Monday, June 16. 2008
Your comments, reactions, etc. to the editorial are welcome.
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How refreshing is the truth.
Truth shall spring out of the earth,
and righteousness shall look down from heaven
Yes, the Lord will give what is good
and our land will yield its increase
Righteousness will go before Him
and shall make HIS FOOTSTEPS
OUR PATHWAY. (Psalm 85:11-13_
#1 Karen Jermyn on 2008-06-16 07:09
This is like beating a dead horse , move on and try to find a new scapegoat. This is old and becoming sad to the orthodox people. This site has become a joke. Move on Stokoe.
#2 Anonymous on 2008-06-16 07:31
I AGREE STOKOE! THIS WEBSITE HAS BECOME A JOKE! NO FACTS! JUST GOSSIP! AND PEOPLE ARE FED UP WITH THE LIES THIS WEBSITE PUTS OUT! JUST LIKE THE MC HAS "POWER" IT HAS AS MUCH POWER AS THIS WEBSITE! NONE! BUT GO AHEAD TELL SOME MORE MADE UP STORIES! ABOUT THE MET OR ABOUT ST TIKHONS! COME ON STOKOE! SHUT DOWN THIS GOSSIP WEBSITE! DO THE CHURCH SOME GOOD! I ALWAYS SAID GO START YOUR OWN CHURCH! AND PLEASE LEAVE THE OCA ALONE! IN TIME IT WILL RESOLVE ANY PROBLEMS FROM THE PAST! HAVE A LITTLE FAITH!
#2.1 Anonymous on 2008-06-16 13:17
Keep up the hard work and tireless efforts to help the OCA and restore truth, ethics, accountability, and a mature, loving and responsible Christian ethos to our devastated Church.
Do you think it's wise to let lunatics like this "Anonymous" waste precious online real estate, spread such outrageous lies, spew such disgusting vile, and distract from the task at hand? These types of comments are an insult to the intelligence of all OCA members and the DISGUSTING COWARD who posted it should not be given a venue where he dumps such immature and idiotic GARBAGE. Just a thought...
God bless you for the continuing battle and heavy lifting you're doing on behalf of the Church and all of us. Words cannot express our gratitude and respect for all that you have done and continue to do.
Oh Chris, I'm glad Mark allows these folks to post. It shows the stark contrast between the reasonable and thoughtful love for the OCA and American Orthodoxy in general that he and others have and the sad, backward, small, and shallow mindset of those who would love nothing more than to see the OCA and Orthodoxy in general remain imprisoned in the suicidal ghettos of short-sighted ignorance.
Let them keep posting,Mark. It helps.
#184.108.40.206 Barnabas Powell on 2008-06-17 06:57
"PLEASE LEAVE THE OCA ALONE! IN TIME IT WILL RESOLVE ANY PROBLEMS FROM THE PAST!"
Dear Mr/Ms/Fr/Vladiko Anonymous: I will believe this statement when we find out what happened to all the ADM grant monies. By the by, why are you always shouting? You're going to hurt yourself.
#2.1.2 Michael Strelka on 2008-06-17 07:40
If you truly believe what you just wrote then I would think you would want to move on and not bother reading this website. Mark is providing information in, what I believe, is a fair and balanced manner. Moving on does nothing but leave the residue of mistrust, disappointment, and severe spiritual harm for many. It is not over until it is over...and even if people do move on it may be to other Orthodox jurisdictions. Even after all the words, comments and suggestions- the answers are still not forthcoming. It is time to act, however, moving on isn't an option. Any positive, proactive suggestions?
#2.2 Carpathia on 2008-06-16 13:33
MARK IS PROVIDING 'GOSSIP' THAT'S ALL THIS WEBSITE IS! THIS WEBSITE HAS NEVER GIVEN OUT THE FACTS! WHEN MARK CLAIMS THE MC HAS "POWER" WHAT IS STOKOE "SMOKING" THIS IS THE TYPE OF INFORMATION STOKOE PUT OUT! HOW MUCH POWER DOES THE MC HAVE STOKOE? BE HONEST! NONE! THATS A FACT! IN YOUR MIND IT MIGHT HAVE POWER! THE FACT IS IT DOESNOT! IT IS NOTHING MORE THEN A "INFORMATION GROUP OF PEOPLE" GIVING IDEAS, ETC. THIS SITE IS GOING BELLY UP SOON ANYWAY!
(Editor's note: You are absolutely right - this site has no power, just as the man who inspired it had no power, or rather, had his power manifested in powerlessness. Heaven knows He has had little effect on the world! But I must disagree with your last comment. This site is not "going belly up soon". If you think that, one has to ask what you are smoking! Sorry to disappoint you, OCANews.org is here for the long haul,
#2.2.1 Anonymous on 2008-06-17 09:50
Excuse me Sir-if this website has no worth why are there so many reasoned contributions and comments? Why are you so angry? Do you have relatives involved? Are you concerned that the truth will come out and your reputation will be tainted? Where is the money? Where are the attempts to reveal the truth and allow the OCA to move forward? How do you stand up on Sunday and read the Epistle and harbor such hatred for anyone who does not follow your logic? Why are you so anxious to see this website fall and go "belly up"? You are expending your energy in the wrong quarters. As an Orthodox Christian you should want to know and defend the truth and not hamper the truth from being revealed. Perhaps you have personal connections and can pick up the phone and call "The Met". Use your power for the good of the Church.
This is America and freedom of speech allows anyone to get on this website and share their thoughts. The truth will come out and spewing your anger in CAPS will not change the need for accountability and restitution from those individuals who are morally corrupt and have damaged The Church with their greed.
I hope you find peace, not only for your physical and spiritual health, but also for your salvation. God help us all to bring this entire mess to a truthful conclusion!
#220.127.116.11 Carpathia on 2008-06-17 14:21
Yes Carpathia, You hit the nail on the head, this club in Akron Ohio has a lot to be fearful of. Losing status quo, connections to St. Tikons, french benefits, ect. the list goes on and on.
Denial comes in all forms of ways.
As ridiculous as this all caps person sounds, this is a vital part of the puzzle of the past, shown in the present.
Mental illness of the people involved in this scandal is much like a child being beat on by a spouse while the other spouse watches and does nothing, to save the child or the very soul that is wounded. Lord have Mercy! as we continue to learn about the illness that has spread inside the OCA.
#18.104.22.168.1 Anonymous on 2008-06-18 08:38
Good to see you back, All Caps Anonymous Guy! I'm sure I speak for many of us when I say that your courteous, restrained and well thought out comments are a bright spot in an otherwise dreary day. I note that you continue to obsess about power. Yes, that is certainly what Christ commands His followers to think about, night and day, all the time. I'm sure that He also approves the unhinged and raving anger you display. He, after all, was certainly well known for his habit of verbally abusing those with whom He disagreed. All things considered, All Caps Anonymous Guy, you are one fine model of an Orthodox Christian, and a splendid advertisement for our Church.
Okay. Enough kidding around. Just how do you dare to approach the Chalice with so much hatred and anger in your heart?
#22.214.171.124 Scott Walker on 2008-06-18 11:51
I HAVE NO ANGER! JUST LIKE THIS WEBSITE YOU AND THE AUTHOR DONT KNOW ME YET. YOU SAY I HAVE ANGER? THE TRUTH I SPEAK IS THAT THIS WEBSITE IS NOTHING MORE THEN "GOSSIP' ! DO YOU HAVE A PROBLEM WITH THAT? IF I'M TELLING THE TRUTH PLEASE DONT GET MADE AND ANGRY WITH ME! YOU NEED TO GO SEE DR. PHIL! YOU MIGHT NOT WANTTO HEAR IT AGAIN BUT THIS WEBSITE AND ITS AUTHOR IS A NOBODY! THATS A FACT! SORRY TO HURT YOUR LITTLE FEELINGS! GET OVER IT!
#126.96.36.199.1 Anonymous on 2008-06-20 11:01
I really am hoping we'll find out that this poster isn't actually an OCA member after all. These posts are getting downright embarrassing.
#188.8.131.52.1.1 Valentine on 2008-06-20 18:24
No, All Caps Anonymous guy, I'm not "made" at you. I think you're interesting, in the same way that a seven car pileup on I-5 is interesting. Try as one might to simply roll on, one always slows down to look. Crumpled metal, steam erupting from shattered radiators and a hubcap slowly spinning out of sight on the breakdown lane; that's you, All Caps Anonymous Guy. Time to shake the head, make the sign of the Cross, mutter "Too bad," and drive on.
