue to sin and I probably don’t even recognize sins that I am making in the present at work, in my family, and throughout the Church. Lord, forgive me.
Yet, If we as members of the OCA fail to take action, we are just adding to the problem. Look at the many historical tragedies that could have been averted if only a few people had not stood by and watched as tragic events continued to occur and snowball until situations were totally out of control. Without the efforts of Mark or Eric Wheeler or Archbishop Job, the wild spending at Syosset would still be happening. Thank God they spoke up and haven't quit!
Lord help us!
Mark, sorry this is so long. I've only posted one other time. This probably rambles, so please edit and trim as you see fit. It's now 4:00 am, but I feel much better!
#1.1.4 Ken Kozak on 2007-06-19 00:54
Nicley said Ken...but the thing is that this website is only words...and for the most part, hurtful words towards one and other. Telling people how bad the Metropolitan is doing, how horrible our church leaders are doing...saying "well he said this and she said that", its breaking apart families, friends, and faith. There has got to be a better way to go about this change but the majority of thepeople that comment on this website are not about that...they are about bashing. Insults, blame, name calling, all words. This whole website is all words...truth be told, there is nothing that we can do about it. All we can do is pray that god gives our leaders the ability to pull our church out of this problem. Have faith my friend, the OCA will pull through and we will leave this dark history behind us.
Anonymous member of Ken's Parish
#220.127.116.11 Anon. on 2007-06-19 12:59
"All we can do is pray that god gives our leaders the ability to pull our church out of this problem."
You can join the Diocese of the Midwest this Monday, June 25 in praying a Molieben for our Holy American Orthodox Church. A pdf of the service can be found here:
#18.104.22.168.1 Michael Strelka on 2007-06-19 13:55
My parish has open books, and our treasurer is always ready to answer questions as to how much money comes in and where it goes. Our monthly reports are posted for everyone to see. So are the monthly reports for our OCA Diocese of the West (Thank you, Mary Caetta!) This has led to a culture of transparency and anyone can see where other parishes stand regarding their assessments and contributions.
I fail to see why or how the national OCA administration can't be as open as one it's dioceses. Surely it is not that difficult. But perhaps I don't understand the local culture...
PS I notice that there are a lot of 'anonymous' posters out there. What are you afraid of? It's only a Church, not the FBI!
#22.214.171.124.1.1 Rdr. James on 2007-06-20 16:15
Dear Ken's Friend:
"All we can do is pray that god gives our leaders the ability to pull our church out of this problem."
Not so. Very, very not so. All we can do is all we can do. Prayer is a part of that, yes; but, also get off our rears and act. This site is a huge action toward resolution, whether or not we are successful in achieving a resolution.
"...but the thing is that this website is only words...and for the most part, hurtful words towards one and other."
Again, not so. Unless you've slective memory and have read all posts, or have for some reason chosen to have read only posts meeting your description. I'm sorry to say this but you've spoken a very serious untruth.
"Telling people how bad the Metropolitan is doing, how horrible our church leaders are doing...saying "well he said this and she said that", its breaking apart families, friends, and faith."
If this is true, then the charge is properly laid at the feet of the wroingdoers, not those whov'e pointed out that the emperor has not clothes! In a rape or robbery do you blame the victim who complains, or the rapist or robber?
"There has got to be a better way to go about this change but the majority of thepeople that comment on this website are not about that...they are about bashing. Insults, blame, name calling, all words."
Again, your math needs some remedial attention. Most = 50%+. And, you don't define "bashing," but very little of what I understand bashing to mean is present here. Again, pointing out another's wrong actions is not bashing; its a Christian duty. If tempers flare at times when some are typing on their keyboards, then consider what has been done to this church by the wolves in sheep's clothing (read: vestments). Your church has been robbed, sir or ma'am.
"This whole website is all words...truth be told, there is nothing that we can do about it."
Of course it is all words! Its a website. I suppose Mark could add music, but that'd be out of context. Words, communications, a faculty of man that God gave to us to be used to his glory. Perhaps you think pointing out the crimes is not to His glory. Well, I think a persual of the Gospels, Acts, and the Epistles would militate against such a position.
Yes, this website is words, and these words are moving people to pray, to think, to act, to keep the malefactors running and jumping through hoops hopefully to the end that they leave us and enter into a state of repentaence, or at least retirement.
If the actions -- including the words contributed on this site (most of which are so not "bashing" (do the math, please)) -- toward that end are successful, that's God's business; but those taking action -- including contributing to this site -- are charged merely to be faithful, not to be successful. And faithfulness requires standing up and saying to the best of our fallible ability, "No! Stop! This is wrong! You must stop!"
#126.96.36.199.2 Anonymous on 2007-06-25 06:08
Dear Ken: you bring out good pointinyour response to Gossip man! however! please read the very first message on this web site! you will get a different view! (hate towards the Met Herman!) lets be honest did he still the money? Buy doing an investigation is he covering anything up? (of course not!) If Gossip man has accomplished one thing! it is dont believe everything you read on this website!It has NO power! and most of the time the facts are disstorted! I agree we must correct our past accounting mistakes! thats a no brainer!! And i'm sure Met HERMAN WILL MAKE POSITIVE CHANGES!!
#188.8.131.52 Anonymous on 2007-06-19 14:11
Based on what do you derive your certainty?
#184.108.40.206.1 Anonymous on 2007-06-25 21:08
It's strange how perceptions vary: the only insults and hatred I've seen on this site are from those typing GOSSIP! in all caps (internet shouting) and accusing others of lack of love.
The people who post regularly on this site under their own names -- clergy and laity -- have deep an abundant love for Christ and His Body, the Church. I have not seen a single comment expressing hatred for Metropolitan Herman, Fr. Kucynda, Fr. Kondratcick, or Metropolitan Theodosius -- even amidst the calls for resignation, repentance, etc. Forgiveness has been offered and given already, many times, for all the sins that have disrupted the ministry of the OCA. But the mess still needs to be analyzed so that it can be corrected -- and NEVER allowed to happen again.
Every one of us understands falling to sin and temptation. What many of us do not understand the willful hardness of heart shown by those who will not just SAY THE TRUTH so we can all return to the charge Christ gave us: to share the Good News. TRUTH is not GOSSIP! Calls for TRUTH are not INSULTS... they are cries for unity and wholesomeness and love!
#1.1.5 Anonymous on 2007-06-19 04:49
WHat you say is true also....but as Ken pointed out, we will never know what happened to the money from a while ago...and to continue with the investigation will cause more pain and agony. The efforts of our leaders now should be to safeguarding the church so that this problem never happens again...period.
#220.127.116.11 Anonymous on 2007-06-19 13:03
If the players cannot explain to us where the money went then they should be held accountable and removed from the ranks of the clergy. They will not have lived up to their obligations and vows. Plain and simple. If we are not to continue with the investigation, at least those who have obstructed it and not given an accounting of what was under their stewardship should be dealt with in the only way that has any meaning. Remove them from the clergy - they never valued it anyway.
On the other hand, if the authorities were requested to come in then we'd find out very fast where the money went.
#18.104.22.168.1 Anonymous on 2007-06-19 17:10
Let us pray for leaders that are trustworthy and worthy of the positions they hold. Unless God helps us in this, we are lost because we are unable to make positive change and, as they say, the leopards in charge cannot change their spots.
#22.214.171.124.2 Anon on 2007-06-19 18:55
Dear Anonymous, I couldn't disagree with you more! Please look at what you say:
"This whole website is all words...truth be told, there is nothing that we can do about it. All we can do is pray that god gives our leaders the ability to pull our church out of this problem."
Yes, the site is words; it is an open forum of information, thoughts, feelings, comments and opinions. There are opinions that I agree with and those that I do not agree with, but saying that there is nothing we can do about this mess is absurd. Words lead to actions, and actions lead to changes. Take a look at any historical event, form civil rights and Martin Luther King to Poly’s law on child protection and tell me if words and discussion didn't lead to action and changes. Sometimes actions and changes are not good, but that usually occurs in places where free speech is not allowed. The existing ruling party, makes changes it deems are necessary and stays in power through dictatorial control. I am convinced that the Charity funds would never have been repaid unless this website had been started.
I’ve said before that I was skeptical of this site when I first started reading, but come to find out, the information is accurate! There were missing funds! We don’t know what happened to the ADM money. Heck, we don’t even know how much ADM money there was! I remember about first reading on this site how Fr. Kondratick was transferred to Florida. I couldn’t believe it! There had to be a mistake, but no, it was true. Our leadership sent him off to sunny Florida. Yes, the Reflections are opinions, but the Information provided has proved to be plentiful, prompt and accurate. It appears that there are plenty of people willing to talk and share accurate info. It’s a shame that the OCA website isn’t used in a similar manner.
In terms of leadership, isn’t this the same leadership that got us here? Aren’t we learning about how they’ve been bumbling along for 5-10 years! Who knows what else went on during their tenure. They had their chance! It’s time for a change!
#126.96.36.199.3 Ken Kozak on 2007-06-19 21:14
Correction! Ken! these are not the same people who were in power 5&10 years ago! Met Herman fell into this Mess! Some times it takes time to clean up a mess! and most of the time its not as easy as you think! some times you must use a different solution! If you have a chemical spill verses nuclear spill one might take a longer time to clean up! and you want to make darn sure to do a good job cleaning it up! because if you dont! the results might be deadly! I think this is what Met is trying to do! Lets give him a chance! I'm sure changes will be put into place,that this mess will never happen again!!
