Monday, October 29. 2007
Name changes in Syosset, Petitions in Maryland, Votes in New England and Trouble in Alaska. Your comments welcome.
Display comments as (Linear | Threaded)
We pray for the suffering Orthodox Christians in Alaska that have through suffer through the tyranny and evil perpetrated by +Nikolai. This "bishop" has disgraced his office and soiled his position. He is behaving more like a delusional, power-mad and totalitarian dictator than the Christ-like shepherd he is supposed to be.
This is what the dark and Christ-less culture of the OCA has wrought! This is what happens when hierarchs worship religious rituals and have forsaken Christ. This is what happens when unaccountable bishops do not practice what the Gospel preaches. These are the consequences of unethical, egotistical, and power made men are tolerated, enabled, and promoted into positions of authority.
C.S. Lewis said it best in "Mere Christianity" when he discussed the idea of Christian morality and presented it in its proper perspective. Rather than a "kind of bargain" that many believe God makes with mankind in which He will reward us if we follow all the rules and go to Hell if we don't, Lewis depicts it as a journey towards light or darkness that is driven by our decisions. Each choice we make turns the central part of us, that "part that chooses," into something "a little different from what it was before."
And taking our lives as a whole with the all of our "innumerable choices" we make, we are slowly turning that central part of us into a "heavenly creature" that is "in harmony with God and the other creatures", full of joy, peace, and wisdom, or "into a hellish creature" that is "in a state of war and hatred with God", with "other creatures", and with itself. "Each of us at each moment is progressing to the one state of the other." It is up to us to decide how we proceed and in which direction we are heading. There are no neutral acts in God's universe.
It is becoming increasingly evident that many of the hierarchs and priests in the OCA have been traveling in the wrong direction for quite some time. Sadly, they continue to move ever faster towards darkness, lies, and chaos, and are getting further and further way from light, Truth, and Christ.
....His letter has to be one of the most arrogant pieces I've ever read--MY seminary, MY friends, MY board of trustees. Someone on a previous post suggested that at least some of the bishops must be atheists--certainly there was nothing of God in that letter. Yeah, he played lip service, but that was all. How does anyone in Alaska keep any faith at all? Those who do should be canonized as confessors.
Of all of the bishops, my money says that he is by far the worst. By FAR. And that is saying a lot!
I hope that the people of Western Pennsylvania will be vigilant--he'll likely try to manipulate his way into becoming their hierarch, since he and his mentor, the retired bishop of the West, couldn't get Archbishop Job out of the Midwest so he could take over there. But one can hope, given their ability to stand up to Metropolitan Herman, that they would not let this happen.
#1.1 Mark on 2007-10-29 14:15
You describe someone who is afflicted with megalomania.
#1.1.1 anonymous on 2007-11-01 18:31
What struck me was the level of control/terror that +NS has in Alaska.
Fr. Isidore smelled of alcohol early in the day on the eve of Ascension when he was to go to Karluk. This was known to both Fr. John and to a seminarian (no alcohol is allowed at SHS). Yet, he was going to a village plagued with alcohol problems. After HE decided to cancel the trip, he goes out to lunch with Fr. John, Fr. Innocent, and the seminarian and, by noon, he is "talking strangely" and obviously intoxicated. Yet no one does anything, no one confronts Fr. Isidore, no one contacts the bishop.
Fr. Isidore, answerable to no one in Kodiak (he "mentioned" he had just been made rector of SHS), now further intoxicated to the point of stumbling, is allowed to drunkenly read the Gospel at vigil on the eve of Ascension. Why did Fr. Innocent, dean of the cathedral, allow this? Doesn't guarding the church from desecration come under the job description of dean?
Fr. Isidore, incredibly enough, is then allowed to go out on the town with two Russian reporters. It's interesting that two nonclergy, Philip Mazkzak and Paul Sidebottom, had to confront the clergy to do something about Archimandrite Isidore.
Clearly, the two priests, one a seminary professor and the other the dean of the cathedral, were too afraid to do the obvious. At the least, the very least, Fr. Isidore should have been confined to the bishop's quarters with someone watching him, the bishop contacted, and then he should have been taken back to Anchorage. And this done by noon.
The further events of that night, with Fr. Isidore being so drunk he was not allowed to board a plane out of town and subsequent suicidal statements, continue to show how fearful the clergy are of Bishop Nikolai when they did not take the obvious action of getting medical help for Fr. Isidore and ensuring his safety. But Fr. Isidore was the new rector, the chancellor, the archimandrite, the "Golden Boy," and the Bishop's roomie. No one dared mess with the boss's boy.
So, where are we today?
The Synod of Bishops absolutely refuses to discipline +Nikolai. We have +Nikolai left to get Fr. John and Fr. Isidore to recant. And Fr. John and Fr. Innocent naively think they can teach the Gospel while having it so utterly disconnected from the reality that they have allowed to continue.
At one time, Christians stood up to lions; now they cannot even stand up to a bishop.
#1.1.2 "Al Askan" on 2007-11-02 06:14
Thank you for this detailed and informative post, which only further underscores the spiritual crisis in the OCA and the utter failure of our bishops to take corrective action.
Several of my posts on this subject have failed to see the light of day (perhaps rightly), so outraged and disgusted have I been and which was certainly reflected in my comments. For me, the failure, to date, by our bishops to provide even minimal leadership and example on this matter, as their office requires and our Lord will demand, is their worst sin and failing. Without question, Bishop Nikolai should be immediately suspended and subject to deposition based on the numerous accounts of his outrageous behavior and his many ill considered actions.
Preserving the solidarity of the hierarchy (and covering their posteriors) seems to take precedence over all. Some things never change.
#220.127.116.11 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2007-11-02 07:27
Then why hasn't it happened?
#18.104.22.168.1 anonymous on 2007-11-04 15:52
I was at the New England Diocesan Assembly. We were all astonished when the Bishop listened to Fr John Hopko who made an passionate plea to the Bishop expressing the pain so many people are in and wanting the pain to end, to see an end to the mess, to resolve it. The Bishop just sat there and looked at him. No response was uttered back.
Many of us left the meeting feeling as if we had just attended a funeral. Maybe it was, of the OCA!
#2 Disgusted on 2007-10-29 12:52
Maybe the bishop is in step with his brother bishops who believe that all IS progressing towards a resolution, albeit without the truth having to be made known.
Isn't this afterall the party line, i.e. that the scandal with its pain and its embarrassment IS being brought to closure?
However, closure without the truth, a closure that in fact continues cover-up and pretense will not stop either the pain or the deadly disease.
Was the priest's statement/question a plea for the whole truth to come out or a plea for the scandal to go away? They are not necessarily the same thing.
#2.1 Anon. on 2007-10-29 14:03
It's becoming more and more apparent that the only way this will be resolved is with the only authority that the bishops recognize: the legal route. People have been mentioning a lawsuit and it might be about time to seriously consider it and start beginning to organize what is the only last hope to get this resolved. We know that the bishops following the Lord is fantasy on our part so we have to go the only level they understand and fear! Sorry, God, you don't rank enough on their scale!
#3 Anonymous on 2007-10-29 14:47
Why has Abp. Job kept quiet since his visit to New York?
We all expected to hear from him. He is the only bishop that has attempted to be transparent....
#3.1 Suzanne on 2007-10-29 17:49
I LOVE "THE" LEVEL PLAYING FIELD on the withholding motion.
Many committees are made up of one layperson per one clergy.
The ground rule requiring 60% to pass is a brilliant strategy.
Again I say " THIS COULD BE GOOD! "
This may only give us more drive now to get this evil out of the Church, now that we know their tactics have not and will not change.
#4 Ande on 2007-10-29 15:31
Yes, STRATEGY: calm the ragings with talk and visions of unity.
Unity is a worthy goal, but unity proposed as *unity (of one mind) in the Lord*, who is the Way, the Truth and the Life, is something quite different from the unity of robbers coming together (thick as thieves) to preserve their reputations.
Lord, grant us discernment for it is spiritual warfare in which we are engaged. May we not be manipulated and robbed of our ability to reason and discern by being taken in by sentimental and religious platitudes.
May our unity be a byproduct of seeking the truth in love, not a unity that has, in the past, and seeks now to continue the cover-up.
Lord, have mercy.
#4.1 Anon. on 2007-10-30 07:08
I am curious how this will all end. Is everyone doing what I am doing, sitting around depressed, waiting for a mythical resolution? There are some people of genuine good will posting here, too many seem to have personal axes to grind. Can we somehow move toward a workable resolution? Are there any practical ideas out there? Something that will move us forward?
We have wto choices as I see it, dump all these bishops (not a bad idea at all) or we can try a salvage something out of the sow's ear we were dealt.
We need a broad coalition of laity nationwide within some sort of a organization to lobby and pressure these guys back into their cages or out of office. The Metropolitan Council is a dead entity, it must be bypassed and dismantled.
Once again, are there any practical suggestions out there?
#5 zhuk on 2007-10-29 16:44
"One should also note that 'Syosset' appears to have become a nomen non gratum even in 'Syosset'. The summary minutes now refer to the site of the OCA headquarters as "The Westwood Estate, Oyster Bay Cove, New York", not 'Syosset' as they have for the past 50 years."
Can we have a name changing contest? How about; New Fraudland?
#6 zhuk on 2007-10-29 16:47
These are such unfortunate times for the OCA. As Fr. John Hopko talked about at his assembly, there is much suffering going on. Mark's statements on Alaska is another area of it! The climate and culture of "Syosset" is still not changed very much, but they are making some progress.
However, they did pick a great new treasurer, Fr. Michael Tassos. I have NO CLUE what he is about to endure or suffer there at Syosset. I know that Syosset may put on a public picture that is much different than the private picture.
But my husband and I know he is very talented as a CPA and as an Orthodox priest. In our general conversations with him in getting to know him, I am sure he ready and willing to help turn the OCA around. How coincidental (?) that we would have the great opportunity to get to know him this past few years.
The obvious change that is needed in Sysosset is happening very slowly. But I think it is happening. (Alaska may be a different story).
I am watching all that is happening, but it is sad that there is still this culture of fear and intimidation in speaking out. We knew Hazel and Ben Ardinger when we lived in Alaska for a year. Any good manager of any good system will want to keep team players on their team. Ben and Hazel are team players for a healthy church, not a dictatorial bishop. None of this is surprising and the suffering will probably just continue. However, if the new OCA treasurer can get into the financial affairs of Alaska, I am sure he will try to rectify Alaska's role in its financial obligations to Alaska as well as the OCA.
I believe that the treasurer position can accomplish great good for the OCA, as Martin Watt (and probably others) have pointed out some time ago. I just hope Fr. Michael Tassos will not quit before he gives this new treasury position a real good try! But look what I have to pray for! Not having him quit before he even gets there!
#7 Patty Schellbach on 2007-10-29 16:48
can one imagine the new treasurer's surprize upon entering the Met. Herman (Robespierre) chancery at Westwood Estate, that financial records, if any exist, look as if Cardinal Richilieu had found money to be evil, and seen fit to remove it.......elsewhere
#7.1 Guileless on 2007-10-29 19:39
I have searched the Sacred Canons and I can not find any reference to it at all. Perhaps it is in the Statutes of the OCA and therefore unique to us.
Where is it written that when a priest becomes a bishop he must have us spine removed?
Many years ago Father Liolin was truly a shepherd of souls who was loved by most, if not all, of his parishioners. To hear from those in attendance and to read on this website his actions and reactions is truly disheartening. He too has become a "company man." like many of the priests in this diocese. There are too few like Father John Hopko and others who still have their backbones.
I mean no disrespect for the offices of priest and bishop. I was raised to respect those offices as they were held my men who were living icons of Christ our Lord. What are we to do when the men in the office act more like Judas Iscariot than Jesus Christ?
I am not looking for perfection from the clergy. I do however expect them to be struggling towards it with the rest of us. I feel like I am swimming up stream against the rapids while most of our clergy and Bishop Nikon are sitting on the boat in lounge chairs yelling, "Swim! Swim, like we told you to!"
All this is no longer worth the aggravation. My wife and I are going to talk with the parish priest of the Antiochian Archdiocese a couple town over later this week. Perhaps there is something good to say about the jurisdictional diversity here in America.
May God have mercy on the bishops and clergy of the OCA and may He always remain present to those who are faithful to Him.
#8 Guy Kogut on 2007-10-29 17:48
I am aware of at least one recent convert to Orthodoxy also leaving the OCA. I can only ask you to be patient as a brother in the church. It is what I've asked of myself.
The Statute is really the doctrine that causes all of the problems in the OCA. Before you go to another jurisdiction, if you will, I suggest you review their Statutes to see if they would prevent financial collapse and poor judgement by 11-12 men.
#8.1 Daniel E. Fall on 2007-10-30 16:05
A second motion, a vote of no confidence in Metropolitan Herman, was ruled out of order by Bishop Nikon, and not allowed to proceed.
People in Kodiak have learned that missing weekday services, seeking answers to spiritual questions or trying to take responsibility for the life of the church in one's community can lead to the denial of the Eucharist (even after attending Vigil and going to confession the night before), to dismissal from a council or board after years of faithful service, to feeling forced to write letters of apology, and to being pushed to recant statements made in private and confidential correspondence. On top of all this, there are serious allegations of cover-ups, abuse and financial mismanagement, which remain unanswered.
I need Trustees who support my vision of the Seminary and contribute their time and gifts to that goal.
Is there any question as to how many little popes are in the "Holy" Synod? These are not shepherds and pastors. This Synod is not "holy".
So, where do we go, now?
#9 Name withheld on 2007-10-29 18:18
did anyone really think anything would come of the investigation into the most feared and disliked bishop of North America; especially by one of his so called friends?
Of course there wasnt an actual beating at the time of the allegation/s made to Sidebottom and priest innocent... so any part of that would be hard to prove without Isidore...
(I must stop here to state the only person in the entire pathetic issue that has any ANY credibility is Paul Sidebottom)
I am sure that if Karlgut made any attempt to interview innnocent all he would have got was feigned praise at the man who planted him here, surely no one who attends church or is around this little person would testify anything worthwhile or good on his behalf!
While in Fairbanks recently; many of us had the opportunity to visit with other true pravaslovnie from the length and breadth of our huge diocese... the conversations were universal... even wonders why he can even dream of staying here - doesnt he feel the hatred and disrespect; some have said there must be a lot to steal if he is staying here so long!
I noticed while attending a banquet on Saturday night that some clergy were present there... at the time services should have been served? Wonder how that fits in with statements made against Ben Ardinger?
No... count me as a sinner... one who accepts that he is often times wrong... one who is called to face his reality each and every day... knowing that I am given the gift of life to which I must add honesty, willingness and credibility to...
Then and only then can I walk in the light that is the forgiveness from God...
#10 Ted Panamarioff on 2007-10-29 21:35
I agree that the only person with credibility is Paul Sidebottom in that whole sordid affair. No matter what the rest of the people involved say in that "investigation", I hope Paul Sidebottom knows that so many of us realize he is truthful. God Bless Paul Sidebottom.
#10.1 Sad State of Affairs in Alaska on 2007-10-30 08:27
We received an email from Mike Rostad a little over a week ago regarding the dismissal of Ben. I noticed that Mark Stokoe also received the email from Mike so I was just waiting for the news to be posted from him first. I know both Mike & Ben from when I lived in Kodiak, and I consider them both very good people. I worked part time one summer at Ben's store. One time he was out of town and his daughters were running the store. When I got to the door of the store there was a sign on it "Closed today due to sunshine." I guess you have to live in Kodiak to appreciate that. Ben, you are alway the sunshine in our lives and our door will always be open to you.
#11 John Slanta on 2007-10-30 02:06
Okay, I get the picture: The Mighty +MH won't respond even to the likes of someone like Father Thomas Hopko. I'm getting off of this site, and going straight to the petition site, to sign. +MH must be deposed or otherwise ignored and challenged. He is no longer leading a Church; he is preserving his paying position in a money-making entity known as the OCA. Speaking as somewhat of an arrogant person, I known sheer arrogance when I see it! Here I am trying to rid myself of it, and +MH is buttressing himself with it!
Fr Tom Bobish's reflection is brilliant. Being forgiving and giving is a good, Christian ethic. But if you want to continue to let +MH lead this organization, then please, when you go to bed tonight, make sure you keep your front door unlocked - or even open. Because, some needy soul might want to stop by and take some of your belongings to sell for food or drink or drugs, and where do you get off trying to keep them from it? And next morning, get up and write yet another check to +MH for him to use as he sees fit. I don't think that this is very Christian actually, as the parable of the Talent points out. Christianity is not equate with irresponsibility, although some folks would have it so. It's Lutheranism: In post-Luther Germany, many people said, "Drink, fornicate, sin! And then, before you die, repent! To forgo sin would be an insult to the Lord, making his death for our sins irrelevant." Personally, I'd call that kind of thinking, "Trying to play the Lord for a chump." I know, no one says "chump" anymore. I just don't think that the Lord is fooled, and I don't think he's amused - and I don't think that he's pleased with us in the OCA allowing +MH to continue at the head of this organization; as I have posted before, while +Herman fiddles, +Nikolai schemes. As for +Nikolai, I once went to Alaska; had a great time; went to the Cathedral, met some people, really felt like I was in a special and holy place. So, I dug out my checkbook, and wrote a check to the "Russian Orthodox Diocese of Alaska," and became a "Distinguished Diocesean Donor," or "3-D Supporter," to help the "suffering but God-protected diocese which introduced Orthodoxy to the North American continent." And what happened? My check was cashed. I received no receipt; I received no paper mailings of the North Star; I received no bookmark with St. Herman on it. Nothing. None of the things that they said I would get as a "3-D Supporter." Now I known it could all be a clerical error. Except that I've called Alaska three times and spoke to a variety of people, clergy and laity members of the Diocesean staff. To no effect, despite the pleasant conversations. Once in a while, I'm able to go on-line and read a PDF of the North Star, which is always filled with notes as to how wonderful the "progress" of the Church is in the 49th State, and a long list of worthy causes to which to donate. I have no idea where any of that money must be going, but I've stopped sending any of mine up there, despite the tear-jerk letter I recently got from +Nikolai, the new "Rector" of St Herman's Seminary; at least the Seminary sends me mail once in a while, usually from a PO Box in Alexandria, Virginia.
