Friday, September 28. 2007
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I pray that the Synod and MC will assert themselves and that they will appoint the new investigative committee/commission (perhaps even with some of the people who resigned) and that it will be accountable to the Synod and Metropolitan Council. If the Metropolitan appoints the Commitee then he seems to control it. It is a conflict of interest since he was treasurer during part of the time period in question. If it is clear that the Committee is constituted by and responsible to the Synod as a whole along with the MC, perhaps the Committee will be free to investigate and report on all the points without being hindered. This also means that a budget needs to be approved for them to do their work. We need to know the truth. Members of the Synod and MC: Please take control and let the whole truth be discovered and reported so that we can begin the process of healing and moving forward. If Synod members are worried about what might come out, don't be. We can handle the truth. Most of it is probably known already through the rumors that are rampant. What we can't handle is much more of the same. Lord, have mercy on us all.
In Christ, Diane
#1 Diane Prokipchak on 2007-09-28 07:54
Unfortunately, for MH everything is about power and control. He will never allow anyone but himself to "appoint" anything, or commission anything. He cares nothing for the truth, for integrity, for ethics, for morality. He cares only for the authority of the white hat. He will do any and every thing to protect himself and MT, as he sees the restoration of the OCA as the restoration of trust in the power and authority of himself.
#1.1 Anonymous on 2007-09-28 08:24
Brilliant editorial. I am sure Monday's will be just as revealing.
Can we get to the point of finally accepting the fact that as long as Herman is the Metropolitan we are dead in the water?
Who's confidence does he enjoy? At least three bishops know he must step down, and I would suspect that only two now would side with him, Nathaniel and Tikhon.
It is time to go Herman. Read the tea leaves. Your time is done.
#1.2 A Senior Priest of the OCA on 2007-09-28 09:25
In reading the Statutes of the OCA, the assertion should come from the Metropolitan Council. However, the Statutes are meaningless dribble when unenforced by the Synod.
#1.3 Daniel E. Fall on 2007-09-29 13:36
Are we Christians or Communists?
#2 Anonymous on 2007-09-28 09:32
IT APPEARS YOU HAVE BLOCKED FURTHER COMMENTS TO THE "TO SIGN OR NOT TO SIGN" TOPIC. However, I would like to respond to this last poster, if possible. If you cannot add it, I understand.
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?
#126.96.36.199.188.8.131.52.184.108.40.206 Anonymous on 2007-09-28 19:44
Yes, I believe this is right. We are collectively the Body of Christ. Christ is the head. The Mind of the Spirt emerges from within the Body, us members all. The axios or amen of the people of God is even a prerequisite in the epiclesis/consecration at Holy Communion. (Amen. Amen. Amen.) If this affirmation is essential at that most holy of times, then surely it is needed at the selection of men and women for leadership roles within the Church. Therein, I believe, is our accountability problem. Too many "leaders" in this Church fancy themselves the masters over many, and accountable to no one. A holdover from feudal times? It would seem.
#2.1 Name withheld on 2007-10-01 18:07
Thank you, Diane,
I, too, am hoping that the MC and HS will assert themselves. I am not sure how one person, +Herman, has garnered so much power and control.
I am wondering that if a talented and wise treasurer were hired, would he be able to help "right" the sinking ship and call +Herman to task on what does or does not get studied, investigated, or reported.
But we had a Special Commission to do the same. This is all a disaster of integrity.
#3 Patty Schellbach on 2007-09-28 09:33
I don't think we'll be able to hire a new treasurer, Patty. If you had the skills, would you take the job? I know I wouldn't.
#3.1 Josephine on 2007-09-28 11:25
I am not sure how one person, +Herman, has garnered so much power and control. ......... It was through our own complacency. It appears that the OCA has been allowed to become more like the HMS Bounty than the Church. Folks, its time to take back the ship and put Christ at the helm.
How long O lord, how long...?????
#3.2 Sophia Weisheit on 2007-09-28 13:47
Herman was Theodosius' hand-picked successor. At least one bishop on the Holy Synod viewed Herman as "a short-term caretaker - a rather lifeless and uninspiring figure who could hold do no harm until a younger generation of bishops would be ready." If only he was correct, but he was not, and that bishop wishes he could have voted for Seraphim. Remember Herman only one by one vote when the Synod dropped the names into the chalice.
Sadly, Herman is not the man for the OCA. He has no leadership skills except power and intimidation. He learned his craft from Archbishop Kyprian, who, truth be told, was a cruel man, a mean man. Herman learned at the knee of Kyprian, and he learned his lesson's well.
Unless the Holy Synod and the Metropolitan Council takes great care, they will once again play into the hands of Herman, who will do his best to keep his opposition confused and fighting with each other so that he can "get through the next meeting." That is all Herman ever done when faced with conflict. Keep his enemies fighting each other and deflect attacks.
Please do not misunderstand me, I am not attacking Herman, this is an observation of him from first-hand experience over many years. i am sure others could chime in with their own Herman Horror stories.
Many have been saying, if you want to get Herman's attention, cut off the money. That is very true, but you miss the ultimate direction of such an approach. Herman could care less if the OCA goes broke. BUT IF YOU STOP THE FLOW OF MONEY TO ST. TIKHON'S.........THAT WILL GET HIS ATTENTION VERY FAST.
