Tuesday, February 12. 2008
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Sad, how very, very sad!
#1 Anonymous on 2008-02-12 15:59
Colleges Seek to Protect Church Tills
Feb 12, 2:54 PM (ET)
By KATHY MATHESON
PHILADELPHIA (AP) - The globe-trotting priest from Connecticut drove a Jaguar, shopped at Bergdorf Goodman and bought jewelry from Cartier, all of it with money stolen from his church's coffers. By the time the parish finance council caught on, he had embezzled $1.3 million.
Many U.S. churches have been victims of embezzlement over the years, reflecting not just moral weakness on the part of the wrongdoers, but lax financial controls. Often, church budgets are overseen by volunteers or employees with little guidance or professional training.
Now, some colleges are hoping to prevent such faith-shattering abuses by offering programs devoted specifically to managing church finances and personnel.
Duquesne University in Pittsburgh and Boston College started programs in September, and Villanova University outside Philadelphia is offering an online master's degree in church management beginning this summer.
The concept is becoming more popular despite some among the faithful who bristle at the notion of the church as a business, said Kerry Robinson, executive director of the National Leadership Roundtable on Church Management, a Roman Catholic group.
"It is true that the church is not a company, and we respect and acknowledge that," Robinson said. "But it is comprised of people, finances and facilities. Catholic theology demands that those are managed well - and not just well, but to the highest, exemplary degrees of stewardship."
Better financial controls might have led to an earlier uncovering of the priest sexual-abuse scandal, said Charles Zech, director of Villanova's Center for the Study of Church Management. Numerous financial red flags were missed as dioceses and archdioceses quietly settled with victims and paid for treatment for priests.
More than 60 Catholic dioceses responding to a survey by Zech and a colleague reported embezzlements within the past five years. The survey got responses from only about half of those contacted, but 60 amounts to around one-third of the nation's dioceses. About a half-dozen of the dioceses that responded reported thefts of more than $500,000.
"If folks were better trained in management, a lot of problems that churches face today could have been avoided," Zech said.
Just last year, the Associated Press found reports of more than 20 churches in 17 states dealing with embezzlement cases. The cases included clergy or church employees who were either charged with, sentenced for, convicted of or pleaded guilty to stealing religious funds.
The frauds involved many denominations, and included a Roman Catholic priest in Virginia who admitted stealing at least $400,000 from his parishioners and a Lutheran youth minister in Pennsylvania charged with embezzling more than $68,000.
Last fall, Boston College - a Catholic school, like Duquesne and Villanova - began offering a master's in pastoral ministry with a concentration in church management. It also offers dual master's degrees in ministry and business.
Boston College theology professor Thomas Groome said he became convinced the programs were needed after attending a convocation of clergy and laity a few years ago.
"We were speaking two different languages," Groome said. "The business people were talking about economies of scale. The bishops and the theologians were talking about the church being a sacrament of God's reign in the world."
Jon Jakoblich, one of about nine students in Boston College's on-campus program, enrolled in hopes of landing a management role in a Catholic parish. Jakoblich, 25, said that he wants to help with strategic planning and leadership, and that this kind of education is necessary "to sustain the long-term health of the church."
At Villanova, the two-year, part-time master's program is expected to garner about two dozen applications from Catholics and Protestants alike, Zech said. So far, about half the applicants are clergy. Courses include financial reporting and controls; civil law and church law for church administrators; and personnel management.
The Rev. Frank McGrath, the new pastor at victimized St. John Roman Catholic Church in Darien, Conn., said pastors should receive some administrative training, either at seminaries or from the diocese after being ordained.
A private detective hired in 2006 to investigate McGrath's big-spending predecessor, the Rev. Michael Jude Fay, found that he had secret bank accounts and flagrantly abused church credit cards.
"Anything he wanted, he charged. And nobody stopped him for years and years and years," said investigator Vito Colucci Jr. "There was no accountability."
A second investigation ordered by the Bridgeport Diocese found that the parish finance council had not met regularly in recent years, largely because of Fay's absences from the parish. Fay was diagnosed with cancer in 2001 and frequently cited his health when asked about church finances.
The diocese has since instituted stricter financial controls and appointed a deacon with more than 30 years of management experience to oversee the new initiatives. The changes include an Internet-based accounting system that all 87 parishes began using last May; new financial reports; and an updated parish accounting manual.
Fay is set to report to federal prison in April to begin serving more than three years. But some parishioners were so hurt they left.
"They may never return. And their spiritual lives may never be restored," McGrath said in a statement submitted in court. "The deepest impact of Father Fay's misconduct cannot be quantified because it transcends dollars."
#2 Anonymous on 2008-02-12 16:08
Wow, what an interesting article. Many have implied or directly stated that lots of our missing funds went to payoffs of victims and blackmail (thats what I believe), and Bob was the messenger - thus being in direct control of all the money that disappeared. IF all that is true, somehow its comforting that we are not alone. We are not the only ones who faithfully turned a blind-eye to our leaders.
Its just a shame that with light beginning to be shed on this mess that those who abused power and stole our money can't just say, "hey we did this", "you figured out way" (i.e. so and so was carrying on some gay affair & oops, got blackmailed; or some poor child was molested and in fear of a lawsuit the church paid them off with hush money...), and "lets move on with a fresh start" (be that everyone resigning or just truly 'fessing up).
In this modern world (and it is one...like it or not), there are gay people. I wouldn't even be upset if some of the hierarchy admitted to it...really. I find gay men to be nurturing, empathetical, and good friends, and even good pastors - come on you all know at least one! What kills me is the hypocrisy of it all. Badmouthing gays and other denominations who accept them, all the while carrying on secretly in NYC or behind closed doors. I feel sorry for them, living a lie, and I feel sorry for us who suffer crises of faith because of it.
Maybe we do need to be a church less concerned with the wrongs at Sodom & Gomorrah, and more concerned about being an example of love, peace, and acceptance.
--After they all come clean that is...
#2.1 Anon on 2008-02-13 07:06
Good post and thought provoking comments.
Of course, it is the hypocrisy and duplicitous behavior that really rankles. Everyone has sexual feelings and a sexual identity of some sort, which is just part of being human. As I have observed before, violating an oath of celibacy is really the primary issue--straight or gay.
