Tuesday, December 18. 2007
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Your best work yet!! I believe in the near future more will come out against MH and MT. RK is not afraid of them and will start his attack that he is officially done with the oca.
The way you pick that summary apart was perfect. Wrond dates and jumping from one thing to another was sad. How uncertain does our leader look now. Horrible !!!!
#1 Anonymous on 2007-12-18 05:37
A good piece! You are right. Dn. Eric informed + Herman of the financial problems before he left Syosset. + Herman ignored it; in fact, when Dn. Eric left, + Herman became Treasurer. + Herman knew from the beginnings of this financial mess and what was going on. He did nothing. Why? Because his hand-picked man, RSK, was running the "Syosset My Savings & Loan." I'd really like to know how much $$$ really went through St. Tikhon's. And you know, throughout all this scandal, no one brings up the money laundering scheme that was going on in Las Vegas with Met. Theodosius' vestment makers. What was that all about?
#2 Omni-boos on 2007-12-18 06:23
Amen! Amen! Amen!
To those aiding and abetting our lying Metropolitan I can only say: "GET BEHIND ME SATAN!" Your credibility is gone and your ministry compromised by attempting to prop up this teetering tower of corruption. Mark's article clearly delineates the public relations tricks of the Metropolitan, and, by extension, most of the Synod and Syosset leadership, and rightly makes them the moral equivalent of accessories after the fact.
The laity and righteous clergy are tired of "casting pearls before swine!"
#3 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2007-12-18 06:25
Thank you, Mark, for keeping the spotlight shining! That this man, +Herman, remains firmly seated at the helm of the OCA speaks volumes. He is in utter denial of his role as an enabler of the thief and liar, RSK, thereby being a co-conspirator. If the "financial malfeasance" was so massive, than it could not have simply sprung fully-formed into existence. +MH and the entire crowd at the head of the OCA were so "wowed" by RSK's basic administrative skills, that they were afraid to get rid of him, and therefore ignored, overlooked, and possibly benefited from his larceny; at any rate they enabled it. And, not forgetting the past, enjoined the rest of the OCA - laity and clergy alike - to "stop talking about it" - and ignore it, and let the good times roll.
And, they want us to do that again. So, RSK's is deposed, and appeals are exhausted. If he's the sole guilty party, then who is preparing the legal case against him in an effort to recover the funds he stole from the Church? No one? Why not?
And, frankly, the Holy Synod (and quite possibly the MC as well) just don't seem to get it: We the faithful, esp the laity who is funding this organization, are sick and tired of the dissembling, the "Gosh, that snake, Bob." And they don't even really address the issues. I read in OCA-sponsored literature continuing appeals to "gloss-over," start the money flowing again, focus on our Parish and ignore whatever might be going-on at Syosset, etc.
This past week, I received the annual appeal from SVS. Knowing that the donors are likely to be upset, they include this year a "spotlight" piece on the poor, long-suffering, dedicated seminarians in an effort - common enough in non-profit fund-raising - to get the tear-jerk response from me to support this student or that student and their family, due to their dire circumstances, or dedication to spreading the word and doing the work of the Church. I for one, will not be fooled. Money sent to SVS does not merely support a seminarian; it goes to buttress SVS and its leadership, including +Herman as the head of the institution. Not that they asked, but my advice to the SVS Seminarians is, find a Seminary not affiliated with the OCA, such as Holy Cross or something like that, and apply for transfer. At SVS, you are becoming a part of an organization run by corrupt and discredited men who care nothing for the building-up of Christ's Church, and we the former donors can see that now, and you're not going to get the support that you need and deserve through that institution, until that institution ejects those, like +Herman, who have led and continue to lead the OCA as a whole, down the path of cover-up, lies, and theft; we're already servicing a $1.7M loan to re-pay stolen monies, and that's too much. None of +Herman, the HS, the MC, or anyone in authority at the OCA seems to have the slightest desire to seek to recover those funds, since it would open a huge can of worms. The men (and a few women) at the top of the OCA - including MC members - have failed to respond to the demand from those of us on the front lines paying for all of this, to come clean, confess, and relinquish their positions in the case of those who are compromised, because their own positions are too important to them; it is the most important thing in the world to them! So, in order to aid them in understanding just how unimportant their positions are, we the donors must stop sending-in the money, and it is very unfortunate that people like SVS Seminarians must take some of the heat! By the way, a couple of weeks ago, I got the same type of tear-jerking "donor" letter from SHS as well. Unlike so many of the mailings I get from Alaska, this one was conspicuous due to only the merest of mentions of +Nikolai, who is usually presented at the Great and Noble Father-in-Chief.
From such mailings, I perceive that these men (and it's mostly if not exclusively men) do indeed understand the pain being felt by us on the front lines. And when it suits them, they can bury their egos for the sake of a mailing to raise more money. But, resign from a Board, turn a chairmanship over to someone else, conduct an actual investigation, release actual facts about what has actually happened? Well, then we out here must all be silent! Well, as a great American WWII general once said in response to the Japanese demand for surrender, "Nuts!"
It is quite clear from everything I've read here and elsewhere that, the planning from the next AAC is already being stage-managed such that, any movement from the floor to actually address the scandal will be deemed "out of order," and that the AAC will result in nothing more than a rubber-stamp exercise to keep the moat filled around Syosset and the guilty men who've been mis-running the OCA for the past decade.