Personally, I'm through with waiting for the MC or the HS to fix the OCA. They've demonstrated that they just don't want to do it. So, I'm signing the petition, and I'm going to continue to NOT contribute to OCA organizations and causes and missions. I'll help my Parish pay-off it's building loan, and buy flowers for key holidays, and pray for a changing of the guard. And for Truth, Wisdom, and Humility - for and by myself and the various perpetrators we have in the OCA leadership.
Message to the Metropolitan: NO MORE MONEY!
#12 C.C. on 2007-10-30 07:09
Correction: It's Fr. Ted Bobish; I think I said "Tom" above. My mistake!
#12.1 C.C. on 2007-10-31 10:11
Nothing has changed. Priests and Deacons have to be submissive to their bishop or fear of being removed from the ranks of the clergy. My Mom, Dad and all of my "Orthodox practicing" aunts and uncles have passed away. How many of the Orthodox children of the 1950's are still in the church. What about their children and perhaps grandchildren are still practicing Orthodox christians. Yes, and how many converts to Orthodoxy aren't willing to find other jurisdictions to join. The bishops have to "wake up and smell the coffee". There may not be any "funds" left to pay for the "expensive landed estates of their offices". To take from the poor, needy, and suffering and to use that money for what it was not intended for is not christian behavior much less what the leaders of the church are suppose to do. Without the people their is no church. Just taking care of the local parish is not enough. Look at what the Roman Catholic Church in American is doing--selling off churches, merging parishes, merging schools to pay for their legal lawsuits. Why are the OCA Metropolitan acting like a Roman Catholic Pope? Why is the Synod of Bishops demanding more from the Metropolitan? I am in favor of the bishops withholding the assessments from Syosset. I support Bishop Job's and the Midwest Diocese asking the Metropolitan to resign and the withholding of the assessments in escrow.
#13 cshinn on 2007-10-30 10:19
I may be in the minority here, but I don't agree with witholding one bit. I have read and re-read Fr. Ted Bobosh's reflection and one thing troubles me.
THE NOTION OF WITHOLDING IS AT LEAST 6 YEARS TOO LATE.
Why oh why didn't the Diocese of the Midwest begin witholding when the real financial malfiesence was going on during the prior administration?
Isn't it true that there has been no financial malfiesence reported since late in 2005?
We saw for ourselves in the post of the minutes of the last MC meeting that much stricter financial controls have become the norm in Syosset. The PR law firm hasn't even been paid their full bill yet.
Didn't Fr. Ted sit on previous MC's while Metropolitan Theosdosius and the former Fr. Kondratick ruled the roost?
Why didn't any of these current or former members of past MC's request their Diocese's withold money when all of the financial shennanigans were really occuring?
Fr. Ted, can you honestly say that nothing positive has occurred? Let's not forget that the current task force has worked tirelessly to tear down a previous iron-clad regime which was full of deceit, nepitism, dysfunction and power.
To deliberately withold funds because there appears to be an agenda for some to see to it that the current Metropolitan steps aside, but it's concealed as "seeking for the truth", to me just doesn't cut it.
I'm very confused as to why this is happening in 2007 when if the Diocese of the Midwest was really concerned, the act of witholding should have taken place 10 years ago.
For anyone to say that nothing positive is happening is an outright lie.
I'm troubled and greatly saddened by this.
#13.1 Michael Geeza on 2007-10-30 14:10
If the only issue were financial controls, I would agree with you. However, there are many far more important moral issues that need to be dealt with, and they are not. Rather, they are being hidden and lied about.
The beginning must be TRUTH. MH and the other bishops must tell the truth - they are not. Most are simply saying nothing, hiding the truth. MH has been caught, time and time again, not only not telling the truth, but actually lying. Is this acceptable to you? Is it even Christian? Should we applaud a few financial controls when our Metropolitan repeatedly lies to us? What kind of a church accepts this kind of behavior from its bishops?
If the OCA just turns a blind eye to this kind of behavior, smiles, and grovels before the man in the white hat while he lies through his teeth, many will leave, including this priest.
#13.1.1 Name withheld on 2007-10-31 15:48
How has this scandal effected your ministry? Has it so debilitated it that you have pronounced it dead? Is metropolitan herman prohibitting you from leading your people in prayer and worship? Has he tied your tongue so that you are not able to preach the Gospel? When I here people talk along the same vein, I am confused, because all of us are going through this mess, yet many are not letting this mess put their lives and ministries on hold, while others have placed all their hope of the OCA in syosett. I really like the advise of one poster: Ignor the central administration. don't contribute to it, don't invite it to your parish. If nothing else, it will shrivel up and maybe give way to a new and better one, we pray.
As many others have said on several occasions, leaving the OCA in search of the mythical "perfect" church, is just that: A myth. I belong to a dysfunctional family. As much as I, in the past would have liked to divorce myself from my family, I can't. My job is not to find an escapre route, but to find a way to love and serve them, however ill I have been treated or weird, strange and even malicious they have been. This is where, I believe, I work out my salvation.
I have seen others who have escaped their families in search of new ones. For a while they live in blissful ignorance of their former family, but reality catches up to them and dissappointment rears its ugly little head once again. Then, off they go again, looking for a new "family".
Relief does not come from escape, but from a suffering Orthodoxy that bears the burdens of our bretheren. Any mother who has prayerfully waited night after night, year after year, for a wayward child to return will tell you that all that waiting, praying and suffering was worth it.......in the end, when he or she has returned.
Escape if you want, but is that really the answer? Running away from our problems, as far as I can tell, is not the Orthodox way of doing things.
#22.214.171.124 Bautista Cabrera on 2007-11-01 06:21
Running away would be the same as forgetting about the national churches problems, if you ask me. Running away does not confront the errors, nor the wrongs. Running away allows millions to be misused.
Those Orthodox that have spoken have engaged the problem and have said not while I'm watching.
And Bautista, Orthodox people have left the OCA, so clergy has been affected. My father's church had a recently converted family leave already. Many of those brethren signed the petition.
#126.96.36.199.1 Daniel E. Fall on 2007-11-01 15:59
To be sure, unfortunately, people have left. I think anon #52 has a good point and we should, all the while we are grappeling with this issue, keep the big picture in mind. Otherwise we are setting ourselves up for dissappointment.
I think the key to navigating these rough whaters is what Fr. Seraphim Rose wrote about towards the end of his life and I alluded to in an earlier post: Suffering Orthodoxy, individually and collectively, starting at home and in our parishes.
#188.8.131.52.1.1 Bautista Cabrera on 2007-11-01 18:41
"Let's not forget that the current task force has worked tirelessly to tear down a previous iron-clad regime which was full of deceit, nepitism, dysfunction and power."
One question Michael, you and Kucynda have been clamoring for months that the evidence is overwhelming that this is the work of one man, RSK, if that is the case, why did the "iron-clad regime" need to be torn down? If one man did it all, then removing that one man would have fixed everything! .....
#13.1.2 Peter Pappas on 2007-10-31 17:54
Because Peter, RSK had nothing but total control, power and everyone was behind him who was employed at the chancery.
Do you think that environment is easily disbanded?
Those who were employed there claim RSK was so nice and generous to us, how can any of this be true?
Well it can be when your own money isn't being used to play Santa all year long.
You sir, have absolutely NO CLUE what total control and reign RSK had in that building.
The whole dysfunctional system had to be erradicated.
That takes time, energy and more than one person to achieve the ultimate goal.
I suggest you do some homework regarding facts before you dare condem me or Fr. Kucynda.
Or better yet, contact a task force member and inquire what the prevailing climate was at the Chancery once RSK left office.
Clearly, you don't know what you are talking about.
#184.108.40.206 Michael Geeza on 2007-11-01 13:08
Kucynda has now been thrown under the bus.
Herman has and continues to control.
Just for once admit to yourself that everything Kucynda says in NOT true. Just look at the Bodnar situation. At the MC Meeting he stated all was well with that situation. Now because of this new lie, Bodnar is gone and told people who work in the Chancery building to claim that he was never there. Get real!
#220.127.116.11.1 Suzanne on 2007-11-04 14:50
So, you are saying that because it didn't happen when you think it should have happened (at a time, I might add, that the number of people who knew what was really going on was miniscule and certainly did not include the lay leadership in any diocese), we should therefore not withhold funds now?
Should we not imprison murderers when we do not track them down until 6 years after it was committed?
Better example, should the St. Louis pizza joint manager who kidnapped two boys be let off the hook since no one suspected him to be the kidnapper until years after the first boy was taken?
Best example of all, when you discover that you suffer from [insert most painful of your recurring sins here], do you just toss up your hands and say "well hey, I don't have to take action on that because it's been 6 years since I first started doing it!"
I think you have a skewed vision of what withholding is, anyway. The money is not being spirited away for parties and payoffs and pusillanimous uses. In fact it is being held in escrow for the time when it can be presented to the national church--at a tidy interest rate too, I hear. But the central administration has to meet some benchmarks (and pretty minimal ones too).
The money is still there. It's still earmarked. A motion to begin using that money for church work and ministry in the Midwest was defeated precisely so we could not be accused of wilfully using money that was supposed to go to national church needs. But we need to know that it will go to real needs, not disappear with the wind.
We are RATIONAL sheep, not automatons or idiot savants who turn over all our fruits without considering where and how God would have us use them.
And since Syosset has shown the only language to which they will respond is money, change cannot be effected except by speaking in that language.
Personally, I give only to my parish and my diocese. The central administration has shown itself to be untrustworthy in the extreme, and I won't support it because of that.
You don't want to withhold, feel free. Don't want your parish to withhold, feel free to lobby against it. Your diocese too. But don't dare to accuse others of sin if they choose to use the brains God gave them to seek at least some assurance of proper use of the gifts He has granted us.
#13.1.3 Kevin Nikolai Payne on 2007-11-01 15:33
Well said, Kevin. Thanks.
#18.104.22.168 Leaella Shirley on 2007-11-01 18:59
I have the solution: the bishops must wear looser hats. Their hats are too tight. It must be so: the blood has not the freedom to circulate to, from and in the hierarchical brain to the extent necessary to avoid (Auto (ahem ...))Cepahlic Disorder. New hats, everyone--new hats!
#14 Anonymous on 2007-10-30 11:06
If you are not happy with what is going on:
PLEASE SIGN THE PETITION !
Do your priest a favor; he should be made aware of the parishioners feelings.
The petition is requesting the Metropolitan to resign, but it also sends another message that much more is wrong.
If your relatives and friends do not have computers, and are not happy; explain the petition to them and offer to sign them up.
It is not necessary to donate anything to the petition company when signing up. You can check the anonymous box if concerned about repercussions, but be sure to put the city or town that the church is in. It must be completely and correctly filled out, but only the church location will show if the box is checked.
The withholding motion vote at the New England Diocesan Assembly could have been different if priests knew their parishioners true feelings. Showing your name is best, but anonymous is better than not signing at all.
PLEASE SIGN THE PETITION !
#15 Ande on 2007-10-30 18:30
Tonight I attended the Vigil for St. John of Chicago at Holy Trinity Cathedral in Chicago. After the Vigil, Archbishop JOB made a few remarks. He began speaking about the integrity and courage of St. John, and then, unsurprisingly, morphed into how the the OCA needs to have integrity and courage now, and fight for the truth. "We might not fight with our lives" but still have to fight, regardless.
Bishop PETER, adminstrator of the ROCOR Diocese of Chicago and Detroit (Archbishop ALYPY's health prevents him from traveling), and Fr. Andre Papkov, head priest of the ROCOR Protection of the Virgin Mary Cathedral in Des Plaines, IL, were also in attendance. Archbishop JOB said it was a source of great joy for them to be there, and able to concelebrate. He remarked that all of his (+JOB's) parishes were open to Bishop PETER, and he hoped to be able to concelebrate at the Des Plaines cathedral, as well.
#16 Michele Hagerman on 2007-10-30 21:26
There is a line in the movie Shawshank Redemption that speaks about the inmates of the prison having become "institutionalized". The prisoners despite the horrors of prison life had become so accustomed to life on the inside that freedom for them became unimaginable and the thing they feared the most.
This seems to be the case for many on the Holy Synod of Bishops. They act as men who have become institutionalized. The lies, coverup, and moral rot is the norm. As horrible as it looks on the inside freedom (repentance and truth) looks even more unimaginable. Herman looks at freedom as a prison and Job looks at full disclosure as a way to an improved and more Godly way. One man's freedom is the other's prison. One man's hope is the other's nightmare. Scripture is clear and God cannot on this subject be misunderstood. The Spirit comes to lead us into all truth! If we reject the truth we reject He who brings the truth! That is a rejection of the MOST HOLY SPIRIT.
All we have right now is a conventicle of men who are all used up in the poverty of their incarceration and appear to be "institutionalized". The only way forward is truth about who they/we really are, what they/we have really done and Godly repentance from all past sin.
It is time for the truth from the Holy Synod! So what will it be: Incarceration or incarnation? Institutionalization or real freedom? The question is really already answered because it is HIS CHURCH.
#17 fr. anon on 2007-10-31 06:23
I urge every member of the OCA to take the time to thoroughly read the minutes from the recent meetings of the Metropolitan Council and the Holy Synod. There is much that will discourage, a few sections that will make you simply laugh in amazement at the sheer audacity of some people (e.g., Bishop NIKOLAI casting himself as the arbiter of Orthodox Best Practices is particularly ironic), and several portions that you will find downright scary. The plan to teach “Orthodox” use of the media is one frightening idea. Before this plan is implemented (though I will say--good luck, Syosset, trying to put the Internet alternative media genie back in the bottle and forcing us to tune into only the official OCA Web site—this is America, not China), I am going to use the freedom I still have to shed light on something that I am finding increasingly disturbing about the most recently announced Special Investigative Committee (SIC). What I strongly object to is the false premise that all those who are now on the SIC are free of bias and objectively seeking the truth.
For your convenience, and because it is imperative that we all understand what’s going on here, I quote a portion of the minutes from the joint session dealing with the SIC. If you’ve already read it, you may wish to skim through it again:
“The Resolution approved the by Council was distributed. His Grace, Bishop BENJAMIN, announced that he has asked four people to join the Committee. Two have declined; he will announce names when all four members have accepted assignment. He explained that he is seeking members from a wider geographic distribution and hopes to meet with members during this session for future planning. In response to questions from Mr. Nescott, His Grace said that members of the Spiritual Court would not be considered for the new Committee, since they have completed their job and may not have a balanced view. He sees no conflict in accepting Dr. Skordinski as a member; he sees her value in her knowledge of what went on in the trial. He confirmed he is not considering the members of the first Committee who subsequently resigned. He explained that he views Internet posting as expressing a strong opinion and so likely indicating bias. When Mr. Nescott asked if the “70 senior clergy” who signed a very public letter would be disqualified from serving, he said he did not know who the 70 were or what they wrote, but if someone publicly expressed an opinion of guilt or innocence with no evidence, he should be disqualified. Mr. Nescott asked whether people who have taken a position that the Metropolitan should resign would be disqualified; His Grace answered that he would certainly think about it. Mr. Nescott then asked about people who have said the Metropolitan should not retire—would they be considered to have taken a position? His Grace said, “Yes.” He stressed the he wants people with whom he can work. Under further questioning, he denied there was a “firewall” around some people.”
But indeed, there is a firewall around at least two people—Faith Skordinski and her pro bono attorney, Alexandra Makosky. I say this not only as a result of reading the above quote from the minutes (which makes it rather obvious), but because my husband and I both spoke with them during a coffee hour at our parish on September 23rd. Faith, my husband and I are all members of St. Mark parish in Bethesda, Maryland. Alexandra Makosky was in town visiting Faith that weekend and attended Liturgy at St. Mark. The opinions they expressed (quite openly) on the issues confronting the OCA should be known to all OCA members. It presses credulity to think that their views are not known to Bishop BENJAMIN. To present these two individuals to the OCA at large as being objective, unbiased participants on the SIC who will help guide our church to the full truth about the thorny issues we’re dealing with is simply preposterous and misleading.
My husband and I came away from our coffee hour conversation with the strong impression that Faith and Alexandra now see themselves as essentially running the OCA’s central administration. They spoke with near derision about how staff members at Syosset don’t know when to make a phone call, let alone how to deal with this crisis properly. Both women openly expressed their opinion that no one on the Holy Synod could do a better job running the OCA than Metropolitan HERMAN. Thus, they didn’t understand what our “goal” was with the petition calling on Metropolitan HERMAN to resign. They also stated their belief that Metropolitans HERMAN and THEODOSIUS may very well not know anything more about what happened to the misappropriated funds, and that Robert Kondratick was likely the only culprit. Alexandra made a comment at one point that they (that is, Faith and Alexandra) had had a “letter” ready for weeks to send to the whole OCA, but that the Metropolitan felt it best to wait until the appeal process was over before sending it (keep in mind that this conversation took place on September 23rd, so this means that the letter had been prepared at the latest by early September).
Faith later confirmed at a post-MC information session at St. Mark presented by Fr. Gregory Safchuk (our priest, and also a member of the MC) that the “letter” she and Alexandra had been referring to in our coffee hour discussion was the ill-fated “summary report of the preliminary report” of the former investigative committee. Therefore, we can conclude that, several weeks before the MC meeting, Faith and Alexandra knew very well that the entire summary report would not be released to the OCA at large (despite earlier votes by both the MC and the Holy Synod to do so).
