Saturday, February 25. 2006
The calls for an investigation and audit widen. Will Syosset remain silent? Please remember to sign your posts unless you include a specific request for anonymity.
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Thanks be to God for the courage of the clergy to speak out, and to step outside the Diocese of the Midwest. It appears each Diocese is accounted for.
I believe the clergy is correct. In an earlier comment I stated that the laity is ready to forgive, but we do wish to see the abuse of power stopped and changes made.
My ferverent prayer is that the Episcopacy will step up and root out the evil, and institute meaningful change in the administration of the affairs of the OCA. If I can assist in any way, I stand ready to do so.
#1 Marty Watt on 2006-02-25 15:05
Dear Brothers and Sisters--
It is heartening to see so many "line" clergy step up and be leaders in this issue. To quote two sayings that I believe are germaine, and which I'm sure we've all heard:
"Sunshine is the best disinfectant."
"We're only as sick as our secrets." (a saying from AA).
I think that last Sunday's epistle reading (2/19/2006), 1 Corinthians 6: 12-20 is informative here. To extrapolate, we are all members of the body of Christ, which is the Church. Would we, then, have Christ be an embezzler? A fraud?
That said, as we approach Forgiveness Sunday, while demanding the truth, we must be equally ready to forgive, as we are forgiven. We must not neglect the logs in our own eyes as we approach the Great Fast.
Las Vegas, Nevada
#1.1 Gregory Grant on 2006-02-26 19:22
I have said before and I repeat "This is just the tip of the iceberg" if we don't get to the bottom of it the Orthodox Church will be dragged into deep problem.
Each bishop should be checked. This will show trust and good intention on the side of the bishops and the trust in them will be restored. If not so be it.
We the priests and the laymen should request that. A transperancy of everything will restore the Church financial trust otherwise we all will lose.
May God have mercy on us ! and May God guide us !
#2 Rev. Fr. remus Bleahu on 2006-02-26 11:28
Looking past Bishop Tikhon’s latest diversionary tactic, his words may expose a more fundamental ecclesiological shortcoming in the OCA. This problem was alluded to in an earlier post suggesting that Fr. Alexander Schmemann’s
work on autocephaly remains unfinished. It is also possible that this problem is endemic to all the Orthodox Christian jurisdictions in the United States.
Wrongdoings and their consequences aside, Bishop Tikhon’s view of the Orthodox Church in America is misshapen. He says that it is ". . . the Metropolitan Council & Metropolitan Herman, not the Holy Synod, who bear responsibility & liability for the financial scandal in the OCA.” He continues “...although EVERYTHING in the Church is spiritual, the human side of the Church, the LIABLE side of the Church (to, i.e., the state of New York), is, of course, the corporation and its trustees and officers." (emphasis in original)
He reveals a sacred-secular dichotomy in how the Holy Synod understands itself and he creates a firewall between the Holy Synod and the diaconal functions of Church administration. Further, he implies that the Holy Synod has no responsibility to oversee compliance with Internal Revenue Code (IRC) Section 501(c)(3) laws governing non-profit organizations.
Mission theology points to the Incarnation as our guide for sharing the Gospel in the lands within which we live. In all the writings on autocephaly, there seems to have been little discussion on how Orthodox ecclesiology should relate to IRC Section 501(c)(3). The opposite seems to have happened. The prevailing view seems to have been a disdain for such issues as mundane and “secular.” The powers that controlled the Church at the time (and now?) seem to have granted theological and philosophical permission to ignore these issues.
This accountability crisis may not have occurred if there had been healthy debate on this subject. The spirit of IRC 501 (c)(3) is not antithetical to Orthodox Christianity. Orthodox Christians through the ages have been called to incarnate the cultures within which they live. We are called to critique our surroundings for sure, but then embrace that which is true and then work to enhance that truth with the fullness of the Gospel. American non-profit laws on accountability are not inconsistent with Orthodox beliefs about the synergy between hierarchy and conciliarity. Mutual accountability among bishop, priest and laity is a basic tenant of Trinitarian theology. In fact, if one studies the genesis of American law one will find that the American Founding Fathers struggled mightily with these issues and generously cited prior Roman, Byzantine and European experiences in their debate.
