Saturday, April 1. 2006
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My, now Bishop Tikhon is concerned with costs! He also seems in love with the concept of discretionary funds! If so, perhaps he can dip into his own discretionary fund to help with the costs of the investigation that he as part of the Synod of Bishops failed to take any action on.
#1 William Koar on 2006-04-01 12:16
I have read all these stories, carefully, sometimes more than once, here on OCAnews and elsewhere, and have to confess to being confused over the purpose of this high-powered law firm. Hired to investigate, not to represent anyone in legal proceedings? This is a new concept to me. Maybe I am naive, but I don't believe I ever heard of anything like it.
They represent the OCA, but the OCA did not hire them, cannot hire them, only a living, breathing person can hire them, or a duly constitiuted body of living, breathing persons empowered to act on behalf of the OCA. That seems to work out in this case to their having been hired by Metropolitan Herman. Further, we seem to have learned that at least two, and perhaps more, factions exist within the OCA, of which only one is represented by Metropolitan Herman.
Threfore, when witnesses are called before this law firm, are they to be friendly, unfriendly, or neutral to, not just the OCA, but to any particular faction thereof, and, if considered unfriendly, for instance to the hiring faction, then how will they and their information be treated? And if only friendly witnesses are called, aren't the results thereby skewed?
Ditto for the payments to this law firm. The OCA is already in deep debt. We're talking hundreds of thousands of dollars in payment to this law firm. What does it mean for their findings, to have their bills paid by an unknown private individual?
And I still cannot get away from the concept that a lawyer is by definition an "advocate" that is, someone who works "for" a client and tries to vanquish those who oppose the client, and that this always takes place within a system of courts of law, with the "opponent" also represented by an "advocate."
So, I just can't get my mind settled upon a clear picture of what this hiring of a law firm is, ultimately, all about. Cate
#2 Cate Shea on 2006-04-01 12:53
Without getting into the question of factions, my understanding is that Proskauer Rose is engaged in an investigation on behalf of the OCA (as represented by the Primate) with two purposes in mind. (Those who are actual attorneys should look at what follows and let us know where I may have gone off the tracks.)
First is to have a fresh set of eyes get to the bottom of the situation as best as can be done.
The second reason is to allow the Church to say to the civil authority (whether federal or state) that the OCA is getting its own house in order. This kind of good faith effort often is taken into account by government when they are confronted with things that were done incorrectly by businesses or non-profits.
My further understanding is that questions posed by the attorney for a private entity in this sort of investigation does not involve any subpoena or other compulsory process (unless there is a lawsuit in progress). If, for instance, the lawyers for where I work ask me questions, and I fail to answer, I can be fired. In the same way, if people from Proskauer Rose ask questions and, say, Fr. Strikis fails to answer, the means of enforcement are limited to what the OCA can do to a priest or an employee without support from the civil authority.
Hope this is helpful. Let's continue to do our best to keep the personal stuff to a minimum.
#2.1 Ed Unneland on 2006-04-02 15:47
The hiring of attorneys to represent the organization is commonplace where there are accusations of fraud or mismanagement.
It is done to protect the organization from liability for inaction or inactivity in the face of possibly criminal behavior.
We sometimes would like to believe the Church is above the law, and in spiritually it is. Most are not willing to sacrifice the benefits of the law's protections to have that insulation, however. The tax exempt status of the Church is a benefit of the law, and if we choose to maintain that benefit, we must also obey the remainder of the statutes.
The advice of counsel, in this case, independent counsel, is invaluable in navigating these choppy seas. I only wish competent legal counsel had been available to the Metropolitan Council and Holy Synod much earlier than now. I feel certain the current crisis would have been averted.
May God have mercy on us,
Martin D. Watt, CPA
#2.2 Marty Watt on 2006-04-03 10:28
Thanks for this explanation, and to Ed, above, for his contribution. I have been also told that Proskauer Rose does forensic accounting, so this is beginning to make more sense to me. Cate
#2.2.1 Cate Shea on 2006-04-03 21:38
Cate Shea asks whether witnesses should be friendly, unfriendly or neutral to the OCA etc. when questioned by the investigating lawyers.
