Friday, July 11. 2008
Your comments on the Archbishop's pastoral letter, the Romanian situation, and other news of the day are welcome.
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Thank you for your own effort at this difficult time. Among other things you wrote:
"And the worst of it, from my perspective, has been shown in some dark, verbal attacks against our Metropolitan. This is completely against both the Gospel and our Tradition. It can be seen as a kind of spiritual patricide. As a result, we are still in a very dangerous stage of our recovery. Without direct, constant reference to the Lord, and without our deliberately and specifically referring to Him, we are lost."
I think what I would have said was, "And the worst of it, from my perspective, is a lack of wisdom."
I know you are trying, too, Your Grace, but don't you think the word "patricide" is a bit loaded? what we are missing in this difficult time for the OCA are all the facts of this financial scandal. And what we do know from various sources does not bode well for +Herman.
However, report after report has not been released to the faithful. How can you be so surprised that we are where we are at with our lack of trust in the OCA?
However, from all that has been released, I believe we can work off of wisdom, not of of "patricide." You see, that is a very loaded term.
It is perhaps all of our spiritual judgements which are tenous without the facts of the matter. Any sound investigation must first have the facts. Judgements, opinions, punishments, pardons, and other responses usually follow.
But this is exactly what the faithful have not been given: the facts of the matter.
Will the second SIC provide the faithful with the true facts? OCANews.org, from all the other sources they have amassed, has supplied us with sufficient background informaton.
I dare say that the faithful's call for +Herman's retirement or resignation isn't "patricide," it is plain common sense filled with wisdom. This is particularly in light of Larry Tosi's statement that if we knew the truth it would "kill" the OCA. Was he talking of a "patricide" of an entire jurisdiction? Would you not agree that his statement has something behind it? I don't think he is such a person to go around saying such things irresponsibly, do you?
I believe you are trying, as are the other hierachs, to put a positive spin in how the OCA is learning within our current crisis. I do think we are all learning how not to repeat such a "dark" past.
I believe we faithful do not have to give up on progressing toward integrity. If this means a metropolitan's retirement, so be it. We as a church may need to get to the point of "retiring" any ineffective bishop as was done with +Nikolai. Why is a "retirement" so hard with +Herman? This may just be the "wise" thing to do, not "patricidal" thing to do.
I believe to come to a just and lasting healing we all need to know the facts.
#1 Patty Schellbach on 2008-07-11 06:54
To All Who Post Concerning AB Seraphim's Article:
Archbishop Seraphim does not read ocanews.org, as far as I know.
Please make a copy of your posts concerning his article, and send them to him directly:
He really does need his perception changed, and perhaps if your prayers accompany your emails God will rip away the delusions and allow him to see clearly and act rightly. This has been my prayer, and the prayer of many other Canadians, for years.
BTW, the article Mark has posted was published in the Canadian Orthodox Messenger, summer edition, which was available to Canadians in May/June (i.e. pre-Job's latest). This in no way excuses its content. I just don't want people to think that ABS wrote it as a response or in juxtaposition to Job's epistle to his flock.
#1.1 An Anonymous, Extremely Sad Canadian on 2008-07-12 09:18
“Without direct, constant reference to the Lord, and without our deliberately and specifically referring to Him, we are lost."
In person, his Grace is all soft smiles and cuddly good feelings and, as above, is fond of making familiar and continual reference to “the Lord” in his homilies. All of has accounted for his popularity amongst the faithful of the Canadian archdiocese.
Up to this point, he has maintained a kind of ambiguous public distance from the OCA crisis - a distance that one might have charitably imagined was studied and disciplined as he would surely have been a leading candidate for Metropolitan when the time came.
But we can see now that his Grace was simply trying to have it both ways and that in fact he has been part of the problem covering the eyes of his flock from the truth of the OCA’s material and moral scandals.
Your Grace, I urge you to confess and repent now and join your voice to that of +Job. It is still not too late.
Fellow members of the Canadian Archdiocese, the OCA is a sinking ship. Even if it was to be miraculously and suddenly righted, in truth it is one of the smallest and least dynamic of the many competing Orthodox jurisdictions in North America. In Canada, it seems obvious that our best future course involves disentangling ourselves from the OCA and pooling our resources with the Antiochians in order to build Orthodoxy here.
#1.1.1 (another) anon Canadian on 2008-07-14 07:58
Dear Matushka Patty,
I appreciate your manner of writing this post.
First, I don't agree with the "it will kill the Church" comment. I guess I am found agreeing with Mark Stokoe that an honest report will help, not hurt the Church. I think ultimately the Church in which we profess faith in the Creed can not be killed.
You said "OCANews.org, from all the other sources they have amassed, has supplied us with sufficient background informaton. "
Do you mean that you doubt the veracity of the SIC Report sight unseen? If so I would like to point out that not everything "amassed" has equal weight. Take, for instance, the letter of attorney Mr. Vladimir Berezansky Jr. As a link to it has just been re-posted, and as nobody else has taken note of some rather obvious facts, I will take note of a few things.
Mr. VB argues that the Met is interfering by virtue of the chancery contacting his client. I do not believe this to be the case. I believe that as the SIC has been charged to investigate by the Synod and the Met Council, every hierarch and chancery, or person in canonical authority in the OCA must facilitate their investigation. This to me means the Met would be interfering if he didn't require those under his omophorion to appear when requested.
VB argues in that letter that the first SIC was better, and then argues that the chairman of that SIC, Abp. Job was a material witness. (His points, not mine!) By virtue of writing that letter we discover that another member of the first SIC, Fr. Vladimir Berzonsky is father to legal counsel for another material witness, in addition to obviously being under the omophorion of the same Archbishop whom VB Jr. says is a material witness. I have never before his letter seen such an amassing of evidence of massive conflicts of interest in the first SIC. I hasten to point out that I accuse Abp. Job and Fr. VB Sr of nothing. I am merely pointing out the logical result of VB jr.'s letter.
VB's client, Fr. Zaccheaus, is no doubt a witness as both the recorder of the Moscow tape and the only one to appear in it other than the former Chancellor. I can not imagine any investigation worth its salt not talking to Fr. Z. He is also the representative of the OCA in Russia and obviously a clergyman. I am very, very glad that he did the right thing and cooperated with the investigation as every clergyman and employee of the OCA should.
On the whole I found it a very unfortunate letter since I have always liked Fr. Z, (though I certainly don't know him well, and haven't seen him since he was an Archdeacon), and VB's letter made it seem as if he had something to hide, which I fervently hope is not the case. It reminded me of something that caused only a slight mental blip at the time: the following line from Greg Nescott's letter to Monk James Silver, posted on OCAnews on the 26th of March of this year: "(Which again raises the interesting question of why the members of the Holy Synod who have admitted they saw that tape in 2005 took absolutely no action then against either of the clergy recorded on that tape.* But I digress.)" the asterisk is to a note provided by Mark S as editor of OCAnews: "(• Editor’s note: The two clergymen on the tape are Robert Kondratick and Fr. Zacchaeus (Wood). Fr. Zacchaeus is scheduled to speak to the new Special Investigative Committee on Friday.)"
That week was the week of Fr. Eugene Vansuch's funeral, (Memory Eternal!). I found VB's saying that the opportunity to question Fr. Z that Friday was "squandered" in very poor taste, given the reason. Of course, VB, like, I think most of us, is very frustrated, so I am not going to dwell on tortured White Army comparisons or overt anti-Carpatho-Rusin bigotry.
Again, I am at pains to state that I don't accuse Fr. Z of anything, and I hope his appearance before the SIC clears him. But the SIC deserves at last a little benefit of the doubt, too. I have seen no actual evidence amassed that would indicate that anyone on the SIC is prepared to deliberately mislead, lie, or pass of falsehoods as the truth. You know, I would agree that a report has been very long, too long, in coming, but here we are, and I think we ought to at least see it before we assume a cover up.
As to Abp. Seraphim's use of the word "patricide": not having a mental hyper link to Abp. Seraphim as he wrote, I am not sure, but I rather doubt that the mere holding of a belief that the Met. should retire is what he is calling patricide. It suspect that the patricide reference is to name calling and/or a passionate animosity, such as I think can be observed rather readily in say, posts #2.1 , #2.1.1, and # 2.1.2 of this thread (when presented in the default "threaded" mode). I quite appreciated Abp. Seraphim's reminder that we must place our hope in Christ first and last. Much attention has been given to his use of the words "relatively small crisis", rather than the admission of "big mistakes". As to the former, whether it's bad or not depends on "relatively" as in relative to what: the Arian Crisis? the fall of the City to the Ottoman Turks? Stalinism? Sept. 11th 2001? Yes then, relatively small. If it is relative to say, choosing one breakfast cereal over another, well that would be bad: but let us not assume the worst. I also whole heartedly agree that we can not, no matter how pained, dismiss, as is all too common, the commandments of Christ in His Gospel as "pious palaver" or as one poor soul once said "enough of this pluck the log from your own eye stuff". This gives only Satan the victory. The fact that he may have got a victory in the chancery a few years back is no reason to let him reign in my heart or anyone else's.
I know how you have tried to work hard and labor. Please accept my prayerful best wishes to you and your husband.
Dcn Yousuf Rassam
Los Angeles, CA
#1.2 Anonymous on 2008-07-14 03:25
Dear Father Deacon Yousuf,
You wrote "(I) suspect that the (Archbishop Seraphim's) patricide reference is to name calling and/or a passionate animosity, such as I think can be observed rather readily in say, posts #2.1 , #2.1.1, and # 2.1.2 of this thread."
Excuse me, but I don't see how name calling and passionate dislike, animosity or hatred adds up to spiritual patricide, except in the following sense. Do you mean that the posters of 2.1, 2.1.1 and 2.1.2 no longer look upon +Herman as a spiritual father? That they have severed or killed that relationship?
I would think that the proper analogy would be divorce rather than murder. However, let us assume that +Seraphim meant that some Orthodox Christians have indeed "killed" the child-father relationship that existed between themselves and +Herman. I suppose +Seraphim believes that such a spiritual relationship is binding because of (a) the Metropolitan's office is paramount, rather than his virtues as a spiritual father, and (b) the child has the burden of maintaining the relationship.
Yes, it is indeed sad that +Herman's, or any bishop's for that matter, spiritual children have lost respect of, and have come to oppose and dislike their spiritual father. It is sad not only because that relationship has been broken but also because the children's spirituality has been injured.
All things being equal, this break may be called infanticide as easily as called patricide. However, it seems to me that (a) +Herman has done and said many things that were at least wrong and (b) +Herman, as the beneficiary of the special grace of his consecration, would have the greater responsibility to nurture the child-father relationship.
Bottom line: +Seraphim was simply wrong to call the Metropolitan's critics (or haters, if you like) guilty of patricide, unless he believes that any bishop or archbishop can do no wrong, or that he is above criticism. Such a view would contradict an essential element of our faith, that each one of us is a sinner. Does the Archbishop perhaps harbor the illusion that bishops are sinless; that they are above criticism; and that lesser clergy and certainly laity must stay out of Church affairs?
