Friday, May 5. 2006
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This doesn't make any sense, according to the minutes of the joint Holy Synod and Mertropolitan Council in July of 2005, why was Fr. Kondratick reappointed by the Metropolitan?
#1 Alex on 2006-05-05 13:06
These statements aren't the only contradictions in this case. Why would Metropolitan Herman, whom I know to be an honest man have engaged in such a cover up when he was the Treasurer?
I would think that as soon as Proto Deacon Eric revealed these problems, the investigation would have begun immediately, and regardless of whether Fr. Bob, or any other Chancery Staffer was in charge, changes would have been made immediately.
Also, it seems inconcievable that the auditors reports from the 1990's would have suggested corrections in accounting procedures that are only now being implemented. Isn't this also a contradiction?
Granted, It seems that Fr. Bob and previous Chancellors wielded to much financial and Administrative Power, but doesn't it seem odd that it takes such a scandal, and the implied repercussions to bring sensible changes to the Administrative procedures?
Hopefully, the lessons of these mistakes have been learned, so they won't, and indeed can't be repeated in the future.
#1.1 Anonymous on 2006-05-10 06:29
If there was such a "battle" between Metropolitan Herman and Fr. Kondratick for 5 YEARS, why would the Metropolitan let it go on for so long. The Metropolitan is the man in charge, why didn't he fire Fr. Kondratick 4 !/2 years ago? The statements in the the release contradict themselves???
#2 Demetrius Economus on 2006-05-05 13:17
One must remember that Fr. Bob was Metropolitan Theodosius' Chancellor for many years. In that position he likely built up many you-owe-me favors from then Archbishop Herman. Four years worth it would seem. One wonders if these favors might form the basis for Fr. Bob's threats via his attorney? Would that our archpastors behaved better!
Who are we to trust going forward? How are they to be held accountable? What is our court of appeal if we suspect or know of wrongdoing? At best our archpastors are incompetent. At worst...
#3 Name withheld by request on 2006-05-05 19:47
If there is a future for OCA, your last paragraph sums up my concerns.
Many clergy knew of the wrong doings and many were a part of the misdeeds yet they persisted for more than a decade. Instead of coming forward and humbly asking for forgiveness, one is blamed for a monumental effort which could not have been carried out without consent and assistance from others. Calling them incompetent is kind.
Personally, I am heartsick and am devoting much effort into sorting out my feelings about how I will weather this storm.
#3.1 A lay person, deeply hurt on 2006-05-06 08:33
While i have no inside information or "sources", I do have common sense. The "comments" coming out of the OCA scream of frame up. All of a sudden we here of a battle raging for 5 years and Fr. Kondratick was supposedly not going to have the same "autonomy" that he did under Metropolitan Theodosius? If Fr. Kondratick was on this so called short leash, how did it go on for another 5 years???
Again this thing stinks of a frame up!!!
#4 Eric A. on 2006-05-06 11:13
We cannot allow a frameup or a whitewash of the culpability. Making Fr. Bob the scapegoat here would be a travesty of justice. The problem is surely much wider and much deeper. The fact is that many of the people around Fr. Bob who must have at least known what was going on (and are therefore culpable) are still in place. If we do not identify the full extent of the cancer, we cannot excise it and then heal.
#4.1 Name Withheld by Request on 2006-05-09 19:34
Dear brothers and sisters:
I feel the pain expressed by "Deeply Hurt", having shed more than a few tears myself over this issue. At the same time, we must not give up faith, hope and love, in the knowledge that the Church is greater than any of her members or local institutions.
As i have watched the OCA situation worsen, I have watched with converse joy the process of reconciliation between the Patriarchate of Moscow (MP) and the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR). Today in San Francisco, ROCOR's 4th All-Diaspora Sobor (Council) is assembling, where it will be decided whether or not to adopt an Act of Canonical Communion, re-
establishing eucharistic communion with the Patriarchate. "Oh, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!" It is my personal prayer that this reconciliation will indeed take place and my hope that the reconciliation will be a step toward the healing of the wounds of multi-jurisdictionalism in North America and elswhere.
I raise this here because I cannot see how this reconcilation will not impact the OCA one way or another. I have read nothing that indicates that the MP would try to "revoke" the OCA's autocephaly, but what will that autocephaly mean in practical terms? Mosocw will recognising one autocephalous jurisdiction and another autonomous jurisdiction on the same geographical territory. That is an "anomaly" as I believe I saw Patriarch ALEKSEI call it. With the very weakened position of the OCA, owing to our internal wounds, we are not in a position to assert our autocephaly, nor would it be expedient to do so. What then are we to do?
I do not wish to suggest a definitive answer to that question, but I do believe that we must consider the question carefully, including the possibility that it is time for us to unite with ROCOR as one jurisdiction. Again, I do NOT mean to say that I think we SHOULD or MUST unite with ROCOR; I only suggest that we consider this as an option - especially if the loss of our status as an not-for-profit organisation becomes likely or inevitable. Could the course of events in history be leading us in this direction? ROCOR and the MP have had to face a lot of questions and carefully examine the truths of history. They have had to set aside decades of animosity and rhetoric to get to where they are now, and they have had the courage and the conviction to do so. To me, this is a glorious example of Orthodoxy. Surely we too can set aside our pride in our autocephaly if that is what is needed to heal the wounds of the Church, both our internal wounds in the OCA and the wound of multiple jurisdictions. Furthermore, looking back at the schism of Holy Transfiguration Monastery in Boston from ROCOR, I see at least some indication that ROCOR faces scandals squarely and deals with them. This tells me that union with them is at least worth consideration.
The Antiochians are seeking jurisdictional unity. Perhaps unity with them is another option, even preferable to unity with ROCOR. Metropolitan PHILIP has a reputation of running his archdiocese like a corportation - even to a fault. Nevertheless, the advantage for OCA in joining with the Antiochians might be an extra degree of stabillity.
Each of these options has its advantages. I focus on ROCOR at the moment because of the special courage they are showing and because, like us, they are of Russian heritage, at ecclesiastically. The ultimate question will be, however, can the OCA survive any/all potentially upcoming litigations and government interventions? Even if we do, shall we ever be able to command the respect and dignity of a truly autocephalous church? Above all, what is best "for the good estate of the holy churches of God and the union of all"? What is God telling us through the combined event of our own crisis, the call for unity from the Antiochians and the almost-certain reconcilation between the MP and ROCOR?
At the very least, I am convinced that we must not close any doors; we must not willfully blind ourselves to any options, failing to see the hand of God in these co-incidental events, to use the term in its most literal sense. Please, brothers and sisters, pray for the peace and unity of the Church and, as events unfold in the OCA, be open to the possibilities that are set before us.
#5 Name withheld on 2006-05-06 14:15
Our problems started with the Patriarch and our former Metropolitan. We should never go backward! We are in the USA, and we can think for ourselves. We are the most progressive and caring Nation in the world. Why do all of the foreign STUDENTS want to come to our schools? We have the best schools!!