There will be many who feel that the sexual feelings seemingly exhibited by some of the "higher" clergy are a sin in and of themselves. I respectfully disagree, but that is a debate for another day.
#2.1.1 Anonymous on 2008-02-14 07:54
I noticed from the article that Fr. Garklavs had been promoted to the rank of Archbishop. Interesting... Axios!
#3 From Syracuse on 2008-02-12 16:08
It shows that, to them, the titles and honors that these men bestow upon themselves have no meaning other than to the few Orthodox around. No one outside cares. But what the article does get right and what the secular authorities do care about and what really matters is spelled out very well and accurately.
#3.1 Anonymous on 2008-02-13 12:14
...and Archimandrite Isidore is Alaska's "second leading bishop"...
#3.2 anon on 2008-02-13 14:03
Actually it was his grandfather that was the archbishop
#3.3 Anonymous on 2008-02-15 05:46
Concerned are you? Then do something about it! Now! Not later!
#4 Anonymous Alaskan on 2008-02-12 16:10
Dear Anonymous Alaskan,
YOU and the flock in Alaska do something about it. Why is it everyone else's job to do what YOU all should be doing. Stand up for yourselves, for once and stop playing the "poor native Alaskan" card.
#4.1 An Anonymous Lower 48'er on 2008-02-13 08:47
Who said I was an Alaskan Native? And I was addressing the Holy Synod who expressed their "concern" for what was happening in Alaska.
#4.1.1 Anonymous Alaskan, NOT a Native on 2008-02-13 19:21
Fr. Alexey Kargut, since you publicly mentioned one individual that was asked to participate with you in the investigation, I would appreciate if you would identify others that were asked. And, finally, who were the members of the investigative team?
#126.96.36.199 Nick Berezniak on 2008-02-14 19:27
Tell me, why do you think +Nikolai is going after Archbishop Job? It's because the people in AK DID try to do act for themselves! And the only person who would listen was Archbishop JOB, and look where that went! It is Archbishop Job who faces ecclesiastical while +Nikolai gets not even so much as a slap on the wrist. What's worse is that it is Nikolai who is bringing the charges. The entire situation is perverse in the deepest sense of the word. How are the people of AK to defend themselves when the authorities to whom they should be able to appeal for help are not only failing to act, but are willing instead to put on trial the only one of their brethren who did try to listen and pass on their concerns?
So, with all of that in mind, what exactly do you propose that they do? Can you imagine the feeling of abandonment on their part? +Nikolai goes around excommunicating people on personal petty grounds, nothing is done. He fires people for pointing out issues, and generally just not playing his game. Serious allegations are made against his chancellor and the chancellor is still in office while the person who made the accusations has filed a federal lawsuit. Said chancellor wears a mitre in direct contradiction of a standing policy against mitred priests, whereas veteran priests would never get one. Nothing has been done. The bishop not only doesn't act when the suspension of a reader is not enforced, it is the bishop and the chancellor themselves who are in the same service. Obviously the bishop gave his blessing - literally gave his blessing for the reader to don that stikharion and serve TWO DAYS AFTER the suspension. NOTHING HAS HAPPENED!
Now just what are the faithful of Alaska supposed to do, take up arms? If you have a concrete suggestion as to what they should and CAN do - I'm sure they'll be happy to hear it. So would it, for that matter. Short of that, I suggest that you seriously sit quietly and rethink your position.
#4.1.2 Another Anonymous Lower 48-er on 2008-02-13 20:38
I ask you this, how do you suggest we stand up for ourselves? People who have questioned Nikolai have been replaced especially non-native financially secure Alaskans! Archpriest Father Peter Kreta's widow was denied communion because she witnessed Isadore's drunken performance and she's not a poor native.
We're glad you enjoyed the pilgrimage, Olympiada. Vested interest? Of course the Kodiak Daily Mirror has a vested interest. This is sensational news in Kodiak and why not let all the other churches in Kodiak enjoy the mess we're making for ourselves? They need some justification because they don't have what we have, the fullness of the church.
Were you aware that a Pilgrimage before the real Pilgrimage was started? The message many of us "poor natives" hear is, "you're not good enough to attend the real pilgrimage and so we're gonna have a separate one for you locals." Doesn't it almost sound like, "get to the back of the bus."? Also, choirs get imported for pilgrimage and I wonder is it because ours isn't good enough? Or could it be due to the fact that Marilyn Kreta knows her music and services better than some of these new priests that we get assigned. Could that might have something to do with it?
You want to find out what's happening in Alaska, ask around. Depending on who you speak to, you'll probably hear about all the wonderful things that Nikolai has done since he's been assigned to Alaska. Alaska is just busting at the seams with new parishioners. Then again you might get some responses from those of us that just let our "passions" get the best of us. Especially you might want to talk with the Ouzinkie Native Corporation. Also the Aleut Corporation and some others. Why don't you ask all of those "poor Alaska native" companies to give you a run down as to the money that have been donated to the Orthodox Churches in Alaska. You know, they just may have some record of the amounts that they have donated over the years.
Irregardless, the facts need to be looked into. Isadore was given a miter and if you don't believe me, check out all of the wonderful photos of him wearing his matching miter with that of Nikolai on the Diocese of Alaska website. Isadore then was drunk serving and then sexually assaulted Paul. Then Nikolai knowingly and blatantly tonsured Terenty a convicted registered sex offender that just so happens to like little girls.
By the way, Terenty branched out also likes filming himself.
I have personally written to the Metropolitan regarding my situation and as of today, I've still not heard, "boo." However, considering that attending church has become a place of pain and suffering rather than one of solace for myself, it's probably best if I just stay away. It also seems to appear that this situation is not going to get any better. Maybe I need to start attending church at one of the other many churches that are in Kodiak. I can always use the excuse of "I had a problem with the clergy" because that happens to be one I hear from many of the "poor Alaskan natives" that have quit Orthodoxy.