#1.2.1 Carl on 2008-07-21 14:07
YOU SAY THE SAME THING OVER AND OVER, GET OVER IT LADY! THE MET IS NOT GOING TO RETIRE! HE'S A STRONG LEADER! THE NUTTY ATTORNEY FROM BERZONSKYS SIDE OF THE FAMILY THINK HE HAS "POWER" HE'S NO DIFFERENT THEN A "PRO SE"! HE'S NO MORE POWERFUL! FILE YOUR COMPLAINT IN THE COURT SYSTEM! DO YOUR DISCOVERY! AND AT THE END MILK THE CHURC$$$$$H FOR MORE MONEY! TO BAD THE COURT SYSTEM IS SO SCREWED UP THAT MORE COUNTER CLAIMS CAN'T BE FILED. I WOULDN'T PAY FOR THIS IDEOTS PLANE FARE! TELL HIM TO TAKE A BUS! RIGHT PATTY! I LOVE TO SUE ATTORNEYS! THE FACTS ARE IN THE COURT RECORDS!
#1.3 Anonymous on 2008-07-14 16:51
Ahh, all caps anonymous guy, how I'll miss you while I'm on vacation and completely off the grid for the next three weeks. No matter how reasonable and balanced the conversation becomes, you always take us right back to the gutter.
Although, on a slightly more serious note, the style of personal attacks these posts contain should be noted as a present-day, public reminder of the modus operandi of certain people who got us into this mess to begin with. Good to remember so no one gets misty-eyed about the past.
#1.3.1 Rebecca Matovic on 2008-07-15 15:39
GOOD FOR YOU! YOUR WORRIED ABOUT THE PAST! BUT DONT TRY TO MOVE FORWARD! JUST WORRY ABOUT THE PAST! SEE DR. PHIL, YOU SOUND LIKE A BROKEN RECORD. JUST LIKE THIS WEBSITE!
(Editor's note: As Santayana noted: those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it. Moreover, it is still not past, but our unfortunate present. The future you speak about cannot be unless we address our past fully in the present. And yes, I sound like a broken record ( or is that scratched CD?), for to change the metaphor, the medicine must be taken if health is to return.)
#188.8.131.52 Anonymous on 2008-07-15 20:21
Reading All Caps Anonymous Guy accusing anybody else of sounding like a broken record is too precious for mere words. Let's review, shall we? "THE MET IS A SWELL GUY! YOU HAVE NO FACTS! YOU HAVE NO POWER! YOU NEED TO SEE DR. PHIL! THIS IS A GOSSIP WEBSITE! ARCHBISHOP JOB IS A BUM! THE MET IS A SWELL GUY!" Rinse and repeat, over and over. Truly, I wonder if there really is an All Caps Anonymous Guy. Isn't it likely that such moronic repetition is really the product of an ill-programmed robot, kind of like something one might see on an early episode of Star Trek? You know, Kirk and Spock and Scotty and Bones beam down to the surface of the unknown and uncharted planet, searching for the source of the idiotic broken record transmission that is jamming all of the hailing frequencies and driving Uhura crazy, only to find some pathetic computer, stuck on stupid and unable to shut itself off until Spock, at great risk to himself, does a mind-meld and overrides the faulty code. Where, oh where is Spock, now that we need him?
#184.108.40.206.1 Scott Walker on 2008-07-16 16:50
Thank you Scott,
Your sense of humour was greatly appreciated.
I couldn't help laughing for quite some time.
#220.127.116.11.1.1 Patty Schellbach on 2008-07-17 07:25
Archbishop Seraphim’s message is particularly frustrating after that of Archbishop Job. His Eminence is talking about the importance of prayer, forgiveness and reconciliation and immediately goes on to offer an excuse for the Synod’s performance citing lack of “spiritual, mental, and intellectual acuity” to deal with the flow of information (sounds more like incompetence). But somehow it had the ‘acuity’ to silence Dn. Wheeler, then try to silence Archbishop Job, then try to silence ocanews, etc.
The Archbishop laments “some dark, verbal attacks against our Metropolitan. This is completely against both the Gospel and our Tradition”. Does ravaging the Church by its “responsible for everything” leaders concur with the Gospel and the Holy Tradition?
The full investigation report has not even been released. What are the faithful supposed to forgive without knowing what has happened? How does one demand forgiveness without offering the truth and an apology? In my view, His Eminence is profaning the meaning of reconciliation and forgiveness.
#2 Karina Ross on 2008-07-11 08:55
The Archbishop laments “some dark, verbal attacks against our Metropolitan. This is completely against both the Gospel and our Tradition”. Does ravaging the Church by its “responsible for everything” leaders concur with the Gospel and the Holy Tradition?
I would also add:
Is stealing and squandering millions of dollars of the Church's money on subjective perks, lavish food, gifts, clothes, travels, spas, behind the scene business deals, making profits by using Church funds, and other selfish endeavors while lying about it for years and refusing to be held accountable for such travesties and criminal conduct "for" our Tradition?
Is ignoring the pleas and suffering of the faithful and enabling and tolerating marginal and dysfunctional priests in many OCA parishes also "for" our Tradition?
Is threatening, persecuting, and forcing out ethical and courageous priests and deacons who stood up to the moral and ethical failures and abuses in the OCA and dared to ask for truth and accountability "for" our Tradition?
Is silencing and forbidding priests from honestly and openly talking to their flocks about the chaos, dysfunction and evil destroying our Church also "for" our Tradition?
Is the failure to speak and reveal the truth and take responsibility for the spiritual, financial, ethical, and moral abuses perpetuated by many in the Church leadership for countless years "for" our Tradition?
Is enabling and tolerating delusional, vindictive, un-loving, unkind, abusive, and hard-hearted bishops like +Tikhon (retired of the West) and +Nikolai (in Australia) also "for" our Tradition?
Is the continuing silence of all of the bishops (except +JOB) on the Synod and their failure to take meaningful action in the face of the mountain of evidence detailing the massive abuses allowed and enabled by them for years on end "for" our Tradition?
The Archbishop is most assuredly incompetent, condemned by his own rambling, pietistic words. True shepherds do not work so hard to defend widespread incompetence and duplicity. All this feigned ignorance is highly suspicious. When will we stop giving credence to so much twaddle?
#2.1.1 Anon. on 2008-07-11 19:00
Chris, Chris, Chris.
You ask great, pertinent questions, but I think they aren’t the right questions to ask. It is my deep personal belief that Seraphim, Herman, and all the other misfits on what we call our “Holy” Synod know what’s going on and they know truly know the answers, the right answers, to your questions. Even the most hardened of bad men know what they have done is bad, and I do think that these guys on the Synod have a very firm grasp on all that has happened and they’re SCARED. It is testament to their knowing the gravity of this that puts them into the unenviable position of having to chose between God and man, between their vows to their vocation or the lowest, basest motivations of man, between right and wrong, and the severity of what has happened and their lack of belief in God, their lack of faith, and their complete lack of integrity and character that cause them to take the wrong fork on the road of life.
It is my belief that Seraphim, Herman, the other misfits, Kondratick, Kucynda, Oselinsky, Strikis, etc., KNOW VERY, VERY well what has happened, its gravity, and they KNOW its wrong and that’s where the tragedy of this is most striking. The guys listed above know that stealing and squandering, ignoring the sincere and heartfelt pleas of the faithful, the threatening, persecution, and termination of God loving workers and priests, the silencing of the faithful and the clergy (which results in our anonymity), the fomenting of the dysfunction of the church and the squandering of a rich tradition, the failing to speak out for what’s good and for God, the enabling of the vindictive, delusional, and other unGodly behaviors of current and former bishops are all wrong.
They know. That’s why they have undertaken a road of obstruction, destruction, and all those actions which are diametrically opposite to the word of the Gospel, to the commandments given to us by God and His Son. They are ashamed, but mostly they are worried, they are scared. In a time of moral crisis they are showing their total lack of faith in God and taking every path possible in this scandal but that which should be so obvious to them. They are like deer caught in the spiritual headlights and don’t have a clue. That we have entrusted our Church to their hands is the true scandal. The fact that we are powerless, or allow ourselves to be powerless, in ridding ourselves of these immoral men is the true scandal. These guys who were man enough to steal from widows, orphans, and God Himself are not man enough to own up to their actions. Rather, they lie and obstruct more thinking that if they stonewall we will tire, if they say something long enough it will be believed.
Seraphim knows the score. His writing is an example of the complete submission of a once highly thought of bishop, who was almost selected as Metropolitan, to the level of Herman, Kondratick, Theodosius, etc. Seraphim was presented with a choice, a choice of God or a choice of Herman and evil and he made the wrong choice.
They all know the score. Kondratick has maintained a wall of silence for three years that is remarkable knowing his prior extroverted behavior while Chancellor, his always wanting to step up the microphone and whistle sunshine you know where. He always wanted to say something that made him and the Synod look the very best it could even though below that surface it was a cesspool of corruption. Kondratick knows, and even though he’s a pseudo priest down in Venice, his silence speaks to the lack of faith and his disbelief in God and he maintains a façade so we may think that he really was a good guy, but we know. Herman knows, Kucynda knows. That’s why they scurried like two insects when a light was put on them to Proskauer Rose. And all the while these guys are giving sermons over how the faithful should live a God loving and Orthodox life, while they keep dark, evil secrets deep down in their hard hearts while watching it result in the death of the OCA. All the while their hands stinging when they hold the body of Christ during Liturgy. But, they don’t care, they just want to make sure they don’t spend a day in the clink and that’s the bottom line here. It’s the motivation behind all they are doing. If you want to think what they’re going to do next, think what you would do if you were facing the humiliation of facing Bubba in the courtyard. Eating at tightly scheduled feedings rather than basking in the glow of being honored at a head table during some celebration.
Seraphim’s letter is damage control because of what Job wrote. Seraphim’s letter is also an implicit admission that the town hall gimmick is not working. Seraphim’s letter is an admission that he does not want to admit, in the witness of us all, that there were mistakes made and tries to turn the focus of the scandal to that it was just money. But you know what’s funny with this “just money” explanation? THEY DON’T BELIEVE IT! If its “just” money why are they so hungry after it? Obviously for those who feel its “just” money would find no solace or comfort being in the presence of it. If its “just” money, why not just come clean and make restitution? After all, if its “just” money, and its not a serious problem, then it can be replaced because those that are accused of taking the money don’t have much value for it and can just put it back! It’s a shrewd letter by Seraphim because he’s knowingly trying to turn the talk away from the moral ineptitude of the Synod to something that’s just a material object that we can justify more than we can justify the immorality of our bishops. After all, money can be replaced, so its not that big a deal, but the immorality of the bishops goes down to their very core. You just take another loan or place the judgment of God upon the gullible faithful who can be convinced that all is well and they will refill the coffers themselves. Its “just” money to Seraphim, because with the amount of money the Canadians give to the OCA, there’s really not much of THEIR money that got stolen and squandered – it really might not be a big deal to them, but its not the real problem to us. To Seraphim we give the advice of an old saying: “Best to keep quiet and let people think you a fool, then to open your mouth and remove all doubt”.
