Thursday, March 16. 2006
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While I am encouraged and applaud the actions taken by our leadership in today's Administrative Committee meeting, it is bittersweet, no sad, that it has taken such enormous outside pressure to make even this first major step happen.
#1 Steve Romanchak on 2006-03-16 18:04
These latest developments are long overdue but a good and necessary step in the right direction. I have feared (and I’m afraid still fear to some extent) that nothing real and substantive will be done to restore the credibility & trust that has been lost in the eyes of our people. I pray that my fear will not be realized. I pray that honesty and truth will triumph. I pray that love and reconciliation will follow but I’m reminded that there can be no reconciliation without first, honesty and repentance.
#2 Andrew Lukashonak on 2006-03-16 18:30
This can be a positive step, but perhaps the reference of the matter to the New York AG's Charities Bureau should be continued. Rational steps to keep the pressure on should be maintained, but with passionlessness. Let us stop the reference to personalities.
Sticking to simple fact, we now have an investigation. One problem is the phrase, "he has retained ... Proskauer Rose LLP." The difficulty is whether any personal legal difficulty that His Beatitude might be in would then be covered by attorney-client privilege. (Perhaps Gregg Nescott and Melanie Sakoda could comment on this matter.) In other words, is the OCA retaining Proskauer Rose, or is it His Beatitude? The OCA Statute does provide that the Metropolitan "represents (the church) in its relations with ... secular authorities," so perhaps this is what is meant; however, some clarity as to who the client is would be good.
Another question relates to the phrase "internal investigation." I wonder what this means with respect to the results of the investigation; does this mean that the results will not be disclosed?
This is a good start, but the old Russian saying of "Trust but verify" might be applicable.
#3 Ed Unneland on 2006-03-16 18:32
Actually, the "trust but verify" phrase was actually coined by Ronald Regan and is not a "old russian proverb"
#3.1 istvan meszaros on 2006-03-20 10:48
Actually, it is an old Russian proverb as well. "Doveryay no proveryay."
#3.1.1 John on 2006-03-21 14:41
I was chagrined when Metropolitan Herman retained Fr. Bob at his election. Metropolitan Theodosius' retirement would have been a natural time to have changed administrations and usher in fresh faces and ideas. Instead, we have had to chip away at a block of ice. Finally some action.
Now we have a new player in this drama, the law firm of Proskauer Rose LLP. What will be telling in the coming days is to see which Proskauer partners will be involved, their skill sets, and the scope of their engagement.
The scope of this Proskauer engagement is critical. It is also critical to know which OCA legal entity they will actually represent and how they will disclose and resolve inevitable conflicts of interest that arise as they press the audit. Another critical issue is to create a solid, competent oversight of the audit made up of a representative cross-section of OCA constituencies; organized in such a way as to instill confidence in this process. I commend the Metropolitan for finally taking a step toward resolution, but I have no confidence that anyone on the Holy Synod or in the current administration will be able to provide adequate oversight of the Proskauer activity. For those of us who have been through audits, we know that with a little guidance auditors can take 20 minutes on a subject, and without that guidance it takes them 20 hours. They will need lots of help navigating these waters in a way that does not bankrupt us with excessive fees.
#4 Name Withheld by Request on 2006-03-16 18:51
OK. Once more: The allegations, are they true or are they false?
If this question is not answered then Fr Kondratick's firing will only make him the fall guy, nothing more.
#5 Jack on 2006-03-16 18:57
O give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, for His mercy endures forever!
#6 Jim Shepherd on 2006-03-16 19:08
I pray that we will not perceive this as a major step forward. It is not. There is little movement on the financial problems. Will the Law firm that has been retained by the Met. make a report that is public or for Admin. Committee eyes only? Still no audit going back to 1995-96? Only an examination for 2001-2005? The Admin Committee members are not independent thinkers and are there by the appointment of the Met and are answerable to him alone. This is still way to internalized and still prone to coverup and continuation of the status quo.
The big question is will Fr. Bob and His lawyer sing to the IRS about all they know or will Fr. Bob keep his confidences? I will Pray for Fr. Bob's soul and for a healing of the hurt that may have been given to his family and the rest of the Church by any involvement He had in this mess. I hardly believe he is alone. Nothing has really changed from Met. Herman's previous positions. A scape goat has been offered but that is not a solution. Transparency going forward and full disclosure and accountability going back to 1995. Then maybe true repentance.
#7 Name Withheld by request on 2006-03-16 19:51
How it saddens me to read these posts - the anger, the frustration, the vindictiveness. Is this the way Christians should behave? I only vaguely know Fr. Robert having served with him a few times at the altar. I am not speaking on his behalf and neither do I speak against him.
I came into the OCA in the '70s when it still had all the trappings of the Russian Metropolia, and have watched it grow into a major Orthodox jusrisdiction. Undeniably, the team that has governed the church in Syosset brought the OCA into the 21st century - of course, Fr. Alexander Schmemann and a few others were part of the process.
At this time, there are only allegations of financial impropriety - nothing has been proven. In America, a man is innocent until proven guilty. The legal process will unfold and will reveal complicity and guilt - or innocence. The axe will then fall where it may. Meanwhile, lynch mob justice must not be allowed to become part of the process.
We are, after all, Christians - Orthodox Christians. Let us pray for the integrity of our Orthodox Church in America, that the Lord God will bring us His peace, that love will prevail, that justice will be wisely meted out.
O Lord save Thy people!