So, to you OCA seminarians, I can only say, "Brother, you need to find a new institution, because we're not going to be supporting OCA-affiliated institutions as long as the likes of +Herman and +Nikolai remain the men-in-charge, even (or should I say especially) if it is "in name only." If you are serving "in name only," then you don't need money from me to do it. There are plenty of ways I can support Orthodox causes through institutions which conduct real audits, have real Board of Directors, follow Statutes, and live up to the Canons. The current leadership of the OCA has demonstrated time and time again, across many years, that it is not willing to do so; notice I said "not willing," which is different than "unable." What is going on now with +Herman and +Nikolai is willful deceit and active hiding of the truth with respect to the OCA, SHS, Alaska Lands, and who really knows what else! Why should I think that things are any different at SVS?
You gentlemen have built your eddifices, placed yourself in charge and surrounded yourselves by those willing to protect you and cover for you, to keep yourselves "in power." Let's see if your "power" is worth holding onto in the face of bankruptcy! The OCA is a small-enough organization on a good day, much less with organized and individual withholding. Even in my Parish, which is in one of the wealthiest counties in the country, with a huge (for the OCA) parish membership which is dynamic and active, is hurting financially, and it's not because people are unable to give - it's because they've lost the willingness to give, due to the on-going, self-perpetuating clique which remains firmly in control of the OCA.
By the way, as a helpful suggestion, just stop publishing the OCA magazine, if the best you can do is photos of the Holy Synod in session with +Herman presiding, interlaced with sermons and writings from OCA "thinkers" written some twenty years ago, when the OCA had thinkers. Don't try to associate today's crowd and their antics with people like Fr. Alexander (Schmemman) and his like, by putting a picture of +Herman at the chapel next to a twenty-year-old sermon of the visionary leaders of the OCA. We don't care that +Herman can read some prayers from a text he's holding in front of a room full of old, disconnected men who seem to be doing their level-best to protect his authority; and where are the new Schmemman's? Who's doing the visionary thinking of Modern Orthodoxy today? Answer: No one who would stand shoulder-to-shoulder with +Herman, that's who. No one, because anyone capable of such thinking has already reached the conclusion: In order for the OCA to have a future, +Herman and his entourage must go. Save some money and stop publishing this magazine which seeks to assure us of the opposite.
The only thing I want to hear out of the Holy Synod from now on is, (a) a motion for a full, unfettered review of the OCA's finances, (b) a motion to call for the immediate retirement of +Herman, and (c) a directive to the OCA's attorneys on their progress in preparing a lawsuit and to ask that criminal charges be filed against RSK for theft. SVS and SHS seminarians: Good luck to you as you seek to find a true path into the future. I hope that the registrars of other seminaries will be kind to you with respect to transfer credits.
#4 C.C. on 2007-12-18 08:19
C. C. --
I almost always agree with you and have found your writings thoughtful and balanced. But I have to disagree with you on the issue of contributing to SVS. +MH is the titular head of the seminary, but not at all involved in its administration.
Just like many of us continue to support our parishes while taking a variety of actions [depending on circumstance] to ensure that money doesn't go to Syosset at this point, it makes sense to continue to support those centers of church life that are really independent of the mess. This includes SVS, various monastic communities, missions in need of help, IOCC, OCMC, and various individual situations that you may be aware of and want to help with.
SVS's audited financial information is available on their website.
[behind on my annual giving to SVS only because I'm massively disorganized and can't even find the nice little summary that tells where I am with respect to my annual pledge]
#4.1 Rebecca Matovic on 2007-12-18 16:23
This is a difficult issue, and I find myself, to some extent, agreeing with both of you. It occurred to me that it might be possible to support individual seminarians without funneling the money through any particular institution. Perhaps someone has thoughts on how that could be done or maybe we just need to support candidates from our own parishes and dioceses, but on an individual basis. Of course, where they might go is quite another matter.
The current situation is so grave that giving any money to any institution under the Metropolitan's authority, not to mention Nikolai's, is risky at best. The "Beast" must be starved of the enabling narcotic that fosters unaccountability and contempt for the best interests of the OCA.
#4.1.1 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2007-12-18 19:16
You mentioned you were part of the "front line". What "front line" might that be, just out of curiosity? You speak, as if with great authority and certainty, willing to give the order to drop the gillotine on our seminarians and non-challantly order them to transer to Holy Cross or some other Orthodox seminary (which would mean they would need to go over seas).
I suppose, like the good leader that you are, you are willing to forego many of the material pleasures you currently enjoy, uproot your family on a shoe string budget and, and move to another state or country, yea, piece of cake. The only problem with your proposition is that, I doubt you would be willing to do even a fourth of what you are asking the semenarians to do.
Before pontificating, I would suggest you read the life of real leaders like Cesar Chavez and Gandhi. They expected great sacrifices from the people they led because they had already made the same, if not greater sacrifices. How could Cesar ask the grape growers in Delano to march 300 miles to Sacramento, if he himself was going to make the pilgrimage in a car? No. He set the example and marched the three hundred miles with an infected leg, bleeding blisters and a fever. That, my friend, is real leadership. That's what OCA needs now, suffering servants. I haven't seen that from anyone, not even you, Mark or anyone else. So, you can rest assured, C.C., until you leave everything you have now, uproot your family and move to a different state or country, no one will follow you. You can just go right along and bang on that drum, your words will only resonate all the more hollow for the seminarians.
While agree with you and what you say, for the most part, I think your ideas concerning support for the seminaries is wrong headed, as Rebecca has pointed out.