Why not just answer truthfully and let the chips fall where they may? This entire controversy started with a simple request for an audit to determine the truthfulness ---or untruthfulness---of allegations made by Protodeacon Eric Wheeler. The two or three "factions" mentioned by Shea came about after that as a result of the cover up, the harassment, the circle of fear etc. Now, a "quasi-schismatic" bishop who has a computer addiction, has escalated the controversy that now appears to headed into a full blown Metropolitan Vitaly type schism. I hope that any readers from the Diocese of the West who may read this will understand where their hierarch is taking them before they follow him into schism.
#2.3 nicholas skovran on 2006-04-03 13:24
It is hard to know who to believe when brother is so divided against brother. There are of course many nuances of this dysfunctional episode we do not know. On the matter of scandal and coverup there are only accusations, and at this time no proof per se. There are outward actions that seem to give a wise man clues – so that we might know if the shepherd can be followed as Christ Himself, or whether he is unknown by the sheep belonging to Christ...
Bishop Tikhon judged this a “gossipy” web site; but then he himself posted on it. He calls for a strengthened episcopacy and acting within the Synod; then via email tries to create a lay support for his opinions. He sarcastically calls faithful archpriests “sacerdotal luminaries” and finds darkness in all opinions that disagree with His own –– including even the Metropolitan himself. Bishop Tikhon calls a fellow Bishop asking the simple question “Are the accusations true or false” as one expressing rebellious principal; and then leads his diocese into withholding funds. This appears as a child who did not get his way.
Despite all the vitriolic mudslinging from +Tikhon towards +Job it is the leadership of +Tikhon that appears to prudence to be rogue. All the priests of the Diocese of the Midwest were free to speak their mind at the Clergy convocation in February. It was suggested by more than one priest that the diocese withhold funds. But after a loving, frank discussion under the leadership of + Job, it was the Archbishop who asked that we not consider withholding funds from Syoseet. So where is this rebellious principal? In the the Diocese of the Midwest, or is it located in the Bishop of the West?
It is fair and reasonable to ask why were the Bishops, as a whole, unable to come to the conclusion that Herman came to alone, only a short time later. Did they lack the courage? Did fear paralyze them? Did they have less information than +Herman? Where they convinced that bringing this matter into the light was not in the best interest of the Church? Did legal realities force +Herman to do something even he did not want to do?
Most of the faithful want to trust their Bishops and Metropolitan Herman, so it seems plain to me that there has to be an open and fair accounting of these matters. Why the Bishops together could not see this may never be known. Some of the Bishops may honestly be out of touch with American Orthodoxy. American Orthodox faithful simply will not give money where it is used for self indulgence and self love – even if the OCA tells them to do so. Just ask Jimmy Swaggert.
Clearly Bishop Tikhon is opposed to an investigation, an audit, or a change in the Chancellor. Clearly he is the outspoken episcopal champion for the status quo. For everyone who contends that the current way of doing things is dysfunctional, it is reasonable to ask “Are the allegations true or false?” But to those who are married to the status quo it is tantamount to rebelliousness, mental illness, worthy of censure and forced silence, deposition from clerical and episcopal rank etc. In other words, this question (as my children say) “just freaks them out”.
This is what will take place now: the investigation will go forward. If we find that there was no illegal, immoral conduct unbecoming a Christian, no embezzlement, no payoffs, no misappropriation of money, etc. then you, Bishop Tikhon, look to be the most sensible of all the Bishops. Your argument for the status quo is strengthened.
If though, the accusations are true, a coverup was under way, if Fr. Bob was uncooperative and not obedient, if there were payoffs, self indulgence and thievery, then your support for Fr. Bob, your wild accusatory letters, your public tantrums masked as mature by your word smithery, should hasten you into retirement and ecclesiastical obscurity. One wonders if you have already contemplated and counted on this with your scorched earth modus operandi.