Faith and Alexandra certainly worked very hard on the trial of the former Father Kondratick, and their hard work is to be commended. However, in the process they seem to have insinuated themselves into the highest echelons of the OCA—and one must seriously question their objectivity at this point. Is their goal truly to get to the truth, or is it merely to get this episode of the church behind us in such a way that they are left as the new “insiders,” with Metropolitan HERMAN completely dependent on them while the OCA “moves forward?” The latter possibility is troubling, to say the least. Either way, given the opinions they so freely expressed, they certainly cannot be considered to have met Bishop BENJAMIN’S standard of objectivity—even if they have been shrewd enough not to have posted their opinions online. Again, is failing to post online a proper criterion for “objectivity,” or merely the calculated move of would-be insiders? Perhaps we find some answer to this question when we read that Faith has already requested that “the need for confidentiality” be made an agenda item for the next MC meeting. This is a particularly interesting turn of events, given that Faith is the same person who read aloud Greg Nescott’s “for the good of the church” address to a crowd at St. Mark prior to it being posted on the Internet.
Faith and Alexandra have a right to their opinions—and, as they are quick to point out, they know a great deal more than the average member of the OCA about these issues. But, “knowledge is power,” as is often observed. We in the OCA also have a right to know more about these two women, and how they have come to wield so much power in our church. To my knowledge, neither one is theologically trained, and yet they are instructing our highest leaders on how to deal with the current crisis in the OCA. This is certainly not the image of conciliarity and collegiality that I had when I came into the Orthodox Church.
My husband, Wayne Tatusko, has read and will corroborate the account of our September 23rd coffee hour discussion with Faith and Alexandra.
As an aside, I wish to express my gratitude to Father Ted Bobosh for taking the time to write his thought-provoking reflection. I found his comments to be very insightful.
#18 Cathryn M. Tatusko on 2007-10-31 10:48
The fact that +Benjamin and Dr. Skordinski did not resign from the Special Commission along with +Job and the rest of the commissioners had bothered me. But, I could not put my finger on it. Thanks to Ms. Tatusko and Mr. Nescott's clever questioning of +Benjamin, we now have a much better picture. The new special committee" is special for sure--just what the doctor ordered. Unfortunately, the doctor turns out to be, again, +Herman.
Shame on all concerned. Particularly to those in the Church who continue to be taken in by these scam artists.
#18.1 Carl on 2007-10-31 15:39
How dare your write such character assasinations against two women who have given so much to the OCA. What kind of bully... are you?
No wonder our beloved OCA has so few members left - they've all left because of the hateful attitudes of so many at sites like this! I pray nightly that ROCOR and Patriarch Alexy will come and take us over and expel all the revisionists.
#18.2 Vicki Rostova on 2007-10-31 16:24
From your mouth to God's ears. We need someone with integrity to lead us!!!!!
#18.2.1 Martha on 2007-11-01 05:54
You don't know your church history of Orthodoxy in America. From St. Herman's time until 1970 the American church had tried to cast off the rule of foreign bishops. In 1970 this was accomplished via autocephaly and the OCA is not going back. The current troubles in a relatively young church, 37 years old, is not unusual. If you look at American history, the first 100 years of American government was pure chaos. The OCA will straighten these issues out and be much stronger for it. What is needed is good strong leadership which the OCA does not have. A merger with the Antiochians could solve all of this.
#18.2.2 Anonymous on 2007-11-01 06:13
Merging with the Antiochians is not the answer. Metropolitan Philip has done things which are his "people" aren't happy with. We need bishops with the backbone to make the TRUTH KNOWN and to correct the situation, which is in their hands. Why is Bishop Benjamin unwilling to keep former invesitgative committee members from serviing? The invesitgative committee hands should not be "tied" by bishops or interfered with by the bishops. The committee should be allowed to function independently. As a young child in the 50's and 60's my parents prayed to have bishops who were American born and spoke English fluently so they could lead the American church and her flock. Just last week an Illinois parish not far from Springfield (its under the Moscow Patriarch) celebrated its 100 Anniversary. The bishop could not speak to the people without an interpreter. No, we should not return to the past. If the American born bishops (some convertss, some cradle) would be forthcoming and truthful. The ship could be set on a corrected parth.
#22.214.171.124 Anonymous on 2007-11-01 15:16
Enemies of The People! Which people?
Is it the Bishops? Is it the silent clergy? Is it those who signed the petition - boo democracy. If these two women have 'given so much' to The Party, oops, OCA then what about the 2,000,000 members? (give or take, maybe 1.75 million?) What about Ben Ardinger in Alaska, cast adrift on an icefloe?
VI Ulyanov figured out that the most important position was not the chairman, but the post of secretary - this person controls the agenda and has most of the information pass through their hands. These two are sly insiders it seems to me. But, but.. y'see they know better, they will just be in charge, behind the scene, till everything can be told; like the vanguard of the proletariet.
Most of the OCA Council, all but one of the $ynod and you $ilent priests are an embarrasment. More honesty to come? No, too late, too long, too Byzantine in it's convoluted cover-ups.
#18.2.3 Jim Murray ( on 2007-11-01 08:25
"I pray nightly that ROCOR and Patriarch Alexy will come and take us over and expel all the revisionists." Vicki Rostova.
Yeah, Stalin didn't like revisionists either. And "character Assassination"? No, just asking some questions...but Stalin didn't like that, either. Seems to me that before one starts flinging around terms like "bully", one might first look in the mirror and think about what kind of bully prays for the expulsion of faithful souls from the Church, just because they think differently. If we're going to expel anybody from the Church, could we begin with the thieves and liars in positions of authority? Don't like that one? Well, we could consider letting everybody stay in the Church, and then pray for one another, dealing with wrongdoing in love and humility, and speaking the truth in love. Works better than expulsions.
#18.2.4 Scott Walker on 2007-11-01 08:44
I, too, was surprised by the letter of Cathy Tatusko. Knowing both her and Faith, I found it to be distressing that the two of them seem to be at odds. However, one thing I can say is, Cathy is no "bully." She and Wayne have labored tremendously to try to get to the bottom of this scandal. Admittedly, so has Faith. Having said that, just because Faith has done certain things for the OCA should not shield her from criticism or review, where it is due.
Having said all of that: First of all, if it were between +MH and Faith, I would have Faith run the OCA any day! But, that is not the way it is supposed to be; we don't need to install another shadow regime to replace the last RSK-run shadow regime! Many people on this site have advocated de-powering the OCA central church in order to prevent the Met. from wielding the power of the Church. That's wrong-headed. Our Church, the OCA, needs a strong advocate and evangelizer, who nevertheless recognizes the concept of primus inter pares, and practices it. I don't really know if +MH was directly involved in the theft of funds from the OCA over the years. But, I will say, that it is very difficult for me to believe that someone who was so close to the action for so many years had "no idea" it was going on; he was the Treasurer after all, and even if he is not culpable (and I'm skeptical on that point), he should retire or resign or something due to gross negligence in office. Further, his actions since the scandal has broken have been extremely dysfunctional and suspicious. Talk about being a bully!
If Faith is really running Syosett these days, then it would seem an easy matter for her to have the locks changed, and not give +MH a new key to the building; even he will get the message after a couple of days. As for Wayne and Cathy Tatusko, think what you will of them, but knowing them, I can only say that they are Christ-centered and full of fire for Christ, and in the role they have assumed in this by going public with a very detailed financial analysis of the scope of this scandal, the petition, and so forth, they have personally had NOTHING to gain, and EVERYTHING to lose. It is beyond question in my mind that they have taken the steps they've taken out of a deep concern for the future of the OCA, and a desire to have the full truth about the financial affairs of the Church see the light of day.
Until I see that, and until some of our totally dysfunctional and inept leadership on the HS retires, I'll continue to be conducting personal withholding of my funds to the OCA! I'll just send my money elsewhere, and help my local parish where I can.
On a personal note, when I grew up, my father ran a very tight ship. In fact, we lived in fear of his wrath, and dreaded the minute that he would show up at home from work. I grew up in that environment of fear and frankly, I'm just not going to live in fear of my Bishop! And people fear +MH for many of the same reasons my family feared my father: absolute power, arbitrarily exercised. It doesn't foster "the love of Christ," or the love of anything for that matter. The focus was on "individual survival," and hoping that you would not have broken some unstated law (like posting your personal opinion on the Internet, for example). It was no way for a family to operate, and it's no way for a Church to operate. I see it in the fear of +MH, and I have seen it elsewhere in the fear of some of the other OCA bishops. Don't be an enabler by continuing to send money so that these men can continue to wield their power over us, hide the truth, and allow the masquerade ball to roll-on.
The time may have come for Faith, indeed, to step aside in this matter. She played a key role in removing RSK from the scene, and is to be congratulated; thank you. However, she reminds me of one of the many PhD-types that I work with. Sometimes having so much knowledge of the trees obscures the view of the forest. I work with one guy who is so sure of his financial analysis, the he completely blows-by the fact that the customers just don't want to pay that much for our product - because his analysis shows, "that's the RIGHT price." But the customer says, "Well, maybe so, but if that's the price, I can do without one. See ya!" Having a lay-person on the MC "running the OCA" isn't the way I wanted the scandal to end, either.
So, to Faith, I would say, "Thank you very, very much for what you have done to date. And the role you've played in forcing many of these issues to a resolution. Maybe now you can show us - and +MH - how it's really done, and step aside from the work of the new 'committee' as a demonstration of humility." No doubt that something else in the future of the OCA over the next 20 or 30 years will come-up where you can reengage and play a key role. And, thanks again.
#18.2.5 C.C. on 2007-11-01 09:14
C.C.--I don't know who you are, but many thanks for your kind words! I must hasten to say that my husband and I are not worthy of such praise, but having received it, we will ask God continually for the grace to grow into it. Thanks also to Dr. Gregg Garasimon and others who have posted on this thread. I very much appreciate your encouragement.
The truth is that our lives resemble the story Fr. Hopko likes to tell of the young child visiting a monastery and asking one of the monks: "What do you do here?" The monk replies, "We fall and get up again, we fall and get up again." It's seeking the grace to keep getting up that is at the heart of living the Christian life, isn't it? I pray this for all of our leaders as well as for ourselves. And as another day dawns, I thank God that "his mercies are new every morning, and that great is his faithfulness toward us."
"Fear not, little flock--It is the Father's good pleasure to give you the kindgom." The word of our Lord.
#126.96.36.199 Cathryn Tatusko on 2007-11-02 05:27
How ironic that one should quote these particular words of the Lord Jesus Christ on these pages:
"Fear not, little flock--It is the Father's good pleasure to give you the kindgom." - The Gospel of St. Luke, Chapter 12, verse 32.
See what follows in vv. 33 and 34:
33 Sell what you have and give alms; provide yourselves money bags which do not grow old, a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches nor moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Of course, one can also go to the Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 6 to see how the Lord further expand on this teaching about the true cost of money centered spirituality ( "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal...").
The ephemeral nature of money is a given in the Gospel. It will decay, be eaten up and even stolen.
Not too much talk on OCANEWS about "treasure in the heavens", but I suppose that has to do with where "your treasure is."
What happens when we take our eye off the ball, so to speak, when we take our eye of of "treasures in heaven" or even worse, confuse the two treasures?
"The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness! No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon."
More words of the Lord than the one previously quoted.
#188.8.131.52.1 Anonymous on 2007-11-04 22:03
Amen to that. I wonder how many of the bishops fall into that category of serving two masters?
#184.108.40.206.1.1 Waiting for examples from the bishops on 2007-11-05 16:09
"I pray nightly that ROCOR and Patriarch Alexy will come and take us over and expel all the revisionists."
Huh?! What authority do they have to "take us over"? Which "revisionists" should be expelled? Please! Can we stop with the fantasies of a foreign Church intervening? We too have Christ and the Holy Spirit. In other words, we have what is needed to resolve this evolving problem.
Welcome to the stench of the human flesh of the Church. Anyone who thinks that everything is perfect and sinless in other jurisdictions and foreign patriarchates is delusional.
#18.2.6 Dn. Nicholas Denysenko on 2007-11-01 12:22
many don't realize that the autocephaly given to us by the moscow patriarchate actually ties the oca to the patriarchate canonically,because most other orthodox churches don't recognize our autocephaly considering us to be part of the russian church.it is a very complicated issue.but it really doesn't matter because the unity of the church is IN THE CHALICE,the most important thing is that now most orthodox jurisdictions in america do serve together since rocor established eucharistic union with moscow.we are all together now,SLAVA BOGU, GLORY BE TO GOD.every jurisdiction in america contributes to the richness of orthodoxy.the arabs gave us ST RAPHAEL,the serbs ST NIKOLAJ VELIMIRIVIC,archimandrit Sebastian Dabovic,ROCOR ST. JOHN MAXIMOVIC etc. etc. my point is that we must dwell on our orthodox unity and cherish it and enjoy it.language doesn't matter,of course for americans we have to serve english,but the most important thing is that we speak the language of love and everything will be resolved and fall in its place.
#220.127.116.11 Anonymous on 2007-11-06 15:00
Yes Ms. Rostova, And being taken over by ROCOR, or by Moscow ? That would be a huge step backwards for Orthodoxy in America.
#18.2.7 Dave on 2007-11-01 18:06
If you wish to attend a Russian Orthodox church under the bishop of Russia. so be it. We who are American will continue to pray that the OCA will remain the Orthodox church in America. Our mission is to evangelize the churched and unchurched and bring them to Orthodoxy. We will not introduce them to a foreign bishop as head of our church. With Love in Christ
#18.2.8 Lillian Blome on 2007-11-02 05:27
Here is thought-provoking reflection from another OCA Priest, Fr. Stephen Freeman:
"If you are in a place where you justify your role by being a 'reformer,' I would seriously counsel you to consider whether this is a delusion. The Church should save you and not the other way around. The myth of the Reformation is alive and well - but it did not work then and does not work now. Almost every effort I can think of that is a matter of Church reform resulted in the creation of new denominations that quickly became everything that its founders fought against. Read a little history."
#18.3 Anonymous on 2007-10-31 20:39
There is a difference between reforming and restoring.
The desire and struggle is for *restoration*, restoration of truth, restoration of trust, and restoration of joy in an historic Church that follows the Lord in His work of saving men's souls. Souls are saved by Repentance as a way of life in the Church. It seems to be repentance that is sorely lacking in the Church and it needs to be restored from the top down.
#18.3.1 Karen Jermyn on 2007-11-01 06:40
"The Church should save you and not the other way around."
I believe Father Ted has debunked this argument, which is good only as long as one is outside the church seeking salvation. Once you are a member of the Church, it is illogical to argue as Father Stephen is doing because what you are doing is to save yourself. Unless, of course, you think that the Metropolitan is the Church.
"Almost every effort I can think of that is a matter of Church reform resulted in the creation of new denominations that quickly became everything that its founders fought against. Read a little history."
With all due respect, Father Stephen is mired in relatively recent history. I am sure that he would think otherwise if he looked further back, say at the first through the eight centuries.
I am sure you are familiar with Orthodoxy Sunday--you know when all of the local churches get together and celebrate the victory of the reformers over the bad guys?
Go forward a few centuries to the time of the Council of Florence; you know, when the reformers rose up in rebellion against the Patriarch and the Emperor (gasp! horrors!) and overturned the union with Rome.
Here is a short account of it from Wikipedia: "On 8 June 1439 an agreement was signed by Patriarch Joseph II of Constantinople and all the Eastern bishops but one, Mark of Ephesus, who held that Rome continued in both heresy and schism. Apparently, the Great Schism was over. However, after Patriarch Joseph II of Constantinople died only two days later, the Greeks insisted that ratification by the Eastern Church could be achieved only by the agreement of an Eastern synod. Upon their return, the Eastern bishops found their agreement with the West broadly rejected by the populace and by civil authorities (with the notable exception of the Emperors of the East who remained committed to union until the fall of the Byzantine Empire two decades later). The union signed at Florence, even down to the present, has never been accepted by the Eastern churches."
A couple of sentences jump out of this account:
"...agreement was signed by Patriarch Joseph II of Constantinople and all the Eastern bishops but one, Mark of Ephesus."
"...(agreement was) broadly rejected by the populace and the civil authorities..."
Thus, it is crystal clear that we would have been under Rome had the "Church" won the day, instead of the "reformers." It is crystal clear that our churches would have blank walls (no icons) had the "Church" won the day, instead of the "reformers."
I think that if you really read the postings and reflections on this site, you will have a better idea of which faction has the best interests of the Church at heart. In this instance, I happen to think that the "reformers" fight for the Body of Christ, our Church. I hope that you will also come to that conclusion and join this holy and heroic effort.
#18.3.2 Anonymous on 2007-11-01 07:45
Good list of the victories against heresy in the Church, but how can anyone compare these victories to this "crisis" that is affecting 20 or so thousand local Orthodox Christians in America? The OCA crisis is a little internecine squabbling within a tiny group of Orthodox Christians. There are single Protestant churches with more members than the entire OCA combined. Let's get some perspective and not let this crisis go to our heads. Mark my words, even if the OCA tanks, Orthodox Christians in America will survive, be they in the S-R AOA, GOA, ROCOR, JP, Serbian, etc. The Church will survive. The Russian Church triumphed over an entire satanic, atheistic State. Getting over the OCA's collective delusions of grandeur will be a sure sign that this American Orthodox jurisdiction is on the mend.
#18.104.22.168 Anonymous on 2007-11-01 16:46
Delusions of grandeur are bad, that's true. But assuming (without admitting) that your characterization is accurate that this is a "collective" problem---thereby indicting the 20-odd thousand souls the OCA comprises---you also then indict those within this tiny group who are indignant about, and struggling to heal, the OCA's ills as engaging in superfluous activity and wasting energy, prayer and time over it.
Your position is not only the more wasteful, but one of gross indifference to right behavior, to the universal nature of the Church and to the witness of the saints that one ought blossom where one is planted.