#4.2 Bautista Cabrera on 2007-12-19 07:35
Speaking from personal experience, I have to second the word of the OCA seminarian above.
No, you don’t have to send money to the seminary in order to support a seminarian and his family. But if you do want send to money to a married or single seminarian at STOTS, send it to Fr. Michael Dahulich and make it clear how you want the money to be used; you can even state a specific diocesan pool of seminarians if you want, or name the individual seminarian yourself. The money does not go through the “blue house” – and I’ve been told by those who would know that there are reasons for this: not that the Met. wouldn't allow the money to go to seminarians, but rather that he would channel it towards paying their outstanding tuition fees, rather than to putting bread on the table and paying for heat.
Fr. Michael Dahulich answers the donor letters himself. If you want to make the check out to STOTS for tax reasons, well then Fr. Michael will cash the check himself and give the cash together with a photocopy of the check to the seminarian for whom it is intended.
Fr. Michael is not a thief. The very opposite. He spends probably half his weekends out of the year traveling around the country to give lectures and retreats in order to raise money for the seminary – and mostly, I believe, to feed and house the married seminarians. And – at the risk of blowing the cover on his quiet charity -- I know of several situations where, when seminary families have been unable to pay their utilities or their rent, he has personally paid it for them out of his own pocket, with no expectation of the students’ paying him back. Finally, I should note that Fr. Michael is very supportive of the decision of wives with small children to stay home.
And yes, it is very, very hard to live as a married seminarian in South Canaan. As the other OCA seminarian from STOTS said, the seminary is certainly not structured to accommodate married people. Married seminarians have to drive 6 to 7 days of the week to get to the seminary, sometimes over the mountain, often in the ice and snow. Students are not allowed to go to the local parishes, which are often considerably closer than the monastery church. Liturgical life at the monastery is Herman-style, often an unintelligible ritualistic performance, leaving much to be desired. Due to conflicts within the administration as well as the normal trials of transitioning into an accredited graduate program, the class load is an overload, with M.Div. students carrying somewhere between 9 to 10 per semester (i.e., 27 to 30 class hours per week – not including church time, chores, etc.).
Most difficult of all, although there is a multitude of clergy about, it is often “water water everywhere and nothing to drink”: the basic pastoral care which you might find in any reasonably good parish is hard to come by there at the seminary and monastery – most especially for married couples and families.
That’s the reality you’re talking about, Bautista. And this is leaving out the more extreme, extraordinary cases of abuse of power and the generally lousy treatment of people, which would cause most folks to leave a parish or else have the priest removed, but which consistently go unpunished in the seminary when they are perpetrated by those in “authority.”
So you are very mistaken in your suggestion. If your proposal not to support the seminaries were followed, it would hardly knick the Metropolitan; it would probably only result in turning the seminaries further into work camps, with students having to take up the slack with chores, adding to their already overburdened schedules, for all the money that is no longer provided to take care of basic building and grounds upkeep.
All that being said, you are right to turn your attention to the seminaries. Especially STOTS. I am convinced that the style of “leadership” (if one can call it that) you are witnessing on a national scale with Herman and Kondratick, was for long years already being tested and tried on a miniature village scale at STOTS and, more generally, the Diocese of EPA. That involved a lot of serious abuse and many hurting and alienated people. Go to NEPA and you can observe the results firsthand: lots of people in the area with “Orthodox”-sounding last names, and a landscape dotted with lots of very empty, very troubled parish churches.
#4.2.1 Another OCA Seminarian on 2007-12-20 08:37
So, who are the real leaders, here, C.C.? Those who have put what they preach into practice, or those who pontificate from lazy-boys; those who have left many if not all the comforts of a well paying jobs, a 3bedroom 2bath homes, a nice neighborhoods, wonderfull family-friendly parishes, family and friends because they truly believe that the spreading of the Orthodox faith is worth any sacrifice, or those who just impersonally send in money and then brag about it?
I have yet to meet a seminarian that was a devoted +herman supporter. All of the ones I know would rather see him go. Before leaving for seminary they were aware of the difficulties of seminary life, the overbearing authoriarian leaders, unrealistic academic schedules, professors in-love with their own quirky (if not heretical) ideas, etc, etc., yet they chose to sacrifice all? Why? My opinion, is that they truly believ that the Gospel is bigger and more powerful than the sins of our leaders. +Herman, in the grand scheme of things is irrelevant, in 5, 10 or 15 years we'll be saying panihidas for him, and a new batch of bishops will be at the helm. Will the changes be for good? Who knows? But, I'm sure each seminarian wants prepare her or himself to help the OCA become a better Church as a whole. That, Mr. Walker, takes a lot of......guts, faith and foolishness, for Christ that is.
Seminarians, for whatever its worth, you have my support.