Protodeacon Alexis Bona
#7.1 Protodeacon Alexis Bona on 2006-03-20 03:59
Will the law firm retained by the OCA turn over any criminal evidence to Federal/State governments when/if it is found?
#8 Name Withheld by request on 2006-03-16 19:52
Perhaps with Fr. Bob Kondratick's release, he may want to start implicating others so that the entire house of cards collapses.
But perhaps this could be messy business for him and get him into more trouble.
I don't know if he will turn on someone else or others in this big mess.
#9 Patty Schellbach on 2006-03-16 20:13
It appears this is only the start of cleaning up this mess. I agree with all of the above comments! However this matter should be investigated from the initial grant from ADM. This is a good start.
Do you know his character? Why would you imply that he would implicate others? That sounds like libel to me.
#9.2 Olympiada Kane on 2006-03-17 10:15
Now that Fr. Bob has been "let go," let us hope and pray that his replacement is NOT a priest. Chancellors (many of whom have way too much power for their own good), treasurers, secretaries, and other business-related personnel in the OCA (or any other religious organization) administration should have administrative personnel that are trained business people. Centuries ago the only educated people were the clergy. However, this is far from the case today, as there are numerous well-qualified Orthodox lay people that can effecitively and efficiently run the Central Administration.
Putting clergy in administrative roles in the Church's Central Administration is like throwing lambs to the wolves. The temptations to err can be just too great (the Devil works very hard in the Church). In addition, few clergy have the administrative and financial expertise required in this day and age. And even if they do, what did they go to seminary for? There is a shortage of priests as it is; so keep the priests in the parishes and let trustworthy, Orthodox administrative and financial professionals run the OCA Central Administration. Then we'll all be better off.
#10 Matushka Pearl Homiak on 2006-03-16 22:30
Kudos Matushka... You are so right.. But perhaps this is only the begining for all of us to understand that we need people in this day and age that are not only in the Church but of the Church. All of this may be a blessing in disguise. We now know who the wolf is. We asked and asked "is it true or is it false."
Thanks to Bishop Job we may have the asnwer.
#10.1 Diane Gloumakoff on 2006-03-17 20:13
My Dear Matushka: I could not agree with you more. While I am deeply saddened by the events and the scandal I am ever reminded that this is NOT my faith or my religion. These events are the result of actions of men, the people charged with the "business" management of the Church. Orthodox Christians of faith everywhere need to remember their faith and pray fervently for all those involved. After all, are all Catholic priest child molesters? Is the entire Roman Church evil because some of its clergy behave sinfully? Are all of those who believed in Tammy Fay and Jimmy Baker bad? Money and the love of money corrupt. The devil certainly is hard at work everywhere.
#10.2 Nancy Tusinac on 2006-03-20 09:05
" . . . not that he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief, and had the money box; and he used to take what was put in it." John 12:6
#10.2.1 Nicholas Dujmovic on 2006-03-21 20:26
I hope the NY AG doesn't get involved. I am appalled by the state being asked to investigate the Church. I think we can handle this internally. The letters from all of the priests to the Holy Synod, the phone calls to bishops from parishoners, and especially the prayers to the Theotokos and to her Son our Lord Who's church we are is all that is needed. Do we think that St. Tikhon and St. Herman have abandonded us? Is this why members of our church are appealing to help from Caesar? We are Orthodox Christians. We do not fight Satan by the power of the state. Our power is the blood of Christ and his Resurrection. Asking the state to be involved in this is as shameful as the actions in Syosset.
#11 Matthew on 2006-03-16 23:46
Was blessed St. Paul shameful in his appeal to Caesar? Of course not. We learn from the blessed Apostle himself that God works His Will even through Caesar. There is with God no separation of Church and State - for our God is "everywhere and fills all things."
"There is no authority except that which is established by God. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against what God has instituted and those who do so will bring judgement on themselves." (Rom 13:1ff)
God uses one authority to check the other so that the Church reminds Caesar of His limitations (that He is not God) and the State can remind the Church and her leaders that She is not without authority and not herself above the Law.
If the Blood of Christ was not enough to bring these wrongdoings into the LIGHT since 1996 and towards repentance, then we pray that God who desires our salvation might through Caesar accomplish these things.
Many a man has come to true repentance in a jail cell and this is of God also. So to answer your question God fights Satan by the power of His Mysteries in the Church and in the State. As Orthodox we do not play one off the other but recognize that God works in and through both.
Sts Tikhon and Herman will pray for our salvation to God who works that salvation through his Church and even through the AG of New York. The AG of New York is called "God's servant" (Rom.13:6).
#11.1 Fr. Andrew on 2006-03-17 10:18
While personally I do not agree with the calls to involve the state in the "issues" before us, the initial call, by His Eminence, Archbishop JOB, was a simple question: Are the allegations true, or false.
There has been ample opportunity to resolve the issue internally. Sadly, until yesterday, Syosset was unwilling/unable to cooperate with us in the spirit to which you refer.
#11.2 Marty Watt on 2006-03-17 13:59
Since embezellment of a nonprofit's funds is a crime, the Feds and state DOJ should have looked into this a long time ago. The government doesn't like to get involved in church scandals, however. These irregularities were first discovered 13 years ago and few of our leaders had the backbone to do anything about it. People who ignore or cover up crimes are just as bad as the perps.
May the Lord have mercy on us all.