The OCA has hit a real stone wall, of our own making. This should not have happened. That happens when you can bribe people.I see light in this mess, if the Metropolitan DOES what he suggests he is going to do or he goes.
It is apparent to me that this investigation should go back as far as it needs to go.
As I have stated before, we have a lot of intelligent people that have visited this web site. Lets use these people.
Again lets not be to quick to make a decision to join another faction of ORTHODOXY.
I certainly understand what you are saying here, Steve, and I'd like to see us move forward, not backward as well. However, our stability both as a legal entity within the United States and as an ecclesiological entity in the Orthodox Church are in serious jeopardy here. If we are to continue existing as the OCA, we must rebuild ourselves in such a way that we are a credible body in both arenas, and sometimes it is necessary to take a step back before going forward. I don't know if that is the case here, but I am open to the possibility. In any case, I think the the best way forward, perhaps the only way forward, is to ACTIVELY WORK toward canonical unity in this country. Perhaps that will mean enlisting the human resources that have appeared on this website. Perhaps we can retain our own identity and make of ourselves a locus of unity, but that will take a lot serious ACTIVE work in that direction, something that has been sadly lacking ever since the autocephaly was granted. In the meantime, we must face the question: UNDER THE PRESENT CIRCUMSTANCES (our own internal woes, the MP/ROCOR reconciliation, the Antiochian call for action), WHAT DOES OUR AUTOCEPHALY MEAN IN PRACTICAL TERMS? We cannot simply verbally remind people of the tomos. Everyone knows it's there, and most people ignore it, including Moscow to a large degree. Yes, liturgically they give lip-service to it by commemorating our primate at all liturgies in their metochion in NYC, but they still have parishes here and they are about to recognise another autonomous Russian Church in our geographical territory. While +ALEXEI may consider this an "anomaly" - something that shouldn't really be happening, but must for now, it also means that he does not see the OCA as the obvious and only jurisdiction to which other Orthodox in this country - like ROCOR - must turn. Whatever the specific reasons are, the simple fact that ROCOR's reconcilation with the MP does not mean union with the OCA, and that apparently has not even been suggested. This fact alone points to the problem of which I speak here: that we are in no position to assert our autocephaly and we must seriously consider the ramifications of that problem if we are to move forward.
As I think about it more, I realise that another plus to working with the Antiochians in this country is that they are more interested in a genuinely indigenous autocephalous church here. ROCOR is very much expressing itself as the Russian Church. That is ROCOR's deepest identity. I do not know the mind of Metropolitan LAURUS or any other hierarchs in their Synod to know whether or not he/they are open to forming an autocephalous church in this country at this time. In fact, I think our first step should be to ask both the MP and ROCOR what direction they would like to see things go, specifically, how they would see their reconcilation affecting the course of canonical unity in this continent. Perhaps their answers will show that they are not ready to be partners, but perhaps they will stimulate new thinking and a practical course of action. We'll never know if we don't ask.
#5.1.1 Name Withheld on 2006-05-10 10:11
This is a very thoughtful post and expresses some ideas that have been rather incoherently slushing around my brain.
Now is not the time to hang on to appearance at the expense of substance. We are confronted with an opportunity and a necessity wrapped up in one big, challenging, scary package -- either we embrace truth, look honestly at our current reality, understand how we got here, and do the hard work of figuring out how to go forward and be true to our calling as the church in this country in the real circumstances of today or we continue the shadow puppet show of the past couple of decades.
Autocephaly was a means to an end (Orthodox unity), not an end in itself. We have fallen into the trap of believing autocephaly to be the end, in and of itself, and of blaming lack of unity on the failure of others to recognize, embrace and unite themselves to our autocephaly. They're not to blame (at least not entirely), we are to blame for not living up to our promise, and for getting lost in a morrass of appearances and the need to keep up appearances.
Let's put all that aside and look at reality. A real move to unity that supports our vision and mission but involves submission to Antioch could be better than empty rhetoric about American Orthodoxy and autocephaly that leaves us divided and ensnared in our own institutional web of mismanagement and petty power plays.
These are very, very hard and sad thoughts for me to express -- I was recieved into the church as a young teenager in 1973 and remember the energy and vision of our leaders then. To say that autocephaly is negotiable feels emotionally like a betrayal -- but it may be the way to reignite the energy and revivify the vision that lay behind autocephaly.
It seems more and more that there are three visions and/or power centers within Orthodoxy today -- Moscow and ROCOR, sharing a conservative stance and (to varying degrees) a nationalist identity; Constantinople (with Greece and Jerusalem, to some extent), motivated by power, taking ethnic identity as an unchallenged foundation of religious identity, and more relaxed on certain ecclessial issues (the ones that don't undermine authority); and, between these competing power centers, small and almost beside the point in terms of numbers, OCA, Antioch here in America, the Parish Exarchate, and Sourozh -- these four entities share a very coherent and distinct vision of what the Church is and should be. Were we to unite with the Antiochians, we would be a strong plurality (possibly majority?) of Orthodox in America and America would coalesce as the third pole in this complex sorting out that's underway.
What's at stake? If we don't clean up our mess, embrace truth, and open ourselves to what will best further our vision, then that vision will whither. In a generation that vision will either be something indulged in surrpetitiously by a few scattered priests who are tolerated as oddballs within the context of a russified, authoritarian and traditionalist church, or it will be something around which small "churchy" cliques come together for some activities in the context of large, hellenized parishes primarily focused on ethnic preservation.
Wrote much more than I intended and veered off into idle speculation.
#188.8.131.52 Rebecca Matovic on 2006-05-11 09:57
These two posts give us a lot to think about - thank you. For what it's worth, hasn't Sourzh just petioned Moscow for release so that it can come under Constantinople?
A friend who was going through big changes once said to me that it was hard for her to know if the devil was playing with her or if God was moving the furniture. Maybe what is happenning in the OCA right now is God moving the furniture. It would be good to take some time and prayerfully ask what He might be making room for.
#184.108.40.206.1 Rachel Andreyev on 2006-05-12 06:00
For what it's worth, union with the ROCOR would in fact be reunion, the healing of a schism. What became the OCA was part of the ROCOR 1921-26 and 1935-46. The latter break has never been healed, and the ROCOR still regards the OCA as essentially a body schismatic from itself.
That the Metropolia/OCA was a part of the ROCOR has largely been revised out of OCA histories, but it's pretty plain from primary source documents and even attested to by both Metropolia members at the time and St. John Maximovitch, as well.
Whether such a return would be politically viable at this time is another matter, but it is at least a point of history that the Metropolia became part of the ROCOR in the 1920s (helped organize it, in fact), broke with it, returned to it in the '30s, and then broke with it again in the mid-'40s.
All this makes the possibility for unity with the ROCOR quite a bit more complex than what might otherwise be the case.
(A note to the website maintainer: I accidentally posted this as a reply to another comment here. This one is correctly aimed.)
