Wednesday, September 19. 2007
Your comments on one group's attempt to express their concerns are welcome.
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GOOD NEWS! About time. When the leader(s) become corrupt or even the perception of being corrupt, they must be replaced. There is no provision in the OCA statutes for removing a bishop or the Metropolitan - time for a revision. Also, it is time that the Synod of Bishops (SOB) include 5-10 archpriests who have distinquished themselves as equal to any bishop. Fr. Berzonsky and Fr. Hopko immediately come to mind. These are our married bishops and should carry the same authority as any bishop. Let the people be heard. If the laos are being being misled by their bishops, the bishops should be deposed!
#1 Anonymous on 2007-09-19 06:07
Couldn't agree more that there needs to be an OCA provision for removing a Bishop or even the Metropolitan. Otherwise, how do we differ from our Western Catholic brethren...whose Pope is "infallible?"
Surely if we can impeach our President for malfeasance, we can rid ourselves of corrupt leaders within our church. This must be fixed!
#1.1 Sue Barna on 2007-09-19 11:36
I am not sure that even a petition, hopefully signed by thousands of people will move Herman. However it may move the Holy Synod, the actual body that Herman answers to, to finally get off their collective duffs and say "enough is enough."
If enough people sign the petition before the October Holy Synod meeting it may move them to act. If there is any indication on the part of members of the Holy Synod that Herman may retire/resign, then I strongly believe that the joint meeting of the Metropolitan Council should be postponed. It will take 3 days for the Bishops to work through this one item and hopefully get it right.
The Metropolitan Council should also vote as a group, with signatures and demonstrate the confidence or lack of confidence in Herman and his administration.
QUESTION: What if Herman tries to make a deal....."I will retire if you shut down the Special Investigation?"
Do we want a Herman in office who will block the on going investigation at every turn, or do we want him and his cronies out so that the OCA can make a fresh start?
Key Dioceses and parishes need to express their no confidence. Parishes in Washington and New York must come out big with no confidence.
Eastern PA and Western PA must have large turnouts.
Canada must vote loud NO CONFIDENCE.
New England must vote the same.
We know how the Midwest will vote. It is the silent dioceses that can make the difference.
In closing, SIGN THE PETITION.
#2 Anonymous on 2007-09-19 06:27
Well, I signed. Now, let's see what good it will do, if any.
Meanwhile, can't the MC petition a judge in NY State to bar MH & Co from selling any assets (Syosset, St. Tikhon's real estate holdings, etc)????? As the funds dry up, you can best believe they're going to try other ways of keeping the money flowing and since the former Griswold estate (Syosset) was assessed last year in excess of $10 million and St. Tikhon's, if the stories are to be believed, also owns rental properties, those two places especially should be protected.
What a total mess!
Holy Metropolitan Leonty, pray for us!
#2.1 Alexander Ivsky on 2007-09-19 10:07
should +mh get the same retirement package rsk got? or what the most rev. +mt got? after all +mh is also a most rev. not just a very rev. and what about the yes men , the rt. rev."s ? they also are over paid and under worked , except one. leaders lead , george armstrong custer's last words were "follow me men." what will +mh last words be ? maybe like o.j.simson he"ll write a book" how i would have kill the oca if i really did it." name withheld
#3 Anonymous on 2007-09-19 06:52
Really...if you don't sign this (and you've been asking or praying for this to end), your not really looking for a solution.
I have proudly signed my name in hopes that this might be the wedge that is needed to get the OCA ship righted.
Sign folks, hurry up and sign. Lets show Syossett its not just a few of us...its the majority.
#4 Robert Holowach on 2007-09-19 07:50
Please allow me an observation about the PR law firm engagement:
Either a) the Metropolitan is the client, and thus should repay the funds advanced to PR by the OCA; or b) the Church is the client, and thus the board (the MC) has the right to 1) all the documents given to PR, plus 2) their report.
On the subject at hand, one year ago, on the eve of the Diocese of the Midwest asssembly, there appeared to be some hope for improvement. Now, in light of recent developments, there doesn't. So I signed the petition.
#5 Michael Strelka on 2007-09-19 08:42
I signed, and then I sent the information to my priest asking for permission to tell the rest of the parish about it.
Are you asking for permission to make an announcement in church or something like that? Or are you asking permission to talk to people? Asking permission to tell your friends about something good?
Needing to ask permission to talk to your friends might be necessary under clericalism or authoritarianism, but it doesn't sound like Christianity to me.
#6.1 Peter McElvein on 2007-09-19 10:25
Why permission from your priest?
#6.2 Anonymous on 2007-09-19 10:50
Perhaps in place of "permission," your more familiar with the term: "A blessing?" Its ALWAYS a good thing to ask for. If the blessing is denied, perhaps you still have to proceed, anyway.
I ask a blessing from my wife (and sometimes kids) before I proceed with activities that affect my family, for goodness sake. Are we now seeing that as clericalism?
Because authority has been abused, don't be tempted to throw the baby of obedience, out with the bathwater.
OK, a bit of a digression for some levity:
If by a priest's blessing you mean permission, then, its clericalism; if by a priest's blessing you mean a prayer for God's protection and mercy, then no. But if one intends to proceed with a course of action regardless of the answer to a request for a blessing, then why ask? (I am reminded of the proverb that it is easier to ask forgiveness than permission.....) Unless we are monastics (a position concerning which I'm sure your wife will have strong opinions!), or have entered into a very intentional submissive relationship with a priest as spiritual elder, me thinks we don't need to "always" get our priest's blessing.
Now, as for your wife .... Unless your wife is a priest (it is the 21st century, post-Christian, "tolerant" United States, after all), then I think asking her blessing is not clericalism (indeed, since you and she are one, and you and your priest are not (one hopes!), then its way way different! In fact, we men learn that lesson [to ask permission, by whatever name, of our better half] early on in life even with our first girlfriends! : )
On the other hand, I'd have to say (sincerely) that you have more humility than I, and I'd say I unfairly judged a bit. So, mea maxima culpa! : )
#188.8.131.52 Anonymous on 2007-09-20 13:24
Good points, and ones that are pertinent to the issue.
I don't have a perfect understanding of "blessings," but I would say they are related to "permission" but NOT exactly the same thing. And I think it is always GOOD to have a blessing, but not always possible.
Matt is correct in my mind (and I know he used the word "permission", in asking for his priest's blessing before passing around stuff, that has a direct afect on "the parish," and "the church" at large. The priest may see things that he is missing. But perhaps the priest is a tyrant and control freak, and must be disregarded often because of his evil manipulations.
You and I cannot know that. Only Matt knows that.
There are two extremes to be avoided (IMNSHO): Independant Lone Rangers who trust their own infallible judgement, and slavish clericalists, who do not use the judgement that God gave them to use. The abuse at the Monastery in Boston as one example.
The people of God have a major responsibility and tight-rope to walk, between obedieance to God ordained authority and our responsibility to not let robbers take our church.
BTW, its easy for me to seek my wifes blessing, because I know she loves me and has my best interst in mind (usually). She also unequivacably submits to my authority as priest of our household. Love is a great gift from God.
#184.108.40.206.1 fdr on 2007-09-21 06:54
Problem; If only thousands sign, MH & his cronies can ignore it. What? Why? How?
Because OCA has Two MILLION or so members give or take, right? A few thousand, only a drop in the bucket. Of course I'm joking.
Bravo Bethesda! I enjoyed my brief visit at the Met's Town Meeting; so many of the parish questioners had command of the facts and figures - and decorum in the face of no real answers. This is a parish indeed, and not 'in name only'.
#7 J. Murray on 2007-09-19 09:38
Well. There's something to be said for the Bethesda people's spunk, but why would anyone have had confidence in Met. Herman -- or any OCA metropolitan -- anyway?
WE DON'T HAVE A POPE! The metropolitan is NOT the 'head of the church', not even of the OCA. He's the chairman of the Holy Synod of Bishops. Maybe the bishops would like to have some confidence in their chairman, but the rest of us don't need any of that.
It would be good, though, if we in the DC-NY eparchy could have some confidence in our bishop, but we don't, and our priests are afraid of Herman and his petulant pattern of petty retribution.
We need a radical revision of our OCA Statute to bring it into conformity with authentic orthodox ecclesiology. As it stands now, it's so riddled with uniate assumptions that we can't really be surprised by the faithful laity's (and not a few of the clergy's!) confusion about the First Hierarch's role and function in any local church, whatever his title.
Still, anything which would help put Herman out of our misery is welcome.
I've already signed the petition even as I continue praying for him and for all our OCA.
#8 Monk James on 2007-09-19 09:40
You are confused. You are an RSK defender. Are you ignorant of the fact that RSK defended the "uniate" Statutes that you suddenly deplore? Where were your cries for reform when the POPE was giving your man the podium? Your man led the charge to squelch the Administrative Task Force that first brought the Statute shortcomings to light following the Administrative Summit 15 years ago. Where is your moral compass? Spinning in the political winds?
#8.1 Name withheld on 2007-09-19 23:52
Dear Name Withheld:
The Administrative Taskforce of 15 years ago was not killed by Fr Kondratick, it was killed by members of the Holy Synod who went through the "excercise" of being there but thought the event was pure "BS" and beneath them.
It was Fr Kondratick who twisted their arms so they would simply show up. So I would suggest that you get your facts straight. And yes, Kondratick defended the Statute, it was not his job to do anything else. I don't get where you people think he could just snap his fingers and things would PRESTO change. Get real and understand that NOTHING could ever be done unless a diocesan bishop and or the Synod permitted it.
So much of the bunk going around these days is about making the Orthodox CHurch somehow more equal, democratic, egalitarian. If you don't like a Hierarchical church then join the Presbyterians or some phony mega church.
Bishops have ultimate responsibility for the life of their diocese and as members of the Holy Synod for the Church. The Metropolitan Council is a leftover from our old Metropolia days. It has no real function in the OCA. And the recent attempts to turn Syosset into some sort of great center of power and influence, ala Moscow, is one form of structure but there are also others, such as the Serbian Orthodox Church which as a very decentralized church structure.
Maybe the Administrative Summit didn't work because it was not the right thing to do. Maybe we need to finally come to grips with what type of Church structure do we want the OCA to have.
This fiasco could have a silver lining by downsizing Syosset to its early OCA days on Second Street. Rediscover what the Office of the Metropolitan is actually uniquely responsible for AND NOTHING MORE. What the heck do we need a fulltime Treasurer, Secretary, Communications Officer, and Chancellor, plus pay a full time salary for the Metropolitan. His primary responsibility is to his diocese and then call the Synod into session twice a year or at other times if necessary. Chair the MC, and represent the OCA with sister Churches and other churches. He really doesn't do much more than that.
The life of the Church is in the diocese and thus in the parish, not in Syosset. The idea of having our own Vatican was probably a necessary phase we needed to go through. Rememeber we are only 27 years old and we are going through some mighty painful growing pains. We might serve the Lord better by not thinking so dang highly of ourselves. Our self-righteous indignation is more a sign of our lack of maturity.
Yes, we need to correct ourselves and do much better. So let's cut the finger pointing and this petty "I was right, see Kondratick was a bum and Wheeler was right" playground name calling AND DO SOME SERIOUS WORK ON HOW THIS OCA WILL BE STRUCTURED GOING FORWARD.
Is anyone else sick and tired of our beating each other up?
BTW, whether Herman stays or goes, makes little difference. And if we get it right in the future no Metropolitan will be significant except in a honorific role.
#8.1.1 Anonymous on 2007-09-21 13:45
You are good. Re-write history. RSK couldn't do anything because of the bishops. Yeh, that's the ticket. The bishops; they did it; its all their fault. Then, walk down to the Synod's door and listen to them point the finger back down the hall at RSK. You people are too much. Now you want to divert attention and start actually talking about the underlying issue that should've been put on the table, front and center 15 years ago. Oh, right, I forgot, RSK tried. Bunk.
You wrote: "...So much of the bunk going around these days is about making the Orthodox CHurch somehow more equal, democratic, egalitarian. If you don't like a Hierarchical church then join the Presbyterians or some phony mega church."
This haughtiness has got to stop. Your understanding of "Hierarchical" is all wet. It is byzantine; feudal. The America experience has more to teach us about ourselves and accountability than we want to admit. Orthodox need to get a life when it comes to feeling superior to "Presbyterians" and "phony mega church." If we are so right, then how did we get into this mess? Something is wrong with our morality folks... and therefore our theology/ecclesiology. It must make you feel better to form your identity in juxtaposition to those you so flippantly dismiss with the wave of a hand. I want no part of that. I want my identity formed by what I am for, not what I am against. Stop with the non-Orthodox-bashing would you? It is not convincing and only means you stand tall on the carcasses of those you are wasting... people also made in the image and likeness of God Himself.
#220.127.116.11 Name withheld on 2007-09-21 15:56
Dear Name withheld:
If you really think that Orthodox theology and ecclesiology are wrong because YOU define Hierarchical as byzantine and feudal, you really need to go back to Orthodoxy 101.
I don’t need to rewrite history since I was there and know what went on at the Administrative Summit. Were you? I had to listen to the whining of Archbishop Peter and others who laughed, yes laughed when they were behind closed doors about the Summit. That is just the fact. You can make draw your conclusions.
However, if that Summit was so good, why are we not looking at those conclusions now instead of tearing at each other? Why did we simply get rid of the Kondratick folks and replace them with the Kucynda folks? The Church is still sinking in debt and we are no closer to coming together as brothers and sisters in Christ. I am sick of this “I am right and you are wrong” baloney. WE ARE ALL WRONG
My comments Presbyterians and mega churches were made not to bash them but to serve notice on ourselves that we had better be VERY sure what we are doing and questioning the Hierarchical nature of the Church does nothing to solve our problems.
I am Orthodox, born and raised and taught by the greats of the OCA at SVS in the 70,s and 80’s. I know this history of our Church and I am not willing to cast it aside because we have some weak bishops. Do you honestly think that we are the first Church that went through a bad stretch with haughty or poor bishops? Do you think the OCA is the only Church that has had scandal? Please, get a grip.
There is nothing haughty about my comments. I would ask that you read them again. I am trying to take a bit of the air out of our “we can do it, we are Americans” and can rescue the Church. We can circulate a petition and that will show how determined we are. That’s democracy, my friend, not Orthodoxy.
There are just too many agendas out there now and until we are not willing to throw everyone under the bus to make our point, we will have learned nothing from this sad chapter in our young Church’s history.
#18.104.22.168.1 Anonymous on 2007-09-21 19:02
Also, you state that the Administrative Summit was "killed" by the bishops. It was not in their purview to kill it. The Summit was a MANDATE of the AAC to which the Synod is accountable (or is supposed to be the last time I checked ecclesiology). Again, if RSK let the Synod kill it, he let us down once again. You cannot have it both ways. RSK can spend $5-6 million right under the Synod's nose, but is powerless to stop the killing of a mandated Administrative Summit? Bunk.
#22.214.171.124.2 Name withheld on 2007-09-22 07:31
Dear Name withheld:
The Summit was held. The implementation of the Summit's conclusions were not blessed by the Holy Synod.
So now we get to the bottom line here. Who has the ultimate responsiblity for the Church, the Holy Synod or the AAC? By definition, a Synod of Bishops is basic to any understanding of the governannce of the Church. An AAC is not, nor and MC.
I am not saying that AAC's are bad, but we could still have a Church without an AAC but we could not have a Church with a Synod of Bishops.
Many, many resolutions have been passed by AAC's over the years and attempts to implement them have been made, but in the end if a diocesan bishop or the Holy Synod does not bless that implementation in their respective dioceses, IT DEAD. I am not sure any Orthodox Church in the world would have been willing to implement all of those ideas, however, some were good and it might not be a bad thing to dust off those little cards and see what might be helpful.
But please, blaming one person as if Kondratick was Pope of the OCA is sheer nonsense. Its easy to blame him, look Herman has, boy that's a vote of confidence! Nope, easy quick, down and dirty solutions are doing nothing to help bring us together, if you fact bringing us back together is the goal. Sometimes I wonder when one of the main protagonists it this saga has stated very clearly that "the OCA must be brought to ashes." Really, when did we all pass away and make this person "THE DECIDER" of our future.
Like I said before, too many agendas are out there now. Is it time to flush out the extremists on both sides? Maybe so, so that the rest of us can find a dispassionate middle ground to build on.
#126.96.36.199.2.1 Anonymous on 2007-09-22 13:56
Makes no matter whether I was at the Administrative Summit or not. Let's deal with the issues here. The culture of the OCA has been all about attacking personalities. That is symptomatic of the disease. Your haughtiness is indicative of this problem. You flip flop from saying good things to being haughty. Perhaps more people will listen to you when you repent of your haughty outlook toward your fellow man. Congratulations, you were born Orthodox. You get a gold star.
Here is where your ecclesiology is dead wrong. And, I believe, you have finally stated the root of this problem. You are empowering the wrong body with your basic assumption about ecclesiology. The laos give authority to the bishop and select him from among them, not the other way around. The best expression of the mind of the Spirit in the OCA is the AAC; a body you have waved off, curiously.
Your fundamental assumption is feudal and dooms us unless it gets fixed. I believe the American experience was finally willing to test this assumption, or at least started asking the right questions about accountability in their questioning of the injustices of feudal Europe. It is time for Orthodoxy to do the same. Accountability demands it. Trinitarian theology demands it. Let us be done with feudalism. In RSK. In the Synod. In the MC. At Syosset. In Herman. In us. God help us.
#188.8.131.52.2.1.1 Name withheld on 2007-09-23 07:18
Dear Name withheld,
I am enjoying your developing comments, and unless you brand me as "haughty" how they demonstrate an underlying anger and dissatisfaction.