#184.108.40.206.1.2 Scott Walker on 2008-06-20 18:45
Liars and deceivers hate the truth. Keep speaking it Mark. Thank you for your tireless efforts. This is a wonderful overview of the deep-seated problems that have had decades to ingrain themselves. Clearly, you expose the wounds and the wounded aren't liking hearing about it. You'd think they'd welcome a healing word, but alas, they seem to prefer hurling stones out of dark caves.
What strikes me is the degree to which hypocrisy has settled in. How can liars and deceivers attend so many liturgies and not be convicted by what they experience? How can they commune in good conscience, all the while condemning those who fail to kiss the ring the right way? It would appear that our liturgical experience is lacking the power thereof. How can we profess to believe in the salvific qualities of the liturgical life, and then not see its fruit? Something is deeply wrong with our standards of "right" behavior.
#220.127.116.11 Anon. on 2008-06-18 15:57
In my opinion the horse has been dead for a long time. We are now beating the ground where the horse is buried.
Herman and the synod refuse to do anything except live in their own worlds. Maybe that's the way to go!
#2.3 MP on 2008-06-18 04:14
Everyone seems to make this entire mess too complicated. As in any organization where there is wrong doing, ALL the culprits are purged immediately, new leaders are elected and the organization moves on. Those dismissed are dealt with outside the organization usually in civil courts. Our CURRENT problem is that no one has removed + Herman. He's as guilty as RSK and + Theodosius and there he still sits as head of the OCA. Is it any wonder that the OCA can't recover? How can an organization regain health when the cancer hasn't been removed? What does it take?
#3 Anonymous on 2008-06-16 07:35
The problem has been oversimplified as a financial one by all of them since 2001! How dare you simplify if further as a problem of a bad Metropolitan. Wake up!
The reality is that budgeting correctly and spending wisely are not simple. They are complex and not one person in the OCA management or laity has done a good job of it.
If they had, the graft of a million bucks would have been obvious. Picture this, a group of people that put forward a fair budget end up thousand in the red and never ask why for 7 years?
According to an accounting citation from the retired Bishop Tikhon of the West, everyone on the distribution list of the 2002 compilation reports issued sometime in 2003 would have full well known the OCA was in financial trouble well back into 2001. If they didn't, they didn't belong in any fiduciary position. That includes then Treasurer Herman, then all MC members and then all Synod members.
Gross financial mismanagement or worse graft takes a combination of several things.. First, typically collusion is required for the graft of a million. The second and politically inferior SIC would do well to identify whether the graft was intentional, or silenced so people could retain their jobs, etc. We know that Deacon Wheeler did his best to identify issues to certain people and it resulted in "take it like a man".
Grossssss financial mismanagement requires negligence or gross error. We know that some errors were made in the stock markets. We also know that there is clear negligence to allow RSK the graft of a million over several years.
The second and politically inferior SIC must identify those parties that were negligent in fiduciary duty or its report will be rendered mute by anyone with any intelligence.
Stop oversimplifying the issue into one of a bad Metropolitan.
More than he are to blame.
When the OCA releases the compilation reports distribution lists from 2001 to 2007, with those compilation reports; we will all know the truth about who is truly responsible and what was known to be the TRUTH about the financial health of the OCA.
Are the allegations true or false is a grossly oversimplified statement and it would be very wise for the good Bishop Job to recognize it.
If the second and politically inferior SIC doesn't release compilation distribution lists from 2001 to 2007, the 2008 AAC will be right up there with the Carol Burnett show by my standards. The only differerence would be Carol Burnett had some integrity producing her comedy show..
#3.1 Daniel E. Fall on 2008-06-17 20:09
"The Present Task" will be an excellent chapter to serve as the epilogue of the OCA's story. Perhaps as both introduction and the epilogue - a very James Joyce kind of format.
The last long chapter was already written as the OCA foot dragged this affair out over the last many years. By now they have gotten away with 'it'. IT referring to the entire escapde. It's over, Mark.
A long time ago one of the contributors framed the 'problems' and their exposure in terms of 'tell it first - tell it straight..'; the way governments and corporations handle such issues in the modern world. Watergate's cynicism is an American virtue by now.
What will happen at the Pittsburgh meeting(s)? Tabled motions, motions out-of-order or ruled not germane. Problems with voting eligibility... lack of quorums, minutae of language stalling progress. But committees will be named, 'working groups' established, information requests autorized, reports requested; oh yes. This will all add up to nothing. The OCA will run out the clock as if in a sports game. The actual meeting time is limited, OCA establishment's machinations - unlimited.
"The Present Task" is perhaps the best written commentary in all my years of reading this site. (By the way, how much flack did John Nunnally get for the shock & awe article? His priest was adamant that there is only one website for OCA matters ... typical of insiders)
#4 Jim Murray on 2008-06-16 07:36
Very well stated, but I really think it comes too late. The current Metropolitan will NOT step down or be re-elected. He lives in his own world and it is obvious cares about very few.
The trend in the orthodox world (the Romanians are doing it and the Bulgarians will follow) is to go back to the Mother Church. I belive that's the answer since the current synod of bishops who are far from holy does not have the confidence of the people.
You can bet your last dollar that the SIC will follow Herman's current path. Blame one person period. If the SIC had ANY integrity they would have interviewed RSK. They did not, so you can believe that they will maintain the party line at once again, the expense of the people.
If you are Orthodox, look to another jurisdiction for peace in your heart. The synod of bishops of the OCA do not have a heart or a conscience. At one time it appeared that Archbishop Job had some promise, but he too has disappointed many.
#4.1 MP on 2008-06-16 11:31
Its not just the Bishops. Priests like RSK, Kucynda, Oselinsky (all three officers at the same time when a lot of this rubbish went on) know what the score is and what went on .... While the Synod is a worthless bunch .... there are others that can match them quality for quality and deserve as much blame for this continuing on as long as it has and for its further continuance. Don't let these three off the hook.
#4.1.1 Anonymous on 2008-06-16 16:02
Many thanks to the writer for stating the obvious about what needs to be done. Now all Orthodox Christian laity and clergy who see that the Church needs to heal must pray unceasingly and act accordingly so that a timeline shall be enforced in order to keep the process moving. The more time that is spent in waffling and indecision, the more that forgetfulness and non-healing sets in. May all Orthodox Christians pray that before the Feast of Pascha next year the Church will have become purged and cleansed by Our Triune God who is the Master Physician of us all.
#5 Tikhon Johannovich on 2008-06-16 07:43
By next Pascha?????
If this baloney continues one day past the AAC, EVERYONE should leave the OCA. Stop going to church, stop paying any money, ignore all priests and bishops. Go to the Greeks, the Antiochians, etc.
#5.1 Anonymous on 2008-06-16 08:57
"And thus I clothe my naked villainy
With old odd ends stolen out of holy writ,
And seem a saint when most I play the devil."
(Richard III. 1. 3)
When will it end?
It will end when the Church stops rewarding impostors, when it stops playing Church and exalting in appearances rather than in righteousness. You asked; I answered.
#6.1 Karen Jermyn on 2008-06-17 10:07
And you answered it well!
This might be off topic, but can someone please give a recent update on what happened to the former Bishop of Sitka, his former chancellor, and others involved with the scandal in Alaska?
Where are they located now? Are they still officially part of the OCA? Are they attached to a particular parish? Do they still serve public Divine Liturgies? Does the former Bishop of Sitka still server with other Bishops at OCA functions?
#7 Mark Giesh on 2008-06-16 13:01
Another internet forum, I can't remember which one, has reported that Nicolai and few of his clergy friends, have moved to Australia; I don't know where in Australia. The other two had gone first, perhaps checking the lay of the land, for Nicolai.
#7.1 B.W. Trakas on 2008-06-16 19:41
With respect, the "present task" set out here is unimaginative at best, narcissistic at worst.
The "present task" is to grow the Orthodox faith in North America not just reform the mind-set of an aging set of Bishops in one of the least visible Church fragments on the continent.
Union with the Antiochians will solve both the administrative issues clouding OCA pastoral life and allow North American Orthodox to focus resources on the far more important "present task".
How much narrower is the vision set out here? Well, listen. "Self-criticism, a coming to terms of our Bishops, priests and lay elite with their responsibilities for the facades, is the necessary precondition of rebuilding our Church as community; and not just rebuilding yet another Potemkin village..."