You mentioned perspective: read Acts 5:3-10 for a recounting of additional internecine squabbling (over an arguably "lesser" offense). (I note, too, in 5:7 et seq. that the investigation continued until its due conclusion).
Of course, I suppose we could shrug off that whole affair as immaterial, also, since it was "within a tiny group of Orthodox Christians," and Peter should just as well have let that community tank since there were other jurisdictions (eleven?) to which the people could have gone.
#22.214.171.124.1 Anonymous on 2007-11-02 07:34
This seems to me a too-easy way to avoid seeking change out of "humility." In taking a look at history let's also try some Catholic sources: St. Francis of Asissi and St. Teresa of Avila were GREAT reformers. They saw corruption and sought to change it -- WITHOUT breaking away from the (Roman Catholic) Church. With all respect to Fr. Freeman, this is just more of the same "don't try to remove the speck in someone's eye and ignore the plank in one's own. " When we see evil and corruption we have to act to change it, no matter how sinful we ourselves are.
#18.3.3 AnonPriest(A. of C.) on 2007-11-01 17:17
What Cathy Tatusko wrote bears nothing resembling character assassination. It seems to me that it was in the spirit of transparency -- divulging information about the new special investigative committee and its members that concerned American Orthodox Christians should know.
The pool of potentially unbiased participants in a new SIC is tiny, if not negligible. Simply because one has not posted or stated his/her thoughts publicly does not mean that he/she doesn't have an opinion. Unbiased participants may simply be those who don't care about the financial mismanagement, but isn't that in itself a bias? In truth, there may be no unbiased folks participating in a new SIC, even if we are being told that there are.
Tempers can flare on sites like this (rightfully so?), but I put forth that (by far) most who visit this site are not hateful, but caring and loving and concerned -- about the future of their church that they have worked hard to build.
If people have left or quit donating to the OCA, it's not because of sites such as this one (although this site makes a great target). It's because money meant for orphans, 9/11 victims and their families, etc. was diverted for personal use, and a lot of data suggests that the truth behind this matter is being covered up. Correct the problem, don't attack the messenger.
Lastly, it's grossly inaccurate to label those seeking the truth as reformers.
Thanks, Cathy, for your care, concern, and persistence, and for making this information public.
Gregg Gerasimon MD
#18.4 Gregg Gerasimon on 2007-11-01 06:12
Very well said, Dr. Gregg Gerasimon,
I agree with you wholeheartedly.
This is a very trying time for the OCA.
The laity are tying to have a healthy, well founded church.
Can the same be said of the administration? It appears not to be the case, or the various medicines would have been applied long ago. This does not just mean finding out the truth, but finding out the truth to be able to act in Christian love, forgiveness, and mercy.
Perhaps the biggest tragedy is how the leadership doubts not only the efficacy of truth, but the efficacy of Christian love, forgiveness, and mercy.
I can only sense that the OCA's administration is in a grave financial situation. The spiritual situation does not appear much healthier. I think we ARE the Titanic now just about gone under.
#18.4.1 Patty Schellbach on 2007-11-01 17:25
As a member of St. Herman Seminary Board of Trustees, I received two e-mails concerning the dismissal of Ben Ardinger several weeks after it had occurred.
Although I was appointed to the board in 2004, I met Ben and his wife, Hazel, in the summer of 2003 when I served as an OCMC short-term missionary on Kodiak Island. During the first weekend in August, the campus of St. Herman's became home-base to 30+ missionaries and and two dozen members of a volunteer work crew from Colorado that came to provide needed repairs to the seminary buildings. On a bright, warm Sunday afternoon, we were all invited to a picnic at the island home of a local Orthodox couple. There are many things that I recall about that day but what truly touched my heart was the kindness and generous spirits of our hosts, Ben and Hazel.
When I came back to Kodiak in 2005, this time as a board member, I was pleased to learn that I would be working with Ben. Although each trustee had his/her own special talents and experience to contribute, he stood out among us as a true leader. Whether it was asking the tough, straightforward questions, monitoring the seminary finances, or initiating the board's unanimous approval to build married student housing, Ben showed time and again his support and concern for St. Herman's and the student body. I am greatly saddened that the seminary's most staunch advocate has been dismissed after all his years of service.
It is unfortunate that in today's world a successful person is often seen as one who wields power. Ben Ardinger has shown, instead, that a man's true worth is measured by the size of his heart and the strength of his character.
I truly thank Father Ted for his reflection. I am so grateful there are priests who are not afraid to say what needs to be said. I cannot morally contribute to the OCA because I have no faith the funds will be used as they were designated to be used. My heartstrings were pulled by the OCA when they asked for contribution to the 9/11 fund. Knowing how families, friends, and survivors would need help, I put my money in the basket hoping that it would somehow help someone suffering so profoundly. Now, the money has disappeared, and no one can account for the missing funds. None of the bishops save +Job seem to even care that the money is missing. How awful is that? So many of us find this sordid affair morally reprehensible. I never gave it much thought before, but after reading some of the more enlightening writings of our brave priests, I certainly do wish we would allow our married priests to become bishops. And after all this time, we have only +Job asking for the truth. The other bishops utterly fail us with their silence. Many of us faithful do see +Job as brave and honorable and one who is living his faith. My faith has become stronger in all this just by seeing Mark Stokoe, +Job, Father Ted and others stand for what is right and just. I thank you all for restoring my faith. I truly do think that if the other bishops ever try to remove +Job, there would be a mass exodus from the OCA. Yes indeed, many of us do consider +Job and the other brave ones the only hope for the OCA.
#20 Will donate when truth is restored in the OCA on 2007-10-31 12:52
The Right Reverend Nikon
Bishop of Boston, New England,
and the Albanian Archdiocese
PO Box 149
Southbridge, MA 01550
October 30, 2007
I am deeply disappointed that our Diocese, with your approval, decided
not to withhold our assessments. You stated that it would be wrong to
withhold money. Since we are continuing to empower and finance an
administration headed by the one hierarch in the OCA who is most
complicit with the years of corruption which characterize the past
decades, what actions will you take to restore truth and integrity to
I would hope that your first action will be to call for the
resignation of Metropolitan Herman. He is morally implicated in the
theft of monies which were meant to feed and shelter the homeless of
Katrina, Breslan and 9/11. If you think that the Holy Spirit anointed
him to this office, ask yourself if the Holy Spirit is usually
available to a Synod of Bishops who were given the facts of the
corruption and theft in their Church and decided to suppress the
information and ignore it. Having chosen this man for the office of
Metropolitan the Synod is responsible for asking for his resignation.
In addition, those members of the Synod who decided to ignore theft
and corruption and have not repented, should also resign.
It would be helpful if you understand the fact that this crisis, and
not our response to it, is the burden your honest and hardworking
priests must carry. And carry it they do, as well as continue to
minister to their parishes. None of the pastoral work in the Diocese
of New England has been diminished; it has been made intolerably
difficult. Priests who must work day jobs, especially those whose
parish assessments are more than their salary, soldier on. As you do.
I am just asking that you let us know what you are planning to do
With love in Christ,
#21 Alice Carter on 2007-11-01 09:47
I was there too, and so were others that listened to you. We were willing to support, but you and Father Robert did not stay to vote.Why? When we needed your votes. I think that since the vote was so close we would have won. I wish you stayed for the voting. You have support out there in the diocese! Keep up the good work!
The OCA is tragic.
#21.1 Anonymous on 2007-11-03 06:11
Dear Anonymous, I am sorry that we did not stay, I was an observer without a vote, Father had given his proxy to our deacon, only to find out later that no proxies were allowed. I continue to urge our bishop to define what actions he will take to help restore truth and integrity to our Church. Christ, Who is Truth, will prevail, and we must continue to work. I hope I meet you someday. Alice
#21.1.1 Alice Carter on 2007-11-09 10:58
Dear in Christ Alice:
I take special exception to what you write. Judge, judge, judge, beware, it is a slippery slope. The devil lets out just so much string, and then he gets you.
I think we should let His Grace Nikon lead us along the righteous path. Are these men only our bishops when we agree with them? I do not advocate a head in the sand approach, but neither do I plan to scold my bishop! How am I worthy to do that?
Fr. Arida the Dean has never stayed to vote at a diocesan assembly, we notice these things in CT and we wish he would participate. The best thing is for us all to come to all our meetings, be unified through the Eucharist, be obedient, and listen to the Holy Spirit through whom peace and unity are our lot in obedience to our diocesan bishop and through him, the national Church.
Forgive me a sinner.
#21.2 A Priest of the Diocese of New England on 2007-11-03 20:39
Father, I'm sure that you've had reason to counsel women in dysfunctional, abusive relationships. Even though the Scriptures say that a woman is to obey and respect her husband, I'm sure you know that, in an abusive relationship, obedience and submission usually cause the abuse to escalate dangerously. In those cases, a woman must decide, thoughtfully and with a clear head, what God is really asking of her.
It may be that God is calling her to stay in that marriage, suffer abuse, and become a literal martyr in her marriage. It is for that that we glorify St. Shushanik of Georgia. But there are other saints who fled from abusive husbands. They understood that, by staying and submitting to an abusive husband, they were not only risking their own safety, but also the salvation of their husband. His sin, in harming his wife, whom he is commanded to love as Christ loves the Church, puts his soul at risk of hell.
It is instructive to read St. John Chrysostom's Homily 20. He explains how husbands are to love their wives, and how wives are to obey their husbands. To husbands, St. John says, "Do you want your wife to be obedient to you, as the Church is to Christ? Then be responsible for the same providential care of her, as Christ is for the Church. And even if it becomes necessary for you to give your life for her, yes, and even to endure and undergo suffering of any kind, do not refuse."
And to husbands who ask, what if my wife disobeys me? What if she belittles me, despises me, mocks me? What if she nags me and berates me? To them, St. John says, never mind that. If she will not obey or respect you, then God requires you to love her still more. It is your job to earn her love, not with fear and threats, but with affection, kindness, and great regard. There is, according to St. John, absolutely no limit to the love a man owes his wife.
But what of the wife's obedience and respect for her husband? Is that unlimited as well? Speaking to the husbands, St. John says, "She should not stubbornly contradict you, and not rebel against your authority as if she were the head of the house; this is enough." He explains, "The wife is a secondary authority, but nevertheless she possesses real authority and equality of dignity while the husband still retains the role of headship."
I believe that there are significant parallels between the relationship of a husband and wife and that of a bishop and the church. Both are heirarchical relationships, where the leadership and authority of the one and the submission and respect of the other serves as an icon of the relationship of Christ and the Church. The marriage relationship is, of course, the more powerful and intimate of the two icons. Nevertheless, we can learn something from studying what St. John said about marriage and using it to inform our thinking about our relationship with our bishops.
And, sadly, we can also learn something from studying dysfunctional and abusive marriages. Abuse that is ignored doesn't go away. It continues. Abuse that is accepted with submission doesn't go away. It escalates. People sometimes ask women who have been abused by their husbands why they would stay in that marriage. To answer that question, you have only to look into your own heart, and ask why you're staying in the Church. They stay out of hope that things will change. They stay out of a sense of Christian duty. They stay out of love for the rest of the family. They stay out of love for their spouse. They stay out of fear or shame. They stay because they want to believe that the one who should love them and care for them really does care for them, and it hurts to much to admit that it isn't so.
Staying in an abusive relationship is sometimes the right thing to do. But instructing someone else in an abusive relationship to obey the one who is abusing them and their relationship is never right. Stay, perhaps. Obey? No.
#21.2.1 anonymous on 2007-11-04 08:37
Your's is another example of telling us all to pray, pay, and obey. You would have us simple ignore the loss of millions of dollars. I want to know where the 9/11 funds went - along with the other missing funds. I will not contribute until my questions are answered. Why would I ever give money to an organization that improperly used those funds or allowed those funds to be stolen? The unbelievable facts (not rumors) coming from Alaska shows the most terrible behavior of that bishop. Yet no bishops speak up save +Job about finding out the truth. No bishops seem to want to stop the mistreatment of people in Alaska. Their silence is deafening (save +Job). We are not fools. Alice Carter is a brave soul to stand up for what is right. I don't understand why you are not standing up for finding out the truth, but tell us to simply be silent. Who is on the slippery slope? Alice Carter or the bishops who refuse to hear the laity cry out for the truth?
#21.2.2 Sad sad state of the OCA on 2007-11-04 14:07
I, in turn, take an exception to your post on various levels, although it is likely to win me a scolding for disobedience.
First and foremost, why are you posting anonymously? In this Diocese, our Bishop does not censor us. He allows us to say ANYTHING that is on our mind, whether to him privately, or publicly. I can personally witness to that. So the only reason that I can see for you not to sign your post is to throw darts at people from behind the corner. Forgive me, but it is not a very honorable mode of action.
Which brings me to my second point - please get your facts straight before you accuse people. I cannot speak for this year, but I attended the Diocesan Assembly last year with Father Robert & we stayed through the end and all the votes.
Thirdly, it is probably not a secret to the others in the OCA that there exists a divide in the DNE which tend to adhere to certain geographical borders; however, to write "we notice these things in CT" certainly does not help breach that divide!
And lastly, I certainly take issue with your interpretation of obedience. Not knowing who you are I cannot know where you stand on the current crisis. However, advocating blind obedience is one of the things that has been getting us in trouble time and again. In the counciliar Church, there are MUTUAL obligations of hierarchy, clergy and laity. I invite you to re-read St. Ignatius of Antioch, and not only the passages where he advocates obedience to the bishop (the favorite to be quoted "from the top"), but also those where he stresses how the bishop is nothing without the council and support of his sheep. It is our duty as sheep of the Church to dialog with our shepherds and to voice our disagreements. Alice's letter was respectful, loving, and to the point. I cannot speak for His Grace on the topic of this letter specifically, but I can witness that he allows me to speak my mind to him freely no matter how hard the subject.
Therefore please do not shut people up. It is counterproductive at best and disrespectful at worst. And His Grace can most certainly speak for himself.
#21.2.3 Inga Leonova on 2007-11-04 20:19
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
This reply is for all of you that wrote about my remarks.
You all make some valid points, and I am sure you are all good and pious people. Perhaps you are better theologically trained than I am, so be it. This is painful for all of us. The business of the Church is peace, love and salvation, and it is peace we all crave. Honesty yes, integrity yes, all of those things are required elements that go into delivering peace to a torn and tired Church.
You must follow your conscience, and I must. Mine informs my soul that it is to my Bishop that I must return to and trust again and again. I am a priest and not free to thrash about in confusion or frustration. I am and will remain obedient to my bishop and loyal to Christ, the gospel and the Church. If my bishop tells me to go, I go. If he tells me to be silent, I do so. If he tells me that all hell has broken loose and the Church is in collapse and it is time to raise hell, I will. It is in the bishop that the Church supposes that authority should reside. Your points about discussion and conciliar action are valid in their right context.
You all have my prayers and best wishes. Let me pay you the compliment of being honest and tell you what other priests that do not sign their name will not tell you. It is not the bishops we fear, but some other people posting. The last time I posted elsewhere and signed my name, people looked up my phone and I was getting nasty calls for weeks. That is the reason many priests will not sign their names to these posts.
Many of us have spoken to our bishops and to His Beatitude honestly and with love, and we are all still here to testify to it. Just because you have not heard a loud noise coming from the sky do not assume that action has not been taken by priests. The best thing we can all do is pray as our Savior taught us. He will care for us as he has done from age to age. Let us tend to the poor, keep the fast, care for our planet and confess our sins. Let the Holy Spirit guide the Church and her bishops while we pray. St Seraphim knew they way. If our souls are in order, the rest will follow. These troubles may in fact be a judgment on us. maybe we were given the Church we deserve. Maybe we have been given this chance to make things right.
I will follow this way, the way of obedience and peace. Bishop Nikon has my support. You must follow your own path. Pray for me, as I do for all of you.
#126.96.36.199 Anonymous on 2007-11-07 07:33
The Lord by the mouth of the Holy Prophet Ezekiel tells us what he thinks about whitewashing wrongdoing with a veneer of "peace":
"My hand will be against the prophets who see false visions and utter lying divinations They will have no place in the council of My people, nor will they be written down in the register of the house of Israel, nor will they enter the land of Israel, that you may know that I am the Lord GOD.
10"It is definitely because they have misled My people by saying, 'Peace!' when there is no peace. And when anyone builds a wall, behold, they plaster it over with whitewash;
11so tell those who plaster it over with whitewash, that it will fall. A flooding rain will come, and you, O hailstones, will fall; and a violent wind will break out.
12"Behold, when the wall has fallen, will you not be asked, 'Where is the plaster with which you plastered it?'"
13Therefore, thus says the Lord GOD, "I will make a violent wind break out in My wrath. There will also be in My anger a flooding rain and hailstones to consume it in wrath.
14"So I will tear down the wall which you plastered over with whitewash and bring it down to the ground, so that its foundation is laid bare; and when it falls, you will be consumed in its midst And you will know that I am the LORD.
15"Thus I will spend My wrath on the wall and on those who have plastered it over with whitewash; and I will say to you, 'The wall is gone and its plasterers are gone,
16along with the prophets of Israel who prophesy to Jerusalem, and who see visions of peace for her when there is no peace,' declares the Lord GOD."
Larry Tosi claims the truth will destroy "the Church", but it isn't the Church that will fall, it is only these whitewashed walls. The whitewash is already peeling off. We have known all along that there is something to hide, and Tosi admits it. What form the violent wind will take we have yet to see-- but indeed we will see it. May God have mercy on us all.