#5.2 A historian on 2006-05-08 19:26
I am sure you know that the Patriarch takes his marching orders from Putin. Also, Russia is not an ally to the USA. My parents are from Russia, and I am a life-long Orthodox, for seventy four years. We should forge ahead as the OCA. We will get through these rough times.
I have long suspected Fr. Kondratick. that's hardly rocket science. In fact I had misgivings about the role he was playing before this excellent web site (Accountability) began to carefully publish the relevant details about the money in such a courageous manner.
Suspicion about Kondratick is one thing, but accountability to the facts relating to outright thievery is another. Fr. Kondratick was the person in authority under the primate responsible for the entire central administration of the OCA. It doesn't matter if he personally ripped off the OCA (which I suspect) for all or part of this cash or not. He was charged with the oversight of it, and he obviously was a dismal failure if not an outright thief.
From everything that has appeared here and elsewhere, I daresay Fr. Kontratick should be the target of a criminal investigation at the very least, and it is my devout hope that such an investigation will take place. The money wasn't stolen from the chancery by "persons unknown." The money was taken by someone in Syosset, like Fr. Kondratick, who had easy access to it. If it proves to be Kontratick himself, he should be charged and tried for the offense. If others were involved in the thefts, all the way up to the former metropolitan, they should be charged similarly as principals or as complicit.
I am truly sorry to post these words which are, however, not at all out of place given the circumstances that have heretofore been quite carefully documented on this web site. However, when this scandal is clarified further and those responsible for it are punished and corrective measure are taken, it is my hope and prayer that the OCA will again strengthen to contribute its voice and faith toward the development of one united Orthodoxy in the USA. I have personal, vested interest in that or I would not post these comments.
#6 Robert Zacher on 2006-05-06 15:41
This is very encouraging. Let me explain.
First, if we were to look back at all of these documents and minutes, etc and have them all make sense would indicate, to me, that the deceit and misuse of funds was a coordinated and calculated undertaking. That none of this makes sense is more indicative of people "looking the other way" with respect to bad behavior of a few. In this type of scenario, you wake up one morning to find all the chickens have come home to roost.
Second, a firm with the reputation of Rose, et al, would not involve themselves in something like this without the knowledge that they will be allowed to take it to conclusion. By this I mean they will uncover and release all they possibly can, or will indicate they were prohibited from doing so. It is pretty common now to hold the accountants as responsible for hiding misdeeds as those directing the accountants. Since this scandal will likely result in some type of final review (or threatened review) by the federal government, no one who makes a living at this would touch it with a 10 foot stick if they thought they would be expected to continue the cover-up.
Finally - by involving "outsiders", Rose, et al, the lay individuals, etc, it is clear that the time for keeping this behind closed doors may be over.
Let's be realistic. We will NEVER know all the details, but we will get as close as possible, and move forward (not move on). Those responsible or involved will all be tainted, and my hope is they will take responsibility for the involvement (either by direct action or by inaction). It is up to others to decide who should step aside, but I am heartened by these activities.
I will continue to pray for all those involved or affected by this scandal.
#7 Peter on 2006-05-07 05:04
Starting almost half a century ago, Western culture in general and the United States in particular began to embrace a moral ethic of hedonism and death. In the late 1960s, this matter became so much worse that by the early 1970s, the United States Supreme Court had no difficulty legalizing the abortion of unborn children on demand throughout all nine months of pregnancy without any concern about the reason that the 'mother' desired to end its life. It was enough that abortion was available as a means of 'back up birth control' in an ever increasingly sexually promiscuous culture. Even the advent of AIDS, an incurable fatal disease spread by sex and the use of IV needles did not make a dent in the world's and our nation's rush to embrace the 'pleasures' of sex and drugs.
Since that time, the cultural establishment has more and more vigorously pressed for the acceptance of death as a 'solution' to life's problems. This 'solution' has come in many forms including euthanasia - both voluntary and INvoluntary - for the sick, the old and the handicapped. As well, there is increasing demands for the right to experiment upon aborted babies and living fertilized embryos and the sale of aborted babies for use in cosmetics as well as a host of other Frankenstinian horrors that would have made some Nazis blush with shame.
All during this debate, the Orthodox Church in America (and elsewhere) aside from occasional annual pronouncements on Christ's care for human life has remained relatively silent. Indeed, I have been told stories of priests and bishops who ignored and even embraced this cancerous 'Spirit of the Age', but for the most part, the silence represents a fear by the clergy of a backlash from 'the pews' and a resultant loss of membership. Hence, like many 'good Jews' at Christ's trial, silence became the general response even to the point at which those who DID speak out were considered an embarassing example of 'religious conservatism'.
Now, however, when it becomes a matter of MONEY rather than morals, the hue and cry is raised and to blazes with what outsiders think of the Church! Of course, I have no problem with seeking out wrongdoing or laxity and complacency, but how I wish that this outcry had accompanied the deaths of so many millions of innocent babies and of people like Terry Schiavo whose 'worth' was considered 'nil' by our present culture of death. Who knows? Perhaps if the Orthodox Church had done so, the present crisis might not have occurred! Perhaps this is a present-day Babylon, the consequence of our failure to be faithful to our responsibility both as a Church and as Christ's People. If it is, I sincerely hope that like the Jews of that time, we have learned something of value - but only time will tell.
M. Valerie Protopapas
#8 Matushka Valerie Protopapas on 2006-05-07 06:00
Thank you Matushka Valerie by pointing out what is truly important.
#8.1 Jane on 2006-05-08 17:36
Dear Jane: You're right about the two periods of union between R.OC.O.R. and the (then) Metropolia of North America. However, some of your facts may not be totally accurate.
For instance, the primary reason that Metropolitan Platon Left R.O.C.O.R. in 1926, was that they attempted to appoint him to be the Metropolitan of North America, after he had already been so appointed by Patriarch Tikhon. Thus, the Metropolitan believed, (and rightly so), that R.O.C.O.R. had no authority to (re) appoint him to the post that he already recieved from the Patriarch Himself.
Secondly. in November of 1946 when the second so-called schism occurred, it was 4 bishops of R.O.C.O.R., Archbishops, Tihhon Troitsky, Vitaly Maximenko, Ioassaph Skorodumov, and Iorniem Chernov who walked out of the meeting at St. Tikhon's Monastery, when they discovered that the bishops of the Metropolia, Led by Metropolitan Theophilus and the Faithful of the Metropolia were prepared to attempt to reunite with the Russian Orthodox Church.
So please don't blame the Metropolia, its hierarchs, clergy, and faithful for leaving R.O.C.O.R. twice, when they only did this once. Or for desiring a reconsilliation with the Mother Church, even though it didn't begin to happen until 1960.
In some ways, the second schism was a blessing, since it actually freed His Eminence Metropolitan Theophilus and the metropolia from ties with a then schismatic jurisdiction, and also showed that at least then, reunion with Moscow was untennable. That it also led to an eventual autocephaly of only 1/3 of the Russian jurisdictions in America which none of the churches truly recognize even today is unfortunate.