Cultural revolution in the OCA hierarchy - this is really the "present task"??? Or could it be that repainting the leaky OCA jurisdictional boat simply a giant distraction from the real work before us?
If I'm wrong to think that union with Antioch as a step towards Orthodox unity in North America is more important than reforming the OCA heirarchy, please tell me why. Please.
(Editor's note: Because the latter will not happen until the former is accomplished.)
#8 anon Canadian on 2008-06-16 13:15
The Antiochians do not want to merge with the OCA because the OCA is too "conservative," too Russian for the direction in which Metropolitan Philip wants to take his "Self-Ruled." What OCA priest wants to be called a "fundamentalist" because he wears his riassa outside of church services or wears his hear long with a beard? ... It is disturbing that many in the OCA seek to escape their reality by this fantasy that union with the Self-Ruled is the answer to all of the OCA's problems. Wake up, O dreamers!
#8.1 Anonymous on 2008-06-16 16:40
Your assessment is fair. However, not all of the Antiochian bishops agree with Metropolitan Philip. His Eminence is also advanced in age. Thus, the OCA and the AOA have yet something else in common: a future clouded by the not-so-distant end of key hierarchs. "Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned." (Rom. 5:12)
#8.1.1 John on 2008-06-16 19:47
Anon wrote: What OCA priest wants to be called a "fundamentalist" because he wears his riassa outside of church services or wears his hear long with a beard?
If you can tell us what this has to do with a pastoral role in the salvation of souls, perhaps we can understand why this becomes an important practice. Your church has had two bishops in recent times who felt that these two issues were important, and both were the authors of severe spiritual suffering on so many other issues. One was able to spend hours writing and promulgating "important documents", such as The Proper Wear of Clergy Headgear or Properly Addressing a Member of the Epsicopate in Correspondence, while never visiting or even contacting seriously ill or dying clergy in the hospital.
It is externals such as these that distract from the Christian life that is supposed to arise and flourish with the Church. Will riassas and beards feed the hungry, clothe the naked, give drink to the thirsty, welcome the stranger or visit those that are sick and in prison? Will riassas and beards alone spread the Gospel? Are they necessary to spread the Gospel?
Rather than being obsessed with the wrapper, perhaps it is time to look at the contents within and see if they are truly Christian and truly Orthodox. Something that is not nutritious, regardless of the wrapper, remains incapable of providing nourishment. It appears to me that Mark, as well as many others, are calling for putting the nutrition back into the OCA.
#8.1.2 Overseas Observer on 2008-06-17 01:11
Church rituals are the outward signs ["externals'"] of our immaterial relationship with the Living God. Dostoevsky wrote a remarkable parable about the growth of sectarian antiritualism in Russia during the last century:
They carry a vessel of very precious liquid; all fall down, all kiss and adore the vessel containing this precious life-giving fluid. And then, suddenly, people stand up and begin to cry: You blind! Why do you kiss the vessel? It is only the live-giving fluid contained in it that is precious; only the contents is precious and not the container; but you are kissing glass, simple glass; you adore the vessel and the glass, ascribing all the holiness to it, and you are forgetting about the precious fluid that it contains. You idol-worshipers! Throw away the vessel and break it. Adore only the life-giving fluid, and not the glass!
And the glass was broken, as we read further in Dostoevsky's parable, and the life-giving fluid, the precious contents, is poured out on the earth and disappears into the earth. They have broken the vessel and lost the liquid. What miserable, unhappy, benighted people! exclaims Dostoevsky as he ends his parable.
#18.104.22.168 Anonymous on 2008-06-17 15:33
More from Dostoevsky:
"The vessel has been smashed and the liquid lost. But before all the liquid has disappeared into the the earth, a hubbub commences: so as to save what little remains in a few potsherds, people begin shouting that a new vessel is needed at once; they begin quarreling about how and of what to fashion it. The dispute arises from the very beginning; and at once, from the first few words, the letter of the matter becomes the issue. They are prepared to pay homage to this letter even more than they did to the former one, just so lang as they can acquire a new vessel; but the quarrel becomes more fierce, people split into warring camps, and each camp carries away in its own particular container of whatever size and shape it can find a few drops of the precious liquid that remains and has no further contact with the other camps. Each wants to be saved to be saved through its own vessel, and new quarrels break out in each separate camp. Idolatry increases by many times as there were fragments of the original vessel. ”
Wow, it's as if Fyodor reads ocanews!
#22.214.171.124.1 Anonymous on 2008-06-18 16:16
Were it that every external manifestation were a vessel carrying a precious liquid, this parable would be a true one. However, there is no guarantee that the contents of any vessel is represented by the externals. One need look at the contents as well. To denigrate the AOA because they do not sport the "packaging" of the OCA is pure poppycock. This very web site exists due to the seriously corrupt contents hiding within the impressive "packaging" adorning some of the OCA's leadership.
If one sports a riassa and beard, but hides from those in need, how Christian are the contents of that vessel?
#126.96.36.199.2 Overseas Observer on 2008-06-19 02:24
"If I'm wrong to think that union with Antioch as a step towards Orthodox unity in North America is more important than reforming the OCA heirarchy, please tell me why. Please.
(Editor's note: Because the latter will not happen until the former is accomplished.)"
With great respect to the Editor, I do not understand the reasoning behind your note here. Please explain further.
Common sense and real-world experience would say that any strengthening of OCA office-holders and institutions would in the both the short and long run erect new and more rigid barriers to Orthodox unity in North America.
We must begin from the starting point that neither the OCA nor the Antiochians have any theological barriers between them - both are Orthodox. What separates them are old-fashioned ethnic pride and institutional inertia. It is near to blasphemy to suggest that the OCA should hold itself apart from union with the Antiochians because its Orthodoxy of hair, beards and riassa is purer. And, surely administrative union would be built on providing some measure of protection for local traditions.
Consider this. If the OCA takes this opportunity to merge with the Antiochians, the pressure will soon grow among the Greek parishes to also join. When this happens, all else will fall into place. Just think within the next ten years, we could have Orthodox unity in North America. Following this logic, the current bankruptcy of the OCA hierarchs is a blessing and every minute wasted on fixing the OCA - or “rebuilding our Church as community” - is a minute wasted on pursuing unity. The community of our Church is actually all of North America, not just the OCA.
(Editor's note: How true! But the sad reality, as I have said before, is that administrative unity in North America could be accomplished in 10 minutes with a series of phone calls if there was the will to do so. No government, no outside force, physically prevents the Bishops from accomplishing that task. They themselves do not value unity more than they value or loathe ______________ ( fill in the blank). Until that equation changes, nothing else will. Neither you nor I can accomplish unity more than in our hearts, given our current reality. That unity is not to be sneezed at, but it is not the fullness we seek and the Church teaches.)
#8.2 anon Canadian on 2008-06-17 06:35
“Editor's note: How true! But the sad reality, as I have said before, is that administrative unity in North America could be accomplished in 10 minutes with a series of phone calls if there was the will to do so. No government, no outside force, physically prevents the Bishops from accomplishing that task....”
Thank you very much for clarifying your position. There is certainly logic in your line of reasoning. But I cannot agree with the assumption it is built upon - that union will come about only when the hierarchs are good-and-ready. Please consider that they may never be for reasons related to the rigidity of institutions. Which is why a weakened OCA hierarchy presents an blessed opportunity for us non-hierarchs to push an agenda which under normal circumstances would go nowhere fast. If the OCA elected an Antiochian bishop as its Metropolitan with a mandate to pursue administrative unity, all the old rules could change overnight. The Orthodox community we would then “rebuild” would truly be a community of the future, not of the past.
(Editor's note: As attractive as that idea may be to some, it won't work without the Bishop's agreement either. The Synod is required to approve anyone elected, even with 2/3 of the vote; they simply have to offer a cogent explanation why they did not approve him. So you see, it does all come back to the Bishops.)