#11.3 Nancy W. on 2006-03-21 11:41
It might be he's the most expendable for damage control ... truth is probably that the environment was conducive and created the opportunity and momentum for whatever happened and there may be some good people who fell or been fallen in the moments ...
Looting and pillaging in New Orleans had bad press, but those old ladies and young people stealing diapers were in the momentum of the event. What Fr Kondratick's role in all that can't be judged now. I doubt if the first to go is ever the real man behind the curtain. The dogs are barking, those inside scream in fear, throw something out to quiet them. Here ... this.
And out goes Fr Kondratick. Did matushka also get canned? And what about what is owed to him?
#12 P. L. Henderson on 2006-03-17 05:42
All my instincts scream SCAPEGOAT!! It will be very interesting to see where the investigation takes us. With the way things are set up administratively, the man in the white hat (The Metropolitan) knows and sees all, I cant wait to see where he fits into all of this, because there is no way he doesn't have involvement!!!!!
#13 Walter K. on 2006-03-17 06:54
You all have asked for some resloution to this mess for months, and now that Met. Herman has started the process let him finish it! You all need to sit back and be patient!
Let the hired accountants and lawyers do what they are getting paid for. They will tell the Met. if the OCA needs to go back beyond 2004 and 2005, and if we have to the Met. will do whatever it takes to get the church back on track!
Stop and ask what can we do to support our Met. and our Holy church.
Continue to pray for our Holy church and all it's people!
#14 Name Withheld by request on 3/17/06 on 2006-03-17 09:45
Hmm..... So does this mean Fr. Bob's wife, who sits on pension committee, remain in her role as well?
And what about Fr. Bob? What does "released" mean? He hasn't been defrocked. Is he simply cast aside like an old milk container? Will he be reassigned to a parish? Believe me, I'm not a tremendous fan of his but if the Metropolitan isn't absolutely sure of any criminal wrongdoing there is probably another lawsuit in the making.
May we all strive to have some level of love and compassion.
#15 Anonymous on 2006-03-17 10:31
This effort is not a witch hunt, and doesn't end with the dismissal/release of the Chancellor. We have to reform the practices, as well as the personnel, within the central administration of the Church.
As for the legal maneuvering, that is very much normal in these situations. We, as well as the administration, desire the attorney-client privelege for the investigation. By doing this, the Church can self-report to all concerned governmental bodies, and minimize the legal impact. If the IRS were to discover information leading to revocation of tax-exempt status (highly unlikely, in my view, but possible), many of us would be filing amended tax returns for several years, along with substantial tax payments!
I've been personally involved in three large corporate compliance programs and internal investigations, and all were done under the umbrella of attorney/client privelege. Chances are, like other organizations, the Department of Justice and IRS can accept what are known as "Corporate Integrity Agreements" from the Church. Such a document will outline the steps the Church will take to resolve the issues.
Think of the Washington DC United Way scandals of a few years ago. They were very similar in nature to these allegations. It takes a very long time, and very skillful leadership, but organizations can turn around.
The most interesting part of the release to me is that the Metropolitan has basically given the attorneys carte blanche to investigate everything. If the attorneys decide to investigate the ADM/Andreas Foundation donations, they can.
The announcement is an absolute step forward, and should be welcomed. Now we must finish the race.
Martin D. Watt, CPA
#16 Marty Watt on 2006-03-17 11:53
Let me guess, Metropolitan Herman knew nothing??? If he knew nothing about what was going on with the business of the church, than what was he doing???
#17 Natasha on 2006-03-17 13:41
I have to agree with you!!!!!
#17.1 Lisa on 2006-03-17 15:41
When are you going to get it, Natasha? The Chancellor had absolute control of the church under the previous primatal rule for 17+ years. Apparently, he thought he still had that same control under the new administration. Obviously, things just didn't work out that way, did they?
I ask you, isn't it possible that since the Chancellor had absolute power and control for so long, Metropolitan Herman wasn't told certain things and subsequently was kept in the dark for so long?
I for one, applaud our Metropolitan for having the courage to investigate, for acting upon certain actions and for regaining what the OCA has needed since our autocephaly was granted in 1970. . . . .a primate who will act like the primate with all authority to act on behalf of the church without the required approval of every other bishop, priest, deacon or layman.
This event will go down in history as a wonderful turning point
in the life of our church.
May God bless His Beatitude Herman, Archbishop of Washington and New York, METROPOLITAN OF ALL AMERICA AND CANADA!!!
#17.2 Michael Geeza on 2006-03-18 13:10
+Herman was appointed temporary treasurer after Eric Wheeler's attempted whistleblowing in 1999. How could he still remain in the dark?
I don't think the evidence exists to condemn
+Herman, but there certainly is no reason to applaud him using all capital letters and multiple exclamation marks.
#17.2.1 Zachary Borichevsky on 2006-03-18 14:55
Michael, Michael, Michael......I suppose the fact that after Metropolitan Herman fired Wheeler and became ACTING TREASURER he still knew nothing?????? WAKE UP!!!!!!
#17.2.2 Natasha on 2006-03-18 18:15
+ Herman is a good shepherd. God bless him.
#220.127.116.11 deacon john on 2006-03-21 16:07
I thought you "couldn't be bothered by all of this" because its Great Lent. Now you're thrilled because the Chancellor got canned, and this apparently solves the problem? Now Metropolitan Herman is a hero?
Michael, do you know what a purge is?
Your response is based on assumptions -- lots of assumptions. You assume that the Chancellor controls everything.