Perhaps this is the greatest reason why a true reunion between the O.C.A., R.O.C.O.R., and the Patriarchal Parishes oif North America would be a blessing. It would heal the one schism that has stalled the formation of the Autocephalous Church envisioned even by the founders of S.C.O.B.A. 46 years ago.
We should all pray for this reunion, and the likely second Autocephaly that my follow it, for this will be the true begining of Orthodox Unity in North America.
Mark N, Sudia
#8.1.1 Anonymous on 2006-05-09 14:48
We all know very well your stance on contemporary thoughts on such things as abortion and right to life and applaud for your dedication.
I fail to see however, what one thing has to do with the other. I feel that your thoughts and dedication is very well spent in the Right to Life movement and Orthodox participation in the annual Right for Life demonstration every January.
What I ask however is what this has to do with the question and situation at hand?
#8.2 Anonymous on 2006-05-09 20:16
What has it to do? I feel that it has EVERYTHING to do with it.
Let us look at the 'moral value' of sin, if you will. Who equates the thief - and still less, the person whose wrongdoing is the result of less culpable motives (fear of scandal, complacency, confusion etc.) with the person who spills innocent blood - that is, the murderer? Is there no difference in ths scope of these sins even in the secular world?? Do we hold the thief to the same standard of retribution to which we hold the murderer? Why then, should we hold those who perhaps have remained silent about or are even implicated in financial malfeasance as greater 'sinners' than those who have remained silent about and even, in some instances, been a party to the commission of mass murder?
My point is, that now because money is involved, there is an outcry and a demand that those who were involved and even who were in charge and did not - or would not - recognize what was happening be called to account. On the other hand, no one - or very few - raise the point that Church leadership has been - and continues to be - on the whole VERY silent in the face of a culture that pursues legalized murder as a course of action, something that is diametric to that for which Christ and the Church ostensibly stand.
Now that would seem to indicate - and I may be wrong, but I doubt it - that most of those raising a cry against this financial scandal had little or no problem about the failure of the Church through its priests and hierarchs to call the present culture to account and speak out strongly against abortion, euthanasia, sexual promiscuity etc. etc. etc. How pleased I would have been to see such websites as this in 1973 at the time abortion was legalized and to have the concern of the Faithful continue to grow and be heard as the culture sank deeper and deeper into moral depravity. But it didn't happen. Indeed, there are many who believe - and have said openly - that the Church leadership remained relatively silent (or spoke only when it was obvious that it was being done for the sake of appearances) in order to AVOID this type of website which, under those circumstances would have castigated the bishops and priests for 'getting involved in politics' and 'telling us what to do in the bedroom'.
And so, the failure of the Orthodox Church pan-jurisdictionally in this country and around the world (Greece has a far higher abortion rate than the United States which is high enough!) stems from a concern by many clergy of that 'backlash' against the Church's moral dogma that was bound to occur if they demanded faithfulness to Church doctrine. Hence, though I suppose we might fault the clergy for a failure of will regarding witnessing to the Church's teachings, we certainly cannot excuse the laity for their part in that failure. I know this is the case because I was involved in a number of presentations on abortion and Church doctrine and I'm sorry to say that in many instances, neither the message nor the messanger were very well received.
M. Valerie Protopapas
#8.2.1 Matuska Valerie Protopapas on 2006-05-10 11:35
Dear Matushka Valerie:
Dare I say I agree with you on many points.
Lets start with Liturgical services, and the lack of agreement in when to Kneel, sit , and stand. In 1978, his Grace Bishop Boris suceeded His Eminence Archbishop John (Garklavs) as Bishop of Chicago and the Midwest. So began the controversey of when to kneel and not to kneel during the Divine Liturgy.
The first Sunday I noticed a difference, was after we returned from visiting family in Pittsburgh. At that time, most of my family attended Sts Peter and Paul Russian Orthodox Church in Detroit, and all stood in the same corner of the church. I think it was during the Lord's Prayer, or one of the other points when I had been taught to kneel that I noticed my relatives weren't kneeling.
When I asked my mom "Why", she shushed me, and said she would explain later. Like most parishoners, I suspect, she didn't know the reason, only that a directive had come from the bishop, stating that kneeling on Sunday was not right.
Eventually, I learned that the reasoning was that each Sunday Liturgy is considered to be a small Pascha. Meaning that since we don't kneel on Passcha, we don't kneel on sundays either.
O.K. Fine. Then why did I witness all parishoners kneeling and statnding at the previously usual times when His Beatitude Metropolitan Theodosius celebrated Divine Liturgy at ou parish before the 1980 All American Council Began? I still don't know the answer to that one.
Eventually agreement was reached, and the problem was solved. . . by the people.
What about the additional lenten services that we began to celebrate during Bisho Boris's tenure?
The Bridegroom Matins of Great Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday are truly beautiful, adn give a fulness to Holy Week that is lost if they are not served. Yet I clearly remember that prior to 1978, Holy Week Began on Holy Thursday evening. Why was this so? Did these services fall into disuse as my grandparents generation became Americanized? Did the immigrant clergy stop celebrating them, due to persecutuions suffered in the old country?
Whatever the reason, in spite of the good-natured question of
"Who invented these services, I don't remember doing them 30 years ago?" asked by some of the then youger retirees, most accepted the additional services, and attendance was god for a long while.
And then there was the change to the all-night Paschal Service.
Does this sound fanmiliar? It's to Late for the children, for the elderly, etc. etc. Etc. Appearently it wasn't to late, because the first year I attended this service, the church was packed. Why?
Once more, i don't know.
In my humble opinion, the people should hae been taught by the Bishops and the priests why these changes were being made before they occurred. Excuse me for being sensible on these matters.
As for Liturgical Translations, it seems that the norm is to have each parish do what its parishoners like. Personally, I think that the Holy Synot should authorize a single translation of each service, Vespers, Matins, all three Liturgies, and the Hous, and then eachg bishop should further authorize it for his own diocese.
O How good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell (live) together in unity.
Granted, I still have a copy of the old Slavonic/English SVIT service book, but at this point, it is just a point of nostalgia.
Furthermore, this is a move that couild be placed before S.C.O.B.A., so there could be a single uniform tranlation for the faithful of all jurisdiceions. I am not suggesting that bilingual service books are unneeded, only that the english translations of all services should be uniform.
But again, forgive me for suggesting a surpriingly logical solution to this problem. Where this is concerned, it seems that the Grace of the Holy Spirit may be on sabbatical.
A note here. One sunday last year I attended St. Michale the Archangel Church in Redford Michigan. (Moscow Patriarchate), At first, began attempting to read the Hours from a translation in elizabethan English, done by the late Metropolitan Theophan Noli. I sounded like I was just learning English, and I'm 43! When Fr. Timothy Barna handed me the soft cover brown book of the hours, suddenly I could read just fine. So you see why I whole heartedly-agree that there should be a standard english translation for all liturgical services.