Whatever happens, it will force the Church to do it’s finances in the light. It will necessitate a change, not in externals, but a realization that the Orthodox Church in America will not be a top down, Popish body. Rather, she must bcome more conciliar, where each part should be responsible and accountable to the other. She will need to respect and love from the bottom up and from the top down; and neither lord over the other as authority and hostage.
Soon the Church will know the outcome of this investigation. For some reason that frightens the Bishop of The West very much. I think because it is most likely to change the status quo.
In the meantime, the Sheep of His Hand look for Christ in all this. He is the One who speaks with love, gently and with self control. Such a One is patient and kind. The sheep hears this voice and they know it is Christ. They will follow this voice where ever it leads.
An Unworthy Priest
#3 An unworthy priest in the Midwest on 2006-04-01 14:00
Well said, Father. And may we, the Orthodox faithful in the Diocese of the West. humbly request your understanding, your forgiveness, and your prayers.
#3.1 Mark Warns, Poulsbo, WA on 2006-04-01 16:34
I wonder if Bishop Tikhon's latest attack on Metropolitan Herman isn't because he is ticked off over losing his inside contact and confidential informant with the dismissal of Fr. Robert Kondratick.
Also, why are all the other members of the Holy Synod afraid to speak out in an attempt to silence +B.T.? Surely +B.T. bloviates in an attempt to silence others (like Archbishop Lazar (Puhalo).
Juat some thoughts about a bishop who seems to act like he's still a member of the military.
Fr. Michael Plekon's beautiful reflection is one more of a long line of several insightful responses that is right on the mark. The OCA is definitetly going through a "Meaningful Storm" right now.
In the metaphor of a parched, dry, barren administration currently functioning in the OCA, the current rain drops may have turned into thunder showers and lightening. After such storms, the air smells cleaner and fresher and the day seems more magnificent, sunnier and full of promise and hope. While I don't know how long this "Meaningful Storm" will last, it has arrived with the power of transforming the OCA, yea the world, into much more of a closer image of Who Christ really is.
#5 Patty Schellbach on 2006-04-01 22:43
Today, the fourth Sunday of the Great Forty Days, a magnificent and powerful letter from our primate was read in all O.C.A. parishes. It was appropriate and timely and set the right tone. And what a contrast to the Loose Can[n]on of the West! The processes - audit and investigations - have begun and nothing we say or do will affect the results. Can we now, at least through Pascha, remain quiet so can concentrate on completing this holy season and celebrating the great Christian Passover in harmony? May God bless Metropolitan Herman! Eis polla eti despota!
#6 Terry C. Peet on 2006-04-02 10:00
It is amazing how many unworthy churchmen or priests are offering comments on this site. If they consider themselves unworthy, why would anyone listen to them?
I am unworthy of the title Child of God
Unworthy of God's love
Unworthy of His patience, kindness, and self control toward me.
I am unworthy of my wife and children
Unworthy of the life that has been given me in the Holy Church
Unworthy of having been immersed in His superabundant grace
Unworthy of being filled with His Holy Body and precious blood
Unworthy of the title and position of presbyter
My prayers are unworthy prayers
My work is unworthy and the best of what I do is as filthy rags when placed before the Most Holy Trinity.
I deserve none of it but have been given it all.
Only one time in the whole of the liturgy do God's people make reference to themselves as worthy.
After we receive the Holy Body and Precious Blood of Christ we pray, "Let us worthily give thanks to the Lord"
The only members of the Body of our Lord are unworthy ones. For this unworthiness we need each others forgiveness. Please don't let bitterness get in the way of that which is true for all of us. We are all unworthy and are all being made worthy through the same grace. Just because we are unworthy does not mean that we should not discuss our problems and work for those things that are noble and excellent. If you find a churchman or heirarch who acts and believes himself worthy, please do not listen to him and flee from him your soul is in very great danger.
#7.1 fr. Andrew on 2006-04-03 09:14
Those that are calling for the Bishops to be removed from financial decisions seem to be confusing accountability and leadership. I understand how much anger and betrayal many are feeling. Sin has occurred, and accountability is needed. But the Episcopacy is vital to fulfilling the role of God's kingdom. We can disagree with certain Bishops, and we may even depose them for sin, but their Episcopal throne is one of authority and love. They are our Shepherds. A good shepherd listens to and attends to his sheep, but he also makes tough decisions for the safety and welfare of the sheep....