An unhealthy and unworkable sacred-secular view of Orthodox Christian Church life exists in America. Bishop Tikhon expresses this skewed ecclesiology. American law and Orthodox theology are not at fundamental odds. St. Paul wrote, “All men have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23). The Federalist Papers reflect that “If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary.” Christian morality and American law have common ground.
Bishop Tikhon seems to be implying that the Holy Synod is not accountable for the diaconal functions of the Metropolitan Council. He seems to view the OCA’s IRC 501 (c)(3) charter obligations as somehow separate and distinct from the Holy Synod. His words betray a sad state of affairs and a broken ecclesiology.
Once the dust settles we will be left to pick up the pieces. Let us hope that the result is a healthy view of ourselves and our witness in America.
#3 Name Withheld By Request on 2006-02-26 11:42
In the Roman Catholic scandals that rocked their church, one element that seemed to enter the picture is to what extent a Church which has its own (canon) law to deal with problems is also answerable to the demands of civil or criminal law. Apparently, the Roman bishops in dealing with the sexual scandals were following Roman Church law in how to deal with such disciplinary problems among clergy. These bishops seemed to have felt that as long as they acted within their own church guidelines and laws, they didn't really have to be concerned with civil law. After all, in America there is an apparent and accepted separation of church and state, and they were dealing with internal clergy disciplinary problems, as they saw it. It was when the laity turned to the civil law for help that the Roman Church realized it also was answerable to criminal law in cases of sexual misconduct. The issue was not merely a matter of internal clergy discipline. In the U.S. people had legal rights and could seek redress under criminal and civil law.
Orthodoxy is I think just beginning to awaken to this same situation. Some within the Church seem to think that hierarchs are held accountable only under canon law. (And they interpret this to mean no one can really question the actions or decisions of a bishop in his diocese or the synod of bishops in the nation). Perhas in empires and nations under the influence of Byzantine notions of "symphony" this was true. But in the U.S. where there is no symphony between church and state, the members of the church, including hierarchs must answer not only to canon law, but can be held accountable under civil and criminal law as well.
One reality that may be put to the test in this current scandal is to what extent the OCA is held accountable not only according to the canons and its own statutes but to civil and criminal law as well. The OCA does not function in the world of Byzantine symphony. Hierarchs do have to answer to civil and criminal law in the U.S.
The Orthodox Church in America has the opportunity before it to be truly the first Orthodox Church in this country to shape its policies and polity to meet the standards of American civil and criminal code and yet to keep the canons of Orthodoxy. This is a bigger challenge than we might imagine. We are not a church with a monophysite ecclesiology - the Church doesn't have only a divine nature and so only answers to canon law. The Church as the Body of Christ is divine and human. We do have to live with that reality, which means we cannot ignore civil and criminal law, but must answer to the "human nature" of the church.
This means that some ways in which we viewed the church, under Byzantine notions of symphony, may no longer apply to the church. Hierarchs may still have authority within the community, but they may find themselves answering in ways not previously thought proper to the laity and to the priests through civil and criminal code. That is part of what it means to be the Orthodox Church in America. We do not answer merely to ancient canons, nor to Byzantine notions of symphony, now we live in a society which accepts some notion of a separation of church and state, in which the state can call the hierarchy to account in terms of finances, tax laws, sexual abuse, and how scandal is dealt with.
The Church will certainly be seen as schizophrenic if we don't acknowledge the reality of the world we live in and if we pretend that we don't have to answer to legal code or if we pretend that we still are in some other century or in some other country.
Our ability to be the true church depends on our ability to live in reality.
As a final note, in the current scandal, some want to argue that spiritually Christians should follow a monastic code and try to cover the sins of a fellow Christian. Such thinking might work well, if the sins are merely personal faults. But if one holds a position of public or church trust, then one is accountable to canon, civil and criminal law as well. Bishops according to St. Paul must be irreproachable and blameless. This means their lives must be under scrutiny by the church community because they hold an office of trust. It means their lives certainly will be under the scrutiny of non-believers who will want to test and see whether the Churuch's leadership are sincere or are hypocrites. Hierarchs and priests are not entitled in our society to live as they wish because no one is allowed to question them. Clergy and bishops have no right to believe they cannot be questioned by others, but rather must lead such lives that that there is nothing to question. And this means answering to those in the church as well as those outside of the church. The bishops' lives and example puts them in a position of constantly having their lives and actions reviewed by society, by the press, by the beleivers and by the skeptics. This too is part of being the incarnate Body of Christ, the Orthodox Church in America
Dear in Christ,
Everything that was published so far regarding the current church scandal is under the scrutiny of the American public, press and much more ... The priests and their parish members who posted materials on the Internet sites, or have read the news paper articles related to the current church scandal, are asking for answers to legitimate questions and the OCA high ranked and responsible people MUST RESPOND.