As for services being abbrevited, I follow His Beatitude Metropolitan Herman's advide to our liturgics class, when he was Bishop of Eastern Pennsylvania in t he 1980's. Although the words are not exact, their spirit is one of pastoral understanding. "When you are assigned to your first parish as a priest, don't arrive thinking that as a Seminary Graduate, you know what's right. Learn how services are done in that parish, and follow what the people know. Change gradually, teaching the people why each change is being made."
I assume this also applies to young Readers and Choir directors as well.
Again, from my own experience, I recall one sunday when Our then-Pastor Fr. Paul Jannakos was absent, and a fellow priest from the Antiochian Archdiocese substituted for him. During the Grerat Entrance, the Antiochians follow the Byzantine Practice of a full procession doun the side aisle, and back up the center. At Sts. Peter and Paul, we normally did the short procession. Part way through, there was some confusion, and we did an abbreviated Byzantine Style Entrance, going directly to the center of the church. Later, or guest priest apologized for the confusion, and we agreed that if he served there again, he would tell the servers what was going to happen befor ti did.
Even there, the wisdom Of Vladyka Herman's advcse is obvious.
I guess I've said enough for now. As you can see, I believe that the Bishops and Clergy need to teach the people why things are done,, and why some things are being changed before the changes occur.
Of course, we as laymen should also ask when we see something that appears to be new, so the priest rrecognizes our wilingness to learn.
I hope this is helpful.
#220.127.116.11 Mark N. Sudia on 2006-05-13 08:43
I think you misread a bit what is going on in the church. You say when it it money not morals at stake everyone gets excited. But I think the very heart of the current scandal is morality, and it involves ethical behavior in things we Orthodox are actually involved in. The lack of passion on the abortion issue may be nothing more than there is not much disagreement on that issue among the Orthodox. No OCA leaders are condoning or participating in abortions. Consequently not much passion is generated by the issue. The financial scandal however involves something we all are actively participating in, and we all have something at stake in it, and it is all about morality. If you don't understand that than you haven't understood much about the debate. One other factor that one can attribute the passion to is this web site. There are not very many forums in the OCA where open discussion and debate about anything is even possible. I think if other forums existed for open discussion on other moral issues, you might see a great deal of passion expressed. But where no discussion let alone debate is encouraged, one sees little passion. This web page has opened the door to and shows the need for forums in which Orthodox Christians have the opportunity to discuss and debate issues. Unfortunately too often debate ends up in name calling rather than in logical and well thought out explanations and apologies. What the issue of OCA finances has shown is that there is hidden and untapped a great depth of passion for the Church which is suppressed beneath a "pray, pay and obey" mentality. In depth exploration of the issues, of the different possible understandings, and of the passionate expresison of one's beliefs.
Fr. Ted Bobosh
#18.104.22.168 Anonymous on 2006-05-13 14:57
Of course morals are involved. Theft is as much a moral failure as murder. The only difference is the gravity of the sin.
But in no way do I change my charge that this matter rises to its present importance because it is *all about money*! No one had any problems with the failure of bishops and priests to demand fidelity to the Church's moral doctrines on abortion, euthanasia, promiscuity - hetero and homosexual - gluttony, etc. etc. etc. These were as happily ignored by the laity as by the clergy in most instances. And when they were addressed, it was either pro forma as some sort of annual 'message' that could be ignored with impunity and often so diffuse as to be all but meaningless or, on the other hand, the person speaking - clergy or lay - found him or herself almost (if not actually) alone. I remember no such sites as this decrying the silence of the Church as 'Orthodox' men and women participated in abortion in all its aspects - including as 'mothers', 'doctors' and certainly as politicians!
I even know of priests who refused to read Metropolitan Theodosius' very gentle and carefully written sermons that were supposed to be read on the Sunday closest to January 22nd, the evil day that the United States Supreme Court created another class of 'non-persons' after a bloody civil war removed the first such class - American blacks - from that unfortunate situation. The reason the sermon was not read? In some instances, the priest disagreed with the sentiments, forgetting that he was disagreeing not with Theodosius but with Christ and the Church Fathers. In other instances, the priest was afraid of the reaction of his 'faithful congregants' who didn't want the Church telling them how to 'live their lives'! Well, if we don't want Christ through His Church to tell us how to live our lives, what in the name of all that is good - or not - are we doing in the Church in the first place?
Has there been wrongdoing in this current 'scandal'? Probably, although as yet we don't know if it is a matter of premeditated wrongdoing or mass stupidity. On the other hand, everyone has something to say about the matter, even when it is mere speculation and conjecture, neither of which leads to enlightenment or truth. It might be wise to remember that Christ warned that we would be called to account for 'every idle word'. Some people think that means every word we *speak*, but I'm inclined to believe that our busy fingers may get us in as much trouble as our wagging tongues.
M. Valerie Protopapas
#22.214.171.124.1 Matushka Valerie Protopapas on 2006-05-16 17:58
I, too, have found it disconcerting that it is the issue of money that has gotten so many people so worked up. Fr. Tom's letter details far more serious problems within the OCA, including those with theological implications. Why is there no outcry when the services are arbitrarily cut, or cut, retranslated, and reformed according to the theological flavor of the day? Why is there no outcry over the quiet, regular intercommunion with laity of churches that we are not in communion with (i.e., Copts, Ethiopians)? Why, in the autocephalous church of mainly anglophone North America, is there no outcry at the lack of one or more full sets of approved liturgical books common across the OCA, instead of the hodge-podge of various translations and styles currently in use? The state of the monasteries, and the Orthodox vs. popular understanding of the relationship between Metropolitan, Diocesan Bishop, Synod of Bishops, and Clergy-Laity Council are also issues that have practical and theological consequences of more import than mere money.
Responsible husbandry of the things of God is important. Previous errors should be rectified, those responsible held to account with the measure we wish to be measured with (that is, with mercy), and systems should be put in place to ensure such errors will not happen in the future.
But, at the end of the day we are speaking about worldly wealth. The fact that mammon and its misuse is what has enraged the clergy and laity says more about our spiritual level and maturity than it does of the problems revealed at the Chancery. Would that we would were more concerned with our treasures in heaven. If we demand repentance and account from the Chancery, we should be prepared to call the OCA and our seminaries to account for any and all departures from the standard of Orthodox around the world:
- liturgically (e.g. Vigils, the Great Feasts),
- ascetically (e.g. fasting, prayers before communion), and
- spiritually (e.g., our personal prayer lives, our willingness to give and forgive).
Perhaps it is our own sins as a church, not simply "them" in Syosset, that has kept the Orthodox Church in North America so fragmented. As one of many jurisdictions in the US we should take to heart St. Seraphim of Sarov's command to "save yourself and thousands around you will be saved." The local Church in North America is not simply a matter of canons and who was here "first". Perhaps the Church in North America will be unified when we are fully, humbly Orthodox- when we repent of our own sins, personal and corporate.