#188.8.131.52.3.1 Anonymous on 2007-06-20 09:07
I told my wife that I would stop this back & forth, but I just don't know what you are thinking.
Your comment: "These are not the same people that were in power 5-10 years ago."
?????? Sorry, they are the same people. Met. Herman was named "Acting" Treasurer back in 1999. (Yes, that is 5-10 years ago) and Metropolitan 5 years ago.
But your comment made me go back and look at the chronology. I think it is important for anyone who reads this site, to please go and read or re-read the Chronology, which is listed at: http://www.ocanews.org/chronology.html
I read it once before, but tonight, the puzzle pieces are starting to fall into place. It's revealing and horrific.
For you to comment that Met. Herman is making changes and needs time, could be likened to an environmentalist watching a million gallons of gasoline flow out of an open tank valve at a refinery. A valve which could have been turned closed to stop the leak! Either Dn. Eric Wheeler , John Kozey, Rob Taylor, Mark and others are all providing false testimony, or Met. Herman was well aware of improprieties back in 1999, if not before. Deacon Wheeler states that he informed the then Acting Treasurer of problems at that time. The leaking valve was open. Met. Herman had a chance to close it back in 1999!!! (I must be slow, because I thought he only became aware in the last year). He didn't make changes. He has only made changes since this hit the web and since Archbishop Job asked the question. After re-reading the Chronology, my question now becomes, did he actually help to open the valve further and allow more gas to spill? And with Archbishop Job raising the questions and putting on some pressure, where are all the other Heirarchs? Where are our Priests? How can you go silent? Do your sermons not call people to be truthful and honest? How can you stand by so silently?
I'm not trying to be critical. I have stood on the sidelines for over a year, but please open your eyes! If Met. Herman knew about these types of problems in 1999, and ignored the problems and was then involved in firing people who questioned what was going on, and then eliminated the auditors, that is certainly someone who is making changes, but not changes that would fix the problems. No, those changes help protect or worsen the problems. Those changes open the valve further and allow the pollution to flow more readily and contaminate a greater area.
I'll be praying with the Diocese of the Midwest on Monday, and I won't remain silent!
Can someone please provide me with the website that is requesting pledges for change?
#184.108.40.206.3.1.1 Ken Kozak on 2007-06-20 21:18
I cannot see any statements from the other hierarchs, save those of silencing the people in their diocese. However the priests of the Midwest Diocese have spoken, as have the 70 Archpriests of the various dioceses.
I'm curious as to the silence from the Seminaries. Aren't they in a unique position to comment on both the canon law and the historical precedent for our governance?
Sdn. John Martin
Martin D. Watt, CPA (Inactive)
#220.127.116.11.18.104.22.168 Marty Watt on 2007-06-21 07:17
As to the silence from the seminaries: Having been a seminarian's wife for three years at one of our seminaries (and see, I'm not even posting which one to make it harder for someone to figure out who my husband is!), I can tell you that seminarians are in a very delicate position. They are all under the metropolitan, not their original bishop. Some of them may have posted anonymously, but to post with name attached would be suicidal. Seminarians and their immediate families are very closely watched and would be ousted summarily if any "disloyalty" to the metropolitan were detected. I will tell you that probably the majority of them monitor this site and certainly all deplore the current scandal in the OCA.
Grateful to be one "Matushka Anna" of very many...
#22.214.171.124.126.96.36.199.1 Matushka Anna on 2007-06-23 10:29
#188.8.131.52.184.108.40.206 Anonymous on 2007-06-21 08:31
Not sure which Anonymous you are, but thank you for providing me with great inspiration.
Your comment said:
"WHat you say is true also....but as Ken pointed out, we will never know what happened to the money from a while ago...and to continue with the investigation will cause more pain and agony."
(KK Note: I actually said ” we will likely never know”- especially if the Commission is not allowed to investigate)
What investigation, it hardly got started and now we’re learning that they had to comply with significant restrictions. The investigation must get underway! Sweeping it under the rug and hoping that it will never happen again is not a solution. We need to know what exactly happened in order to determine how to prevent it. That includes people being accountable. Consider if you were a parent of Pat Tillman, the football star who died in Afghanistan. Do you want to know if he was killed by friendly fire? Sometimes the truth hurts, but you have to know what happened in order to get things fixed. We also need closure! Take any situation that goes awry. If you don't understand the cause, you have little chance of making the right correction. Would you let the Holocaust slide by and hope that it would never happen again? Should the survivors forget it and not be allowed to make memorials? No, they need closure!
Again, I don't know who you are, but thinking of our parish, I can understand why some may want to just let this pass by. We have failed to have an open discussion on the issue, from the parish council to the parish as a whole. As with any conflict, not discussing the issue is an illness in itself. History reminds us that one of the worst things that can happen is for caring individuals to stand on the sidelines. I am confident that informed people can make a difference. Together, we can make a difference!
#220.127.116.11.4 Ken Kozak on 2007-06-19 21:51
We know one thing that went wrong – our bishops. The failing of the Synod is the single most discouraging aspect of this entire scandal. For the Episcopacy we need men of honor, commitment, education, common sense, and beyond all, faith in the God and Church that they serve. Men who put themselves last. The main reason we are in the decrepit state of affairs that we find ourselves in isn’t because we have a weak Metropolitan Council, or any of the other myriad of excuses being tossed around, it’s because we have a weak, ineffective, and chiefly ceremonial Synod. The Synod has to be more than an honorary seat that is held by a person who is given great respect and privilege merely because he carries a stick in his hand.
We have been the recipient of a Synod who’s members have been dictated to us. The usual route lately has been to designate an auxiliary when there is a need somewhere for a ruling bishop or when the retirement is imminent of a ruling hierarch. This has given us an end run around the process of us (those not in the Synod) picking our next bishop. When the auxiliary is consecrated he is then foisted upon us as a ruling bishop and we get stuck with what the leadership wanted for whatever reason they wanted it. Because of this we have greatly lost a check and balance in the process. The Synod was basically stacked so that what was going on could continue and if it was discovered, they would guarantee it would be deep sixed. For those in the NY/NJ diocese you were just folded into DC rather than given the chance to elect your bishop – there’s too much money in that diocese to leave it to chance. The result is a Synod that doesn’t work. This is the saddest and most disturbing institutional problem because the Synod is supposed to be the core of truth, the final and certain defense for the Church. Instead it’s become a self serving group of men, who when confronted with gross negligence and offenses against the Church resort to attacking those that brought it to light and hoping the root cause will go away. See no evil. Hear no evil. Speak no evil.
The Synod knew about the secret accounts 8 years ago and decided to bury it. They ignored the protests of one brave auditor. We can’t even be confident there was any arm twisting needed for that sweeping under the carpet. The Synod sees a Church in crisis now and hasn’t been able to stand up and do what’s right. What little it has done is because the disgrace of what is surfacing shames them into minimal responses. One YEAR after the firing of Fr. Kondratick and mountains of evidence they had to be given recommendations from a lay committee as to what the obvious disciplinary actions should be. It has basically deferred to the desires of the Metropolitan: a one man Synod. In two cases our two most senior bishops have been dragged into absurd situations by the Metropolitan after seemingly acquiescing to his desires. Sadly, in the end the Metropolitan then tries to blame them for the spectacle – blames it on one while he’s on his deathbed. No one wants to call the big guy to account. It’s a disgrace that disciplinary actions such as the trial of Fr. Kondratick are being made a mockery. The process by which the Church cleanses itself of disruptive and rogue elements is being ridiculed. Where are our bishops as this is occurring? Seeing the mockery of this trial we wonder how many good men over the years have been unduly deposed through this process which NOW is being seen as unfair and corrupt. Why do the bishops allow an unfair and biased process to exist? When are the adults going to come in and take control?
They have failed us and in some respects, it feels, are against us rather than with us. New members capitulate to the influence and power of the old members thereby disregarding their own vows. We need men of strength and honor that will stand up for the Church rather than fold under the pressure of those that are in the process of taking it down the dark road it finds itself traveling. Men, who when the heat gets to be too much, don’t leave the kitchen. If there is any one great failing in this entire scandal, it has to be the Synod. That cannot be understated. They want to be the final arbiter, they want to be recognized as the final word on all things Church, and yet when they have a crisis on many levels they punt or just ignore the problem outright until it becomes unignorable and then do the minimum until it’s at a state to be ignored again. If they don’t have any intention of doing the right thing then we must question why they want to be the final word of every aspect of Church life. If the Synod is going to be anything more than a rubber stand for the Metropolitan or the Chancellor, if is it to be anything more than a merely ceremonial responsibility, we need to populate it with members who recognize the significance of the position. Sadly to say, we do not have that at this time, save Archbishop JOB. The Synod, at it appears now, is a nice sailboat stuck in the sands of a desert – looks nice but going nowhere.
#18.104.22.168.4.1 Publius on 2007-06-21 06:54
Your simile fails at the end--it really isn't a "nice" sight--but otherwise you have it exactly right.
Yours is a comprehensive indictment of those who would lead us, but have, with a few individual exceptions, utterly failed--so far. Theirs is the power and likewise the ignominy.
And yet, by the grace of God, there is still hope and opportunity. Archbishop Job offers our other bishops a chance to begin to do the right thing. Will they? Are they capable of rising to the occasion even at the eleventh hour?