If anyone cares about the poor students at St. Tikhon's stop support that school and free them all, students and faculty from the Swaiko, Martin and Archdeacon Klimichev hold on that holy place.
#3.2.1 Anonymous on 2007-09-28 20:22
Speaking as a CPA, the hiring of a Treasurer could provide the assistance we need, however so much of our problems relate to governance and not finance that I'm not sure the Treasurer will be a panacea. To the extent the treasurer is able to establish independence from +MH, they will be successful, however, I personally don't foresee that independence.
CPAs have an extensive code of ethics, part of which reads as follows:
.01 Rule 102—Integrity and objectivity. In the performance of any professional service, a member shall maintain objectivity and integrity, shall be free of conflicts of interest, and shall not knowingly misrepresent facts or subordinate his or her judgment to others.
The "subordinate his or her judgment to others" phrase becomes problematic in our command/control environment.
The "technical" accounting and reporting issues are not difficult. The relational and governance issues are extremely problematic.
Martin D. Watt, CPA
#3.3 Marty Watt on 2007-09-29 07:49
Can we, with any conscience stay in the OCA? I have never heard of a person so completely out of touch with reality as Herman. A person with a so pathologically delusional state that is able to retain an office of top leadership in an organization and no one with any ability to correct it, except for one lone voice in the wilderness, having the conscience or good judgment to do anything about it. This is not what God had in mind and He will remind us of that. The Church history is filled with people who have done their best to destroy the Church. Herman, and his minions, past and present, now have their names in the list of those that have persecuted the Church. This group has been more successful because they have actually been able to bring it to it’s knees. A Church brought to it’s knees before its persecutors. Earlier persecutors were faced with unflagging love and commitment that kept the Church strong. Not the case here.
To think Herman can bring about unity and return the OCA to integrity is so pitiful that it cannot even be considered comical or perversely funny. He knows he can't that's why he wanted the special commission to play this role for him. He thought they would but when they didn't buy into his demented reality, their days were numbered. This is a person, mind you, who hasn't been doing pastoral visitations, is holed up in his uncanonical home, and does not mingle with his flock. His idea of the flock was just a crowd that gave legitimacy to his twisted desires to be a Papal figure that people would blindly obey and worship and give material wealth that he had dreamed up.
An insecure person who used the Church to gain that security that he so badly desired. An insecurity that drove his decisions and actions overriding any ideals that he preached from the altar. The Church was, and still is going to, in his mind, be a tool whereby his personality defects would be overshadowed by the overwhelming adoration of his people. And when they didn’t do that by choice he made them do it by force. Apparently unity and integrity are just achieved when everyone forgets and passes by what has happened. Pathologically delusional. The gig is up, Herman. You're a fraud.
A very, very special and heartfelt thanks goes out to the other bishops who have had it so ingrained in their souls to bring about the end of a Church rather than capitulate to truth, love, and God's will. Your efforts at enabling bad to overcome and destroy the very symbol of good have been commendable and are noted. Your ability to be bought and remain bought, through very difficult times, have shown a backbone that if only used for good purposes would have been saintly. Good going guys, a real sterling example of Orthodox Christianity. Let's all go meet at the bar to have a drink, cigar, and pat each other on the back to a job well done. You get the loyalty award from a leader who means nothing. Good luck at your judgment.
Woe to the bishops who turned the other cheek and ignored God. As the old saying goes, “No one is completely useless, they can always serve as a bad example”. For years down the line, when we need examples of what not to do, people can point to a picture containing Herman, Dmitri, Nathaniel, Nikolai, Benjamin, Nikon, Tikhon, Alejo, Serpahim. A list of names that will be forever associated with corruption and incompetence, and a complete lack of love for God and his Church. In other words, a group of cronies. A group of people who do a disgrace to their patron saints. And to the younger ones who have many many years left of their episcopacy, it’s going to be a fruitless effort to have people believe you have any integrity or real character. For you, the path is going to long and difficult. People’s memories, at least those that have the stomach to stay any longer, will not fade easily.
It's fairly normal that a killer organism takes down a large body. Viruses do it all the time. When the host organism is not strong enough its susceptible to being overtaken and killed by that virus. We, as a Church, let the virus gradually eat away at us until here was nothing that could be recognized as strength to fight it. We lacked the strength to come through this. Chalk one up to the bad forces for what it has been able to achieve. We gave them nourishment and they used that to terminate us.
Will the last person out please turn out the lights.
#4 Stonewall on 2007-09-28 10:15
I am not going to be party to your "doom and gloom" pity party. Sure, we are going through some tough times. SO WHAT. The Church has faced much more difficult times then what we are going through right now.
I for one am not willing to give up on the OCA. I have been part of the OCA and previous Metropolia all my life. We are just 37 years old. THAT IS NOTHING. We are in the midst of growing pains.
We have seen the enemy and the enemy is us (Pogo).
Wheeler helped us to see that we are not too well.
Stokoe helped us to identify why we are sick.
Now we have to take the cure, ALL OF US.
The really hard work is still ahead. Tearing it down is easy. Rebuilding it is hard.
We have have hung in this long, I plan on sticking around until the job is done.
Just let me know when the moving truck is ready Joe. I will be there to help pack you up and move you out. Anyone else willing to lend a hand?
#4.1 Anonymous on 2007-09-28 14:25
If you're going through HELL, KEEP GOING !