Indeed! Francis Schaffer said that the Church stands on three Legs: Scripture, Theology and Morals. Cut any one of those legs and the Church no longer stands. Martin Luther said to the effect, if I speak out on everything about the Faith except that which is under attack I am not speaking out on the Faith!
Two years ago, I asked at OED at St. Vladimir's, who had replaced Fr. Breck as the moral theologian on staff after hs retirement. The answer apparently was, 'no one' and the real problem lay in the fact that no one seemed to be very concerned about that fact. The problem here is not Church doctrine: this is straightforward and easily understandable. The problem for any teacher of morals is how our future priests can be taught to deal with the world and the Faithful living within it; that is, how to counter the lies of the Prince of this world and provide priests with the ability to show the faithful how to live in the world while not being of it. Towards that end, I wrote a little tract entitled, 'Abortion, Oikonomia and the Hard Cases'. This was written especifically for priests and other clergy who might have to deal with those 'hard cases' for which abortion is demanded as a 'compassionate' solution. I offered it to St. Vlad's, hoping that they might be willing - after 'vetting' it, of course - to publish it and make it available to their students and other priests. I even said that they could remove my name because I have no academic credentials and was not interested in any recompense material or otherwise, but there was no interest. However, the work was sufficiently good to help an OCA priest achieve a Phd from a university in Russia, so it could not have been all that lacking in value.
I begin to wonder, really, if this 'financial scandal' is not simply the inevitable consequence of the sort of doctrinal malaise affecting the entire Church and not just the OCA. Other jurisdictions in the United States and around the world have had their own scandals - some worse than ours. It must be remembered that, as any student of medicine can tell you, when the Body is 'run down', it becomes open to any 'infection'.
M. V. Protopapas
#126.96.36.199 Matuska Valerie Protopapas on 2006-05-11 15:17
I have a question for anyone who can answer: I am not very familiar with the duties of the comptroller, and I do not know or have any opinions about the current comptroller; but if I am not mistaken, that's the person who actually makes out the checks. Wouldn't that person be in a position to see something going amiss and therefore be a suspect? For all I know he might be, or perhaps he tried to act and saw what happened to Protodeacon Eric, or something like that. I don't know. I am only seeking information here, not trying to point fingers.
#9 Name Withheld on 2006-05-07 14:32
The duties of a controller or comptroller vary between organizations and the staff size. Typically the comptroller is the chief accountant within an organization, responsible for all books and records, along with the related reciepts and disbursements. Part of the issue in this case is the accounting and finance functions were subordinate to the chancellor. That reporting structure created a situation where the chancellor was the ultimate authority, not the accountant. In theory, the accountant would have refused to allow disbursements to be made without proper documentation, refused to publish reports with known irregularities, etc.
Unfortunately, the administration all reported to the Chancellor. The question then becomes: who does the chancellor report to? Canonically, the Metropolitan. Legally, the Metropolitan Council.
In such an environment of split oversight, each thinks the other is watching. In fact, no one was watching. What started out small, grew. What began as a small discretionary account (similar to those that exist in most every parish), pushed the dollar limits ever higher, to the point where "tens of thousands" could be procured without appropriate approval or documentation. $100 distributions to the needy, in cash, are one thing. Several thousand in cash is something entirely different.
Effectively, the Chancellor (CEO) controlled the Metropolitan Council (Board of Directors) to keep them in the dark and unable to exercise their legally-mandated oversight function. The Metropolitan (Chairman of the Board) was equally unable to control the activities of the Chancellor. The All-American Council (shareholders) certainly couldn't control the activities.
The comptroller (protodeacon Eric) attempted for several years to work within the system. Failing that, he took the concerns to the Metropolitan Council, and ultimately to the public.
Hopefully this explains the situation better.
Martin D. Watt, CPA
#9.1 Marty Watt on 2006-05-08 08:11
Marty, are you assuming that the Chancellor, Kondratick is solely responsible for this long-running, escalating diversion of discretionary funds? How could he have had absolute control? Didn't the auditors suspect a problem? Were they reached? Was the staff paid off to go along with the Chancellor? Is the OCA infested? It is not likely that one person could have master-minded this operation.
Too many questions with no believable answers result in zero trust.
#9.1.1 Deeply Hurt on 2006-05-09 05:53
I would venture that not only is it possible, it is likely that one person would have sufficient control to effect such a deception.
Did the auditors suspect a problem? Indeed they did! Which is why there was no independent audit performed for the past several years. When they were not allowed to examine bank accounts owned by the OCA, they excluded them from their report. An auditor is independent, but is still dependent on the client to gain access to information. If, as in this case, an auditor is precluded from access to information that they believe is "material" to the financial statements, they are obligated to disclose that lack of access, which their report did.
Subsequent to that time, for reasons not fully known, Metropolitan HERMAN determined an independent audit was unnecessary. Was Metropolitan HERMAN advised by the Chancellor on this point? Unknown.
The staff was paid to follow the Chancellor, in that if they didn't follow, they would be terminated. Their paychecks depended on their obedience. Unlike the business world, it is extremely difficult to quit a church position when you are ordained clergy.
My guess is that if the professional management of the OCA had been laypersons, there would have been significant turnover, as professionals would not have worked in an environment that compromised their independent judgement.
I may have all this entirely wrong -- I may be projecting my personal past experience into this situation and seeing things that aren't there. Nothing so far provides me evidence that things are different than I imagine them to be.
I'm sorry if my comments are not helpful, that isn't my intent.
#188.8.131.52 Marty Watt on 2006-05-11 13:50
Thank you, that does help very much.
#9.1.2 Name withheld on 2006-05-09 12:05
Marty, Now I am still confused. If Protodeacon Wheeler was the comptroller, who is Fr. Strikis? His title now is comptroller. I thought Dn. Wheeler was Treasurer. There is in addition also a job at Syosset designated "Comptroller." How do we differentiate between those two people and those two titles? After Dn. Wheeler was removed, then Bp. Herman served as Treasurer, followed by Fr. Kucynda, and then, I believe, followed by Fr. Dimitri Oselinsky, and now, again, the Treasurer is Fr. Kucynda. During all their tenures, was there not this office of Comptroller, which is now occupied by Fr. Strikis? Who, under this configuration, is responsible for what oversight, and who simply writes the checks as directed by others? And then, who balances the books, and generates reports? And, how can books balance, and reports be generated, when "tens of thousands of dollars, much of it in cash," is missing? So that even those who did not directly misuse the money, must have had to realize that something was amiss. I am wondering whether all of these persons are being interviewed by Proskauer Rose law firm? What kind of a defense is it to state that one was fully aware of what was going on, and that "they (the Metropolitan and the Chancellor) had no choice but to spend that money as they did"? Cate
#9.1.3 Anonymous on 2006-05-10 14:06
The Comptroller's authority (typically) derives from the Treasurer. They are not a check and balance on one another. The Treasurer (in most organizations) is an officer of the organization, whereas the Comptroller is a part of management, or staff.