Then again, I have to look to my patron saint for guidance and I ask myself, "would Saint Tatiana go slinking off to another church when she knew what the truth was?" I think not. Aren't we all called to fight for the truth? Our church ancestors wouldn't shut up until their heads were chopped off. I don't think I'd be willing to go that far probably not even a quarter of the way but this situation is so heartbreaking.
Our church has become an embarrassment through no fault of our own and I'm referring to us "poor Alaskan natives" so once again I ask, what would you suggest we poor Alaskan natives do to rectify it?
Myself personally, I am far from being a "poor Alaskan native". I was born into the richest church in the whole world started by Jesus, by God and by the Holy Spirit. I've been given the gift of the Orthodox Church. I've been taught by some very intelligent Orthodox priests over the years and a real Bishop, +Gregory Afonsky who started Saint Herman Seminary.
Throughout our church history there have been problems with clergy and hierarchy. Sometimes something was done about it and sometimes there wasn't. Either way, this too shall one day pass. Right now it just feels as though the stink is never going to be washed away.
#4.1.3 Tatiana Berestoff on 2008-02-14 06:30
Thank you Sister for your strong and honest words!
Alaska has been the settler societies (secular and religious) "secret little playground" for over two centuries now, it really is a free-for-all in thier minds..."anything goes in Alaska"...etc.
Saint Nilus of Sora pray for us!
Moses the Tlingit
#188.8.131.52 Moses on 2008-02-14 16:03
What good is it doing any of this to have this republished here? The Kodiak Daily Mirror has a historical relationship with the church in Kodiak, AK. Take a walk around the church grounds and see whose name is on the plaque outside the bookstore commemorating the donors for the new set of bells (or click on the link). Something fishy is going on here. Vested interests on behalf of the Kodiak Daily Mirror? This reminds me of a parish council trying to oust a priest they don't approve of regardless of whether or not the priest is doing good work for the Lord.
Sorry -- you're reaching on that one. If there was a priest in a parish where perverted, immoral and unethical things were going on under his watch, then I certainly would want the parish council to step in. Emotional sermons, all-night vigils, blessing babies, and complimenting the cooks are all things clergy, especially hierarchs, like to use as smoke-and-mirrors when there's "a poker game going on in the back room" as they say. Those who are closest to the abusers always seem to search out and elaborate on any and every excuse possible. For your own sake, open your eyes!
#5.1 Anonymous on 2008-02-12 20:16
What good does it do to reprint this article here? Would that this and all such articles be republished everywhere! Historic relationship? Vested interest? Of course! Every person or organization listed on that plaque has a vested interest in the welfare of the church in Kodiak. They don't want to see our beloved diocese destroyed by a tyrannt. They don't want to see the church founded by St. Herman himself reduced to an empty museum. How long, O Lord? How long?
#5.2 Anonymous Alaskan on 2008-02-13 07:03
Again I say...
The happiness you say you saw while in Kodiak last summer was the joy of our parish hosting visitors from around the world, [of which you were one] not for our bishop who carries the dark pall of his reality in denial and vengeance.
Our church and parish are a most important part of our town - it has been here since Kodiak was established over 200 years ago! Our church domes grace the seal of both municipal governments of Kodiak and the Island along with Taquka'aq (our Kodiak bear) and the Alutiiq people who have inhabited this island for many thousands of years!
The KDM has no stake today, nor has it ever had any stake or interest in our parish here in Kodiak - good or bad! One only has to read the articles and come to their own conclusions!
Is it so bad to have the truth put forth either on our plaque or in our newspaper?
What is important is that the truth is brought out of the darkness and into the light - that redemption and repentance be followed by forgiveness - if our local paper makes an attempt to further this honorable task - more power to 'em!
Integrity carries more weight than arrogance - take it from an arrogant one - me!
#5.3 Ted Panamarioff on 2008-02-13 07:15
Ted, I appreciate your hospitality at the pilgrimage this summer, and I hope to one day return, I fell in love with Kodiak when I visited. However so far, the KDM has only told one side of the story. It has not told the other side. That is because the other side is not interested in having its story published in the newspaper, apparently. That should speak to their nobility of character, that of the hierarchs involved who aren't talking to the press. They are not defending themselves in the public eye. That takes great strength, to let people badmouth you publicly and not retaliate. They answer to God, not to man, and they are well aware of their responsibility before God. That's why they take an oath upon consecration, not to fear the people.
(Editor's Note: In fact, Bishop Nikolai has been asked for , and has given, an interview with the Kodiak Daily News, in which he addresses these topics. OCANews.org will republish this interview when it appears on the Kodiak Daily Mirror site.)
#5.3.1 Olympiada on 2008-02-13 19:38
Here we go again! Letters from laity (presumably) calling for "silence" and "don't bring this up, it will embarrass the Church." It continues to amaze that some people are simply DETERMINED to keep their and all of our heads buried in the sand! The republishing of this material here is very interesting, as are several other points.
First of all, I notice that this new s reporter (who as you assert has a "historical relationship with the Church in Kodiak") doesn't know the difference between an "archpriest" and an "archbishop." I guess that "historical relationship" of which you speak doesn't include much of a clue as to what is going on, who's who, and what's what! This is the point with respect to "publicity" about the scandal; it's going to sound much worse to outsiders, because they don't have the foggiest notion about whom or what they're talking about!
Secondly, even with "Archbishop" Gravklas identified, he is further characterized as "a chancellor on the Metropolitan Council." What??!!! Further cluelessness! No one outside of the OCA knows what "a chancellor" is, much less that there is only one chancellor of the OCA; okay, so there are diocese-level chancellors; isn't that kind-of like the political leader of Germany? Is Helmut Schmidt involved in this scandal? Must be so mixed-up because Isidore is also a "chancellor." The OCA must have dozens of them, and they all belong to some council or something; whatever, they're all crooked (at least that's the impression the outside world will have).