In my case, hope springs eternal.
#22.214.171.124.4.1.1 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2007-06-21 11:20
Ken, you have to agree that with all the Hate on this website that is going on...insulting, name calling, questioning the faith of bishops, are not positive ways in which this issue can get resovled. I do not agree with everything going on and like you, I want this issue to get over with. I disagree with the fact that it will take a resignation of Met. Herman to do it but im entitled to my opinion just like everyone else. The fact I am trying to make is that words of Hate and disgust are not a way to get a problem resolved. WHen people think of this situation, all they think about is who to blame and why they hate that person for ruining the OCA. Yes, find the money and where it went, make changes (demanding resignations and what not) try and resolve the issue but internally, as the Metropolitan is doing. Think about it...one new name is put on this website that has connections to the scandal and boom, for a sin they commited 9 years ago, their life is ruined. I have heard that several of the people that have been mentioned have recieved death threats and hatemail, this is not the way Orthodox Christians should go about fixing things and this is exactly what the Metropolitan is trying to safeguard against.
And Ken, think about our parish for a moment. We had problems trying to all agree on a project recently...everyone has their own opinions about this matter and discussing it in church will cause a split parish once again. We have to face facts, members of our church just dont' like to be proven wrong. You read the comments back and forth on this website...some hateful..and you want that brought into a parish level? I think not...this is why i remain safely anonymous because if you knew who i was, you would think differenly of me and it is something I don't want.
#126.96.36.199.4.2 anonymous on 2007-06-22 18:04
Again, I don’t know which statements are yours, but you have indicated that you are an anonymous from my parish. It appears that you keep on presenting information which is not accurate. I present a rebuttal and you then change the subject.
1) You indicated that the folks in power are not the same folks from 5-10 years ago. I think I defended my position by asking you to read the Chronology. MH was made acting Treasurer 8 years ago and Metropolitan 5 years ago. There is also a recent post that financial irregularities were being reported back in 1993 with involvement of the same folks.
2) This Section of the website is titled “Comments”. It is an opportunity to share your information, thoughts, feelings, and positions. We all react in different ways. Some people have likely been hurt worse than others, and some have apparently seen a pattern of corruption that dates back many years. On the other side, we have Gossip Man who is probably still shouting and there is another person making threats in an apparent attempt to intimidate writers. I cannot question their opinions and I have to be able to discern the overall message that some people are presenting. Hate mail and death threats should certainly be reported to the authorities for appropriate action. I agree, those activities are never justifiable. However, I also believe that theft, deception, intimidation and racketeering also need to be reported.
3) When you stated that “words can’t do anything” (paraphrasing), I again totally disagree. When information on this scandal broke on the website in 2006 (again, not the 1st time they heard about it), the administration at first tried to discount it. However, only with the growing outcry do we begin to see action. But this action is still stifled, with an investigating committee that has its hands tied.
4) Now you comment “Yes, find the money and where it went, make changes (demanding resignations and what not) try and resolve the issue but internally, as the Metropolitan is doing.” OK, who is investigating? Where is the Special Commission? Do they have free and open access to all of the information? Just think of the President Clinton/Monica Lewinsky scandal. Clinton said “I did not have …” If the investigation were left up to President Clinton, what do you think we would have learned?
5) We want to know what constructive action MH and others took starting in 1999 when they were first informed of the misconduct. Yes, for Scooter Libby and Rep. Jefferson, the investigation involves the government and politics. I wouldn’t expect those investigations to be quick. But here we have leaders of our faith; those who are espousing the Word of our Lord and Savior. How can the financial accounts not be readily accessible? Why were Bishop Job’s financial questions not allowed at the 2005 AAC? How can Bishops now sit on the sidelines without comment? One problem is that these people (clergy) held our faith and trust. They had practically unconditional support from the flock, for they were representing our Lord. Now, we see that their actions did not follow Matthew 25. Don’t you have to question which version of Scripture they were reading? While I would not personally ask, I can see someone raising the question, do you fear God? I don’t think that is hateful or mean; it is a confused laity that does not know who to trust. Can you blame them?
6) You bring up some sin from 9 years ago. I have no idea what you are talking about. I have only been a member of the parish for about 12 years. I don’t remember an issue from 9 years ago and I certainly don’t hold a grudge. If someone is truly repentant, let them make their restitution and sin no more. However, if the sin from 9 years ago is continuing, there is a problem. If it is financial, they probably should not be handling money. If they have an alcohol problem, we should not be providing them with a drink. As for your identity, I cannot judge you. Keeping your identity private is your choice and your right, but not discussing this scandal at the parish level? That again appears to be keeping the blinders on. Members of our parish have a right to know where there money is going. As Treasurer, I have a personal responsibility to anyone who donated to all of those charities with faith, only to find out that the money went elsewhere. The past only highlights the need to be more open. Discussing our own parish project and problems is probably outside the scope of this forum, but it should still be discussed in our parish. If you want to look at the problem in the parish with the project, I believe that it goes back to a lack of leadership, which certainly includes me. One failure was our lack of consensus and in that regard; perhaps the same failure has occurred with the OCA leadership.
#188.8.131.52.4.2.1 Ken Kozak on 2007-06-24 17:50
It is astounding to read someone say that they have not seen hateful comments directed against the Metropolitan, former chancellor, etc.
We have read these persons referred to in messages as Hitler, heathens, crooks, fools, questioned as to whether all of our bishops believe in God and more.
Again there is no reason for the ugliness. No matter how upset our children become do we teach them it is ok to strike back in whatever way they feel emotionally. No, we teach them to express themselves with some restraint, reflection and the like.
We can disagree. We can have different ideas of what will alleviate problems, but we do not have to resort to name calling on this or any website, and it has been done.
It simply is not the way Christ taught.
#184.108.40.206 Very Rev. William DuBovik on 2007-06-20 11:41
I disagree with the editor's assessment, in part.
Given the fact that so many things were done so poorly in the past, an audit with exceptions is really a terrific step forward. Where is the audit is my only question!
Metropolitan Herman needs to disclose what they originally planned via the Honesdale monies, and what they have decided to disburse on balance on restricted funds. This is where Mark and I agree.
I hate to refer to +Herman because it is entirely misplaced. The Treasurer of the OCA should be disclosing this freely and willingly and gladfully and joyfully and any other words expressing glee. As un-Orthodox as it may seem to disclose givings, it now must happen, or givings will just drop off.
Provide the 2006 audits, provide 3 statement quarterly financial reports versus budget, deal with Fr. Kondratick, provide the report of the investigative committee, implement best practices, hire new people, and this ship will be in much better shape.
What a great scandal to have when we all want the same goal at the end!
#2 Daniel E. Fall on 2007-06-16 13:55
I can't help but think that Herman did another snow job on the MC by "giving in" to their positions while sitting there but will do nothing of any substance. The proof of this will be if he does not allow a full and complete investigation of the financial affairs of the Church.
Herman's pattern of "leadership" is well documented, "say yes to everyone then just go do what you intended to do." He has built his entire bishopric on this pattern. It is a pattern well scene since becoming the First Hierarch of the OCA.
If the MC holds true to form, the members will return from Syosset and quickly ignore what actions were taken. And Syosset will do little to assist them in any cohesive follow through.
We are in a sad state and Best Practices and audits and ethics committees will do little to solve issues as long as the fox is in the hen house. Herman has no credibility and with each passing day he only proves this point.
The clean sweep started with Wheeler's firing then Kondratick must be finished. Strikis, Kucynda, Herman is must complete the sweep. Only then can we begin to see the end of this era in our Church's history.
This site must keep the pressure on Herman and his Potemkin Village called the OCA central church administration to be removed.
The Holy Synod must also do its part. A call for a special session has been made. At least four bishops have signed on. The bishops know that Herman must go, they need two strong bishops to lead the rest and finish the job.
Good analysis of the meeting. Having been part of many of them, it is a new cast of characters but a body that is fundamentally flawed in its ability to enact its decisions. Only time will tell if they are really different. I think not.
#3 A Former Metropolitan Council Member on 2007-06-16 14:08
I truly believe that the members of the Metropolitan Council are doing all that they can do to correct the terrible failures of the administration of the OCA, and insure that they do not occur again. However, the continuing self-serving attitude of the Metropolitan remains a clear impediment to the healing that can only come with a full disclosure of all the facts pertaining to the current crisis.
I hope and pray that the Holy Synod will act with the same commitment to the healing of the OCA that the Metropolitan Council has demonstrated. If they do, I believe we may have turned the corner in restoring trust in the administration of the OCA. If they do not, then God have mercy!
#4 Marc Trolinger on 2007-06-16 17:06
It's like this see...every time there's a meeting we all get our hopes up, because they say good thing, and NOTHIG CHANGES! After the last meeting, we got our hopes up, and nothing changed. Now we have new policy and new comitees, and what? +Herman still says he's going to control everything because of "confidental things". Well, how is anything different?
I have advice for the Midwest (I am in the Midwest), so I hope they listen. Please withold our funds until these thigns are put iunto action, not just words! Wait until the investigation actually happens without +Herman interfering. Wait until an ethics comitee actually has teeth before we send funds. Wait unti lthere is ACTION, not just words!
#5 Eddie Kayeti on 2007-06-16 17:45
An audit with exceptions is a terrific step forward. For every comment that says nothing has happened, I will continue to disagree.