And you know what’s going to happen? Every one of them, Herman, Seraphim, the other Synodal misfits, Kondratick, Kucynda, are all going to be deathbed converts. After they have realized that they successfully kept themselves out of jail, in the moments before the good Lord takes them by the hand, they are going to finally realize what they have done and the fear is going to overcome them and grip them when it dawns on them that MAYBE there IS something after you die. Maybe this entire God and faith thing is real! They are going to have their last moments filled with unimaginable terror as they try to make their last second confession and penance thinking it might prevent them from doing hard time with the pitchfork. This is what’s going to happen, and its sad, and it’s an example for us all when we come to forks in the road where were have to make a choice between right and wrong, God or evil.
#2.1.2 Stonewall on 2008-07-12 14:26
I believe your are on to something when you say several times that the hierarchs are scared (except we hope +Job) who was physically absent when the others of the "inner circle" pledged their support for +Herman.
I hope our momentum forward will become more and more decisive with the findings of this second SIC (which is not due out until, what is it, September now?)
I am sorry our movement forward is so arduous and difficult. But in this fallen world we live in the amount of effort many of us are trying to use to get the OCA to a higher moral plain of integrity may be a miracle in itself.
#18.104.22.168 Patty Schellbach on 2008-07-13 13:43
Just money to the experienced, older parishoners!!!
Who are these people? The well-off? Royalty? The paid-off?
#22.214.171.124 Anon and Anon... on 2008-07-14 09:56
Thank you Chris!
You are one of those Fools for Christ that needs to be heard!
#2.1.3 Patty Schellbach on 2008-07-14 05:28
Reminds me of Ford's 'pardoning' of Nixon, although Nixon was not convicted of any crime. How can you pardon someone who has not been found guilty in some sort of court?
I think in all charity, that Archbishop Seraphim is trying to put a smiley face on a serious moral (not just fiduciary) lapse.
Probably the worst thing that could happen to a priest today would be to have to hear the confession of bishops!
Rdr. James Morgan
#2.2 Anonymous on 2008-07-12 15:49
"And the worst of it, from my perspective, has been shown in some dark, verbal attacks against our Metropolitan. This is completely against both the Gospel and our Tradition"...........Since when? If it was so against our traditions and Gospel to speak out against the wrongs of our bishops and priests, then we all would have ended up as Arians, now wouldn't we?
#2.3 Sophia Weisheit on 2008-07-14 21:32
Exactly! I wonder what Archbishop Seraphim thinks of St. Nicholas and his right hook? Yes, a reported physical punch. I know the OCA would not have got to this point if St. Nicholas were a member of the Synod, but can you imagine if he were elected a member today? What do they call that in Prowrestling - the steel cage match?
I am joking, but it is time for the Met Council and Synod to call some type of extraordinary session. After all that has occurred, if you now have Bishops and Chancellors trying to protect and cover the dubious actions that continue, then the ship is nearly sunk. The Romanians are leaving. For the sake of what remains of the OCA and Orthodoxy in America, I'd encourage all priests to band together, and present a petition demanding that the Special Investigative Committee present a report by August 1.
One may argue that the report will be biased, but the information it will (or will not) provide may be the turning point in saving what is left. A tough stance now, and a tough response on the report may show the Romanian faithful that the OCA still has some life.
#2.3.1 Ken Kozak on 2008-07-15 18:23
Compare and contrast the recent communications of the two Archbishops-- reality v. fiction, repentance v. defiance, accepting accountability v. denying it. If ever there were a case in point as to why Archbishop Job has seemed so isolated and undefended against the likes of Tikhon and Nikolai, this is it.
I have some sympathy with Archbishop Seraphim's complaint about mis, dis, or no information over the years of the Kondratick reign. But that excuse evaporated years ago. Give it a rest!
Only Igumen Philip's testimonials have given me pause in the past from criticizing Archbishop Seraphim by name. Now he joins the ranks of the other bishops who have utterly failed the Church in its hour of need. His promotion to Metropolitan, assuming Herman ever goes, would clearly be a monumental catastrophe.
#3 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2008-07-11 10:11
Archbishop Seraphim has written about "our relatively small crisis" in the OCA. From where I sit, I see a church in decline. That is a serious and major crisis. You have buried your one talent and what will you say when it comes time to answer for the fact that it has not grown! You are to blame!
The Archbishop writes “Still, there seems to be remaining forgotten, to some extent. the basic need to turn to Christ first in everything.” I beg your pardon but I have referred to His words here almost every time. You are not listening!
“Some of our older, and experienced parishioners have said something to the effect that it is only money, after all, and we never did have much anyway." I am an older and experienced parishioner and I find that offensive. I gave honestly to a church that used that money for its own personal benefit. I think when we talk about millions of dollars, that is VERY MUCH in my way of thinking. I must shout that out because if you honestly believe it is only money, after all, then perhaps donating to any of the causes championed by the OCA is useless. But then my husband and I had to work for the money so it means more to us! It didn’t come to us in weekly envelopes for nothing!
“As an extension, some began to express doubt that our Orthodox Church in America could survive.” After reading your essay, I begin to thing like those who express doubt at our survival. A complete change of mentality and of heart needs to be experienced by you, +Seraphim and your cohorts. You and you alone will need to regain trust from those who read your missive.
I say this because you write “Yet seldom does one see. or hear reported from various meetings, evidence that we are very well remembering the Lord - that it is His Church, that He is in charge. that we are exercising our responsibility in harmony with, and in consultation with Him.” I am well aware that this is His Church and He tells us:
“28 Take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God which he obtained with the blood of his own Son. 29 I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; 30 and from among your own selves will arise men speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them.”
YOU are to care for His Church which He obtained with the BLOOD of His own SON!
If you want to express God’s desire for His Church I leave you with this:
“9 I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with immoral men; 10 not at all meaning the immoral of this world, or the greedy and robbers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. 11 But rather I wrote to you not to associate with any one who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or robber - not even to eat with such a one. 12 For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? 13 God judges those outside. "Drive out the wicked person from among you." (1 Cor 5:9-13)
#4 Irate in the lower 48 on 2008-07-11 11:19
It is astounding to me that so many, those that post here and many others I know in the OCA who do not post here that understand both the genesis and the solution to the problems, e.g., Fr. Woodill, so well while the bishops and others "in the administration" remain so abtuse.
#5 Michael Bauman on 2008-07-11 11:29
There’s so many calls for the resignation of the Synod, which just isn’t going to happen and if it did everyone likes their own bishop (its always the OTHER bishops that are the problem) that they would be reinstalled and we’d have gone through a useless exercise no better for the wear. One reason it isn’t going to happen is that they got too much to lose to take a chance on this gimmick. What happens if an entirely new Synod is seated and they start going through the muck of their predecessors? A good number of the old ones would end up defrocked and/or given to the prison ministry. Another reason that it won’t happen is because it would require that they humble themselves before God and do what’s right for His Church. People, these are guys who condoned or stole themselves from widows, orphans, and the God Himself. You think they have any INKLING of what the right, Christian response to these problems are? One of them ALREADY has divined what his judgement will be before God. Makes you sick. Seraphim’s letter is just the latest of a series of delusional, anti-Church writings from those that are there to preserve it.
We do not bash these guys because it’s the “in” thing to do or because we derive pleasure from it. On the contrary, we talk about these bishops and their lack of character and integrity because we’re disgusted to our core with their behaviors and their complete abdication of their spiritual responsibilities. Plain and simple. We are talking about what we have concluded as to their spiritual state as evidenced by their actions over the past three years and what we can conclude from their actions preceding the disclosure in 2005. What we come away with is that first of all, these are not good men in any sense of the word, with the exception of Vladyka Job. These are selfish men who are only out for themselves. They think that the old saying that “Greed is good” is the motto to live by and when they close their eyes at the end of their life the game is over.
They live by symbolism and have no substance. The vote of confidence given to the Metropolitan after Job had left is a case in point of a complete disconnect from the people they are supposed to be spiritually sheparding and their very faith in the face of God in addition to their complete and utter lack of understanding of what the Church is about and what their role in it is. And we are extending this to every bishop, sparing Job, because his conscience is giving him enough pain where he can disagree with the cabal he’s seated with, stopping just short of spilling the beans himself. It is our belief, given their behaviors, in what can only be thought of as biding their time til their deaths in order to avoid jail, that they do not, and we say with heavy hearts, that they lack a faith in God and that all they do, all they preach, is a façade, hollow, and meaningless. It’s a sham. Any normal people, whether priest, bishop, or executive in a major corporation would recognize when they have gotten to a point where there is no good to be had, they have no power or influence, and for the good of the organization they believe in, that its time to leave. But then again, those people are probably not facing jail, which is the only thing we can think of that has these guys on the Synod SO freaked that they will openly thumb their noses at all aspects of the Church and use it for their own protection, damning the will of the people, damning the will of a good number of clergy, and probably damning the will of the Holy Spirit. Its amazing that in their world, the Holy Spirit only gives its blessing when it involves an act they deem good for themselves. Well, we got a surprise for them that they do not have a lock on the Holy Spirit’s blessings. But, again, they feel this way because they have a complete lack of understanding of God and His Church and a total disregard for people who have spent all their lives and toiled for the good of His Church. To the bishops, these people are the peons who are there to do what the bishop wants, when he wants it, how much he wants, and never question because in their façade its all predicated on, or rather sacrileged, that this is what the Holy Spirit wills. And then we hold our heads up high, walk about looking down on all the other religions on earth saying that we are the only true Church and we are the only real Christians that exist. Something doesn’t mesh here.
You start a topic like the calendar, or Toll Houses, or the underpinnings of the Russian Church since the Revolution, or the territorial expansionism of the Ecumenical Patriarch or Moscow, or any other basically, secondary, topic and you get a flood of people giving all high minded and self righteous opinions quoting sources that one never imagined existed. But when we have a problem that is rooted in the violation of every basic rule handed down by God Himself and reinforced and elaborated and demonstrated to us by His Son Himself, who allowed Himself to be staked to a crossed and asphyxiated for our sins and people blend into the woodwork with blank stares on their face. Rather than giving us quotations about arcane theological points, tell us about martyrs were ripped from head to toe or burned or fed to the animals because of their love of God and His Church. We need to take Orthodoxy to the next step, or rather back to its first step. We need to think of it as a way of life, not an academic exercise. We need to live Orthodoxy and not keep it locked in a Church only to be seen on Sundays or behind glass that says “break in case of emergency”. Its more than ethnic traditions and its not blindly following a priest cause you’ve known him all your lives. Its living the TRUTH – nothing less.