It is unfortunate that there are so many other wrongdoings "still covered up".... I am still waiting for an investigation of the case reported to the OCA hierarchs on June 23, 2005. Nothing was done so far. Intimidation YES.
The OCA people responsible for the current financial scandal (and I hope not only for this financial scandal), could be held liable for everything related to my (own) termination of employment and ministry, with my former parish belonging to a national group diocese.
Two years elapsed since I was "kicked out like a dog" (sorry of this expression used by one of the former priests of the diocese I was part of) without any "due canonical procedure and due process of the law".
I feel religious persecution because all the APPEALS and MEMORANDUMS sent to the former diocese and the OCA were ignored as of this time. I was convicted much worse than ANY AMERICAN CRIMINAL, and even by the "some" church people, who must answer to the present church scandal.
Consequently, on April 26, 2005, my attorney filed in court a civil lawsuit against those responsible for their action against me, my ministry, my family, my former parish, etc.
I am not the only one is such a situation, and I will give you the assurance that within the near future we will make news around the world. We will speak out about all the wrongdoings still covered up by the secretive church hierarchy. Do not be surprised about the outcome. The only one I fear is God.
The time to put in order the HOUSE OF GOD (THE OCA AND MY FORMER DIOCESE), to restore the rule of law in its place, for the sake of the Head of the Church WHO is Our Savior Jesus Christ, IS NEAR.
O God save YOUR people and bless YOUR inheritance, AMEN.
Fr Vasile Susan,
on February 28, 2006
#3.1.1 Anonymous on 2006-02-28 19:07
So what will it take to reach the hearts and minds of our Holy Synod,if not a respectful and loving plea from 70 senior clergy of the OCA?
When you talk to people in the Church, clergy and laity, who have read about the allegations of financial misconduct within the highest
levels of the Orthodox Church in America, most react in a similar fashion: "I don't know if these allegations are true or if they are false, but certainly the Holy Synod will properly investigate them!"
Today, people continue to scratch their heads in bewilderment, that no investigation of the allegations has occurred.
In 1999, when these grave allegations were first raised, no investigation was undertaken.
In October 2005, when Protodeacon Eric Wheeler quietly brought these grave allegations to the private attention of the Holy Synod, no investigation was undertaken.
In November 2005, when these grave allegations were communicated to the Metropolitan Council, and first became public on the (Orthodox) Forum, no investigation was undertaken.
Rather, the Metropolitan told the Church that audits for only 2004 and 2005 --- without noting whether these audits would cover all accounts of the central church --- and the January 1, 2006 adoption of Best Practices For Non-Profits would clean up any problems.
After news of the allegations began to spread around the country, and new allegations surfaced about the failure to account for
approximately $285,000 in 9/11 Appeal monies, the Lesser Synod met on January 20, yet no investigation was undertaken.
Days after that Lesser Synod meeting, a senior bishop of the OCA and shepherd of the Church's largest diocese eloquently wrote of the need for an investigation, of the fact that these grave allegations needed to be fairly answered. Yet no investigation was undertaken.
In the past month, new allegations have arisen, supported by new witnesses and evidence.
Nearly 60 clergy of the Diocese of the Midwest signed a letter, respectfully requesting an investigation. Some clergy and laity from around the country have spoken out, respectfully asking for an investigation. Some of these people have been silenced and intimidated. Yet no investigation has been undertaken.
Some major newspapers across the country have taken notice of this mess, and have begun to write about the Church's failure to
investigate. Yet no investigation has been undertaken.
Lifelong friends, parishes and priests have been drawn into the debate. In some parishes, annual meetings and parish council meetings are openly discussing this crisis, trying to offer
suggestions to solve it, and asking for an investigation.
In otherparishes, clergy have forbidden any discussion, and have suggested that those who even talk about the problems are crippling the Church. The very fabric of our Church is being torn apart by the escalating venom of the attacks. Yet no investigation has been undertaken.