#188.8.131.52.1 Anonymous on 2007-11-07 11:26
Dear Father, I am sorry I did not see your letter earlier. I have been sick and didn't keep up. As I answered before I was an observer at the Assembly and I am sorry I could not be there Saturday. I also wish I could have met you. Your comments about obedience to our Bishop are correct, and I will not disobey my Bishop. He has been more than kind and receptive to my letters, for which I ask forgiveness for having offended you. I see no reason for our bearing ill will towards one another in this diocese, even though there are big differences of opinion. Perhaps if we use this time to begin to communicate with each other we can learn to trust. For the past twenty years I have been blessed to be in Father Arida's parish. He has been my pastor, friend and confessor, as well as friend and counselor to many of my children, two of whom became Orthodox. I don't understand why other Orthodox Christians in our diocese would not be grateful to have such a priest in New England, a priest who teaches by word and example and truthfulness. He does not put himself forward, but focuses our attention on Christ. And I have met many other priests in the diocese who I respect, and I respect those I have not met. I am sorry that you were harassed the last time you posted with your own name. If you wish to reply to me my email is: email@example.com
#21.2.4 Alice Carter on 2007-11-11 18:32
I read with great interest Bishop Nikon’s emotional letter, published on the OCANEWS page, following the recently concluded forty fourth assembly of the diocese of New England. As a member of the NE diocese, I was saddened and angry. Our clergy met under the leadership of their bishop to address our OCA crisis. For two days they demonstrated nothing but confusion, division, and fear !!! How can we the laity trust them to lead us out of our crisis?
Your grace Bishop Nikon, resolutions without affirmative action are useless. Have no fear, take some firm action to ease the suffering of your brothers and sisters in the NE diocese. As painful as It may be, that “must be done to restore the precious trust that has been so seriously damaged in recent month” to use your words. Have no fear, let your diocese members send a clear message to Metropolitan Herman that they lost confidence in his leadership and therefore he should step down. But since he refuses to do so, we should take some action to replace him. Then we can bring some resolution to our crisis.
Brothers and sisters members of the NE diocese, you too can take some action. If you disapprove of what is going on, sign the petition asking for Metropolitan Herman’s resignation. Let him know it is not a small minority who has no confidence in his leadership, as he claims. You can find the petition on this page:
If a friend does not have access to the internet, ask their permission to sign for him or her.
Holy Annunciation Church
#21.3 Anonymous on 2007-11-08 11:33
How disappointing that the many priests and laity who were recepients of the unconditional support and love of the Ardingers, are unwilling to voice, either because of fear or indifference, their outrage over Ben's dismissal as a member of the SHS board of trustees.
#22 Father Robert M. Arida on 2007-11-01 13:43
Neither fear nor indifference has prevented me from voicing my outrage concerning Ben Ardinger’s dismissal from the SHS Board of Trustees. Rather, it is my inability to adequately articulate my disbelief that the Diocese of Alaska and St. Herman’s Seminary hold so low a place in the historical and spiritual memory of our national church. This is the place where St. Herman walked, and where his relics reside. The jewel that is Orthodox Alaska is suffering and whatever is going on up there right now needs to be investigated and resolved, so that in ten years we are not looking back assigning blame and abdicating responsibility, having lost yet more cash, and more importantly, more souls. That someone like Ben Ardinger, who has enthusiastically cared for, nurtured, encouraged and supported St. Herman’s Seminary (and everyone associated with it), throughout many changes in leadership and “vision,” could now be cast aside in this manner, is appalling. This should send off danger signals at all levels of church life. For the three years I lived in Kodiak, and for many years since, I have enjoyed the love and friendship of Ben and Hazel Ardinger. I am grateful to them and for them. Thank you to Fr. Arida for reminding me of this.
(Kodiak, Alaska 1982-1985)
#22.1 Alexandra Safchuk on 2007-11-01 20:03
Without resorting to your usual vitriolic hyperbole, could you please explain to me specifically how this "bishop" has disgraced his office and soiled his position? Do you have any facts? Or should we just rely on the rumors and gossip? I wonder what motivates his accusers? Please help me understand.
#23 Ethelrod on 2007-11-01 15:03
Let us count the ways, without resorting to rumors and gossip.
First there was the dismissal of Lydia Black, and the exchange of correspondence about the incident between John Richard Dauenhauer and +Nikolai.
Then there was the dismissal of Paul Sidebottom. As a firsthand witness to the events he describes in his letter, the content is not “rumors and gossip”.
Then there was the dismissal of Mark Harrison. As the dismissed party, his comments on this site hardly fall into the category of “rumors and gossip”.
Then there was the dismissal of Ben Ardinger and the letter from +Nikolai stating the reasons. +Nikolai's letter speaks for itself.
Then there was +Nikolai’s decision to stand alone as the only hierarch to refuse to approve the Best Practices document. On what grounds? He fears that this document, which is full of Christian principles and common sense, will undermine his episcopal authority. Seeing as how he exercised that authority against Black, Sidebottom, Harrison and Ardinger, all I can say is "Lord, have mercy."
Then there is +Nikolai’s December 5, 2006 autohagiographical archpastoral letter, which speaks for itself.
That's just the tip of the Alaskan iceberg.
#23.1 Anonymous on 2007-11-02 01:21
Thanks Anonymous you took the words right out of my mouth! The only additional evidence I would site is the letter addressed to +Nikolai written on July 4, 2007 by Fr. John Dunlop (Associate Dean of Students at St. Herman's Seminary). In that letter Fr. John states the following:
"In 2005 I witnessed Bishop Nikolai violently push Subdeacon Mark Harrison in the altar during Divine Liturgy. The Bishop pushed him aside nearly causing him to fall. After this incident
Mark was forbidden to serve as a Subdeacon. Subdeacon Sergei Lekanof was also suspended from serving earlier this year because he somehow looked the wrong way at the Bishop. I have seen him verbally abuse other students and have been verbally abused myself and called "Father Nobody" and other things. Hierarchical Liturgy itself becomes an exercise in not "making mistakes" and is filed with terror at receiving a rebuke. Making liturgical mistakes may also lead to compulsory
Generally speaking, there is a climate of great fear and intimidation in the Diocese. Why don't people speak up? The clergy are afraid of being suspended or deposed or moved. Their
family lives can be totally disrupted at the Bishop's slightest whim. I have already been moved once. I myself have been threatened with suspension as have many others. Our crosses can be taken at any time for ally reason because we "serve at the Bishop's pleasure." During his last visit the Bishop said I would be made island Dean but then said if I "messed up" I would be deposed.
Disobedience, particularly disobedience to the Bishop is the gravest sin. Obedience is constantly hammered in our heads. Why haven't we resorted to the wider Church? We feel cut off from the wider Church and surrounded by an iron curtain of fear. Will we be protected and supported? I ask you to keep the contents of this letter confidential. If called upon I would testify to the veracity of its contents. I fear for my family and I hope to remain a priest because I feel deeply called to serve the Holy Church. I want to fulfill the vocation which I believe God has called me to fulfill. I have served this seminary for over ten years and I don't want to lose it all. At the same time I want the truth to be known and to defend out Holy Faith. Everything I have written is true."
(Signed letter in PDF format posted in the Orthodox Forum on Yahoo groups)
Thank you for the post, Chris. Am I right in assuming that Fr. John's letter was addressed to +Herman, not Bp. Nikolai?
For those in the OCA who think that our dioceses are sovereign states and we should not concern ourselves with other's problems, read this last string of posts! Alaska is the cradle of American Orthodoxy. Clergy and faithful in Alaska labor in extremely hard climatic and cultural conditions, giving all they have to the church, like Fr. John Dunlop and Ben Ardinger, and many unnamed others. Do we even realize this in the comfort of the "mainland", cozy and warm in our Sunday-only attendance and our "bliny" dinners as the only surrogate of parish life?! Have we really become so stonehearted that we truly not care about persecution the best and the most dedicated suffer in the hands of their bishop who is supposed to be their shepherd, father and supporter?!
More interestingly, what is it that our bishops think they are doing on the Synod if they are unable to challenge each other's glaring malfeasances? For instance, the Statute of the OCA gives the Metropolitan the authority for "pastoral intervention" (see ch. IV) - where is it?.. Who benefits from the Synod's pathetic effort to project the image of "unity"? Certainly not the OCA.
Sadly, the "culture of fear" that so many of us here are alluding to is not a "topical" disease in our Church. Clearly it permeates the hierarchy as well as the clergy and the laity. Apparently in many the fear of worldly inconveniences (I do not use this word trivially) is greater then the fear of the Lord's judgment. All the more credit to those fearless souls who dare to raise their voices in defense of the truth, especially to the clergy, for they stand to lose the most. And how can their bishops demand love, obedience and respect due their office if they fail to provide those entrusted to their care with public display of support is a painful mystery to me...
Finally - with apologies for a long-winded post, I haven't posted here in a long time, - has everybody noticed this paragraph in the minutes of the Joint Session: "When Mr. Nescott asked [Bp. Benjamin] if the “70 senior clergy” who signed a very public letter would be disqualified from serving, he said he did not know who the 70 were or what they wrote [...]"
The hierarch in charge of the SIC, 2 years after the beginning of the public scandal, does not know who Archpriests Dmitri Grigorieff, Jason Kappanadze, or Vladimir Berzonsky are, just to name three very public names, not to mention the two signatories from the bishop's own diocese? Which Church is he a bishop of???? And we putting our trust in resolution of this mess into these hands?!
Lord have mercy on the OCA.
Holy Trinity Cathedral
#184.108.40.206 Inga Leonova on 2007-11-02 15:34
Dear Inga: As I recall, the letter from the 70 senior priests was addressed to the HS. So either a) a copy of the letter was not given to each of the bishops; b) Bishop Benjamin didn't read his copy; or c) he did read it and has sudden amnesia.
Is it any wonder we're not getting anywhere real fast?
#220.127.116.11.1 Michael Strelka on 2007-11-03 10:57
The letter is dated 2/21/06 and Bp. Benjamin was not a member of the HS at that time and is not on the addressee list.
So his comment shows that he never looked it up and tried to find out, but not that he ignored something sent to him.
#18.104.22.168.1.1 Rebecca Matovic on 2007-11-04 05:53
You are right and I was well aware that Bp. Benjamin was not one of the ruling bishops at the time the letter was sent. I should have gone into more detail, but I was trying to make my post more taciturn.
However, the point I was making has more to do with the Bishop heading up the SIC. Ann said it well enough in her post. If someone passes judgment (or imposes certain criteria - whichever way you prefer, I vote for the first), one should make sure to familiarize himself with all the facts of the case. To summarily dismiss "the 70", and a fact of a highly public and much-quoted letter, speaks volumes about the objectivity and therefore credibility of said person.
#22.214.171.124.1.1.1 Inga Leonova on 2007-11-04 20:27
Yes, I did notice Bp. Benjamin's mindboggling statement that he doesn't know who the 70 senior priests are or what they wrote. What's also very strange about that statement is: if he doesn't know (or care to know) about that letter, HOW does he know who is disqualified, in his(?) opinion, for his(?) SIC, because that person has expressed an opinion on the internet and is, therefore, "biased". Maybe he was too busy to read the letter from the 70 senior clergy because he was reading the various posts?
#126.96.36.199.2 Anonymous on 2007-11-03 14:23
I am very grateful to see a posted comment from you once again. I hope you will continue to share your more of thoughts. I find your observations and analysis incisive and helpful.
#188.8.131.52.3 jean Langley Sullivan on 2007-11-03 19:34
We hear things, and don't quite understand why some of the things are happening in Alaska. Please do not think I am making an accusation. I am merely trying to understand why some things have occurred. This would go a long way in helping us to understand +Nicolai's decisions. Could you please fill us in on the situation with the 90 year old woman who was asked to make a large contribution each month to remain in her home? Perhaps you can give us more details that explains this situation and will give us a better understanding of +Nikolai's reasoning in this situation. I don't believe that is a rumor, but a fact that he was asking that she pay more to stay in her home, or that she had to vacate.
#23.2 Wants to know on 2007-11-02 07:34
Thanks again to Mr Wachter for his helpful Reflection. When I read the Summary of the Preliminary Report I was less disturbed by what it was implying than I was by the way it was doing so. That $12000 spent on a December trip to Russia would cover 8 coach plane tickets and possibly hotel rooms for a week- not unheard of (even if excessive) for a major OCA junket. So was it a personal expenditure or was it in OCA trip? That shouldn't have been hard to find out and even easier to state in the report. And the $135,000 outstanding personal credit card charges- was that the total for the tanning salons, monthly family expenses,and trips to Aruba that had been detailed just before in the report? It doesn't say. And all those "could not"s vs possible 'would not's....
I am certainly not excusing anything- I would only guess privately whether it seems likely those personal charges would have ever been paid back. But most disturbing to me was the way this official summary report seemed written to evoke a desired response. Once again it seemed to be hiding more than it was explaining.
#24 Rachel Andreyev on 2007-11-02 09:39
This is my first post. Being late on the scene, please forgive me if my comments have been addressed earlier or are just plain idiotic and naive. In another section, someone stated that legal action seemed to be the only alternative remaining, and couldn't anyone think of a different proposal. I noticed in the recent minutes of the MC that the newly-formed Ethics Committee had not received any ethics reports to date. Can't the folks in Alaska submit a formal ethics complaint against their Bishop based on unethical leadership? Can't any of us submit a formal complaint to the Ethics Committee charging the Metropolitan with moral misconduct? The OCA has in place strictures against sexual misconduct and now financial misconduct, but somehow we skirt around the issue of "un-Christian" conduct. Forgiveness of sins, right on! Leading double-lives - this has got to go. God is being mocked and it is heart-breaking. I hear of the love of the "Church" from some leaders, but not love for Jesus to the point of radical sacrifice in the feeding of his sheep and the following of His example. We must all examine our own hearts. We are all the "least of these" to each other., right?
On another note, in trying to catch up on OCA history a bit I noticed that at the Orlando All-American Council, when +MH was elected, Bishop Seraphim won the "popular vote" by a wide margin. I understand the technicalities of how the election was determined, yet I only could find a brief statement why +MH was chosen by the HS. Was there a formal statement as to why Bishop Seraphim was rejected. What was the response to this election? Did anyone cry foul?
I'm not about the condemnation of anyone. I would love the chance to get to know the leaders of my Church - but it won't ever happen as long as some view the "calling" of hierarchs and priests as more important than that of the laity...and as long as following rules is more important than following Christ.
Love to you all (including +MH)! Please forgive me, God, for my boldness.
#25 A parishioner in the West on 2007-11-02 13:19
Why do I have the suspicion that the Orlando election was bought with ADM funds before MH+ jumped from the FRK fold? The use of these funds should be an outrage. Why are not more people screaming for an accounting, or jail? All the nicey nice approaches from forgive-me-a-humble-sinner folks are getting quite suspicious and are appearing more and more like smoke screens from people who probably had their hands in the FRK cookie jar. Who did FRK not buy off?
#25.1 Anon. on 2007-11-02 15:37
Your feeble linkage of ADM funds to the Orlando Council is just plan uninformed. The ADM money stopped flowing in 1999 YEARS BEFORE THE ORLANDO COUNCIL. So repack you silly theory and keep it to yourself.
Check the facts before you spin more spin. It's hard enough to keep the facts straight let alone these dumb comments.
#25.1.1 OH COME ON!!! on 2007-11-04 14:06
Interesting. And how would you know all this? Can you enlighten us further on how you know when the ADM money was spent and on what? How do you know that it wasn't squirreled away in offshore bank accounts for use as a rainy day FRK influence fund? It is very hard to spend $4+ million in the USA without being noticed or tracked. Please do tell us more since you abjure my theory so totally. Enlighten us.
#184.108.40.206 Anon. on 2007-11-05 18:22
Alas, you fail to answer a straightforward question. I suspected as much. Your vehemence to my ADM speculation was a disingenuous smoke screen to keep the investigators off the trail of corruption fueled by $4+ million in ADM slush fund monies. Were you a pre-1999 beneficiary? Is that why you are so sure about when the monies were spent and where they went?
#220.127.116.11.1 Anon. on 2007-11-06 17:27
Dear Parishioner in the West:
I can only answer one of your questions, the vote for Metropolitan was not so much a vote for Herman but a voste against Seraphim by the members of the Holy Synod, and that was only by one vote.
Oh, if only we could have a "hindu"- that's "do over" in New York stickball street slang!!!!
#25.2 Anonymous on 2007-11-02 19:05
I was also pondering the "silent scream" I felt when I read that the ethics committee had received not ONE complaint. I hope that the IN box of that committee chair is overflowing by Monday morning! Just the complaints on this site are enough to keep an army of investigators busy for a year or more! These people with very serious allegations against thier clergy/hierarchs, especially, should at least feel a little bit better knowing that there is an office charged with investigating their cases. Please file reports with the ethics committee of the Church! Then there will have to be an official record made and documentation started as to the investigation of those claims. Bet the next joint meeting of the HS/MC will have to be extended just to list the cases being investigated by the ethics committee!
#25.3 Jeannie in the Midwest on 2007-11-03 10:39
Alaska needs serious attention. This whole discourse needs to be reevaluated. If substancial change is to be made, we need to reconsider not only the discourse, but who the ones having the conversation are.
Who's Church is it anyway? That is the fundemental question we are missing, forgetting and ignorning.
To give an illustration of the greater tragedy of Alaska, let me use the 1956 movie "Giant". In it, there is a bigoted Texas rancher (Bick) who hates the Mexicans who live near him. His attitude changes when he marries a more compassionate, liberal minded wife from the North. The couple has children and one of the sons ends up marrying a Mexican. The two have a little child, a mestizo. Bick hast to acknowledge the mesitizo child and ultimately, although reluctantly, bestow legitimacy upon him. One of the most important scenes in the movie is when Bick and his family, including his Mexican daughter and law and mestizo grandson enter a restaurant to eat. The owner, Sarge, reluctantly agrees to let them in upon seeing the Mexican woman and her child. A little later a Mexican family enters and Sarge absolutely refuses to serve them and proceeds to eject them. Bick, in his newfound multiculturalism, stands up to Sarge and demands he allow them to stay. They get heated up and fight.
Now, let me unpack this scene. Here we have Bick, a well-intentioned white male. Then we have Sarge, and unashamedly bigoted racist. Then, there is the poor, silent, downtrodden, abused, scorned, marginalized Mexican.