Set realistic, reasonable expectations and if those are unmet, I'll agree with you all day long.
(Editor's note: The article did not say nothing happened - it said little was resolved. )
#5.1 Daniel E. Fall on 2007-06-16 20:41
Give it a rest, already. Nothing's "happened": the audit, e.g., was incomplete, a symptom of the problem, not a step toward resolution. Moreover, you saying something has "happened" in response to someone who writes nothing's "changed" is (a) non responsive and (b) even if responsive, rather like saying that while, yes, the cancer patient still has cancer, we've managed to settle the cough he has from the common cold by admistering Nyquil, so everyone just settle down and stop wrining your hands.
Realistic and reasonable expectations---what?! Expecting a bishop (and other Christian, collared or not) to act other than Herman (et al) has is unreasonable? Guffaw!! It has now become apparent to anyone with eyes to see, ears to hear, and a modicum of common sense and skill at simple math to see where your implication is correct (albeit inadvertanly, it would seem): that is, it is wholly unrealistic to expect Herman and his ilk to act in a reasonable manner.
Understand this: the writing is on the wall; nothing has changed, regardless of whether something has "happened." And, that, good sir, is the linchpin of this entire diabolical mess. Period.
P. Rose Kommen
#5.1.1 P. Rose Kommen on 2007-06-17 22:01
"Realistic and reasonable expectations---what?! Expecting a bishop (and other Christian, collared or not) to act other than Herman (et al) has is unreasonable? Guffaw!! It has now become apparent to anyone with eyes to see, ears to hear, and a modicum of common sense and skill at simple math to see where your implication is correct (albeit inadvertanly, it would seem): that is, it is wholly unrealistic to expect Herman and his ilk to act in a reasonable manner.
Understand this: the writing is on the wall; nothing has changed, regardless of whether something has "happened." And, that, good sir, is the linchpin of this entire diabolical mess. Period."
Reasonable and realistic expectations P. Rose Kommen, let me explain what those would be...
For an administration whose Chancellor made unceasing cash withdrawals and did his accounting under the shredding method, reasonable and realistic expectations would be expecting audits to be done at at a minimum qualified with the exceptions we'd anticipate and efforts to eliminate the qualifications in future. This happened and its a change.
For that Chancellor, we'd expect him remove. This happened and its a change.
If we contrast the OCA to the Diocese of the Midwest, dare I say I cannot find an audited financial statement or any financial statement on the website for that Diocese, yet many of us look to Job to lead the OCA when it hasn't happened in his own diocese. Bishop Job has not asked for a repeal of the 1999 bylaw that basically sanctioned audit failures via discretionary accounts. So, on what I consider the two greatest failures of the central church, Metropolitan Herman is no different than Bishop Job. On the matter of restricted funds and outlays versus the Honesdale assertions, Bishop Job gets by because he didn't have a restricted fund snafu (that we know of).
Reasonable and realistic expectations are expectations that are attainable, that is asking the Synod to repeal its 1999 rulings or explain how audits can be successful within the context of that rule. This has not happened.
Reasonable and realistic expectations are for the Diocese of the Midwest and the OCA to report their full financial statements publicly. This has not happened.
Reasonable and realistic expectations are for the OCA to remove people that took part in the cover up, but we can't go down that road because the entire Synod would get credit for voting on the 1999 resolution. The entire council seated before July, 2005 would be in that group as well as Metropolitan Herman and Fr. Paul, etc. So, here, we must find our Christian faith and work to forgive. Forgiveness cannot be done with blindfolds, which is why the financial reporting, audits, and forthrightness is imperitive.
I won't give Metropolitan Herman a great grade because of the lack of reporting. I sent him a letter asking for public reporting or I would support the Palatine Resolution. The same should be asked of the Diocese of the Midwest, though, if this is the standard they intend to hold the central church to...
Next time, please try not to use my words and twist them out of context to offend.
#220.127.116.11 Daniel E. Fall on 2007-06-19 06:28
Didn't mean to offend, and surprised it did. I didn't twist anything, sir; rather, I disagreed, and with no small amount of surprise, to your stated position. Not to beat a dead horse (I'll leave this alone hereafter, since reasonable minds can disagree), but the surprise is still w/ me -- its (nearly) inconceivable to this reasonable mind that another could make claims which on their face indicate even the slightest residue of patience with these cassocked crooks and their cabal of corruption:
Yes, you're right, there were audits ... and they were incomplete and seemingly used as part of the shameless sham of the little man under the big mitre and his klobuked cronies -- thus, no meaningful (the adjective, it seems, is helpful) change;
Yes, you're right, the chancellor was removed, and rightly so, yet to no resolution; he's been made the fall guy, and the (oh so very apparent) purpose was to continue the sham -- thus, no meaningful change;
Re the actions you'd like to see (transparency, removal of malefactors), yet lament that they've not occurred, and which you note are reasonable and realistic, I don't disagree ... I simply note you've now underscored the point I tried to make -- there's been no meaningful change;
Re the Midwest and +Job, I've nothing to say on that, inasmuch as there's no racketeering in the Midwest of which I am aware (if there is, I'm sure there will be another informative website to bring our focus there), other than that such an observation is unresponsive and wholly irrelevant to the issue whether Syosett has duly moved to effect any meaningful change.
No offense, sir. But, if my pointed disagreement and explanations thereof do offend, I apologize.
'Nuf said (for me, anyway).
#18.104.22.168.1 Anonymous on 2007-06-19 14:19
Anyone know how many times and where the Metropolitan has served outside of his diocese this year?
#6 Anonymous on 2007-06-16 19:38
He's headed to Canada for their Archdiocesan Assembly in July, with his deacon and two subdeacons in tow, at Canada's expense.
#6.1 Anonymous Too on 2007-06-17 07:10
A half truth is a lie.
At the most recent MC Meeting Kucynda handed out a statement about
RSK living for free at the Martin Drive Property for FREE. I happen to know
that RSK paid for all of the living expenses while in residence there. It
appears to me that the acting treasurer is always on stage. We all know he has
a history of NOT telling the truth. It's time for this show to hit the road.
#7 Lester Sokolov on 2007-06-17 07:26
As I didn't see you at the meeting, I want to inform you that this did not happen. There were no such assertions, no such handouts.
Fr John M. Reeves
#7.1 Fr John M. Reeves on 2007-06-17 20:49
Thank you for this post!
#7.1.1 Daniel E. Fall on 2007-06-18 06:46
I want to add my thank you. Thank you, Fr. John, for stating the facts. You were there. Thank you for your service!
Enough of the spin from folks who weren't there!
And what about RSK taking a $20,000 + annual housing allowance for years from the church when the Martin Drive home was provided at no annual cost or rent from the church?
Did you forget about that one Lester?
#7.2 Michael Geeza on 2007-06-18 06:43
Did the church pay for everything, electric, phone, water heaters, sewer work, etc.???? I don't think so!
#7.2.1 Lester Sokolov on 2007-06-18 07:29
Getting $20,000 in addition to the housing allowance the answer would be yes!
#22.214.171.124 Anonymous on 2007-06-18 12:04
Are you for real Lester?
Am I supposed to feel sorry for someone who had to pay the electric & gas bill as well as water, sewer or trash removal monthly bills just like everyone else?
Even if RSK was hypothetically paying $1,000 per month for services relating to the home, he was still profiting by $19,000 + per month from the church's housing allowance, in addition to his hefty salary. The bottom line is why was there a housing allowance in the first place if his housing was already provided by the church??
Is that morally right Lester? I think NOT!!
#126.96.36.199 Michael Geeza on 2007-06-19 13:17
There's a trial going on in Chicago of an (in)famous Canadian named Conrad Black. Here's a comment on what the judge said to the jury (which could make it easier for the case to result in a conviction):
"By virtue of this instruction, if the jury finds that they had a duty and intentionally ignored their duty, and that resulted in depriving shareholders of their honest services, that could become a basis for returning a conviction," said Jacob Frenkel, a former federal prosecutor and former enforcement lawyer with the U.S. Securities Exchange Commission. (Quoted from an article by Mary Vallis in The National Post .)
The name of the instruction given by the judge to the jury? "The Ostrich Instruction". It has to do with an ostrich's behaviour of hiding its head in the sand--in this case with the very real possibility that Black and his cohorts "deliberately avoided knowledge about the alleged crimes" (same article).
Given the duties and responsibilities outlined in Wachter's very fine article here on ocanews.org, it appears that there is and has been more than one "ostrich" involved in all of this. "The shareholders"? Simply every charity that the funds were diverted from, and the donors of the funds (us).
Is the new 'whistleblower' clause in the revised Best Practices document retroactive? Given all that we know about this issue I suggest that it be made to be, with termination of employment/appointment as the consequence.
If this case were to end up in civil court, how many 'ostriches' would there be in jail? I only mention this because some of the main 'ostriches' need to understand how serious this whole mess is. No matter why they chose to deliberately look in the other direction (which to me = actively covering it up), the time has come for them to face the consequences of their actions.
#8 Feeling Wretched About This Whole Mess on 2007-06-17 07:45
The 'Barge," to further embellish the metaphor/simile, is really a "Ship of Fools!" Those trying to keep it afloat, absent a real overhaul, are even bigger fools. To think that an audit, with exceptions no less, can satisfy some is mind boggling to say the least.
PS: THE Capitan should also be made to walk the plank!