Third, and this one is really terrific, since it's coming from the OCA in a deliberate attempt to obscure the facts. They state that Mr. Dushkin was "ordained" as a "lay reader." What? Okay, the press may not get it, but I know that the OCA "director of communications" and everyone else who's been a cradle Orthodox all their life, or even a convert for anything more than six months: Readers are members of the Clergy, that's why they're "tonsured" or loosely speaking, "ordained." As any visit to Orthodox Wiki, or an intro-level booklet, tract, or pamphlet on Orthodoxy will teach you: There are five levels of the Clergy these days, (i) bishop, (ii) priest, (iii) deacon (the major orders of clergy) and (iv) sub-deacon and (v) reader (the minor orders of clergy). OCA officials dealing with members of the press are simply trying to make it sound like Mr. Dushkin's tonsuring is essentially "no-big-deal," and he's just a layman, after all.
Well, rather than explaining all of this, just let the faithful read this and blame the ignorant press; but we see through this; it's an attempt on the part of the OCA to "appear" to have made some kind of minor procedural error in allowing a sexual deviant layman to recite scripture during the services despite the fact that he's a sexual "adventurer."
Well, I've read the canons about priestly / clergy sexual matters, and they're quite strict! Quite strict! There are many, many restrictions as to what you can do and what you can become, given your sexual and/or marital history. And a lot of that covers who and how many times you've been married. Let's review: Mr. Dushkin ADMITTED TO having sexual relations with girls as young as 12 and 14 OVER THE PERIOD OF SEVERAL YEARS, and as a confessed ("I plead guilty, your Honor") child rapist, we don't have to wonder if he was unjustly accused, whether it was all gossip, and so forth: He has admitted to it, and was sentenced to jail-time for it. And yet, yet, the OCA Leadership (that would be +Nikolai) invited him into Holy Orders as a Reader (that means, it made him a Member of the Clergy) even knowing his history!!!
Some of the Canons state that, if you are in a Second Marriage, even if your first spouse died, even a Martyrs Death indeed, that if you are remarried and engaged in a legitimate, Church-sanctioned relationship, you are somehow "unholy," not qualified to be a member of the Clergy, and worthy of partaking of the Eucharist only three or four times annually (okay, so some of this goes way, way back, and there is A LOT of "ekonomia" thrown in, especially in the modern world), but raised to the Clergy while having admitted to having out-of-wedlock sex with a 12 year old??!!! That's not part of any Canon I've ever read!
And the man who did this, +Nikolai, has got the unmitigated NERVE to try to bring some kind of charges against +Job for "interfering in another diocese"???
And it goes on and on, and people like Olympiada (a nom de plume?) write in to chastize those who would speak out against it?
There truly is no influence of the Holy Spirit left at all in the organization formerly known as a Church, referred to in the literature as "the OCA." That such outrages can go on, it is inconceivable, and there goes the Synod of Bishops, setting an agenda for another business-as-usual Synod meeting, having the "director of communications" call our Mr. Dushkin a "lay reader," and so forth. This is the clearest indication yet that I've seen that our most Holy and Mighty Creator has sent a message to the faithful: Leave the OCA, and seek-out and join a Spirit-filled Church, because, I'm not in the OCA any longer. How sad, and how unfortunate for all of those who've worked so hard on behalf of the OCA over the years.
Anything else just sounds like Roger Clemmens denying charges that he used steroids - when the truth is, he did not know then and does not know now WHAT his trainer/coach was injecting into him. And all of his protestations don't matter, because his trainer/coach said that he did inject steroids, and the way it looks now it doesn't matter whether he knew or not, he was still on them, and that's unfair to the other players. Likewise, many errors where made by the OCA and the leadership which was allowing them, and the laity for tolerating it - but it doesn't matter: God is not mocked, and will not be mocked. +Nikolai has done what he's done willingly and our current OCA administration's declaring Readers to be "lay readers" to try to hide the pollution of the ranks of the OCA clergy doesn't change the facts. We now have fully-consecrated bishops willfully disregarding the Canons, and I think that God is not mocked. It's over. Let's go out into the wilderness and find the True Church in a "real" Orthodox jurisdiction. I don't know which one it is, but I for one am going to find out, with God's help and guidance.
As a convert, I believe that God led me to Orthodoxy. It must have been as punishment for my OWN numerous sins that he had me detour into the OCA for a while, in order to punish me or simply to test my faith. I've not lost faith, and in fact I've met some really good, caring, true-Christian people in the meantime. I can accept punishment, however, and if it's all the same to God, I've had enough. I'm ready for a pasture and some still-waters. Thank you, St. Herman, for sending us a sign from the land made holy by your work. If only the flock will see it for what it is. To the faithful in Alaska, I'll be praying for you! In the meantime, you might look-into the goings-on at Eagle River, if you know what I mean; could be good.
#5.4 C.C. on 2008-02-13 08:36
Alas, a defender of Nikolai. Something rarer than a black diamond.
Sounds like a vast right wing conspiracy against Nikolai?! Just leave poor ole Nikolai alone, he can destroy the Alaskan church without any of our help!
You mustn’t have been reading all that’s going on. We’re not talking about trying to remove a priest who’s doing well, but in which there are personality clashes. We’re talking about a BISHOP who has done no good persecutes those that question it. I don’t know where in the article you can think that he was of the right, or holy mind, to tonsure this reader. You probably haven’t read what happened last summer and fall with Isidore taking a bunch of pills because he didn’t want to go back to “papa”. Nikolai would have let him die, do you realize that? You didn’t hear that “papa” beats him. You don’t believe that abuse, physical and mental is wrong? You don’t hear the cries of the faithful up there who speak of empty churches?
Why, even now the Chancellor of the OCA has seen enough to say he’s “concerned”.
If you have any proof, other than anecdotal and rare events by people who were deluded by his words, which could have been done before people started to see the TRUE Nikolai, we’d love to hear it.
What you say reminds us of those that fiddled while Rome burned. Going back in history, can you name people who purged those that they felt were against them. Those that kept their circles full of people who toed their lines, did their bidding, and proclaimed them as great men. Proclaimed as great men who made great monuments to themselves and had bells donated and the like while persecuting those that dissented. I can name a few, and Christ doesn’t exactly make that list. So, who is Nikolai trying to be like?
You seem to think that we do not need to hold these people accountable because they walk around in robes and bless us. One is Holy, only one is Holy, the rest need to be held accountable. Like I heard many years ago, “In God we trust, all others pay cash!”
Do you live in Alaska? You appear to be knowledgeable of what goes on up there.
