Tuesday, August 5. 2008
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God bless Archbishop Job! Too bad he can't be cloned!
#1 Rdr. James Morgan on 2008-08-05 13:38
From what Bishop +Nikon had to say at the St. Vladimir's Seminary Town Hall meeting a couple of weeks ago, it was obvious that he and Bishop +Job are not on the same page with regard to how to end this morass. That was most disappointing at the time but I can't say I was altogether surprised.
May God strengthen and inspire our Synod with the courage and integrity to do the right thing and remove Metropolitan Herman sooner rather than later. May He also stiffen Vladyka +Job's resolve to stand his ground and be the catalyst for healing in our deeply wounded Church.
#2 David Maliniak on 2008-08-05 15:04
Thanks for your continued efforts Mark.
I have a question or two..
First of all, Bishop Job still fails to answer the simplest question as to whether he got compilation reports since 2001 and whether he fully comprehended them and whether the balance sheets were accurate. In the absence of this question, I continue to find it difficult to respect him based on a question of "True or False?". Leaders don't ask questions, leaders take actions based on the facts. Did Job know the facts and were they accurate at least on the balance sheets?
Second of all, it seems prudent that the entire efforts of the churches would not be airing opinions at town hall meetings, but drafting resolutions. Does OCANEWS.ORG intend to host a page for proposed draft resolutions?
As to your editorial Mark, while we nearly fully agree, I disagree with one subtle point. I do believe strategic planning requires integrity and strategic planning could help the OCA move beyond its failures. Whether strategic planning is evangelizing or something else; the church can use it.
Based on Archbishop Job's commentary, I continue to ask the Metropolitan resign and I suggest all of us reflect and find it in our hearts to be grateful to him for getting rid of RSK. He had no help in the effort, albeit Mark Stokoe, who Metropolitan Herman should be thanking as well.
Final question: When will the Statutes of limitations pass Mr. Nescott?
(Editor's note: The Archbishop has already admitted that he received the reports and did not understand or grasp them. He did not know the facts, which were kept hidden from both the Synod and the MC. He has asked forgiveness for being decieved and acquiesing in being decieved. - for years, as a matter of fact - He is consciously trying to do better.
Yes, I will host a page of proposed resolutions if people would like to send me them. I will put them up under " What you can do". I am ready....
While I am a great advocate of strategic planning, I find the timing unpropitious to begin such now. First, let's clean up the mess. Then we can began to look forward. As it is now, most of the people who got us in the mess, and kept us in the mess, would be the same ones proposing how to move us beyond their mess. I don't think so.
As regards the Metropolitan, you are both correct and incorrect. I am grateful to the Metropolitan for terminating Kondratick's reign as well. But, I do not think he did so willingly, or that he had no help. The evidence, based on the timeline of events and published documents, would suggest that he was terrified into doing it because of what Proskauer Rose told him the potential consequences of not doing it were. It is to them we owe our thanks as much as the Metropolitan.
I am not sure what your last question means. Do you mean how long can Mr. Nescott serve on the MC? I believe he has only been on two years of a three year term - even counting the time he was suspended. I am not familiar with the rules of WPA, which may or may not allow re-election.)
#3 Daniel E. Fall on 2008-08-05 17:29
Well I get a definite bad verbage score on the last one.
Does someone like Greg Nescott, or anyone else for that matter truly know if some statute of limitations in New York is an underlying reason for it taking 3 years to report the scandal fully?
Thanks for the clarification on the compilations. Did all MC members get them as well?
Did Metropolitan Herman (pressured or not) not hire PR? I think if you shift the focus from me to the Metropolitan, you can quite easily see how the Metropolitan may see himself. He may see himself as a person who overtrusted the chancellor and finally took action when pressured and created a favorable result. It isn't so preposterous really. And don't think I am his shoe shine boy.
What is preposterous is that only the Metropolitan seemed capable. We had many, many postings complaining about the Metropolitan hiring PR for his own personal 'firewall'. Isn't it easy for him to paint a different picture? He can simply think, 'who else but me could?'.
In the future, why can't the Metropolitan Council hire a law firm if they suspect a thieving Metropolitan, for example? Or, if audits aren't completed and unqualified? It seems the mechanisms of the church all require an action from the top man or nothing happens. Is this Orthodoxy?
Why in fact was Abp. Job forced to ask a question rather than making a phone call to an attorney when he got fed up with it all? For fear of reprisal?
Will this basic information about how the church failed because it depended too heavily upon the Metropolitan and still does be reflected in the SIC? As many of us know, the Metropolitan further centralized his governance and now has all 3 top admin positions reporting to him. Will this be reported, that we now have even more centralization? Why is it 'his' governance? Is it not 'ours'?