#9 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2007-06-17 10:50
Since we will never hear from +Kryill, "not to sound saracastic or insensetive" it would be GREAT to hear from Gregg Nescott, on who terminated him from the MC. It's apparent that Herman didn't do it. This could be one of those questions that depends on " what is-is? Gregg help us please?
Why would Kyrill have Herman call Nescott (as it says it went down in http://www.ocanews.org/news/BlackFriday.html) to tell him he was removed but talk to him himself (Kyrill) to tell Nescott that he was restated and that he saw no reason that he should not serve? That dog don't hunt.
You can't put it past the Metropolitan that he knew Kyrill couldn't reply and wasn't going to be able to and saw it as a good way to get himself out of this and never have it proven otherwise. The council started on the 12th and Kyrill was admitted to the hospital on the 10th.
#10.1 Anonymous on 2007-06-17 20:12
I applaud the Best Practice document, specially the DONOR BILL OF RIGHTS that gives me the "right to ask pertinent questions when making a donation and to receive prompt, truthful and forthright answers." It thereby implies that if I DON'T receive prompt, truthful and forthright answers to my pertinent questions, I have the right to WITHHOLD my donation(s)! BTW, who's gonna answer my pertinent questions? (My list is growing.) Would it be someone with a possible conflict of interest? And are entire parishes/ dioceses entitled to these same rights? Yep, it's a great policy that ensures my "full confidence in the administration of the Church and the work [I'm] asked to support."
#11 A Former Donor on 2007-06-17 17:49
This Church is becoming a joke in the world of Orthodoxy!!! Why don't we all just return to the Patriarchal Church? What good has autocephaly done? Seems to me only a certain few have benefited from it! I'd rather belong to the jurisdiction of our forefathers -- this "new" church's administration is hypocritcal and manipulative. Time to return to our "roots."
(Editor's Note: Our "roots" are the Gospel, not the Russian Orthodox Church. That some forgot this, and sought more to emulate the latter than the former, is the "root" of our problem. Personally, I prefer to belong the jurisdiction of our forefathers: of SS Herman and Tikhon, of Metropolitan Leonty, of Frs. Florovsky, Schmemann, Meyendorff; of laywomen like Sophie Koulomzin, and laymen like those delegates in 1924 and 1970 who voted for autonomy and autocephaly, men and women who courageously faced difficult issues rather than to seeking to avoid them, like cowards. We are not an "immature" Church, like some awkward adolsecent. We are the full inheritors of the power of a 2,000 year old tradition that reveals God; no more, no less, than any other local Orthodox Church. That we are poor witnesses of that fact at the moment means we have forgotten that fact, and must remember it; not that we would or could do better by comfortably settling back in forgetfulness and letting others do it for us.)
#12 Anonymous on 2007-06-18 05:23
Reflecting on this post and the editor's comments, I had a few thoughts that might be relevant in light of this crisis and the bigger picture of Orthodox Christianity in North America. Given the recent restoration of communion between ROCOR with their Patriarch, and the granting of self-rule to the Antiochian's a few years ago, perhaps we are being given a new opportunity to strengthen our mission and Orthodox Christian witness. The question will be whether we are humble enough to grasp this opportunity. Certainly the recent failures in stewardship and leadership have been a humbling experience for those who truly love the Church and take Her mission seriously.
In light of all this, I wonder how many of the faithful in the OCA would be willing to give up autocephaly to be a part of a far larger and more effective autonomous Orthodox Church. Perhaps the ongoing trials and tribulations of the OCA are an opportunity to really enhance our individual faith by drawing closer to our other Orthodox brothers and sisters to truly strengthen the Orthodox Christian witness in this land.
#12.1 Marc Trolinger on 2007-06-18 08:06
Thank you for that note, Mark! I couldn't agree with you more that going back to Moscow is a non-solution. Actually, its worse than that--a heretical reaffirmation of ethnic/national identity as the basis for Christian witness and Orthodox polity in the Americas. What a pathetic joke which St. Paul would not find funny.
The sinful fact that there is not, at this late date, One, United Orthodox Church in the Americas, or at least the English speaking part, is a disgrace that yet again can be laid primarily at the feet of the bishops, and the Patriarch of Constantinople in particular. They treasure their "precious" power, authority, and status--that unholy trinity of temptations offered to Christ in the desert-- and so eagerly embraced by them.
For the laity to "play into" this sham of Christian governance by seeing Orthodoxy in ethnic or nationalistic terms is disheartening and shameful. "In Christ there is neither Jew nor Gentile, slave nor free-born, male nor female!" Would that we would practice what we preach!
#12.2 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2007-06-18 08:06
Sorry, laddie, but my forefathers are from Scotland, not Russia. It's hard for me to understand how the Patriarch of Moscow is going to care more about his spiritual children in America than the Metropolitan of All-America is supposed to. We don't need a super-hierarch over us. This is America -- have we forgotten how to "throw the bums out?" Given the hierarchical nature of our Church, this is more difficult than it is in a citywide election, but we have the MC (weak as it seems to be), and we have the Holy Synod (disconnected from our day-to-day lives as it may be (maybe not, though)). We also have the collection plate. I submit that if we stop filling the latter, the other two will start to get the message. As I have said elsewhere, one can give to good Christian causes in other ways, if and until the OCA and our leadership jettison those responsible for this debacle. Remember, this debacle didn't just "happen" -- it was caused! With each act of cover-up and delay, it becomes more and more clear by whom ...
#12.3 C.C. on 2007-06-18 08:55
Editor, when this mess gets sorted out, we need you to remain an active part in the restoration of this jurisdiction . When we have disencumbered ourselves from the tentacles of corruption in this administration, it is with hope that we will not need this site because openness and trust will return to the administration.
That does not mean, however, that your job is over! We need people like you to not only guide us through this muck but to be there as one of the guides to where we need to go when the dust settles and we're in the midst of the rubble. We need people that will be at the forefront that know where we came from and where we need to go. The former is not tough but tying that in with the latter is where we need people who are we versed in both.
It is our expectation that your energy, concern, commitment, and most of all, leadership, will not blend into normality when we have returned to the path of a Church with an honorable administration and hierarchy.
#12.4 Publius on 2007-06-18 08:56
Well said, Publius,
Mark, you are doing an invaluable service to remain as an important check and balance within the "politics" of this all. I think many people will hope you continue this site indefinitely so that more of the entire story will always be told to us faithful.
Many questions and resolutions yet await us.
Has Bishop Job been able to call a special meeting of the Synod in July?
When will the faithful ever get to know the outcome of any of the reports?
How can at least two people, Herman and Kucynda not WANT to step down from their positions, given the mess that has ocurred under their watch? In a gesture of Christian humility, this would be refreshing.
#12.4.1 Patty Schellbach on 2007-06-19 09:49
#12.5 Fr. Dennis Buck on 2007-06-18 09:25
I agree with the editor's note, and I don't understand why there is this notion that we in the OCA are not a part of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. Perhaps "anonymous" meant that the OCA should voluntarily rescind (renounce?) its autocephaly and be administratively back under Moscow.
My forefathers are English and Swedish, so please don't assume that all in the OCA are Russian, Rusyn, Ruthenian, Slovak, Bulgarian, Romanian, etc. We are Orthodox Christians. Ethnicity is not mentioned in the Symbol of Faith, so I don't see how it applies to any possible solution to this one jurisdiction's problems.
The Body of Christ is not a joke. It does have sinners in it though. Hopefully all repentant ones.
#12.6 Rdr. Alexander Langley on 2007-06-18 11:47
Agree with Mark and all other commenters on this thread. I would like to bring up another concern.
It is clear that Russian Orthodoxy (and the Moscow Patriarchate--MP) and Russian national identity are very closely related. It has been so in the past: it was the Church that brought Russia out of the depths the nation had descended after two centuries of Tatar deprivations and it was the Church that saved the Soviet Union from being defeated by the Nazis. It remains so even today: the Russian Federation is intolerant of other Christian denominations and the MP has publicly proclaimed patriotism to be an essential character of Russian orthodox people.
All of this would not be a problem for Americans except for the following trends:
a. In the various countries that were part of the former Soviet empire, the demographic trends now show that within 50 years or so the population will be a fraction of what it is now, particularly among the current ethnic majority populations. Put plainly, the Slavic and Christian populations may greatly decline in numbers because of their inability to replace themselves (death rate greater than birth rate). Consequences: (1) They will become a minority in their own countries if they allow non-Christians (mainly Muslims) to fill out the workforce. (2) If they keep out non-natives and non-Christians, then their numbers may decline by as much as 50% and their countries will face dire economic and social consequences. In response, it would be historically normal for the Russian government to lash out against a real or imagined foreign enemy. It would also be historically normal for the MP to support the government.
The problem for Americans is that the movers and shakers in the Russian Federation have started to revive the Cold War enmity toward the United States. I do not believe that it would be wise for Americans to even consider joining the MP at this unsettled time. Of course, Americans have the right to switch their allegiance; I hope that they do so in the open and perhaps do the honorable thing and emigrate to Mother Russia or whatever their "motherland" is.
b. There are indications that the MP's biggest supporter and one of the primary players in the ROCOR/MP union is Mr. Putin. If anyone does not think that the MP is grateful to its greatest patron, please call me for a fantastic deal in resort properties in South Florida. There are also indications that Mr. Putin will be the major force in the Russian Federation for a long, long time. There is no question that he either created or supports the recent revival of Cold War-like tensions between the United States and his country. If anyone thinks that the MP will not rally in its usual patriotic fashion behind the Putin government, again please contact me (see above).