#5.5 Anonymous on 2008-02-13 12:12
If you would, please detail for us any good work the Bishop of Alaska has done during his tenure. We'd all be pleased to balance that with the other deeds already reported.
Martin D. Watt, CPA
#5.6 Marty Watt on 2008-02-13 16:06
Marty, where have you been? Haven't you been reading Nikolai's propaganda? He did it all! Himself! Just ask him.
It was he who rasied all the money for St Herman's Seminary. It was he who built-up the Anchorage Cathedral into a true Cathedral. It was he who gave structure to the diocese. It was he who brought missionaries. I even think I saw a story or two involving Him and five loaves and two fishes.
No thanks to the numerous priests who have lived there for years, even decades, who he treats as his slaves and prisoners. No thanks to the elders and natives who he treats like second class citizens when not using them for a photo-op. No thanks to the kind, loving and generous Orthodox faithful who have sacrificed to help that historic diocese regardless of him as bishop there.
Sure, of you grovel before him he'll be plenty nice to you -- like the benevolent monarch he sees himself as. But dare to go anywhere near him without kissing his hand or, even more sacrilegious, to dare think, say or do anything without his express approval.
People say that Tikhon was his role model, but how different is he from Herman? Maybe just a little worse -- but maybe Hitler was just a little worse than Stalin, or vice versa.
#5.6.1 Anonymous on 2008-02-13 20:05
Some encouraging thoughts for those of us ready for change, at least in one person's resignation, and a new paradigm of how to maintain integrity and honesty within the OCA:
Meeting the Challenge
"Changing Paradigms is hard. A paradigm gives a system of integrity and allows it to function by identifying what counts as information within the infinite ocean of data in its environment. Data that solve problems that the paradigm identifies as important are information; data that are irrelevant to those problems are simply noise, static. Any system will provide both channels for transmitting information relevant to the system and filters to reduce noise."
"Those who want to change the paradigm governing an institution are--from the institution's point of view--people who are listening to the noise and ignoring the information. They appear crazy or out of touch. The quartz watch was invented by the Swiss. But the great Swiss watchmakers responded to the idea of gealess timepieces in essentially the same way that the premiere audience responded to Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring. They threw tomatoes. They hooted it off the stage."
"The principle also operates in the other direction. From the point of view of those who have adopted a new paradigm, the institution comes to sound like a cacophony-generating machine, a complex and refined device for producing more and louder noise. From the perspective of the governing paradigm, the advocates of the insurgent paradigm seem willing to sacrifice the institution itself for pie-in-the-sky nonsense. But from the perspective of the insurgents, the defenders of the present system are perpetuating a system that no longer works."
"But paradigms do change. The Church admits Galileo was right. The Rite of Spring had become an old warhorse. Paradigms can even change quickly. Look at your watch."
"Paradigms change with the ruling paradigm loses its capacity to solve problems and generate a positive vision of the future... One early sign of a paradigm shift is an attempt to use the tools and ideas of a new paradigm within the framework provided by the old, or to convey information intelligible in the new paradigm through the channels of the old..."
In our experience, people will suffer the turbulence and uncertainty of change if it promises a better way to accomplish work they value" (pp. 9-10).
Quoted from Barr, R.B., & Tagg, J. (1995). From Teaching to Learning--a New Paradigm for Undergraduate Education. Change. 27(6), 12-25.
The OCA is slowly changing for the better. But trust is fractured largely due to a certain individual who does not step down and out of the way. I didn't think the resignation of at least one person would be seen by him, I guess, as a huge paradigm shift. (Maybe he thinks he IS the institution). I just thought it would be the wise fruits of an individual knowing when his time to serve was up (What a concept).
But as the article says, "Paradigms can even change quickly. Look at your watch" (p. 10). As Father Seraphim Rose has said, perhaps "it is later than you think."
#6 Patty Schellbach on 2008-02-12 18:55
The whole thing is sad. Publishing more of it doesn't make it any better.
The statutory crimes of Dushkin's youth will never be forgiven by this branch of Christianity.
In the absence of the Isadore allegations and termination of Sidebottom, I'm not sure our reactions here would have been the same.
People make mistakes and forgiving them is supposedly at the heart of our religion.
#7 Daniel E. Fall on 2008-02-12 20:47
when people stop referring to heinous crimes as 'mistakes'. How can anyone 'forgive', when we are being told there is not really anything to forgive-- it was only a mistake.
when the perpetrators of the crimes stop denying them and covering them up.
when the hierarchs stop demanding 'repentance' and 'forgiveness' from those whose great sin is to ask for truthfulness.
when the hierarchs start -modeling- a little forgiveness towards such supposed 'offences' and start -modeling- repentance and humility.
when the hierarchs stop adding insult to injury and turn around to become proactive, instead of dragging their feet until the secular media begins to probe them and then expressing "concern". Already it begins to sound like too little, too late.
It's not that most of us on this site or in the OCA, I believe, want to withold forgiveness-- on the contrary, we want our leaders to come clean so that they will be able to -receive- forgiveness, because that is where the healing for our church lies. We want to forgive them, indeed I believe many of us have already done so in our hearts.
But we cannot dare forgive them on behalf of their victims. While the victims (speaking chiefly of the suffering people of Alaska now) are still in the grip of evil masquerading as good, it isn't right for us to let up the pressure in the name of 'forgiveness'.
How long, O Lord?
#7.1 Valentine on 2008-02-13 19:14
One can forgive the fox after that first raid on the hen house, or perhaps even after the second. But, one does not then place the fox in charge of the security of the hen house. Mr. Dushkin probably has repented, and that is fine and good. But the tonsuring as a reader is not fine and good. Maybe in 20 years after no further offences, but not now.
#7.2 Anonymous Alaskan, NOT a Native on 2008-02-13 19:51
Forgiveness is for the confessional.
Ordination is a matter of integrity and purity.
Besides the fact that the girls he slept with were underage, the article says he was living with his girlfriend at the time. Has he married this girl? Has he done penance for fornication?