#8.2.1 anon Canadian on 2008-06-17 09:27
You are absolutely correct! Union with the Antiochians is the way out of this. Going back to the original outline of SCOBA in 1961, all the Orthodox Churches were supposed to merge together as ONE church called, The Orthodox Church in America (in the original minutes of one of the early meetings). When autocephaly took place in 1970, Frs. Schmemann & Meyendorff pushed very hard for SCOBA to fulfill itself. The Greeks reneged and Constantinople began pushing its authority based on Chalcedon (4th Ecumenical Council) Canon 28. Absolutely ridiculous argument which holds no water. (Listen to Met. Philips presentation on this from the SVS Conference on Mother Churches held 2 weeks ago. All the lectures are available at Ancient Faith Radio along with + Ware and others). After autocephaly in 1970, Met. Philip also resisted joining the OCA stating that the Russians should solve their internal unity problems first - another stall tactic. Reading the OCA newspapers from 1970 - 1980, Fr. Meyendorff asked Met. Philip and others, "What are you waiting for? The OCA is what SCOBA wanted. Why are you waiting?" It all fell on deaf ears.
The OCA still remains the ONLY autocephalous, indigenous, Orthodox Church in North America and under canon law, all Orthodox should come under her. Going back to ANY foreign mother church only sets a church backward 50-100 years in growth and development.
So, the OCA & Antiochians should merge with Bishop Basil Essey as the Metropolitan. He is the ONLY one who understands the Greek, Antiochian and Russian mentalities and has the charisma to make this a reality.
Will it happen? Met. Philip says its his life-long dream, but he's been saying that since the 1960's - where's the action? The OCA is stagnated with bad leaders and via it's current leadership, DYING. We need to get rid of + Herman IMMEDIATELY and move the OCA forward with SERIOUS endeavors with the Antiochians. Nothing else should be more serious at this time than moving this agenda forward. All else is stagnation and stop-gap measures. FOLKS, IT'S BEEN 38 YEARS SINCE AUTOCEPHALY and 47 YEARS SINCE SCOBA'S FORMATION - WHAT ARE THE HIERARCHS WAITING FOR - THE PAROUSIA?????????
#8.3 Anonymous on 2008-06-17 08:12
For what it's worth, our parish will (as of now) be introducing a resolution on Orthodox unity to the AAC, the same one passed last year by the Antiochians. At the very least it can serve as a reminder to the bishops what the laity and presbytery desire.
#8.3.1 Michael Strelka on 2008-06-17 10:02
What was the resolution?
#188.8.131.52 Patty Schellbach on 2008-06-17 15:18
Could it be that Met Phillip saw the problems rooted in the architects of the scandals this web site exists to tackle? If memory serves me correctly, he was fostering a growing commonality of resources with the OCA for quite a while, and then relations seemed to cool. Why would a good shepherd bring his flock into a den of thieves?
As to the issue of Autocephaly - yes, this was granted, and then this golden opportunity to grow a Church in America was squandered. 38 consecutive years of diminishing membership - complete with lame excuses for why. Yes, some parishes have grown, and new parishes have been planted, but the overall picture has been that of "The Incredible Shrinking OCA". If you were the Archbishop of another jurisdiction, would you join forces with a Church that is heading toward extinction, or would you simply continue to evangelize and grow separate from the OCA? Why would anyone "merge" with a struggling venture?
#8.3.2 Overseas Observer on 2008-06-19 09:44
Relations cooled I think because an Antiochian priest was allowed to remarry. How hypocritical of the OCA, considering all their own improprieties were being covered up and denied over the years.
#184.108.40.206 Observer who is not overseas on 2008-06-19 10:56
At the risk of overdramatizing the gravity of the moral crisis within the OCA, I would draw the attention of the faithful to one term in particular in Deacon Eric Wheeler's original presentation of the problem: "blackmail." I suspect that, if we "follow the money," we shall, like the Watergate investigators, manage to uncover the layers of improper and immoral behavior and arrive at the source--or at least one of the principal causes.
#9 Archpriest Alexander F. C. Webster on 2008-06-16 17:39
Bingo! Mark alluded to it or skirted it by using the phrase “Don’t ask, don’t tell”. If what I have been hearing for several years is one-tenth true, the money will lead to a level of sordidness that will make most OCA members faint. None of us will repeat any of it as it is second hand; legally it is hearsay; morally it is gossip. Once it surfaces, if it ever does, the casualties will include people never before named on this site. It will be as if we were playing with fire.
As much as I have touted the progress made in the central administration, I have to admit that Mark’s analysis is the best yet because it speaks to the truth of the matter – there’s too much still uncovered to move on to healing.
#9.1 Terry C. Peet on 2008-06-16 21:39
simply put, the problem of Herman lies in the fact that he cannot resign........borrowed money is borrowed time, upon which he lives........he is owned by a PA bank holding a multi-million dollar loan which bears his signature.........the only question is whether there are other signatories on that note, as the new treasurer is no doubt aware
#10 Guileless on 2008-06-16 17:52
Don't forget about the millions of people that Kucynda swore we had in the OCA. Are we not responsible? Who really has fiduciary responsibility? It appears in the past it was only one person. Is that true?
#10.1 MP on 2008-06-17 08:04
How can Kucynda preach to us truth when he knowingly, to a civil authority, perjured himself with that number. Under NO liberal counting could there be a number that hits 2,000,000. Look at all those zeroes! If Kucynda's number was correct there would be no need for him to perjure himself because we would be bringing in about $200,000,000 a year in assessments and $1,700,000 would be a drop in the bucket. How he made it sound is the yearly assessment, based on a budget of about $3,000,000 is about a buck fifty! We all know THAT'S not the case.
Again, I ask, how can he sign his name, under penalty of perjury, say that statement and then hold the Body of Christ in his hand with a clean concscience. We are told that if we are not clean, not worth, we should not approach the chalice. But when you’re a priest involved in the corruption of the leadership of the Church what are you supposed to do? Act guilty? There is a serious disconnect that not he alone, in the clergy, possesses. Its like a charade in which whatever needs to be done to save their duffs has to be done then they go vest up and look like good priests and fool most of the people all of the time. ENOUGH ALREADY! What is it about serving two masters?
But, we must remember, he said this back when they mistakingly thought that this entire mess was just about the money and that if they refilled the charity coffers and tossed out RSK that everything would be well and good and life would go on. How sorely mistaken they were then and how sorely mistaken they are now. The money is the least of the problems as it can be restored by the generosity of the laity after we’ve cleaned shop. The problem is with the morals of those that we have in positions of leadership and the incongruence of their actions and their preaching. Herman is just the topmost and the most visible – he’s the lightening rod. The face of corruption and every thing diametrically opposed to what a bishop should stand for. But, Herman is allowed to go on because he has a significant base of comrades in whom he knows he’s safe. A cohort that works actively to keep down dessension under fear and intimidation and warnings of the truth will be too painful. Herman would have been gone already if it wasn’t for that support structure. If it wasn’t for those influential clergy who were at the center who keep mum and allow the Church to die. You want to get Herman out, go after the support structures. You have a priest who’s implicated and keeps quiet, withhold the salary! Remove the fear that many clergy keep quiet under. We have clergy who would speak, but they live under the Orthodox Christian fear of the bishops, who justify their oppression with a mangling of the canons that renders them unrecognizable, and those clergy in leadership positions who’s own faith puts their trust in princes of men, in whom there is no salvation, rather than the Lord who’s Resurrection and triumph over the evil one that they so joyfully, it appears, proclaim! Which is it, boys, which is it? God or the forces of darkness?
Just look at the priests deposed in Alaska under Nikolai. He sent them to the ecclesiastical firing squad because he could. He couldn’t have done that without the active involvement not of priests in his down diocese, but Kondratick and Brum brought up from New York. What they will go through to get back at a priest because they can. And because it’s a warning to the others. We’ve not only taken the Russian Church tradition, but we operate like the darkest of Soviet governance. Bishops and clergy who reward the very opposite of that which they tell us in their letters are how we should live. They tell us at the Resurrection that we have been freed and are no longer in the grip of death! But then they go out and make sure that the good, God loving clergy, who are pained by the state of this Church make sure they say nothing under fear of retribution. We’ve been freed from the grip of death? Which is it that these priests who oppress and support the forces of corruption really believe? What they preach or how they act? When walking down Morality Avenue, if you see one of these priests coming at you on the sidewalk, are you going to go to the other side of the street? This, my friends, is what the Lord intended when He created this Church? Think about it. Really think about it.
This problem is not going to go away with the removal of Herman, sadly to say, because we have members of the clergy who knew what was going on and have participated, condoned, or actively participated to cover it up. These are the men (and I use that word just in the biological sense) that will still be around preaching to us about morals and go around singing Christ is Risen when their actions show to us no sincerity long after Herman is no longer around. The problem doesn’t get resolved with his departure, just a significant part of the cancer is removed while the rest laying dormant.