I don’t wish to “attack” you, yet, you still continue to attack me by calling me “haughty, unrepentive and somehow ‘less’ by being born Orthodox.” I don’t need to be defensive because I have seen both sides of this issue and experienced both sides of this debate, first-hand, and from that perspective, neither side is totally right or totally wrong, so who is being “haughty” in the judgment of the other? I simply have an advantage of knowing the actual people in this debate and can filter my comments based on the imperfect human reality of this issue. Anyone can approach this from a "theoretical" perspective, but I can approach it from the praxis and the theory. I hope you will be able to accept this.
As for "my" ecclesiology is dead wrong, I would say that it is not my ecclesiology. Who cares about my ecclesiology. However, may I ask how does the Laos select the bishop from among themselves? Yes, names come forth from a Diocesan Assembly. Those names are then offered up to whom? The Holy SYnod who then decide who will be the bishop. At the AAC, the same is true, but it is the Holy Synod that decides on those offered. It is finally in their hands not the People of God. Is that feudal or is that accepting the final decision to those who are vested with responsibility?
Bishops come from the People of God, whether clergy or laity and in the OCA that process does include the AAC, but it is still in the hands of the Holy Synod to decide who will be the First Hierarch of their Synod.
I would think that we would have a much more fruitful discussion as to the role and responsibility of that First Hierarch. For me, he is not a "super bishop" but one who only acts to bring the Church together in all things. Do you think Herman has done that? I think not. However, as strange as it may seem, Kondratick did more to bring the bishops and others together then this current Herman. What a twist that is.
#184.108.40.206.220.127.116.11 Anonymous on 2007-09-23 20:13
Well, Monk James, I am not intending to be unkind to you, but you seem to be speaking for a group of the OCA establishment that needs to hear very plainly that you are wrong. Dead wrong. Why do you have a problem with plain talk? You took some pretty vicious shots earlier at Presbyterians and Mega Church folk. Can you not take what you dish out?
If you represent, as you claim, the insider thinking, then you have just revealed why we are in this mess. You (and the establishment that you represent) really do not understand Orthodox Christian ecclesiology. No bishop has identity outside the people of God. The bishop receives his identity from the "axios" of the people of God. He does not select the laos, they select him. The people of God, in council, are the fullest expression of the Mind of the Spirit in the life of the Church. Once the people of God in council, have sought the mind of the Spirit, even the Metropolitan and the Synod of Bishops cannot (or should not) overrule that voice since they are then railing against the Spirit. That is our theology. That is the theology that was ignored after the Administrative Summit. The Synod had no business standing in the way of the Summit. The Summit was a mandate of the Church in council. The Synod and Metropolitan are accountable to the Church in council, or at least they should be, absent the present OCA feudalism.
The structure you describe is a broken form of this. FRK may have tried to "bring them together" as you say, but his failure was in enabling the dysfunction, then in his self-justifying benevolent acts that resulted in him carving out his own financial slush fund to try and do his own form of good. In doing this he stepped over the ethics line. His was a perverted response to a perverted organization. Maybe misguidedly well-meaning, but in the end, FRK's actions were just as destructive, and of course, were also illegal. He allowed his self-defined sense of "what is good for the Church" to lull him into dark places. He did not hold himself accountable to common sense, ethical morays, OCA statutes, or US law. Do not defend this misbehavior under any ethical theory. (I also find the assertion that he acted alone preposterous.) No, he threw that money around for influence. That is him. He did what came naturally. Did you receive any of it? All those that did are going to need to fess up before we can bring closure to this sad episode.
It is interesting that just at the moment when the actual root of the problem is being revealed, you see no point in the continued discussion. Perhaps then, Mark will take this subject up with a wider audience because, in my mind, the broken ecclesiology you describe is what has led to this scandal. No accountability existed because nobody knew who they were supposed to be accountable to.
#18.104.22.168.22.214.171.124.1 Name withheld on 2007-09-24 16:10
Thank you for this insightful and long overdue post! This, in a nutshell, is what we should be hearing from our hierarchy and theologians. It would be nice if you fit that job(no pun intended) description.
#126.96.36.199.188.8.131.52.1.1 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2007-09-25 15:19
Dear Name withheld,
I believe that Monk James signs his posts here, so I am not sure what point you are making by assuming I am Monk James. I am not.
You seem to be under a misconception about how a bishop is elected in the Church and you like others believe that this axios or anaxios is somehow the election of a bishop. It is not.
Bishops elect bishops. In the OCA there is a process of inclusion of a diocese with the offering of names, but the Synod is under no obligation to raise a name from the diocese to that of a bishop-elect. The participation of the People of God comes from that fact that bishops come from the laos, and in this case, the male of the People of God.
If someone shouts anaxios at the consecration of a bishop, that does not stop the consecration.
You are mistaken when you write:
“No bishop has identity outside the people of God. The bishop receives his identity from the "axios" of the people of God.” This simply is not true and you need to do more study.
You are also wrong when you state that: “He (the bishop) does not select the laos, they select him.” No, the bishops select the bishop from the People of God.
You go on to misspeak again when you say: “The people of God, in council, are the fullest expression of the Mind of the Spirit in the life of the Church.” Would you care to give me an example of this, for example, in the Ecumenical Councils? Where is the example of this in the ministry of Christ? Were not the disciples who became Apostles the ones that Christ imparted His earthly ministry to in the life of the Church? And is it not also true that it is in the Apostolic Succession, from Christ, through the Apostles, through the laying on of hands in the bishops that the Church replicates herself in the hierarchy and those whom they lay hands on to assist them?
You go on to say, "Once the people of God in council, have sought the mind of the Spirit, even the Metropolitan and the Synod of Bishops cannot (or should not) overrule that voice since they are then railing against the Spirit. That is our theology."
Well, that is not quite true because it is the express duty of the bishops to, as we pray at each Liturgy, “to rightly divide the Word of Thy Truth.” That is not the responsibility of the laity.
There should not be a division between the clergy and laity of the Church. They should be of one mind and heart and it is in the unity of the bishop that the Church finds it direction. Now if a bishop is in error, if he teaches heresy, then he is corrected, by his brothers.
So much of what we are experiencing now is borne out of frustration and is, I believe fueled by “the power of the internet” as one protagonist, or antagonist, depending on your point of view, stated to one of the principals in this saga just days before this website when live. Just because we can write on this site, post reflections, even present “evidence” to make our case, does not mean that others, including bishops MUST react. This is quite arrogant on our parts to demand a response from bishops just because WE say they should. Maybe they will, but maybe they won’t based on our timeframe.
A mandate of the AAC is only as good as the ability to implement the mandate. The Administrative Summit was a very good exercise but had no chance of ever being implemented. Why? Well, let me give you one practical example, what if a bishop believes that the decision of an AAC is wrong. Must he implement it in his diocese because it is a Mandate of the AAC? No he does not. Job left the Synod and said he would not go along with the rest of the Synod when the thought MH and RSK and the HS were not doing the best thing for the Church. Thus, he felt he had a right to defend his flock by not going along with the Synod.
On the other hand, one other point you may wish to consider, if the conclusions of the AS were so compelling why did not laity and clergy advocate for them in their respective parishes and dioceses? I don’t think any bishop would have banned a priest or parish from following the AS results.
In the final analysis, your bishop has the ultimate responsibility for the life of the diocese. He relies on the prayers and free cooperation of those in his spiritual care, his clergy and the laity. He invests a great deal of prayerful delegation to his clergy to care for the souls of the laity in each parish, but it is still the bishop who is responsible.
#184.108.40.206.220.127.116.11.1.2 Anonymous on 2007-09-27 09:07
To quote noted scholar Steven Runciman in his book "The Great Church in Captivity":
Any Baptized Orthodox Christian could attend an Ecumenical Council. In practice, the Bishops had a vote, representing their diocese. The Emporer, as chief of the laos, attended and called the meetings into session, and fully participated.
The balance of an emporer doesn't exist in our church or political systems. In North America, we have taken the concept expressed in our democracy and placed them in Council in the role formerly held by the Emporer. Thus, we have an All-American Council with delegates from each parish.
In the early Church, the people nominated the candidates for episcopal consecration, and the synod chose the candidate they believed best. In the case of the patriarch, three candidates were submitted and the Emporer (again, representing the laos) made the selection.
Interestingly, the Bishop need not even be ordained. Several laymen were selected to be Patriarch of Constantinople and were hurridly ordained and consecrated a bishop to assume their service as Patriarch.
As a Church, we may need to re-introduce our Orthodox History in Church Schools ...
Martin D. Watt, CPA
#18.104.22.168.22.214.171.124.1.2.1 Marty Watt on 2007-09-27 09:36
So here we have the great divide between the eschatology of "name withheld" and "anonymous!" Since this involves such a fundamental understanding of accountability and authority in the Church, perhaps their anonymity is understandable, if deplorable.
"Anonymous" conveniently ignores the historical instances in which the laity has indeed overruled the bishops. What about the Council of Florence (Basel)? How about the numerous times bishops have been deposed or their installation forestalled by protests from below or above( the State) for that matter. Certainly, the laity has acted through secular authority, to virtually run the Church on various occasions, leaving aside whether or not this a good or bad thing. A Tsar Peter might be very handy at this particular point in time.
So it really is absurd and disingenuous to argue that that bishops have never been subject to some kind of lay authority and accountability. How that accountability is to be exercised, however, is quite another matter.
Many of us came to Orthodoxy after carefully considering, and then rejecting, the authority model of the Roman Catholic Church. It would be a pity if modern day ultramontanists, cloaked in a fake "Orthodoxy," wound up inheriting and running the Church.
#126.96.36.199.188.8.131.52.1.2.2 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2007-09-27 12:45
Your points are correct and I do not disagree with them but you also must admit that you are making points that are of historic exception and not the norm in Orthodoxy.
You say: "So it really is absurd and disingenuous to argue that that bishops have never been subject to some kind of lay authority and accountability. How that accountability is to be exercised, however, is quite another matter"
So now we get to what I would conclude as you state "How that accountability is to be exercised" IS the matter at hand. Yes, there is a role for lay participation in the life of the Church and an AAC is an important platform, but a decision of the AAC only becomes effective when it is ratified/blessed by the Holy Synod. That is their role as ultimately "dividing the Word..."
I am not talking about, nor do I believe in a "Roman Catholic" model, yet what we are actually dealing with in Syosset now IS THAT ROMAN CATHOLIC model. He is acting like a "super bishop" and he is not.
#184.108.40.206.220.127.116.11.18.104.22.168 Anonymous on 2007-09-28 06:10
One thing (vital thing) you miss in your assessment: From whence do bishops - invested with authority - get their authority? They are not aliens plopped down on this planet to govern the great unwashed. The answer is always: from the "axios" of the people of God. Without this axios, they have no authority. Therefore, ultimately in the Church, it is the laos, empowered with the Mind of the Holy Spirit, that all authority in the Church emerges. I challenge you to ask Fr. Tom Hopko to weigh in here.
The other late posters here get the point. You are still lost in the forest discussing trees with your assessment. Keep going.
It was not and is not in the purview of the bishops to ever override the decisions or wishes of an AAC, which in the OCA, is the ultimate authority. No bishop can override the authority of the people of God. They invest him with his authority and then hold themselves accountable to him. This is a fundamental but essential paradox in the Church. Without it, we are a rudderless ship. With it we have proper accountability.
#22.214.171.124.126.96.36.199.1.2.3 Name withheld on 2007-09-27 17:39
My Dear Friend Name Withheld,
The "axios" of the people is a very interesting thing and to some degree misunderstood. If one looks at the consecration of a cleric (deacon, priest, or bishop) and the liturgical action taking place, the prayers, the circling of the altar, the laying on of hands, and the axios, it is very clear that "axios" if it were the "blessing" by the laos would take place first and not last in the sequence of events. That is, if it DEPENDED on the "axios" of the people, it would stand to reason it SHOULD be done before anything else is accomplished. But, as we know, it is done last.
What say Ye?
#188.8.131.52.184.108.40.206.220.127.116.11 Anonymous on 2007-09-28 19:44
Let's not badmouth the Presbyterians, or any other respectable mainstream or evangelical Protestant church body for that matter, out of some false sense fo Orthodox superiority here. What a joke!
Orthodox could learn quite a lot from them when it comes to financial propriety, you know.
Even most evangelical para-church organisations, where we might expect accountability problems to be present, voluntarily sign up to a transparency charter on financial dealings.
#18.104.22.168.3 Anonymous on 2007-09-25 21:25
I think you have hit the issue square in the center. What is the role of the "central administration". And I agree with your assessment. Devolution to the Diocese!
Martin D. Watt, CPA
#22.214.171.124 Marty Watt on 2007-09-22 07:05
Glory To Jesus Christ! Glory Forever!
Mr. and Mrs Wayne Tatusko, Thank You for your Dedication, Love and Upmost Care About the Future of the Orthodox Church in America.
I Commend You Both For Taking Up Your Cross and Holding It Up High!!!! And For Taking Your Own Accountability Seriously Towards Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Thank You for Hearing the Message Loud and Clear That Fr. Berzonsky Has Echoed So Loudly....
We Are Above Politics! We Are Christians! May God Grant You and Your Family Much Health May God Grant You Many Many More Years! With Peace... Jeanine M. Kozak
#9 Anonymous on 2007-09-19 09:45
Before we get giddy with strained glee over this “action” of a petition, we need to think a bit. When are people going to realize that this miscreant occupying the office of Metropolitan is not going to resign no matter how often you ask or how you ask it. Go to Starbucks and smell the coffee! You can ask “pretty please” or you can put sugar on it, maybe even put a smiley at the end, the result will be the same. We are not talking about a person here who is going to be rational going forward as he has not shown any semblance of rationality so far. Let alone any fidelity to his office or his supposed faith.
The fact of the matter is that Herman is going to stick around until people get some brass and toss him out of office or if these “concerned” faithful take to the courts to file suit against the MC which has thoroughly failed in its legal responsibilities. He knows that when it comes to people doing more than talking when he stares them down they back down. Those little eyes with nothing but darkness behind them win every time. When push comes to shove you all can say whatever you want, Herman is still in that office and has no compelling reason to leave. He does, however, have very compelling reasons to stay. And none of them have anything to do with any ministry or what he thought once was his calling.
Herman is going nowhere because its not in the best interest of those implicated in this sordid mess. While he is at the top he controls the information, hides evidence, prevents accountability, and gets first class legal representation on your dime. That’s it, folks, that’s why he stays and why he’s not going anywhere . He couldn’t give a damn about the souls entrusted to him and less so about those that are calling for his ouster with this petition. It’s about saving his skin. Its about avoiding the prison ministry. And while he’s at it, to save the skin of those like Kondratick who have a lot to lose as well when the firm hand of Herman is lifted from being the paperweight on the evidence. The longer he holds on the closer he gets to the statute of limitations.
Look, his number one priority right now is to keep himself and his minions out of the clink. Associated with this is the repossession of those items which he used misappropriated funds to attain – he doesn’t want that to happen.
I am highly dubious about a petition, although I think it will do better than savetheoca.org. The main reason for this is that we like to sound off, but when it comes to putting our money where our mouths are we do the withering up that Herman knows will happen and plays so wisely that he’s in no danger. Remember, stick and stones may break my bones, but words only result in my righteous suffering!
If you want to do something meaningful, just keep your money away from him. How do you put out a fire, you deprive it of oxygen. Don’t let him use YOUR money for his legal representation or for maintaining his office to prevent any investigations or notifying of the authorities. You see, you can sign petitions til you’re blue in the face, but unless you’re willing to do a lot more than asking “Pretty please, Vladyka, resign. It’s for the good of the Church” then nothing is going to happen. That dog don’t hunt. It’s a currency he doesn’t deal in. You sign a petition then you sign your check for you assessments or you give to the Christmas Stocking or do some other totally contradictory action to your signing of a “petition”. At least Herman isn’t being hypocritical, he always does the wrong thing.
When the money dries up, and more and more churches are coming to the realization that this is the way to deal with this, then you put a time limit on his head. You can’t pay the utilities bills by asking the Utilities to get along with us for the good of the Church. Deal in the currency he understands. When in Rome do as the Romans. And don’t just cut your OCA assessments, cut the assessments to the wimpy, do nothing bishops that are just as culpable and as bad as Herman in allowing this to continue. It’s time to call a spade a spade with the rest of the Synod (save the incorrigible Nikolai and Dmitri) and let them know that very soon the remaining years of their episcopacy are going to be very empty and meaningless if they can’t get some backbone and faith in God to do what’s right. Herman is going to be gone some day, but the lapdogs like Tikhon and Benjamin will have to live with what they have no done long after he’s gone. The longer they do nothing the longer people will remember their inabilities to be true bishops after this mess is resolved. It takes a life to build up a trust, a second to destroy it.
Let’s start a petition to ask each bishop, except for +JOB, to resign because they just haven’t lived up to the oath they made at their consecrations. Yes, we have absolutely no confidence in these guys. They have not shown they are worthy of the respect they think they are entitled to just because they walk around with a stick in their hands. They need to have their money cut off like the OCA does and realize that if they aren’t going to lead and be Godly then we’re not going to pay for them to carry on their charade any more. Let’s face it, folks, these guys have failed us miserably. They should do the right thing and resign so that competent men with integrity and moral compasses that point to doing what’s right can take their place. If you’re not going to be part of the solution then you’re part of the problem. After two years they’ve been given enough chances and time to live up to their standing in the Church and have shown us that they are just not worthy. A crying shame – a problem that will continue long after the main players in this scandal are dealt with.
Want to send a message, don’t go to Education Day. Remember, Herman is the President of the Seminary. What better way to show him and others that you’re serious. But are people going to stand by what they say and act in a manner that says they’re serious? That says, “I’m really mad and I’m going to do something to express it”? The answer is a resounding NO. In the end, words rule the day and they aren’t worth the air they are sent out upon.