Was Metropolitan Herman ever treasurer of the Church? Has any evidence been produced that supports or refutes the accusations?
Yes, to the first question, no to the second. The issues are still unresolved. Don't be so anxious to sweep this under the rug and move on.
Btw, I have never referred to His Beatitude as "Herman." Read the posts carefully.
#17.2.3 Greg Denysenko on 2006-03-21 11:05
Greg, I think for the sake of peace, why don't we all just let the darn results of the audit and investigation come forth. Unfortunatley, this takes time.
You are right, I did say that I couldn't be bothered with all of this during Lent. However, I refuse to sit blindly and allow people to bad mouth the Metropolitan when there's been one guy who's been at the center of these allegations who can't seem to account for anything? Why did he disobey the Metropolitan and engage an attorney if he'd done nothing wrong? Why did his attorney author a ridiculous letter to the Metropolitan basically seen as a threat to the Church? It seems to me that someone is now crying over spilled milk and looking for sympathy.
By the way, have you had the chance to ckeck out the website of the law firm the Metropolitan has engaged to act on behalf of the church? I have. And upon reviewing the site, I must say, there must be some very strong supporting evidence with reference to the Chancellor as to why the firm has been retained by the Church as well as the Metropolitan giving his permission to allow the ongoing investigation to revert all the way back to 2001.
I just hope that when all is said and done, the Central Church Administration will share the findings of the audit and investigation with the masses so that this individual bickering will stop.
#18.104.22.168 Michael Geeza on 2006-03-22 13:10
I know a lot of people are expressing skepticism about this movement, but please let's take a moment and acknowledge that there is movement, that the Metropolitan is doing something -- is doing much more than there's been any indication to date that he would be willing to do. Is it everything? No. Could it all still go wrong? Sure. But it's a beginning.
Nothing will happen quickly, but things are beginning to happen.
Let us stay the course in prayer and in love. Let us be thankful that there is the beginning of real acknowledgement of the problems. Let us dare to hope -- yes, hope takes courage when people have been trampled on, but without hope there is only tearing down. We all love the church -- let's be willing to see this as the beginning of the beginning of a long healing process that has as it's goal the building up and strengthening of the church.
When we get distracted by our own passions and seek retribution and crave for the humiliation of those in authority, then evil has prevailed.
#18 Rebecca Matovic on 2006-03-17 15:19
First, let me start by saying this. Fr. Bob has become the scapegoat for this whole unfortunate situation. And for those of you who don't believe that, you're sadly mistaken. This "scandal" as you all have so gracefully named it, is much deeper than that. Those from Mr Stokoe, Mr Hunchak, Mr Wheeler, the Holy Synod of Bishops, and the Metropolitan Council should also pay for this injustice. They all come out now, with a smear campaign, just to save face. And make it sound as though they were taken advantage of and abused. According to the documentation on this website, they all were well aware of the problem. They claim to have "attempted" to do something, but in reality, they did nothing to address it. For what? Fear of resprisal, retribution, losing their job? These are the leaders of this church too? Furthermore, as I have read other comments on this website, some of whom are lawyers. And you're now speaking against it, some of you who were members of the Metropolitan Council? And even better yet, wanting to involve the Attorney General's office? Shame on you!! To read on internet of the “firing” and “ousting” of Fr Bob is a true embarrassment to this church. I hope none of you have a problem looking into the mirror.
Secondly, what happened to the comment on this website of no more "witholding of names" Mr Stokoe? For those of you, who choose this cowardly act, shame on you! Only a "coward" would hide his/her name. If you have the nerve to speak your mind, I, as well as everyone else, deserves to know who you are. Don't hide behind this smear campaign, show your face, let those of us who disagree with the way Mr Stokoe has chosen to bring this to public, know who YOU are.
Thirdly, as I read some of the comments on this website. People quoting the bible and gospels. Then turn right around and stab the OCA leadership in the back with comments like “KGB” and “Mafia”. What does this make those people? Would it be fair to call them “headhunters” and “assassins?” Well, you all should be extremely happy now. Hopefully for you, those people who you’ve influence to fight your cause are not also implicated in this.
Finally, as I have said to this website maintainer: I'm ashamed, angry, frustrated and deeply saddened by the way this is being handled.
#19 Michael Livosky on 2006-03-17 20:10
Do you understand that FIVE MILLION DOLLARS PLUS is missing. If you stole anything in the army, you would be court martialed. This is not a pleasant task, but it has to be done.
First of all sir, if you knew me, you would know that I'm not in the Army. I will assume that you've spoken to Mr Stokoe, since you're aware I'm in the military. If so, it's very apparent that you are misinformed over my distaste for this. I have one gripe sir, 1. The way this has become a smear campaign over the internet. That is what disgusts me. We've lowered ourselves to the Roman Catholic Church. Furthermore, for those of you who think this is going away today or tomorrow. It's going to be here for a long, long time. This will have a HUGE negative impact on this church.
Are you telling me that even with an investigation and removal of certain administration officals, you're going to trust what goes on in Syosset?
#19.1.1 Michael Livosky on 2006-03-18 13:44
If you think that Fr. Bob is being made to be the scapegoat, then you are extremely delusional.
What do you know that makes you so certain that "others" are involved in this mess?
If you can't substantiate your claims, then you should refrain from generally accusing others.
The fact of the matter is, the office of Chancellor had too much power and control over the church and it's finances for too long.