And what is the responsibility of the MC in this 2,000,000 person lie when he had to have had the authority from the MC to make that statement and obtain the loan.
How many people are we going to have to lie we have in order to pay off the Velencia suit?
#10.1.1 Anonymous on 2008-06-17 11:16
Dear Mark, I feel very sad after all your hard and intelligent work, it seems as if there really is a belief that the bishops and Metropolitan READ this. I do hope the folks who's hard work went into the writing of this stuff send hard copies to the Met.
I just cannot believe they sit around checking out whatever new relevelation of their own guilt is advertised far and wide.
Off, subject -- the parish I belonged to when I joined the church mostly sent the priest and his wife as a lay delegate, so they could visit old friends and relatives from back east.
So, exampled to me is a real narsiccistic leadership and a dead brained parish only interested in "keeping nice".
#11 Anon. on 2008-06-16 18:30
This editorial couldn't have been more to the point of addressing the current and prior issues affecting the OCA's administration. The clergy and the faithful must study, not just read, this important commentary and determine how to act to remediate the existing administrative deficiencies.
I do not mean to minimize its the importance of this message, but due to its possible relevance to the future of Orthodoxy in North America and the OCA, someone needs to analyze the move last Friday by the SCOBA hierarchs who granted full membership the the Church of Russia's auxiliary bishop for its 33 (+/-) parishes in America. Greek Orthodox Archbishop Demetrios of America and SCOBA Chairman had visited Moscow the week before this action. The reasoning behind Patriarch Alexei's apparent request for this action and Patriarch Bartholomew's opinion of this action would provide valuable incite as to what may have been behind this move, along with some knowledge of what may have transpired during Metropolitan Phillip's meeting with all SCOBA members who are not under the Ecumenical Patriarch.
#12 B.W. Trakas on 2008-06-16 19:32
a super-teriffic analysis!
#13 Fr.Michael J Mihalick on 2008-06-17 06:43
In response to several comments here and elsewhere on this site, a quote from Fr Hopko's book "If We Confess" :
"There are never so many or so great sins that God is not able to forgive them. There is never a confession so perfect that it merits God's mercy... There is never a Holy Communion which is not both given and received by a sinner. Any other thoughts on any of these points is not only bad theology, but blasphemy; and could even lead to mental and spiritual disorder."
In the 39 Articles of the Anglican tradition from which the Lord led me to the Orthodox Church 20 years ago, we find this:
"... *the unworthiness of the Ministers ... hinders not the effect of the Sacrament*" ... but in addition. "Nevertheless, it appertaineth to the discipline of the Church, that inquiry be made of evil ministers, and that they be accsed by those that have knowledge of their offences; and finally being found guilty, by just judgment be deposed" (Article 26). I don't know the Orthodox canons on this matter, but I expect it will be on similar lines.
St John Chrysostom has this: "It is not evil report that you should fear, but lest you should prove partakers in dissimulation" (Homily XV on Matthew V, in The Bible and the Holy Fathers, Tuesday after Pentecost).
#14 Jane Szepesi on 2008-06-17 06:48
At least someone else recognizes the fact that calls for resignation, pleas, etc., is not going to result in this guy resigning. He's got too much too lose, all those that have been blissfully concealed by him staying in office, have too much to lose. Last person on earth that wants him to resign is Kondratick - well, at least until the statute of limitations runs out. Herman's purpose at this point is delay and obstruction. Whatever he can do to prolong his tenure so that the statute runs out and he's able to put into the files of lawyers so that its privileged information, is what he will do.
The only way this guy is going to get removed is by proactive action on the part of people that have the power to remove him. Get off of your lofty ideas that any amount of pleading or petitions is going to whack him in the head with rationality and he's going to resign. It long ago stopped by for the good of the Church and turned into what's good for the miscreants.
Unless the MC gets off its duff and realizes it can't reason with Swaiko and the Synod realizes they are going to be completely ineffective even when he's gone beacuse they've lost all credibility by toeing his line, nothing's going to change.
You can surely count on none of the faithful priests who've helped him get to this point, like Kondratick, Kucynda, and Oselinsky doing anything of any Godly nature to get him out either.
#15 Anonymous on 2008-06-17 06:57
The way forward, as I see it, and as someone mentioned a while ago as well, is that the OCA needs to have a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) when it comes to financials, management, investigations, etc. On the OCA website you can find the new Sexual Misconduct policy and a few other policies for canonical matters, but nothing nitty gritty or day to day on how one is to respond to certain situations, deal with money, pay for things, etc. I worked as a manager at McDonald's for quite a few years, nothing glamorous, but there is a reason they are the #1 restaurant in the world - they have a set of well researched SOP which govern their restaurants from Alamo, TX to Luxor, Egypt (been there, bought the ice cream cone). Yes, the teenager taking your order may be completely incompetent, but they are operating in a system which makes sure that payment is transacted properly 99.9% of the time and you usually get what you paid for, if you don't, there's Operating Procedures on how to properly fix that too. When I look at how the OCA functions I don't see a bit of this, from the tiny parish level up to Syosset. Each parish figures out their own procedures on their own, for better or for worse, and each bishop does too. I have a simple question, when a bishop gets new vestments who pays for them, himself out of his own salary or does the diocese have a fund for this? I don't know, and I can't even begin to figure out how to find out short of calling up each of the bishops themselves. When a bishop takes guests out to eat, does this come out of his personal funds or the diocese? Does the OCA have any policy at all for these issues? Having a SOP for issues like these would go a long way towards solving the problems we've been having. A place to start would be the following principles:
1. An awareness of, and the commitment to follow, the civil laws. Sad to say, I've seen many OCA clergy and administrators knowingly disregard civil employment, non-discrimination, and disclosure laws. This is not just those in Syosset, but Seminary administrators and heads of monasteries, as well as parish priests (as the recent 5 million dollar lawsuit makes evident). As a manager at McDonald's I was legally responsible to make sure that the minor workers DID NOT work one minute over their legal limit (which varied based upon how old they were, whether it was a school night, how many hours they had already worked that week, etc.) whether we were "slammed" with customers or not, I had to send them home, even if they meant a loss of bussiness and revenue. Why? Because it was the law. The OCA has yet to learn this regard for civil law, and it is time the administration takes steps to 1) inform every clergyman of their civil rights and responsibilities and 2) have a zero-tolerance policy towards clergymen who actively disregard or try to circumvent the civil laws. This would include taking large amounts of undisclosed cash to Russia.
2) Turn over the bucket of gray areas and sort out in written form who pays for what and when. At McDonald's there are set procedures on how much food employees can eat for free and how much they can buy at a discount. Like I mentioned above, I don't see the OCA having anything resembling this SOP. Who pays for vestments or dinners? Is the procedure for this the same for a mission priest as it is for Metropolitan? It seems to me that these things are now decided based solely upon the integrity of each priest or bishop. It is now clear that we can't simply rely on the bishop's "honor" anymore, nor should we. It should be decided which procedure is best for the Church, educate the clergy on that procedure, and expect them to follow it.
3) There should be a SOP for taking complaints and concerns seriously. There should be a way to properly file such things, with someone watching these files who is then able to proactively solve imminent problems. Again, at McDonald's anyone could be "written up" for making a poor decision or failure to follow the SOP, from the lowest crew member to the head manager. These "write ups" had to be signed off by two managers, and they would be looked at when the employee came up for review. If there was a consistent problem, intervention procedures where taken. If there were a number of "write ups" over a short amount of time, the employee would be terminated. In our parishes we need a way for the people to lodge a complaint against a clergyman for infractions against the SOP or civil law. In a parish, if the teenage girls (or boys) confide in one of the council members that the priest makes them feel very uncomfortable in confession, though he hasn't actually done anything wrong, there should be a way to file their complaint with the bishop. The bishop can consider this complaint, and any related complaints, and if he has concerns he can make an intervention, before anyone is actually hurt. This is different, of course, from an actual grievance, the point of such a system is to keep grievances from happening.
These SOP's aren't rocket science, and I'm not saying we should run the OCA like it's McDonald's. What I'm saying is that the OCA needs to take itself seriously and figure out how best to do things which are both legal and full of integrity, and expect everyone who works in the OCA to keep to these procedures. I really don't think that this is too much to ask.