The distinction between management and ownership is clear in the private corporate realm, where the ownership is the Board and management is the hired help. If you are interested in the appropriate relationship between management and "ownership" (as in trustees, or in this instance Metropolitan Council), read Robert Greenleaf's book "Servant Leadership". He makes a very, very strong case for active oversight of management by the board, and predicts (some 30 years ago) the current crop of corporate misdeeds that would result when management was allowed to run amuck.
I'm sorry if my post was confusing. You are correct, Protodeacon Eric was the Treasurer. The comptroller would be interested in processing transactions, and ensuring they were appropriately approved. The comptroller would not issue a judgement on the propriety of an expense -- only that the expense had the appropriate documentation. Any issues would be brought to the Treasurer, which appeared to occur in this instance.
I know many people don't believe one person could essentially abscond with thousands (millions?) of dollars, or divert this many assets to personal use without being seen. Unfortunately, it occurs every day in corporate America, and typically it is only one person involved. When systems of internal control break down, the opportunity exists for such problems (the technical term is defalcations) to occur.
It is likely that others knew, or should have known, what was occurring. I suspect that those individuals were under obedience to the controlling individual, or at a minimum were dependent on that individual for their living.
I find it very interesting that no one in Syosset is jumping to the Chancellor's defense. Perhaps there are reasons why, but given the Metropolitan is rarely seen in Syosset (living in South Caanan, according to Bp. TIKHON of the West), I can't imagine he is the one with a power base within the central administration.
I hope this is helpful.
#184.108.40.206 Marty Watt on 2006-05-11 14:10
You don't just walk into your bank and withdraw 9,000 Plus dollars, or any amount, without leaving a clear trail. The bankwould require the person obtaining the cash to sign for the money and this can be easily traced.
#10 Anonymous on 2006-05-08 09:31
The problem is not being unable to find who withdrew the money. The problem is determining what happened to the cash AFTER it was withdrawn.
#10.1 Michael Strelka, CPA on 2006-05-09 09:37
So what you are saying is that the CEO duped an entire council and the Metropolitan, as well as the comptroller....all at the same time?
With no type of paperwork whatsoever for the transaction?
So, one man is withdrawing thousands of dollars at a time and NO ONE notices that?
And then Mr Wheeler finally realizes there is a problem and takes his problem to the Metropolitan Council before he was released, I assume, and the CEO dupes that group of people again?
Sorry Marty, that sounds way to good to be true.
#11 Mark Z. on 2006-05-08 15:38
Perhaps my scenario is far fetched, but that's my take on what happened. I've been a forensic accountant for the past few years. I'm comfortable that my scenario is not as far-fetched as it may seem. Everyone is free to draw their own conclusions, absent evidence to the contrary.
1. The Metropolitan Council did not function as a true board of directors/trustees, as it should have. I've been told (and it is listed here in the reflections section) that clergy were told there were questions that should not be asked. I believe the Editor would attest to that as well. Such statements to abdicate fiduciary responsibility originated from the Chancellor.
2. The Hierarchs were not in a position to understand the administration of the Church, much less to provide adequate oversight. The Chancellor position is one based on trust. My take is that the Chancellor did a good job in the early portion of his tenure, built trust, and then (for reasons as yet unknown) slipped ever so slowly into the issues that we now face. It's relatively easy to detect a pattern in retrospect, but with events occuring 1-2 times per year (at least at first) it would be nearly impossible.
The sum of items 1 and 2 are no different that what occurred in Tyco, Worldcom, Enron, the United Way and HealthSouth. CEOs were allowed to run free with little or no oversight or accountability.
3. Dn. Wheeler became (by his own statements) increasingly concerned about the lack of documentation to support expenditures, particularly the lack of documentation to support charges being reimbursed on the Chancellor's personal American Express card.
4. Dn. Wheeler was terminated after raising the issues with the Chancellor, and notified the Metropolitan Council after his termination.
5. As far as the withdrawal of cash goes, only an examination of bank records can confirm who withdrew money from the accounts. From what I've read of the public record, this is the first news of someone obtaining cash from OCA accounts. It has been alleged that people/clergy were instructed to carry US currency, undeclared, into both Soviet Russia and the Russian Federation. Thus far, there is no evidence to support such a claim, except for the statements made by Dn. Wheeler and confirmed by Fr. Kucynda. No rebuttal statement has been yet offered.
To have one man, such a central authority within the organization, have so much power is not unusual at all. To find evidence that that power has been corrupted is equally not that unusual, particularly in situations where the accountability and oversight was not functioning appropriately.
The history of fraud cases is strewn with similarities to this one, both high-profile and low-profile. It is classic (from a fraud perspective). What makes it unusual is that it occured within the ranks of clergy, within a church. Given the nature of the state church from which the OCA was born, perhaps that isn't so surprising. Perhaps the surprising thing is that it has taken this long for such a scandal to be revealed.
I'm ready for a full confession and disclosure, forgiveness and reconciliation, and to move forward, hopefully with significantly more accountability to one another.
#11.1 Marty Watt on 2006-05-11 12:40
I enjoy reading your (and other CPAs') enlightening posts. Has anyone at Sysosset asked for any of these accountants that seem to really have much experience and wisdom to be present at the Spring Session (or at any session for that matter) of the Holy Synod? To have them there in some capacity would be wonderful.
#11.1.1 Anonymous on 2006-05-11 22:04
Don't you understand that the professional organization's the church has already employed regarding the audit and investigation are specialists in the field of employer-employee relations?
What good will it do the Church to have the local CPA who specializes in tax returns and general accounting present at the Spring Session of the Holy Synod?
The proper experts have been hired. Please let us allow them to do their jobs.
#220.127.116.11 Michael Geeza on 2006-05-12 13:01
Thank you Michael,
Yes there will be professionals there who have been conducting the audits and investigations. I believe the findings and actual implementation of sound financial solutions is what is ultimately hoped for from the experts. Whatever findings or solutions are presented by the professionals hired to work the situation, this Spring Session could be having a few financial experts who have regularly been posting to this web site there to at least listen to their findings. Just their presence to build trust and rapport between each other could be a very instructive, humbling and insightful experience. I don't think the investigators and auditors will be done by May 23rd. There could be other opportunities to bring in those few regular financiers who have been posting to meetings who have been teaching us about financial matters on this web site.
#18.104.22.168.1 Pattty Schellbach on 2006-05-12 21:43
I'm not sure I agree. The Accounting firm is certainly not an expert in employee-employer relations. Nor is the law firm, to my knowledge.
It is, I think, important for the Metropolitan Council and Holy Synod to have the best advice they can get in the hiring decisions. It is possible for human resource consulting firms to provide sample job descriptions, evaluation criteria, compensation advice, policies and procedures, etc. I'm not sure if the accounting firm can provide that service or not. I'm pretty confident that isn't within the scope of the law firms responsibility.