" K "
#4.2 Patty Kusnir on 2007-09-28 21:14
...Unless you go in circles.
#4.2.1 Alex K. on 2007-09-30 11:14
Those are pretty radical things to say. You've used a really big stick and condemned so many (though I'm sure you're going to argue all the bishops have condemned themselves and you're just "calling them as you seen them"). You put all the weight of the blame on the bishops, but they come from us, from among the laos. They are, so to speak, the fruit of our OCA tree, and we the people are that tree. If the fruit is rotten, what does that say about the tree. What does that say about you and me?
All this stone throwing does no one any good, and if I may be so bold, it probably hurts those who throw them the most. We have seen a transformation of sorts in some, that seem to suggest a certain despair and a crisis of faith in the Truth of Holy Orthodoxy. Orthodoxy, thanks be to God, is not confined to the OCA, or to any single jurisdiction. The Truth of it is greater and deeper than the foibles, and great sins of men. One cannot point at them and say, "That proves Orthodoxy is a church of dead works".
That even one Saint Seraphim was produced in Orthodoxy proves the Truth and Vigor of the Orthodox Church. Why? Because, Orthodoxy is a way of life and to those who cling to it and conform every aspect of their lives, both internal and external, to it, it promises an enlarged heart, a clean heart, a pure heart and ultimately that the Holy Trinity will come dwell within that heart.
That the Holy Trinity does not dwell in our hearts, or that we have impure hearts is not the fault of the Church, but our own by our slothfulness and neglect.
So I just shake my head in dissapointment when I hear the desperate words of those who say: "Is the Church a dead church?" Its not the Church that is dead, but we; those of us who do not enter into the kingdom and prevent others from entering.
To my critics: I'm not saying we should simply forget about the problems that are bessetting the OCA and give those guilty of neglect a pass. We must, however, be sure that in our condemnation we do not allow our hearts to be heardened or become despondant. Nor should we succumb to the temtation of self righteousness. There is light at the end of the tunnel. Even if the OCA implodes, the Church will live on.
#5 The Church is Alive on 2007-09-28 12:59
The church will live on. As I read it, it is the oca that Stonewall thinks will fail because of the unwillingness of the bishops to take the bull by the horn and drive him from the china shop.
#5.1 Anon on 2007-09-28 17:33
There is no one who is free from blame in this entire mess from the laity to the Metropolitan. We all have varying degrees of blame in proportion to our standing in the Church.
I see the single worst failure in this scandal to be the bishops. Plain and simple. The biggest disappointment. When a building falls down it doesn’t fall down because a few windows popped out or a floor sprung a leak. It falls down because the foundation, the core, the integrity of the load bearing structures fail. We are in a situation where our load bearing structures are failing and willing to collapse under the stress of the load they face.
We will have to accept there are going to be bad apples and that we have to deal with them when they come our way. The one place where there should be no nonsense of any nature and where the law is supposed to be upheld as the final defense for the Church and as much to what God would want is the Synod. To paraphrase our former chancellor, the Holy Spirit acts through the Synod. All acts of the Synod, we were told, were guided by the Holy Spirit. Is the Holy Spirit desiring that we stonewall and avoid getting to the truth? Is the Holy Spirit against weeding out disturbing and destructive elements in our midst? Is the Holy Spirit desiring that our Metropolitan lie like a rug? Therefore the Synod should act in accordance to what the Holy Spirit would want and not the desires of people who’s only concern is what they can get out of the Church. This is the highest official body that is responsible for keeping order in the Church. The only guiding principle should be that of what is right in the very simple laws of God.
You talk about a rotten tree, but its not the tree. The lower you go in the food chain the more pious and faith centered people you will meet from the laity to the clergy. We’re talking about rotten apples. When there’s a bad apple to be dealt with, when it gets to the Synodal level the standards under which they will be dealt with should be clearly understood and known to anyone with a decent grasp of common sense. In the case at hand its more like a quicksand of opinions and feelings in a situation where there is very little doubt that corrective actions need to be taken.
To be charitable, to date the OCA Synod has been completely ineffectual. They have had two years and they have done nothing to bring this to closure, but, it appears, deferring to whatever Herman, in a great conflict of interest, desires. Rather than being a group of equals entrusted with the good order of the Church, they are more and more seen as an advisory committee to Herman with him having the last and final say no matter what anyone else has said.
It was in this Synod that it was attempted to remove Job because he did what? He just asked whether allegations presented were true or false? For this, there was a move in the Synod to remove him. Is this the way we deal with problems? The Synod didn’t care to look into the allegations, we can only wonder why, they decided to go after the messenger.
As we come to the second anniversary where are we? The disappointment, to put it lightly, in the Synod, did not come about in November of 2005. It didn’t come about til late 2006 and has grown since. Why is that? Because we thought they were the body that would do what’s right, period. As time has gone on and this scandal stabs deeper into the spiritual life of the Church, seeing what they have seen, they have been useless. Herman’s intransigence has been met with requests for him to retire and when he refuses they move on to new business. We have sexual allegations of a serious nature in Alaska, and well, let’s just keep things how they are now. We have a Synod that votes to defrock a priest and one of them isn’t so sure he wants to recognize that. What is this?