#184.108.40.206 Bautista Cabrera on 2007-12-20 15:01
So don't send money to the seminaries if thats the way that you feel, but do well not to become some "disconnected old man" yourself. Our addresses are easy enough to come by. You don't have to send money to the seminaries to support the seminarians. I will tell you this, however. Everytime I ever received money form anywhere I recieved with it a letter from the donor, and thanks to that I know that I recieved every last penny that person sent. The seminary (not SVS) kept none of it. But that is not the point. The point is that you have no idea what you are talking about. You are just so hyped up with anger that you are saying foolish things. Where else are we going to go? Those of us english speaking american Orthodox Christians really only have 2 places to go here in the states if we want to go to Seminary. Do you know how much Holy Cross costs? Should I have to learn to pray in another language in order to go to a seminary that you approve of? You, and I suppose many others, are just completely clueless. I don't expect you to understand or care about how hard it is to have a family, attend seminary, and work to make ends meet at the same time. Every single penny that we recieve means the world to us and goes toward nothing more than food on the table, clothing and bills. Our Seminaries are not set up for married people, and we truly need all of the help that we can get. I am not giving you some tear jerking story. I am telling you how it is, and perhaps if you hear it without any pictures of the Met. to distract you then you might just take it to heart. So enough with your silly advice. As far as who is guily for what is going on I can only tell you that it is not us, and if you want there to be a Church remaining when and if this all gets worked out then you need to get ahold of yourself.
#4.3 OCA Seminarian on 2007-12-19 13:36
This seminarian is correct. I worked at SVS many, many years ago. I know that the midwest diocese helps their own seminarians directly. Where do American born Orthodox men and women want to study? The liturgical language is English at SVS. At Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville, a student has to be fluent in Russian where all classes are taught in Russian and the litugical language is Church Slavonic. At Holy Cross the liturgical language is Greek and I suppose the atmosphere is Greek-American culture. Where is the future of the Orthodox in the United States? It is with the education that St. Vladimir's provides, and has provided in the past. The Metropolitan is the "figure head" President of the Seminaries, because of the respect of the position of Metropolitan. The seminary has a board of trustees, the Dean and the Provost as well as others to "run" the theological school. And, when a seminarian graduates can he financially pay off school loans--bachelor's degree and master's degree plus raise a family on the "salary" the local parish provides. How much does your son or daughter receive in salary if they have a master's degree in the private sector? In many parishes and missions, priests and their wives work secular jobs. The only clergy pulling in the "dough" are the ones connected with Syosset; namely, the former chancellor and his staff. cshinn
#4.3.1 cshinn on 2007-12-20 07:59
In an article posted on 1/20/2006 on the OCA webpage, entitled "Lesser Synod meets at OCA Chancery", it says: "the following statement was unanimously adopted by the members of the Lesser Synod.
“The members of the Lesser Synod of Bishops of The Orthodox Church in America, meeting today, at the Chancery Office in Oyster Bay Cove, New York, have reviewed concerns raised in recent weeks by persons formerly associated with the administration of the Church, and by other persons, who have obtained documents from the Chancery Office files.
"At the Lesser Synod meeting today, His Beatitude, Metropolitan HERMAN, and the Members of the Lesser Synod, have reaffirmed the decisions made by the Holy Synod of Bishops, at the time these concerns were first raised, in 1999, and 2000. "
Metropolitan Herman and the Lesser Synod of Bishops admit they knew about the scandal back in 1999 and 2000 when these same concerns were first raised. They reaffirmed in 2005 the decisions made by the Synod of Bishops in 1999-2000, though that decision as far as I can tell was never made public nor publicly acknowledged back when it supposedly was made. But the obvious point is Metrpolitan Herman was well aware of the allegations and he dismissed both the allegations and the person who raised them, and then twice re-appointed Bob Kondratick as chancellor despite his full knowledge of the alleged malfeasance. And now he wonders why we are not willing to put the whole sordid affair to rest while he remains at the helm of the OCA? It is not that hard to figure out why so many have no confidence in his leadership or in his ability to deal with this scandal or any other. It obviously is the same man with the same methods still failing to manage the OCA household but still as determined to hold on to power.
#5 Fr. Ted Bobosh on 2007-12-18 08:23
Although I agree with you in principle about Metropolitan Herman having known of what was going on, however, I need to ask, what should he have done?
At that particular time, the Holy Synod was "controlled" by 2 bullies who were fiercly defensive of RSK and who intimidated the rest of it's members whenever the subject was broached.
At that time, the Metropolitan certainly did not have the support of the Synod to make such a delicate decision in canning RSK.
Would anyone had believed him had he decided to can RSK back in 1999? You know as well as I, that people would have been screaming for his head then as they do now. But then, the screaming would have been for dismissing poor Father Bob. "He most certainly couldn't be responsible for anything like this".
It was a no win situation Father Ted. No matter what the Metropolitan did or did not do, he was damned if he did and damned if he didn't.
I think the real question is why did the Holy Synod as a unanimous group not stand up for what was right and terminate someone who obviously had his own agenda?
I agree, we all have been let down, but this also includes the Metropolitan.
If everyone is so passionate about this now, why oh why did the massess not make a fuss or stink at the last AAC in Toronto? The Midwest Diocese certainly knew something was wrong when RSK refused their request in writing for financial accountability prior to the council.
Why did their delegates including Archbishop Job, just sit there and not put Robert Kondratick on the spot in front of the entire assembly of delegates and demand a full financial accounting and answers to their own questions??
To blame the Metropolitan for every single thing is just not fair Fr. Ted. There are many more people who did NOTHING.
When you think of some of these questions, I guess one could understand that people are only human and they make mistakes.
I'm sure you'll agree that you, I and the Metropolitan are human beings. However, none of us are perfect and perfection should not be expected of us. We all try our very best to live a life of Christian virtue. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't.
I ask that you think about this very seriously as we plan to celebrate our Lord's birth.
Yes, mistakes have been made. But God has provided each and everyone of us the ability to learn by our mistakes and strive for perfection.