Not all Bishops are good and holy, but every Episcopal throne is holy and full of authority. We do not idly call them our Lord and Masters, we call them thus not because they as men are perfect, but the office they hold is a gift from God. His Grace Bishop Tikhon has been disobedient and acting as a petulant child, let us not imitate him and add our voices to the call for the Bishops to be separate from finances. Because finance is a tool to create the infrastructure in this church for the spiritual growth and development of Metropolitan Herman's flock, to remove his authority over finance, removes him as the leader of our Church. I believe good accounting, clear concise audits must and should be in place. I am concerned that Metropolitan Herman is making decisions too much on the advice of legal counsel and not enough because it is the just and honorable thing to do. But we can all be pleased with his distancing himself with the former administration and taking steps to remedy the situation....
The Holy Spirit acting through the persons of the Holy Synod has chosen Metropolitan Herman for this time to lead us and shepherd us. Both myself and Bishop Tikhon had better put our own selfish desires aside and learn obedience. Make no mistake however, accountability is not contrary to obedience. I can be obedient and still expect good financial management from our Bishops. In America we have an excellent accounting system, and the church must and should avail itself upon it. Though I believe priests who are dedicated in the service of the Lord are the most qualified to serve as Chancellor and Treasurer, we must also put them in continuing education courses to gain business administration and financial administration knowledge and experience....
I remain your obedient servant in Christ,
#8 Ivan Shabalin on 2006-04-03 10:59
Regardless of what the investigation shows or doesnt show "the mob" mentality that seems to dominate this website will never be satisfied. It is interesting to me, though the investigation has just begun, over last several months the majority of people on this site have tried, convicted, and sentenced Fr. Kondratick. All these allegations have done is destroyed the church I know and love. I was always told that there are 3 sides to EVERY story: yours, mine and the truth, I pray that you people are not naive enough to think that ALL of us live our lives "by the book" day in and day out, it's next to imposssible. I also realize that there is a big difference between j-walking and murder, however it seems that what has or hasn't happend here is somewhere in between With all of this publicity, how could ANYONE ever give to the church again!!! I don't believe I'm being pessimistic, I know I'm being realistic. Within the next 3 years the OCA will be gone and that saddens me deeply!
The time for judgement is AFTER the investigation is completed!!!
#9 Alex on 2006-04-03 17:19
With all respect, I could not disagree more with your final statement.
Should those requiring forgiveness choose to repent and seek forgiveness, it will be a time of incredible growth, both spiritually and financially.
I also trust God will take care of His sheep.
#9.1 Name withheld by request on 2006-04-04 13:00
Alex, if those charged with the responsibility for leading the OCA had responded forthrightly to the allegations, none of this would be necessary. For whatever reasons, they chose another course. Now the cat's out of the bag, and there's no telling who will end up getting scratched. None of this had to happen; whatever fallout falls out is the consequence of refusing to be forthright and transparent in the first place. And if the OCA is not here in three years, Christ's Church will prevail nonetheless.
#9.2 Scott Walker on 2006-04-04 18:43
My husband Deacon Moshe Zorea has now been vindicated, although at a terrible cost. He defended Bishop Innocent of Alaska against false accusations in Syossett several years ago. Bishop Innocent and my husband were both deeply aware of discrepancies committed by FR Kondratick especially regarding issues in Alaska. Because of their knowlege they were both attacked by people in Syossett , especially Fr Kondratick.
Since Fr. Kondratick had such a powerful postion poor Bishop Innocent could not turn to anyone and was forced to retire and eventually died heartbroken. My husband who is an attorney,was knowlegable about many things that were suspicious at the time and has suffered much persecution. I'm simply happy that finally Fr Kondratick has been brought forth and held accountable for his sins.
Mat. Rivka Zorea
#10 Rivka Chana Zorea on 2006-04-14 17:15
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