I’m voting with my money and that money is going to secular charities with a good reputation for using funds wisely. In the highly competitive domain of charities there are more than enough truly worthy organizations that will use your money with more Christian attitude and conscience than will any group in, or associated with, the OCA. I’m not putting it in “escrow” or withholding it for when the sun returns to shine on the OCA. That money is lost to them and is being used for purposes more worthy than the continuation of Herman’s legal defense and the prevention of him being called to account for his actions. That’s a choice that each of you has to make. You want to use your money for something good and constructive or do you want to build up the firm of Proskauer Rose. Unfortunately, for too many people, that question requires long deliberations if it’s asked at all. For some, even more unfortunately, the answer is to send the OCA more money. Might as well just burn it to keep warm in the winter.
So, for this petition. Nice try, next idea?
#10 Stonewall on 2007-09-19 11:16
You can boycot Orthodox Education Day, but you would be depriving yourself of a pleasant day and thoughtful program at an institution of the Church -- serving all Orthodox jurisdictions -- that has always striven to be accountable to its supporters. See, for example:
See! There we go. We’re making excuses why we want to go and support an event where the center of our frustration is the President. You see, unless everyone sees that Herman is kryptonite and that he scares and keeps people away there’s not going to be the critical mass of people you need to get him removed and we’re going to reach a third anniversary, then a fourth, and people are still going to be bellyaching that he’s around and nothing has been done! The bishops will continue their see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil mentality. When you have a most hardened heart who has repeatedly demonstrated that he uses the Church for his own purposes and a Synod that goes along with his sacrilegious use of the Church, unless you start showing continual negative impact of his maintaining that office you might as well just accept he’s there to stay until the good Lord decides He’s ready to take the problem into His hands!
Let St. Vlad’s take a hit this year, maybe we’ll hear from some of those people that the situation is unbearable and they can put their considerable weight behind pushing for his removal. Maybe people from sister jurisdictions will say that we’re the Orthodox laughing stock and put that out in the open. Let them now see that there’s no confidence in Herman and that it’s going to spread to the more honorable institutions that fail to take a stand on the situation. People, please, if you’re going to put pressure on or dream of putting pressure on, make it real and make it constant and make it more than words!
Is it no wonder why we can’t bring this ungodly mess to a conclusion on the side of righteousness? We’re like gnats in the summer time. They’re around us, but we can wave our hands and they scatter for a minute. Maybe we need to be more like bees!
You want to have a pleasant day in the area? Take a hike up in Bear Mountain and admire God’s handiwork rather than God forbid, you take a stand one day against what gets you so mad here. Make the sacrifice one day to stand for what what’s right and what you believe to be behavior unbecoming of a member of clergy! Go visit the US Military Academy where honor is more than a hollow, spoken word.
Go ahead, fill out your petition and then be surprised when it results in being totally ignored and nothing else getting done. Yawn.
Lord have mercy!
#10.1.1 Stonewall on 2007-09-20 07:30
You are completely correct, Stonewall. Our hierarchs and the Metropolitan in particular have demonstrated completely that this is about (a) money and (b) ego to them/him, esp. (a). Yet, people will continue to make excuses and go to events, show up at happenings, and make their contributions to "the good part of the OCA." The Metropolitan is the President of SVOS! Only a loss of contributions and income to that organization as well as the OCA will be meaningful to him and the Board of that institution! Yes, it will hurt the seminarians -- but these are our future priests, are they not? Would it not benefit them to learn how to stand-up for truth and Truth? Endure a little personal suffering maybe? This situation must end, and the only way it will end is (a) the death of the OCA, or (b) the departure of Metropolitan Herman; there are no other options.
As a convert, I literally stumbled into the OCA; I was so happy when I "discovered" Orthodoxy, and then with an "American" flavor to it. What has transpired in the past two years has not shaken my faith in Orthodoxy, but merely reminded me that the OCA is a human institution with human failings. Fortunately, due to our faith community's non-canonical organization on this continent, I have the option of transitioning to another jurisdiction; none of the candidates are compelling to me, and I have a lot of regard and affection for my own "home Parish," and my Priest. So, I am torn as to what to do. But what I do know is that we need a chief hierarch who has power and authority to lead the OCA, to evangelize, and to lead us in spreading the Orthodox faith in this country -- not a stripped-down master-of-ceremonies, all to make sure that the next time we get a lying schemer in the office he can't do too much damage.
As for hierarchy and so forth, you know, the last time I checked, King George III was annointed King of England and the colonies in a thoroughly appropriate and valid manner; yet we had a revolution on this continent, and re-constituted the authority over government into the hands of the electorate anyway. And that's our established authority now. And we pray for "the President of our Country" at every Liturgy. So, doesn't that mean that Orthodoxy has accepted the principal that it is acceptable for the laity to rise up against "God's annointed" when necessary? When all appeal to reason and decency have failed? When all petitions, suggestions, and supplications have failed? That's the American Way, and this is the OCA; regretably, it doesn't seem like our Statute enables this, and the Holy Synod? Well, their position (or lack therof) has been well documented and the saga continues.
Yes, I'll be adding my name to the petition -- even if it's useless, it's time to stand-up and be counted, and named. As I have said in posts here in the past, I am sending my money to OCMC, IOCC, Rev. Franklin Graham (Samaritan's Purse), and the ASPCA, and recently I subscribed to the Antiochian Church's news magazine, "Again" -- the OCA has demonstrated that it can't be trusted to do what is right with money, and frankly, I work too hard for my money to give it to a crook or crooks (or their attorneys)! I will continue to do my part to assist my parish, in a way that is off the books or otherwise not "taxable" by the OCA. I'm seriously considering "resigning" from the parish so I'm not counted in the assessment; not what I wanted to do, since I joined the church in part, to BE COUNTED in public as part of God's people, and as being on the side of Jesus Christ in this crazy-quilt culture that we've invented here! (Now what, I have to hide my face so Met. Herman & Co. can't swindle me? Thanks, Bro. Sorry, I mean, Thanks Archbishop.)
If you don't want to sign the petition, then fine -- but you can participate by simply keeping your checkbook in your dresser drawer or in your purse. And if you want to do something for your parish, find-out the account number for the electric bill or the water bill, and send a check to the power company or the utility company in behalf of that account; they'll cash it!
And I'll say this: I will not tolerate a transfer of my parish priest by Metropolitan Herman! I do not and will not recognize his authority to do that under his despoiled regime! As we say in this country, "No justice, no peace!" And I mean it; if I have to nail his door shut and let the air out of his tires, he's staying! You can call that "congregationalism" if you want to. This man Mr. Swaiko has proven himself to be an enemy of the Lord and of the OCA, and I'm not going to stand idly by and watch if he tries to destroy a limb of the Body of Christ. He's done far too much damage as it is. I don't hate the man, and I hope God forgives him (and me) for what he (and we) have done. I know that a lot of people would say that I clearly don't understand Orthodox theology or ecclesiology, but one thing that I thought I did understand was that God WILL forgive you, but first (a) you've got to repent, and (b) you've got to ASK for forgiveness.
Calling all OCA Archbishops and Bishops: "Attention -- NO MORE MONEY, Your Emminences and Graces. NO MORE MONEY."
#10.1.1.1 C.C. on 2007-09-27 20:51
I am glad to see that I am not the only one who understands that MH is not going anywhere.
The key to all of this is to cut off the money. Without money, MH would have to get a job somewhere in order to live, and that would force change.
But we must be realistic enough to know that will never happen. Nobody believes that the majority of the OCA will stop funding Herman and Co.
So where does that leave us?
Folks, it leaves us with what the Lord gave us; prayer. There really is no way this situation will change much by our actions because most people will truly do nothing. But God is still able to do whatever He wants to do, and that cannot be stopped.
Please pray for the current situation. Sure, write petitions, etc. if you like, but PUT YOUR TRUST IN GOD AND PRAY because that is the only thing that will ever even begin to make a difference here.
#10.2 George Kruse on 2007-09-20 04:26
Prayer AND works. SYNERGY
#10.2.1 fdr on 2007-09-21 06:35
An excellent post, Stonewall--mostly right on. However, as one who had no problem in signing the petition, I agree that all the signatures in the OCA will not make any difference with Herman. I don't speak for the group in St. Marks's but I would think that the petition is not directed to Herman as such as much as it is to the MC, the Synod and the faithful out there who don't really know what has gone on (and is still going on) and are still feeding the pipeline with money.
So, in this respect, I disagree with Stonewall. I believe the petition is a good idea--and will bear fruit--- and congratulate our brothers and sisters in Bethesda for actually doing something rather than just complaining about it.
#10.3 nicholas skovran on 2007-09-20 05:31
This petition may also give us a more accurate headcount of the OCA membership!! Thank you Cathy and Wayne Tatusko and all the brave souls at St. Mark’s!
May the Lord have mercy on us all!
(Holy Resurrection Church, Palatine, IL)
#11 Helen O'Sullivan on 2007-09-19 11:22
"Want to send a message, don’t go to Education Day. Remember, Herman is the President of the Seminary. What better way to show him and others that you’re serious."
Recently, when I received the seminary appeal letter from the Dean and the Chancellor of SVOTS I wrote back to them saying that I can not give money to the Seminary so long as Metr. Herman is the president of it. I sent a copy to Bishop Benjamin.
Fr. Chad, the Chancellor wrote back a very gracious letter. I feel sorry for him and every one else at SVOTS. They do such great work and seem completely dedicated to the mission of the seminary. They deserve a better president. I pray they get one soon.
Am I the only one, or is anyone else beginning to think that a monk randomly chosen from Mt. Athos or the Isle of Patmos would be better than Metr. Herman? Maybe we should choose all out Metropolitans that way? With the caveat that they be 70 years old, so that if they are really bad, like Metr. Herman they die soon. It seems like death is the only way to get rid of a metropolitan.
Please note that many seminarians will find it inadvisable to sign the ipetition without choosing to remain anonymous. At this time, those persons are aware that their calling is the higher priority, regardless of the force of their concern about the scandal and leadership, but that pragmatically they jeopardize their calling and the peace of the brethren at their seminary, if they distinguish themselves publicly by their views on the scandal.
#12 anonymous on 2007-09-19 11:57
With respect, my friend:
Who called you, and to what are you "called"? A "call" isn't a thing you own. It is the Church, as Christ's Body, who calls. It is Christ's call to service, on His terms, for whatever service He asks. I understand your vision and hope to serve in a particular capacity and your sense that God has gifted you for a particular ministry, and I genuinely appreciate that. But we are not Protestants; you don't "own" any call --least of all one which requires you to compromise your conscience, your sense of what is right, or your obligation to speak the truth in love (even to your elders, like Samuel --or even Balaam's donkey!). Can you imagine a Church in which everyone, for whatever their "call" or job or personal need or priority was, took your course of anonymity?
Our Church is built on those who stand up, not those who safely and anonymously whisper. My dear friend, if you start compromising for the sake of your "call" now, you may find you aren't too different than those in Syosset who have compromised the truth by not speaking up for the sake of their jobs. Have you ever considered that your call from Christ may indeed be to lay down your ordination for the sake of witnessing to His Kingdom in this scandal?
Trust me: I know seminarians are vulnerable; I was a vulnerable seminarian. Believe me, I understand the anguish you are going through. But before you even start to serve Christ is not the time to deny Him. You say your "calling" is a "higher priority"; a higher priority than speaking the truth? a higher priority than martyrdom for Christ? What higher priority is there than seeking to bear witness to the truth of the Gospel? What better good is there than the good of the Church?
Ask yourself: What kind of priest do you want to be? The Fathers of the Church tell us that the most important time in our lives is *right now*, and the most important person in our lives is the person(s) we are encountering *now*. I suggest that you have been called to such a time as this, including this scandal. As a kid, I used to wish I was born earlier, because of my enjoyment of all things 50's and early 60's (I was born in the late 50's), until I was taught that God not only Personally fashioned us physically, but also made us for this particular time and setting in which He puts us. Put in other terms, you were made ("called") for this time, this scandal, at seminary, now. The only question is, what are you going to do in response to that calling? Are you actually more concerned for your ordination than for the restoration and healing of Christ's Body? If so, I advise you to reconsider pursuing ordination. We don't need more priests who are afraid to speak for fear of repercussions --from bishops or layfolk.
Your "callling" isn't something you compromise correcting an erring brother for in order not to "jeopardize," but is something you must be faithful to now by speaking the truth and actually trusting God for your life. "Pragmatic" thinking all too often is just an excuse for putting one's job security over the betterment of and honesty in Christ's Church.
You write that if you sign the petition (which you imply your conscience tells you you should), that it would jeopardize the peace at the seminary. My dear anonymous friend, this is another excuse. Jesus Himself said He came not to bring peace, but a sword! St Paul told us there must be "divisions" and "factions" among members of the Church "in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized."
So, a line has been drawn; who's side are you on? You didn't ask for this fight; I understand you don't want it (neither do I; who does?); but it has been drawn and put before you. You have already been "called" to take a stand. Ask yourself: What greater thing do you desire, or are you pursuing, than losing your life for the sake of the Gospel?
Trust me: the opportunities for compromise and the pressure to act expediently rather than be true to the Gospel and take the heat for it only increase with parish ministry. (A dear friend of mine --and excellent, holy priest-- was just kicked out of his parish, receiving no help from his superiors, in part for being true to the Gospel.) It is not without merit that St John Chrysostom says the road to Hell is paved with the skulls of priests. The pressure to compromise one's principles and conscience grows, not lessens, after seminary. Please understand: you are shaping your future ministry right now, by the decisions and lack of action you choose today.
When the Deacon Benjamin was thrown into prison, the king (read "bishop") was willing to let him go free (read, "ordain him"), on condition that he kept silent and non longer speak the truth. To this, Benjamin replied: 'I cannot possibly do that. Those who hide the talent they have received will be given over to greater suffering', and he continued to speak, converting many. The king then ordered that thorns be driven under his nails, and had him tortured until he gave his soul into God's hands.
When the Martyr Zlata was being pressured to deny the truth, her parents and sisters (read "wife and fellow seminarians") told her, "Have mercy on yourself and us. Deny Christ publicly, that we can all be happy. Christ is merciful; He will forgive your sin, committed under the pressure of life.' They wept bitterly. But Zlata's heroic soul would not be overcome by devilish seduction, and she now reigns with the Son of God in eternal glory.
You know the stories. Whose example are you going to follow? I urge you to put your John Hancock BIG on the dotted line, my friend. Whatever happens (and the threat is almost always greater than the reality), you will not have sold out your true calling for an imaginary one of your own making.
With genuine empathy,
Father Mark Hodges
P.S. Ditto to all those who post anonymously, whatever the excuse.
St Stephen's Mission
Dear Fr. Mark,
Thank you for what you have written. You have said so well what was in my heart as I read the seminarians' posting giving their rational for remaining anonymous.
They are privileged to learn early in their journeys toward the priesthood what you have to teach them will be inevitable in living it authentically: hard choices.
I am reminded again of the old hymn whose words went something like this: "Once to every man and nation, comes the moment to decide....when right is on the scaffold and wrong is on the thrown." Now is such a moment in the OCA.
I don't know what effect your message will have on the seminarians. But I know that it has given me fresh courage and hope.
#12.1.1 Jean Langley Sullivan on 2007-09-20 08:06
Ditto from me, too, Father Mark!
I had thought of posting something directed to the seminarians, asking them to walk this line very carefully--and only with the direction of very wise cousel. You have provided it. Like Jean, I am uplifted reading your post.
God bless you!
#126.96.36.199 Cathryn Tatusko on 2007-09-20 16:42
Fr. Mark knows what he's talking about. He attended SVS, and was a classmate of mine.
He knows well what happens to seminarians (and clergy) who blow the whistle and contradict the pet wants of the higher-ups... because it happenend to him.
Let's just say he spoke out against a certain hierarch's allowing a priest who was a close chum of his to remarry, wedding a woman whom that priest had counseled to divorce (although he was supposed to have been working with her and her husband in marital counseling).
He already stood up once before, and suffered vindictive suspension because of it.
In Christ Made Flesh,
If I understand this correctly, the vindictive bishops were Antiochian, not SVS officials? So the suggestion above that we merge with the Antiochians would be out of the frying pan and into, at best, another frying pan?
#188.8.131.52 Rachel Andreyev on 2007-09-22 03:32
Possibly. That's one reason I've suggested the idea that if (and I stress *if*) the OCA goes belly-up from this, serious consideration should be given to approaching the Archdiocese of Russian Orthodox Churches in Western Europe (from which came Frs. Schmemann and Meyendorff, among others, and the renaissance of living traditions in the Church eg saying the Anaphora aloud for all the faithful to hear) to join with them. Think of what a united Metropolitanate of Russian Orthodox Chuches in the West under the EP could offer!
In Christ Made Flesh,
I completely understand the rational for this posting. I mean this comment as no criticism of anyone. But, of all the sad and depressing things I have ever read on this website, this is the most heartbreaking.
#12.2 Jean Langley Sullivan on 2007-09-20 06:44
Just a clarification: my comment beginning "I completely understand the rational for this posting....." was a response to the seminarians posting NOT to Fr. Mark Hodges reply to them.
#12.2.1 Jean Langley Sullivan on 2007-09-20 15:47
I've also got a suggestion for people who are struggling with whether to show up for services or events where the Metropolitan will be, who don't want to miss a major event in the life of their parish, but who want to let it be known that they know about the missing money, and that they want answers.
If you go, wear green.
Wear green, because it's the color of money, and you want to know where the money went, and when there will be true accountability.
Wear green, because it's the color of new life, and you want the dark winter of scandal to be over and the OCA to be renewed.
Wear green, because it symbolizes hope.
Wear green. Lots of green. Green from head to toe.
If enough people do this, and if we can make it known to the Metropolitan why we are doing this, he will see with his own eyes that even those people who are present, are not there as his supporters. They are not there out of love for or loyalty to him. They want him to be gone.
#13 Josephine on 2007-09-19 12:58
I've been unsure of what to do; I go to church at a monastery, and this Sunday, Metropolitan Herman is coming to bless the monastery's new church. There's a lot of hoopla going on for his visit: they're putting on a fancy luncheon for him, and they're bringing in another choir to sing. I'd like to support the monks, but I want to show that I do not support Herman.