I have held that if the Synod wanted to do something to bring this to closure it could be done in a day if they have the will. The will does not exist and that is not the way it should be because those on the Synod should have the burning desire to correct any problems in the Church that threaten its peace especially those that are so severe as to warrant Federal investigations and the highest of priced lawyers. We are not talking about the appearance of problems, we are not talking about petty problems, we are talking about problems . Problems that require decisive action. Problems that they don’t want to deal with in a decisive manner. Problems, that they see now, are causing great discord, a loss of financial support that may not be regained for decades, and to be honest, behavior from a Metropolitan that are just not consistent with how a Metropolitan should behave.
Look, if a bishop does not want to deal with these problems maybe he needs to realize that he was not suited for that role and do the honorable thing and retire or resign his office. Do not continue the charade. As they say, “lead, follow, or get out of the way.” Let’s go back to the pool and select another candidate. We need bishops who have a propensity to do the right thing under difficult circumstances, not those that will capitulate to whatever the big guy wants.
This all leads us to how the bishops are chosen. Out of the group of Nikon, Tikhon, Benjamin, Nikolai, which were consecrated to the episcopate as the result of an election at a diocesan assembly? These are our most recent additions to the Synod. These bishops were chosen, consecrated as auxiliaries, and then foisted upon a target diocese. When the diocese was comfortable with them, or they had staked out power in that diocese, an election was brought up where their name was placed in nomination with no others. Is an assembly going to vote against the person who currently holds power over them? Let’s be real. Talk about stacking the deck. So, the powers that are at the center of this scandal are the same people who picked the people who are at power to do something about it. No one sees a very big problem with that? What qualifications did these men possess that made them Episcopal material? Did anyone know they would be presented to the Synod for their approval before it happened?
You speak that these people who are bishops come from us. Based on how a good part of the current bishops were chosen, would you have chosen them as the best we have to offer in the OCA? There are many good candidates out there and because you and I might actually want one of them to be bishop and destroy the culture that is present is why that choice was taken from us. When we want to select the crème of our crop they wanted to pick the one that would be beholden not to us, but to them. Not beholden to God and his commandments, but beholden to them.
All eyes should be on Western Pennsylvania and whether the normal process for selecting bishops will be adhered to again. Another bishop bought by the powers that be answering to well, the powers that be.
Now, would the bishops feel more accountable to the people if their being on the Synod was a result of the people’s desires or would they have the same attitudes they have now? Let’s be real here. Becoming a bishop for some people is what they desire and for some what they have aimed for, no matter what you want to believe. It’s a perfectly normal human nature to be ambitious. A bishop of that nature would be more favorable upon those that fed that ambition.
In the end we have to realize that we get what we sow. We are more lucky that anything else when a person of quality makes it to the Episcopal level. The integrity and character of a Bishop should be of such high standards that the number of men who make those standards is incredibly low. How can we fill the number of sees we do without lowering our standards. When we lower our standards we end up with what we have now.
My issue is not that the Church is going through tough times, that’s to be expected and, in fact, treated as a learning experience. My issue is that the issue is not being dealt with decisively on the level that can resolve this immediately.
#5.2 Stonewall on 2007-09-28 17:35
There is a darkness and delusion in the writings, actions, lies, coverups, double-speak, contradictions, justifications, blame, and justifications of Met. Herman that screams LEGIONS! The behavior and lies of Met. Herman are the actions of a guilty and selfish man who cares more about power, money, himself and his "image" than truth, ethics, integrity, honor, accountability, protection of innocence, and the Holy Orthodox Church. There simply aren't any reasonable explanations left to explain his conduct given how much has happened and the mountain of information we have seen. Actions DO SPEAK LOUDER than WORDS, and this hierarch has proven time and again he is not worthy of his sacramental office any longer.
Met. Herman has shown us, once again, why and how the OCA got itself in this mess and crisis in the first place. Leopards obviously do not change their spots, and incompetent, selfish, power hungry and unethical hierarchs do not suddenly decide to do the right thing and correct their evil ways even when faced with the mountain of evidence and truth that expose the horrible reality of what has happened under his watch and with his blessing.
Unfortunately, besides +JOB, no other bishop in the Holy Synod has chosen to confront the lies and evil actions of Met. Herman and stand for truth, ethics, accountability, and righteousness. This again shows how bad things are spiritually when the sheep are languishing, crying for help and truth, and pleading for mercy and ethics, and the shepherds entrusted sacramentally with theis safety and salvation remain silent and unmoved. We are truly living in dark times indeed.
There is a lot going on in the OCA that scream "LEGIONS" and it is not just the behavior the hierarchs.
The picture that is painted in your post (and the vast percentage of the postings on this site) is that the poor, innocent, rational sheep of the OCA aka the Laity, have been led betrayed and are in danger of being led astray by "evil" and "miscreant" Metropolitan and his Bishop cronies.
Don't the collective sins of the Laity amount to anything in the overall health of the OCA? Nominalism. Impiety. Self Righteousness. "America First" Phyletism. But, let's just look at one sin that is just enough to eviscerate the OCA: Murder.
Murder, as defined by St. Ephrem the Syrian:
"Again I entreat you, brethren, since God is love, he is not well-pleased by things that take place without love. How would God accept prayer, or gifts, or first fruits, or offering from a murderer, unless they first repented in accordance with God’s word? But you will no doubt say to me, ‘I am not a murderer.’ And I will prove to you that you are, or rather John the Theologian will convict you, when he says, ‘Every one who hates their brother is a homicide.’'