I'm quite sure if the Metropolitan Council, or Holy Synod, requested advice, they would get a warm response from the four or five CPAs who are active here, myself included. I'm a consultant, and former Chief Financial Officer in the non-profit world, and I'm sure there are many others who, like me, would love the opportunity to serve the Church in some capacity.
The accounting firm does not (to my knowledge) claim tax expertise. They do specialize in audits and have specialized expertise in accounting for non-profit and tax-exempt organizations.
#22.214.171.124.2 Marty Watt on 2006-05-13 14:25
Thank you Marty,
I believe you helped sketch out why the presence of the 4 or 5 or so regular financiers or CPAs who have posted to this site would be enlightening and instructive atthe Spring Session. You brought up a very good point on hiring new employees. Your comments this way fill a very important aspect in which no one else has yet brought up: How do you hire new talent?
I don't know: I know it might be too late for Syosset to get you there for May 23rd, but there will be a meeting of the Metroplitan Council in June. Could someone write Sysosset, perhaps you, Marty, and ask if you 4 or 5 could be invited as consultants for that meeting or one of your own making with Syosset?
#126.96.36.199.2.1 Anonymous on 2006-05-14 19:36
Finally someone has addressed the debt problem. Regardless of what is found after all the investigations, the "lost" money will not be available. I am concerned with the current debt problem. There is a current annual deficit of over $600,000. Taking on another loan will not solve the problem but will exacerbate it. One does not get out of debt by taking on another one. It is time to look at the available assets to reduce the debt and hopefully also reduce the deficit. This is wqually if not more important than the allegations. What has happened has happened and cannot be changed. The financial decisions made now affect the future of the OCA and can be changed.
#12 Dolores Lichatz on 2006-05-09 08:00
Two things come to my mind that have not been addressed so far: 1) why didn't the Metroplitan Council address the operating deficits?; 2) how will a $2 miilion loan be repaid?
#13 Michael Strelka, CPA on 2006-05-09 09:44
Possible answers: (1) fear of losing privelege, status, kudos and prestige (and in the case of clergy, salary) and (2) fear of speaking up and being shunned.
Read: no moral backbone. Sorry.
Suggestion: (1) laity need to be willing to speak the truth and risk losing their appointments, and (2) clergy need to be willing to walk away from their salaries and get "secular" jobs if that is what it takes to take a stand. Sacrificing moral integrity for a pay check and presitigious appointments is a clear sign of moral decay and weakness.
#13.1 Name Withheld by Request on 2006-05-09 19:45
Dear Michael: As a CPA you clearly have more knowledge than most in this area. So I shal pitch several ideas to you, and await your opinion.
1. For the future, would it be wise for Church Accountability Office, (CAO), similar to the United States Governement Accountintability Office, (Formerly the General Accounting Office), to be created to regularly audit all finances of the OCA?
2. Next would it be equally wise to structure the Treasury of the OCA more like the United States Treasury, as far as finacial receipts, disbursements, and general management are concerned?
3. And finally, could a Financial Secretary be needed to perform other duties not adaquately provided for in the above-mentioned divisions?
I've been wondering about these possibilities for several days, and would appreciate your input.
Thanks. Mark Sudia
#13.2 Mark N. Sudia on 2006-05-12 16:00
I'm not sure how Michael will respond, but I would think the Church is too small to have the oversight function you suggest. There are several reputable firms that offer internal audit services to organizations on a contract basis. They generally go much deeper than the financial statement audit, and with a different purpose. Financial audits are focused on the accuracy and reliability of financial information at a point in time (i.e., annually). Internal audits are focused on the accurate, reliable operation of the systems, processes, and procedures that produce the information on an ongoing basis.
To your second point, the Treasury of the US serves a different purpose than a "Treasurer" or officer of the OCA. Having said that, there are internal control concepts and standards that are widely accepted in the profession that indeed should be implemented. Nothing in those concepts and standards, as far as I can determine, would interfere with the standards of faith.
I believe it might be helpful to have a designated audit official to coordinate and plan the internal audits, augmented by the outside staff as necessary. Perhaps not a permanent position, but one to report directly to the Metropolitan Council.
The most obvious gap in the governance structure is the lack of involvement of the Metropolitan Council in the administration of the OCA. It is not an honorary position -- it is an extremely responsible position, one responsible to us as members and society as representatives of the organization. Allow them to act like a board of trustees, as they are constituted to be, and hire competent, professional management.
Martin D. Watt, CPA
#13.2.1 Marty Watt on 2006-05-13 14:35
Sorry for the delay in replying; I'm also choir director of my church, so my plate in a little full, as you might imagine.
While I agree with the general tenor of your suggestions, I would also agree with Marty's comments. Here is what I suggest instead:
1) Sell off all the Syosset properties. Close the Chancery and move it to a lower cost area, near D.C., and rent offices.
2) Move the Metropolitan to the Maryland suburbs of D.C., where he should be in the first place. I'm sure we could find him a nice house, and there's a perfectly good airport near Baltimore.
3) Move all of the accounting functions and the Treasurer away from the Chancery offices.
4) Hire a competent bookkeeper, with oversight by several volunteer CPA's (I can name some who would be willing).
Marty and I have discussed at length the internal controls that need to be put in place, the lack of which have cost us dearly. Without them, we are doomed to failure once again sometime in the future.
#13.2.2 Michael Strelka on 2006-05-22 09:07
Anon. wrote: "Who are we to trust going forward? How are they to be held accountable?"
Other bishops will (or won't) hold them accountable. God will hold them accountable.
Have you forgotten that St. Isaac attained sainthood under a heretic bishop? The last time I checked, all of our OCA bishops are still affirming the Creed. They are also appointing priests to parishes, who feed us the Holy Body and Blood, who hear our confessions, and in many other ways help us work toward theosis.
I thank God I can never be a bishop! What evil I would do! If I can barely and infrequently resist the little demons satan sends my way how would I ever resist the terrible invisible powers with which he wages war against the bishops.
Without excusing any wrongdoing, I can honestly say that I am amazed that the bishops have done as well as they have. But they should work to do better. And I should work to do better. Perhaps your sins are small matters compared to the bishops' sins, but my sins are greater than theirs. By God's mercy, perhaps I will do half as well as them.
#14 Matt Karnes on 2006-05-09 18:00
First, I believe generalizations, be they of theology, anthropology, history, sociology, psychology, and the like are self-serving, deceptive, and ultimately harmful. Secondly, with all due respect, unleashing this diatribe, in this space, strikes me as a grandiose distraction that, in my estimation, demeans the expressed purpose of this forum. We have more likely become a culture of "mission statements" and "policies and procedures" as the result of disrespect for expressed purpose. Am I misinterpreting the obvious in suggesting that "money" is merely a single symptom of the immense and complex moral and spiritual issues involved here?
#15 M. Stankovich on 2006-05-12 23:58
Does anyone know if the audit firm has any OCA members as partners?
#16 Daniel E. Fall on 2006-05-17 23:22
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