If I wore green, I'd be the only one wearing it, and I don't think the Met would get it... I'd like to be a little bolder, but I don't want to offend the monks. (I thought about taking my "He's not MY President" t-shirt and writing the word "Metropolitan" over "President." )
Are there any other ideas on what I should do? (if anything?)
#13.1 Mary Phillips on 2007-09-19 18:59
If +Herman were to visit my parish, I would not absent myself, and at the coffee hour, I would approach him, ask for his blessing, and then privately, respectfully and politely tell him he is over his head and needs to retire for the benefit of the church and wish him all the best in retirement. No explanations unless he asks. The metropolitan needs to hear it face to face.
As it now stands I suspect +Herman thinks all the commotion is made by a few of us malcontents led by the likes of Stokoe and Tatuskos.
As for Sophia Weisheit's (presumably a nom de plume) suggestion about a second petition supporting +Herman, it's not a bad idea. The results may be curious as to who didn't sign than the few that might. A double wise idea!!
#13.1.1 Terry C. Peet on 2007-09-20 14:03
Well, it turns out that someone on the Metropolitan Council read my previous post and contacted the monastery about it. I got a phone call last night telling me that I was not to say anything about the financial scandals while the Metropolitan was visiting. I was also told that they are not my home parish, so I need to remove their monastery name from the petition.
I'm hurt and angry and more than ever unsure of what to do.
#13.1.2 Mary Phillips on 2007-09-22 04:45
Dear Ms. Phillips:
I think it is understandable that you are hurt and confused. I too am sad, angry, frustrated, confused, etc. by the whole thing. My only thought, for myself, is to allow them to be the bishops/leadership I need, and not allow them anything else. I think there are those who would lead us straight into Sheol if we followed them. While they must preside at the gathering, we certainly cannot see them as moral leaders, given their own behavior. For moral leadership, I think we have but two models: Christ and His Mother.
We have seen plenty of moral shortcomings played out, but thankfully none that compromise our faith or lead us to heresy. It is very much like a disfunctional family, and up till now, I've been a "head in the sand" enabler. For myself, I attempt to weakly follow my prayer rule, to serve others where I can, and to follow the outline of the 12 steps.
I hope you take comfort that others feel exactly as you, and are equally unsure of what to do. A wise person once told me a life rule: never make decisions when you are frightened or angry. Now is not the time, in my view, to make decisions. It is a time to stand pat, and struggle to recognize God in all things.
I'm reminded that issues similar to those we face today were the reason the original monastics left the cities for the wilderness.
Your caller is unfortunately correct - the monastery church is not a parish. It is under the guidance of Met. HERMAN, not a diocesan bishop. On the bright side, I'm not certain but believe any money you give would not support the central church administration, but would stay 100% locally.
You remain as always in my prayers!
Martin D. Watt, CPA
#184.108.40.206 Marty Watt on 2007-09-24 11:57
Of course, they're not your home parish - unless you're a nun. Why on earth are you so offended? From much experience, people like you "affiliate" with a monastic community as a means to avoid one of the primary duties of being an Orthodox Christian - to tithe.
I'm sure the monks have obedience to their spiritual father (Bishop Swaiko) why don't you if you really think you're a "member" there?
Show a little humility lady and try to shake off your protestant baggage. The world and the Church don't revolve around you.
#220.127.116.11 Anon on 2007-09-24 14:41
yet another classic example of RSK-era Syosset tactics at work ... attack, belittle, margianilize.
Thanks for reminding us why cleaning this up matters and why we can't just roll over and act as if it's cleaned up when it's not.
#18.104.22.168.1 Rebecca Matovic on 2007-09-24 15:25
If I might share some of my Protestant baggage. For a time, just before I became Orthodox, I was a member of the Lutheran church.
And as a Lutheran, I learned Luther's Small Catechism. It's something that continues to inform my faith and my life in Christ. You might particularly note what Luther said about the Eighth Commandment: Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor. This means that we should so fear and love God that we do not tell lies about our neighbor, betray him, or give him a bad name, but defend him, speak well of him, and take his words and actions in the kindest possible way.
I have no idea where you got your ideas about Ms. Phillips. Perhaps you have mistaken her for someone else, since your comments about her bear no resemblance at all to the person I know.
#22.214.171.124.2 Josephine on 2007-09-24 15:32
I don't know who you are of course, but that was one nasty little post. Nice guy.
#126.96.36.199.3 Anon to Anon on 2007-09-24 15:36
Has no-one noticed that the petition is already compromised? Some rather strange names, titles and addresses have turned up.
It -did- seem like a good idea--- but it doesn't seem as if it is practical in its current form......
(Editor's note: It is hardly compromised by those signing "Fr. Mikhail Mousekwitch Orlando FL; nor by "F@#K you St. Mark's". Those who write such only compromise themselves. They are quickly edited out, and removed. And the list of signers seems to keep growing - 300 in the first 24 hours from every diocese. Since only 3% ever sign an on-line petition, that means some 10,000 read the story yesterday - which is half the contributing membership of the OCA - and that on a Wednesday, one of the slow days. That and the continuing decline of contributions signals the unmistakeable feeling of the OCA's membership....)
#14 a clergy wife on 2007-09-19 17:23
It is not compromised if the enemy's disciples use inappropriate humor with regard to this very serious matter. If the petition receives a thousand legit names and a thousand false, blasphemous or sardonic names, the petition is valid to the extent of the thousand legit names.
#14.1 Anonymous on 2007-09-20 13:04
Where did you get the idea of 2 million members in the OCA? Sorry for the rude awakening but the OCA membership is somewhere around 20,000 - believe it or not!
(Editor's note: The figure of 2 million was cited by Fr. Paul Kucynda in his affidavit to the NY Attorney General's office in application for the loan of $1.7 million from the Honesdale Bank last year. More recently Metropolitan Herman has cited the figure of 1 million to reporters at the graveside of Archbishop Kyrill. The AP later used the figure of 400,000 following an interview with Fr. Jarmus ( who later said he was misquoted); and the most recent academic study (Kndrtich) puts the figure at 150,000 max. Of these, less than 25,000 are contributing members - and that according to the figures of Syosset given at the 2005 Toronto All American Council.)
#15 Anonymous on 2007-09-19 18:39
I applaud the petition. However the large numbers of priests & deacons not signing should scream out to all of us re: the culture of fear and retaliation that so many of the clergy feel.
How could a priest or deacon in +MH's Diocese of Washington NY & NJ dare sign?
I suggest that clergy sign the petition not as "anonymous" but rather with something like "A Senior Priest in NJ" And I urge the esteemed Matushki do the same.
Mark please do not use my name for obvious reasons.
God help us and deliver us from evil...
One of The Seventy Senior Priests
#16 Anonymous on 2007-09-19 18:54
SaveTheOca.org has been able to collect over $42,000 from those willing to save the church. This petition is great, but lets all jointly speak the language that -MH understands -> *MONEY*!
I urge everyone who signs the petition to show that they are there to pick up the pieces that this disgraced administration leaves behind!
#17 Anon on 2007-09-19 18:55
Take a look at the names of those pledging money at the Save the OCA web site. Notice how many who have pledged have posted comments on this web site. Notice also how many have signed the petition of no confidence in the leadership of Metropolitan +HERMAN.
What is not obvious is that ten families from St. Mark who have signed the petition have made pledges at the Save the OCA web site, some of them within the first week the Save the OCA web site was in operation. Those ten families represent 10% of those making pledges at Save the OCA, and almost 16% of the amount pledged so far.
#17.1 Mark C. Phinney on 2007-09-20 19:31
All of you "anonymouses" out there: all you need to do is pledge $1.00 to Save the oca.org. Can you afford this to make a statement and possibly save the OCA?
#17.2 Eugenie Osmun on 2007-09-20 20:07
Perhaps a another petition should be started: One for those who HAVE confidence in HERMAN I. The chorus of crickets might actually speak louder than a list of disgruntled, spiritually weak individuals who have not suffered righteously. nor have grown spiritually through all of this hogwash. ( Afterall, that is how the No Confidence Petition will be viewed. )
How long O Lord, how long.....????
#18 Sophia Weisheit on 2007-09-19 19:19
yes, please start one ... see how many real people you get as opposed to internet sock puppets.
#18.1 Rebecca Matovic on 2007-09-20 07:32
We'll pray for you Sophia and all those who are still being misled by our wolf in shepard's clothes. (Although the shepard's clothes in this case are so opulent that they are on display at the museum at St. Tikhon's!)
#18.2 Sad on 2007-09-20 11:29
I think you've missed my point, and point of view. Believe me, I am not being missled. If people are afraid to sign a petition against HERNAM I, lets see how many will sign one in favor of him and Syossett, or OBC or whatever new clever name they come up with. I think the results, or rather the lack thereof, will speak louder to the Met. than any other list of names. Thanks for the prayers, we all need them.
#18.2.1 Sophia Weisheit on 2007-09-20 19:07
Good suggestion inspired by a post on Orthodox Forum:
ask people at church this weekend who are not internet savvy for permission to enter their names ... make a sheet for signatures and enter them on behalf of others.
#19 Rebecca Matovic on 2007-09-20 04:14
Yes, please follow Rebecca's advice and serve your fellow parishioners who do not have Internet access. Take a clipboard to church, and gather their signatures to add to the petition. We will all appreciate your giving of your time and effort in this way.
Thank you to all who have legitimately signed thus far, and to all who will sign in the coming days and weeks. I see this as a strong form of mutual encouragement--and I believe that the rod of the oppressor can, and will, be broken.
This is only step one.
#19.1 Cathryn Tatusko on 2007-09-20 07:47
I admire your initiative in doing something concrete, despite a widely held view (that I share) that Met. Herman will never resign. Last I looked, nearly 400 signatures are on the petition. .... Cate
#19.1.1 Cate on 2007-09-20 18:16
THANK YOU forward looking people of St Marks. Not only will the petition serve to impact on the close-minded metropolitan and his supporters, but will also give us information as to where work must be done to educate and inform other OCA members.
With the petition running just one day, I see how far the Syosset fiasco has reached.
May God be with us.
#20 I SIGNED on 2007-09-20 05:15
Agree to disagree...say what you will but some names on the petition are despicable. For the first time, the laity can speak out in a unified manner and these remarks have to be made. Don't forget....you are not anonymous to the only one who counts.
Thanks to St. Mark's parish for their efforts. Thanks to all who sign in good faith without using four letter words and disparaging remarks.
Wish to remain anonymous.
#21 Anonymous on 2007-09-20 06:40
That someone would post profanity, or the internet equivalent, on a Christian website, in what one might assume is the defense of Mr. Swaiko and his associates, is deplorable. I truly hope it was the work of immature kids at play, and not adults who disagree and are unable to express their view in a more socially acceptable fashion.
Thank you to the people of St. Marks for their courageous actions.
#21.1 Tamara Bogner on 2007-09-20 14:36
How the OCA Recovers!
Now is the time to think about how the OCA can recover. The AAC is next year, there is no REAL leadership in the OCA and it is time think about getting back on track to where the OCA was post 1970 - autocephaly. The answer is this:
The OCA should approach the Antiochians and beseech them to join the OCA. Bishop Basil Essey will be made Metropolitan and the OCA headquarters will transfer to Mountain Rd. in Englewood, NJ (Antiochian Archdiocese headquarters). In this action, all aspects with Orthodoxy in America can be restored. The OCA gains solid, strong leadership; Met. Philip gains his life-long wish toward real Orthodox unity; the revamping of the entire OCA takes place; confidence is restored along with financial assurances and strong, young bishops lead the church - there is no virtual downside for anyone.
The only people who would regret this would be ROCOR, the MP and the Greeks, but they've always had their own agendas anyway.
#22 Anonymous on 2007-09-20 08:11
For the OCA to be taken in by the Antiochian Orthodox Church, Bishop Basil as Metropolitan. I say Amen! Amen! Amen! I wish +Phillip would intervene and convince Herman to step aside. Do it now! Why wait for the ACC in Pittsburgh!
Holy Trinity Orthodox Church
#22.1 David Rudovsky on 2007-09-20 18:29
You're missing something important here. The message to which you respond does not refer to the OCA being "taken in" by Antioch--quite the opposite. It asks to the AA to "join" the OCA.
Seems to me as though the intent, however, is merger into a new entity rather than absorption of either body by the other. IMVHO, this is the only way out of the jurisdictional mess, anyway.
Meanwhile, suggest you ask around about HE Philip's opinion expressed to HB Herman on what he should do with the reform movement. You (and others) might be surprised.
#22.1.1 Fr. Dennis Buck on 2007-09-24 07:46
This is so sad...
Today I have for the first time read many of these comments and reflections. I have a hard time believing that I am reading these things in an Orthodox Church forum. Where is the love for one another? Where is the humility and the understanding of the prayer before communion in which we loudly proclaim "I believe, O Lord, and I confess that Thou art truly the Christ, the Son of the living God, who camest into the world to save sinners of whom I am first."
It's the "of whom I am first" that requires quiet reflection. We need to concern ourselves with removing the log from our own eye, not the speck from our brother's.
I am not saying that there has been no impropriety, no wrong doing, or such, only that our response should be a prayerful one and a loving one. We should not behave like our brothers and sisters who are of this world and point accusing fingers, making demands for our brother's head on a platter, having ourselves a regular witch hunt. Remember the Church Fathers who taught us to cover our brother's sins with our mantles, rather than exposing them for all to see.
We need to be strong, united in love and in prayer and in this way, to all of us, healing will come. The Church is all of us from the Metropilitan to the the smallest child united in Christ. We need to show the world what being an Orthodox Christian means. The Church is our mother, is my mother, and I urge you all to pray and draw near to her for support. Trust in the Holy Spirit! Humility, love, forgiveness, hope, joy, and ultimately the salvation of the world are the gifts we stand to receive.
Finally, why do you think that the next man will be less fallen and broken than the last? Which one of you thinks that he or she deserves, or is holy enough to be the next Metropolitan?
May God have mercy on us!
With love and prayers, your sister in Christ.
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
#23 Helen Derry-Scratch on 2007-09-20 09:57
When I read your posting, I felt your anguish. But, when you said "today I have for the first time read many of these comments and reflections," I knew why I shared your anguish; I too felt sad (and frankly disgusted) when I first read the comments and reflections. But, for me this was many months earlier than for you.
What happened over these many months--that seemed to stretch to years, my feelings changed. I started to understand why people felt so strongly, why they could no longer forgive, no less forget; why their feelings changed from regret to mild criticism to strong criticism and finally to rage. They changed because they were frustrated, felt betrayed, and deeply cared for the Church. Please forgive them for being human after all. Please forgive me as well, for I too at times used less than ideal temperament.
Interestingly, there is ample evidence in the Holy Scriptures, Holy Canons, and church history, that the Lord Jesus, His Apostles and the Holy Orthodox Church have consistently said that turning the other cheek, forgiving seven times seventy, and not judging are NOT absolute: there comes a time when all of that ceases and action must be taken. I have posted some citations to that effect, as have others.
Right now, I feel a bit depressed; I feel that nothing that we can do or say will make a difference. I really hope that I am wrong, that prayer will do the trick, so please continue to pray and to reflect on the facts. Please, do not avert your eyes, close your ears and pinch your nose to shut out this scandal that is rocking the foundations of the Church. By the way, this is not an American problem; it is a problem that will affect the entire Orthodox church because in this age of instant and world-wide communications, nothing is local and nothing remains hidden (for long).
All the best, Carl
#23.1 Carl on 2007-09-26 13:27
"Finally, why do you think that the next man will be less fallen and broken than the last? Which one of you thinks that he or she deserves, or is holy enough to be the next Metropolitan?"
Helen, its not about being holy enough. One is Holy. But you present a false dichotomy, a technique that is easy to inadvertently fall into when we are impassioned (unless is was intentional, in which case: shame). That dichotomy is that one must be either holy or else we must be satisfied with what we now have under the Big White Hat; in fact, you even went further, implying that the next man might be as corrupt as the current Met. As to the latter ... well, maybe. But for crying out loud, the people -- thats you and me, Helen -- are called to declare at a consecration that the candidate is worthy. "He is worthy" we cry ... which presumes that one CAN be worthy; and also that one may not be worthy, which is why we the people have the obligation to cry "Anaxios" -- "he is NOT worthy" -- when that is the case. Worthy does NOT = holy. What is worthy? Read St Paul's requirements. Worthy means no lying (remember the Affadavit sworn to by Kucynda (blessed by Herman)?); it means no obfuscation of evil, or calling evil by lesser names ("mistakes," misdeeds," "financial miscalculations"); it means, in the case of a bishop, shepherding the flock ... shepherding! That means not just protecting, but keeping together. What we have is a would-be Pope with a tendency toward dissention and abdication of responsibility.
Forget about holy, Helen; is he worthy?
#23.2 Anonymous on 2007-09-26 20:29
Boycott Orthodox Education Day & St. Vlads??? Are you nuts? They have nothing to do with + Herman nor this horrible financial scandal. Remember, this entire mess is between + Theodosius, RSK and + Herman. RSK was + Herman's chosen boy from St. Tikhon's. + Herman still resides at St. Tikhon's. If you want to penalize + Herman, boycott St. Tikhons; St. Vlads had nothing to do with what happened in Syosset. Where do you people get your weird ideas that there is any connection here? If you really want to do something, write letters to the Synod of Bishops and money talks. No one disagrees there are issues here, but they really won't be settled until next year's AAC. Depriving St. Vlad's of any support will only hurt the education of future leaders of the church, not + Herman, Syosset or the present OCA mess.
#24 Anonymous on 2007-09-20 11:35
Who is the President of St. Vladimir's Seminary?