Let's not make this about me and my stupidity. This is the way an educated observer has watched this thing roll out.
Parish Councils have term limits. Could term limits on the Chancellor, Treasurer, and Secretary have prevented the failure? While the concept of taking ones family somewhere for say 4 or 6 years doesn't seem wonderful, perhaps for the good of the church, there is no option. Do the Treasurer and Secretary positions require priests?
Fr. Reeves has touched on this some, but his observation doesn't offer a full solution.
I think it is vital for us to step back and forget the personalities. Something I learned in an undergrad ops management course is that if you have a 'people' problem in business, you have a poor 'process'.
We are going to have Metropolitans in the future who are bullheaded and strongwilled and don't want any interference. How can we mitigate the effects?
Council can terminate Treasurer for failed, omitted audit?
Metropolitan Herman himself isn't a dummy. He must see that too much depended upon him and he was absent plenty. So why would he increase his responsibilities? This part he has failed on seriously. Let's see, we had a powerful personality in a Chancellor and the Treasurer reported to him, which allowed a scandal... Nope, we had overcentralized power in the Chancellor and the Metropolitan and now we've made it worse.
Either the Metropolitan Council needs real power, or the Metropolitan Council should be disbanded. I see no purpose in its existence.
For that matter, why have a Synod? We only need the Metropolitan. The Bishops can report to him as well.
After all, none of our Bishops did anything substantive in the scandal. Bishop Job merely asked a question.
This church broke because power was centralized into two key positions. Now, power is centralized into one key position.
Resolutions are needed to change the governance of the church.
#3.1 Daniel E. Fall on 2008-08-06 07:19
Great ideas! Yes, let's get rid of the very idea of a Synod of Bishops (or even bishops in geneneral?) and let's firm up the power of the Metropolitan Council. Put term limits on the Chancellor, and other positions of "authority" (gosh I hate that word, don't you?), etc., and let the "shareholders" vote on everything.
I have an idea: We can call it "The Living Church." Sound good?
#3.1.1 Anonymous on 2008-08-06 16:11
Dear Anonymous of posting 3.1.1,
Aren't you stretching it a bit when you you imply that the next step is no bishops and no Holy Synod?
To make my point clearer, Daniel Fall's main position was that "This church broke because power was centralized into two key positions. Now, power is centralized into one key position." This is certainly far different than your implied straw horse.
On the other hand, you may be one of those people who believe in absolutes: either a despot or anarchy. Can't you give credence to the possibility that there is a middle ground, where the Holy Synod leads the Church, but does not have absolute and total power over all aspects of the Church?
Why is it wrong to say that each bishop is co-equal, and as such, may take his turn in being the first among equals or the Metropolitan? Yes, I know that we've had Patriarchs, Archbishops and Metropolitans for life (or until deposed) for a very long time. But, not for all time! Don't we claim to be The Church, unchanged from the days of the Apostles? Then, how come we don't consider the entire breadth of our history when judging the propriety of our practices?
My point is that there seems to be no theological obstacle to having our Diocesan bishops wear two hats (head of diocese and temporary head of the North American Church) from time to time. How will this make us not -Orthodox? Will the chain of Apostolic Succession be broken? No and no again.
As for the bishops not having all power over every aspect of the Church, need I remind you that the Church founded the dioconate to assist the overseers (bishops and priests in modern parlance)? Indeed, we even had dioconesses! This was done because the Church wisely recognized that a person may be called by Grace to become an overseer but not a superman. Think about it, look all around you, use your God-given reasoning ability: some people can do certain things better than others. Somebody who is good with finances may be lousy with counseling; somebody who may be a superb teacher may be a weak manager; etc.
Let me throw something else at the table. The best leaders are those who recognize their weaknesses and hire subordinates who more than make up for these weaknesses. The best managers are those who make sure that there are segregation of duties and many checks and balances (to include the manager) to make sure that nobody is tempted to commit malfeasance or a crime, and, if they do so anyway, they are caught immediately. Why? Because they value the organization they lead and manage much more than they value their position in it.
Please reconsider your position and make your point, whatever it is, with less venom (I should hasten to say that I have been guilty of intemperate remarks myself. I am very sorry for them and I again apologize. I am criticizing you only because I see myself in your remarks).