#16 Anonymous on 2008-06-17 07:21
Yes. The OCA is running itself on casewise decision making authority of the Bishops, which is a grave mistake.
It has rendered the MC fluffy and useless.
It has rendered the laity that elected them useless to recall them.
Not one member of the MC seated at the 2005 AAC should still hold their position.
The governance of the OCA failed, pure and simple.
The new governance has 3 positions reporting to the Metropolitan versus 2 positions reporting to Chancellor and Chancellor to Metropolitan. There were other positive changes as well, but they don't reach nearly far enough.
Sweeping changes in governance with clearly defined SOPs really need to be done, in my opinion.
If I were wrong and we could count on the integrity of people; we'd at least have had a couple of people resign related to the graft of a million dollars.
Facts is facts. No financial system is bulletproof, but our system was an open invitation for abuse well back into the 90s.
#16.1 Daniel E. Fall on 2008-06-18 19:48
My personal opinions:
Is there anyone else out there who believes that the OCA should move out of Syosset and all its extravagance?
Surely the metropolitan can conduct "business" meetings from the diocese of which he is bishop, or from St. Tikhon's or St. Vladimir's seminary. This would present a perfect oportunity for the seminarians to sit in on the meetings and observe their servanthood in action.
In other words, scale down. We are not the Greeks or the Antiochians and the time is way past to support the lavish or lascivious lifestyles of some of our heirarchs and clergy.
This idea has been put forth before: let each parish tithe 10% to its diocese; let each diocese tithe 10% to the central administration; let the metropolitan's main concern be the poor, the widowed, the fatherless and the hungry. Insist he spend not just words but the money that has been tithed in good faith to him as steward for the good of the church and the nurturing of God's "little ones".
Insist he be accountable. Simplicity is this: that each parish truthfully report its tithe to the diocese; that the diocese track the amounts received and disbursed to the metropolitan's stewardship, AND that the metropolitan truthfully report back to the diocese where the money went. No more credit cards. Checks only.
When trust has been earned, after oh, say 38 years or so, then we can look at expanding to overseas travel, ambassadorships, etc.
To simply require +Herman to step down is not enough. +Theodosius retired and the corruption continues. Priests, bishops and others have retired or stepped down. The corruption continues.
It's time to have a council where the "Chair" is elected from the floor; where the parishes have sent people who want their voices heard, and not simply as a "vacation" time for the priest's wife. I admit to my own guilt in this matter; but I am staying home for this one so our council president can have a vote at the AAC.
There is too much at stake for the AAC to be allowed to run "business as usual" with the hand-picked few at the head table.
At this council, make sure the next metropolitan is the choice of the people!! Yell ANAXIOS if he has been hand-picked behind the scenes by the MC or the HSOB. . . cause an uproar! Cease the polite behavior of the "do not disturb" mentality. Do not quash your conscience in this matter!
Do we have bishops or priests of questionable morals? Of course we do! So many of us are afraid to name them publicly, but the time has come to call a spade a spade.
Do we want a pure Church? We must begin with pure heirarchs. We must end the evil stupidity of turning a blind eye to the sin among us. Only then will we free God's hand to purify us.
For the rest of us, let us pray.
Thank you, Mark, for your work. Thank you for allowing the foolish as well as the wise to be heard. We are all children of the one God; each of us has our own unique gifts to offer Him, whether on the internet or in our private prayer corner.
May God be exalted; may His Holy Spirit blow a cleansing wind into the heart of HIS Church in North America.
#17 Cynthia Bodnar on 2008-06-17 12:31
It is rather disturbing to see after all these years, the bulk of posts being signed 'Anonymous', even fairly neutral and non-confronting comments!
Are we so scared still, with the big bad Alaskan wolf gone, that we can't say who we are?
Signing posts with one's real name lends more credibility to what one says, I think. And yes, I'm sure that many of the powers that be, hierarchs, chancellors, archpriests etc., read this list.
PS If you go to the AAC, you will wear a nametag, no? Why not here and be a real mensch!
#18 James Morgan on 2008-06-17 14:08
And I guarantee you there will not be the level of discussion at the AAC, if anyone goes, that you have here.
The point is, that at every level, there is intimidation. There is retribution. There is vindictiveness. Bishops to priests, priests to laity. People say something about this and the bishop is going to get on the priest to silence his parishioners. Its happened already and it'll happen again. When people feel they are free from retribution from our God loving Orthodox Chriistan bishops and their henchmen will people gladly give their names. The church is littered with the bodies of people in the past 3 years who have been targeted for speaking out and nothing has improved. As a result many have left the OCA, some the Church. Do we need that to happen to save the church? People just don't get it through their heads that we are dealing with bad people here, some very bad. Look at what the retributions were in Alaska, it goes on elsewhere too.
We have been through this a million times already and people just don't get the arguments in favor of anonymity that far outweigh the curiosity of readers to know who has written what here. The ideas should stand on their own and do that when you don't taint the ideas with the identity of those who write them. An idea should not be merited more because a Hopko wrote it and given a shrug cause some guy wrote it who sits at the back of the church in some town no one has heard of in Western PA and makes no sentiments known at his parish.
Live with the anonymity and appreciate the participation, its going to be here at least as long as this cancer is allowed to live and kill its host.
#18.1 Anonymous on 2008-06-18 08:30
A couple of years ago, I made the same statement. I agree with you.
If anyone makes a statement, and believes in it, he should be PROUD of his name, and his contribution.
Don't be afraid of your priest, dean, chancellor,bishop or mh !! These people don't hold the key to HEAVEN !!!
St. James - Brother of the Lord
Kansas City, MO
#18.2 Anonymous on 2008-06-18 11:19
They don't hold the keys to heaven, true! Hell, they can't even show you how to get there, but they can make your spiritual life a living nightmare. Just look at what happened when someone crossed Ray Velencia. Look at others who have quit their parish or diocesan or national roles because of what has happened. Not many people want to be subjected to the level of piety in many of the priests and bishops who are caught up in this scandal.
Again, this is more of a desire to see who's saying what, to provide grist for the gossip mill rather than wanting people to have pride in their arguments. Let's face it, that's the point of the non anonymity argument.
Hey, Mark, disallow anonymity on a couple of threads, you need the rest.
#18.2.1 Anonymous on 2008-06-18 16:51
Can someone explain to me the validity of SCOBA granting membership to the parishes of the auxiliary bishop of the Church in *Russia*, when SCOBA stands for the "Standing Conference of Orthodox Bishops *in America*???
#19 David Barrett on 2008-06-17 22:29
You have misunderstood. There are roughly 30+ parishes of the Russian Orthodox Church-MP HERE in America. Bishop Merkury resides in NYC at St. Nicholas Cathedral on 97th St.
It is essentially the same situation with the Greek, Serbian, Romanian, Bulgarian and Antiochian bishops who sit on SCOBA. They represent parishes of a foreign Patriarchate established in this country.
'Russia' is not being represented, rather those Russian parishes here on American soil.
#19.1 GS on 2008-06-19 21:14
Who really cares who/what is on SCOBA? What has SCOBA done for you lately? It’s a social organization more than anything else. If they had any real desire to do anything they would make a statement to the unGodly behavior undertaken by some of their members who are on the OCA Synod, then we might believe that this is an organization that is interested in Orthodoxy in America. Until the members of SCOBA, either individually or corporately, make a statement either way on the situation in the OCA then this ceremonial super Synod means nothing. They want to talk unity, they want to have study groups, for, as Mark said, something that can be done in 10 minutes if these people had any interest in promoting and growing Orthodoxy in America. Is the membership of a Russian representative bishop something worth getting our britches in a knot? If we got our ship in order and did the missionary work that only a truly American church can, then we’d render the SCOBA idea completely meaningless. Til that happens, forget about them and keep your eye on the problems at hand…
#19.1.1 Anonymous on 2008-06-20 11:10
Congratulations. You hit the nail once again on the head with your insightful and thoughtful commentary.
"Financial impropriety", "misconduct", "lack of moral consciousness", "exploitation" - all words that cry opposite - love, hope, faith and charity.
One need not go to Memorial Day at St. Tikhon's to see how the lack of leadership at the national level has dissolved the majority of educated faithful. I remember on this day traveling that dirt road and counting hundreds of buses. I was so demoralized this year.
Sadly, the scandal has trickled to the local level. Services are "sloppy" and less frequent in my home parish. Sermons here and elsewhere are lacking. Priests are just "going through the motions" in many cases. Financial mismanagement and lack of understanding of financial obligations at these levels are prevalent.