Mr. Swaiko is right when he says we’re all responsible. The only thing he’s said in 3 years that has any ring of truth to it, but not for the reason he says. Mr. Swaiko, and the entire Synod, are a mountain, and as Jesus said, if you have faith you can tell that mountain to move and it will move. What does that say about us if we do not have the faith to remove a little weasely looking guy suffering from a massive disbelief in God let alone a mountain? We talk arrogantly, looking down our noses at our Roman Catholic brethren maintaining that only WE have the RIGHT theology and we belittle their faith. But, brothers and sisters, two weeks don’t go by when you don’t hear news of a bookkeeper, or a priest, who’s been put on the perp walk for stealing from his church. True, they are not perfect, but when faced with lawlessness both civilly and with respect to the Church, they have a far better track record at doing what’s right than us and no amount of arrogant condemnation of their Church is going to put us ahead of them when it comes to real actions. When WE are faced with theft, as in the case of Kondratick, we send him off to sunny Florida with the consent of the bishops and only when the heat gets too much is any action done to him, not because it’s the right thing to do, but as when Pilate turned Christ over for his crucifixion, he feared a riot would break out if he did nothing. And the only reason that Kondratick was sent away was because someone whom they termed ‘disgruntled’ spilled the beans. He could have been ‘disgruntled’, but he didn’t make this stuff up! We, our self righteous good selves, even have a priest who says its not the fault of the people who committed these acts, it was the fault of the person who had the love of God to tell what was going on. And we have the gall to go and proclaim to others that we alone are the right faith? We have a number of priests who are so God loving that they keep their mouths closed like they would be speaking evil to reveal the sins committed against this Church! There is no reason, no reason, at ALL, that Kondratick wasn’t taken away in handcuffs. Its truly a mystery of our faith, maybe one we, as non episcopate Orthodox Christians just aren’t meant to understand. Is it because we’re too worried about calendar issues to handle a moral breakdown in our church and too busy debating ad nauseum about the Russian Church’s history, that we don’t have the time or desire to call the cops? Are we more consumed about the power plays between Moscow and Istanbul not to act when crimes have been committed against our very OWN church!? People, this arrogant behavior backed up with a complete lack of walking the walk is one of the most repulsive aspects of our Church and has gotten us to where we are now. So, yes, Mr. Swaiko was right and he pegged us correctly that if he just stonewalled enough that we don’t have the endurance of faith or belief that we will take actions that will prevail over his evil ways. He put in all his chips and called our bluff and won.
Let’s not let the Synod and the laity be the only ones who have proven unworthy of the Kingdom with respect to this scandal, we need to include the MC. Calling for the Synod’s resignation is useless, but why has no one called for the resignation of the MC who holds the fiduciary responsibility in our organization? Most of the members, I believe, were the same ones who fell for, and reveled in, Kondratick’s lies and deceptions. Why aren’t those people gone? I call on the MC to resign before the AAC and put in people who can and will do the job that the responsibilities entail. Why have the laity not initiated a class action suit against each member of the MC individually for the recovery of the missing monies? It’s their LEGAL responsibility and they were part and parcel of the deception and fraud heaped upon us! What disgusts this writer to no end is the admission that the MC is no better than the Synod, two peas in a pod, when it came to the Velencia incident. For SIX months, SIX months, after they all received the bombshell Velencia mail, until the time the suit was brought, both the Synod AND THE MC were so tight lipped that nothing was ever mentioned. Sitting on one of the most flagrant infractions of confidentiality by a priest and ALL of them: NOTHING. This MC is what we are hoping to improve the transparency, openness, effectiveness, and integrity of the administration and they pull THIS on us? Its garbage from the MC as well. Its complicity in the ills while changing the window dressing to make us think all is going to be alright. The suit should have named every bishop and every member of the MC INDIVIDUALLY to be held to account. Why is it that WE, the laity, have to be put on the hook to pay for the lack of integrity and character of the ENTIRE governing body of the Church? They don’t do their jobs, and WE pay for the results. The people on the MC have to see their roles as jobs and responsibilities, not a social group that gathers every so often, and who then at their respective churches and dioceses appear like important people!
#6 Stonewall on 2008-07-11 11:57
PLEASE DONT CALL ME YOUR BROTHER! BY YOUR COMMENTS YOU HAVE NOT EARNED BY RESPECT! MAYBE STOKOE? I GUESS BY CALLING THE MET "SWAIKO" IT MAKES YOU FEEL GOOD? I'M SURE BISHOP JOB AND STOKOE APPROVE! BUT I DONT! SOORY YOUR NO FRIEND OF MINE!
#6.1 Anonymous on 2008-07-18 17:29
Can I get on the list of non-friends, too, All Caps Anonymous Guy? Please? From what you write, I figure that there's some pretty good company among the folks you don't like.
I'm sure that Stonewall and others will somehow find the strength to carry on, despite the heavy weight of your disapproval.
#6.1.1 Scott Walker on 2008-07-22 11:04
This is appropriate Post for our current situation - Gene
‘They will be deaf and blind!’”
Veneralbe Theodosi, Hegumen of Kiev Caves wrote that we ought not to praise other faiths, and in no case unite ourselves with the Catholics and abandon the Orthodox Faith. People that were close in spirit – the great Archbishops Lazar Baranovich, Saint Theodosi of Chernigov, and Saint John, the Metropolitan of Tobolsk, tried with all their powers to obey the words of the Lord Jesus, which command “That all be one”, and be with Orthodox Russia in order to comprise the Holy Rus’ in one accord and thus forever free themselves of Polish rule and Jewish oppression and governance, and to deliver themselves from Catholicism which is foreign to us, and from spiritually lethal unia, which was introduced and established through threats, torture, violence and death. Elder Lawrence also said how just as one cannot divide the Holy Trinity, the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit – One God; so one cannot divide Russia, Ukraine and Belorus. Together they make up Holy Russia. Know, remember and don’t forget. Russia, together with all Slavic nations and lands will make a mighty Empire. An Orthodox Emperor will keep it – one anointed by God. The Emperor will be from God.
It has to be known that Russia is the lot of the Heavenly Queen, and She will take care of it and will particularly intercede for it. And it has to be known that there is One God, one faith and one baptism. Only those unworthy of God’s grace and great sinners go off into schisms and heresies; those who do not want to know the faith in One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, and that the Orthodox Church is the body of Christ. Is it possible to divide the Body of Christ? In the end, the Church is the unstitched robe of the Lord which cannot be torn, as Arius tried to do. They don’t remember that there is one God, one Faith and one baptism. The Lord Jesus Christ built one Church, not churches, against which the gates of hell will not prevail. There is only one Church – Orthodox, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic. Others, calling themselves churches, are not churches but the tares of the devil amid wheat, and devil’s hordes.” After those words, the Elder prayed for those who fell away from the true faith, cried and said, “No. The Lord will not call them to repentance (ne prizovet –perfective verb in future tense; the actual meaning is more like – they won’t respond to the call, or He won’t manage to call them). They will not be saved. Because they are unworthy of God’s grace. This is revealed to me by the Queen of Heaven and the holy guardian Angel. For them, the lost and the apostates from the true faith, there is no grace of the Holy Spirit, no salvation and no obtaining of the Heavenly Kingdom. We Orthodox don’t need anything. Just the Orthodox Faith, salvation of the soul and obtaining the Kingdom of Heaven. And our mother, the Russian Orthodox Church, has all that. Praise be to God! Breaking off from her and walking away from her is a great and unforgivable sin, both in this life and in the life to come – it is the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.” And the Elder was illumined by a non-earthly light, ending his talk with the words, “‘Hearken and see’, that is what the Holy Gospel says, and he added, ‘They will be deaf and blind!’”
#7 Gene B on 2008-07-11 12:14
In reading your posting,I wonder if we take into consideration that most of theSE people you quoted, are men. Men have been and are failable.
Holy Orthodox Church of Russia means diddly squat to me.
Look where they are today. We have Orthodox, that are from Russia and they come to Church on Christmas, Easter,weddings and funerals. This goes for the majority of these people.
In the Ten Commandments it says, DO NOT BEAR FALSE WITNESS, and DO NOT MAKE YOURSELF AN IDOL.
If I continue to live by the Ten Commandents, I have an inward peace and I can sleep at night.
St. James - Brother of the Lord
Kansas City, MO
I'm not sure where you have been for the past twenty years, but Russia, the Ukraine and Belarus ARE divided, and have been ever since the USSR collapsed. And this just in: the Emperor is gone, too, victim of murder most foul by the Bolsheviks. In 1918. Ninety years ago. He's not coming back. What then, exactly, is the point you are trying to make to native-born American Orthodox who have no ancestral ties whatever to Russia, and have never been subjects of anybody since our ancestors threw off the rule of the late George III of the United Kingdom? You cannot reconstitute Holy Rus on North American soil. You may, by God's grace, be able to be part of the building of Holy North America. If you're so determined to be Russian Orthodox and Slavophilic and all that, have you considered moving to Russia? We don't play Czars and Serfs here. Sorry.
#7.2 Scott Walker on 2008-07-12 15:16
In the past "twenty years":
The number of Orthodox churches in Russia increased four times for the last twenty years; the number of monasteries - nearly 40 times
Moscow, November 10, 2006 Interfax - The number of Orthodox churches in Russia has increased four times for the last twenty years, says Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia.
He gave statistics in his interview to Paris Match published Thursday. There were only 6800 Orthodox churches and 18 monasteries in the country in 1986. They are 27,000 and 680 respectively. The number of priests and the monastics has increased in the same proportion. There are 1,700 priests and deacons in Moscow, Alexy II noted.
He said the Church had differences with the official authorities, for instance, in the matter of religious instructions in school. Alexy II called the normalizations of relations between the Church and the state in Russia and in the CIS countries ‘a major achievement of the last fifteen years.’ ‘The Church and the state have overcome alienation of the past and assist each other at all levels.’
Commenting on his high status in the country (the Patriarch occupies the fifth official place after the President, prime minister and two speakers of the Parliament), Alexy II called it a sign of respect not for him, ‘but for the Church with a thousand-year history, the oldest institution of civil society for all its actions. This is an esteem for the Orthodox faith, for our brothers and sisters.’
+ + +
Number of the Moscow Region churches increased 10-fold for the recent 20 years
Moscow, June 10, 2008 Interfax - Metropolitan Yuvenaly of Krutitsy and Kolomna states that the number of churches in the Moscow Region has 10-fold increased for the recent 20 years, Interfax-Religion has reported.
"Today there are 1271 churches in the diocese. Compare this number to the other - 132. That much we had in 1988," Metropolitan Yuvenaly said in his interview published by the Komsomolskaya Pravda daily on Tuesday.