I wish you well on your journey and I hope you do the same with me.
#5.1 Michael Geeza on 2007-12-19 14:24
My oh my. Father Bob as Godzilla. Stand up to him and Tokyo, er, the Holy Synod goes up in flames. Do you have any idea just how lame that makes our bishops sound? Are you really saying that our bishops were terrified of a priest? If ex-Father Bob was such a flaming jerk, all the more reason for a display of cojones by his superiors. Goodness, maybe there is something to the poison that the so-called Monk James is spreading around the net. The alternative is that we have a complete abdication of oversight by men who are charged before God with shepherding the faithful, because they were scared of a bully. It's a sorry business either way.
#5.1.1 Scott Walker on 2007-12-19 19:51
If there was something to what the mink is saying then the Ex-Father Bob would have sued for defamation and wrongful termination and would be speaking out. They are walking a tightrope here to keep this out of the courts and in turn this whole thing coming to light. Further, do you think that you could have had the MC, Synod, PR, and the SIC all collude on bad evidence to frame the Ex-Father Bob? Do you believe that Gregg Nescott would have put his reputation on the line if he didn't believe what was there? What does PR have to gain by being purveyors of cooked up evidence? What does the accounting firm have to gain? Do they want their reputations tarnished by the shenanigans of a two bit small organization that if all of its members gathered they wouldn't fill 30% of the Rose Bowl?
#220.127.116.11 Anonymous on 2007-12-20 08:23
You are certainly right in asserting that there are many people responsible for this sad state of affairs in the OCA, including those who did "nothing". Why did the respresentatives from the Midwest back down in Toronto? A combination of assurances that "things will change, give us the time we need", subtle threats, and an honourable desire to exhaust every non-confrontational means believing that surely the hierarchy of the Church was looking out for the best interest of the Church and not anyone's personal interests. Unfortunatley, they, and all of us, were let down.
You see, it is true that many people were involved in the failings of Syosset, and you're right, it wasn't just the Metropolitan. BUT, why then does the "Summary" of the Special Commission ONLY focus on one person, RSK? Why was the Special Commission stonewalled from investigating and exposing others whose activity, or inactivity, contributed to the problem. Alas, we return to the source of our current problem, the Metropolitan himself.
It is the undeniable belief of many that MH was intentionally put in that position by the Synod in 2002 (regardless of the people voting for Vladyka Seraphim, or anyone else other than Herman who would have gotten the votes) to cover up the scandals that began many years prior. It was widely discussed in Orlando that those "friendly with Syosset" were campaigning hard to at least be sure nobody got the majority of votes so that the decision would have to go to the Synod, where the outcome was already scripted. We all smelled a set-up then just as we see it even more clearly now.
And why him? Isn't it always best to only involve people who already know about a scandal so as to limit the extent of the knowledge of it?
So again, I agree, it is not all the Metropolitan's fault...but then why the cover-ups, the stonewalling, and the papal mentality concerning an honest attempt to investigate the truth? I would suppose that some missing charity money is only the beginning of a pandora's box that the hierarchs do not want to have any part of exposing.
I no longer "pay and obey", but these days I find I'm praying even more...especially for Archbishop Job, Fr. Ted, and others who are honest stewards of our Church.
#5.1.2 Anonymous on 2007-12-19 20:46
You make some great points anonymous.
However, perhaps the investigation focuses on only one person because only one person was the culprit who had his hand in the cookie jar?
To date, no one else to my knowledge has been found guilty of taking Church money for personal use.
Guilt by association does not mean that those associated by means of position or employment within the Church took or distributed what did not belong to them.
It appears that only one person to date has been found guilty of that and it wasn't his right or job to do it.
#18.104.22.168 Michael Geeza on 2007-12-20 12:50
I'm not accusing the metropolitan or bishops of "guilt by association". I believe it is better stated as "guilt by direction" in some (or possibly many) instances. We are only allowed by the Metropolitan to see those items discussing RK's personal use of church funds - but there is still a large amount of money unaccounted for. Why is that? Where did it go? I suspect that is what the Special Committee wanted to get into but was stopped. And why?
Let's just say "if" a member or members of the Synod had some sort of indescretion to cover-up or be "handled", or even a long-tem problem that needed to be dealt with by someone, who better than the chancellor to be charged with that job? It's convenient, it's quick, it's all handled from "the inside", and it probably won't become public. Monk James is a little quick to accuse without giving us evidence, but I suspect at least some of it is true. And even if the slightest bit of it is true, what then? Will our hierarchs, clergy and laity have the guts to get up and condemn the actions and take appropriate measures to restore trust, integrity and morality in the OCA? Or will Herman simply write another letter lecturing us for having exposed the "shame of elders" and try to back-talk his way out of that one too?
Yes, RK did take for himself in the process, as Syosset is always quick to point out in every communication, but who else benefitted? Was there anything that he was directed to do by his superiors (namely the Metropolitan_s_ and Synod)? This is the heart of our problem. Herman put Nathaniel on that trial because he knew he could trust him to manipulate the clergy involved into focusing only on RK - and protect the bishops at all costs.
Look at how the Holy Synod has decayed over thears to the sad state of affairs today. Either too afraid to stand up to RK or complicit in his dealings, or possibly a little of both based on what they knew when? Vladyka Nikolai does what he does because he knows that not all the other bishops are "clean" themselves, and if they can get away with it why can't he!
Oh my, and yet all we can do is pray that someone will fix all this.