Furthermore, pedophiles, like alcoholics, are never "cured" of it. Like other abberrent behaviors, it is a constant desire. One which can be dealt with in order to live a normal life, but the desire is always there. What Nicolai has done is put into the position of authority someone who has proven himself to not only have these desires, but acted upon them. If he remains in this position of authority and acts on his desires again (which, statistically speaking, is highly likely) the entire church pays for the damage. This is why the canons prohibit this, plain and simple.
Like others have already mentioned, there are numerous things which prohibit a person from ordination. Being a pedophile is only one of them, there are much less serious offenses (like just plain old fornication) which are also a canonical bar. These things are forgiven, of course, but that doesn't mean that they never happened.
My thoughts on the news article: I think it is likely that Syosset itself placed the article. Just to give itself an air of authority and to make it look like they are actually concerned about the situation and its investigation. In a few months they'll place another article saying that they've "solved the problems" and expect everyone to be happy. When the Feds are involved its always good to look at least a little bit concerned.
#7.3 Anonymous on 2008-02-13 20:20
You are right on the money,when I was ordained(albeit in ROCOR,not the OCA),our Spiritual Father had to sign a paper saying that even my wife was a virgin at the time of our marriage! Some of you may sneer at this,but if the OCA and Orthodox Churches in general don't stop winking at certain sins,God help us,for we're headed in the same direction as the Catholics and Episcopalians!First it starts with turning a blind eye to parishoners being memebers of the Masonic lodge,no doubt because such types tend to give money to the church.Then we put pews in church to make our churches to make them look like thechurches of our non-Orthodox neighbors.Then,we have to change the Calender,so people won't think we're "dumb hunkies" for not celebrating Christmas with everybody else.Then,we decide women no longer have to cover their heads in church, because "after all ,St.Paul was just an anti-female bigot".We don't serve the Matins anymore(except on Pascha), because "nobody comes anyways",but before Liturgy,the priest might give a lecture with the people in the pews or chairs laughing and giggling like they might in a classroom.Finally,we wink at people living in sin or in gay relationships because we don't want to OFFEND anybody,we don't want to appear to be HATEFULL BIGOTS.We open the doors of the church to a world full of sin,apostasy, and rejection of the Cross of Christ.Then we wonder why there are Episcopal scandals.Meanwhile,the poor faithful people,especially in Alaska where the Faith was planted,are suffering.I'm not saying we should jump to the super zealot position of some Greek Old Calenderists,who seem to hate anyone who isn't Orthodox or even those Orthodox who aren't in their corner.Rather,we should seek the Royal Path,which Fr.Seraphim Rose used to speak about, in other words,a middle path between the two extremes.
#7.3.1 Anonymous on 2008-02-14 12:38
"Sneer" is hardly the right word--asking about the virginal state of your wife is an abomination! This cultish and pharisaical behavior is what gives your brand of Orthodoxy such a bad name--and deservedly too. It also violates the sanctity of the confessional, needless to say.
Good Lord deliver us from this type of "pious" religious practice, which offends the very word of your truth, which is love and respect for all human beings. This is the opposite of a system that attempts through fear and intimidation to control and manipulate people for some cultish purpose, usually expressed in some type of "off the wall" religious practice dressed up as piety.
The sad fact that some of the practices referenced above have historical, and even current precedence, is a disgrace. They need to be eradicated.
#184.108.40.206 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2008-02-16 06:50
It's thinking like yours,my friend, which caused me to leave the OCA in the first place!
#220.127.116.11.1 Anonymous on 2008-02-17 17:36
"Your brand" of Orthodoxy? Do you mean the same brand as that of the saints who wrote these canons and who have promulgated them up to the present day?
Shouldn't we -- as Orthodox -- have warrant in the fathers (and mothers) of the Church for the things we say? Isn't it possible that they understood the gospel better than we do and that we will benefit from learning the reasons for their thought and practice?
The rules about the purity of candidates for the clergy and their wives exist to ensure the absolute and unblemished honor of the priesthood. A priest's wife has a share in her husband's priesthood -- including in the eyes of the public -- and if she has not maintained chastity it can easily be a cause of scandal. This will especially be so in more traditional situations, in which the clergy have come out of the communities they will be serving. (Would that this were more the case today, especially with our bishops!) Imagine the complications of a priest's pastoring his wife's former lover, or even ex-husband -- not only, or mainly, for the priest but for the other man.
That's not to say there can never be exceptions to Church rules, that there can never be "economia" or pastoral discernment. Rules are only tools, after all. But let us not dismiss them. In doing so, we miss out on the considerable wisdom of generations of our elders. Some of these men and women showed in their lives a dedication to Christ, a holiness, and -- especially -- a love of their brothers and sisters that most of us will never attain on earth.
#18.104.22.168.2 A Fellow Orthodox Christian on 2008-02-18 00:56
Forgiveness has little to do with this.
The fundamental problem is that by tonsuring a convicted sex offender, particularly so soon after the conviction and jail time, Bp Nikolai has brought even more disrepute upon the Church. (Quite apart from what the hierarchs themselves have inflicted of late!)
Mr Dushkin has all the forgiveness he needs, but that doesn't mean he should serve the Church in any tonsured or ordained capacity.
#7.4 BB on 2008-02-13 21:33
Forgiveness? Absolutely. But forgiveness does not qualify one for ordination, or tonsure as a reader.
We forgive armed robbers - but we don't continue to let them have guns.
We forgive drunken drivers - but we don't let them drive.
We forgive sex offenders - but we don't let them have contact with minors.
Forgiveness does not mean we don't suffer the consequences of our actions.
Martin D. Watt, CPA
#7.5 Marty Watt on 2008-02-14 08:50
An EEOC investigation is the right of any employee who believes he or she has been discharged in an unlawful manner. It has its own process which shining your little light on it makes no difference. The EEOC process will continue.
Let the EEOC do its thing and let Sidebottom who has gotten himself all "lawyered up" do his thing. The EEOC is now duty-bound to conduct an investigation. Once they render their conclusion we can debate it one way or another. Until then, all of this is rather pointless.
Let's get back to matter of the AAC and Herman. I rather resent the focus being taken off of him and wasted on Nikolai.