#184.108.40.206 Carl on 2008-08-07 11:27
I am very aware at how bad this is going to sound, but I am going to say it anyway. It just seems to me that the more we try to behave like good Christians about this the less is going to happen. Sure we need to pray and forgive, but eventually the Greeks had to raise up and drive out the Turks, and we need to do the same. Make the ANAC an impossible ordeal. Picket, protest, riot, do whatever it takes. Nothing is going to happen otherwise. Give it a chance, but if things don't go the way they need to go, then don't give it a chance to continue. It has been YEARS, people! If this is allowed to go on then no other topic of conversation, whether it be about evangelization, autocephaly, or what have you is going to matter. Herman has to go. I hope every day that this back issue he is having will give him the opportunity to resign with dignity (so at least he can say it wasn't over the scandal), but if not then it must be forced. It won't be the first time in the history of the Church that something like this took place. The people have risen up before, and there is plenty of precedent to do it again now. At least then when the rest of the world catches wind of this they will judge those resposible and not the entire Orthodox Church.
#4 OCA Seminarian on 2008-08-05 22:14
You mention Met. Herman's back problems as a possible means for his graceful exit....As usual, I am confused, because, although the Metropolitan's back pain is so severe he cannot sit for long periods, and he expects to go for back surgery, I also hear he is planning a trip to Russia soon. What kind of sense does that make, a long journey requiring endless hours of sitting, just to get to the destination, and then doing whatever he will do there, with his back pain aggravated by travel....all for what purpose, I am wondering?
#4.1 cate on 2008-08-06 09:13
It wasn't very long ago that I stopped at the little cemetary by the church at St. Tikhon's ........ before going to the well for refreshing water.........upon reflection, could we not imagine the joyous reception by the monastics there of two former Metropolitans of the OCA, fully forgiven and blessed, to always remain under the protection of the true church of God ? Would that they might choose this path and regain the honor for which they have spent their whole lives.
#5 Guileless on 2008-08-06 06:48
You forget that Met. Herman is already the abbot of St. Tikhon's. Its true. Just check their website. There he is in a group picture as well. :-/
#5.1 OCA Seminarian on 2008-08-06 13:45
The Q&A is remarkable. Archbishop Job is a true gem.
#6 Phil on 2008-08-06 07:37
The Truth is that the MC and most of the bishops had no clue as to the extent of the theft going on while RSK and + Theodosius were at the helm. What everyone knew is that RSK was making everything "work" well - in appearance. Money seemed to be flowing and all things with the OCA seemed great. Now, if not before and during Dn. Wheeler's stint as Treasurer, certainly upon his leaving, + Herman was COMPLETELY aware of the theft taking place - he even became Treasurer. So, RSK actively stole funds; + Theodosius knew of ALL the secret accounts and money from Andreas and + Herman, if he didn't know, was made aware when he became Treasurer. + Herman DID NOTHING!
Folks, it's clear. So why is this guy STILL Metropolitan of the OCA? How much theft is too much theft? How much is unacceptable? $3mm? $5mm? $10mm?
#7 Anonymous on 2008-08-06 12:56
You repeatedly used the term "ANAC" in your reporting, not just on the Indianapolis Town Hall, but in previous news posts. However, I have yet to see the OCA officially refer to the AAC as the "All-North American Council."
Is this indeed the official name of the council now, or is it a term that you've adopted in hopes that it will catch on?
(Editor's note: Popadia Jannakos asked that we use the term out of respect for the Canadian and Mexican members of the OCA who dislike the term "All-American Council" as being to USA-centric. Many Canadians would prefer the term All North American Council (ANAC) instead as being more inclusive and accurate. Since she was moderating the meeting, people used the terminology she requested, and so I reported.)
#8 Reader Nilus Klingel on 2008-08-06 13:39
Thanks for that clarification. By the way, it's been excellent reporting.
While I think a new name is a good idea, this particular proposal is pretty clunky. Even simply 'North American Council' would be superior. On the other hand, I guess arguing the particulars won't do any good.
More troubling to me is the question: why does Michelle Jannakos think she can implement this change herself? Perhaps, instead of foisting this idea on everyone, she would do better to lobby (and engender grassroots support) for the name to be officially changed. This, as it is, smacks of the old way of doing things - that is, unilateralism. This isn't a "singing the Creed in English" moment. It's just disingenuous.
One last unimportant nit, about using an honorific as a title. Whether you're Russian (Matushka), Serbian (Popadia), Greek (Presbytera), or Arab (Khouria) - these are terms of endearment, not honor. They are not titles or ranks. (Never mind what to do when you're not Russian, Greek, or another historically Orthodox ethnicity.)
Often, I see these names used as titles, by priests' wives needing to assert their own importance. It's absurd for someone to come into a parish and force parishioners to call them the equivalent of 'mommy.' Being a 'priest's kid' myself, I realize the importance a priest's wife can have in the community. But being called by one of these names should be a sign of love and gratitude extended by the community as a mark of an intimate relationship. Clearly, it would be preposterous if bishops signed letters 'Vladyka Timothy.' Accordingly, priests are instructed not to address themselves as 'Father,' but rather as 'Priest.'