#24.1 Anonymous on 2007-09-20 18:36
Someone in a commentary, wrote of speaking the truth in love. It is an important lesson. Persons truly can seek to have problems corrected, to seek to have mistakes avoided, to try to contribute to improving situations in that spirit of love. To do this is to seek to follow Christ's teachings, which are paramount in our lives and in how we act and how we approach things. Would it not be good to step back before we hit a send button on a computer, send a letter, speak some words on any subject and ask ourselves are we speaking the truth in love? It is difficult in the heat of the moment, it is difficult when various emotions take over our actions, but it is a good step in our lives as followers of Christ. We do not distinguish ourselves through rude comments, sarcasm and the like, just as we do not distinguish ourselves in wrongdoing.
Yet we all stumble and need to try and return to the path that Christ charts for us, praying that God's will is done. And we must be careful who we hurt by our acts and our words, and when we do hurt others, as we all do, we seek God's forgiveness and try to do better. The fathers speak of perfection in this earth as not in attaining the ideal but of striving for it. It is a good teaching. On another site I spoke of my grandmother and her devotion to the Church and the fact that as a boy I witnessed that devotion and never heard her speak badly of the Church. It is an important lesson, for we teach by our words and actions. And not it is not about whitewashing or ignoring problems, it is about an attitude in which, while seeking to correct the ills around us, we do not participate in them in some unwanted way. My sisters and brothers let us be One in our approaches, loving and forgiving, even while seeking what is true and right. And let us too be careful with our words for we share them with many and we would not want to dampen anyone's enthusiasm for participation in our Orthodox Church. I shudder to think of what my future would have been if as a boy, someone young in the faith, if someone such as my grandmother had spoken badly of the Church...
#25 Very Rev. William DuBovik on 2007-09-20 12:14
Amin! Amin! Amin!
Pray rather than crucify!
#25.1 Athanasia on 2007-09-20 19:12
Dear Fr. William,
Forgive me, I can clearly see your compassion and willingness to forgive. I am certain that you are a very kind and generous priest, but it appears that you just don't get it. We are not attacking The Church or speaking badly of The Church. It is just the opposite; we are speaking out against injustice, against lies, against theft, against cover up, against blackmail, and against the culture of immoratly that got us here. We are simply asking for truth, accountability and transparency. We are truly seeking to build up the church and if that means we must further significant changes, so be it. If you remodel your house, you may try to save some of the old woodwork and fixtures, but there comes a time when you have to tear out and remove the rotted sub-floor. It clearly appears that we have such a condition in the OCA.
#25.2 Ken Kozak on 2007-09-20 19:54
I had not planned to post again for a while, but events have overtaken my resolve.
The petition is a critical tool to demonstrate to our arrogant and out of touch bishops the outrage and discontent felt by so many members of the OCA. While 350+ is an excellent start, many more signatures will be needed to break through the fog of denial that envelops Syosset and heirs (?!) of the Apostles. Everyone who follows this site and wants truth, change, and reform, must sign this petition and help those so inclined, but internet challenged, to do the same.
This is an important opportunity to make a difference. Don't blow it by cowardice, laziness or ignorance.
#26 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2007-09-20 12:42
I gotta ask, do you really think this will be effective? I DO NOT. I would figure that the tone and tenor of the notes in these forums would have already gotten back to our Primate and speak volumes in terms of "confidence". Isn't this a bit like "high school" to think that we're all just going to sign a petition and all is going to get better? This appears to be a play to make everyone feel empowered but come on. Be real and think ahead. Eventually our Primate will move on. Then what? 50 different nominations for a replacement only to hand the future election to the Synod of Bishops. Stop reacting and start planning.
#27 Anon on 2007-09-20 13:33
Really that depends on what you define as effective.
Do I think this petition will result in +MH resigning? No.
But is it an important element in an overall movement to rally the faithful and keep pressure on +MH. It demonstates that concern about these issues is both broad and deep. It answers the attempt so obscure the concerns of the faith with a snow-job of "oh, it's just a few malcontents. Don't you know that he .... You have to realize that she ..."
These are important steps along the way. Nothing here is going to happen quickly or painlessly. The point at which even I, the eternal optimist, could hope that +MH would wake up one morning and put the good of the church ahead of his personal agenda was passed long ago. Now we're faced with a long slog and no quick fixes.
In this context the petition is an effective tool.
(BTW -- I still think it's worth praying that +MH wake up one morning and undergo a true change of heart ... so our signatures must also be seen as a sign of concerned prayer on his behalf)
#27.1 Rebecca Matovic on 2007-09-20 18:53
Whether this is effective or not is to be seen. What is clear is that many people read this sight who never post on it. In my parish of some 250 members (150 active to any appreciable degree), only three have ever posted on this sight. Yet I know that probably 70-80 have read it, because many of them have approached me about things I have posted here, or have spoken to others about the site. I hope that they will sign the petition. In a similar vein, if you look at the signatures of those on the petition already, most of them have never posted here. I would bet that probably less than 10% have. If it is more, it is not much more. I recognize very few of the signatories.
It would be good, I think, to keep a hot link to the petition on the left side of the home page so that people can find it quickly from OCANews.org once the story drops in the pecking order.
Into the breach!
Cyril Gary Jenkins
#27.2 Cyril Jenkins on 2007-09-20 19:04
On the other hand, many people who have never posted on this site will probably be willing to sign the petition. And, it has the added impact of being a parish in MH's own diocese, I believe, which is spearheading it. So, it may just have some impact on the Holy Synod, although I agree with those who say that MH will pay no attention to it, aside from printing it out and starting a file of troublemakers.
Well, I signed it, but I'll let MH guess which signature is mine.
#27.3 Anonymous on 2007-09-20 19:17
No one who is in a position of strength is going to join a group that is in the position of weakness as are we let alone want to saddle themselves with the burden of our debt – both monetarily and spirirtually. The question should be once we get rid of the destructive elements in our ranks do we build ourselves up or do we join the Antiochians?
At this point in time, and looking at our Synod, no one is going to want to join us with us until we have ridden ourselves of the current crop of destroyers of the faith and the current Synod and made a good faith attempt to rebuild from the ruins. There's too much baggage that is going to be around for the next 20 years at least for any serious talking and especially any serious listening from others.
Our best hope is that at the next AAC, which is useless to have unless we've really ridden ourselves of the miscreants because no real use will come of an AAC while they have any finger in the pie and maintain any rank of the clergy, is to do real reform and not just shuffling of Chancery staff. Reform in terms of dioceses, commitments, statutes that have teeth and have consequences for not following, basically every facet of the structure and operations need to be taken inventory of and considered from scratch. Before the next AAC I would like to see the entire MC do the honorable thing and resign and let an entirely new crew take over. In fact, it would be a nice thing if they would do that right now. Given what we have heard on this site and elsewhere there are more than enough committed, honorable people who would take on that challenge and give it the effort and commitment needed. Given that most of these people held seats during the wild times of the past and did nothing but rubber stamp, it’s time they did the right thing and departed for the good of the Church.
We need a new beginning and we’re not going to have that with old faces that were part of the process that resulted in the problems we’re in now.
We’ve got a lot of pain to go through to rid ourselves of the cancers that exist, but once we do that, seeing how people have shown their concern and the deepness of those feelings, there are bright days ahead. We just have to get through this darkness and look forward to the sun that is going to arise afterwards.
#28 Stonewall on 2007-09-20 15:33
"No one who is in a position of strength is going to join a group that is in the position of weakness"
#28.1 Priest Christopher Wojcik on 2007-09-21 09:06
If you're going to use that standard we're going to get nowhere.
After all, the people in the leadership in our Church do not use him as important enough to use as an example, why should I?
#28.1.1 Stonewall on 2007-09-21 12:41
As a member of St. Mark, and as one who signed the petition, I would like to clarify one point. This petition is not an action of St. Mark as St. Mark. It is the action of some of the people at St. Mark. This was not agreed to by the parish at a meeting. An invitation was given to anyone in the parish to join the group and many did not.
Also, we have been blessed with a priest who does not try to silence his "reason endowed sheep." But he, in no way, was "behind" this petition. Neither did he "forbid" us to move forward.
St. Mark, Bethesda
#29 Linda Weir on 2007-09-20 15:40
When any OCA BISHOP (besides Alaska) signs, so will I! They're still sitting in the control room of the sinking ship; with or without anyones "confidence" but their own. Otherwise, it's rather useless (absence of met council members signing, duly noted).
Is the petition open to employees of a certain investigative law firm? (Oops, forgot who hired them!)
#30 anon for now on 2007-09-20 17:41
There is at least one notable member of the M.C. who has signed.
#30.1 Anonymous on 2007-09-21 17:59
How about some accountability in reporting. This most recent post is an example of egregious spin and yellow journalism. The group which has launched the position does not come in any official capacity from St. Mark's in Bethesda, MD. It exists without the approval of the Parish council or the blessing of the priest. It is composed of some members of that parish as well as other communities. By heading the post as you did, Mr. Stokoe, you have misrepresented an entire parish. So much for the truth and accountability.
(Editor's note: Sorry, Father, you are wrong. The headline says "From St. Mark's", not "By St. Mark's". The opening line says very clearly:
"by a group of parishioners from St. Mark's", not " by St. Mark's parish". The difference was made clear and obvious from the very beginning - a fact which is reinforced throughout the text of the article by referring to the group and its numbers - not the parish. I said nothing untrue, no inferred it in any way. That you chose to read it so, perhaps speaks more of your displeasure with the news, than of this website's abilities to report it accurately. )
#31 Fr. David Subu on 2007-09-20 18:26
After following this site for a couple of years, it is apparent that many priest really like to play the "GOTTCHA" game, instead of focusing on the real issues.
The real issues are Thievery, Lying and Strong Arm Tactics, by no less than the Metropolitians, Bishops and Priests'. Where were you when this was going on? I would not venture to say where you were hiding!
St. James - Brother of the Lord
Kansa City, MO
Excuses me, Father,
But where do you get your information? I know of no other members of the group at St. Mark than members of St. Mark. the meetings have all been held at the church in one of the classrooms with the priest and his wife present. The group met with the Parish Council to inform them of what they planned. Which was just an action group. The idea of a petition came out of the meetings. Some of the parish council members have signed the petition.
I posted my comment because some had thought that St. Mark parish had started the questionnaire. It was a group of concerned parishoners who started it. So I don't know where you get this without the blessing of the priest and without the permission of the parish council from.
We have had several meetings about the crisis. We have brought to a vote withholding funds. We even invited Met. Herman to come and answer questions. That was a shocking experience and served to convince some of us that he needed to resign.
Look, even if Met. Herman is as pure as the driven show, he needs to resign for the good of the Church. We have lost our trust in his administration. (And the one before for his for that matter).
And by the way, when he was asked if he would resign if it was for the good of the Church at the meeting, he said, "No".
When some poor woman, with her heart on her sleeve, asked him what he planned to do to restore confidence in the leadershop of the church, as I recall, he said, "nothing".
St. Mark, Bethesda (and proud of it)
#31.2 Linda Weir on 2007-09-22 12:29
Some in our Parish (St. Mark, Bethesda) feel that the article Mark posted with the petition inadvertently gave the false impression that St. Mark had only begun to grapple with the issues in the National Church with our May, 2007 semi-annual parish meeting. The truth is that St. Mark parishioners have spent a considerable amount of organized time discussing the crisis in the OCA, as follows:
November 2006 Parish Meeting:
A resolution was introduced to withhold the parish's fair share assessment.
The motion was tabled until the parish could meet with our bishop, Metropolitan Herman.
February 2007 Metropolitan Herman visited St. Mark:
The Metropolitan was asked wide-ranging questions directly and by the parish council president on behalf of parishioners who did not want to ask the questions themselves. During the question and answer session the Metropolitan was asked at least twice about stepping down, and his answer was no.
March 2007 Special Parish Meeting:
The congregation met to discuss the tabled motion to withhold the assessment. The motion from the November 2006 meeting was again discussed, and it failed to pass.
May 2007 Parish Meeting:
A new motion was made, after lengthy discussion, to withhold the assessment. The motion failed.
In addition, Metropolitan Council update meetings were held by Father Gregory Safchuk and Faith Skordinski after each Metropolitan Council Meeting, and updates were provided at all parish council meetings in 2006 through April 2007.
The parish had spent several months involved in formal discussions concerning the OCA—and untold hours among ourselves—before the formation of the “St. Mark Discussion/Action Group” that then drafted and posted this petition. As has been pointed out by a fellow parishioner elsewhere in this “comments” section (and in the article itself), the posting of the petition was not a parish action, but rather the action of a specific group of parishioners within St. Mark. In part, the reason we chose to do a petition was to give OCA members within our own parish and nationwide the freedom to act individually by choosing to sign or not to sign, as dictated by their own consciences. We certainly respect that this is a very personal decision.
As an aside, the invitation to sign the petition most certainly extends to our Canadian brothers and sisters—and to ALL OCA members everywhere.
#31.2.1 Cathryn Tatusko on 2007-09-22 12:42
I congratulate St Marks for their petition of no confidence for MH . Finally we the people can have a voice heard in this mess. I think it should be carried further and every Bishop in the synod should face our judgement as well, good or bad. They all should be listed and face a vote! That is the only way these princes of the church may see what is really thought of them and some may be encouraged by the results while others will be exposed for what they are.
#32 Thomas Haulund on 2007-09-20 19:52
To the faithful at St. Mark's Bethesda: Thank you for starting the petition. I only wish I had thought of it!
To the rest of us:
What we are, I suspect, witnessing, is both an innovation and a restoration.
The Bishops were formerly the head of the local assembly. There was only one gathering in a city (one might argue we're there again!). The Bishops were accountable to the local community for their handling of administrative affairs, because they interacted with the faithful on a daily basis. The Acts of the Apostles describes this accountability, as deacons were appointed.
As the Church grew, and the Bishops still maintained a presence in a city or locality. Such is still the case in other predominantly Orthodox cultures. Other "superior" bishops were appointed - yet these "superior" bishops, be they Archbishops or Metropolitan Archbishops, still served only to establish discipline in their ranks and unity of faith. That unity finds expression in the gathering of the Church for the Eucharistic Celebration.
What I think we're seeing now is that the priest, the local community leader, is much more influential in the lives of those gathered than the Bishops, which is (of a sort) innovation. Yet it is returning primary leadership responsibility to the level where it originated.
Priests now fill the role once held by Bishops. The Bishops (in America) have such a large territory, they can no longer function in a meaningful way on the local level. Their authority is no longer one of respect through love, but one of discipline and fear.
This path to growth and restoration is difficult, yet necessary, if the Bishops are unwilling to rule through service, making themselves not equal, but subservient to their flock.
Why would anyone aspire to the Episcopacy? I think we need to rethink the model. What used to be an offering of love (gifts, housing, etc) has become an entitlement.
The focus at the next AAC, in my opinion, must become the budget. Perhaps we can also address other needs, like statute revision. The budget must be the focus, in my view. We should not pay the Metropolitan one red cent of salary, or benefits. We should cover the cost of travel and meals only.
Each diocese should strive to ensure their Bishops have all their needs met, but salaries should be eliminated for all bishops. They should not be allowed to accept honorariums, they should not be allowed to dictate anything about the accommodation, which should reflect the circumstances of the parish. If the Bishops are in it for the money, they are not in the right line of work.
Some will say Bishops are "due" something. Poppycock. No one is due anything. They will be treated in response to the way they treat others. The beloved Bishops will be treated as such. The abusive Bishops may not be treated so nicely.
One other "innovation" I think we may need. In the event we continue to pay our bishops, he should make the same as the lowest paid priest in the diocese. If the priest is the extension of the bishop, then they should be compensated similarly. Even moreso should priests receive compensation similar to the average or median compensation of the parishoners, particularly the priests attempting to support a family.
The Syosset leadership has thrown down the gauntlet. They are betting the farm (our farm) that ultimately, we don't care. I say - prove them wrong. We do care, and we will not follow their path. They cannot lead what will not follow. Some will say, respect the position. I say, horse hockey. If the person in the position isn't worthy of respect, and has tarnished the position they hold, then do not respect the position either. Christ commanded us - call no man Father, Master, Rabbi. We all should remind ourselves of the "Woes" Jesus gave in Matthew 23.
Recognize the reality - remove the masks! The emperor has no clothes! Don't continue to reinforce the mistaken and humiliating notion by commenting on how excellent the new clothes look! Don't reject reality. Follow those who lead you to Christ, those who incarnate Christ, and not those who, appearing as angels of light, are actually servants of the accuser.
Martin D. Watt, CPA
Dayton, Ohio, USA
#33 Marty Watt on 2007-09-20 21:10
"We should not pay the Metropolitan one red cent of salary, or benefits. We should cover the cost of travel and meals only."
"Each diocese should strive to ensure their Bishops have all their needs met, but salaries should be eliminated for all bishops."
Marty - what color is the sky in this fantasy land you've created? You're an accountant. I'm a human resources geek. Neither one of us is silly enough to think that we'll get talent sufficient to lead our church if we depend on volunteer help.
You say all their needs are to be met, but who defines their needs? The people that think they can solve all the Church's problems with some ill-conceived web-based petition? Or those here who want to make the next AAC reminiscent of the defenestration of Prague?
You ask who would aspire to the episcopacy, but you pose this new compensation plan. What's in your next post? "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need"?
Marx would be proud.
#33.1 Anonymous on 2007-09-21 17:54
Very well said. Probably one of the most thoughtful posts I have yet to see on this topic.
#33.1.1 Anonymous on 2007-09-22 12:52
My skies are a lovely blue, thank you for asking!
I submit that a compensation-hungry episcopate is what got us into this mess to begin with. Why is it that the Metropolitan draws a salary on top of his salary as a diocesan bishop? Why is it that he doesn't live in his Chancery, or his Diocesan Residence, but rather at his former diocesan residence?
As for the Marxian quote:
"for all who were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds of the things that were sold, and laid them at the apostles' feet; and they distributed to each as anyone had need." (Acts 4.34-35)
Perhaps the scriptures should be followed?