#8 Anonymous on 2008-02-12 22:03
Nikolai is very much at the heart of what's going on here. The amount of dealings of our former chancellor and his associates in Las Vegas during the tenor of Fr. Soraich there and then his being elevated to bishop deserves very careful examination. How did Kondratick come in contact with Rock? Was it through Soraich? How did Soraich know, if that's the case, that Kondratick needed some clean financial records? Why would Kondratick confide in him that he needed clean financial records? What else was Chancery staff doing in Las Vegas on their many visits?
There's a lot of smoke and probably a lot of fire. In this case what happened in Vegas needs to get out as a lot could be answered when it does.
And, the degenerate behavior going on in Alaska by that bishop strikes to the very core of what's wrong with the church. Going back to Herman is not going to correct the problems there. Herman is not the only problem, its a culture that has created a cancer of problems. Some are in PA, some are in Syosset, some are in Dallas, some are in Florida, and some are in Alaska. All need to be examined.
But, we'll give you a B for at least trying to steer us away from Nikolai.
#8.2 Anonymous on 2008-02-14 11:00
Well, you're right about one thing at least. Something fishy is going on around here. And paranoia is evidently striking deep, as well; darn those "vested interests"! The vanishingly small congregation present for the blessing of the waters at Theophany makes one suspect that perhaps the good bishop may not be doing much good work for the Lord. I've seen bigger crowds watching two old guys play chess in the park. And that pitiful turnout is for a major feast, on a weekend day, with a bishop serving! Denial: not just a river in Egypt. And doggone those newspaper guys, too! Imagine writing a story about a Federal complaint filed against a church in a little town, where everybody already knows! The horror! Really, did you think this would be under wraps? Once the Federal complaint is filed, it's out there for everybody to see, "vested interests" or not. It cannot be squelched and it would be foolish to even complain about it. That train left the station sometime last week.
#9 Scott Walker on 2008-02-12 22:25
Concerned? These people should be shivering in their boots. They have a policy and procedure that was clearly not followed. How much more can the poor people withstand? And what is even more insulting and hurtful, they ask for donations. What slime!
#10 MP on 2008-02-13 07:52
Would a boss of a company be removed because there is an EEOC investigation? NO. Get real. EEOC investigations take place all the time in the USA. You think this is only EEOC investigation they are running currently?
People, put this in perspective and stop with the ridiculous comments like Nikolai and Isidore should be removed because of an EEOC process. Just shows how little we know about government agencies before we sit down to write.
#11.1 Anonymous on 2008-02-14 05:40
Well, according to the OCA's own policies it would have been appropriate for Isidore to be suspended during the investigation, and now that the investigation is obviously ongoing, to continue to be suspended.
"9.01. Interim Actions Pending Resolution
(a) If allegations of sexual misconduct involve a member of the clergy as a respondent, the Bishop will inform him of the complaint and may, pending resolution of the allegations, suspend him, with pay, from further service in the Church under such terms and conditions as the Bishop determines appropriate."
"(c) Any member of the clergy who admits or is found to have committed acts of sexual misconduct other than child sexual abuse shall be subject to the discipline of the applicable Bishop. If not already removed from parish ministry, the Bishop shall prohibit him from exercising such functions or responsibilities of parish ministry as the Bishop determines is appropriate."
#11.1.2 Anonymous on 2008-02-14 18:45
On 12/21/07, ocanews.org reported -- "at the Synod meeting it was also decided that the investigation into allegations of sexual harassment by Archimandrite Isidore (Brittain) has concluded. No action is to be taken."
On 1/12/08, Alexey Kargut, the OCA investigator, posted on ocanews.org --
"Due to Paul Sidebottom's failure to submit the report that was asked of him in presence of two attorneys (as of today) and due to eyewitnesses contradicting Reader Sidebottom's allegations and many other pertinenent aspects of allegations against Archimandrite Isidore that showed themselves to be unsubstantiated, Holy Synod was not presented a Report of Investigations (they were too busy with other important issues), though the report as well as medical, psychological, and addiction evaluations and psycho-sexual tests and assesments were conducted and evaluations submited at the request of the OCA by medical professionals of Mayo Medical Clinic (not in any way associated with the OCA) were made, and while not presented, they were completed. As to integrity of investigations, the First person that was asked and aproved to be a part of investigative team was Mr. Gregory Nescott (who is not a fan of +MH), who for the viriety of reasons declined to be a part of this investigation".
#4.1 Alexey Karlgut on 2008-01-12 21:05
Now suddenly there is the statement given by the OCA Chancellor to the press that Syosset is "concerned" and cannot comment on an "ongoing investigation".
#12 anonymous on 2008-02-13 11:18
"Concerned...?" Garclavs is a good, humble man, but he's just CONCERNED? It shows he has no power to do anything. A Chancellor who is "concerned," how wonderful. I'm sure + Herman is equally "concerned." WHERE IS THE ACTION TO DO ANYTHING?
#13 Any Moose on 2008-02-14 08:30
His article is from a completely different perspective and is not an historical account of the anomaly that was taking place in Russia. Here is what the facts are from John Shelton Curtiss, THE RUSSIAN ORTHODOX AND SOVIET STATE 1917-1950 1ST ed ; Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1953 pp. 12-13 “V.N Lvov removed three members of the Synod, Metropolitan Pitirim of St. Petersburg, Metropolitan Makary of Moscow and Bishop Varnava of Tobolok all of whom were appointed through the influence of Rasputin”.
During the Easter session, V.N. Lvov, further angered the Holy Synod, when he transferred the conservative official organ of the Holy Synod, Tserkovny Vestnik (The Church Messenger) over to another editorial staff composed of the liberal professors of the Theological Academy of Petrograd. Archbishop Tikhon of Vilna (later Saint Patriarch Tikhon) refused to endorse the transfer. (The information is taken from A.A. Bogolepov, “Church Reforms in Russia 1904-1918, Saint Vladimir’s Seminary Quarterly, vol. 10, no. 1-2, 1966, p. 45
That article that you quote is an opinion from a philosophical perspective and does not in any way examine the takeover of the church during the time of Peter the Great who in case you did not know, abolished the Patriarchate. Neither does it give any credibility to the facts stated by Paul Myendorf. During this time there were all types of movements; The Living Church, The Reformed Church, The Conservative Church, all claiming to be the Orthodox Church. On July 23, 1923, Patriarch Tikhon after his release from prison issued a proclamation deposing Metropolitan Antonin as a bishop (“The Living Church”) of the Orthodox Church. The Patriarch further stated that all actions taken by the “Living Church” while acting as the official representatives of the Russian Orthodox Church were null and void. (From the American Orthodox Messenger, no. 13, July, 1923 (in Russian)
There are volumes of books written on this difficult time when many people including hierarchs, clergy and laymen were trying to reform the church. For a while there was a more democratic church. In the end it was the Holy Hierarchical Russian Orthodox Church with a patriarch that survived. It is really a fascinating and inspiring read of events.