People dedicated to the Church have written private letters to the Holy Synod, and others have privately spoken with our bishops, begging them to investigate these grave allegations. Yet no investigation has been undertaken.
Many, many good people have been praying for the swift and just resolution of this crisis. Yet no investigation has been undertaken.
And now enter 70 of the Church's most senior priests.
In a loving and respectful letter to the Holy Synod, these priests simply ask that a fair investigation be undertaken, including audits
of all accounts as deemed necessary. These wise leaders of the Church express their concern
that the Church is being deeply wounded by the ongoing crisis, and by the failure of our bishops to act decisively to resolve it. They
suggest that only a fair and unbiased commission, consisting of bishops and clergy and laity, can investigate this crisis, with a
public report to follow.
Look at the names of the 70: these names are among the most respected in our Church, drawn from all over America and Canada.
We all know these men. They have been our friends and our pastors and our teachers. They have been leaders of the Church on local, diocesan, and national levels. With at least 20 years as members of the clergy each, these 70 pastors have probably close to 2,000 years of collective experience and service to the Church. Can anyone doubt their sincerity, their collective judgement, or their pain at the developments of the past months?
The Holy Synod has now heard from these 70 senior clergy brothers. Will their plea reach the hearts and minds of the Holy Synod?
Will a fair and full investigation of these grave allegations be finally undertaken?
#4 Gregg Nescott on 2006-02-26 11:49
Thank you for a such a thoughtful summary of where things are at as of today. In my opinion, you really hit the nail on the head with this reflection.
#4.1 Fr Paul Gassios on 2006-02-26 12:35
Devil's disciples or saints? Bringing into the open the mishandling of finances is a courageous act. The church will stumble and atrophy unless steps are taken to set things right. The people who have exposed these misdeeds are to be commended not damned.
We should not perpetuate misappropriations and reckless spending by continuing to donate our hard earned money. We have a responsibility to see that our donations are used in the manner intended. How can we be cheerful givers if there is doubt and lack of trust? How can OCA expect support from the people unless the truth is known?
#4.1.1 Withheld upon request on 2006-03-01 14:05
It is without a doubt that the purpose of this website and the contributors,of which you are one, have one purpouse, to help destroy the church. You and your cohorts are not interested in truth but are vindictive about losing positions once held in the church.
If so much has transpired where were you when you were on the metropolitan council. Why didn't you take action then or were you so wrapped up in your self indulgence that you didn't care.
If the devil needed disciples he certainly has them in you, Mark and Eric.
#4.2 withheld on 2006-02-27 04:21
Why is it that the most venomous hate filled responses are from people claiming that the contributors of this website are the evil ones out to destroy the church?
Insults and personal attacks are the final efforts of a fearful cornered man. What are you afraid of? Why shouldn't_we investigate? If our "evil" is truly the only evil that has been done, then you should welcome an investigation to prove us wrong. Or at least give a logical argument instead of vicious attacks.
Come out from under the rock from which you hide in fear. God is good, and all will be well in the end. Be faithful and of good cheer, the Lord is doing His work. The OCA is like a baby in the womb, ready to be born. The more we struggle against it, the more pain it will cause for everyone...
#4.2.1 Christopher McCulloh on 2006-02-28 15:44
Would that the OCA were a baby about to be born. She is more like a child born with fetal alcohol syndrome, stunted for life and unable to live up to her potential. Whatever the OCA could have been and whatever the OCA should have been, that's not the OCA today nor the OCA of the future. The best that can be done is to remove her abusers and care for her for what days she has left.
#18.104.22.168 Jack Miller on 2006-03-01 07:39
While I understand your disappointment in the OCA failing to live up to its potential, don't count it out too soon. God can raise up old bones, keep an almost-empty cruet filled, and indeed, raise the dead. We are down, but with the faith that is being exhibited everyday throughout the OCA in the face of this mess, we are far from out. Not today, but perhaps in the near future, we can live up to your expectations.
#22.214.171.124.1 Editor on 2006-03-01 14:46
It is not a question of the Church living up to my expectations. I am fallen. Rather it is a question of whether the OCA is living up to Christ's expectations. I fear we, collectively, have not. Until genuine repentance is forthcoming from all levels, how can we?
And while we have become a bit exercised about the financial aspects, there is an eery silence about the issues of sexual immorality and blackmail.
May God have mercy on us all.