Martin D. Watt, CPA
#33.1.2 Marty Watt on 2007-09-24 19:08
To those who posted critical remarks regarding seminarians' desire for online anonymity in this controversy:
I wonder if it has occurred to any of you that to morally oblige one's fellow Christians to SEEK after martryrdom smacks of the Donatist heresy.
I wonder, too, if you are really so rivetted to the internet, or else that naive, as to think that signing a petition online would be the ONLY way for a seminarian, or any other churchman, to "stand up for the truth" in this state of affairs. Or would it be the most courageous way? the wisest? or even the most effective?
Lastly, I wonder how many of you have the slightest idea of the kinds of intense pressures which "your" seminarians have to live under? Married seminarians with wives and children to care for; single seminarians, often quite young and isolated and searching to find their place in life. All relying on the generosity of donations provided by you, whether through the seminaries or directly to the students, for their livelihood.
My guess is that most of you haven't the faintest inkling of the pressures to which I refer. (For those guessing: the financial poverty is the very LEAST of these pressures). Do you want to hear the horror stories which would give some explanation as to why no current seminarian has yet to sign a name to this site or that petition? Take some personal iniative -- contact a seminarian from your diocese and ask him yourself.
Dear Fr. Mark Hodges, I wonder what seminary you attended, and whether you would personally stand by (or prescribe to your spiritual children) the brand of moral rigorism which the "Donatist" label conjures up.
Last time I checked, Immanuel Kant did not have a day of commemoration on our liturgical calender -- nor was the "categorical moral imperative" mentioned in any of the oroi of the Ecumenical Councils.
What you are demanding of the seminarians is not martryrdom, but a kamikaze mission. Will you be putting your money where your mouth is, to aid the seminarian who strangely loses his funding for no apparent reason after he's signed his name to a petition? Or are you or your bishop going to be there to intercede when a seminarian is expelled for doing the same?
Your overheated rhetorical call to action sounds of the same fanatic spirit which poured judgment and vituperation on the late and blessed Fr. Dimitri Dudko, when he spoke words of favor of Stalin on Soviet TV in the '80's -- after being imprisioned, threatened and beaten into submission by the KGB.
It is altogether too easy to make insanely herioc moral prescriptions for others whose precarious and afflicted situation we do not share. But that is not the spirit I discern in the writings of the Desert Fathers, for instance. Our Lord Himself escaped stoning to death when not yet "his hour." Who are you to tell others whom you do not know when their "hour" has come?
I too am frustrated with the apparent failure or inability of both the seminarians and seminary professors to speak a wise and strong open word in this situation; that trial is a daily one here.
But I think it is rather cynical, and taking the moral high ground, to suggest that all these persons have chosen this response out of a merely worldly desire to "get ahead" in the Church, to move towards ordination, or to keep their salaries. Other things are going on in the seminary. Of which you apparently know nothing.
#34 A Seminarian on 2007-09-21 00:50
Thank you for speaking up! Even though you did not sign your name, you have GREAT COURAGE in saying we do not know what is happening at the Seminary.
This disease has ravaged the OCA, more than POLIO did in the
1920's. The only vaccine we need is, Herman and his minions should leave. This will be the sunshine we need to survive!
St. James -- Brother of the Lord
Kansas City, MO
#34.2 Anonymous on 2007-09-21 09:02
This poor Seminarians comments and the reprecussions he would be facing if he dared to speak the Truth and act on it is EXACTLY the type of EVIL and CANCER that MUST be erradicated from the OCA. That we have allowed such monstrous and vicious evil men to thrive and terrorize seminarians and priests in the OCA is a testament of the Christ-less leadership of our poor Church and the disastrous consequences of such unethical, corrupt, and unaccountable leaders.
I remember Fr. Hopko talking about St. Ignatius Brianchaninov
warnings in the book "The Arena: An Offering to Contemporary
St Ignatius insists that ascetical efforts and bodily disciplines are essential as means to the fulfillment of Christ's evangelical teachings. He says that those who neglect these means leave themselves victims of the crudest forms of carnal passions gluttony, greed, lust and anger. But the holy father reserves more violent warnings for those who make ascetical discipline the very essence of their spiritual life.
Those who practice immoderate bodily discipline, use it indiscreetly, or put all their trust in it, seeing in it their merit and worth in God's sight, fall into vainglory, self-opinion, presumption, pride, hardness and obduracy, contempt of their neighbors, detraction and condemnation of others, rancor, resentment, hate, blasphemy, schism, heresy, self-deception and diabolic delusion.
The saint is especially hard on monastics who allow the devil to destroy them through the acquisition of costly things, or through decorating their cells, or through being excessively concerned with buildings, gardens and furniture. He speaks of abuses of fasting which lead to the attribution of "special significance to dry bread, mushrooms, cabbage, peas or beans," abuses that "corrupt the ascetic" and reduce "sensible, holy and spiritual exercises" into "senseless, carnal and sinful farces," producing "conceit and contempt for his neighbors, which snuffs out the very conditions for progress in holiness."
The saint also criticizes those who allow the devil to dupe them into "attaching an exaggerated importance to the material side of church services, while obscuring the spiritual side of the rites; thus hiding the essence of Christianity from those unfortunate people and leaving them only a distorted material wrapper or covering...." He is especially strict in his warning against "carnal and animal (perhaps better translated psychic) zeal," which, he says, is not "divine and spiritual zeal," but rather "zeal without understanding, which leads to conceit and pride."
This poor Seminarian's testimony and witness to the dire consequences and punishment he would be facing for daring to see and speak the truth, are a gigantic warning sign that the delusion and spiritual and intellectula corruption we're facing in many in the OCA hierarchy and leadership is real and very, very dangerous!
My question for you Sir is what does it say about a church where speaking in truth and faith is grounds for retaliation from the powers that be? Perhaps you should reconsider who it is you are planning to serve and follow.
#34.4 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2007-09-21 10:27
(Please post anonymously)
The current seminarians have my fervent prayers. Indeed, their sufferings can be horrendous. Have you ever seen a mouse played with by a cat?
Those recently out of seminary and ordained are in an even worse position, if possible.
Please continue to pray for those suffering under the iron fist of the current OCA administration.
-A former mouse.
#34.5 Anon. on 2007-09-21 11:49
I cannot relate, not having been in your shoes, but I imagine it would be an intimidating prospect for seminary students or faculty or staff at either OCA seminary, to "stand up" to the Metropolitan so to speak.
Thank you for sharing your perspective.
To Father Mark Hodges: You said "Our Church is built on those who stand up, not those who safely and anonymously whisper."
Ok, so what's up with most of the OCA bishops? Who other than His Eminence Archbishop JOB has raised his voice about a whisper? Has his grace Bishop TIKHON of EPA?
Rdr. Alexander Langley
#34.6 Rdr. Alexander Langley on 2007-09-21 12:33
Two brief points:
As I attempted to make completely clear in my response to your initial posting, my comment was not one of criticism. My reaction to what you wrote was one of empathy and compassion for your present trial. Mine is not a "naive" reaction. I assure you I do have much more than the "faintest inkling" of the pressures under which you live.
My grateful endorsement of Fr. Mark Hodges response to your posting was a recoginition of the value of what his response provided. However you evaluate his words, they have given you a perspective from which to reflect upon the decisions that face you.
Someone has said, "To live is to decide. To live well is to decide well". Fr. Mark, you, I, all of us, make decisions every day. Not all of them as weighty as others. But it is of these big and little decisons our lives are composed. There are no "do over"s for many of them. We live out their consequences.
Thank you for reminding us all of the dimensions of the struggle you face. I hope anyone who reads these words will join me in prayer for you.
#34.7 Jean Langley Sullivan on 2007-09-21 15:06
Dear Anonymous, Steve (below), Anonymous (below), Chris (below), Kenneth (below), Anonymous (below), and Rdr Alexander (below),
Glory to Jesus Christ!
Thank you, my good friends, for your posts. Your words are obviously heartfelt, and I appreciate them and do not take them lightly. Your rebuke is well deserved by me personally, but not for the admonition I posted, at least as I see it.
At first I thought of writing a line-by-line response, your posts being so full of things needing an answer, but on second thought please just allow me to sincerely apologize if I sounded like I was condemning anyone personally. That was not my intention, and I do not condemn anyone in this scandal (including His Beatitude or the former Fr Bob). I do not know who was the original post-er (perhaps you do), and I thought my post was clearly condemning activity (or lack thereof), not persons, and exposing the lies which justify compromise.
In reading and re-reading your posts, trying to take them to heart (as well as another email I received from a well-respected friend), I wanted to briefly explain myself --not defend or argue, but explain. Perhaps my initial assumptions about the original post I responded to were wrong. Besides the basic assumption that the post was written by a seminarian (or seminarian's wife), I did make two assumptions from the original brief post: 1) that the seminarian agreed it was time for Metropolitan HERMAN to resign for the good of the Church, and, 2) that the seminarian's conscience was that he should sign the i-petition. If either of these assumptions aren't correct, then my advice wouldn't be the same. To be sure, I would seek to persuade anyone and everyone in the OCA to sign the i-petition. (In my opinion, while the i-petition is really a shameful thing to have to exist, it seems right now it is sadly the avenue toward the resolve of our scandal, and I believe we are collectively responsible for Christ's Church and must act.) But if someone honestly thinks His Beatitude should remain Metropolitan, or if someone honestly does not agree with the i-petition for any reason, they obviously should not sign it.
I meant to be clear not to condemn anyone personally, but to specifically speak against anonymous signings/postings. I do understand the anguish this puts families in (I've been there, and perhaps that's why I felt so compelled to respond), but wanted as strongly as I could to admonish us all to speak the truth and trust God and let the chips fall where they may. My intent was to make a connection between the saints' confession in the face of martyrdom and OCA faithful taking the heat for speaking out. I wanted to point out the post-er's mistaken and possessive view of "his" "calling." (Keep in mind the original stated reasons to go against conscience: 1) "they jeopardize their calling," and 2) "the peace of the brethren at their seminary." These, I maintain, are excuses for passivity.) I also wanted to advise seminarians that compromises against conscience made now shape our future ministry. That's what I meant to do, forcefully but truthfully, in the hope of inspiring the timid to take a stand. Again, we don't need more priests who are afraid to speak for fear of repercussions --from bishops or layfolk.
May God forgive me for adding this, but I want you to know I have an answer for every charge you make, and every misunderstanding you have about me or about what I wrote. But let's please agree to disagree on this, and keep from diverting anybody's focus away from the issue at hand: dealing with the scandal that has befallen us. We did not ask for it, and did not want it and certainly did not seek it, but it is our responsibility to deal with it. You are all quite right in pointing out that the very condition of fear of reprisals is an indication of our corporate sickness, and you are all quite right to note that our bishops, with only one exception, seem shamefully silent (or anonymous, which gains the same effect). "Where the battle rages, loyalty is proved"; I think we can all agree that His Eminence Archbishop JOB has demonstrated his loyalty to Christ and His Church over the past two years. Had he done so anonymously, we would all be under unimaginably worse conditions than we are now; I think we can also agree we are very grateful to His Eminence for taking a public stand.
A friend pointed me to the inaugural address of St Vlad's new Dean, which --although Fr John was speaking to a completely different context-- summarizes the intent of my post (please note that I have not spoken with Fr John and my quoting him does not imply that he agrees with my post):
Speaking on the word "boldness" in our liturgical call to The Lord's Prayer, Fr John spoke of our "right and the duty to speak the truth, with all the risks and dangers that this will entail in worldly terms. It is manifest in the way that the prophets stood before God and spoke to the religious and earthly leaders. It is granted to the martyrs as they made their confession, in word and blood, before God and the earthly rulers... Such boldness is also manifest in the way in which a bishop, such as St John Chrysostom, could address a harsh word to the imperial family, when they tried to manipulate the teaching and order of their church to suit their own desires. And it is also manifest in the way that a simple monk, such as St Maximus, could stand before both imperial and ecclesiastical authorities, refusing to be in communion with the archbishop of Constantinople for his betrayal of the true faith. Each of these examples of boldness were “without condemnation” by God, if not by men. They are remembered, indeed, as great saints, inspired by a God-given boldness which sustained them through all the trials, torture and, in some cases death, that they suffered at the hands of men. One further aspect of the words “without condemnation” is exemplified in St Maximus; when asked whether by refusing communion with the see of Constantinople he thought that he alone would be saved and all others lost, St Maximus answered: “The three young men who did not adore the idol when all others adored it, did not condemn anyone ... Thus it is with me as well; may God grant that I neither condemn anyone nor say that I alone am saved.” Rather than indignation and condemnation (as is all too common today), a godly parrhesia requires soberness, the acceptance of the hardship and tribulation that will come to those who speak God’s truth, and from which it is spoken, and a reluctance to condemn anyone. Such is the character of Christian existence in this world."
The whole of my post is summed up in this: Let us all, with St Maximus, boldly speak the truth without compromise, condemning no one.
With brotherly love and appreciation for your opinion,
Father Mark Hodges
St Stephen the First Martyr
You are quite mistaken in thinking I was rebuking you. I applaud your post and endorse its sentiments. Any rebuke was directed at the anonymous seminarian--not you! While I won't condemn all who resort to anonymity, I do believe it is time to stand up and be counted.
#34.8.1 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2007-09-22 14:57
All of the seminarians are in my prayers. I wish there was more I could do for you.
Why does the oca need different legal counsel ? Do they owe money to others ?
(Editor's note: The OCA has been without functioning general legal counsel for years. Mr. Jim Perry has served for the past six months or so pro bono, and has indicated his desire to withdraw. Thus, the OCA needs full time general legal counsel for the usual, and unusual, legal issues it may be facing. )
#35 Reese on 2007-09-21 03:53
If Metropolitan Herman resigns - then what?
(editor note: we elect a new Metropolitan at the next AAC. We investigate and report to the Church what has happened these past 15 years. We repent of our sins where needed, take the appropriate actions so that they cannot be repeated, and we move forward in our mission to America, with renewed vigor and enthusiasm, knowing that we practice what we preach.)
#36 Anonymous on 2007-09-21 06:50
If Herman resigns, the people elect a new Metropolitan?
That sounds strange: I would have thought it would be the bishops who did that. Did the laity elect Herman? I know I didn't get a chance to vote!
(Yes, the people can elect, which the Synod must then concur, or give a reason why it did not do so. Please check the OCA Statute for the exact sequence of events regarding the election of a metropolitan.)
#36.1 George Kruse on 2007-09-21 11:57
Please forgive sounding like a broken record. According to OCA statutes, the electing assembly (lay and clerical delegates) have but one chance to pick their primate. If any candidate fails to garner the required majority, the election goes to the Holy Synod which in recent elections have ignored the candidate receiving the most votes.
It being unlikely that a change in statutes governing such elections can be effected before the next AAC (2008), it is incumbant on every delegate to caucus informally once, or twice or maybe more to come to a broad and invincible consensus that will meet the requirements of a majority vote on the first try. Call me cynical, but Syosset would love nothing better than to see a factured vote by the assembly precisely so the election can be thrown into the Holy Synod.
#36.1.1 Terry C. Peet on 2007-09-21 13:29
Correct me if I'm wrong, but I seem to recall hearing that at the last AAC to elect a metropolitan, the exact opposite happened -- people were encouraged to put a variety of names on the first ballot and the reality that this would greatly diminish the impact of the opinions of the assembly was obscured.
It is extremely important that everyone who attends the 08 AAC understand the statute and be prepared to argue both procedural questions and questions relating to the competence of the assembly. The powers that be will try to rule motions out of order or claim that the assembly lacks the authority to address various matters.
If there is an election -- everyone with a vote should understand and consider the implications of the procedure so that they cannot be manipulated into forfeiting their voice.
#188.8.131.52 Rebecca Matovic on 2007-09-21 13:53
One correction, Rebecca: the "... powers that pretend to be." : )
#184.108.40.206.1 Anonymous on 2007-09-21 15:49
You're correct and that is precisely what should be avoided on the first formal vote. Let all the winnowing of candidates occur in caucus or watch the assembly's once chance at a vote go down the drain to the Holy Synod.
#220.127.116.11.2 Terry C. Peet on 2007-09-21 17:39
At the last AAC, when MH was elected the procedure was; only one name on the first ballot. If no one received the majority vote a second ballot was taken on which you wrote two names. Then the Bishops with the guidance of the Holy Spirit made the choice.
#18.104.22.168.3 voting delegate on 2007-09-21 18:17
Yes, well, Saul was selected by God also:
"Hearken to the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me from being king over them. According to all the deeds which they have done to Me, from the day I brought them up out of Egypt even to this day, forsaking Me and serving other gods, so they are also doing to you. Now then, hearken to their voice; only, you shall solemnly warn them, and show them the ways of the king who shall reign over them." (1 Sam 8:7-9)
"Now Samuel called the people together to The Lord at Mizpah; and he said to the people of Israel, "Thus says The Lord, the God of Israel, 'I brought up Israel out of Egypt, and I delivered you from the hand of the Egyptians and from the hand of all the kingdoms that were oppressing you.' But you have this day rejected your God, who saves you from all your calamities and your distresses; and you have said, 'No! but set a king over us.' Now therefore present yourselves before The Lord by your tribes and by your thousands."
"Then Samuel brought all the tribes of Israel near, and the tribe of Benjamin was taken by lot. He brought the tribe of Benjamin near by its families, and the family of the Matrites was taken by lot; finally he brought the family of the Matrites near man by man, and Saul the son of Kish was taken by lot. But when they sought him, he could not be found. So they inquired again of The Lord, "Did the man come hither?" and The Lord said, "Behold, he has hidden himself among the baggage."
"Then they ran and fetched him from there; and when he stood among the people, he was taller than any of the people from his shoulders upward. And Samuel said to all the people, "Do you see him whom The Lord has chosen? There is none like him among all the people." And all the people shouted, "Long live the king!" (1 Sam 10:17-24)
[However, after some nutty and self-centered behavior (1 Sam 14:24-45) .....]