If the hierarchs have shown disdain for the cares and concerns of the laity, what have the laity, particularly ocanews partisans given to the hieararchs in return? Disdain and hatred.
Hierarchs versus the Laity. Laity versus the Hieararchs. The OCA is murdering itself before our eyes. Murdering of self is the definition of suicide.
Suppose the OCA survives this suicide attempt, what will be left? If the Hierarchs are able to make such a mess of things, what kind of messes can a Laity-controlled organization create? If the Hierarchs prevail, then what price have they paid, or rather, have the Laity paid for "victory?"
No trust. No love. No forgiveness. What will be left is a polity
resembling the current Anglican/Episcopalian communion, all reasonableness and compromise, a "via media" to hell.
God be with you OCA. Thanks for giving us our start in the Orthodox Church. We will not be finishing the race with you.
#6.1 Anonymous on 2007-09-29 08:24
This bitter rant, with its attack on laity and lay organs, such as OCA News, alike, is a perfect example of the clericalism which infects large segments of the the Orthodox world. This anonymous (yet again!) poster scurrilously attacks one and all (laity that is) and then falls back to quoting St. Ephrem on hatred as murder! It reminds me of the postings from an Antiochian priest some time back that could have been written and promulgated from Syosset.
I would also hazard a guess that, like myself, this poster is a former Anglican, hence the reference to that sorry situation. Unfortunately, the remedy he seeks is to be found in Roman Catholicism where all answers and direction are provided by a clerical establishment headed by an infallible (in some circumstances) autocrat. The consequences of that model are the flip side of his Anglican sojourn.
Most of us, it needs to be said, do not hate our bishops. We may despair of their many failings, but in the end we pray for their repentance and amendment of action, just as they pray for ours. But to equate even severe criticism with hatred is, in my view, a subterfuge to silence opposition and avoid dealing with the underlying problem. A classic diversionary tactic, as so many have pointed out on this site.
#6.1.1 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2007-10-01 06:59
Most of you like your bishops because you don’t hear from him much, see him only at special events, and have no idea what he does when he’s not serving. And he’s got this really neat hat on! You may hear from him when you need a priest or when a problem of such gravity requires bringing in the “big guy”. For most people, however, the bishop is an unknown - a name, a face, flowing robes, but little more is known and not much more is offered. Do you know the history of your bishop, for instance? You only know your bishop’s big anniversaries where it is expected a banquet in his honor will be held.
He sends out a letter at Christmas and Pascha with nice words and he’s mentioned several times during each service as we pray for him. Some people may even see him serve and be in awe of the grandeur of a hierarchical liturgy afterwards there are pictures taken, usually with the clergy and servers, then the kids. The bishop pats their heads, asks their names, and everyone says what a nice man he is. He’s a nice man when he’s in public, but then he’s gone, forgotten, and no one then sees what he does when he’s not in the public view. How many people have sat down and had a talk with their bishop other than maybe a little small talk at coffee hour after a service? Far too few, far too few.
For many here, this scandal has provided our first look into what bishops do and what they fail to do. Sadly to say, that first look is enough to turn off anyone that feels anything for their faith. For many, their first real look at what their bishop is all about is in this scandal. For all those, except in the Midwest, this view has to be sorely disappointing, highly frustrating, and a complete opposite of what they thought these men were all about. How can this be you ask! They are nice when you walk up to them and ask them for their blessing. Sure they will be! You are bowing down to them! Anyone is going to be nice when that occurs. Just what the bishops want you to do besides keeping your money flowing in.
Don’t nice, holy men always do what’s right? Surely that veiled hat they wear lends them to be holy and follow in the way of the Lord, no? But what happens after they scurry away with their envelope containing their “tribute” in their cadillacs and then out of the sight and out of the minds of the rank and file of the Church?
For some people, what happens in Church stays in Church. That’s the sad reality. This is no less true for our bishops. In the first real trying case of a systematic problem in our OCA the bishops have shown a corruption that would make any Chicago official blush with envy. They honor their legal responsibilities with a disregard that would never be thought of in corporate board rooms. When faced with a sexual allegation, corporate executives move to rectify the problem as soon as possible. Our bishops look to sweep it under the carpet as soon as possible, unless of course, it can be used to dispose of an enemy one of them has. Politics, New Jersey style. When faced with corruption that is so blatant as to reek of millions of dollars missing and Federal involvement, the bishops are not deer caught in the headlights, being “monastics” and not knowing what to do. They know what they are doing and they act to sweep it under the carpet and hope it goes away. Keep the gig going. They do this because they’ve been weened in their roles knowing that the average people know not what they do when they are not at a special event. They do this because the quicker they can sweep it under the rug and forget about it, without you knowing, the less of a problem it is because you have that impression that they are just nice guys who are the symbols holiness. Bunk.