And, what can be said of a Metropolitan who will not schedule a town hall meeting in his own diocese?
Our bishops should be scared of God's judgement, and first seek reconciliation among the faithful as they preach.
I have not and will not pay my OCA assessment, and for the first time this summer have begun exploring other Orthodox churches. For here, it seems hopeless, and to me, that is contrary to Christ and the Bible and the course of my own salvation.
#20 Anonymous on 2008-06-18 04:14
An Interesting Artticle,
Research from a University of Dayton accounting professor sheds light on U.S. nonprofit organizations. She estimates they loose $40 billion annually to fraud. She summarizes her research in an article posted on the internet. She also provides some tips to help reduce the figure. I think her short article has some significance for us.
The article can be found at: http://news.udayton.edu/News_Article/?contentId=10076D
#21 Samuel Osman on 2008-06-18 07:15
I was unable to find the article on the University of Dayton web site, but found the following, which may be the same article, published in 21 Dec 2007 issue of The Nonprofit Quarterly:
How to Steal from a Nonprofit: Who Does It and How to Prevent It
Janet Greenlee, Mary Fischer, Teresa Gordon, and Elizabeth Keating
It is well worth reading and calls into question a number of the suggestions made here over the past two years as important methods to prevent future financial improprieties.
#21.1 Mark C. Phinney on 2008-06-20 03:43
Clergy and laity are bound to always obey their superiors. I was told this by someone who honestly believes this is always true. However, in the past and it will continue in the future, the evil one constantly rears his ugly presence in the church. It is our duty as good Christians, both laity and clergy to recognize his presence and not to obey his evil words and works. (Acts 20:29-30) “I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them.”
A favorite sermon I heard once pointed out that the devils are sleeping outside the bars, but they are constantly working in the church. It is the duty of all of us to fight this presence in the church. It has to start with those who know anything about the devil’s work in the current crises. They must come clean and repent and resign from their position. Our duty is to forgive them but only after they have contributed to the healing process by admitting their compliance to anything that had occurred to blacked the course of the church. It should start at the top, with the Metropolitan setting an example to all those who look at him as a leader and to set a course to upright a sinking church.
God will NOT allow a corrupt church to exist. He will not help those who wish to further the pain of honest, loving Christians. Mark, your essay was right on. Our pleas may fall on deaf ears but it is without any doubt that those ears will burn with the indignation of our Lord when the final judgment is upon them. How those involved cannot fear this is beyond me!
#22 Lizzie on 2008-06-18 09:22
Your note reminded me of the Ray Velencia saga and how its an example of the deep inbred corruption which would cause Him not to allow this Church to exist. The Ray Velencia situation is troubling to a great magnitude. First of all the sheer stupidity of Fr. Ray in sending his mail to the number of people he did. This stupidity cannot be understated, but what is really telling in this, is that the entire Synod and the MC received it, it was VERY well hidden for 6 months, and nothing happened to Fr. Ray, other than he received an award by the Metropolitan himself who is also named in the suit. We expect Herman to award behavior unbecoming of a clergyman because he feels it a great honor when his priests follow in his path. Fr. Ray might be receiving the Mitre in short order! We’re not even surprised with the Synod, afterall, they have no problem with the behavior of its chairman. In fact, they choose to sweep it under the rug and hope it goes away. They can’t deal properly with people who steal from the very Church they took an oath to protect! You expect them to deal with a person who breaks his priestly confidences with such audacity?! Hell no! So, no surprise there. They, too, reward people of behavior unbecoming an Orthodox Christian let alone a brother bishop and therefore felt no need to do anything with Fr. Ray. If he was eligible, they would love to have him join them in fact! But the biggest disappointment is the MC and the biggest surprise is how they all hid it, every last one of them, until it finally broke with a $6,000,000 lawsuit. I wrote it out so everyone sees how many zero’s that is – it’s a number that a person earning $60,000 a year would have to work 100 years to earn (or 20 years for an adept priest to steal). When we start, if ever, to send in our assessments, its going to take a while to pay off that settlement, provided a jury doesn’t award more. AND we still have that Honesdale loan. We’re mortgaging our future as a Church paying off the misdeeds of people receiving AWARDS!
I ask, how much else is there of this kind that 40 people in positions of authority keep so well hidden and, better yet, do NOTHING ABOUT! Six months after the unheard of disclosing of one’s person problems to a group of 40 people by her spiritual father, the whole of which is responsible for the well being of this church both spiritually and administratively and NOTHING. FORTY people, SIX months and Fr. Ray received no sanctions after breaking sacred trusts in so blatant, pompous, and audacious a manner. Nothing, but an award – how truly telling of the state we find ourselves in. It makes you wonder, it truly does, if there are any good people in positions of responsibility in this Church. It makes you wonder what else is there, what else is there, and if the MC chose to sit on such a powderkeg, what else are they sitting on? The $6,000,000 lawsuit was filed wrongly in one respect. She should have named each member of the Synod and MC individually and held each one individually liable for failing to provide for the good of the Church. Maybe THAT would kick them in the behinds and make them realize that they are there to do more than travel to New York and meet each other socially at the appointed times.
Yes, Lizzie, maybe God is keeping this going because there are none that are holy here, none that care, and why should He allow all of these people to soil His name and His Church? So he continues this scandal til the last of the diehards give up and then He’ll take care of it himself. Of course, though, Lizzie, the problem is that none of them fear God, He’s an abstraction that has no bearing on our lives. Only thing that matters is avoiding the long arm of the law, that’s the only thing that matters, friends, the only thing. As for God, He’s just a buzz word to make the laity feel guilty into sending more money into a corrupt Church. All of His creation goes through a life cycle leading from birth to death, it would be no surprise that He figured the life cycle of this experiment with so unGodly a bunch should die. Dark days, these days, dark indeed.
#22.1 Anonymous on 2008-06-18 11:15
I have not heard any additional news on the Velencia scandal. Mark are there any updates? Has there been any mention of this by the OCA? Have they hired an attorney to respond to the charges or are they trying to make Christian amends?
(Editor's note: Yes, there have been developments. It has been reported to OCANews.org that the insurance carrier for the OCA has declined to defend or represent the OCA in this matter. The OCA has made no comment. As information becomes available, OCANews.org will make it known. )
#22.1.1 S Lewis on 2008-07-24 14:46
AMEN!! This is perhaps one of the finest articles I've read regading the OCA. It has certainly helped me make the decision to leave the OCA and seek spiritual nourishment elsewhere. I just don't feel the need to further subject myself to such an organization devoid of any affiliation with the Church begun by God and the lving out of one's faith. There are so many other churches out there that understand the true meaning of who and what they are as church! I made a mistake when I came into the OCA and now it's time to correct that error. I have an obligation to my own personal spirituality and I must address that. The OCA is clearly not the answer.
#23 AMEN on 2008-06-18 09:50
The use of the term Potemkin village is interesting. We all know what the term means, but Prince Potemkin got a bad rap. Two centuries later, his name is still synonymous with fakery, but he did, in fact, accomplish much of what he claimed to have done. The villages were real.
We require an unbelievable number of skills from our priests and bishops. They have to be professional-level theologians, scriptural exegetes, liturgists, and pastoral counselors, with a sophisticated understanding of art, architecture, and music. If that weren't enough, they also have to be entrepreneurs on a par with the CEOs of mid-sized corporations, with the accounting skills of a CPA, meanwhile traveling almost non-stop. (And how many enter the holy priesthood because of an interest in accounting and finance?) Oh yes, and it would be best if they had no need for personal time for private refelction and meditation. To me, the surprise is not the extent to which some men fail to exemplify this ideal; the surprise is how close many of them come to it.
(Editor's note: Well, this is a first: an apologist for Prince Potemkin! I think the historians sum it up best: "There was exaggeration in all he (Potemkin) attempted. He spared neither men, money, nor himself in attempting to carry out his gigantic scheme for the colonization of the south Ukrainian steppes; but he never calculated the cost, and more than three-quarters of the design had to be abandoned when but half finished." If this is your idea of success, no wonder the OCA is in trouble...)
#24 Issai Chizen on 2008-06-18 11:14
That's where you're dead wrong. They themselves demand that they are CPA's, CEO's, etc., because they do not want to work with or trust laity. There is very much the problem. We do not demand that they take on every role and micro manage and control every facet of parish life. There are many well qualified laity that can do the jobs, but the priests up to the bishops want to be the master of all. Don't come crying to us if you can't do it all, super-priest!