#22.214.171.124.1 Anonymous on 2007-12-20 14:50
I understand that the Diocese of the Midwest has paid up, is that true?
It appears to me that if Herman, Kucynda and others who have escaped were so unaware and disconnected, why don't they just produce their evidence? In fact, why did they never produce it even to the person they accused? I'm sorry, I am not convinced that all of this could be the responsibility of one person. It is too much over too long. Herman has changed his story so many times he should begin writing for Dr. Seuss. He has been victorious in maintaining his position, however, he has lost the church. Most people wish he would resign or retire. They realize that he and Kucynda have buried the truth so deep, it cannot be unearthed. Unfortunately, Herman is in control. He controls all aspects of what goes on, until there is a problem. Then, he conveniently states that he was not in control. You can't have it both ways, you are either the leader or you are a follower. Some of his most frequently used phrases are "it is out of my hands" OR "the synod decided" OR "the Metropolitan Council voted to" OR "I never heard that". The future of the OCA looks very bleak. What no one asked recently is "what happened to Lambrides"? Have they been used and discarded as well? In this era of total transparency and best practices, I am certain someone has the answer. My question is, is it the truth? Do we really want to know the truth? If so, Herman is not your man. He is incapable of the truth!
(editor's Note: The Archbishop has not, as yet, stopped withholding. With the publication of the Summary report, it is expected he will forward the monies for the month of December as he promised. Beyond that, we shall have to see.
As for +Herman and the truth, the truth cannot be buried so deep it cannot emerge. And yes, we are all waiting for Syosset to officially announce that the accountants at Lambrides have been dismissed. The latest financials indicate a new firm has been hired. )
#126.96.36.199 MP on 2007-12-21 07:55
I hope that Archbishop +JOB, with the wholehearted backing of the Diocese of the Midwest, will continue to withhold assessment payments. The "Summary Report" released by Syosset is even less than what was momentarily, "mistakenly" released; what was fiinally released is a joke ... one in very poor taste. Your Eminance, please do not give this sorry excuse of a document your imprimatur as the "truthful" report the faithful have awaited these many months by releasing any assessment payment from your diocese.
One of the suffering, rational sheep in the Diocese of Washington and New York
#188.8.131.52.1 Mark C. Phinney on 2007-12-22 08:36
Superior bit of work there, Mark. One quibble with Chris upthread: he seems (and forgive me if I am misunderstanding here; it wouldn't be the first time I was wrong) to be experiencing a touch of shadenfreude at the coming strafing run piloted by our good friend, the deposed and disgraced Mr. Kondratick. If we are all about to be on the receiving end of an incoming dungbomb, I'm not sure why that is something to be happy about. Such a situation would leave the faithful in the midst of a (forgive me) pissing match between two (or maybe more) angry and determined skunks. Not a good place to be. Scorched earth worked against Napoleon. All that scorched earth is likely to accomplish here is to drive many of the faithful away from the OCA. The solution lies, I think, in the Holy Synod astonishing us all and actually behaving like bishops: (1) confess past sins of hierarchs and other authorities within the OCA. All of them. Then ask forgiveness from God and the faithful. (2) Thank Herman for his years of service and quietly ship him to a monastery. (3) Thank Nikolai for his years of service and quietly ship him to a lunatic asylum. (4) Devolve most of Syosset's functions to the Diocesan level. None of this is likely to happen, alas. Too many of our bishops seem to fear leading. I fear, Mark, that you shall have many more opportunities to expose and decry the continuing decline and fall of the OCA. More's the pity.
#6 Scott Walker on 2007-12-18 10:24
It's all over, Herman dumped the whole ball of wax and now he intends to live happily ever after in the hills of PA. But guess what, the people of the Diocese of EPA want him out of their bishop's residence, and they are not whispering this, they are yelling it. How will he get out of this one? Oh, maybe move Bishop Tikhon to WPA?????
You have to give him credit for one thing, he get's whatever he wants. Bishop Benjamin will give him the report he wants because Bishop Benjamin is already whispering that he hopes Herman retires next year. Bishop Benjamin has high hopes of wearing a white hat, but so does Apb. Job. This should prove to be very interesting.
(Editor's note: Abp Job has made it very clear he wishes to retire in 3 years, 8 months, and whatever days are left in a personal countdown he is more than willing to share with any who will listen. A white hat would be a martyrdom for him, not a promotion. Likewise, Bishop Benjamin is not duplicitious. If he thought it best for the Church that +Herman remain Metropolitan he would make that known; and vice versa. He is not a careerist to advance through whispers. Nice try, MP, but peddle your goods elsewhere.)
#7 MP on 2007-12-18 10:49
Since I have frequently expressed strong opinions about the bishops on this site, I think it only right to second our Editor's opinion about my bishop, Benjamin. Yes, I would love to see him storming the castle. But I have met the man and have had the blessing of attending two hierarchical liturgies when he was serving, and I think that, unlike some of the others on the Holy Synod, he understands servant leadership. There is nothing aloof or arrogant about him. When I pray for him, he does not fall under the category of those who make temptation for me. And, my goodness, he is so much better than his predecessor! Kindness isn't everything, but it's sure something.
#7.1 Scott Walker on 2007-12-18 16:26
I grow impatient with the unfounded and gutless criticisms at the Bishop of the West BENJAMIN. I commends noone's processes of thought to those of us in the DOW who support +B.