According to him, the Moscow Region witnesses to "the grand scale of changes" the entire Russian Orthodox Church experiences today.
"I'd like to give only visible examples evident for everyone: 253 churches and 162 chapels have been built in the diocese for the recent years. Say nothing of restoring ancient shrines," the metropolitan noted.
In compliance with the quoted information, over 16, 000 people visit Sunday school №761 in the Moscow Region. Over 61, 000 pupils study religious disciplines in 1289 regional educational establishments.
Parishes and monasteries of the Moscow Diocese organize over 70 Orthodox summer camps for 2, 500 children and teens.
+ + +
Missionary work to China of all places!
26 November 2007, 10:01
Russian Church vows to keep defending rights of Chinese Orthodox
Moscow, November 26, Interfax - The Russian Orthodox Church has promised to continue talks "with authorized organizations in the People's Republic of China in seeking the normalization of the position of Orthodox believers in that country."
"Orthodoxy in China, which has a history of more than 300 years, is still experiencing hard times," Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia said in a letter in connection with the 50th anniversary of the Chinese Autonomous Orthodox Church.
Alexy expressed confidence that "the Chinese Orthodox Church, which has been organized by the efforts of Russian missionaries and adorned by the heroism of Chinese martyrs and the ordeal of many of its believers, will be revived after its sufferings and will shine forth in the grace-filled family of Orthodox Churches."
"And the Russian Church, which became the Mother of the Chinese Church and, half a century ago, granted it independence in the organization of its internal life, will continue to pray for our Chinese brothers and sisters in faith, simultaneously continuing its dialogue with authorized organizations in the People's Republic of China in seeking the normalization of the position of Orthodox believers in that country," the patriarch said.
By 1902 there were 32 Orthodox churches in China with close to 6,000 adherents. The church also ran schools and orphanages. By 1949, 106 Orthodox churches were operated in China. In general, the parishioners of these churches were Russian refugees, and the ethnic Chinese population was about 10,000 persons.
"I am sure that moves to normalize Orthodox Church life will help to achieve harmony in Chinese society and strengthen mutual understanding, cooperation and good-neighborly relations between the peoples of Russia and China," he said.
- - -
The OCA in the past twenty years:
"The OCA in the continental US has been declining between 6 and 9% for nearly 20 years."
Rev. Jonathan Ivanoff
St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary
August 30, 2004
- - -
Mission work of the OCA?!
Fuggadaboutit, the OCA cannot even reach its own children and grandchildren.
For latest news on the decline of the OCA, stay tuned to this local station.
#7.2.1 John on 2008-07-13 16:45
Good for the Church in Russia, and I mean that most sincerely. Now, just what does that have to do with us? I live in Oregon, not St Petersburg. My family has been in this country since before the Revolution, and I have no cultural or historical ties to Russia. And Russia, for all of the growth in churches that you cite, is not in great shape. Abortions outnumber live births, the country is in a demographic death spiral due to births running well below replacement rates, life expectancy is dropping and the plutocrats are in charge, just like in the USA. Oh, and the ex-KGB guys are running both the Church and the State, and following the time-honored Russian practice of using the Church as a prop for Russian nationalism. Why do you think that Putin and his pals have funneled so many petrodollars into the Church? (Hint: it ain't piety that drives them.) Again, if Russia is so all-fired marvelous, move there.
#126.96.36.199 Scott Walker on 2008-07-14 11:37
Brother, have you been to Russia? Have you spent any time in Moscow praying, worshiping, working with our brethren there? Or maybe in the remote villages with the very poor and struggling brethren there? It seems to me that many people who are ready to disparage Russia have very little knowledge of the realities on the ground. The knee jerk reaction at merely the mention of Russia is to point out the Easter, Christmas, weddings, funerals bit. That is a caricature and straw man. Granted such people exist, but even so, people in such a situation require much more gentleness and kindness, so as not to drive them completely away, but by compassion and gentleness coax them to improve. But we are ready to cast them off as dead branches. Also, it fails to appreciate theire particular situation, having most likely been raised in an atheistic, communist home, at least they make even this small step towards Christ. We cannot appreciate that small step because most of us have never converted from militant atheism to Orthodoxy. Most of us come from fundementalist Christian denominations, which have little tollerance for the "gray" area of faith.
I have no romatic notions of Russia, only great respect. One of the most interesting experiences I had in Russia was on pilgrimage to Zadonsk with a groups of about 15 Russians, none of whom I knew and non of which knew English and my Russian was very limited. We went to many holy springs, the Holy Monastery of St. Tikhon, the Church where St. Mitrophan's relics rest in Varonesh and many once beautiful churches still lying in ash and ruble from the ravages of 1917. The Russians throng to these places, so much so that no rooms were available in the neighboring hostels and we were forced to sleep in one of the side chaples of main church at St. Tikhon's (in Zadonsk). My fellow pilgrims seemed very sincere and normal. They nursed me when i was very sick and helped me find my way around. They were very kind and graceful. They were very diverse people, lawyers, engineers, teachers, mothers etc. However, one man has never left my mind. He was normal enough, but not without his faults. He was an alcoholic. He even got drunk while on the pilgrimage. Of course, I was scandelized, but what was even more scandelous to me was that the other pilgrims took care of him, covered is nakedness as it were. The man was obviously very ashamed of having fallen, but the others were there to comfort him, laugh with him and sorrow with him and pray for him. And he, not disdaining Christ's mercy, got up and repented. Such was the charity I experienced among Orthodox Christians in Russia, charity such as I have never seen, no not in all of america.
Those are the realities on the ground. There are sinners, and every bad ones at that. But those are precisely the ones Christ chooses to dine with. And he does not withhold anything from them, not even the "fatted calf".
I don't call for some russification of the OCA, or anything of the like. But, why must we use the name "Russia" as a pejorative? Why do we feel the need to put her down? We in our OCA have huge beems in both our eyes, yet we feel justified in pointing out the speks, logs even, in the eyes our of our Mother Church, not to mention our sister Churches.
So, can we just dispense with all the Russia baiting?, especially if all we know of Russia is what we read in books, magazines and the TV?
#7.2.2 Bautista on 2008-07-14 07:37
Uh, I don't think anyone was talking about logs or specks, so why even bring in the pietistic comparison?
The point was exulting everything Russian and disparaging everything not-Russian. Look, I'm glad you had a good time in Russia and met great people. I know people who also went to Russia (who speak Russian fluently, by the way) and they told me of many incidents of being asked to pay for sacraments, clerical incompetence, and etc. So no, not all things are better in Russia, they have plenty of problems too. If they were still united with Ukraine and Belarus (ever ask any of the good Orthodox of Ukraine or Belarus if they want to be Russian Orthodox or a part of Russia? Please don't, for your own safety) they would have problems too. If the OCA was still a part of the MP we would have problems too. The problems may be different problems than what we have now, but I can ensure you, problems there would be.
Look, I'm glad if the Russian Orthodox Church grows and prospers, but the MP is changing. It is no longer the same MP that supported the Metropolia or the Finnish Orthodox Church or the Chinese Orthodox Church. The MP has lost the vision and creativity that made these great things possible. They have become nationalistic, separatist, and adopted a superiority complex. I'm talking in broad categories of trends here formulated from my own personal experience and research, and we can argue about whether this is a speck or a log and whether it has anything to do with the wonderful Russian people you have met. But the fact is that the MP makes me nervous, and any national church with half a brain would think twice before allowing the present MP more control over them.
#188.8.131.52 Anonymous on 2008-07-17 07:38
My point was just the opposite, that is, that everyone seems to disparage all things Russian. As I wrote myself, I am quite aware of the irregularies among Orthodox Christians in Russia. My point was basically that they are like us, normal people who to varying degrees are trying to work out their salvation. The picture the unsuspecting visitor would get about Russia based on the comments posted here is that it is a mindless, blind faith, superstitious, sacrament paying, Easter,Christmas only, former KGB agents, and "pietistic", autocratic, etc,.,etc, That is an inaccurate picture.
My point, leave Russia alone to work out their own problems. To point out their faults when we are in the midst of a Church wide crisis, not just among the clergy but among the laity, is really quite hypocritical.
Just leave Russia alone. We may feel a little better by comparing ourselves to our perception of Russia, but that won't help us move forward.
As for your reply, please elaborate about what you mean by "It is no longer the same MP that supported the Metropolia or the Finnish Orthodox Church or the Chinese Orthodox Church. The MP has lost the vision and creativity that made these great things possible. They have become nationalistic, separatist, and adopted a superiority complex". This is very vague and could mean anything. Please provide specific examples, people, places, events which illustrate what it is that you are trying to prove.
#184.108.40.206.1 Bautista on 2008-07-21 10:50
"Russia" does not equal "the Church" and "the Church" does not equal "Russia." Confusing the two only ends up sapping Orthodox Christianity of its universal salt and light -- and the same goes for any other nationalism that tries to impose itself on religion. God did not become human in Jesus Christ to bolster ethnic cohesion, advance geopolitical agendas or maintain the borders of empires long dissolved by replacing the forms of states with the form of his Church. He did become human to rescue the whole human race from sin and death through faith and grace in his Church, by means of baptism, chrismation and the eucharist and prayer, fasting and almsgiving. When Orthodox Christians focus on living by those two "trinities," which transcend national boundaries and ethnic identity, church life is healthy and effective. "Here we have no enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come" (Hebrews 13:14). The sooner Orthodox Christians in America and elsewhere stop idolizing Old Romes, New Romes and Third Romes, and instead concentrate on "the Jerusalem above" (Galatians 4:26) -- measuring everything we think, say and do against that heavenly destination and what it stands for -- the better off we will be and the more impact we'll have on our neighbors. Jesus Christ must be first and foremost; he, and making him present in the world here and now, is the only purpose for which the Church exists.
#7.3 Gregory Orloff on 2008-07-13 20:04
As a dear friend always tells me,
" NGCOGGW".....Never gonna change....only gonna get worse.
Archbishop Job's letter is worth reading again.....then read the spin from Canada.
How did we ever get to this place? Let the academics argue rubrics, canons and the like. I just want to go to zoo with +Archbishop Job.
#8 Anonymous on 2008-07-11 13:24
To Archbishop Seraphim:
With all due respect, the matters that you referred to as "relatively small" are not small at all. Despite month after month of creative wordsmithing, the simple truths are: (1) the allegations were true, (2) the bishops and metropolitans did absolutely nothing to address the problems until they completely blew up, (3) bishops and the metropolitan are still in denial as to the severity of the problems, and (4) no realistic and legitimate plan has been created to lead the OCA into the future.
What will it take to make the point to you that we, the Laos tou Theou, do get it. We love the Lord and His Holy Church, and we are deeply hurt by the leaders of the OCA that have squandered the precious gift of trust (both spiritual and financial)? When will the bishops of the OCA stand up, lock arm and arm, get on their knees and as for forgiveness?