The movie, in its intention, is glorifying the multiculturalism of Bick and his courage to stand up for the rights of the "other". In a sense it is making a statement of race relations and race consciousness in America at that time. America had "arrived" at a point in its history where we are all "equal" and all "American".
Not so. The fight scene in Giant reveals a great flaw and a poison in race relations in American. Who is the one who pronounces equality?, who is the one bestowing legitimacy? Who is the one who still retains the sole power to determine the fate of the Mexicans, the “other”? Who retains the sole right to be the author American history?
The white patriarchy.
The Mexican, the "other" is still the "other" and never fully becomes part of "us". He is left voiceless and powerless to write his own history. He is denied self-determination, and subsumed beneath the white patriarchy.
This, in my opinion, is the tragedy of Alaska. The discourse over the fate of that great Church is decided, not by those to whom the Churchy rightly belongs, but to people who have come in from the outside, foreigners if you will.
The fate of Mexicans/Native Americans, to whom the whole Southwest once belonged, has and is being decided by people foreign to that land (white patriarchy i.e.: white republicans and white democrats).
More or less is happening now in Alaska, here on this site. Who are the ones debating the fate of the Alaskan Church? Is it not still the Caucasoid patriarchy? While one side is utterly and unmistakably wrong, oppressing and abusing the Alaskan Church, the other side views itself as the savior of the Alaskan church. Yet, the one voice that matters the most, that of our Native Alaskan brethren is silenced, by force in one camp and neglect in the other. I speak specifically the voice of our brethren who have inhabited Alaska for hundreds of years, our brethren who are direct spiritual descendants of St. Herman. Where is there voice, today? It is silenced, lost, ignored in the screaming matches between the foreigners.
The Alaskan Church, the Alaskan people do not need a foreign savior. They have the cultural, linguistic, religious tools to determine their own fate. We must give them our ears and listen to that voice, to their vision of their life in Christ. As it has become all to painful in the last couple of years, we in the lower 48 are the ones who need saving.
Too long has the OCA white patriarchy imposed its vision on the Alaskan church. That Church's bishop's writings of late express that reality all too clrealy. He is imposing his vision on "his" Church?
While the efforts of those who are struggling to help the Alaskan Church are to be commended, we must recognize that the reigns of that Church must be returned to the Native Peoples of Alaska. If we are sincere in our efforts and desire to support the Alaskan Church, we must be willing to be silent and let our Alaskan brethren speak, allow them to articulate their vision and experience. While they don't need us to save them, they might need our material support, but that is worlds away from being the ones who determine their fate.
My Lord! What would an Alaskan Church look like with a Native Alaskan bishop and Native Alaskan clergy who know the intricacies, hardships and joys of all that it means to be a Native Alaskan Orthodox Christian!
While this may smack of ethnocentricity to some, I think only one who is one with the Native Peoples of Alaska can truly have an effective ministry. Otherwise, what you end up with is the same old colonialist mentality of the "white man's burden".
FREE THE ALASKAN CHURCH!
#26 Bautista Cabrera on 2007-11-02 15:00
Congrtulations. You have reduced the Gospel to worldly politics and the limitations of subjective human logic.
#26.1 Anonymous on 2007-11-03 08:00
How so? I'm just pointing out a very real issue here. Sure I'm borrowing from the language of politics and anthropology, but the issues are real, flesh and blood. If you want to dismiss them as mere "philosophy" and hot air, you are free to do so. The issue there, whether you look or turn away.
#26.1.1 Bautista Cabrera on 2007-11-05 09:12
Couldn't have said it better myself! THIS Alaska Native is not afraid! Even Fr. Oleksa warned of the dangers of Cultural Imperialism (in the Church) in his book "Orthodox ALaska".
Many of us Alaska Natives who haven't been completely "taken in" by the illusory nature and propoganda of our current colonizer see this for what it is. The problem is, that when we speak out, we are told that we are "militants", "reverse-racists", "trouble makers", etc. and even some of our own people come after us and viciously attack us, as they are still beholden to thier colonial conditioning and overseers...thank you for your thoughtful and strong post.
#26.2 Moses on 2007-11-03 09:12
FWIW, I think you're right in calling for an Alaskan church for Alaskans. You lose me, though, when you resort to the feminist "white male patriarchy" claptrap. Please, some of us get a full ration of victimspeak at college or in our other reading, and really don't need yet another dose of it here.
#26.3 Scott Walker on 2007-11-04 07:47
So you think being white has nothing to do with the power structure in the OCA? You can be tired of hearing it, and fool yourself that everything in the "race" depart in the OCA is hunky dory, but i think we DO need to evaluate race relations within our Church, the OCA, and ask ourselves why there are so few African Americans, Asians and Latino's in our Churches.
Am I saying we are a racisit church? No, not by any means. But, if photos speak any truth, it seems that something about how we go about our church life only attracts a certain portion of the population, for the most part. Is is evil to ask, "Why?"
Many people have complained that they are turned off when they go to a super-ethnic (russian, greek, etc.,) church. Well has it ever occured to some that many people (non-caucasians) are turned away from our churches because they reflect only the "white" side of America? Why?
In reaction to the ethnocentric tendencies of Russian and Greek people demand that the churches in America should be ....more American. Well, America is no longer white. We are black, brown, red, yellow, and every other color under the sun, yet this is not reflected in our Churches. Are there exceptions? Dozens and probably in any give parish you will find one or two people of color. Again, is it evil to ask "Why?"
Is is evil to ask, "What can we do open up the OCA to all people, even more than what we've done up until now?"
I've been in parishes where the congregation is really a mixed bag. Those are feel so warm and inviting. We need more of those. St. John of Shanghai in Atlanta is a great example.
Wouldn't it be amazing to have bishops, priests, monastics and lay leaders from all over the ethnic "map". When I see that, then I think we can call ourselves the American church. For now, the reality is we don't reflect America, as it exists now, maybe like existed 70-80 years ago, but not as it exists now.
I know I'm being critical of the OCA, but believe it or not, I love the OCA, warts, pimples and all. I love it and would like to really see it fulfill its originial mission: Be a church of Americans, by Americans and for Americans.
#26.3.1 Bautista Cabrera on 2007-11-05 15:23
#18.104.22.168 Subdeacon Robert Aaron, Chairman - Detroit Metro Chapter, Brotherhood of St. Mos on 2007-11-06 12:59
I'm afraid that our clamors for fundemental change in the out look and attitude of the OCA fall on deaf ears. A simple change of the guard guarantees nothing. It seems to me that a clamor for "change" will subside once MH is removed and a favorable replacement is made. Then it will be business as usual again. Some of the more fundemental issues will be largly forgotten and ignored:
1. invigorating the monastic spirit in the OCA
2. building up robust liturgical/worshiping communities
3. fueling the flame of evangelism
4. Opening our door (even-wider) to non-caucasian seekers
5. Allowing these new non-caucasian communities to shape and contribute to our church lives.
6. Encorage and support the creation of a multi-ethnic/racial clergy and episcopacy.
7. bolstering the charitable arm of the national and local churches.
That kind of reform can only be carried out by courageous people, people ready to break the crusty mold of how we've been doing things for so long (in the OCA) and really think through the gospel, think through the Tradition, think through our worship and find the words to articulate that message to a 21st, multicultural and multiethnic.
It can only come from the bottum up, that is, beginning with our individual parishes. Anything less, is business as usual.
#22.214.171.124.1 Bautista Cabrera on 2007-11-07 06:52
Before we get to the American Orthodox stage, I'd like to see the OCA get beyond its Post-Uniate stage. The OCA likes to present itself to postential American converts as Orthodoxy sans the little t traditions that mark an Orthodoxy of the "ethnic" Old World, while hiding the fact that the majority of OCA parishes and the vast majority of the ol'Boys network are the children or grandchildren of former Uniates. In other words, you've got the children or grandchildren of converts to the Orthodox Church reaching out to and teaching the Orthodox Faith to potential or current 1st generation converts. American Orthodoxy needs more depth, more seasoning that can only come from cross-fertilization with more Orthodox who have been Orthodox for more than a generation or two. Every convert brings baggage into the Church that they need to unlearn in order to make beginnings of good or progress in the working out of their salvation. Former Uniates are not exempt from this unlearning process. The OCA should not be presenting their latest version of "Greek Catholic"-ism as the last word on the Faith and certainly not as American Orthodoxy. American Orthodoxy are all of the Orthodox Christians in America. Nothing more. Nothing less. What form will American Orthodoxy take in the next generations? Only God knows, but the OCA should not be so proud nor so deluded as to think that the face of the future American Orthodox Church will be a "Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Church in America" one.
#126.96.36.199 Anonymous on 2007-11-06 17:16
Oh, come on. And just how many generations must pass before the dreadful stain of being a child or grandchild of (oh, the humanity!) Uniates is expunged? It grieves me to say this, but I have never seen such petty suspicion and all around BSification among Christians since I abandoned the Protestant fundamentalism of my youth; some folks around here sound exactly like Southern Baptists albeit with a different label. Dostoyevsky's Grand Inquisitor must be laughing his behind off.
#188.8.131.52.1 Scott Walker on 2007-11-07 09:47
"Stain" is your word. I was referring to Uniate traditions (i.e. theological traditions and the praxis that flows out of these traditions) that are un-Orthodox and quite prevalent within the OCA. This is the baggage that I referred to. The post-Uniates (and the converts that they have catechized) must come to terms with these little t traditions, especially if they come in contact with Orthodox Christians who do not share their cultural background. I'll leave the problem of the OCA ethos to adapt the Faith to be "more American," which any student of the religious history of this great country of ours will tell you is predominantly Protestant, to another post.
#184.108.40.206.1.1 Anonymous on 2007-11-07 16:38
Okay. i'll bite. Specify what traditions you mean.
#220.127.116.11.1.1.1 SCott Walker on 2007-11-08 10:54
Robert Wachter's reflection misses one large point.
The OCA really had more than graft going on...if graft occurred.
Any report should discuss how compilations in 2003 reflected 2001 misuse of funds and what the administration did to either hide this information, minimize it, or antiicipate the management of this financial problem.
This question is independent of any graft. Graft, folks, is a detail, and nothing more.
The people in positions of responsibility should have known the facts of misappropriation years ago.
If the report does not reflect this basic fact, I will reject the report.
#27 Daniel E. Fall on 2007-11-02 18:44
If it does not address the payment of blackmail to cover up sexual misconduct, it should be rejected.
If it does not address all those trips to Russia, etc., by MH and his entourage, and how they were paid for, it should be rejected.
You see, there is far more to this scandal than financial controls and RSK.
#27.1 Anonymous on 2007-11-03 07:04
My understanding is that the letter from Fr. Dunlop was to +Job in Chi-town...other than that, very disturbing stuff indeed...alot of the clergy here in Alaska seem to be bullied and brow-beaten by Nikolai, but I agree that we need some more Lion-Hearted clergy and laity here in ALaska! My wife was on the plane with Nikolai this AM and said to me "he looks very mad", I said "he ALWAYS looks mad". His own opinions about himself aside, he is only A MAN after all, and really just a petty, bitter, small, and mean one at that! I read somewhere on the forum recently that he once told Mark Harrison that "I am the everything and you are the nothing". The entire PDF letter should be posted on this site, it is a good reminder, especially for those priests in Alaska, who, unlike our Lord and Saviour begin to backpedal in the face of our Byzantine Emperor of the North.
#28 Moses on 2007-11-02 19:12
I have been catching up with the last several days worth of posts and have noted some comments which appear to criticize some of the present and recently past OCA hierarchs for lack of "transparency." Hmmm.
Is transparency really a spiritual virtue? I am not so sure. Integrity, yes. Simplicity of life, yes again. Leading by a) humble servanthood (foot washing) and b) synergy with the other "orders" of the church rather than as an iron-fisted authoritarian, absolutely. With the will to use power wisely and decisively when that is really best, yes again. Keeping good records and giving people a chance to look them over seems right too. Telling the truth, keeping promises, leading by example, yes, yes, yes. Being accountable without sacrificing the dignity and legitimate power and authority of the office - a desirable balance I should think, but as we can see in ourselves and others on all sides, a very tough balance to strike.
But transparency, in an hierarch? Where is that made a mark of virtue or a qualification for episcopal office, let alone for obedience to the person who holds it? I think that is something that would be so difficult to define and implement that we would be liable to spoil the workings of the church still more, the office of bishop, and the occupants of the office by trying to define it, make it any sort of guiding star, and then follow it.
If we take a cool, thoughtful look at the idea of transparency, I think we will see it is a nicer idea in theory than it would be in practice. Honesty and financial accountability to me are quite different from transparency. If that is what the people who used the term really meant, then I think I am on their side.
And like everything else, the trouble is in figuring out how to balance all the competing interests. Financial accountability in the abstract is something we can almost all agree upon (I think we know a handful of people who would dispute both the theory and the practice) - at least so long as we only hire a paper-clip counter at half time salary. In times like this the understandable tendency will be to over correct a bit, won't it? My very best wishes, prayers and encouragement to the new treasurer, by the way, and may he strike the balance well.
And I think there was another exchange in which someone replied to cautionary remarks about the dangers of be reformationism by saying "Well no, but we must be restorers" or words to that effect. So far that strikes me as a distinction without a difference, and I would like to hear from anyone who purports to understand the difference and can explain why the latter is good. I think I already know why reforming isn't.
#29 Fr. George Washburn on 2007-11-02 23:56
You ask:"Is transparency really a spiritual virtue?"
Well, if you define its opposite to be "duplicity", t'would seem it certainly is. Wouldn't you agree? I tend to think the contributors to this web site are using the word in that sense.
But then, perhaps that is all a matter of "how you define 'is'".
#29.1 Jean Langley Sullivan on 2007-11-03 19:21
Gotta agree with Jean on the fundamental importance of defining terms. If transparency is the opposite of duplicity, then I hope I am for the former evey time.
But I think honesty or integrity, the opposite of duplicity. Transparency I see rather as a sort of pseudo-virtue, the kind of thing that looks good through the distorted lenses of reaction, but in normal light with 20/20 vision shows up as lopsided.
I would like to think that somewhere between tansparency and skulking in the dark there is a middle ground which the best folks in the OCA will be able to stake out and defend, where bishops are neither a) subjected to popular election each November and hamstrung in the intervening twelvemonth by the need to curry favor and win votes, nor b) authoritarians for life who imagine themselves to be above any form of question or synergy with lesser folks who actually have something to offer them.
When I read Bishop Nikolai's ideas on the canonical definition of the office and the authority of bishops, I feel compelled to agree with him, while dissenting from what I am able to deduce of the incarnate reality, at least as it is reported in public.
#29.1.1 Fr. George Washburn on 2007-11-04 14:30
If I may pursue our discussion of terms and their implications just a bit further I would add the following,
The word "transparence" is used most often in respect to the transmission of light. Its opposite may be said to be opacity, that is obstructing of the light that otherwise might be transmitted.
You say "...somewhere between transparency and skulking in the dark is a middle ground"...
Would that "middle ground" be then a semi-opacity that obstructs a portion light that otherwise might be transmitted? If so, to what end?
Of course, there is a place for prudence and discretion in making revelations. But when the matter to be considered is how donated monies have been dispersed, I fail to see what good is served by being anything less than utterly transparent: bringing ALL information into the brightest of light and allowing NO opacity to obscure or mislead its disclosure. Although it is desirable to avoid "black and white" thinking as a general rule, there are some circumstances, this being one of them, in which "middle ground" does not exist. Would you not agree?
I'm not sure how our exchange morphed into whether bishops should campaign for election to their office and how authoritarian they are or are not in the execise of of it. My remarks here have no bearing on either of those subjects.
#29.1.2 Jean Langley Sullivan on 2007-11-05 15:17
Reforming means fundamental changes for something new; restoring is regaining what has been lost or misplaced. The Church does not need change; it needs to find what has been misplaced and restore it to its rightful place. I believe that which has been lost in the OCA is the kenotic and servant aspect of leadership. Repentance means turning back to God and His will. His will is that we through repentance may find what has been lost (misplaced), through our pride and self-will. This is based on the verse that he who would be greatest should be the servant of all. Christ is the greatest but the bishops are called to model themselves in accord with Christ's kenotic servanthood. The people are to follow the episcopal example as all submit to one another in love. That's all I meant to say about the difference I see between the words reformation and restoration. It seems to me that repentance can help us to find and restore what has been lost (misplaced), and the bishops must lead. Am I not right?
#29.2 Karen Jermyn on 2007-11-04 11:39
There is much to like in what Karen writes - both form and content. Repentance and the recovery of servant leadership - those are on my agenda personally, come to think of it. Reappropriation of what has been temporarily mislaid is a nice idea too, and more in keeping with what I know of the Orthodox faith.
By contrast, what concerns me is "reforming." To me it carries several connotations that ought to give us pause. One such is the seemingly inevitable linkage with zeal - at least for changing other people. Zeal, at least in me, is never sustained. Some temporary energetic push for a quick result, I can usually manage. And the seemingly inevitable linkage to speed of action and results.
Which then usually links up, does it not, with surface change? So much easier to rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic than to change direction. And that can link up to scapegoating. "Yeah, there was a problem, but x was causing it and we got rid of him and now all is OK." Which in turns can lead to or link up, oh so subtly in some cases, with revenge-taking.
Not to mention the natural tendency for each "action to lead to an equal and opposite reaction."
#29.2.1 Fr. George Washburn on 2007-11-05 18:47
If Dan rejects the report, then I will, too!
#30 Anonymous on 2007-11-03 07:54
"My Lord! What would an Alaskan Church look like with a Native Alaskan bishop and Native Alaskan clergy who know the intricacies, hardships and joys of all that it means to be a Native Alaskan Orthodox Christian!"