It would be good if the Comments section of this site contained fewer comments that suggested that +JOB was the only pastoring bishop in the OCA. This is not true, and it is beyond rediculous to say so.
I raise my voice in support of +B.'s ministry, in confidence that he will lead the new committee to the best of his abilities -- which are considerable -- and in trust for his intentions, motivations and worthiness of office, if anyone is.
I feel personally attacked each time some hauls off and smacks +B. in this forum, swinging wildly in the hopes that they might hit anything in reach. What cowardice. Aim your punches carefully another time and objects deserving of your blows.
#7.2 Rdr. John on 2007-12-20 03:31
Fair enough. Tell us, how does +B stand on this? What has he said concerning this? Does this bother him? The best person to defend +B is +B, just as the best person to defend the other bishops are the bishops themselves.
They condemn themselves with their silence in a time when leadership is so sorely lacking and so sorely needed. What impression do they leave us? Yes, the impression is they are part of the conspiracy. But, if you can point to his leadership, other than being appointed by Herman for the leadership of the SIC, which everyone has serious doubts about, please show us. Until then, the image he gives when he makes a pastoral visit is as lacking as that of Herman or any of the others. Unfortunately for each of the bishops, the first people outside of their dioceses have come to know them is through this scandal and the impressions the people are left with are disturbing.
We have, over the past two years, grown very cynical about our bishops because the image they give when you see them in the open does not square with the image they give when behind closed doors. Right now, we're left wondering which is the true spirit of our bishops, and since its the character of a person when he's not watched that is the true character of a person, our impression of +B and all the other bishops will be as it is. Your kind words, not withstanding, we'll take our impressions of +B and the others from their actions and their words, or lack thereof.
#7.2.1 Anonymous on 2007-12-20 08:41
I would recommend that folks read "At War with the Church:
Religious Dissent in Seventeenth-Century Russia" by Georg Michels. It chronicles the many forms of resistance to church tyrrany by regular, everyday Russian people and shows that the Church has gone through these times of turmoil before. The 1660's were not what most people think...
#8 Moses on 2007-12-18 13:06
The most disturbing sentence in the Metropolitan's address is, "In the Biblical spirit of Noah's sons I was taught that the right thing is to not expose the shame of elders, by which I understand my brother bishops and the other clergy." The question that naturally arises is what else are they covering up? What other scandals have been swept under the carpet? Rumors have floated around for years about the previous Metropolitan's sexual conduct; what's been covered up in that area?
It was this same rush to cover up clergy misdeeds that led to the lawsuits that have bankrupted several Roman Catholic dioceses. Are we to believe that the only result of years of coverups in the OCA should be the defrocking of one priest?
(Editor's note: If you have evidence of a cover-up beyond the financial misdeeds under review, you are obligated to share that with the Special Investigative Committee, rather than speculate on this website. If not, you do the effort to heal the OCA with the truth no help.)
#9 Appalled on 2007-12-18 13:11
Would you please tell us:
How would one go about talking to the special investigative committee?
Is it "safe"? -- in particular for those who happen to work under the Metropolitan or other interested parties?
But then what is "safe," right - I'm anticipating someone will say: safe is for cowards, right?
(editor's note: Feel free to contact me, and I will arrange things for you. If you do not feel free to speak to me, I can have others do it for you.)
#9.1 under the thumb... on 2007-12-18 16:32
I hope no-one will be unkind enough to call "under the thumb" a coward, but rather encourage & pray for him or her. If he/she has something to say that can help the committee, then let's all support that, and have some compassion for the very real threats some folks in the OCA face under the current regime.
#9.1.1 Valentine on 2007-12-18 19:50
There is one consistent policy that I have seen in the OCA over the years (including the troubles my grandfather, Fr. Basil had as a priest in the OCA): "sacrifice an entire parish, diocese, or entire jurisdiction for the sake of one deluded, egotistical, or power-hungry priest or hierarch." The examples are many to draw from:
(1) RSK - do nothing while he wastes more than a million dollars of Church funds on himself, his family, and other endeavors without being able to provide one shred of evidence of where the money went. Finally remove and defrock him only when a virtual tsunami of outrage from the people reaches catastrophic proportions.
(2) +Tikhon (retired from the West, thanks be to GOD!) - do nothing while he alienates priests and ignores the please of families and victimized children and helped destroy many parishes in the Diocese of the West scattering the sheep.
(3) +Nikolai - do nothing while he fires, abuses, and attacks anyone, including priests, deacons, teachers, seminarians, and elders who dare speak the truth, ask questions, and look for righteousness and accountability.
(4) +Herman - do nothing while he lies, obfuscates, misleads, interferes with the MC, the Synod, and Special Commission; uses funds to investigate financial abuses and misdeeds; refuses to release the reports or take responsibility for his actions, attacks messengers, other bishops, and other priests calling them workers of the Devil, etc. etc.
New motto of the OCA should be: "we will sacrifice anything and anyone for the sake of power and maintaining of the status quo."
You need not abuse us with your "thanks be to God" phrase about the retired Bishop Tikhon. WE ALL KNOW HOW YOU FEEL ABOUT HIM.
Would you like to offer a creative alternative that is positive, thoughtful, maybe actually Orthodox that actually says something for a change instead of your cheap, "hit them while they are down" lawyer piling on? Can you?
#10.1 Anonymous on 2007-12-18 19:11
At least Chris has the stones to use his name. How about you, O Anonymous Voice Of Authentic Orthodoxy?