The allegations, all of them, each one of them, are they true or are they false?
#126.96.36.199.1.1 Jack Miller on 2006-03-03 21:47
What a bleak point of view.
I hope that I am right, but I fear that you are.
However, I do believe that even if the OCA goes away, God will keep his church alive and well in America. Even if it comes in another form.
But I do think that an expectation of failure never did anyone a bit of good, except to save their fragile feelings. We should hope for the best, so that we don't miss a chance to make the best come true. If we've given up on the best already, what's even the point?
If our church is a brain dead baby, why trust it with the guidance of our souls?
#188.8.131.52.2 Christopher McCulloh on 2006-03-01 20:39
I pray that you two guys do not use WHITE CANES!
#4.2.2 Steve Babish on 2006-03-04 17:16
I disagree. Confession and repentance do not destroy people - it is the first step towards healing them. So, too, with the Church. What will destroy the Church is to let misdeeds continue unchecked. We must not be afraid to do what we so loudly proclaim others need to do....
And for the record, as is evidenced in the documents section of this website, both Eric and I did try to stop this, Eric while in his position, and myself while on Metropolitan Council - as did many others. We were not successful at that time. Nor is this being done to "resume" former positions. I am far too old for the demands of youth ministry today!
#4.3 Editor on 2006-02-27 08:34
I think it important, particularly in the light of Bp. TIKHON's comments, that we understand the facts.
His Grace Bp. TIKHON is correct in one aspect. Ultimately, the Metropolitan Council is the body legally responsible for the administration of the Orthodox Church in America.
However, liability is not limited to that body.
To quote from the "Tax Guide for Churches and Religious Organizations", published by the Internal Revenue Service:
"Churches and religious organizations, like all exemptorganizations under IRC section 501(c)(3), are prohibitedfrom engaging in activities that result in inurement of
the church’s or organization’s income or assets to insiders(i.e., persons having a personal and private interest in theactivities of the organization). Insiders could include the
minister, church board members, officers, and in certaincircumstances, employees. Examples of prohibited inurementinclude the payment of dividends, the payment ofunreasonable compensation to insiders, and transferring
property to insiders for less than fair market value. Theprohibition against inurement to insiders is absolute; therefore, any amount of inurement is, potentially,grounds for loss of tax-exempt status. In addition, the insider involved may be subject to excise tax."
It should be noted that:
"Churches that meet the requirements of IRC section 501(c)(3) are automatically considered tax exempt and are not required to apply for and obtain recognition of tax-exempt status from the IRS."
While it is possible for the IRS to revoke the tax-exempt status of the OCA, to do so would require the IRS to rule the OCA is no longer a Church and extremely unlikely. In any event, as Churches are not required to register and obtain a ruling letter concerning their tax exempt status, the IRS is powerless to prevent the deductability of contributions.
However, individuals who recieve benefit from the contributions, such as are alleged in this instance, are in fact liable individually for the excise tax, and to return the excess to the organization.
If it is found that any individual, be they Metropolitan, Bishop, Chancellor, or other "insider", benefited from an excessive economic benefit, those individuals are liable for those transactions.
"Private benefit may occur even if the persons benefited are not insiders. Also, private benefit must be substantial in order to jeopardize tax-exempt status.
I think amounts equal to the annual operating budget would be substantial enough.
Unfortunately, because the Synod and the Metropolitan Council has failed to prevent such transactions, it may be too late. My best professional opinion (I'm a CPA) is that the IRS would not be interested in pursuing the loss of exemption for the Church, but would very much be interested in holding the individuals accountable under the current tax code.
Protodeacon Wheeler's allegations that documentation was not maintained or presented to support reimbursement for credit card bills is perhaps more serious than most people realize. Without such documentation, the individuals, and the Church, cannot support their assertion that the contributions were made without incurring private inurement or private benefit.
In fact, the whole concept of a "discretionary account" falls apart under this concept. While it may be ecclesiastically appropriate, it contravenes the tax codes of the United States.
I think we, as concerned laity and clergy, should be cautious in our expectations of the Synod meeting. Even if there is full agreement on the part of the Holy Synod in favor of reform and restitution, there will most likely be some very quiet discussions with legal counsel and government authorities to negotiate agreements on how to proceed. It is highly unlikely, in my view, that the Synod will come out with a Mea Culpa and immediate transparency.