This is with no ill-will towards Mrs. Jannakos; I've never met her, and I am making no accusations about her. Instead, my purpose is to ask you, Mr. Stokoe, to reconsider your journalistic practice of referring to individuals as 'Matushka' or 'Popadia' as if these names were titles. Also, perhaps you might want to hold off on reporting on the AAC as the "ANAC" until the AAC actually is the ANAC.
Otherwise, your reporting has been of a high quality, free from personal invective, and very helpful. We are all thankful to you for your hard work.
St. Andrew's Church, Dix Hills
Student at Syracuse University
(Editor's note: Thanks for the kind words. For better or worse, I follow the practice of calling people what they call themselves usually. It saves invective. And while you are technically correct, I would venture to argue that it strikes most as strange and somewhat pedantic to hear someone they know as Fr. Tom be referred to as "The Priest Tom". Most Americans, myself included, suffer from a native informality. It does not denote lack of respect.)
#8.1 Reader Nilus Klingel on 2008-08-07 11:35
I don't know who told you that the titles of the wife of a deacon or priest was simply "honorific", though this does seem to be a common idea in America, due, perhaps to what Mark calls "informality". Either way, it is mismannered to refer to the wife of a priest as "Mrs." Being knighted is an "honorific" as well, that doesn't mean that Sir Elton John should be referred to as "Mr. John" (no matter how much of a goofball you think he is). You are forcing a distinction which really doesn't make sense, and it furthermore goes against centuries of Orthodox tradition.
I'm sorry if you find me nitpicky, but a nit pick deserves a nit pick. I am done with have the wives of clergy being disrespected. I recently heard the wife of a newly ordained deacon being denied even using the "honorific" of matushka because "she's just a deacon's wife". It may be "informality" but in cases like this it is simply an outgrowth of the rampant anti-clericalism which is currently plaguing the OCA, and it needs to stop.
#8.1.1 Anonymous on 2008-08-09 13:19
Oh please Anonymous - anti-clericalism?? Half the wives out there probably dont want to be called Matushka. I have been told by both deacon and priest wives, dont dare call them Matushka. If there is any anti-clericalism its because of the pathetic silence of so many of our fearless leaders to take a stand on this scandal. How can we laypersons respect the arrogancy we observe amoung the "good ol' boy" clerical clubs that abound in the OCA?
#220.127.116.11 Rich on 2008-08-10 19:59
I really don't care where the anti-clericalism has come from, it should not be taken out on the wives of the clergy, who are likely the least responsible persons for this current mess.
Most clergy wives I know dislike "matushka" because it's Russian, and they have little affinity towards it. Every other Orthodox nation has adopted their own title for clergy wives, why don't we have one in English? Is it because we are simply "informal"? Or do we have, in fact, a larger issue of anti-clericalism which gets subverted towards the easy and soft targets - the wives of clergy? Or do we actually have a problem with giving women a title of respect in the Church? Or do we really don't want to integrate Orthodoxy into America - and hanging onto "matushka" is our way of holding ourselves back? It seems to me that it is a combination of all these factors.
The OCA, of all the jurisdictions, should be the forerunner of deciding the English term used for clergy wives. The English language has one of the largest vocabularies known to mankind, I'm sure we can find an English word somewhere which is suitable. It may seem like a small thing, but as any sociologist knows, titles are ritually and socially important signifiers. The fact that we haven't yet determined this issue indicates to me that the "powers that be" (i.e. the "good ol' boys club) don't actually care about the wives of our clergy in any real way. Could it be that they think that our clergy wives don't actually matter because they are simply women?
#18.104.22.168.1 Anonymous on 2008-08-11 08:22
To Anonymous #1 (8.1.1)
Fair enough: a nit does indeed deserve a nit. However, you prove my point for me. The newly-ordained deacon's wife was "denied" being called 'matushka' - something I guess she felt she was entitled to. Sad. Who was it who was ordained again?
I can imagine someone received into the diaconate (or priesthood), in acknowledgement of the mystical blessing and burden he has been vested with, would enjoy a degree of respect and honor from his fellow Christians. But the wife receiving a title automatically? This is more reminiscent of nobility-etiquette than of any true Orthodox ecclesiology.
I will not deny that the wife can participate in the husband's priesthood. In fact, this is the ideal... but it is a potentiality, not a presupposition. Acknowledge reality not as it exists in word, but as it exists in deed.