With all due respect, the general parishioners of the OCA are not the guilty party. The guilty party are those that were entrusted with the leadership and completely botched it. Healing within the Church is so amazingly simple, come clean and turn away from the sin. At this point no one wants the empty words. In fact, they probably hurt even more at this point.
After all that has happened, I must say that if I were a bishop of the OCA I would gladly have stepped down months ago and asked for forgiveness. Isn't it interesting that not one has yet to do this.
#9 Anon. on 2008-07-11 15:57
None of the bishops of the OCA synod will step down - they have much too much to loose. You need to know that most of them have been responsible for many years - whether they want to admit it or not. What Herman has done over the years is simple destroy. He has destroyed people - for example Metropolitan Vladimir who he personally investigated to exterminate as well as many other good souls. People pay attention for a while, but then the poor man was exiled and cared for mostly by the Antiochians - God bless those good people. The church found him guilty, he was horrified and he was gone, but not forgotten. Herman spread lies about that man that not too many people now remember. He is a wonderful exterminator - anyone know where he can get a job?
Now we all know that if the PR report fingered only one person, it would have been published months ago - with no heart attacks Mr. Tosi. If the first SIC was going to give Herman the report he wanted, it would have completed it's work and the report would have been published. NOW don't hold your breath - but I'm certain that Benjamin will give Herman the report that he wants. He named his committee and will certainly produce a lot of information. The good news is, maybe they will stop wasting time and money on such projects - the bad news is, if printed, they will need to justify every word. It just too funny that when asked to produce the "film" - Cecil B Zaccheus did not produce. If the reports are made public, word for word the composers are liable to substantiate. This is going to be a circus and you can count on Herman still wearing the white hat!
#9.1 MP on 2008-07-14 08:35
This archbishop's communication [in stark contrast to the other archbishop's communication] leaves me with the strong impression that he would prefer continuing abuse and immorality, so long as no one talked about it and made us uncomfortable, to attempts to clean things up that lead to some harsh words being exchanged.
No wonder we are where we are.
#10 Rebecca Matovic on 2008-07-11 16:37
This comment summarizes it all:
"And the worst of it, from my perspective, has been shown in some dark, verbal attacks against our Metropolitan. This is completely against both the Gospel and our Tradition. It can be seen as a kind of spiritual patricide. As a result, we are still in a very dangerous stage of our recovery."
That's the "worst of it"? The massive moral failures, the massive fraud, the countless millions stolen, the continual lying and obfuscations, the blame games, attacking the messengers, enabling abusing bishops to remove and persecute priests, and stealing from widows and orphans was not the "worst of it"? Some anonymous posters, justifiably angry at the most culpable person of all in the OCA, going over the top and name calling those responsible is the "worst of it"? Unbelievable!! And he dares say this with a straight face and expect mature adults to take him seriously?
RECOVERY? What recovery? Has he completely lost touch with reality? Recovery without accountability, truth, full disclosure, repentance, apologies, resignations, and works to show that a true change of heart has happened? In what version of Christianity does this "archbishop" believe such a thing could be possible? Some Pseudo-Liberation-Orthodoxy abomination that he and the other "bishops" on the Synod dreamed up?
"Patricide" who is he kidding? So now asking for truth, accountability, ethics, and repentance from the chief enabler PERSONALLY RESPONSIBLE (along with others) for the squandering of the financial and spiritual treasure of the OCA is akin to "patricide"? I think I've finally seen and heard it all.
Lord Have Mercy! With hierarchs like these the destruction of the moral and spiritual foundation of the OCA will continue unabated.
Thank You Chris, You have such a wonderful way with words and somehow knowing the hearts of many others who have watched this unfold for three years now. As much as I want to believe that this is getting better I too look at all the games that are played out over and over and it makes me want to puke. When I think about it I do feel sorry, sorry for the innocent children wanting rice for supper, flour for their mothers to bake them bread with, and shoes on their feet to be available for them for warmth and comfort.
I think about the innocent people of 911 who suffered when those towers fell and they took their last breaths on this earth, and all the money that I thought was going towards there families to comfort those in grief. I think about the widows and children.
Yes as shameful as it is people do call one another names make mistakes with such language at times that are most vulnerable, but we must remember these are just words, nothing else really in the whole scope of life, if we truely know ourselves then we can brush them off with a lint comb.
The actions are the real issues in my mind, and I've not seen much in terms of change to represent a new birth in the OCA. Sadly, I'm disappointed, angry and ashamed by my own church and her leaders. I wish you a blessed evening and a blessed weekend. Thank you from my heart. Marjorie
#11.1 Anonymous on 2008-07-11 21:43
Problematic or objectionable as some of Archbishop Seraphim's letter may be (and there is no reason to use quotation marks around "archbishop," for he is a canonically consecrated bishop of the Church, whether or not one thinks he is exercising his ministry well or poorly), there is no evidence in his words that he is pushing any sort of "Pseudo-Liberation-Orthodoxy," whatever that may be. "Liberation theology" was a trend in Roman Catholicism that attempted, however successfully or unsuccessfully, to give a Christian response to Marxist critiques of social and economic inequality. Archbishop Seraphim's letter touched on nothing of the sort. The Church in North America (and not only the OCA portion of it) is passing through enough of a storm without injecting one's worldly political partisan agendas into the mix. It's simply not helpful, and such ad hominem attacks, more in place in propaganda than in Christian discourse, only confuse the issue.
#11.2 Anonymous on 2008-07-13 11:03
Archbishop Seraphim's better letter would have read:
The reporting of the Special Committee is the most important document and we need it urgently. Upon the report, actions need to be taken to empower the Metropolitan Council and laity to support the Holy Synod and the growth of Christ's church in America. Other actions may be needed at that time to resolve whether the structures and persons in leadership of the OCA are adequate and competant.
Further, was the OCA complicit in financial wrongdoings related to ADM? Was one of our people a bagman? Where did the ADM monies go? Was it another 4 million squandered in the building of Christ's church by the leadership of the OCA? Why was this issue placed out of scope of investigation?
The Archbishop touches on incompetance, but falls short of saying it and addressing it. He goes down the path of blaming us for patricide. Patricide is defined as killing the father.
Well, Archbishop Seraphim, noone wants to kill the father.
We want the fathers to take responsibility for their failings and ask for our help in ensuring the failures don't happen in the future. Perhaps resolve things like give the Metropolitan Council authority over the Treasurer. Perhaps resign if the errors made were substantial. Is 6 million substantial?
Stop villifying the victims Father.
#12 Daniel E. Fall on 2008-07-12 07:13
So much for Serphim. Yet another "bishop" trying to throw up smoke screens with "pious" rhetoric. The people of the OCA have never lost sight of God. They charged and continue to charge that the so called "spiritual leaders" of that chuch however did. The mistakes made were not "spiritual". They were criminal. I think a lot of these so called "spiritual leaders" are still scared that charges could be brought against them. Seraphim's letter is nothing more than an attempt to play on emotions and convince the people of the OCA they were too aggresive in their pursuit of openness and honesty from their "spirital leaders". Seraphim, the days of the "good old boys" club is over. The people of the OCA just don't buy that approach to Church anymore. We're not the uneducated masses of long ago. You want to quote the sacred writings? Remember, scripture also says be friends with everyone but put your trust in only one in one thousand. Trust isn't a gift. It's earned. We expect our "spiritual leaders" to earn trust.
#13 anon on 2008-07-12 08:16
Is Alaska a reflection of what the rest of North America is suffering from? If so, then we as Orthodox of the America's are in a HUGE amount of hurt!
"It's only money after all?" I've heard that many times; however, I've also heard, "Money can't buy happiness, but it can provide options."
When Father Nick and Matushka Anastasia were in Anchorage and we were all working to build up Saint Innocent Cathedral, I was a single mother and I believed in the vision. Giving money to the church or buying diapers for my babies was a choice - a struggle. Many, many parishioners would attend services by riding in a taxicab which would cost them anywhere from $20 to up to $80 per weekend and then they would still put money in the collection plate. That was a choice.
Now we in Alaska have been left with a debt of over $900,000. We have churches in which maybe a handful of parishioners attend. We have parishioners in Anchorage that prefer to attend the Greek or the Antiochian Church. At least they're attending church, right? That's their choice.
As I drive around Kodiak, with my children, we see large groups of children doing activities with missionaries of other churches. Then I hear of groups going out to the villages and working with those communities and being received openly by the parents of those communities. It makes me think of when I was a child and the elders would run off any preacher that showed up in the village. Those other religions didn't stand a chance. Now they do - choices.
It may be only money but because of the lack of responsibility, because of the complete disregard of the talents, because of the outright wastefulness, because of downright meanness toward each other we are now wasting way too much precious time and more money while fighting.
The truth needs to come out! How can we move forward as long as we are divided? Acknowledgement of personal responsibility toward mistakes needs to be taken. There again are some choices we need to make.
I applaud the Romanians for their commitment to becoming united and yet am discouraged because it sends the message that we as Orthodox are still divided. I also appreciate all that Archbishop Nathaniel has done by listening to us in Alaska and the support that was given to our priests in Rural Alaska. Maybe, once they get their paperwork in order, they can send missionaries to Alaska and have summertime activities for children and I'm not talking about only 4 days of VBS! When I think of summer church school, I recall the type that I had to attend when I was a child. Then, I didn't have a choice and life was a lot simpler. Of course, I was a child and I didn't even know that the word "choice" even existed.
Please forgive me for my boldness.
#14 Tatiana Berestoff on 2008-07-12 13:06
It really is tragic for +Seraphim to turn up to be a spineless company man; for the Holy Synod (sans +Job) to have backed +Herman; for +Nathaniel to have been the chief sycophant; for +Nikon to punish "rebellious" parishes; for +Benjamin to have irrationally branded reformers as congregationalists; for +Dimitri to harbor a former priest who has been deposed because of large scale theft and gross misfeasance; and for +Nikon to have said or done anything except call for controlling Internet-based speech.
I guess we could shrug like Joe E. Brown who told Jack Lemmon in Some Like It Hot "Oh well, no one is perfect" and keep on rowing.
The really striking aspect in this sordid episode has been the difference in leadership exhibited by the priests, deacons and the laity as contrasted to the members of the Holy Synod (again, with the exception of +Job).
For me, the lesson learned is the final proof that monarchical episcopate does not work. What can work is a conciliar form of episcopal polity as envisioned by Orthodox leaders and thinkers in the 20th Century in North America.
#15 Carl on 2008-07-12 18:14
Glad to see it was just "Administrative difficulties". For the sake of Best Practices, could you please advise on who the administrators were/are and what were/are the difficulties?
Also glad to see that this small crisis didn't involve much money. I guess I might beleive the money part if the $5-$8 million or so was skimmed off the top before it ever got to the OCA. However, I'm just not sure about the small crisis thing. Wonder why the FBI is involved?