"And Samuel said to Saul, "You have done foolishly; you have not kept the commandment of The Lord your God, which He commanded you; for now The Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel for ever. But now your kingdom shall not continue; The Lord has sought out a man after His own heart; and The Lord has appointed him to be prince over His people, because you have not kept what The Lord commanded you." (1 Sam 13:13-14)
My prayers are probably not very efficacious for a million reasons know to my confessor, but let's pray that the OCA's current episode has such a sequel .....
#22.214.171.124.3.1 Anonymous on 2007-09-22 19:54
#36.2 Anonymous on 2007-09-23 21:02
Someone asked, "Who is the President of St. Vladimir's?" All monasteries and seminaries are under the omophor of the presiding bishop. Regarding SVS, + Herman has very little if anything to do with its operation. He is a figure-head. The day-to-day operations are under the dean & chancellor. Any REAL decisions are done collectively by the Board of Trustees where + Herman has his input. Virtually, + Herman shows up at SVS 2-3 times a year, smiles, serves and leaves in his limo. Where + Herman has direct input is "his baby," St. Tikhons.
#37 Anonymous on 2007-09-21 12:40
Please stop the wringing of hands over the effectiveness of this petition. We know that our leader does not regard the opinions of his flock; a bishop promises before God that he will not be swayed by the unruly masses. This promise is made so that the bishop can fearlessly protect the Truth of Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, our leader misapplies his promise and protects himself and his own unruly associates.
So our leader will flick this petition away, but that doesn’t make the petition worthless. There are others who believe with him that only a small group of malcontents is behind this movement (the administration is infamous for its inability to count). Signing this petition could help sway such false opinions.
But there is another reason to think well of this petition. For good to succeed over evil, good must use every opportunity to advance itself in opposition to evil.
We know how evil operates. Evil never sleeps. Evil has plenty of time and so it is patient. Evil takes advantage of every opportunity, every weakness, every moment of every day to accomplish its purpose. Every opportunity, big or small, advances the agenda at least a little bit. Line up a lot of "little bits" and evil closes in on victory.
In opposition, good must be awake to even the smallest opportunity to thwart evil's forward progress. The petition is before us for a good reason. It is but a small opportunity, but it is an opportunity and a forward movement nonetheless, and those who desire that good triumph in this struggle must seize it.
As for those who worry about what will follow our leader’s departure from office, who can predict the future? But today, the place we call home is burning down, brothers and sisters. Don't think about decorating the new house. Think first about saving the old house before it is completely consumed. Take a small step for good! Please sign the petition!
#38 Anonymous on 2007-09-21 18:06
the activities of the central administration has already been noted, thusly - "Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate , and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction..............A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit....Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.....Wherefore by their fruits shall ye know them
#39 Luke on 2007-09-21 18:41
How many people who have signed the petition have gotten messages from someone associated with the Metropolitan? How many have had someone associated with the Metropolitan call their priest?
I know one. I'm wondering if this is an isolated incident, or if it's happening to others as well.
#40 Josephine on 2007-09-21 19:50
What was said?
#40.1 Anonymous on 2007-09-22 10:51
#40.1.1 Mary Phillips on 2007-09-23 11:34
Glory to IC XC!
In the discussions above, there have been some strong statements made about why one ought, or should not, sign the petition.
Humor me for a moment and let me speak.
Three reasons why one might choose to sign: frustration that nobody seems to be listening to the cries of the wounded faithful and this is a chance to communicate the damage being done; the belief that one should always “stand up” for what is right; the heart-felt understanding that Met. HERMAN’s service as head of the Holy Synod has been disastrous for the OCA.
Three reasons why one might choose to avoid signing: perception that this petition will be ineffective; that signing would cause more divisiveness within ones own parish; that it is an un-Orthodox action by its nature.
I don’t claim to have even come close to exhausting all the possible reasons to sign or not to sign with this little list of three. This is just one little attempt to demonstrate that people of good conscience can choose either way, and for us to cast judgment against anyone for what they do - or do not do - is best left undone.
Rev. Bartholomew Wojcik
St. Nicholas Mission Church
#41 Anonymous on 2007-09-21 20:23
As far as the petition goes, what is the point of signing anonymous? Anonymous name, anonymous church, etc. It takes away some of the credibility of the petition. I understand some folks cannot sign. I believe it would be better not to sign than to sign anonymous because it could be anybody signing over and over, even from different e-mail addresses. Eventually, as people see others signing, they will gain the courage to sign their own names. I hope that people realize the seriousness of this petition, and if they don't agree with it, they can start their own petition.
#42 Jane Cap on 2007-09-22 05:38
People might not be signing as "Anonymous." Rather, they may be signing their name and parish, but selecting the option for iPetition to "display my name as anonymous on the signatures list."
If I am not mistaken by how things work on iPetition, the name and parish are still stored in the petition's database, but not openly displayed on the webpage.
#42.1 Rdr. Nilus on 2007-09-22 16:30
Is there a way to tell if anonymous signers have actually declared their name/parish/city but simply select it to be displayed as anonymous, versus those who don't put down any info except "anonymous" (and may not even be Orthodox)? Does the site accept anyone anywhere to sign without giving specific, verifiable information? What are the "filters" referred to that they use?
Father Mark Hodges
St Stephen the First Martyr Orthodox Mission
(Editor's reply: Great question, to which I do not know the answer. Anybody at St. Mark's know?)
Thanks for raising this. I only hit upon the full answer last night while carefully comparing the database answers to the signatures that show up for everyone to see. The answer is that the vast majority who show up as "anonymous" have actually singed their real names, and those names are in the database. But there are a few that have signed their "names" as anonymous, and they have remained on the list.
I personally prefer to go through the entire list and delete any who have signed the name "anonymous." As far as I'm concerned, everyone read the rules before they went to the link, and fair is fair. If you can't give your name even for the database, you simply can't be counted.
As has been pointed out by Christian preachers around the world and down through the ages, "Fear Not!" is the most often-repeated COMMAND (not platitude) of the New Testament. If you want to be counted, pay the price--sign your name (even if you still choose not to have it published for all to see on-line).
#126.96.36.199 Cathryn Tatusko on 2007-09-25 17:57
I want to add to my earlier comment on the issue of anonymous posters. I went through the entire database yesterday morning and deleted all the "anonymous" postings from individuals who had typed the word into the name field. At the time I purged the list, there were over 700 signatures, and only 11 individuals had signed in this manner.
All of the remaining signatures that show on the public list as "anonymous" are from people who gave their names for the database, but chose not to publish their names on-line. This is a valid decision on their parts, and I will respect their choices.
Someone else raised the issue of the many anonymous posters from Venice, FL. Again, these individuals signed their names for the database, and they will be counted in the petition. We can all speculate on their motives for signing it, but the truth is that we all have different reasons for feeling that it is time for Met. HERMAN to go. I can't fairly refuse to include their signatures on this specific petition just because I personally have trouble with how they reached the decision to sign it.
Going forward, I will continue to purge the list of any who refuse to give their names for the database (though I must say that I do so with great sympathy and compassion for some of the people who signed this way because they felt it was their only option--we are TRYING to help you, so please hang in there!). In general (though there may still be a handful of jokesters signing), I would say this list that has now been signed by over 800 individuals is quite "clean"--and frankly, a strong indictment of Metropolitan HERMAN'S leadership of the OCA.
#188.8.131.52.1 Cathryn Tatusko on 2007-09-27 09:21
Thank you for explaining all that, Cathryn. Is it possible you could post this explanation up front on the petition page so everyone who goes there will be very clear about how this works before they sign (or in some cases, before they try to claim the petition is unreliable?)
#184.108.40.206.1.1 Anonymous on 2007-09-27 10:33
Fr. Mark and Mark,
Greetings from another Mark -- a member of St. Mark, Bethesda; a member of the discussion group; and an early signer of the petition.
A quick look at iPetitions.com shows that the site may have the capabilities (see the Frequently Asked Questions page). Further investigation of the questions posed above requires (a) registering as a premium user and (b) creating a custom petition. I will continue investigating Fr. Mark's questions and post an answer in a day or two.
#220.127.116.11 Mark C. Phinney on 2007-09-26 03:43
Not one signature yet from Canada! You are part of North America you know, if not the U.S.A., and surely someone up there is on the "right" side. Maybe Bishop Serphim is jamming internet service from down south?
KRT who btw resides in Quebec in the winter!
#43 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2007-09-22 08:06
yesterday I spotted a not insignificant Canadian signature from Winnipeg on the petition, but I cannot find it now in the crowd of signatures. Has it been removed? is there any kind of search/sort function possible to sort out the names geographically?
(Editor's note: No, Dr. Estabrooks signature is still listed, at #294. Director of the St. Arseny Institute, Dr. Spencer Estabrooks, is the Adjunct Professor of Orthodox Studies in the Faculty of Theology, University of Winnipeg.)
#43.1 anonymous (at least for now) Canadian on 2007-09-22 15:25
If I read the state/province abbreviations correctly, at one of our Canadian brothers and sisters has signed the ipetition.
#43.2 Mark C. Phinney on 2007-09-23 04:48
Yes, what explains virtually no Canadians signing?
Perhaps there is unease in the Great White North with the somewhat naive idea lurking behind the petition that all this will go away if Metropolitan Herman is shown the door.
The problem seems more structural within the OCA heirarchy than centred in individual, however badly he may have behaved.
Ask yourself, would things be significantly better or different if Canada's Archbishop Seraphim became Metropolitan next? Highly doubtful - as far as I can see he's sat on his hands from the beginning here and he's certainly one of the more plausible live candidates for a successor.
The OCA is done, finished, kaput as a moral centre in North America... trying to give it CPR at this stage is a denial of reality. Where in the world are we going to find a replacement Metropolitan within the existing Synod and how's he to sweep that institution clean?
Union with the Antiochians asap as the way forward to a North American Orthodoxy, now there would be a positive petition, a petition well worth signing.
(Editor's Note: Obviously, those who are signing the petition disagree. Not all of us have given up on the OCA, nor that it can once again be a moral center of Orthodoxy on the continent. The issue is not that we have problems, but how we deal with them. I give you, at the moment, we are not being open, honest and transparent, accountable and repentant. That too can change. )
#43.2.1 One Canadian Only on 2007-09-23 19:25
First, my sincere thanks for all you have done to open the doors and windows in the OCA.
Please understand that my post was not meant to criticize or discourage the idea of the petition or its signatories. I respect them too. While we are all sinners, most OCA clergy and parishoners are also fine, dedicated, moral, God-loving people who deserve far better leadership from their heirarchs. Bishops are meant to provide living examples of the faith, not model the worst features of secular politics.
I have come to see this crisis as an opportunity to further Orthodox unity in North America. And, I am not persuaded that the Antiochian leadership couldn't get us back on the right track again and do so quickly and with minimum further conflict. Its the building of Orthodoxy in North American, that's important, not the OCA as an organization or Metropolitan Herman as a person.
#18.104.22.168 Anonymous on 2007-09-24 09:04
I have not signed the petition. I read over the names and many of the people I would consider friends. I am greatly disappointed in the leadership shown by the Metropolitan. His silence has been deafening and I believe people have great merit in getting upset with him.
However, I do not intend to sign the petition.
I believe Metropolitan Herman had no choice but to circumvent the Administrative Committee of the Metropolitan Council in order to suspend RSK as Chancellor. I believe he took this action based on outside pressure (this website), and not the internal pressure of his brothers on the Synod, and he took the action, certainly against clear opposition on the Admin Committee. I believe his action was supported by virtually noone in a position of trust at that time.
I believe the Statute is one of the most ridiculous, laughable pieces of governance or law that I have ever read. I believe the Metropolitan Council is virtually powerless and that the Synod is ultimately the body responsible for the welfare of the church.
A vote of no confidence in the Metropolitan is by my definition a vote of no confidence in the Holy Synod, a vote of no confidence in the Council, and a vote of no confidence in the Statutes. And folks, none of them have done a great job, we know this... They probably all deserve the vote.
Nowhere in my reading of the rags we call the Statute of the OCA do I find a set of clear rules that are capable of resulting in good governance. This is the most disturbing issue facing us today and it doesn't leave with a resignation.
For example, unless I'm mistaken, none but one Bishop could be in allegiance with Metropolitan Herman and even if he had done something terrible (not necessarily irresponsible or annoying), he wouldn't be deposed. How do we expect irresponsibility and annoyance to be regarded in that context? With toothless petitions?
We have had Metropolitan Council members involved in the OCA longer than Metropolitan Herman has been Metropolitan, yet we have not globablly petitioned for their resignations. I have called for one.
The better petition would be for members of the Metropolitan Council seated prior to the July, 2005 to resign. For the Statute to be rewritten by a body of clergy and laity, and approved by the Synod. And for a release of the Proskauer Rose report.
The resignation of Metropolitan Herman doesn't resolve these endemic issues. These are deep rooted problems. I believe the Metropolitan at least sees this broader picture, but I could be mistaken. I know the Statutes have been on his radar, but I don't know his intent. In fact, unless he wrote it in a letter, I wouldn't trust his intent, which is damn sad.
None of the other Bishops for example, has followed the Palatine Resolution and withheld assessments. Have we called for them to resign? Are they better suited to lead the OCA?
Have the other Bishops expressed concerns over the poorly written Statute? Not that I know of, but I could be mistaken.
All too often today, we think that just changing personnel will lead to greatness. It ain't so.
I do believe we have one Bishop who would do a better job than Metropolitan Herman, but that is another story.
Just my two cents on the issue.
#44 Daniel E. Fall on 2007-09-22 10:14
When I read messages on the internet regarding the problems that our Church has faced, I am saddened, and at times astonished at the harshness and perspectives of some views.
In all this, though, I am comforted by Christ's words, Come to me all you who are weary and
burdened and I will give you rest. There are no solutions without Christ and He always needs to be our focus, something of which I need to remind myself often.
I write of a sadness in my reflections, for in the remarks such as these, I realize there is sincerity, concern and yes too, sadness by many who write, who are my sisters and brothers in Christ.
Yet, what I read in the sharing of others, often does not fit the situations I have traveled in my 59 years as an Orthodox,
nor does it describe what I know of and experienced from the people who are often the focus of such commentaries. Could I have been blind to everything around me? I would not like to think so. Likewise were all with whom I associated in the Church equally blind for we did not speak of the things that are pouring forth on the internet. It is hard to believe that they were.
And, I still find it difficult to think that I was so special, or in such a unique situation, that what I experienced is so different than what existed for most others. For I experienced compassion and caring from Metropolitans, bishops, our former chancellor, fellow priests, Diocesan chancellors and Deans of our deaneries, and parishioners of many Churches-and have had positive contact with persons who come from different perspectives, whom I have mentioned in the past. In agreement or disagreement-and I have had both--I never experienced a climate of fear, never was threatened, never was told what to say or not to say by anyone in the Church. Am I the only one that has something good and positive to write about probably everyone who has been mentioned in connection with problems associated with the
central administration of our Holy Orthodox Church? I just cannot believe that this is the case. Further, I attended St. Tikhon's Seminary and found it to be a fulfilling experience, which was especially tested as I lost my wife while a student there. My fellow seminarians were special persons, and our discussions focused mostly on God, His Church, and how we could best serve His people. And they were comforting at the death of my wife, as were the Metropolitan, former chancellor, Bishops and priests. And my professors at seminary always acted toward us as Christians. Have those who criticize the most, had any personal contact or experiences with those about whom they write, or do the write from afar, based on other internet messages? And being a sinner myself, I know that I am not the only person who can practice forgiveness, a desire to give persons new opportunities when they fall, show love-I don't do any of these things sufficiently well and I know there are others who far surpass me in this regard.
Then I think of remarks one of my Bishops made in a sermon many years ago when he spoke of not expecting the ideal of which we read about the Church to be found in every parish, and the monk who cautioned that in standing for principle we often stand alone. Is that a major cause of the reactions about which we read? Are many who write relatively new to the Church and who came to her expecting to find its earthly embodiment free from blemishes. The only thing perfect regarding the Church is her presence as the Body of Christ.
No, we should never be complacent, nor satisfied with the status quo when evil exists, and yes we should work to correct problems as best we can-remembering always the importance of prayer in our efforts-but we need not be surprised when we find that persons stumble and fall. Do not we? Haven't we ever? Do we not seek God's forgiveness and the chance to go forward anew? And it is "we" that occupy our Churches, that become the clergy, and are the laity, that become active in parishes and Dioceses and take our place in work of the central administration. We are all together in this world as in our Churches and we need to support each other, lovingly
correct each other, and work for the betterment of all people. President Cleveland when about to leave office said, now I go back to the place from where I came-to the people-a realization that despite the place he occupied his place was and would be with the people. So it is with each of us. I pray that I am not wrong in my approach; and I pray that any that I hurt may be
minimized through God's love, mercy and wisdom.
#45 Very Rev. William DuBovik on 2007-09-22 10:34
I'm certain that your experience has been just as you describe it. However, there have been countless other priests, including myself, who have had the sad experience of the wrath of Syosset as the result of speaking out - some have even been deposed, and the fear is very real and tangible.
#45.1 Anonymous on 2007-09-22 12:47
Fr. Mark's gracious response is well appreciated. As far as the original anonymous poster's "possessive" sense of his own calling goes, his point is well taken.
Of course Met. Herman should resign or retire. But stil, conscience does not at all convict that seminarians should sign their name to that i-petition; on the contrary.
The analogy with St. Maximus hardly applies here; Maximus was doing the only thing the situation demanded. Acquiescing to commune with Monothelite heretics and refusing to sign one's name to a petition calling for the Metropolitan's resignation can hardly be equated! One is moral & doctrinal compromise, the other an exercise in epikeia or prudence:
"Be subtle as serpents and innocent as doves."