A couple of comments are in order:
1. If pictures are any indication, then the great majority of the clergy in Alaska already are native Alaskans.
2. St Innocent was Russian. The point here is that the bishop can be whatever ethnicity as long as he is sympathetic to the culture and the needs of the people.
#31 Michael Strelka on 2007-11-03 10:36
While I agree with the spirit of what you are saying, Michael, we have never had an Alaska Native Bishop, and yet many of our Native Priests have been in the priesthood for decades and decades and are never elevated to that rank. Ours is a history of settler colonialism being forced upon us, and unfortunately, there were times when the Russian Church was complicit in this. We kept our Orthodoxy alive in our hearts, homes, and chapels even after being abandoned by them for a very long time (during which time we molded a truly "Alaskan" form of Eastern Orthodoxy). Alaska IS different due to a variety of circumstances. Even Metropoliton Philip Saliba (Antiochian) and others (Arab clergy and laity) have asked for an Arab Hierarach in the Holy Land! They believe this for the same reasons we do...
#31.1 Moses on 2007-11-03 14:55
Being in the priesthood forever and ever does not make one eligible for the episcopate. I can think of only one Alaskan Native priest who is unmarried. Not exactly a large pool.
#31.1.1 anonymous on 2007-11-04 14:43
"Second, the celibacy (or the vowed virginity) is never a part of the eastern priest’s ministry, for the exception of some extremely rare cases—he is always married in the service of his parish. Even the episcopacy in the East did not adopt the celibacy of bishops until the end of the seventh century. Moreover, this adoption [of celibacy], which we have embraced, was based upon an administrative arrangement and have no dogmatic foundations, and which can be consequently changed in the same manner.
Even in the western Church itself, where the priests are celibate, it is also based upon a patristic benefit, in their understanding, and has no association with the dogma."
-Metropoliton George Khodr of Mt. Lebanon
#18.104.22.168 Niko on 2007-11-05 18:08
You are so correct; race is not the problem with Alaska. Furthermore, it is incorrect to think that all Orthodox in Alaska are Native.
Bautista's racist remarks are disturbing and certainly not worthy of the church that teaches "Neither Greek nor Jew..."
#31.2 K. on 2007-11-03 21:18
Ah yes, and speaking of race and racism, I still am waiting for someone to tell me why none of our Native clergy have ever been elevated to Bishop (in our 200+ year history with the Church!!!)? Is it because of our "childlike and primitive minds"? or is it because we are not part of some secret (maybe Slavic?) good ol' boys club? That "reverse racism" baloney doesn't cut it here. Accusing Bautisita of racism is lame and predictable...also,
I am hearing alot of talk on this board about Orthodox in America not wanting to have any "foreign" bishops over them; how is this "Americanism" any different than many Alaska Native (and Arab) Orthodox wanting to see and hear thier voices heard in the leadership of the Churches?
#31.2.1 Moses on 2007-11-04 09:56
St. Innocent, and St. Nicholas of Japan are perfect examples of what missionaries really are. St. Nicholas himself once said that he wasn't completely Japanese until he was burried in the Japanese soil. So, I a very real sense he WAS japanese.St. Innocent had the same attitude as shown by his love for the Alaskan people and lands. They did not impose a rigid form of Orthodoxy on their people, but allowed them to shape it and fit it according to their ethnic and cultural distinctiveness. What I here from the bishop of Alaska is worlds different from the attitude of St. Innocent and St. Nicholas.
Remind me, who is the chancelor of that diocese? Who are the clergy in positions of leadership? Who are the people making the decisions about when the native clergy is allowed to go fishing to make a living? Who are the people that are deciding the direction the diocese is going to take?
The point is not that they are "white", but the people in positions of authority are people who come in from the outside, not intimately aware of the particular circumstances of the Alaskan faithful and clergy. So far, what I read about he leadership clergy in Alaska is very dissapointing and what I have heard directly from Alaskan clergy, not necessarily Aleutian, is that it is a very desperate situation for the clergy (the Aleutian).
The fascinating thing is that they are not up in arms about the against their bishop, like many of the clergy here in the lower 48 with respect to MH.
what I am saying is that the Alaskan people should be the ones to decide who their bishop is, who their chancelor is, who the leadership is. They, from what I can tell, have very little voice. We in the lower 48 make those very important decisions, we know where our next meals are coming from, when the next pay check is coming in, we who do not have to venture into rough waters to fish and gain our living.
Certainly there is no Greek or Jew, in term of equality before God. But when it comes to how we live day to day, being Aleutian is worlds away from being a soccor mom in Indiana. We need to respect those differences, embrace them, not erase them and thus make us all the "same". That's not what St. Paul was saying. We're not all the "same". That would be boring. We are all equal before the maker, but how we live our lives are shaped by the particular circumstances of our lives. Our leaders need to be intune with those particularities. I'm afraid the leaders of the Alaskan church are very much out of tune.
So, you can call me a racisit, if you like, but we need to reevalute how that issue is effecting the Church in Alaska, like it or not.
By the way, by many accounts I'm white, my wife is white and my children are definitely white. I'm just wanting all of us to reevalute our discourse about Alaska.
#31.2.2 Bautista Cabrera on 2007-11-05 07:33
Dear Mr. Cabrera,
I sadly affirm that there is a problem with race in the Alaskan church. As I pointed out to Fr. Chad Hatfield, the former Dean of St. Herman's Seminary and current head of St. Vlad's, it is a shame that the official icon of St. Peter the Aleut on the OCA website and in the seminary chapel at St. Herman's depicts St. Peter as a Caucasian, rather than a Native.
As I wrote Fr. Chad over a year ago, " St. Peter the Aleut is a true hero and martyr. He is a wonderful role model for Alaskan Natives, and a good symbol of the Alaskan Mission. Shame on you for commissioning an icon where St. Peter is depicted in "whiteface"!
I have been following the "scandals" currently rocking the
Orthodox Church in America with some interest, but, frankly, they don't
bother me very much. Those problems have to do with poor administrative
practices and financial planning. This "whitewashing" of St. Peter the
Aleut, however, bothers me a great deal, because it is inherently dishonest
and because it seems to indicate a racially-biased lack of love and respect
for the Native Alaskan people. This would be un-Christian and unworthy of
the Orthodox Church in America and of St. Herman Theological Seminary, if it were true.
I cannot believe that the clergy and staff at St. Herman
Theological Seminary are racially biased-why on earth should you publish
icons that give that false impression? Please re-think your stance on this."
Of course, there haven't been any changes made since I wrote.
#22.214.171.124 Anonymous on 2007-11-07 13:49
Thank you, Mr. Wachter, once again, for brining your trained legal mind to our OCA situation with your recent great reflection.
I can only pray, that one day (soon!) the OCA's administration will not be abusing its power and control as it has sorely done through the beginning of this 21st Century.
If this nonsense persists without major corrections by the time of the AAC in 2008, I hope and pray that the combined voice of our bishops, clergy, and laity will find its collective will, as it did in the Assembly of the DOM and WPA, to, once and for all, not tolerate persons of power and control who have no real interest in the true wellfare of the OCA. If anyone should have the mind of Christ, it should be our leadership. If anyone should not be abusing their power and control, it should be our leadership.
Which tradition has the bishops do feet washing on Holy Thursday? Is there not an example in there somewhere for our OCA bishops?
Our collective sense of moral integrity, our collective sense that Christ is the head of our Church, and not morally depraved leadership, is the voice that should write the decisive and joyful chapter of correction and hope for the OCA.
#32 Patty Schellbach on 2007-11-03 20:03
With reference to your question about the tradition of washing feet on Holy Thursday, it is well known that the Roman Catholics practice this at cathedrals and at the parish level. I believe the Anglicans do also. As for the Orthodox, the only example that I know of is in Jerusalem. On Holy Thursday in the forecourt of the Church of the Resurrection (a.k.a. Holy Sepulchre) the patriarch of Jerusalem, bare-headed and with apron, washes the feet of his bishops on a platform erected for the occasion. The rite includes a dialogue between the patriarch and a priest in Greek, standing on a raised platform, on a wall opposite the platform where the washing rite is served. It’s quite a sight to behold with the forecourt jammed wall-to-wall with pilgrims.
#32.1 Terry C. Peet on 2007-11-06 03:02
These practices all sound very moving.
#32.1.1 Patty Schellbach on 2007-11-06 19:58
I just read Robert Watcher’s reflection. It was very informative.
I agree with his (implied) conclusion that how this scandal plays out depends a lot on the work of the second special investigative committee. So with this in mind, may God bless the committee. Hopefully their report will meet the criteria Robert Watcher laid out. That would be a blessing for the OCA.
#33 Samuel Osman on 2007-11-03 20:24
have read with satisfaction the well-written treatise of Robert Wachter, Esq........would like to ascertain whether or not a death-bed confession would be admissible in any court........having once been a christian, the "retired" former archbishop of NY/NJ (Peter D'Huillier) might be facing the inevitable fate of all, and decide to speak to The Maker.......
#34 Guileless on 2007-11-04 20:17
"having once been a Christian" is the kind of cheap shot that really doesn't do anyone any good.
Did Abp. Peter prove to be a flawed hierarch in some ways? Yes. Are we each of us flawed in many ways? Yes.
Those of us who dare to call ourselves Christians should humbly pray for our fellows (no matter how flawed, maybe even especially for those whose flaws are most evident).
[No -- I'm not advocating pay/pray/obey; I am advocating civil discourse.]
#34.1 Rebecca Matovic on 2007-11-05 13:52
This is a question rather than a comment. I want to know why the name and picture of the new secretary (Mr. Bodnar) has been removed from the OCA website. What's going on in Syosset now? Just when we start to make progress, it seems that we regress into chaos. This is a shame and an embarassment.
#35 DDD on 2007-11-05 08:40
Glory to IC XC!
It seems to be about US immigration and employment law.
I've underlined the key points from the minutes of the Metropolitan Council meeting on October 16, 2007:
5. Points of Order:
a. Staff Immigration Report: Deacon Zarras reported on the immigration status of Paul Bodnar, recently named as OCA Secretary. His visa extension application is delayed in routine INS processing. In regular contacts from the Church, the INS is reporting processing backload. Advice from two attorneys has been to wait on the processing and in the meantime not to place Mr. Bodnar on the payroll. Attorneys have affirmed that the Church’s position thereby is legally correct. Accountant advice has enabled his expenses to be covered until his transfer is approved. At this time he is not an Officer or employee of the Church. He has no benefits coverage and is not enrolled in the retirement plan. After discussion, the Council
agreed to afford Mr. Bodnar non-voting observer status at the meeting.
Fr. Bartholomew Wojcik
St. Nicholas Orthodox Mission Church
#35.1 Rev. Bartholomew Wojcik on 2007-11-05 16:52
Dear Father Bart,
The facts at hand are this, Bodnar was hired with the full knowledge of Kucynda and the so called Transistion Team/aka the old Administrative Committee, that his immigration status was ILLEGAL, thus opening the OCA to legal action by Homeland Security.
Best Practices be damned. It's the SOS, say whatever you need to say but do what ever you want to do.
And here is the kicker in all of this, one of the people that Kucynda fired just happens to be the relative of the NUMBER TWO MAN IN HOMELAND SECURITY. That's right.
These people are so arrogant and so stupid that we still think we have to pay for the priviedge of them abusing us. ENOUGH.
#35.1.1 Anonymous on 2007-11-05 22:13
There is NOTHING ominous about this. He is probably here on a B-type visa which is the type used for visitors on business or tourism.
He cannot be employed until he is granted an H-type visa. There are just administratives hoops that they have to go through while they wait for the processing to be done.
This happens all the time in business. Anonymous' comments are unneeded and unhelpful rhetoric.
#126.96.36.199 Christopher Eager on 2007-11-06 08:30
There is nothing NOT ominous about anything done or ommitted by Syosett.
#188.8.131.52.1 Anonymous on 2007-11-06 23:09
How was he paid for his services while employed by the church?
He had been here for some time, do you mean his services were gratus? I don't think so!
#35.1.2 Suzanne on 2007-11-06 04:20
Syosset is frantic to find the right words to cover their tracks on how they paid an illegal alien as Secretary of the Church.
First they tried the "under the table" approach....nope, can't say that, but that is what they did......."an advance on his salary".... that sounds good, but then they would have to admit that they were paying him illegally........"a loan" yeah, let's say we loaned him the money, but he won't have to pay us back, so it really isn't a loan, so what is it?????
It's another Kucynda blunder and this time I think Homeland Security needs to knock on HIS door and ask him what he knew and when did he know it. This is just another example of the "we know better than the rest of you elitism that has strangled this Church for much too long."
Enough already, enough. Who needs a full-time Secretary anyway or any full-time staff in Syosset. And while we are at it, let's talk about the Metropolitan double-dipping by getting paid two full-time salaries.
Is anyone listening out there?
#184.108.40.206 Anonymous on 2007-11-06 08:44
I understand he's claiming to be a volunteer - at what cost, was he extended a loan OR was it just an advance? In other words, Herman duped the MC and HS once again.
#220.127.116.11 Sue on 2007-11-06 16:04
Glory to IC XC!
You asked, "do you mean his services were gratus?"
I did not mean at all that his services were gratis. I meant nothing beyond what I submitted, as a plausible reason for his picture not being present. No implication beyond that was intended.
If you concluded otherwise, it was unintentional on my part. You have my apologies.
Anonymous above indicates that there is much more to the story than what I had read or been told. This wouldn't be the first (nor the last) time that I didn't know something.
#18.104.22.168 Rev. Bartholomew Wojcik on 2007-11-06 17:37
(Nov. 6) - CBS News has learned Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa, the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, is investigating six prominent televangelist ministries for possible financial misconduct.
#36 Ande on 2007-11-06 14:39
It looks that your job is well done as of this time. The readers of this site expect much more from the accountable and responsible "subjects" of the entire crisis ... from the OCA priests. The culture of FEAR already buried the courage of many. Hope is not buried yet, but it looks to everyone that the intervention of the FEDS is something everyone is expecting to see.
WE have learned about the fact that on Nov. 6, 2007, Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa, the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, is investigating six prominent televangelist ministries for possible financial misconduct.
It is obvious that the financial report posted and retracted from the OCA site during the Fall session of the OCA Holy Synod and Metropolitan Council, ... related to all improprieties ... EVEN though it is not FINISHED, in its format presented by your site MUST be sent to the Honorable Senator from Iowa Mr. Charles Grassley, asking him to respectfully and responsibly ISSUE SOBPOENA to the OCA Metropolitan, Holy Synod members and Metropolitan Council in regards to the FINANCIAL MISCONDUCT, which brought the entire OCA and not only into such of ENDLESS CRISIS. There are enough physical / material evidences the FEDS can step in and clean the house of the OCA
Please allow me to once again post the REPORTED NUMBERS as they came out from Fr Paul Kucynda on 10.16.07 …
Summary Report of the Preliminary Report of the Special Investigative Committee and the Proceedings of the Spiritual Court for Robert Kondratick
In an article post at 6:30 PM this evening - and then inexplicably taken down from the site - the OCA released a short summary of the long-awaited preliminary Report of the Special Commission. The Metropolitan had stated earlier this morning that the summary would be released following publication of the decision in the appeal of Robert Kondratick, heard earlier this morning. (Read the Metropolitan's address here.) No decision has been posted as of 8:00 PM this evening. Then, at 8:01 PM, the following appeared on the OCA.org site:
SYOSSET, NY [OCA Communications] -- The following is an extract from the Minutes of the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America:
"The Holy Synod of Bishops of The Orthodox Church in America, meeting at is regular Session on October 16, 2007, at the Chancery, in Oyster Bay Cove, New York, heard the written appeal, orally presented, by Robert S Kondratick, concerning the conclusions of the Diocesan Court of the Diocese of Washington, New York, and New Jersey. These conclusions were received by the Holy Synod of Bishops at its Special Session on July 31-August 1, 2007, The Holy Synod of Bishops is considering this appeal, in accordance with the Statute of the Orthodox Church in America. The decision will be communicated to Robert S Kondratick in due time."
OCANews.org has learned that Kondratick's appeal was heard today in a session held at Syosset that last 30 minutes. Accompanied by monk James Silver, Robert Kondratick read an 11 page statement, and presented a 62 page report on the allegations against him to all the Bishops. Metropolitan Herman was presiding. Following Kondratick's statement, no questions were asked, and Kondratick was dismissed to await a decision "in due time".
Meanwhile, the Metropolitan Council was meeting at their nearby hotel. These sessions, normally chaired by Metropolitan Herman, were chaired by OCA Chancellor, Fr. Alex Garklavs.
The summary preliminary Report which was only briefly posted reads:
SYOSSET, NY [OCA Communications] -- In the fall of 2005, allegations were made about financial misconduct within the Orthodox Church in America (OCA). To investigate the allegations, the law firm of Proskauer Rose LLP was retained on behalf of the OCA. The accounting firm of Lambrides Lamos & Moulthrop LLP also was retained to audit the OCA's financial accounts for 2004 and to examine the disposition of monies collected through OCA appeals from 2001 through 2005.
In December 2006, during the joint meeting of the Holy Synod and the Metropolitan Council, Metropolitan HERMAN appointed a Special Committee "to work . . . with the attorneys from Proskauer Rose and to bring the investigation to a conclusion in the most appropriate way." The Special Committee was composed of Archbishop Job, Bishop Benjamin, Fr. Vladimir Berzonsky, Fr. John Reeves, Gregory Nescott and Dr. Faith Skordinski.
In March 2007, the Special Committee presented its preliminary report to both the Holy Synod of Bishops and the Metropolitan Council. Having worked with the attorneys at Proskauer Rose LLP and the accountants at Lambrides Lamos & Moulthrop LLP, the Special Committee reported those professionals' observations, provided below, which became the basis of the accusations against the former Chancellor, Robert S. Kondratick.