The next time you see one of these guys at an event, and a major one is coming up this Saturday, ask him, what he doing about this? Sit him down, buy him a half dozen pierogies and a Pepsi and have him look you in the face and tell you why he feels that the course that he and his fellow bishops are taking are the right steps. Quiz him on why Herman refuses to let the special commission continue to look at this scandal unhindered after he, this bishop, and his fellow bishops, voted to let it continue. Why does he not raise his voice in objection!? Ask him why the report hasn’t been released when he and his fellow bishops voted to release it. Why does he not raise his voice in objection!? Ask him how he expects the Church to function with a lack of funding that is already reaching a level causing distress to his buddy in Syosset. Ask him why he does not contradict Herman who feels that we’ve already taken care of all our problems, namely our former chancellor. Ask him how he can serve liturgy, hold the body of Christ in his hands, and allow the Church to continue in increasing distress and division all in the name of covering up what have to be criminal actions undertaken. Ask him if that is protecting the body of Christ from dark forces? Ask him how he can preach to you what you should be doing to fight the forces of evil and fight the good fight when he cannot deal with evil when confronted with it face to face. Ask him, plainly, if he can sleep at night knowing he’s doing what he is doing in this situation.
If need be, buy more pierogies as he works through his answers – you’ll be lucky if he hasn’t walked away, leaving them uneaten, by this time. If he says that the Church needs to move ahead and forgive those that have not lived up to their responsibility, ask him what we should forgive? Surely something bad happened if we need to “forgive”! Forgiveness, like a blank check, should not be given without knowing why. Oh, wait, blank checks are how they do work in Syosset, please excuse me! Ask him if he’s ok when people have stolen from God and he’s done nothing to find out, at least, what happened so we can prevent this in the future – afterall, you steal from the Church, you’re stealing from God Himself.
After he skirts all your questions and walks away shaking his head that you would ask this, think about if this “nice” guy you like is a fox in sheep’s clothing doing what he must do to keep you, in your ignorance, on his side. Maybe he walks away with the pierogies, because after all, you gave them to him for nothing.
Look people, this scandal has been allowed to continue for as long as it has (longer than it became public knowledge in October 2005) and of the magnitude it has because your nice bishop chose to disregard his vows, disregard his priesthood, disregard God, and look the other way when the Church has been violated. We’re not talking about a “failing” here, we’re talking about a concerted effort, concentrated in the circle of our bishops to lie, deceive, and get away with criminal behavior, and then act as if everything is ok. When pressed to comment on accountability, they blame Wheeler, Stokoe, and Nescott as the causes of this problem. One of our exalted bishops, in fact, two, would have excommunicated them if in their dioceses. These are “nice” men?
You don’t have to hate your bishops and that would be wrong, but to demand accountability from a successor of the Apostles themselves when the Church is under fire from within is not too much to ask for and if you didn’t you’d be derelict in your duties as well. They don’t want to lift a finger and be bothered to deal with this properly, but they want you to forgive and keep sending in the money. The old Beatles’ song is wrong, money CAN buy you love - the love of our bishops. Your bishop can be the nicest guy on earth, he can help little old ladies across the street and give candy to the kids, but if he can’t do what’s right he’s no example for you, me, or the kids. Don’t give me a nice bishop, give me a bishop I would want to emulate and who serves as an example for me when I need strength to face the trials I do in my day to day life. No wonder nowadays we look to sports figures for our heroes.
#220.127.116.11 Stonewall on 2007-10-01 11:29
This anonymous poster has never been part of any of the Anglican communions and does not want any part of being within anything resembling them, even ones complete with all the smells and bells (and whistles) of the Eastern rites. I'm just calling it as I am seeing it: If the OCA survives its suicide attempt, its reformers will attempt to shape it into an Anglican-like entity, though one with all the smells, bells (and whistles) of the Eastern rites. I pray with all my heart that I am wrong in this prediction, but at this late stage in the OCA's attempt at suicide, I will not risk my family.
I'm sorry if my last post fed into anyone's sense of paranoia, what with the false accusations of "clericalism," "Roman Catholicism" and "diversionary tactic." But given the current situation, it is understandable why paranoia and suspicion reign.
KRT, let me put your mind at ease. I am not an agent of "Syosset" nor am I an apologist for His Beatitude Metropolitan Herman and the Hierarchs of the Orthodox Church in America.
I'm just a layperson who made the hard decision to leave the OCA for the sake of posterity.
#18.104.22.168 Anonymous on 2007-10-01 11:43
Paranoia? I don't think so--just trying to make sense of your nonsense.
Your not defending the OCA Hierarchy, but your leaving the OCA because of the evil and complaining laity who are "murdering" their bishops with hateful words and thoughts. So where are you going? What Orthodox jurisdiction offers a finer version of the rampant clericalism you seem so eager to embrace. If your planning to stay in North America you might be surprised to find that many Greek and Antiochian laity are very much in sympathy with their suffering brethren in the OCA.
And just for the record, I'm not advocating a kind of Anglican governance for the OCA. It is worth noting, however, that the heresy and schism now destroying them emanated from their bishops initially (i.e. Pike and Spong) before corrupting the lay and clerical orders.
Wherever you go, do it for the sake of your own soul. Posterity can take care of itself.
#22.214.171.124.1 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2007-10-01 15:11
I don't see all of the things you claim to see.
You see distain and hatred toward the hierarchs? I do not see that at all. Instead, I see a church that won't tolerate corruption. Speaking out to criticize corruption and insisting on rooting it out are not "disdain and hatred."
You see "Hierarchs vs. Laity" and "Laity vs. Hierarchs"? Nonsense. The laity are not trying to strip control away from the hierarchs. Quite the contrary, they have patiently and persistently cried out for the hierarchy to lead, and would gladly drop the whole matter if the bishops would do so. The people want strong bishops, men of integrity who will stand up for what is right, men of honor, men who will lead. The laity have rallied around the one hierarch who has shown some leadership. The only reason for this website is that the bishops as a group have abdicated their responsibilities.