Several years ago, this could have quietly gone away. The stakes are much higher now, and individuals could be facing massive liabilities, and (in my non-legal mind) possible criminal sanctions if the government can establish a pattern to defraud (which could place all insiders under the threat of RICO prosecution).
#5 Marty Watt on 2006-02-26 13:46
Could you comment on whether you think it prudent for members of both the Holy Synod and the Metropolitan Council for the years in question to inquire, immediately, as to the status of any errors and omissions insurance that the OCA may have maintained during that time. You would probably know better, but I would think that they should also check with their property and casualty insurers to determine whether any umbrella liability policies they may have maintained would give them cover.
A comment from you, or an actual insurance professional, would be great.
Thanks, Ed Unneland
#5.1 Ed Unneland on 2006-02-26 20:18
I would think verifying insurance coverage, and obtaining a copy of the policy, would be a prudent step. It should be noted that you can't insure against criminal proceedings, only civil. I'm not sure how government agencies acting civily (like the IRS) would be treated. I somehow think most insurance would not cover that issue. The errors and omissions policies that I've been familiar with in the past were designed to protect against stakeholder or public civil suits.
I obviously don't know specifics about the insurance policies. I do know if the council were deceived, their personal liability would be pretty limited, but if they somehow facilitated the deception, or ignored the question altogether, they would be at risk.
I would defer to the comments of an insurance professional, should that be presented!
#5.1.1 Marty Watt on 2006-02-27 08:40
The president of the Insurance Systems Agency, Michael Herzak, which insures the OCA, the Diocese of the Midewest, and many individual parishes, is a member of the Metropolitan Council and has been for many years.
#5.1.2 A former parishioner on 2006-02-27 15:01
Mark, I had a hard time finding the Washington Post article on your site. Now that this is making national news, I think it's time to fine-tune the site; you really need to have a link to the home page from the "serendipity" pages. Just a thought. Keep up the great work. Someday all this will be behind us, God willing sooner rather than later!
#6 Nick Dujmovic on 2006-02-26 19:39
Mark, I have no comments on this page, but rather a comment or rather a question referring to your comments dated 2/24/06 in which you refer to Metropolitan Theodosius and quote him. You state that the quote came from " At that time". I don't what is meant by "At that time". Do you mean in the year 2000? It is a bit confusing in your writeup. It would be good to know when and in what context that Metropolitan Theodosius made the remark.What was going on when this remark was made?
#7 Peter Melnik on 2006-02-26 21:50
I apologize for the lack of clarity. That quote is from the Spring 2000 address of the Metropolitan to the Metropolitan Council, and is available in full in our Documents section.
#7.1 Editor on 2006-02-27 08:38
I have to applaude those priests and bishops that have decided to stand and be counted and demand that the OCA have accountability. It does not surprize me that with power and money comes the ability to misuse the same. What's that old saying .... "Absolute power corrupts absolutely."
#8 Bonnie Ridley MacArthur on 2006-02-26 22:33
It is disheartening to read the commentary on this site as it seems the responses loose sight of the teachings of Our Lord Jesus Christ. All that the editors of the site, the clergy of the Mid-west diocese, and the senior clergy are asking is for the issues be addressed with Christian honesty. Yet all that seems to come in return are statements of privilege, prerogative, and support of mammon as these are well expounded in the messages from the West. Having served twenty six year with the U. S. military, it seems the hierarchies of the warriors exercise greater humanity and “Christianity” than the hierarchy of our community.
Christ’s teachings on Mammon are clear. And any traces of support of Mammon should be quickly destroyed if we are to witness Christ as our ancestors have.
So, the decision is before us: Will it be Christ or will it be Mammon!
#9 William Kosar on 2006-02-27 06:47
Mark Warns, from Poulsbo, WA, sets the stage quite eloquently for the Holy Synod to finally, decisively, courageously, and with boldness, conduct the financial Commission and finally lead in financial responsibility to ensure the OCA's "long election." into acceptance of a major jurisdiction in America.
Several people on this web site have sought: "Given that, we should expect that Orthodox Hierarchs from other jurisdictions are asking themselves this: if the Orthodox Church in America cannot be trusted with the management of the money of its own flock, how much less should it be trusted with the very souls of our flocks? By our deeds we will give them our answer this week."