Problem for Americans? Same as above: Just be careful to consider all of the implications of joining the MP.
#12.7 Anonymous on 2007-06-18 20:18
This is a start, buit without the resignation of Herman this is simply a wolf in sheeps clothing.
#13 K.K. on 2007-06-18 07:46
What happened? I had read comments about actions like a "no-confidence" in +MH and so forth being prepared for this MC meeting. Frankly, it sounds like it was just polite, business as usual at a meeting chaired by a man who may be at the very center of the OCA's storm!
I don't know about the other readers of this site, but I for one am not interested in reading about yet another nice, polite meeting chaired by +MH, at which routine reports are read-out, highly qualified audits are presented as "progress," and so forth.
There is no real "progress" as long as +MH still chairs the meetings, with everyone else bowing-and-scraping, while various independent investigative reports which supposedly present "clear and compeling evidence" continue to languish in a locked file cabinet.
Our editor's report on what "happened" at this MC meeting isn't progress -- it is collapse. I have seen this many times before. When things go wrong, it is assumed that "a reorganization" needs to be done to prevent it all from happening again; new oversight must be added; new lines of authority. In many cases, it is not the organization that needs re-doing. Instead, it means that the people (often incompetent or corrupt) in the positions need to be replaced. It's not the deck-chairs that need shuffling, it's the people sitting in them that need removing! How does the "progress" portrayed in the report of this meeting bolster any action which the Synod may contemplate with respect to removing the Metropolitan?
And, once again, someone chiming-in, "Oh, if only we would go back under the protection of the Partiarch of Moscow, everything would be fine again! Oh, what are we doing here in America out here in the cold all alone?!" With that kind of thinking, the next logical step would be to place our nation back within the loving arms of the British Commonwealth, where the Queen could watch over us as well! A novel idea: Why don't we maintain our independence and our autocephalous church, and take what steps we need to -- all on our own, through our representatives and church leaders within the Synod -- to remove schemers and thieves from the midst of our Central Church Administration. I'll bet that even a third-grade homeroom class in most elementary schools in this country would remove the class president and the treasurer if they were caught stealing from the class kitty, maybe without even their teacher telling them to do it.
I was not there, and I don't know what transpired other than what I've read on this Website. But, it certainly doesn't look like progress to me. My parish may not be withholding, and my diocese may not be withholding -- but I am and I will continue to withhold. I can write my own checks to IOCC, OCMC, and the International Bible Society's Russian Bible fund. And I will continue to pray for strength and guidance, now and on the 25th of June.
And, again I ask the members of the MC: What happened?
#14 C.C. on 2007-06-18 08:39
I am encouraged to see that many others out there are not buying this “take” on the “progress” made at the recent MC meeting. It is embarrassing and excruciating to read that a Council member tried to put the “best face” possible on the whole affair by saying “The barge has not totally made the 180 degree turn it needs to make. On the other hand, it is not dead in the water. There is the predictable sputtering in the engine room, and a great deal of bilge still to be pumped out....."
You can turn this barge whichever way you choose—it is still going to sink unless it gets a new Captain. Please stop with the spin already—we are spun out! We need some people who can call the proverbial spade a spade and take the appropriate action. We don’t need one more analogy that is in essence designed to make us believe that things are improving—slowly but surely. Nonsense. The fox is still guarding the hen house. Write your bishops, people—and let them know that +Herman must go.
#14.1 Cathryn Tatusko on 2007-06-18 12:53
Some positive things were accomplished at the recent MC meeting. But the MC, Synod of Bishops and the Syosset administration are still very far from regaining the trust they have lost. (That will take many more years -perhaps three years.) If the Midwest Diocese does not start withholding funds from Syosset this month, its diocesan assembly will be derelict in its duties. If the assembly is derelict, the next step would be for individual churches to withhold funding from the diocese. It seems the MC, Synod of Bishops and Syosset only do as little as they need to keep pressure off their backs.
The members of the OCA can appreciate positive steps, but still demand changes needed to clean up this mess.
#15 Samuel L. Osman on 2007-06-18 12:37
While the information that has been presented on the OCA website is encouraging, there is still much that needs to be done.
A number of posts on this site have pointed out the more glaring inconsistencies and information spins and I would like to draw your attention to two of them because they are very telling (at least to me anyway).
One, there was a post several months ago on the OCA's web site seeking a part time person to administer their pension plan, and two there was a recent post about the OCA maybe seeking out a part-time person for the accountant/treasurer postion. Yes, the post also said that they nixed the idea, but still it's telling.
Someone in the administration obviously continues to think that the OCA can handle its financial affairs on a shoestring budget and with a few "part time staff." This line of thinking is astounding. The OCA is in the biggest financial mess of its entire life, it is paying thousands of dollars to lawyers and accountants to clean this mess up, and yet there is someone somewhere within Syosset/Oyster Cove thinking and suggesting that they should hire someone to work on a part time basis to help clean this mess up.
Please tell me that there was at least one person on the MC that called the person who made the suggestion of a part time treasurer/accountant an idiot and slapped them!
And to reiterate what some others have said, a qualified opinion on a certified public accountant's report is NOT the same thing as an unqualified report. An unqualified report basically means that every was accounted. It means that ALL of the books and records were accounted for properly. It doesn't mean that the company/organization is making money, but it is an assurance that the CPA that audited the financial records feels that they can be relied upon.
The OCA's report had a Qualified Opinion. This means that the CPA was not able to account for all of the items presented on the financial statements. I understand that the OCA is in a pickle over prior years' financial records but as I read the post on the OCA's website regarding the report, it certainly gave the impression that everything was okay, and frankly it's not.
It's nothing against anyone in the current OCA administration, but if this kind of thinking continues, the OCA is never going to find its way out of this mess. You can put lipstick/(best practices) on a pig, but at the end of the day, it's still a pig.
#16 Concerned in CA on 2007-06-18 17:01
Yes, we are all Orthodox Christians, but there is no way of getting around the fact - nor should there be - that the church in America was founded on/and by Russian Orthodoxy. So, we have to admit that our foundation in America is Russian Orthodox. That should be respected, not denegrated and shoved aside. We have lots of converts, but they have to understand that the foundation of the OCA is Russia.
#17 anonymous on 2007-06-18 19:56
Someone (you?) will have to explain to me why that is important. I'm not trying to be rude, in case it appears that way. Actually the senior priest's post (#18 here) about the Russian versus Serbian/Romanian model is helpful to me because I can see it's about strong vs. weak central administration.
However the fact is that for me, I have no way to appreciate the Russian origin of the OCA, other than the typicon and music used in our parishes. Perhaps cradle orthodox in the OCA or those old enough to remember their days in the Metropolia can understand, but I don't, and looking forward, I don't see why it is. Forgive me.
So, I ask respectfully, why must I understand the Russian origin of the OCA as relates to this scandal and how we will come out of it? How must other converts understand it? What will such understanding lend to the better future of the Orthodox Church in AMERICA? Is this a matter of knowing history so that we don't repeat it?
Help an enthusiastic convert out, but please don't assume that all of us Orthodox Christians have the same understanding about such things. And I do see them as secondary at best. Primary is the Faith.
Thanks in advance.
#17.1 Rdr. Alexander Langley on 2007-06-19 10:53
The foundation of the OCA is Christ, same as the foundation of the Russian Orthodox Church is Christ. Period. This is not about diminishing the great legacy of the Alaskan missionaries or St. Innocent of Moscow. This is about the Church in which there is no Jew nor Greek. Unfortunately, tribalism for 2,000 years is one of our most un-Christian legacies...
#17.2 Inga Leonova on 2007-06-19 11:02
Dear Sir/Madam/Fr: I happened to be at the banquet when Patriarch Aleksy was in Chicago in 1994 for the bicentennial of Orthodox in America. To paraphrase his remarks, "it's about time for a united American Orthodox Church." He received a very long standing ovation. Russia may be in our past, but it ain't in our future.
#17.3 Michael Strelka on 2007-06-19 12:46
I think you are doing a disservice to those who read this website by ascribing powers to the Metropolitan Council that simply have never existed.
The Metropolitan Council, although on paper, has certain responsibilities, in fact has never been anything more, at best, a passive advisory board to the central church administration. Members of the Metropolitan Council “elected” on the diocesan level, have no real connection to the rank and file faithful in a diocese. Again, at best, they interface with a diocesan council.
Historically reports and other information are shared with Metropolitan Council members, but the dissemination of that information is out of the control of the Metropolitan and the central church administration. For example, OCA budgets are “passed” the information given to the MC reps, but where it goes after that is, historically, no where.
The Metropolitan Council, or more realistically, the Metropolitan's Council, is a self-contained unit. It's members neither speak for their respective diocesan bishops or dioceses. They do not “represent” the diocese. That role is filled by each diocesan bishop when he meets, in council with his brother bishops as a member of the Holy Synod.
Indeed, nature abhors a vacuum and God knows that in the present reality of the OCA there is a Black Hole of a vacuum at the head – but this vacuum cannot be filled by a more “real” Metropolitan Council. It simply does not fit into the reality of the OCA as an autocephaous Church. One cannot deny that it is a poorly applied hold over from our Metropolia days when there were no sovereign dioceses. In the Metropolia, when there was only a central church administration, the Metropolitan Council did fill a cohesive role in uniting us. But that role since 1970 is reserved for the Holy Synod on the national church level.