You see "no trust". I agree with you about that. The reason there is no trust is that there has been no truth and no honesty. Trust, unlike love and forgiveness, is not supposed to be unconditional. It requires truth and honesty. When lost, it has to be earned back.
You see "no love" -- but I see broken relationships. Love requires openness and a willingness to communicate. Just about everyone wants a better relationship with their bishop. Some have expressed frustration that their bishop seems distant, unapproachable and closed off to communication. I see most people wanting to change that. I do not agree with all the suggestions for how to do that, but I do see a desire for a better relationship, one characterized by love. Don't you see that? Hopefully the stonewalling and gag orders will end so that there can be more open communication.
You see "no forgiveness" -- but I see a determination to get to the truth and to set things straight. I still see a ready willingness to forgive, in the light of the truth.
You see the OCA turning into "a polity resembling the current Anglican communion". I do not see any such thing. I see the laity doing what they have historically always done in the Orthodox Church when the bishops failed to do what they were supposed to do -- speak out. Courageous lay men and women spoke out against wrongs in the church long before American democracy or Anglicanism were invented. The false piety of "pay pray and obey" is not what our history is about.
Since you have decided to leave, I hope you find what you are looking for wherever you go. But where will you go next if you discover that your new church also has skeletons in the closet?
#126.96.36.199.2 Robert Wachter on 2007-10-02 00:04
I seem to recall as well that it was various emporers and patriarchs which were once known as "iconoclasts," and caused much pain and suffering within the Church they we sworn to lead. I think that, in time, most of these have been forgiven, but I noticed that due to enough public outrage -- guided no doubt by the Holy Spirit, which is Truth -- the icons are back in. Certain weak-willed individuals need to understand that we want the Metropolitan out, not the office of metropolitan eliminated! And that is no sin! I mean, we're not crying-out for a hanging -- just a retirement! Goodbye, already! We'll say a prayer for your, but you've got to take your name off of the "authorized signer" card at the Church's bank.
#188.8.131.52.2.1 C.C. on 2007-10-02 22:11
Let's give ear to Fr. Tobias before all is lost:
" [L]let us instead warn you of the days to come, and the Number of the Beast.
Let us tell stories of fractured faith and smorgasbord creeds. Let us recount tales of intellects gone awry when wrenched from apostolicity and theoria. Let us sing the dirges of reformations that spiral down into existential skepticism and fundamentalist ghetto.
Let us prove the impossibility of belief, apart from apostolicity, in the Holy Trinity. Let us catalogue the many phases of degradation resulting from anthropology automatized and atomized, shadowed from the light of ecclesial doctrine.
Let us remind you why we [as former Protestants] came, pounding on Noah's doors, as deluvian refugees.
And above all, let us, together, discover Orthodoxy as the stalwart redoubt of humanity against the approach of Leviathan. For it comes, its golden harbingers calling for license and leveling, and a negation of all custom and tradition, and an enthusiastic embrace instead of rational, totalitarian control." ( Fr. Tobias Janotec)
#184.108.40.206 Anonymous on 2007-10-01 13:21
I thought I had lost the ability to be outraged at the actions of the Metropolitan, but for him to blame Abp Job for the lack of unity and renewal in our Church is contemptible. If the Metropolitan had an ounce of Job's integrity, we would not be facing the disastrous situation in which the Metropolitan has placed the Church. I truly hope the other bishops share this view.
#7 David Paynter on 2007-09-29 06:37
This latest ploy of Herman to deflect criticism by saying Job should have been a focus for unity and renewal is really too much to stomach.
THE METROPOLITAN IS CALLED TO BE THE FOCUS OF UNITY IN THE HOLY SYNOD AND THUS THE CHURCH.
Herman has failed totally in this calling and for him to pass it off onto Job should show without doubt that this man, like being a Treasurer in name only, is also a Metropolitan in name only.
It also makes me sick that we have to revert to school yard tactics like withholding money to get change, but if that is what it takes then so be it. As for Job's integrity, let's not good too far. His track record is not that stellar nor pure. He is a flawed man too. But he has stood up for the courage of his convictions in this one case, and for that I too applaud him.
Whether Herman gets the message or not, whether he stays or not, Syosset as long as he is there MEANS NOTHING. Herman has destroyed it and Kucynda has thrown out the "baby with the bath water" by his mental incapacity.
I hope the Midwest calls via Resolution for the removal of Herman and ties that to withholding. That should raise the stakes to an even more obvious level.
God help us.
#7.1 Anonymous on 2007-09-29 11:32
The totalitarian impulse knows no accommodation with reason. You cannot change the totalitarian mind through dialogue or conversation, because totalitarianism -- however ingenious the superstructure of faux ideas with which it surrounds itself -- is a creature of the will and not the mind.
#8 Anonymous on 2007-09-29 09:46
I just want to echo Stonewall's sentiments above. Metr. Herman didn't create all of these problems. He certainly may have had a hand in all of the financial scandals by not paying attention to what was happening but he certainly doesn't bear the full responsibility of this mess. I believe like many others I have gotten outraged at him but as I have had time to pray and reflect on this and look at all of the other faces of the members of the Holy Synod I have begun to ask myself where are they in all of this? I have actually recently begun to replace Metr. Herman's name and put the other members of the Holy Synod in his place and then I have asked myself, "where are they?" Where is Archbishop Seraphim, where is Archbishop Nathaniel, where is bishop Nikon, etc? If my understanding is correct these individuals are members of the Holy Synod, the highest authority for the OCA and they have been silent throughout all of this.