#10.1.1 Scott Walker on 2007-12-19 19:58
What's with all the phallic imagery? Sorry, Mark, it must be my gentler sensabilities kicking in, again.
#10.1.1.1 Bautista Cabrera on 2007-12-20 08:32
Cabrera, (since we're being rude and not using either first names or, alternatively, honorifics) please accept my apologies for offending you. In the future, you might address me as "Scott" or as "Mr. Walker" (if you prefer more formality) and I shall extend the same courtesy to you.
BTW, you're right about supporting seminarians
(And if Mark did not see my email regarding my initial reply to you, requesting that said reply never see the light of day, and the stupid thing is up on this board, please forgive the lack of humility I displayed in that reply. Which I hope you have not and will never see. And now I've managed to confuse myself.)
Sorry to offend, anyway.
#10.1.1.1.1 Scott Walker on 2007-12-20 15:23
You're lucky. I was going to drop the "Luke Sky Walker" or "Walker, Texas Ranger" on you but decided against it. (Sorry, humor is not my strong point). I wouldn't say I was offended, more like..."wow". In any case, apology accepted and forgive me if the way I addressed you offended you. In my line of work, we sometimes just call each other by our last names, without any titles to clutter the air. I sincerely hope you have a merry Christmas, Scott, and a Happy New Year.
God bless us, every one.
#10.1.1.1.1.1 Bautista Cabrera on 2007-12-21 07:31
Peace. Paraphrasing Gandalf: "We are all friends here, or should be, for if we are not, the laughter of Mordor will be our only reward." Merry Christmas to you and yours.
#10.1.1.1.1.1.1 Scott Walker on 2007-12-21 17:35
Backpeddling takes many forms.
I found him to be contrite in the letter.
Backpeddling, for sure.
What's next for the OCA?
The AAC needs to have one topic.
Empower the MC or abolish it.
#11 Daniel E. Fall on 2007-12-18 16:35
Mark, you are the Olberman the Doberman of the OCA. Good job!
#12 James Morgan on 2007-12-18 19:30
On OCA.org I read the following:
It is no secret that the internal controls necessary for the Orthodox Church in America were seriously lacking however we are continuing to address these deficiencies. In the past month and a half we have taken some very concrete steps forward:
Two signature system . All invoices are now reviewed by both the Chancellor and the Treasurer and both signatures are required on all disbursements. Prior to this only the Treasurer reviewed invoices for approval."
PRIOR TO THIS ONLY THE TREASURER REVIEWED INVOICES? Ah, would that mean the "acting Treasurer" as well? OOPS!
#13 Anonymouse on 2007-12-19 07:18
Look at who was the treasurer during when the plunder of the operating funds took place during 2001-2005 as referenced in the summary. The only name you will find is Dimitri Oselinksy, the current pastor in Bethelem, PA - you can find this listing on oca.org. There were no other treasurers. Did Kondratick put his long time friend in and feel he could have his way? Did he see there was no financial oversight by one of the corporate officers responsible for it? Did Oselinsky know, but turn a blind eye? He once told someone that if this all got out he'd be defrocked so he obviously knows something that extends beyond just RSK's actions. Time for some answers on this one.
#13.1 Anonymous on 2007-12-19 20:26
It is true that at the EPA Assembly, with at least 58 voting delegates present, only 10 voted for a resolution asking for full disclosure, while only 17 others voted against that measure, and the hand raised highest in the air to vote the resolution down seemed to be Fr. Dimitri Oselinsky's hand.
#13.1.1 cate on 2007-12-20 11:48
I find it extremely intersting that RSK's position became one of "unusual authority" and he was been "fingered" for making ALL the poor decisions in the OCA. I would like to point out (just a week ago) that unless he (RSK) is still working "telepathically" with the OCA, poor business decisions are still being made, i.e. hire/release of Bodner with a $60K settlement (scheme) in the form of a loan? Since the mastermind is gone someone must have taken his place, or is it that the accused mastermind (RSK) behind all of the ills of the OCA was only being "obedient" based upon his vows and the true mastermind (Herman) continues to dream up these schemes. It seems clear in all this muck that Herman continues his "Reign of Terror" threatening bishops with retirement, priests with deposition, and laity with excommunication. Can no one see that he has indeed LOST HIS MIND? If this man were the president of the USA we would be impeaching him. Why are we allowing him to continue to reduce the OCA to his own folly? It is time for each parish to arise and JUST SAY NO. Let us not continue to hold innocent souls as hostages of the present OCA, let us finally put an end to this madness and give ourselves a Christmas gift of a new beginning. Can't everyone see, the OCA is broken. I hope every one of us will pray and make Christ first in our vision and ask for the strength and wisdom to overcome this disastrous display of un-godliness.
#14 L Morris on 2007-12-19 10:38
"Men's courses will foreshadow certain ends, to which, if persevered in, thy must lead. But if the courses be departed from, the ends will change."
We would do well to meditate upon Scrooge's words.
#15 Bautista Cabrera on 2007-12-21 12:50
What good has concilarity brought to the OCA?
#16 Daniel E. Fall on 2007-12-21 21:53
To paraphrase Chesterton-- conciliarity has not been tried and found wanting; conciliarity has been found difficult, and left untried.
#16.1 Valentine on 2007-12-22 12:27
"And thus I clothe my naked villainy
With old odd ends stolen out of holy writ,
And seem a saint when most I play the devil."
(Richard III. 1. 3)
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