It is very simple. In order to change a corrupt system, one must do 2 things: (1) resist the corruption of the system and maintain one's personal integrity; (2) remain within the system. Very difficult of course, but not impossible.
Publicly challenging the Metropolitan, however, could mean almost certain termination for a seminarian. That is just how it is. It has happened before, with both students faculty. Legend has it that even choir directors have been fired for criticizing the singing-style of one of his Beatitude's favorites! Favoritism and nepotism do hold strong sway in the present administration.
Is the point to eliminate the Metropolitan, or to improve the system, in obedience to and communion with the Lord? I hope it is the latter.
Don't think that simply taking Herman out of the picture is going bring immediate health; after all, he didn't get into office alone. His mentality and mode of operation is but an extreme manifestation of an illness which is widespread, even systemic; it can hardly be blamed on him alone.
Decadent liturgics, decadent piety, decadent theology =
decadent and unethical exercise of power.
With regard to "Josephine"'s question, "How many people who have signed the petition have gotten messages from someone associated with the Metropolitan?": Did anyone notice how the names of a certain "Reader" and his wife from one stavropighial institution of the OCA appeared on the petition only to disappear several hours later?
Does anyone know what happened? It would not be atypical if the reader was given a phone call and an ultimatum. That is the the norm, the diseased "homeostasis" of the system doing its work.
#46 Ou Tis on 2007-09-22 12:57
I congratulate Wayne and Kathyrn Tutusko in their initiative in starting a petition with now over 500 signatures. More and more "bits and pieces" of statements of no confidence in +Herman are adding up and making a consolidated statement that there needs to be change within the OCA leadership.
These many and varied efforts, taken together, are telling the whole story. The Holy Spirit is our Comforter and Counselor during these difficult times.
Kathryn Tutusko reported that when +Herman was asked if he would step down, he said he would not.
The story is not over, for the work of the Holy Spirt within the faithful of our church is continuing on.
The central church administration's payroll could collapse "tomorrow." However, as difficult as this would be for several of the employees of the central church, there would still be +Herman with his title. A collapsed or defunct budget, even if he had to become a janitor, does not take away his title.
Only through proper use of the OCA statutes, a continued investigation, a church court, or his voluntary repentance or resignation, can a new begining most constructively occur.
The "bits and pieces" of wanting an OCA that can be that beacon of morality and ethics is still adding up, each signature at a time, each comment, speech, reflection and posting at a time wherever they occur, wanting justice, fairness and the truth. Each cry for righteousness is each making its difference, one at a time.
For our Orthodox faith is built on the triune Godhead in which Father, Son and Holy Spirit, God, intercede for our fallen human race, even within our leaders of the Orthodox Church.
The story for our lack of confidence in +Herman continues to be written. The story of our greater confidence and steadfastness in God is also being written.
#47 Patty Schellbach on 2007-09-22 15:32
I have a question for those clergy (or others) out there who remember Fr. Schmemann, or at least remember his days of influence in the Church. What do you think Fr. Schmemann would have done in this situration?
A friend of mine who studied under him said he would be at the Synod meeting "screaming" and pounding on the table. Another one said it never would have happened if he were still around.
I realize he was not a bishop, but he had great influence over the Synod and the Church as a whole.
So what say you? What would he have done?
I, alas, did not know him; but I believe he would not have been afraid. If you are afraid, the other side has won. Who do you admire more, the countless priests and bishops and monastics who were martyred by the Communists or those who colluded with them and spyed on their flock and gave others up to persecution and death. Which group would you like your children and grandchildren to learn from? "do not fear men who can destroy the body, rather fear Him who can destroy both body and soul".
You could at least sign, Anomymous Priest, or Matuska or Seminarian or Deacon. Or even Anomymous Bishop or member of the MC or former member of the Investigative Commision.
BTW, I think I mispelled anomymous but there you are.
#48 Linda Weir on 2007-09-23 09:14
When visiting your website here, what are the steps we can take to view all the signers of the petition? There is no left-hand-column direct link to do this. Thank you.
(Editor's note: In response to many requests, there is now a link, but on the right hand side.)
#49 David Barrett on 2007-09-23 12:02
After signing the petition yesterday, I received a letter in the form of a pdf file
apparently from Metro. Herman advising my wife and I that we were hereby excommunicated from the OCA - and were asked to refrain from attending "any Orthodox Church in the world". I don't know if the letter is legit or not, (it's almost too funny to be legit) but it would not surprise me if it was. Has anyone else received this letter - and if so, does anyone know if it is an actual response from Metro. Herman?
Mr and Mrs Tish have been spoofed somehow.
Even the canonically ignorant and erratic Met. Herman wouldn't -- couldn't -- send such a letter.
This is true for two reasons: FIRST, excommunications aren't imposed by bishops; they're merely recognized by the bishops when people have *separated themselves from the Church*, usually by refusing doctrinal correction and/or continuing to teach heresy.
It should be clear that signing the Bethesda petition is not only a doctrinal matter, it's not even an act of disobedience to the local bishop, such as would result in the bishop's disciplining a priest.
SECOND, such recognition is a matter for local bishops, not for the first hierarch of any church unless he also coincidentally serves as the local bishop, as is regrettably the case in the DC-NY eparchy, where the clergy are fearful of speaking out against Herman in any way, even in anonymously signing the Bethesda petition.
#50.1 Monk James on 2007-09-24 10:02
I should have written 'is not only NOT a doctrinal matter'.
Please forgive my unintentional misstatement.
#50.1.1 Monk James on 2007-09-24 18:23
I would like to invite your attention to Fr. Breck's essay posted on the official OCA website under "Reflections in Christ," entitled "On Keepting the Faith." In the context of losing faith in the face of disasters and tragedies, he writes:
"Other friends, including a sizeable number of clerics, have expressed similar thoughts in the wake of the turmoil that has recently shaken the Orthodox Church in America. If the scandal involves not only financial mismanagement but conduct far more serious – on the part of hierarchs as well as prominent priests – how can we talk of "the Holy Orthodox Church"? How can we possibly live and worship in an organization without appropriate leadership or even a sense of accountability at the highest levels?"
I thought it was a good essay (I really enjoy that feature of the OCA website). I was surprised and encouraged to see the effects of this scandal beginning to be met head-on on the front page of the official OCA website.
#51 Timothy Capps, Esq. on 2007-09-24 07:02
How many people in the OCA positions of trust in 2002 were aware or had the information to be aware the OCA spent temporarily restricted funds on general fund expenses and that this pattern continued well into 2005?
#52 Daniel E. Fall on 2007-09-24 07:47
Restricted funds were never tapped. Designated funds were, in a pattern going back to the 1980s. When it became apparent that those internal loans could not be repaid, Fr Daniel Hubiak, chancellor st the time, suggested that those debts simply be 'written off' -- and so they were.
From 2002, reallocations of money from designated funds to operating expenses were made several times on the initiative of Fr Paul Kucynda and the Met. Council, and were approved by Met. Herman.
And during this most recent rash of reallocations, careful records were kept, eventually forming the basis of some financial reports emerging from Syosset late last Summer and forming part of the substantiation for the $1.7m loan -- which we're probably going to have to default on. Thanks, Herman and Kucynda! Thanks a lot! NOT!
BTW: It's also true that -- in spite of that $1.7m loan -- not all the designated funds have been repaid as FrPK stated with no obvious embarrassment or explanation in his more recent reports.
And now the little people on the chancery staff are worried that there's not enough money coming in to make payroll for them, at the same time as we have three seriously underemployed officers and a (fill in your own adjective) metropolitan getting paid around $100k apiece from Central's annual budget.
What's wrong with this picture?!
#52.1 Monk James on 2007-09-24 15:28
You are wrong good sir.
If the church collected money under the auspices it was a 9/11 fund, it was a restricted fund at that moment. It was never a designated fund, subject to conversion. Designated funds require a written agreement with the contributor. The only way designated funds can be spent without such an agreement is through a court order. A reasonable administrative fee would have been zero for the church to cut a check to a charity.
Here is a third party site that will set the argument right for you.
It would be interesting to hear from Fr. Hubiak on this matter as you now charge he did this incorrectly.
It would be interesting to hear from the Metropolitan Council on this matter as you now charge they did this incorrectly.
It would be interesting to hear from the Metropolitan on this matter as you now charge he did this incorrectly.
It would be interesting to hear from RSK on this matter as you now charge he did this incorrectly.
Should they all be forgiven and get a clean slate, or just some of them?
#52.1.1 Daniel E. Fall on 2007-09-24 16:34
Good Heavens! This seems to be THE day for confusion and misunderstanding!
I never accused anybody here of doing the wrong thing, not Herman, not Hubiak, not nobody, not no how! Wherever did Daniel Fall derive that idea?!
And Mr Fall appears to be unaware of the functional difference between 'restricted' and 'designated' funds, a distinction always maintained by Syosset in accordance with legal requirements.
Besides, this is a diversion from the question at hand, which regards my truthful assertion that the 2005 AAC ended up $15k in the *black*.
Mr Fall misunderstood this and challenged my veracity based on his misunderstandings. I've tried my level best to correct all these distortions of the facts, but now he's trying to lead us down the rabbit hole once again. I won't follow.
He needs to tell us here that he acknowledges and understands the corrections I've offered to lessen his confusion, and then go on from there with better information.
For the fourth time, now, I urge Mr Fall to consult the central and local committees responsible for the 2005 AAC at Toronto and learn the facts of the overage he disputes.
And THEN maybe we can go on to another topic, but he really does have to make a better effort to hold up his end of the conversation properly.
#22.214.171.124 Monk James on 2007-09-25 15:13
To further complicate things, restrictions and designations are accounting terms and defined (poorly) in the accounting literature. Given the fact that the OCA has not had a trained accountant in the Treasurers job since, well, I'm not sure *ever*, I'm not surprised that the situation has turned as it has.
For example, if the Church has budgeted $100,000 for the rector's salary (we all wish!), and someone "designates" a gift of $25,000 for the same salary, does the pastor get $125,000? The answer is no. $25,000 comes from the restricted / designated category and $75,000 comes from the general operating funds.
Suppose the giver ENDOWS (gives a restricted gift) of $1,000,000 to support the rector's salary, stating that the interest is to be used to pay the rector, but the principal (called the corpus) is never to be touched. Suppose we earn a 14% return each year - does the pastor's salary increase to $140,000? No, not unless the parish gives him a raise. The remainder remains in the fund. So, given the same fact set, we have $1,000,000 of permanent restriction, $100,000 is designations for the year, and $40,000 of temporarily restricted funds.
Complicated? You bet. Which is why we need some level of financial and management expertise on the Metropolitan Council, and a trained, professional accountant to serve as treasurer.
Martin D. Watt, CPA
#126.96.36.199.1 Marty Watt on 2007-09-27 09:55
"Restricted", "designated", it is all a smoke screen. The action of soliciting funds for a designated purpose, 9/11, whatever, and then spending those funds for another purpose is FRAUD.
#188.8.131.52.2 Anonymous on 2007-09-27 14:56
So, I accept [blindly] your assertion that the AAC ended in the black versus budget plans. I don't care about verifying it because it doesn't matter.
The point you don't make is that the OCA was probably overestimating its revenue assertions on the donations line to the extent of 20% of the revenues. I base this assertion on the original 2007 budgets which carried this line at 500k in order to balance the budget.
The net is really all that matters. A single line result is meaningless in the context of years of overruns.
The church had been failing on the overall budgets since at least 2002 per auditor's. Saying the OCA did well on a single line item of expense is a little upsetting, don't you think?
Others judge us on our actions, and we judge ourselves on intent. My intent was to suggest overall budgets were blown and that cash flows certainly didn't provide for the AAC expenses. My actions were a bit harsh towards you. Forgive me.
#184.108.40.206.3 Daniel E. Fall on 2007-09-28 21:20
I forgive Daniel Fall without reservation, and ask his prayers.
May God forgive us all.
#220.127.116.11.3.1 Monk James on 2007-09-29 11:43
I get it. Your plan is to just roam around these websites laying down a trail of misinformation. This is an age old intelligence tactic. We're on to you. Not going to work.
#52.1.2 Anon. on 2007-09-24 20:00
To those wondering about Canada, judge for yourselves the official view of things via the account of Met. Herman's visit to the Canadian Assembly this summer. Some delegates were however heard to quietly wonder why the obvious issues were being ignored.
Another factor to be noted is that our unique financial arrangements with the OCA have perhaps clouded the issue of whether this has anything to do with Canada. We are used to quietly maintaining our own identity in the face of the rest of the OCA's habit of forgetting that we are actually in another country with its own laws and culture (and as an active missionary diocese, we are sometimes too busy to care). I say this not as an excuse but as an explanation of why it may be taking longer, despite the internet, for people here to understand this crisis and its significance for us in Canada.
Also do keep in mind that confrontation in Canadian culture is even less acceptable than it is in the US; and that Abp. Seraphim is rightly beloved by his people for his loving pastoral care and leadership that has revived this archdiocese over the last 20 years. Unlike some other dioceses, we have had a long history of loving and trusting our bishop. People here may be reluctant to appear unsupportive of their bishop from love as much as from fear; I will not say there is not some fear as well, but because of these many and complex factors, even a single signature on the petition so far should be seen by the rest of the OCA as a hopeful sign from Canada. Do not give up on us yet.
#53 another Canadian on 2007-09-24 10:40
Yes, the good people of Canada do NOT contribute, neither do the Romanians, Alaskans, Bulgarians OR the Albanians.
Now, what is wrong with this picture? Why is it that only some OCA diocese carry the entire church financially? Talk about fairness!!!!!!!
#53.1 Margo on 2007-09-25 11:04
All the ethnic jurisdictions in the OCA contribute to the central administration, as does Canada -- they just do it differently, and in many ways far more generously than the fair-share plan generates from the territorial eparchies.
I highly recommend that anyone with questions about the way this works consult the chancellors or bishops of Canada and the ethnic eparchies. Their contact info is easily available on oca.org.
#53.1.1 Monk James on 2007-09-25 15:19
Your post demonstrates exactly the problem Canadians have in not being understood by Americans. **We live in a different country, we have different tax laws. ** I do not know about the other dioceses, but in Canada our tax laws severely limit the amount our Archdiocese can send out of the country. Thanks to Abp. Seraphim's long and hard work, after many years the OCA administration was finally able to understand this, but clearly not everyone gets it still. Canada DOES contribute by giving of our bishop's time and paying his travel expenses directly, to allow him to serve as external affairs representative of the OCA on many overseas trips. In this way Canada financially supports OCA ministry without the money actually going across the border, which could jeopardize our Canadian tax exempt status. In terms of dollar amounts spent per capita, I doubt if we fall short of any other diocese in the OCA.
#53.1.2 a Canadian member on 2007-09-25 15:42
Thank you for the brief explanation of the financial arrangement regarding the Archdiocese of Canada. While this American knew that Canadian law had restrictions on the movement of currency out of the country, I did not know that such movements might jeopardize the tax exempt status of the archdiocese. Neither did I know that the archdiocese directly underwrites the expenses of His Eminence Seraphim in his external affairs work on behalf of the OCA. This arrangement is an intelligent way to meet the requirements of good stewardship within the constraints of the local tax regulations.
#18.104.22.168 Mark C. Phinney on 2007-09-29 07:19
Margo apparently doesn't seem to be aware that the groups she mentioned support their own Dioceses and in the case of Canada, there are international laws involved about (I believe and someone feel free to correct me if I am wrong) charitable funds leaving the country and the donors being able to claim them on their taxes. Our parish has never received a penny from the USA. We have received a small start-up gift from our Archdiocese of Canada and are self supporting.
And yes, we love Bishop Seraphim!
Do I think the Metroploitan should step down? I don't know.
#53.1.3 maureen on 2007-09-26 15:38
Hey folks, this petition could backfire if there are not enough signatures- then MH could see it as not a valid concern!
#54 worried on 2007-09-25 06:52
To the editor:
I wrote a letter from Canada which you have obviously edited out because I do not support the way in which this is being handled....many in my parish are aware of my letter, and so you lose all credibility with us! You put up only that which supports your way of thinking and maybe some of it is even made-up? Now the couple of people from Canada supporting this process have been published. Some are even blaming our own beloved Archbishop Seraphim for the lack of Canandian comments, but perhaps I'm inclined to think that you are simply manipulating this whole thing -why else would you prevent honest debate...
(Editor's Note: I apologize. When I received this note I went back to look why it had not been posted. In the crush of postings on this thread ( over 130...) Helen's was simply overlooked. It was human error, nothing more. I appreciate her bringing the oversight to my attention. The error has been corrected.)
#55 Helen Derry-Scratch on 2007-09-25 09:54
All the signatures from Venice Fl.....hmm, the former Chancelor surely doesn't have anything to do with that?! As soon as I begin to think this petition might actually have some teeth, all the anonymous petitioners from Venice really call into question the validity and integrity of that long list of names.
Also, some one mentioned that this whole thing might backfire, and I'm beginning to see why it could. Its seems like many of the RSK supporters are using the petition as a bunker from which to launch their attack on MH, which no doubt MH will point out and use to call into question the validity and integrity of the petition.
What to do? I have no clue
#56 Backfire on 2007-09-27 06:12
See comments 22.214.171.124 and 126.96.36.199.1 above, both from Cathy Tatusko, concerning the difference between signing the petition anonymously and displaying the signature and parish as "anonymous".
What is your concern over the number of people at the parish of the Holy Spirit in Venice, Florida, signing the ipetition? (40 out of 849 signatures at this time: 4.7%.) I have seen what seems to me a "large " number of signatures from Holy Spirit Orthodox Church (Elmira Heights, NY) and Sts. Peter and Paul Orthodox Church (Endicott, NY). What does that mean ... other than a significant number of people in those parishes think it is time for Metropolitan +HERMAN to step down as primate?
#56.1 Mark C. Phinney on 2007-09-29 08:04
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