Metropolitan Herman can add this committee or that committee at the insistance of the Metropolitan Council, but if you really don't believe that the MC matters, then so what if they want this or that? It is all well and good, and I bet it makes those MC members feel more "powerful" but such moves make no necessary application beyond 6850 North Hempstead Turnpike, Oyster Bay Cove, NY. And in the end, if the Metropolitan chooses to not take the advice of the Metropolitan Council, he does not have to. Of course the reality of this is most acutely felt when we have a nincompoop as a Primate, like we currently do, or just as bad, a group of people who advise him with a collective historical understanding of our Church and The Church that would expose them to failure on a basic seminary entrance exam.
When Archbishop Job recently lamented to his diocesan council that things in Syosset are worse now since Fr Kondratick was fired might have to do with Fr Kondratick being a stickler for the history of our Church. He was a constant reminder to our bishops of what they had already decided and what the Church had already committed herself to – which often was a source of pain to our bishops who did not like to be reminded of what they had already decided.
Today, however, Herman and Kucynda can make up their own history based on what best suits their needs. A case in point is the current spiritual court of Kondratick, an exercise in how NOT to run a spiritual court. The more cynical in our midst would say that Herman is trying to botch this court so badly that it will have to be thrown out on appeal, which is a real possibility. However Herman isn't smart enough to have thought that many steps in advance.
No, Mark, the Metropolitan Council is really an irrelevant body, especially when we all come to realize that the Office of the Metropolitan has very little to uniquely do as compared to the responsibilities of sovereign dioceses of the OCA. The Office of the Metropolitan is the face of the OCA to other sister Orthodox Churches and to non-Orthodox or non-Christian groups. He calls Holy Synod meetings and All-American Councils, and not much more. Even the “intervention” clause is only as it conforms to the sacred canons, which really means in cases of heresy.
If the barge that is the OCA begins to turn it will be a Church not on the Russian Imperial model of a strong central administration but rather a Serbian or Romanian model of a “weak” central office and strong dioceses. In that model, money becomes a moot issue because it won't need much, and to be frank, they won't be able to get into much trouble with what they do need. Also, in such a model, a Metropolitan's Council serves a proportional role.
#18 A Senior Priest of the OCA on 2007-06-18 21:30
"Thank you" for this revealing diatribe against lay authority and leadership in the OCA. It should serve as exhibit number one in explaining why Fr. Kondratick's reign, which, no doubt, you continue to pine for, was such a disaster for the ecclesiology of our Church. The MC and AAC need to reclaim their "paper" authority and reverse the clericalism that has grown and flourished under the previous regime and now the current one as well. As Senior Priest so eloquently says, it is only the incompetence of our "nincompoop" Metropolitan that distinguishes their respective positions on episcopal authority and the role of the laity.
That Senior Priest is some kind of clerical dinosaur is obvious. Unfortunately, his type is not unique or extinct.
#18.1 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2007-06-19 11:21
Contrary to your diatribe, I am only stating the objective fact of the matter. The Metropolitan Council has never served a useful purpose in the OCA. It is neither “fish nor fowl.” That is not to say that some other body could play some sort of role. I just think that 36 years of MC history should demonstrate to us that it is a failed hold over from a previous time in our history.
Also, please note that the Metropolitan Council and the All American Council are not lay led bodies. They are made up of clergy and laity of which all decisions at an AAC must be approved, not by the MC but by the Holy Synod.
Lay authority? What do you mean by this most revealing comment? That because you believe that we are suffering from clericalism that it should be replaced by congregationalism? Both are bad and neither is a cure for the other.
Authority (as in ultimate responsibility not power,) whether you like it or not, in a hierarchical church, rests with the bishop. That is borne out not by 36 years of history but by over 2000 years of history.
#18.1.1 A Senior Priest of the OCA aka Dinosaur according to Mr Tobin on 2007-06-19 13:57
Great posts by Senior Priest. The Metropolitan Council is a powerless, advisory body.
I'm not sure why anyone would boast much about Fr. K. at this point, given the things we've come to understand, so that part I can do without, but to the point, the Council is nearly worthless from my perspective.
The value they can take on is when audits fail, they can report it to the laity and to their Bishops. When things are done poorly, like no current annotation of Honesdale assertions via distributions, they could report that, too. When they know audits failed due to the 1999 resolution passed by the Synod, they can advise repeal.
The council really should have some power in the org chart. It would be an interesting experiment and a bold and courageous move by our hierarchs. A place to consider would be power over the Treasurer and the power to determine financial disclosure.
#188.8.131.52 Daniel E. Fall on 2007-06-20 06:30
Would you agree that a hierarch ignores the cries of his children and advice of his clergy at his own peril?
Ultimately, the laity may not have the authority internally, but we will vote with our feet. If our priests and bishops drive us away from Christ through their lack of love and respect for us, then as Our Lord said, it would be better for them to be cast into the sea with a millstone around their neck.
After all, isn't sin rejection of Christ and the Church? And isn't that what our hierarchs are doing through the disgusting activities of the past decade?
With due respect, the polity of the Orthodox Church is conciliar and does involve the laity. Otherwise, why are we not all Roman Catholic per the Council of Florence? The laity refused to allow the Bishops to enter their diocese. Obviously this was not an "official" role. It was a successful one, however.
The administrative authority of Bishops derives from the ownership of the property of the Churches by those bishops in earlier times. We no longer use that model (at least not in the United States).
It is time for the Bishops to delegate all their administrative authority to the laity, and focus on prayer and ministry of the Word, as did the Apostles. (Acts 6:1 ff)
Sdn. John Martin
Martin D. Watt, CPA (Inactive)
#184.108.40.206 Marty Watt on 2007-06-20 07:03
Dear Senior Priest (whoever and whatever you are?!),
I appreciate your response and find it more illuminating. As to several of your points let me comment as follows:
1. I am no more in favor of "congregationalism" than I am in some version of Orthodox Ultramontanism! What I do believe should be the model for church governance is conciliarism, not just among the bishops, but for lay and clerical relations as well. Of course, the "devil is in the detail," but I will leave that discussion for another time. In no way is this inconsistent with a hierarchical church, but affirms that it will be based on love and respect, not unbridled and unaccountable authority.
2. I, of course, am aware that the MC and AAC are composed of lay and clerical members. Perhaps to many clerical members in the case of the MC.
3. I have no expertise on the history of the MC, but take at face value your assertion that 36 years ago it was "a horse of a different color." God forbid that autocephaly was used to emasculate its role. As I have said before, it may be that ultimate authority resides with the Synod, but that should not make it unaccountable or contemptuous of the responsibilities given to other church bodies such as the MC and AAC.
4. As to accountability--the notion that we are operating under some version of the "Divine Right of Bishops" is anathema to me. When they act in accordance with their role as servants and shepherds their authority over us is legitimate and to be respected. While they may no longer be accountable to king or emperor, they have not ceased to be answerable in some degree to lay and secular authority--or have they?
5. My final point is merely a reassertion of what I said in my reflection some time ago. To appeal to 2000 years of church history is to beg the question of whether something is right or wrong. For the first 400 or so years of its history, the Church was run in a conciliar fashion. Since the Constantinian marriage of church and state it has been operated as a bureaucratic arm of the state with its bishops assuming more and more princely airs. We need a return to the governance of the Apostles and their most immediate successors.
#220.127.116.11 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2007-06-20 08:31
Please post this anonymously Mark as my Bishop is +Herman and our parish priest has not ONCE spoken about the goings on. My comment is:
"This is worse than Chinese water torture. There will ALWAYS be reasons of "confidentiality" to prevent any reports from being released. Unless +Herman steps down, no matter what his role in this whole mess, there will never be any trust regained in the OCA. I see absolutely no end in sight for the near future and beyond. How terribly disheartening. anonymous"
#19 Anonymous on 2007-06-19 09:19
Arguments for returning not returning to Moscow because we are Americans and not Russians are simply the flip side of the phyletism that led Greeks to appeal for Greek bishops, Romanians for Romanians, etc. The most important thing is to be Orthodox, and that means following the canons that require one bishop per city. (Incidentally, this undermines the OCA's ethnic dioceses that overlap its own territorial dioceses, too). There is no requirement that the Orthodox Church in North America be autocephalous or even autonomous, structurally. The Church should, however, be more clear on fighting the phyletism that leads to multiple jurisdictions and leads parishes to choose which ethnic groups they find to be more important than others. Each and every parish should be focused on serving all current and potential Orthodox Christians in any city they find themselves in. This is the mandatory unity that underlies the canon allowing only one Liturgy per altar per priest on a given day.
Our unwillingness as Orthodox Christian heirs to Sts Herman and Innocent to more forcefully speak the truth to power has actually led to the current crisis. We are so worried about maintaining our autocephaly and our 'canonical status' with the majority of Orthodox patriarchates that we have self-censored our witness and have been held ransom to those churches that do recognize us. We have also been keen to portray ourselves as having all of the trappings of an autocephalous Church: panagias and crosses of precious metals and jewels, bishops traveling in style, receptions at the finest hotels, hosting foreign bishops like kings, etc. We have forgotten that we are the spiritual children of the Aleuts with their simple and yet reverent churches. The monies that were diverted have likely gone to canonical protection money to Old World Patriarchates (who we can only assume used the money for the upbuilding of those decimated churches) and to maintaining our church in the manner to which she had become accustomed under the Tsar - and to which we thought we must reach to be truly 'respectable' as an autocephalous Church.