#16 Ken Kozak on 2008-07-12 21:18
"Wonder why the FBI is involved?"
Dear Ken: Converting checks just under the $10,000 reporting limit to cash
#16.1 Michael Strelka, CPA on 2008-07-14 11:27
Sorry Michael, it was a tongue in cheek comment, not to be taken seriously. Obviously, if the FBI is still involved, this in NOT a small crisis as Archbishop Seraphim indicates.
Someone did bring up discussion on the forum regarding how members of certain groups lose all their benefits if they are found to be a disgrace (Court-martialed soldiers do not receive pension benefits, criminals can't receive book royalties, etc.). Should not a similar loss, or perhaps more severe, accompany those who swindle faithful believers? How low can you go! When the prosecution arrives, I hope they fully consider that aspect; the act of swindling from vulnerable members who put their trust in leaders representing God.
While I'm typing, we heard much last year from MH on how he had changed paths, asked for forgiveness and had commitment to the faithful. Yet, in the background of the Koumentakos lawsuit with Fr. Valencia, MH was aware of the situation. Did he act to heal and care for the sheep entrusted to him? When Karlgut could not get the release, what action did he take? I truly wonder that if he made a sincere effort to meet with M&M Koumentakos, shared a meal with them and discussed the real concerns, how they may have responded.
However, we learn of a different approach as previously reported on this site:
"Fr. Velencia’s attachment - a letter to the Metropolitan, some 10 pages long - did not specifically address Mrs. Koumentakos’allegations, but rather contained intimate, personal and graphic details about Mrs. Koumentakos’s abuse, her subsequent treatment, details about her husband, and their marriage, in what may be described as an attempt to damage her credibility and concerns."
What did MH do? He presented Fr. Valencia with a clergy award! Are you kidding me??? After all the events of this crisis, someone please tell me that didn't really happen.
#16.1.1 Ken Kozak on 2008-07-15 17:58
Could it not be that Archbishop Seraphim has simply taken himself out of any consideration for being the next First Hierarch of the OCA with his comments? Whether intentional or unintentional there is little chance that he will be a serious choice by the clergy and faithful the next time, hopefully Pittsburgh, when the Church chooses the next Metropolitan.
Of course, if the bishops, meeting in conclave vote for Seraphim over someone else, it will be clear that the OCA has lost all hope of taking her rightful place amongst the sister Churches in world Orthodoxy.
#17 Anonymous on 2008-07-13 06:06
After reading Archbishop's Seraphim's comments and the continued protestations of our other hierarchs I am reminded of a quote I recently read in a book on Islam:
"I'd rather be governed by a wise Turk than a stupid Christian."
And the source of the quote? Martin Luther
#18 Timothy Lowe on 2008-07-13 11:39
I only just got around to reading Fr. Woodhill's reflection -- brief, but solid. I particularly appreciate his juxtaposition of love and vulnerability which brought to mind a short passage from St. Augustine: "When I am frightened by what I am to you, then I am consoled by what I am with you. For you, I am bishop; with you I am a Christian. The first is an office, the second is a grace. The first a danger, the second salvation."
#19 Terry C. Peet on 2008-07-13 13:52
A very cool quote.
#19.1 Patty Schellbach on 2008-07-15 17:44
From "The Journals of Father Alexander Schmemann, 1973-1983"...
(concerning Metropolitan Ireney's retirement in 1977) "I [Fr. Alexander] went to him [Met. Ireney] and said: 'Vladyko: you cannot do it any more; you are tired. We will take care of you...' And he agreed. In ten minutes I typed (with one finger) a resignation and he signed it."
I know nothing of Met. Ireney and those days in the 1970s, and I believe the circumstances concerning his retirement were entirely different.
However, is there no senior priest or deacon in the OCA who could do something similar today, in 2008? Is there no experienced, senior Archpriest who could say in confidence to Met. Herman that it is time to retire? In true Christian love, we as a Church will be happy to pray for him and take care of him in retirement.
Someone with love, authority, and compassion, needs to step up to the plate and do this! Met. Herman is no longer an effective leader. If he cannot realize that, someone senior in the OCA must make him realize that. We can opine ad nauseum on this site how "Met. Herman must go" -- but haven't we been saying that for 2 years? What has happened? What has changed? Nothing.
Is there no venerable, respected Archpriest in the OCA who can convince Met. Herman it is time to retire? Type up a resignation letter in 10 minutes? No one? I find that hard to believe.
#20 Troubled in Texas on 2008-07-13 17:25
I nominate Eric Wheeler - they've done this before.
#20.1 MP on 2008-07-14 08:38
Glory to IC XC!
Dear Troubled in Texas,
Your message seems to put too much emphasis on Fr. Alexander at the expense of Met. Ireney. Not that you belittle the Met. in any way, but we need to understand that the conversation was a dialog of mutually trusting persons. +Ireney was prepared to listen to, and to accept, advice from Fr. Alexander.
In our current case, it is not enough that there be an "experienced, senior Archpriest" "with love, authority, and compassion" to approach Met. Herman. We have exactly this in his colleague of many years, Abp. Job, who (among others who fit the bill) has asked His Beatitude to retire. Alas, to no avail.
And apparently anyone giving such advice has to overcome the influence of "the Holy Synod of Bishops [that] affirmed their confidence in the leadership of Metropolitan HERMAN, and thanked him for his perseverance."
Our Metropolitan not only needs to trust the person giving him advice (over and against the majority of the Synod) but he needs to believe that the advice and counsel that he is given is helpful. And herein lies our quandary because he seems unable to do so when the advice given does not comport with his pre-established understanding of the situation.
It reminds me of a nice little sermon story that Fr. Don Hock told in Minneapolis several years ago. The gist of it was that a man had slipped off the edge of cliff, grabbed hold of a branch and was hanging on to it for dear life. He desperately began to pray to God for help, promising God whatever He could think of as a sign of repentance. The Lord answered Him and, in the final analysis, He didn't want all of the man's promises, He only wanted the man to do one thing -- to which the man asked, "What is it Lord? You name it and I'll do it! Just save me!" And the Lord responded by saying, "Let go of the branch."
Who now can -- can anyone? -- convince the Met. to let go?
Rev. Bartholomew Wojcik
St. Nicholas Mission Church
#20.2 Rev. Bartholomew Wojcik on 2008-07-14 08:47
As tragic as it is just to say, let alone be true, the only leverage we have with Syosset is money. The only way His Eminence will retire/repent is if all money is cut off completely.
Our experiment in doing just that in this Midwest Diocese proved that when even some money is withheld, action is taken.
Virtually nothing was done and denial was the name of the game when 70 archpriests called for action, and when most of the clergy from our entire Diocese called for action, and even when a senior archbishop called for action. But when we began to withhold money, things began to happen.
Unfortunately, we didn't withhold long enough to bring about systemic change. Leaders still don't "get" it, but simply want to "go back" to old ways (a Syosset without Bob). But what we need, and what the Holy Spirit is calling us to, is nothing less than Reformation. As Father Alexander Schmemann, of blessed memory, stated, "The Church must change, in order to remain the same."
Though there are good men there, I still advocate withholding all assessments from Syosset. There is no other way to get through, not only to His Eminence but to all who think this scandal is just about the embezzlement of Bob Kondratick. It is the only way to restore the missionary vision of the O.C.A., which is our only reason to exist as a jurisdiction.
Fr Mark Hodges
St Stephen the First Martyr Orthodox Mission
Metropolitan Herman has made big mistakes.
Many of us would be quite content if he resigned. I signed a petition calling for it based on his Nescott decisions.
Let's seriously think about him personally for a minute.
He is currently responsible for the debt of 1.7M dollars brought on by the criminality of the Chancellor he put in place and brought on by things that happened during his tenure.
Rather than leaving in disgrace, does it seem the least bit absurd to either of you priests that he would rather leave the OCA with some shreds of respect and some shreds of decency?
How many of us have thanked him for overstepping the boundaries in place (admin committee) and asked members of the admin committee to resign? How many of us have thanked him for pushing out other administrators that were conveniently complicit or turned a blind eye to RSK?
Personally, I think the Metropolitan deserves a thank you that goes right along with our desire that he hand over the reigns at some point to a new leader.
At some point, everyone needs to have a change of heart about what good the Metropolitan has done in the context of a crooked chief priest. Then we'd recognize the entire Synod failed along with the Metropolitan Council for all those years.
If the clergy believe the Metropolitan is at fault, then explain to me why noone has demanded the resignations of seated members of the Metropolitan Council who were in their positions prior to July of 2005, when it was clear the OCA was running deficity budgets against a zero based plan.
And let's hear that demand.
An couple ounces of gratitude may be owed by all of us. A pound, of course, belongs here at OCANEWS.ORG. Everyone should clear understand I'm well beyond that point.
We need to show some gratitude for the difference Metropolitan Herman has owned up to since November of 2005 and the Wheeler document.
We all well understand it to be tardy. We all well understand it to be reluctantly delivered. We all understand the full reporting to be both late and subject to inherent bias. We all understand the problems and errors abound.
But in the end, the Metropolitan has done what no other member of the Council or Synod has done.
When you guys start demanding resignations of those members of the Metropolitan Council seated before July of 2005, and thanking the Metropolitan for his tardy, reluctant response, then I will agree with the continued calls for his resign. Until then, I understand why he is steadfast in his desire to remain.
He isn't the only responsible party.
Mark, who are the members of the MC that were seated before July of 2005? I tried to determine it, but could only determine one for sure. Has anyone called them out by name and asked for them to resign? Consider this a continued call.
#220.127.116.11 Daniel E. Fall on 2008-07-16 20:51
Fr. Mark, if you have the proof please share it with the rest of the world. You obviously know that you are liable for what you say. If you can prove your words, you indeed need to free so many from their bewilderment. Should you not be able to prove what you say with documentation, you may get some unexpected mail. If I were you, I would tend my flock and not be so concerned about others.
#18.104.22.168 MP on 2008-07-19 11:47
Proof of what?
Fr. Mark is correct. The proof is in the citation from retired Archbishop Tikhon of the West. He cited a 2002 compilation report that suggested all fiduciaries receiving compilations knew temporarily restricted funds were used for operating expenses dating back into 2001. If that is the case and the retired Archbishop wasn't lying, then all persons that received distributions of the 2001 and 2002 and 2003 and 2004 and 2005 compilations (even unaudited ones) should have understood the church was misappropriating money. By the way, the likelihood of him lying is low. The language he cited was accountant language, not Bishop language.
All I'm waiting for is for earnest explanation from OCA fiduciaries as to how they accepted this well known truth. Were they too dumb to understand its implications? Did they hope for a large bailout? Did they think that they could get away with shorting the charity appeals and it would be okay? Who were these people? Did even Metropolitan Herman whilst Treasurer of the OCA not see a financial statement?
We are well beyond proof. If these basic facts are not revealed by the SIC, drastic measures are due.