Many faithful have pointed to our Great Lent and the love and forgiveness that await those who have missed the mark thus far, particularly the gross mismanagement of money that seems more than obvious with the documented postings. The Prodigal Son stands as one of the Orthodox Church's great Gospel readings before Lent. Both the brother who repented and the brother who did right were loved by God. If ever there was a time to the call of a deeper spirituality, let alone a deeper call to civil obedience, the stage is set for a full flowering of catalytic change.
The Holy Synod's answer this week should be yes.
#10 Patty Schellbach on 2006-02-27 20:09
It will be interesting to see what in fact the Holy Synod does do. If an investigatory commission is appointed, whom will it appoint? Will some be the same old cronies from the Administrative Committee? If anyone of them is, smell "Cover up!"
#10.1 Jack Miller on 2006-02-28 08:31
I don't see it happening, a deeper spirituality that is... The leadership of the church have been so entrenced in deception that can no longer find the truth. This includes many of the juridictions in this country. There have been similiar scandals of varying degrees in the other "SCOBA" churches, but they just remain quiet or will pass over just like this one will.
Priests, clergy, and laity alike have been treated in abusive ways, silenced by power, and exiled into spiritual wastelands. I know many priests who have dedicated years to the church only to be tossed out without any support, forgotten, and blamed for things they had nothing to do with. It is about power and who yields it! Wake up OCA, this has been going for years. Have you not seen over the years how many of your clergy have been deposed, taken leaves of absence, etc?????
As evidence of that, look at the spiritual fruits of the Orthodox church in this country.... very few schools, greatly exaggerated memberships, no hospitals, no great journals, just an inward looking church usually praising itself as the true church.
Do not be afraid to ask for accountability laity and clergy alike. You are the church in spite of bishops who known little of being shepherds in the image of Christ.
By the way. Bishop Tikhon has sunk to a new level of attack. When the message is true and you can't handle the heat, blame others, better yet, call them heretics!
#11 Fr. M (priest from another jurisdiction) on 2006-02-28 05:50
Hope springs eternal, but what can be realistically expected from this meeting tomorrow? This abusive situation is not unlike an alcoholic and his enabling family. My father-in-law is an alcoholic who has been dry for fifteen years only after a family intervention spurred by several frightful incidents where he almost harmed his grandchildren in druken stupors. Up until that point we had enabled his destructive behavior by trying to stay out of his way. Fr. M. states some pretty raw, sad facts. What should be important does not seem to matter to the current leadership, evidenced by the lack of spiritual fruit. That being the case, can we expect right things to be done at this 11th hour, especially when one considers the advice being received from Richard Rock and Bishop Tikhon? We Christians are chronically naive when it comes to expecting the best in people, especially from those in leadership. If Fr. M. is right, then we are expecting too much in hoping against hope that the current leadership will do anything in this crisis except run for cover. I hope this assessment is wrong. However, if it is not, then the OCA must create new mechanisms of accountability where they have not previously existed. This will be uncharted waters for a community so steeped in Tradition. However, in that Tradition is faith in God's Holy Spirit who guides the past, the present and the future "...he will guide you into all truth...he will tell you what is yet to come." (John 16:13)
#11.1 Name Withheld By Request on 2006-02-28 18:04
I have ZERO confidence that anything meaningful will actually come out of the meeting on 3/1. I seriously doubt that any resolution that gets passed will include any kind of independent audits by a professional CPA firm that covers the 1995 through 2003 years in question.
It's just a matter of time before the Feds get involved. The FBI to look into mail fraud and blackmail, U. S. Customs to investigate the large amounts of cash in/out of the USA, and of course, the Criminal Investigation Division of the Internal Revenue Service. When these Special Agents get a case, it doesn't matter who the alleged target is, where they live, their occupation, or whether they wear a collar or not. Their job is to trace every dollar in and out of the alledged subjects financial activity. They are relentless and don't give up until every bank statement, every cancelled check and every invoice along with cash expenditures are traced and accounted for. Everyone is interviewed; subjects, friends, business associates, spouses, girlfriends and boyfriends. Good luck to the boys in Syosset.
#13 Mike Polewan on 2006-03-04 15:57
Does anyone have any information about any statements made by the ADM foundation regarding this? I would think that if there were any actionable offence, the foundation would have something in motion?
Do we know exactly what they money was donated for beyond a doubt?
#14 Paula Brkich on 2006-03-20 12:54
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