My opinions and observations certainly may be in the minority but it just seems to me that we have moved from blaming everything on the former priest Kondratick to now focusing entirely on Metr. Herman. Isn't it time to start demanding some accountability from all of the bishops and not just one?
#9 Anon. on 2007-09-29 18:43
I would agree with your conclusion if it were not also equally true that the Holy Synod has been kept in the dark by Herman in most of this. He does not communicate with them and when he does it is only to politic for his way. As much as you may disagree, with regards to Bishop Nikolai and Alaska, Herman betrayed himself by using the alleged situation in Alaska to try and get rid of one of his harshest critics. There is ample evidence of the scheming of Kucynda to "get Nikolai out of the way and neutralize him."
Let's be clear here, we are dealing with a sick man in Herman who surrounded himself with "hangers on" that would rival a Rock Star or prize fighter. No, it is Herman's fault. How else can you explain that it has cost the OCA nearly $3,000,000 to restore trust? Here is the math:
$1.7 million to repay ourselves. Right. That was a smart move.
$700,000 to PR. For what? So Herman can keep his job.
$100,000+ to Lambrides for accounting and audits to tell us what we already knew.
$100,000 for new Syosset accounting software THAT WAS NOT NECESSARY AND NO ONE KNOWS HOW TO USE. Ask the Blackbaud tech who visited Syosset last week.
And where are we today? Any closer to trust? Any closer to transparency? I mean, we can't even find a sap to become treasurer nor anyone to be the OCA lawyers.
And what about transparency. What about the salary schedule for those new hires in Syosset. How much are they making. It might be best for them to tell us now before that information is made public. You won't believe how much Herman, the chancellor and propganda minister are making, and it is still less than what a treasurer will demand. Oh, boy, the fat cats are still there in Syosset, they just bloated their salaries off the little people who they fired.
It is Herman's fault because he got rid of the "evil" Kondratick and things only got worse.
It is Herman's fault because he fired Kondratick and replaced him with Kucynda who is making all of the day to day decisions that count in the Church. And we have seen as a result of this one blunder after another.
Now there is an open breach between Kucynda and James Perry over the Kondratick appeal. Kucynda wants to take it over and wants Herman to send Perry packing. I wonder what Perry wants to do that Kucynda is so adamantly against?
The cuts in Syosset continue and will continue. Next year's budget is already being prepared without the Midwest money. Now it is rumored that another diocese is ready to withhold and one more may do so if the upcoming meeting in Syosset does not prove beneficial to the Church.
No, Herman is to blame. He wanted to wear the white hat and prance around as the THE METROPOLITAN, but we all know now that he has nothing under that white hat except a little mind and no idea how to right the ark of the Church.
Herman is a liar and a disrespectful human being who does not deserve to be called First Hierarch of our beaten down but not defeated OCA.
#9.1 Anonymous on 2007-09-29 19:34
Anon.... I usually skip postings from anyone named Anonymous, but you make some important points in your post.
As long as we continue to put the rage back into outrageous, we'll accomplish nothing. Most of the chest thumping on this site is poorly placed. I expect that Metropolitan Herman will soon be blamed here for the kidnapping of the Lindbergh baby, poor math scores in public schools and the general decline of western civilization. If it wasn't so ugly, it would be downright silly.
We're being played like violins by those who would substitute their judgment for those who are trying to lead our church out of its current problems. You make the point that others share in the blame. I'll take that one step further - unless each of us are involved in helping our parishes grow and prosper, unless we take affirmative actions to help our diocese and our national church, all the whining and nastiness on this site just wounds our souls, and does NOTHING to improve the OCA.
#9.2 Marty Brown on 2007-09-30 15:44
One simple solution to all of the problems.
The Retired Metropolitan, Theodosius; needs to be a "stand up kind of guy" and for the sake of the Church, "tell all". True Repentance, is recognised, and years of healing may begin. Until then, the Church devours itself, and satan laughs.
#10 Stefan Gozdzialski on 2007-09-29 19:04
Unfortunately, the remedy he seeks is to be found in Roman Catholicism where all answers and direction are provided by a clerical establishment headed by an infallible (in some circumstances) autocrat.
Frankly, and with all due respect, this Catholic observer would far rather be under B16 (scarcely my idea of an autocrat. let alone The Great Papal Bogeyman) than under Met. Herman.
But that's just me.
#11 Anonymous on 2007-10-01 17:23
Actually, so would I, if we were basing this decision purely on personality, intelligence and pastoral management style. But alas, we have an ideological/doctrinal issue that makes it impossible for me to "bend the knee" to the worst manifestation of clericalism in the Christian world.
In the past, I have reproved those on this site making invidious comparisons with our separated brethren or trumpeting our "superiority." Perhaps I have violated my own dictum, but in this instance the differences are what they are and there is no good purpose served in ignoring that fact.
That said, I have the highest regard for the many contributions of Catholicism to the Christian world and its many saintly adherents. I continue to pray that "we all may be one."
#11.1 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2007-10-04 07:19
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