To attend the AAC within the context of that happening would border on heresy unless the SIC members and the Metropolitan were removed from OCA leadership at the AAC.
The Metropolitan should be ashamed at the time he has taken to reveal these basic facts.
Only a comprehensive and truthful report or the debt all men must pay will set anyone free.
#22.214.171.124.1 Daniel E. Fall on 2008-07-20 21:04
+ Ireney could not walk and was incontinent. He himself knew it was time.
+ Herman is an extremely stubborn hunky. He really believes he is the only hope for the OCA when in reality, he is the problem. Many priests have told him it is time for him to go and many 2 years ago. He should have resigned already. ...
#20.3 Anonymous on 2008-07-14 12:21
This is a good time to tell a story related to me by a parish priest of those days. Several years after the 1970 Autocephaly, he and another two priests were together bewailing the fact there were few American born bishops. Fr. Alexander came by and asked what they were so agitated about. When they told him he said "Someday you will quote me, the ""Golden" days of the OCA were Met. Ireney" and the other Russian bishops. The priests laughed at him then, but now one of them is humbly quoting Fr. Alexander and admitting he was right.
#20.4 bob on 2008-07-14 14:05
"The OCA in the continental US has been declining between 6 and 9% for nearly 20 years."
Was there ever a "Golden" period in the history of the Metropolia/OCA?
"The OCA in the continental US has been declining between 6 and 9% for nearly 20 years."
-Rev. Jonathan Ivanoff
St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary
Fr. Ivanoff made that statement in 2004. What we are seeing in 2008 are continued manifestations of this 20 year decline. The OCA has nothing in its history to show that it has the wherewithal to pull up and out of its decline.
#20.4.1 Anonymous on 2008-07-15 19:37
The reason Fr. Alexander was right was because he knew the current bishops of the time - their seriousness of the office, their honesty and truly reflecting Christ. Fr. Alexander also knew those who were the upcoming bishops. It was he himself who said, "Our church continues in spite of it's bishops." He knew!
#20.4.2 Anonymous on 2008-07-16 10:27
yes,thank you, i know about that. the old russian bishops had their faults too, as we all do,but they really were pious and good men. orthodoxy cannot simply be learned by reading a couple books about it, it must be lived and experienced in humility. all the old bishops came from pious russian orthodox families as did fr. aleksandr (count schmeman). i would like to remind some of the russia-hating converts who post here that the orthodox faith was planted here not by the anglos but by the russian church and her missionaries and it was the russian church who gave the autocephaly. hating the russian church is like hating one's mother.converts should be ever grateful to the russian church for the most precious gift of grace they received in the church,because had the russians and other orthodox ethnicities never come here and established churches they would have remained protestants and be bereft of salvation in the ONE CHURCH OF CHRIST.
#20.4.3 Anonymous on 2008-07-16 18:48
I think you are mistaken about the "russia-hating converts (sic)", and in my case most definitely so. My introduction to Orthodoxy (as a teenager) was through my love and interest in 19th Century Russian history and culture. But I hope I have never confused or equated religion with culture, at least where the universality of Christianity is concerned.
That means that no one cultural expression of Christianity (or Orthodoxy if you prefer) has a monopoly on the truth. It also means that all cultural traditions have good things and not so good things as part of their legacy, so that it is not always appropriate to point to the past as an automatic guide for what is useful in a different cultural or historic context.
North American Orthodoxy is enriched in the 21st Century by the cultural contributions of Russia, Byzantium and many other countries. But it also needs to develop its own "ethos" and "witness" that not only incorporates, but further develops, the important contributions of the past.
Indiscriminately holding on to the traditions and practices of the past is really a form of idolatry, that only serves to impede the workings of the Holy Spirit in the here and now.
#126.96.36.199 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2008-07-17 07:40
Just so you know, I know a number of "high-ranking" priests of the OCA who have privately advised Herman to resign. He refused. These frustrated priests have slowly become more public with their non-confidence in Herman as he has continued to ignore their advice.
Herman may say that it is just the "whining little people" who want him resign, but he himself knows that that's a lie. It's not just us "little people" or members of the MC, it is also those employed by Syosset and the Seminaries, diocesan deans and chancellors, etc. The only people I know of who actually openly support him anymore is the Holy Synod sans Job.
Herman may think that it is useless to resign, but it is really just his own stubbornness which keeps him from resigning. So yes, people have asked him to resign, if only because of his health problems, and he has consistently ignored their advice.
#20.5 Anonymous on 2008-07-14 14:52
Dear Troubled in Texas,
There are many Archpriests and Priests, and Laity who have called for Met. Herman to retire. It may be time, once again, for a letter from 70 Archpriests of the OCA to be signed, once again, a letter saying that Met. Herman "can no longer do it." "We will take care of you."
Shall we wait for a blood bath in Pittsburgh to convince us that Met. Herman no longer has the confidence of the Church? Shall we put ourselves through that or is there a better way, a higher road, a more peaceful path?
Where are you now 70 Archpriests? Where is your letter?
#21 Doubting in Dallas on 2008-07-14 07:17
"Wonder why the FBI is involved?"
Dear Ken: Converting a series of checks just under the $10,000 reporting limit is a federal crime, and the FBI is the agency that enforces those laws.
#22 Michael Strelka, CPA on 2008-07-14 11:32
what good news do you have to offer? same old "gossip" met must go? job is great! everyone is bad that dont agree with this website? this website has created this mess! right stokoe? in nov.will anyone bring up the idea to shut down this website? will bishop job ask stokoe to shut it down or be removed from the church? I dont think honest job has the back bone to do it! we will see in nov, iin pitts.
#22.1 Anonymous on 2008-07-21 11:03
Oh, great. Now we have No Caps Anonymous Guy. Same functional illiteracy as the original model, though. H'mm. Could it be a dazzling ploy to make us think that All Caps Anonymous Guy has disciples?
#22.1.1 Scott Walker on 2008-07-22 11:11
I have read + Seraphim's letter here and also read some of the reactions to it. His letter is honest and straight forward. Some of the comments here are unwarranted and plain vulgar.
+ Seraphim was outlining that many of the bishops nor the Met. Council realized what was going on. That money was being stolen and misappropriated by the Chancellor and Metropolitan. And, that the current Metropolitan, knew all about it. + Seraphim is honest and forthright in his comments and the bad-mouthing here concerning him is totally inappropriate.
+ Herman should resign immediately and + Seraphim should become the next Metropolitan of the OCA - as originally elected at the last AAC.
#23 Anonymous on 2008-07-14 13:40
Dear Sir/Madam/Fr: Please go back ad re-read the history of this whole affair, from the start. The head of the audit committee wrote a letter to the MC in 1999 that something was afoot. I find it hard (no, it strains credulity) to believe that the HS knew nothing was going on. Moreover, you will remember from these pages, the HS affirmed the secrecy of Theodosius discretionary account, and later, in late 2005 and early 2006, dismissed the whole matter as being the work of a disgruntled former employee.
Did any one of them (save +Job) have the backbone to say that maybe things ought to be examined a little more closely? The answer is no; it took 70 senior priests and 8 respected attorneys, and us peasants writing on these pages to move the unmoveable object.
#23.1 Michael Strelka on 2008-07-16 07:47
You interpreted +Seraphim's words to mean: "+ Seraphim was outlining that many of the bishops nor the Met. Council realized what was going on. That money was being stolen and misappropriated by the Chancellor and Metropolitan. And, that the current Metropolitan, knew all about it."
Assuming that your interpretation is correct, what has +Seraphim done about the clear dereliction of duty of the current Metropolitan? What has he done about the unjustified firing of the bearers of bad news? What has he done about the cover up? Is he not a senior and respected bishop on the Holy Synod? He did get the most votes at the last election for Metropolitan after all.
What he has done is displayed for all to see in his letter, which speaks for itself. To you it was an honest and perhaps courageous act. To me, it shows a spineless man who is a follower and not a leader; one who still wears blinders--by choice; one who prefers to live in peace than to fight the good fight; one who would be a superb father confessor and nurturing kind of priest somewhere in a monastery, but not a diocesan bishop who must protect his flock and preach the Word regardless of the cost to his comfort level.
#23.2 Anonymous on 2008-07-16 15:48
Stick with the facts Anon.
Seraphim can never be elected Metropolitan now after suggesting we are guilty of patricide. Spiritual murder? He suggests we want to spiritually murder the Metropolitan?
His comments are the vulgar ones that exorcised the worst in people.
If he would have stayed away from villifying us, perhaps he also wouldn't have exorcised us. One would think a Bishop would choose his words more carefully.
The Metropolitan murdered the spirit of many people working to do what was right since sometime in the late 90s. The spiritual murder was delivered to Wheeler, Nescott, and the first SIC, to name just a few.
#23.3 Daniel E. Fall on 2008-07-20 21:27
To me that's it in a nutshell.
Thank you for such clarity.
+Seraphim's few choice words were those of intimidation, not much else.
#23.3.1 Patty Schellbach on 2008-07-22 17:38
It was suggested at the St. Vlad's town hall that the upcoming AAC have some visible act of repentance on the part of the holy synod. I understand that this idea was first suggested by bishop Nikon at the initial preconciliar meetings but was later nixed by the holy synod. You can't force someone to repent however to outright dismiss the idea as folly or completely unnecessary just smells of incredible self pride.
It's time for a new holy synod.
#24 Anon. on 2008-07-14 20:15
After + Herman resigns, which should be immediately, but will probably be at the AAC, ALL the other hierarchs need to prostrate themselves before the entire assembly and ask forgiveness. Then, submit their resignations and let whoever be re-elected and whoever be retired.
#24.1 Anonymous on 2008-07-16 06:43
What an evil, evil person you are!
Imagine what great things you could have done if you'd used your energy in a positive way.
(Editor's note: Clearly you have been talking to my mother.....)
#25 ethelrod on 2008-07-14 23:11
Now thats certainly the christian approach.
Someone had wax in their ears on Sunday during the liturgy, or do they need to go to church to understand what the church teachs us, or the commandments.
Mark remember the Beatitudes, those who are persecuted for rightness sake. With love
#25.1 Anonymous on 2008-07-16 14:35
If you look closely, there is a forest in these trees.
How about instead of the central church taking 5% of the fair share monies and spending them on capital contributions for building churches over the last 18 years, they just stole the money instead?
Let's see, using round figures, 36 million dollars is 1.8 million in building churches.
Oh, no, that's right, that 5% skim is just a portion of what was stolen.
Just a small detail amidst the tough loving editorial commentary.
Get a compass.
#25.2 Daniel E. Fall on 2008-07-16 20:56
And so Paul, too, was guilty of "dark, verbal attacks," when he withstood Peter to his face.
#26 Anonymous on 2008-07-15 16:13
So you were there too? I was the guy in the green hat!
#26.1 Anonymous on 2008-07-18 17:06
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