Unfortunately it also didn't help matters that the previous Metropolitan wasn't a strong administrator and apparently gave full authority and complete control over the church to the Chancellor when it should have been his responsibility.
This mess has gone on for too long and I for one applaud Metropolitan Herman for his courage, patience and willingness to search for the facts.
It's about time the office of Metropolitan now stands for something within the OCA! This has been long overdue.
In closing, I will say that Fr. Bob should be commended for his dedicated service to the church as Chancellor. Aside from this problem, he did his job faithfully and he did it well.
However, the fact of the matter remains that there are always consequences for our actions in life and I'm sure His Beatitude had justifiable reasons for his decision.
I'm also confidant that his decision wasn't based on the fact that he was simply looking for a scapegoat.
Should you have been priviledged to know what the Metropolitan knew, then by all means please enlighten me.
#19.2 Michael Geeza on 2006-03-18 18:41
Those who support the status quo have no need for anonimity. Those who challenge, and prefer not to be persecuted, are not necessarily cowards (Joseph of Arimithea comes to mind, but I am certainly no theologian).
As for Father Bob, if he is a scapegoat, he is now in a position to effect change in a way he could not before. If he is being blamed without cause, he merely needs to tell the truth, and painful as it might be, the healing will begin.
I too am ashamed and embarrassed as to how this is being handled. I expect more from my leaders than stalling and silence in the face of a scandal that is rocking the foundation of the OCA. I expect them to come forward long before they feel the threat of the federal government, or need it spelled out by a group of lawyers. When in charge, do what is right....
Final thoughts, all are entitled to their opinion, but if we are truly interested in strenthening our Christian community, it might be best if we all act like Christians in dealing with each other.
I would still like to know - are the allegations true of false ?
another unworthy, anonymous churchman from the OCA
#19.3 Anonymous on 2006-03-19 04:16
From Shanghai, China
The stench of this scandal has reached us all of the way here in Shanghai. It is unfathomable and heartwrenching to learn that a Richard Nixon-like cover-up has been going on for so many years...
This appears to be an eleventh-hour housecleaning with a serious focus on damage control. Just remember Watergate.
The role of Bishop Tikhon of San Francisco is outrageous. He is after all a converted Roman Catholic and his stance reflects the posturing, almost word-by-word, of Catholic clergy in the United States in similar situations -- the reaction to scandal is not to correct the scandal but to punish those who sense and note the scandal.
When we grieve seriously when we think of all of those elderly parishioners and of all of those blue-collar workers who tithed to this church with their hard-earned wages, only to now learn that these wages were spent on...major misconduct by those entrusted to foster the pastoral care of the flock.
Given the egregious decline in the Catholic Church in the United States as a result of its own scandals, this rather small but now well-publicized church would do well to take heed.
Xiao Ling Tong
Bishop Tikhon is not a converted Roman Catholic. He is a Lutheran Convert. Are you an Orthodox Christian? If so i can point you to a couple of public groups where he posts and has his writing archived so you can get to know him, one which is owned by him.
He is my Bishop. Please do not libel him. I will ALWAYS come to his defense.
The Orthodox Church is not small. And we have our own publicity, thank you very much. I encourage you to visit our website.
It sounds to me from the tone of your writing that you are not a faithful Orthodox Christian. What is your interest in these matters?
Are you aware that we have a saint from Shanghai?
I hope you read this. I hope you look into your local Orthodox Church there in Shanghai and forget about our American problems.
#20.1 Olympiada Kane on 2006-03-18 09:05
No faithful Orthodox Christian Man or Woman willingly criticizes a Bishop needlessly, but Bishop Tikhon's insistence on posting publicly hate mail, mean spirited statements, forces Orthodox from other Jurisdictions to fear the day that his quotes on the Internet and pontifications are posted in a newspaper. I kiss your Bishops right hand and beg his forgiveness, but he must be told the truth, he his spending far too much time writing mean spirited remarks that can be used against him. I pray that his aides will give him counsel and help him use his scholarly intellect for more instructive purposes. In general, it is beneath a Bishop to post in a Internet dialogue and, how do they call it, flaming I think? If he wanted to have on his web site a question and answer forum, that is a wonderful progressive idea. But I have read through the Internet archives. He has said things not becoming of his vocation or Episcopal Throne. I do not judge him, but we should all pray that those pontifications and insults to other forum posters are not printed in the newspaper one day. As it will show us to not be the church of Saint John Maximovitch of Shanghai and San Francisco. I applaud Xiao Ling Tong, because being Orthodox in China, and not of Russian decent, raises the possibility of your being harassed by the authorities by more than 1,000%. I for one remember vividly my Pra-Babuchka telling me about the day their church was burned in Shanghai in the second communist revolution that they had to flee in their lifetime. Please know Xiao Ling Tong that there are many in the Church that pray for you and your priests.
Humbly, Ivan Shabalin
#20.1.1 Ivan Shabalin on 2006-03-18 17:00
Dear fellow members of the OCA:
Be careful in pointing fingers and blaming anyone that you can think of for the problems troubling the OCA. It is well known by those of us that have been involved with OCA church affairs that Met. Theodosios, Archbishop Herman, and Fr. Kondratiak
represented the tightest inner circle of OCA leadership that represented a culture of concealment and secrecy with the internal affairs of the OCA that many of us realized would one day come to an end.