Perhaps we have an opportunity to openly discuss ways in which we promise certain percentages of support to the Mother Churches of Orthodox Christians in North America. Money is at the root of our jurisdictional chaos in North America, after all. Perhaps we can also openly discuss the need for each and every parish to serve each and every Orthodox Christian in their town, not choosing Greeks over Russians or Romanians over Americans or Americans over 'ethnics'. Perhaps we can stand up for Orthodoxy and trust that the Lord will bless us according to His will. The ends do not justify the means and the truth will out. Let us not compromise our ethics and witness by back room dealing.
ROCOR has attained their goal of reunifying the Russian Church by steadfastly maintaining their witness to the truth, regardless of the canonical ramifications (maintaining communion with only 2 local churches). Let us not seek to maintain the outward structures of an autocephalous Church by secretly repaying our ecclesiastical 'sponsors' and keeping our bishops and chancery living beyond the means of our Church to the detriment of our Mission; let us keep the spirit of Sts Herman and Innocent whether we remain autocephalous, autonomous or under any one of the other local Churches. Bringing all this to light will remove a prime motivator behind the scandal that has arisen. Good must not be done in secret, and will not be if it is good.
"The most important thing is to be Orthodox, and that means following the canons that require one bishop per city."
Unfortunately, you should address your message to SCOBA. Unfortunately again, SCOBA's last two meetings have produced statements which directly contradict your vision.
btw, Christopher, I find it somewhat amusing that you trot out $10 words like "phyletism" but you don't know the meaning of the word "decimate".
#20.1 Michael Strelka on 2007-06-20 14:14
That was unkind, Michael. Also not exactly accurate. The latter is a minor point, though; the former ... not so much.
#20.1.1 A Veteran Wordsmith on 2007-06-20 20:41
Dear Veteran Wordsmith: Perhaps I was a bit harsh; I apologize if I offended. Nevertheless, though the word decimate has taken on the common meaning of "to destroy a great number", it's proper meaning is "to select by lot and kill every tenth person of". I suppose you also approve the common usage of "transpire", which means, literally, "to sweat".
But I digress. I fail to see how, when ROCOR calls us "new calendarists" and Greeks and Serbs castigate us for having the temerity to use the vernacular (English) in our services, the OCA could be accused of phyletism. btw, while I found the word on orthodoxwiki, it can't be found in very many dictionaries.
#18.104.22.168 Michael Strelka on 2007-06-21 09:17
To clarify, I called on the OCA to more forcefully fight against phyletism in North American.
I also offered a warning to notes that were sneaking into this discussion. Episcopal jurisdiction is to be based on Orthodoxy and territory, not on ethnicity - whether Russian, Greek or American. Arguing that the Church in North America should be autocephalous because we aren't Russian or Greek is the same as Russians and Greeks arguing - the unsuccessful line taken by Bulgarians in 1800s Constantinople - to be under Moscow or Constantinople on the basis of their ethnicity on the territory of and in parallel with other bishops. The only difference is that Bulgarian phyletism did not allow non-Bulgarians to worship in Bulgarian churches, which is not the case here in North America, where phyletism has become slightly more subtle.
It is no wonder that phyletism is not to be found in the average English dictionary as it was a term coined in Turkey by a Council of Greek Orthodox bishops regarding a situation limited to Constantinople and Bulgaria - far from the the anglophone West.
I only speak this language, so I'm not responsible for authorizing what common definitions words may have 'improperly' taken on. I am also sometimes prone to use English words that don't generally appear in the paper. I apologize for any offense. Contact me off list if you would like to discuss this further.
I don't believe that there is such a thing as an American ethnic group. We now that there are many hyphenated ethnic groups and some have theorized that, if there is a typical American group, that would be consist of the White-Anglo-Saxon-Protestants.
As a naturalized citizen, I happen to think that the USA is in some ways unique in the history of mankind. One example may be the fact that, even after two centuries, it has not solidified as a traditional nation--its ethnic composition is constantly evolving and it is an amalgamation of ethnic cultural influences. Another example may be in the overarching influence of the American ideals in defining America--not its power,religion, history or culture. Finally, Americans are atypically optimistic about their and their offspring's future.
My point is that if anyone can be accused of phyletism, it would not be the American Orthodox, unless they happen to value their ethnicity more than their Orthodox identity. In light of the oft cited canons, you could consider the local branches of the "foreign" churches, such as the Russian and Greek Patriarchates, as the preeminent modern day examples of phyletism--that is, if the term really had a value when it was first coined.
#22.214.171.124.1.1 Carl on 2007-06-24 16:54
One need only travel abroad (or north of the border) to understand that America has an ethnicity. Its ethnicity is not as monolithic as is the case in other countries that are nation-states (e.g., Japan, Germany), and, just as in every country, this ethnicity has evolved over time (e.g., "French-ness" has changed over the past 200 years, and much of this has to do with immigration; "British-ness", too, has changed over the past centuries due to immigration from Ireland and Scotland, first, and then from the rest of the Empire.)
I am not posting the fact that the OCA (or, the Antiochian Archdiocese) is the only phyletist on the block, I am warning the OCA into falling into this heresy by ignoring the fact that we can push "American-ness" to the extremes of phyletism as well as any "Orthodox" ethnic group. The liturgical peculiarities of the OCA, St. Vladimir's, etc. is an example of this as are the ethnic jurisdictions of the OCA. Episcopacy based on ethnicity is a major component of phyletism (though it was also the original plan that St. Tikhon developed for America, so...) and this is different than ensuring protection for each ethic group's time-honored traditions - and this is also different than cultivating new differences to create greater division between Orthodox peoples and parishes.
This is all beside my original point, however, which was that each and every parish must see themselves each Liturgy as the fullness of the Church, and fullness requires that each parish then see its mission as serving all peoples, all nations. A given parish (or jurisdiction or local church) cannot choose to serve some better than others. Numbers will necessarily skew how this service is rendered, e.g., if the parish and community are all Russian or Greek or Mexican immigrants the services will necessarily reflect this difference in community.
Our parishes are not simply religious societies to serve the needs of that society's members. Our parishes are The Universal Church of Christ and must therefore speak to all people, otherwise we admit that we believe either that the Orthodox Church is simply one of many equally valid churches or that we do not love our neighbor enough to intelligibly share salvation with them when they walk in the door. We are not Quakers and so should not expect people to convert simply because they 'feel grace' in how the Liturgy is served - regardless of whether they understand what is going on. So, we must all seek to serve those in the Church already and those not in the Church, yet, by conforming our parishes according to what is needed for the salvation of all - and not according to what we want. If this means serving in Spanish, so be it; if this means serving in the way the rest of the Orthodox world does rather than according to Professor so-and-so, so be it; if this means requiring preparation for communion, regular fasting and a prayer rule for our people, so be it.
What is your point? That an American expression of Orthodoxy is suspect?
I couldn't agree with you more in deploring the multiple ethnic jurisdictions in North America that make Orthodoxy seem as a house divided against itself. It is long past time that the bishops set side petty status concerns and the laity abandon ethnic attachments that will be irrelevant in a generation or two.
Nor do I advocate a chauvinistic or jingoistic American Orthodoxy that fails to reflect that we are a universal church. I hardly think that is a current problem!
What we need is to build on our heritage from all of Orthodoxy in a new American context. Of course, we should, when possible, accommodate those using languages other than English. But the condescending notion, so popular in some Orthodox circles, that anything "American" is contaminated or unorthodox by definition is bunk--pure and simple. The same goes for those ridiculing anything Western or Protestant or even Roman Catholic!
"Feed my sheep," says our Lord. In much of North America they are starving.
#126.96.36.199.188.8.131.52 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2007-06-25 15:12
While I would agree with Mark there is some movement in the right direction, it is certainly needs further momentum. As such I hope the Diocese of the Midwest does what my Diocese (the South) has not considered, and that is to escrow all contributions to Syosett until the investigation is completed in full and independent of the current administration.
At the heart of this scandal resides the clear conflict of interest of having the Metropolitan investigate a situation that happened under his watch. In this situation, the honorable course of action would have been for the Metropolitan to recuse himself from the investigation. This he has not done, and in not so doing, he continues to damage the Church of which he is the titular head. While the Metropolitan sees the entire morass as a "complex spiritaul trauma" over which he does not have control, most of us see it very differently- a simple tale of deception and greed for which we ask accountability.
I trust the Metropolitan's Council and the Synod will provide the necessary leadership to make this a reality.
#21 David Paynter on 2007-06-19 16:45
Being a former naval medical officer during the Cold War, i'm quite familiar with the nautical terms of the "barge" and its typical "bilge". Your Reflection is quite interesting, at least to me, a member of the Orthodox laity, quietly observing this gigantic messy scandal that is unbelievable!! I fear that unless the scandal is promptly solved to everyones satisfaction, the OCA will eventually collapse because of the lack of all supports from the laity. At least we can hope for future guidance from the original ethnic religious counties of our fathers and mothers. God, please help us. Gabe Curtis, Crestwood, NY
#22 Gabe Curtis on 2007-07-01 21:30
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