#24.1 Anonymous on 2008-06-18 16:47
The saddest part of this is that it is true. But Potemkin did not build only one village to deceive Catherine, he built several, and she was willing to be deceived. As I suggested to you before, the future of the OCA also depends upon active lay leadership by people who are sincerely interested in building a new credibility. I did not say "re-building," because it appears to me that we are starting from "scratch," and the credibility as the autocephalous Church in North America was never there. As a retired hierarch, I can have no actual voice in any of the matters before us for consideration. What I can do is encourage the sincere and genuine among the laity to put real energy on every level, to build and create. This is why I have gone from being doubtful to truly appreciating ocanews.org (even with some of the excesses in the comments).
Of course, all the hidden matters have to come into the light. If they do not, there will just be less and less financial support, and nothing can be built. In the face of today's economy (gasoline prices not least of all) it is even more of a sacrifice and act of love for people to give money for the Jurisdiction. If people have no faith in how that money will be used, why should they give?
I see more and more people calling for the Metropolitan to resign. I think the proper term should be "retire." As you know, I do not like to see harsh criticisms of the Metropolitan, and I will not make any. I do wonder, and those who want His Beatitude to retire might think about it: who could one elect who has not been part of the Synod during all these scandals? Who would really bring new blood and new leadership to the office? It is just a thought for consideration.
I do wonder why the IRS has not been involved in these matters, however. It appears at least, that some sort of income tax fraud has taken place. One might be surprised that Fr Wheeler did not give a file to the IRS.
While we are talking about renewal, there are other matters in this category as well. Like our educational programmes, and more pastoral preparation for clergy, etc.
With warmest regards, and my prayers for you and whoever is helping with ocanews.org
Your brother in Christ, Vladiko Lazar.
I believe that if Archbishop Job were to become our next Metropolitan, this would bring beneficial disclosure, healing, and change of policy (i.e., a return to a spirit of conciliarity) to our Church. You ask who could bring new blood and new leadership to us. I again think Archbishop Job could fulfill those tasks. Throughout this scandal, he is the one active (not retired, like yourself) hierarch who has consistently been open, above board, courageous, outspoken, and steadfast in calling for full disclosures and answers. He even put any personal pride of his own aside: when attacked a few months back at the meetings of the Holy Synod by the newly-retired bishop of Alaska, Archbishop Job, for the unity of the hierarchy and the good of the Church, prostrated before the offending hierarch (+Nikolai) and asked his forgiveness. As I stated in previous remarks on this website, Archbishop Job, as a hierarch in both the Diocese of New England and that of the Midwest, has shown Christ-like leadership by building an atmosphere of conciliarity, respect, and steadfastness. Priests and deacons here in New England still talk of how joyful it was to work with him and how much of a pastoral father he was to them, fifteen years after he left our diocese! Once again, in summation, I feel Archbishop Job, among the currently active hierarchy, is our best bet to bring resolution, healing, and unity to our wounded Orthodox Church in America. As one of our respected hierarchs, I ask you, along with the rest of us, to continue praying that God will grant His grace to bring this about. Yours in Christ,
#25.1 David Barrett on 2008-06-20 01:16
All.of the Bishop's, including Job are part of our problem. Remember, Bishop Job has been a bishop for twenty four years, and has seen the light the last two years. He has only sided with this web-site the last two years. He has procrastinated for twenty two years, not to upset two metropolitans. He should resign as suggested before and be voted back into his his position.
I for one would not vote for him to return.
St. James - Brother of the Lord
Kansas City, MO
+ Job wants to retire and can't wait for that event. The next metropolitan will be a transitional one. If it is not + Seraphim who received the majority vote at the last AAC, then let the OCA merge with the Antiochians and "BEG" that Bishop Basil Essey step up and lead!
#25.1.2 Anonymous on 2008-06-20 10:16
I have a huge respect for Archbishop Job. I understood that he was planning to retire soon. Yes, I think that he would give decent leadership to the Church.
I do hope to meet some of you folks at the AGM in Pittsburg this fall.
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
This ‘Rollercoaster Ride’ we’ve been on (also known as the OCA) has caused me to experience almost every emotion I can think of. Some days I can’t bring myself to even read the entries on this site because in addition to the emotions, it makes me physically ill and I want to get off this ‘Ride’ heaving.
Like someone before mentioned, how do we explain these actions and these people to our children? They are watching us by example. This is the Holy Orthodox Church, we tell them! We are Apostolic, we are different than “all the others”. We have the Fullness of the Faith. We are Unbroken and have what all others are missing. But, actions speak louder than words, they’re smart kids and they are still watching. Are we sincere, or is it just lip service? What must our young adults be thinking? From what we know about these outrageous activities, it flies completely in the face of everything most of us teach our children from the day they are born. We bring them to Confession at a tender age to confess THEIR little sins to the likes of some who we are now learning are liars and cheats full of deceit, greed, vengeance, self-importance and non-repentance themselves.
So, I’m wondering why every name of every adult OCA member isn’t on the petition for Metropolitan Herman’s resignation? [for starters] Are we more upset and angered by the recent gas prices? There are many, many churches not represented by even one name on this petition. How is that possible? My parish NEVER talks about these OCA issues. Until recently, our bishop, FORBADE our priests to even discuss these matters amongst themselves and especially not with laity. When our bishop last visited and was vigorously questioned, he wasn’t even sure there WAS a problem in the OCA. That’s very telling in itself! This website has been taboo when mentioned among “certain circles”. The abuse in Alaska was never addressed. There are no prayers offered for the preservation of the OCA. But then, that would be saying something out loud, actually admitting outside of a whisper, that something is very wrong. I find many parishioners are still clueless. Our priests are fearful. They can’t just leave and join one of the other hundreds of non-existent Orthodox churches in our city, as with other denominations. They’ve devoted their lives to Orthodoxy and don’t want to be thrown out on the street by “making trouble”.
We Orthodox can be a strange lot, (I include myself) based on a lifetime of observation and also comments from my non-Orthodox friends. We can be so pious and arrogant, and then when faced with blatant wrongdoing, lies, perpetual criminal activities, sickening abuse and betrayal in our own house, we just hide from the shame, unjust acts and evil by hoping it will all go away on its own. We are paralyzed from the top to the bottom. All the shepherds are off asleep or drinking behind the barn and we the flock, are wandering around going “baaaaaa”. The bishops won’t do anything, the priests are conspicuously silent and the laity is left stunned and feeling powerless and betrayed. May The Lord Have Mercy On Us!
We must pray harder than ever, unceasingly in these days, if we know nothing else. Lord, help us, that You will hear our prayer at every hour and send us Your divine guidance to put into motion the actions that will help us solve these problems that are crippling us and tearing the OCA apart. That the Holy Spirit will work on the hearts and souls of all in the OCA, especially softening and correcting those who stand in the way of righteousness, truthfulness, accountability and repentance. And for the healing of all who have been broken.
Satan and his evildoers rejoice (with all their might) in the defeat of Christians and they are working overtime each day. We must also! Our children are watching and they are taking notes. It didn’t take long for my independent-thinking young adult to say “this man (Met Herman) must go and he needs to take all his ‘pals’ with him.”
Metropolitan Herman, it’s now even clear to our youth - our next OCA generation, your time has ended. I believe there will be a next generation in the OCA, because with fervent prayer there are great miracles. The works and prayers of all of us (and our parents and grandparents before us) will NOT be swept away! We may feel powerless, but the Lord is NOT. You will answer to Him, just as I (a sinner and parent) will also. What will be our accountability?
#26 OCA Mom on 2008-06-20 18:49
I repeat that I have the greatest respect for Archbishop Job. I am just not sure that he would want the position of Metropolitan. It is possible that a merger with the Antiochians is in the long term best interest of the Church in North America. I might rather see the Canadian Archdiocese return to the Moscow Patriarchate and then negotiate its own future. At the present moment, the OCA is in a condition of considerable darkness, but this does not mean that we can not pull forward into the light and fulfil our role without merging with anyone. So much of the future will be up to an active laity as well as any hierarchs who might help. In fact, it seems to me that there is a whole ensconced "bloodclot" that needs to be broken up so that the blood can flow freely again in the veins of our Church.
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