I don't have any idea how much longer Met. Herman will be the Primate of the OCA, but I sincerely believe that he will, however reluctantly, will make an effort
to put the financial house of the OCA back in order. His weakness, which is well known, is that he believes that secrecy and concealment is necessary to protect "the Church from scandal". This will no longer be accepted today as it should not be accepted, but I don't know if Met. Herman has come to terms with that reality. He suffers from that kind of selective rationalisation that many other hierarchs of his generation suffer from...to want to escape from the consequences of mismanagement and in some cases outright fraud.
I want to say one thing in defence of Met. Herman. I really can't bring myself to believe that he condoned the mismanagement practices of the Theodosios Administration....
Having said that, Met. Herman by his very temperament, will resist giving out any more information than he has to because of his steadfast conviction that it is in the best interests of the Church.
I can't really believe he can fully understand that he is being perceived more and more as a collaborator whose hands are becoming more and more unclean by concealment, even though it was not his fault that mismanagement took place within the administration before him.
Be careful, don't go pointing fingers and blaming the Holy Synod and Metropolitan Council about things that have been deliberately concealed from them. They are as much victims as the rank and file clergy and laity of the OCA. The culture prevailing in Syosset is beginning to be exposed for what it really is and it will have to be permanently changed either during Met. Herman's administration or during his successors. It will change because the OCA Faithful will continue to press for it. Let us continue to pray for reform, healing, and wholeness for our Church during Great Lent.
In Christ the Victor!
An unworthy sinner in need of God's sovereign Grace and Mercy.
#21 A unworthy churchman from the OCA on 2006-03-18 12:22
Sir, please go and read the documentation. In one excerpt, Holy Synod on Account, 7-26-99 and the Metropolitan Council press release from 18 Nov 99. They were absolutely aware of issues with the discretionary account(s). That is 6years-plus in the past.
#21.1 Michael Livosky on 2006-03-18 13:56
I think this bit of wisdom from Father John Matusiak is worth considering given the present circumstances. It was posted on the OCA website Q & A section in response to a question about the necessity of confession:
By hiding what one has done, one commits another sin. Have you ever told a lie in order to get yourself out of a situation, only to find out that by telling the lie you are required to tell additonal lies -- and so on and so on and so on?
Consider this: One day, when our daughter was four years old, I was taking a mid-afternoon nap on the couch. She came running into the living room in an agitated state, demanding that I give her a kleenex. [In the past, she had always gotten her own kleenex, so this was rather odd.] I told her to get her own kleenex, as she had done so many times in the past, but she insisted I give one to her. I did. She ran up the steps to her bedroom and slammed the door shut.
A few minutes later, she woke me up, asking for a piece of scotch tape. Again, this was odd behavior, since she knew where the tape was and never hesitated to get it herself. So, once again, I got up and gave her the tape. And, once again, she bolted up the steps and slammed her bedroom door.
Figuring that something was up -- the silence was deafening! -- I went up stairs, where I found the kleenex taped to the wall, about two feet from the floor. I asked her what this was all about; "nothing" was her reply.
Since in my opinion "nothing" usually means "something," I removed the kleenex that was taped to the wall, as she watched in absolute horror.
There, under the kleenex, was a crayon mark.
"What's this?" I asked.
"Nothing," she replied.
But it wasn't "nothing." She knew quite well that coloring on the walls was "something" that was clearly not acceptable. She "sinned" by doing that which she had been told was not permitted -- coloring on the wall. And she tried to cover it up, hoping that I would not notice.
Now, had she not asked for the kleenex and tape, I probably would have never noticed her colorful "sin" in the first place, as I rarely, if ever, inspected the walls for crayon marks. But by trying to cover up the crayon marks in the hope that I wouldn't notice them, she only made them more obvious, and committed a second sin in the process -- one by which she tried to deceive me.
My point here is that when we refuse to confess what we have done, we commit a second sin -- a sin of pride, by which we are unwilling to acknowledge what we have done to another person, often justifying this by thinking, "Well, I didn't really hurt anyone." We also sin by thinking that we are "pulling the wool over" God's eyes, which we cannot do. He knows our hearts and He alone judges the sincerity of our repentance -- and a key element in genuine repentance is acknowledging to God and to others that we are indeed sinners.
I assure you that there is no sin that would shock a priest out of his sensibilities; at the same time, should a priest in whose presence you choose to reveal even the most shocking sin in a spirit of true repentance reject you for doing so, consider it a blessing and find another confessor.
But I don't know a priest who would shun one who genuinely repents and genuinely seeks the means by which even the most serious sin can be overcome and brought under control, and I know plenty of priests who would, in fact, applaud one who confesses openly, honestly, and with a true spirit of repentance.
A saint of the Church once opined that the angels in heaven dance for joy when a sinner repents; believe me, the priests on earth do the same thing!
So continue to ask God daily for forgiveness, but please do not overlook the need everyone has -- including priests! -- to seek guidance and direction in overcoming sin. And never forget that, if it true that God often heals the physically ill by guiding the hands of a surgeon, He also heals the spiritually ill by guiding the words and advice of a priest.
#22 Zachary Borichevsky on 2006-03-18 16:47
Has any one out there ever read any of the pyschology books on family dysfunction? One comes to mind, John Bradshaw's On the Family. It talks about how the family will take on rigid roles in order to cope with the dysfuntion in the family, usually alcholism, drugs, and so on. Denial runs rampant in a dysfunctional family and is very difficult to correct; thus family members take on dysfunctional coping roles to steady its rocky boat.