#14 Anonymous on 2008-02-14 12:42
Someone here raised the issue of the "Las Vegas Connection." You know, no one has talked about this and from what I've heard, it is a very important part of the "RSK/Theo Theft & Cover-Up." Apparently this Las Vegas vestment making firm had a lot of political ties and mob ties. RSK was dealing with them on a daily basis. In fact, they were even giving advise to RSK on how to handle Wheeler and the unraveling in Syosset. Now, Soriach was "the" guy in Las Vegas who had something to do with the RSK ties and RSK made Soraich bishop of Alaska...hmmmmm. And, + Tikhon (retired) had full control over Las Vegas. There was surely something going on in Las Vegas!
#15 Anonymous on 2008-02-15 06:46
And don't forget, the Las Vegas vestment makers used to be in NY under a different and very expensive brand name (some of you may remember). Surprisingly enough though, for mysterious reasons (I hear involving legal issues) they had to all of a sudden "disappear" from NY and go into a "careful" existence (some would say hiding) in NV. Very curious indeed.
#15.1 Amonymous on 2008-02-15 12:41
I guess that the hierachy in charge at the time figured, "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas" applied to them too. Who knows, maybe they're the ones who came up with the catchy phrase?
#15.2 Tatiana Berestoff on 2008-02-19 01:51
Unable to reply to Karlgut's comments posted here...technically not able somehow..
I find it interesting that Sidebottom failed to submit a report. It would be good to better understand that aspect of the story. If the OCA asked for something why he would not comply. I suppose in an environment of mistrust, it would be understandable.
Further, I would challenge Karlgut's notion that contradictory eyewitnesses would be accepted as valid in a sexual harassment allegation claim. Think about it sir, and you are an expert: Eyewitnesses are almost never present during sexual advances or bad behavior. Further, eyewitness testimony has been shown to be very inaccurate when it is even slightly plausible, but that is hardly the point.
What eyewitness would be credible in this conversation?
Mouse in the corner?
#16 Daniel E. Fall on 2008-02-15 11:19
You know Fr. Karlgut isn't going to answer anything beyond his carefully-worded, approved for publication statements thus far. He is truly a very good legal mind.
Unfortunately, while it appears to be a fair system, the OCA sexual abuse policy is in itself so incredibly legalistic that it gets used to the OCA's advantage and not necessarily the victim's. I have seen how they talk with the alleged victim and pretty much scare them off with explaining all the legal red-tape that they tell them they "potentially" will have to go through. Are they telling lies? No, those things might actually happen. Are they using the thought of an overwhelming, drawn-out and potentially grueling legal process to their advantage in order to scare off alleged victims? You bet! But then again, as Herman always says, it's "to protect the Church". (and the people be damned!)
#16.1 Anonymous on 2008-02-15 12:53
Daniel, I've posted before on the issue of Karlgut. He's no expert. He's a lapdog pure and simple. If he has any training whatsoever as an invesitgator, I saw no evidence of it. I know (as I am a witness to another heinous case the OCA is doing its best to ignore) that Karlgut chooses not to pursue valid information and has no qualms about lying. Not to be flippant but I and the other witnesses never contacted began to refer to him as Kalrgutless. If this is how the OCA will handle internal investigations, than more power to Sidebottom for pulling out the big guns and filing a federal suit. And you are right to challenge Karlgut on his 'notions'. The OCA needs serious help. Lying and covering up and ignoring will NEVER work.
#16.2 Wishing I weren't Anonymous on 2008-02-15 14:23
Be 100% clear, folks, Karlgut's ..... one and only purpose is to get victims of clergy misconduct to sign a waiver protecting the OCA from liability. He has no credentials whatsoever to be doing the work he's doing. None.
Check out the lecture he gave to clergy regarding the handling of sexual misconduct - its on the SCOBA website - he has the audacity to caution against revictimization and yet that is his specialty when he is out in the field doing his dirty work for the OCA.
Make a complaint against clergy and refuse to sign the waiver and he will twist facts, lie, make veiled threats, violate confidences, condone the original (and possibly ongoing) misconduct, and then he will write a bunch of crap to the victim like he posted on this site, full of big words and legal terms that he thinks will initimidate and impress.
What could happen when he does this to someone who may be in total and complete dispair, and who does not have the resources or the support to cope with such an assault?
Whats even worse, the Synod and the MC are fully aware of his tactics and do nothing to stop him, beyond slapping him on the hand for impersonating a legal professional.
Be clear about this too - the OCA has no policy and procedure for dealing with clergy misconduct, other than the policies and procedures which protect Syosset's collective behinds.
There is no venue in the OCA to deal with misconduct that encourages the truth or cares about the well being and healing of the victim - none. Lets assume you have a valid complaint against an OCA clergy member. If you make a complaint and sign the waiver, you may or may not see an investigation that results in some sort of intervention. If you are unhappy with the outcome there is nowhere to appeal within the OCA as the policy states that the results are final. If you are satisified with the results, it will still be bound by a confidentiality agreement so that you lose your right to tell your truth. If you refuse to sign the waiver, you will never receive a proper investigation and you will likely be revictimized.
The proof of the above is in the posts of the people here who suffer or who witness others suffering, who participate in these discussions hoping and praying and fighting for change.
Karlgut, will you ever admit what you've done to the victims of clergy misconduct in your efforts to protect Syosset? Shame on you!
#16.3 anonymous - but not for long on 2008-02-15 20:00
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