• Between 2001 through 2005, over $1,000,000.00 was withdrawn in cash from the operating checking account of the OCA and given directly to Robert Kondratick. The OCA records lack any supporting documentation to indicate how the cash was spent and for what purposes.
• $575,300 of the approximately one million dollars withdrawn in cash was taken from the special appeals funds and given to Robert Kondratick, who has been unable to provide the name of one person or parish who received any of this cash.
• Despite meeting face-to-face five or six times with the accountants from Lambrides, Robert Kondratick could not provide them with the name of one 9/11 victim or parish who received any of the $176,500 allegedly distributed.
• An audit of the check and wire disbursement from the special appeals funds, from 2001 through 2005, shows American Express charges of some $5,600.00 for a member of the Kondratick family, designated by Robert Kondratick as a charitable distribution.
• In December 2004, Robert Kondratick used for travel expenses in Russia $12,000 that was raised and intended for the Christmas Stocking Project.
• From 1999 through 2005, the OCA paid not less than $1.2 million in Kondratick family members' credit card charges, which covered no less than 22 credit cards. The majority of the credit card charges lack any documentation or original receipts to support the purchases by the OCA. To date, Robert Kondratick has failed to provide the OCA with receipts of any kind to support the expenditures of more than $1,100,000. 
• Credit card charges for which the OCA paid Robert Kondratick include personal travel to and lodging expenses for places including Aruba and Las Vegas, tanning and hair salon charges, jewelry store purchases, and his family members' ordinary monthly living expenses such as groceries, wine, newspaper and magazine subscriptions, cable bills, clothes, and shoes.
• Robert Kondratick still owes the OCA at least $137,000 in acknowledged personal credit card charges.
• From at least February 1996 through August 2002, Metropolitan Theodosius and Robert Kondratick controlled three discretionary accounts under the name of the OCA, into which at least $1,077,000 was deposited; the Metropolitan's account, a joint account whose signatories were Robert Kondratick and Metropolitan Theodosius, and an account for which Robert Kondratick was the signatory. Other than the Metropolitan's account, the very existence of the discretionary accounts was undisclosed to internal and external auditors.
• $227,943 was deposited into Robert Kondratick's discretionary account from the operating account of the OCA and was spent almost entirely between February 1996 and February 1997.
• No less than $850,000 was deposited into the two other discretionary accounts and spent on such things as Metropolitan Theodosius' and Robert Kondratick's personal lawyers, accountants, and other consultants relating to their opposition of auditing the discretionary funds in 1999 ($125,000), Robert Kondratick's personal credit cards ($50,000), and withdrawals in cash ($195,000).
• In 1999, when the accountants from Lambrides were attempting to complete the audit of the financial statements of the OCA for 1998, they learned of the unreported discretionary accounts and wrote to officers and internal auditors of the OCA that the financial report could not be completed because (1) the financial statements prepared by the Church for audit were not presented in conformity with generally accepted accounting principles and did not include all assets and liabilities under the organization's control; (2) the OCA had not made available all financial records and related data; and (3) there were material transactions that had not been properly recorded in the accounting records underlying the financial statements. Because the OCA central administration officers failed to cooperate with Lambrides, the audit was never certified. Then, from 1999 through 2004, a different accounting firm, Konsen & Hostelly LLP, located in Independence, Ohio provided the OCA with compilation reports, which are nothing more than a listing of expenses and deposits to the accounts as represented by the officers of the OCA.
• On June 12, 2006, the lawyers for the OCA unsuccessfully attempted to obtain answers relating to these discretionary accounts by questioning Robert Kondratick, who refused to answer the questions on canonical grounds.
• In September 2006, Robert Kondratick and his wife sued the OCA and other individuals, alleging that they were owed $250,000, plus interest, for renovations allegedly costing $110,000 they made to a house deeded to the OCA, but in which they lived while receiving a housing allowance. The renovations were made shortly after the purchase, but apparently were not approved by the Metropolitan Council. The files provided by Father Kondratick did not indicate how or by whom these improvements were paid.
Upon hearing and discussing the report of the Special Committee, the Metropolitan Council and Holy Synod of Bishops endorsed several recommendations on how to proceed. The first recommendation was the following:
Immediate suspension of Father Kondratick by his bishop. Based upon the facts established thus far, failure to remove him immediately from access to any and all sources of Church funds demonstrates irresponsibility with regard to fiduciary duties on behalf of the Holy Synod and Metropolitan Council and significantly increases the liability risks of the OCA.
In April 2007, Faith Skordinski, as a member of both the Metropolitan Council and the Special Committee, submitted written accusations against Father Kondratick. As the OCA Statute allows, Metropolitan HERMAN temporarily suspended Robert Kondratick and selected a spiritual court composed of the following people: Archbishop Nathaniel, presiding as a non-voting member; Fr. Michael Dahulich; Fr. John Erickson; Fr. David Garretson; and Fr. Joseph Lickwar ("Spiritual Court").
The Spiritual Court unanimously determined that the evidence presented was sufficient to justify a trial where Robert Kondratick would have to answer the charges against him. The Spiritual Court informed Metropolitan HERMAN of its finding and he promptly issued and had served on Robert Kondratick a summons for his appearance at a spiritual court trial. On April 30, 2007, Robert Kondratick requested an extension of time to prepare for the trial, which the Spiritual Court granted.
On June 11, 2007, the trial commenced. Robert Kondratick was present and represented by his attorney, Harry Kutner, and Monk James Silver. The Spiritual Court did not report to Metropolitan HERMAN the events that unfolded that day until it presented its formal report of the trial.
The report stated the following:
The Court granted Mr. Kutner's request to be heard on objections by the Accused to certain preliminary matters. Mr. Kutner objected to Rule 3 of the Procedural Guidelines which did not permit a transcript of the proceedings. In addition, Mr. Kutner mentioned other issues of concern such as the fact that the Court was comprised of judges who were in the Accused's opinion, biased. After hearing substantial arguments from the Accused and his attorney, the Court denied the Accused's demand that a transcript be kept and denied his request to have the Court reconstituted. After nearly one hour of continued discussions, the Accused requested that the Trial be suspended and that he be given the right to appeal the denial of his requests and other procedural issues, to the Holy Synod at its next regular session in the fall of 2007. The Court denied the Accused's request since it was not a statutorily permitted right of the Accused, was viewed as an improper attempt to delay the proceedings, and would, if granted, violate Article XI, § 6(e) of the Statute ["The Holy Synod shall never act as a court of first instance in cases which are within the competence of Diocesan Courts."]. The Accused informed the Court that he would not proceed with his defense unless his demands were met. The Court requested the Accused to reconsider his position and warned him that the trial had been convened, that leaving would be viewed by the Court as a default and that the Court could proceed in his absence. The Accused refused to continue his defense and he and his representatives left the proceedings.
After due deliberation, the Spiritual Court found Robert Kondratick to be in default and proceeded with the trial, which included over 18 hours of live testimony over two days (June 11, 2007 and July 6, 2007) from ten witnesses (Helen Cavounis, Father Paul Kucynda, Mr. Stephen Lamos, CPA, Fr. Dimitri Oselinsky, Fr. Steven Strikis, Mr. Robert H. Taylor, CPA, Metropolitan Theodosius, Deacon Eric Wheeler, Fr. Zacchaeus (Wood), and Deacon John Zarras), as well as documentary evidence. The proceedings closed on July 6, 2007.
On July 19, 2007 the Spiritual Court issued the following judgment with a written report:
[I]t is the Judgment of the Court that the Accused, Protopresbyter Robert S. Kondratick, committed theft of Church funds, alienated Church funds for his personal use, repeatedly refused to cooperate with those who were charged with giving an accounting of Church funds, actively concealed his actions, refused to cooperate with this Court and thus has brought shame and reproach to the priesthood all in violation of the cited canons, scriptural commands, and the oath that he took upon being ordained into the priesthood.
The Court recommended that the suspended priest, Fr. Robert Kondratick, be permanently deposed from all sacred functions of the priesthood and that his name be removed immediately from the rolls of the clergy of the OCA.
On July 31, 2007, the Holy Synod of Bishops, after being presented with the report of the Court, accepted the recommendation and confirmed the final deposition (defrocking) of Fr. Kondratick, which was in conformance with the Statute of the OCA.
There is no more waiting time to expect any miracle coming from the OCA Holy Synod of Bishops on December 12 – 13, 2007 WHEN they will get together to finalize the Kondratick’s saga. It would be VERY BENEFICIAL and even FOR THE GOOD OF THE ENTIRE OCA, to here the good news from Kondratick via this site or in any civil court … about EVERYTHING and ANYTHING … MT, MH, and ALL TOGETHER DID … for the destruction of the OCA.
It is our humble hope that ONLY Sen Charles Grassley can bring to light the covered up and manipulations of the O……. C…. of A……. NO MORE TIME TO PLAY GAMES especially during the UPCOMING CHRISTMAS LENT. It is the proper time to clean the OCA HOUSE. God have mercy upon us …
Mark, can any backbone OCA member sent to the honorable Sen Charles Grassley this kind of report asking him to step in ???
Any reply to this posting is welcomed.
I would like to be anonymous fearing retaliation from the BIG RETALIATOR ... +mh ...
Hope this message goes through. Thank you …
A disappointed OCA member, 11, 7, 7
#36.1 Lazarus on 2007-11-07 10:37
It is obvious the MH will never unleash the truth.
He continually appoints people whol will give him the answers that he wants. It he had any integrity whatsoever, this would not have gotten to the point that it is at. In the real world, when there is an investigation, access to all information is allowed and the all people even slightly involved are required to step aside. The first investigation, crashed. The second one must bring him the report that he wants and has paid so mightly for (Proskaur Rose). In the end, he has lost all credibility and many people have moved on to a place where there is peace. MH needs to have discontent for his own functionality. Look at his record as a diocesan bishop - how many litigations were there?
I guess he feels that one morning we will wake up and it will all be gone, however, I don't think so. We will probably wake up to some type of litigaiton. He has never changed his style!
#36.1.1 Margo on 2007-11-12 08:45
while the faithful continue to struggle with the crisis, a recent interview ignores it and flatters Met. Herman:
"His Beatitude, Metropolitan Herman radiates dignity and commands respect. He is both a pillar of strength and a fair, powerful leader, but what struck me the most about him is his kind, compassionate nature"
must be true-- it's in black and white online, right?
#37 disappointed Canadian on 2007-11-06 17:49
All I can do is echo your disappointment. This is a contues the tenor of the recent Archdiocesan Assembly, where the Met. was welcomed as a spiritual hero, and all discussion of the scandal was squelched. I notice that this 'interview' asks not one question about the scandal, it is a litany of platitudes. And in everything that has happened in the past months, not one word from our Archbishop giving us any kind of counsel on how to deal with any of this. What grieves me most of all is that there has been nothing done regarding the problems in Alaska; and that the Synod has made no attempt to investigage Bp Nikolai on the allegations of physical (and mental/verbal) abuse. Past assurances that action was being taken quietly, behind the scenes aside, the very passage of time has indicated clearly that this is not so. I simply cannot express my disillusionment, despondancy, and sorrow regarding the seeming paralysis of the Synod and of my Archbishop. How could he allow such an 'interview' to be published? It is a slap in the face to everyone who is honestly seeking some answers, to everyone who wants and needs the truth to be told.
#37.1 another Disappointed Canadian(Priest) on 2007-11-07 10:34
I know I asked this question earlier but there was no response (except from Jeannie in the Midwest, thanks Jeannie!)....
Can't the Ethics Committee of the Metropolitan Council conduct an investigation of the situation in Alaska?
#37.1.1 A parishioner in the West on 2007-11-07 17:30
Re: posting 140. Thank you for this information and comment. I had never looked at the OCA information on St. Peter the Aleut. I looked up St. Peter the Aleut parish in Calgary, Alberta and found this page with traditional icons of St. Peter.
Some such icon should replace the icon on the OCA.org website. Since changes can apparently be made extremely quickly when required, perhaps we will see a quick correction of this offence!!
#38 Spencer Estabrooks on 2007-11-07 16:40
I am a Kass'ak who feel in love with Alaska many years ago, at the time it was because of the rich and unspoiled beauty of this great land. I never wanted to leave the first time in my life I felt at home, that was 16 years ago. I meet my wife in Homer and two of our four children where born here in Alaska the other two in Texas. We moved in and out of this state with the desire to remain here and raise our family. I dont think I ever really appreciated Alaska for more than its beauty untill we moved back to Kodiak as Orthodox Christians. Over these past couple of years I have come to see and understand Alaska for more than its physical beauty. It is through the eyes of those who truly love Christ that I can see.
I was deeply sadened when I glanced over some of these comments on this web site, so many accusations, so much slander, so much gossip. One of the things that i found very sad was the comments about "racisim" in connection with the Icon of St. Peter the Aleut. When gaze upon and venerate the Icon of St. Peter the Aleut I dont see a "whitewash" face or a "Native Alaskan" face but I see one who above all else Loves Christ, it is the same face that I see on St. Herman when I venerate his relics or venerate the Icon of the Theotokos. What I see is Christs Love for His children.
It is way to easy for me to look at my brother and sister through my sinfullness and I usually just see a reflection of me.
I hope and I pray that someday despite our sinfullness we will be able to look at each other as we should through the eyes of Christ and that Christ Love will be seen on our faces and exemplified through the actions of our lives.
#39 Ambrose Stapleton on 2007-11-08 02:25
Yeah, Pollyanna. I AM Alaska Native and I live in Alaska, although from your post, there must two different Alaskas?!?!
I guess there really are the "TWO Alaskas" that people are always talking about...
My Alaska would probably bum you out.
#39.1 Moses on 2007-11-08 15:34
Boy what a loaded post!
I can see the workings of a new Archpriest in the wings
Seeking ever greener pastures in oblivion
#40 anonymous in Kodiak on 2007-11-08 11:16
I don’t think I have ever been called Pollyanna before. Pollyanna is a best-selling 1913 novel by Eleanor H. Porter. Through the success of the book, the term "Pollyanna" has entered our language to describe someone who is cheerfully hopeful and who always maintains a charitable attitude toward the motives of other people, however differing from the spirit of the book— it has also become known as a derogatory term for a naďve optimist who always expects people to act decently, despite strong evidence to the contrary.
A naďve optimist I am not. I can see how one could think that about me especially if they don’t really know me. My postings and comments tend to sound rather idealistic almost utopian, however I do understand human nature very well. I grew up in a very rough environment with a very dysfunctional family life. I grew up in a very politically and racially charged atmosphere which one more than one occasion I had to fear for my life because my skin color, also the social structure I grew up in was controlled by gang violence and drugs, which made me another target because I did not embrace that life. I spent over eight years working as an inner city missionary trying to spread the Good News of Christ to a generation of people who embraced whatever form wickedness they could. I also spent over eight years working in the private investigation and private security field where I have had the unique opportunity to experience once again the depravity of mankind. I choose to be cheerfully optimistic. It takes a lot less energy. I don’t close a blind eye I choose not to define a person based upon their sins; I definitely do not want to be defined based upon mine. It is my choice to try and view them based upon God’s Love for them, I fall so short of always being able to do that. I thank God for His mercy, kindness, Love and justice, For His body and blood which He gave willingly for the forgiveness of sins. So when I sound cheerful and optimistic it’s because I do understand our fallen human nature and I experience Love and forgiveness through the Life of the Church which is His Body.
There are “three Alaska’s “there is the indigenous culture, there is Orthodox Christianity, and then there is the non Orthodox which has many varied subcultures and mindsets. Actually this model can be found throughout America. When one becomes an Orthodox Christian either as a child at birth or later in life as a convert, we take on a different identity and that identity is in Christ and His Church. As an Orthodox Christian our identity is no longer defined by the culture which surrounds us even though our day to day life might be. In a big city one may have to drive everywhere, watch the clock more closely, buy their food from the store etc… and in a village you live more of a subsistence lifestyle. You may walk more than you drive a car and you may not have to watch the clock as closely but you may have to pay attention to the weather and seasons a lot more. We express and live our spirituality based upon the culture that surrounds us however our identity as an Orthodox Christian is in Christ and His Church.
As Orthodox Christians when we gossip, slander and belittle our brothers/sisters because of their sins then we do so as one who has separated themselves from their identity in Christ and I saw these things because I find myself more often than not being guilty, not publicly but privately.
"When you look for the bad in mankind expecting to find it, you surely will."
—Abraham Lincoln —Inscription on Pollyanna's broach, a gift from her father.
#41 Ambrose Stapleton on 2007-11-09 08:18
Thanks for clarifying that for me; my primitive and childlike mind needed that...although, I am one of those uppity natives that has lived in the "outside" world, including the NW side of Chicago in exactly the kind of environments you describe (my wife was born and raised in it). Again, though, your superior civilized mind has set me straight; what would we do without you settlers? probably revert to cannibalism and shamanism. Settler State Colonialism is for our own good, after all. In the mean time -N can continue to terrorize the faithful of Alaska, and we won't point out his sins or complain or dissent, after all, that is what Jesus would do, right? I know Alaskans like/prefer "their natives" silent, as a matter of fact, the more we keep our mouths shut, the more "Authenically Native" we are deemed to be by our white neighbors (and almighty Anthropologists)......
#41.1 Moses on 2007-11-09 19:57
Please forgive me for anything that I may have said to cause you pain. I hope and I pray that you will find healing for the wounds you carry in your heart and as you struggle on your path. You will find salvation.
#42 Ambrose Stapleton on 2007-11-10 14:43
I am sorry for lashing out in anger at you as well; the anger that
many of us (Alaska Natives) carry from 200+ years of betrayal has only been amplified by what we feel is a major betrayal in the one place we go to seek peace and solitude, the Church. We have lost control of so much of what we held dear, and now this...people can only take so much. Still, it is unfair for me to lash out at you, especially since I do not know you and the internet is so damn impersonal at times. Forgive me. We will achieve salvation together...
#42.1 Moses on 2007-11-11 01:05
The author does not allow comments to this entry