Our OCA administration has finally been publicly revealed to be that dysfunctional mess from the very documents that have been exposed on this web site. The OCA's financial administration is seriously flawed and dysfunctional in how they have handled their finances.
The work to this end is finally being done now, slowly but surely. As it takes time to turn around a dysfunctional family (if it happens at all), we now all wait, pray, and hope, in patience, love, and forgivenes, to see the healthiest outcome in how the OCA handles financial matters so that this financial and spiritual mess can never wreak havoc upon Christ's church again.
#23 Patty Schellbach on 2006-03-18 21:14
In the dysfunctional family, the one who tells what is actually going on is considered the 'troublemaker.'
#23.1 Kathleen Carlsen on 2006-03-19 15:03
I cannot beleive those posting on here in support of Fr. Bob....or the Metropolitan!
If they are innocent, let the investigation continue and the results be delivered. If they are guilty, defrock them and move on.
If the Metropolitan hired an attorney to protect him, he needs to step aside NOW. If you hire an attorney to protect yourself, in laymen's eyes....you are hiding something.
#24 Robert Holowach on 2006-03-19 09:01
That's like saying that pleading the 5th means you are guilty.
#24.1 John on 2006-03-19 15:33
Finally, someone connected the dots and speaks boldly in service to truth. I applaud you John in not being willing to "take sides" between the various people implicated in perpetrating this scandal. The Metropolitan, by his past assumption of Treasurer status, his deplorable attempts to intimidate Fr. Jason Kappanadze and others, and his continued stonewalling and covering up pre-2000 audits is exposing himself before all. Those of us in Penssylvania who have known him for decades could have told people all along.
#24.1.1 Name withheld by Request on 2006-03-23 07:46
Well, interesting news to see the change in church administrator.
This does not change the fact that the Metropolitan and Synod of Bishops need to let go of their power over church finances, including requesting a repeal of the language accepted by the church in 1999 regarding discretionary funds.
This does not change the fact that the church financial administration should be run by a finance committee of people with experience in budgeting matters.
Once Metropolitan Herman and the Bishops are cc's on the bottom of the audit letter, I will be satisifed, not until.
There is no reason for them to get involved in such a mess. The Met Council should have an active finance committee and the Metropolitan and the Bishops should simply "get the story".
The termination of the Chancellor by Metropolitan Herman is more of the same problem. There is no separation of power. Let's say that the Treasurer, then the Chancellor disagreed with an expense report submitted by a Bishop. Is it right that the Metropolitan can fire him? I think not.
A finance committee should have that final oversight. The Metropolitan Council should be the body terminating the Chancellor.
The 1999 letter from Taylor spoke to the national church developing a solid organization chart, and the establishment of a finance committee.
Metropolitan Herman should not be hiring attorneys, a council should.
At the end of the day, we have a power problem in our church. The power needs to shift and it needs checks and balances.
I am still willing to give Met. Herman time to shift power, but it needs to happen soon. Perhaps part of the result from the attorneys will be highlighting the need for this power restructuring that seems so necessary to me.
Why should the spiritual leaders of the church be so close to the money?
I'd like to make one additional comment. The makeup of the Metropolitan Council needs to be revisited.
I don't understand why the Metropolitan should chair this body.
#25 Daniel E. Fall on 2006-03-19 23:30
Daniel, I believe that you are so right on.
There must be a separation of power for the integrity of the church, its episopacy, and the entire financial administration of the OCA.
The separation of power is absolutely what it will take to get this right and to allow fiscal responsibility to be a positive solution and force, rather than a destructive enablement of power.
March 31st is almost here. More investigations are occuring.
#25.1 Patty Schellbach on 2006-03-20 21:21
First I want to compliment the organizers of this website for making the faithful aware of the problems in Syosset. Being able to read the documents and understand the time line and the progression of the situation has been of utmost importance because otherwise, we would have known nothing.
I do believe, however, that the strength and importance of this website will be diminished greatly if it stays in operation under its current format. If the Orthodox Christions for Accountability name is true, then you have succeeded in starting the accountability process. Future communication now needs to come from the real OCA itself for this disease to be treated and cured. Having a website like this now only serves as a sounding board and forum for those people who want to take sides and hurt each other with accusations that are personal and in most cases have nothing to do with the real problems and solutions at hand. We have had enough hurt during this period. It's time to start going uphill and not wallow in negativity.
The comments that are posting currently have little relevance to solving any problems. Most are attacks and what we do not need now is fighting within our ranks. The financial problem has been brought forth and hopefully, is being addressed. If Syosset has learned nothing else from this, at least keep the faithful informed.
Again, many thanks for the work on this site and the results, but please be wary of where this site is going.
Have a blessed lenten season!
#26 Bob Kovalak on 2006-03-20 08:58
Your comments are well intended, but consider the other side of the coin. Those posting here have been deeply shaken by the events that have unfolded. Imagine your entire life revolving around the church, in which you placed your trust, being shattered in one instant. This site provides an opportunity to air deep feelings and concerns. It also is a way of offering differing points of view which can be individually evaluated. It is in keeping with our democracy. Most of us have been schooled in an environment where we have been encouraged to question and draw our own conclusions. If our church is to survive in this society, its doors and minds must be open to inquiry. What good is religious leadership without religion??
Any attempts to silence the people will have devastating effects on Orthodoxy in this country.
#26.1 Withhold by request on 2006-03-21 05:17
I do not share your perspective. Your assessment contains perjoratives about this site like "...and not wallow in negativity." Who is wallowing? And, it is only negativity if it is untrue. No one has yet contested the facts or allegations. The more we read the more it is clear that the wallowing is in other places than this site. On the contrary. Two OCA decades of wallowing in Syosset misinformation and miscommunication is the sin here. It is unfathomable that the OCA leadership is in any position to start doing the right things suddenly, as you suggest, after two decades of concealment. I believe that this site, like a free press, needs a permanent place in our dialog and healing process... God knows such a forum was not forthcoming from the powers that be. The laity and great majority of the clergy, I believe, no longer wish to labor in the darkness imposed for so long by the OCA's culture of concealment.
#27 Name Witheld by Request on 2006-03-20 22:01
We need to remember that the Orthodox Church is and always has been a conciliar Church and demand the restoration of true concilarity. Conciliarity means councils which include every Orthodox Christian, not just priests, bishops, and metropolitans. The power shift needed by the Orthodox Church in America is a return to that conciliarity without which all reform of any kind is superfluous. That we have passively allowed our conciliarity to vanish without a trace is certainly something we all need to repent. Those voices in the Church which seek to infantilize the faithful by remote control need to examine their complicity as well. Let us all return to the simplicity of life which the Gospel commends to us, to the repentance of evil deeds and to the restoration of the true conciliar nature of the Church. Alice Carter, Holy Trinity Orthodox Cathedral, Boston
#28 Alice Carter on 2006-03-21 14:07
Amen. Let us truly pursue both repentance and reform leading to True Conciliarity within Our Church, which can only begin with us.
I don't presume to know the answers to all our problems, but repentance and reform is where it must begin and I believe will lead the way to Reconcilliation and True Conciliarity.
I humbly submit, with all due respect, that the current framework that allows the Metropolitan Council to assume legal liability and responsibility
for the actions taken by the OCA
Administration is untenable in its application and mocks the spirit of True Conciliarity.
Although it is painful for me to hear harsh criticism of the Metropolitan Council, I recognize and it is important for others who are reading this to know, that most of the OCA Faithful are not aware of how the Metropolitan Council actually conducts its business. And, how the Met. Council is continually subjected to prepared agendas and selective
incomplete information. I am not saying that the Met. Council is totally blameless, but it does operate on the premise of trust and respect for leadership. I encourage everyone to talk with your current or past clergy or lay representative of the Met. Council and hear from them first-hand how the Met. Council carries out its responsibilities.
May our prayerful repentance and prayerful pursuit of reform, healing, and wholeness help us become true living icons of Reconcilliation and Conciliarity of Our Lord Jesus Christ and His Holy Church.
In Christ the Victor!
#28.1 A unworthy churchman from the OCA on 2006-03-21 17:25
St. Basil's Homily on building the barn seems so apt
O mortal, recognize your Benefactor! Consider yourself, who you are, what resources you administer, from whom you received them, and why you received more than others. You have been made a minister of God’s goodness, a steward of your fellow servants. Do not suppose that all this was furnished for your own gullet! Resolve to treat the things in your possession as belonging to others. After all, they bring pleasure for only a short period of time, then fade away and disappear, but afterwards a strict accounting of their disbursement will be sought from you.
#28.1.1 Alice Carter on 2006-03-23 11:35
The FISH always starts rotting from the HEAD first!
As long as the Officials of the Church elect to hide all the facts, there will never be closure. I am a CPA, and I can tell you that the compilation in this situation is a total joke. There is NO ASSURANCE by anyone, and if it was a compilation without footnotes, then it was a SIN!
These people stand up in front of us every Sunday, and tell us how we should follow the NARROW PATH, and to try and live our lives in relationship with GOD. Yet they pull all of this and guess what, I can forgive you your sins and you can forgive me mine.
How convenient to be able to forgive sins seventy times seventy....
They all are like WHITEWASHED TOMBS, beautiful on the outside but full of death on the inside. Politics as usual.
#29 Pete Wallace on 2006-03-28 16:26
I am a convert to Orthodoxy from Catholicism. I am not in OCA. Yet it seems like "deja vu all over again" (thanks, Yogi)
If I wanted to have this kind of behavior by bishops in my church, I'd go back to being a Catholic. When will the bishops realize IT AIN'T THEIR MONEY? That money comes from the labor of the laity, and is entrusted to the bishops to be used for good purpose.
Can't the OCA bishops see what is happening in Catholicism with their incessant hiding of the truth? I hope for the sake of Orthodoxy that this thing gets cracked WIDE open - and don't give me platitudes about forgiveness, Vladika [INSERT NAME HERE]. How about some repentance by the OCA bishops?
It is my hope that OCA members will quit giving to OCA institutions, or at least Syosset, until the Synod comes 100% clean about where the money went, who knew where it went, and when they knew where the money went, and bounces out whoever engaged in the shenanigans.
In some ways, this financial scandal is a proxy for the frustrations the laity have with the hierarchs. Note to hierarchs: don't keep your laity in the dark. They may just keep your pockets empty.
#30 Wayne Matthew Syvinski on 2006-03-28 23:03
Until this is competely resovled to the peoples satisfaction (after all it is their money) I strongly suggest no money be given except to your local parish.
Let the people give the items needed to the seminary etc. Also if a check is given make it payable to the electic, telephone etc company.
The less money available the less chance their is of the money being spent improperly. I dont believe in blind trust and neither should the people who donate the money.
#31 John Macenka on 2006-03-30 19:31
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