Anonymous, your allegation of "anti-clericalism" is more serious. It shows that you are cut off from the living Tradition of Orthodoxy in America. Here, our great theologians, including Fr. Schmemann and Fr. Meyendorff, have fought to break down this sinful, medieaval Russian distinction of the Holy (the clergy) and the Unclean (the laos). In the recent words of Archbishop Job, 'the laity are part of the royal priesthood.'
Perhaps instead of looking at the laity with disdain for their 'anti-clericalism' you should acknowledge that there is nothing intrinsically different about them, that they do not receive diminished Grace, that they are not some 'lower caste' who are obliged to look up to you and respect you. Wake up and smell the 21st century. We're here because of the one timeless Truth, not for a menagerie of customs lifted from the 2nd, 12th, 16th or 18th century.
Rich, I know of a few clergy wives (and I imagine there are many others) who do not want to be called anything except their name. My own mother is among them - and I have always respected her for it.
A reply to Anonymous #2 (12.) will follow his post.
Finally, I find it baffling that people who care so much about people being called by their proper titles themselves do not sign their name. Is it an issue of courage? They're not speaking out about anything serious, like, lack of confidence in a bishop. After last Sunday's NYTimes article* about trolling and the internet, I am beginning to think this ability to 'escape responsibility for what you say' is negative for civil discourse on the internet. And that it is particularly bad for OCANews. The time to speak the truth from a comfortable hiding place is coming to an end. Anonymity is becoming a device used by the agents of fear, discord, and naysaying. If you actually care about Orthodoxy, and dare to show your face in a church or a coffee hour, then why escape who and what you are, when you're on the internet?
If you (8.1.1 or 12.0) like, you can contact me personally, or visit St. Andrew's on Long Island, or Ss. Peter and Paul in Syracuse, and come talk to me about this issue. But even if you had courage to do that, I imagine that, in person, your tunes, would be markedly different.
St. Andrew's Church, Dix Hills NY
Student at Syracuse University
* The New York Times article can be found at:
#22.214.171.124 Reader Nilus Klingel on 2008-08-11 07:02
Just an incidental pet peeve of mine:
Whether we call it an "All-American Council" or an "All-North American Council" misses the forest for the trees. Neither one are true. In the OCA we continue to project an image of ourselves which is false (we have one million members, etc.). We do not have and have never had an "All-American Council," nor have we ever had an "All-North American Council," because Orthodox in America are not united. We should continually remind ourselves of this reality, and work and pray to unite here. It's actually very rude to other SCOBA jurisdictions to call our council, "All-American." At the very least, we are ignoring our brethren. What would be truthful would be to call our council simply an "American Council," or our "North American Council," or something which describes it more honestly. The grandiose titles only show we are still in denial. At best, it shows we think only of ourselves, never of a hope toward or a dedication to or a vision for a truly ALL-American Council. MAY THAT DAY COME!!! We are not the only Orthodox here (or the only ones that matter), and we should acknowledge that (and weep over it!). It may only be a title, but why do we have to make ourselves out to be more than we really are? Why are we afraid of stating our true condition? It seems to me that a starting point in reaching out to other jurisdictions would be to acknowledge them, at least implicitly in tempering our self-descriptions. Perhaps it would call us to humility (which gives greater glory to God for what He accomplishes through us -- remember Gabriel's army!) and call us on to work toward becoming what God has called us to be in America.
I know it's not a big deal, but it's always bothered me, so thanks for letting me blow off steam.
Father Mark Hodges
St Stephen the First Martyr Orthodox Mission
3560 Shawnee Rd
Lima OH 45806
When Joh Kozey refused to sign off on the compilation reports as full audits, why didn't the entire MC at the time demand that Kondratick and +Theodosius be held accountable for the obvious financial confusion and unwillingness to discuss the matter?
How could they have just sat there and done nothing? Wasn't that way back in 1999?
Why did they not just resign en masse if nothing was to be done and if the powers that be refused to address the expressed concerns?
How could one clever person bamboozle 30-45 intelligent adults? I find that mind boggling and difficult to accept.
Many people are calling for Metropolitan Herman to resign. How about including every one of the MC members who sat blindly on that governing board at the time do the same?
How about the synod precludes the former Metropolitan from making any public appearances, let alone serve? I mean, the current Metropolitan is being tarred and feathered while the one who was supposedly in-charge, (what a sham that was as we all know who was really in-charge), while all of the financial malfiesence occurred, is getting off scot free. Does that seem fair to anyone?
It is very apparant that certain individual(s) had complete and absolute control over everything. This included not only what information was provided in reports, but also who knew what. It seems that information was released solely based upon a need to know basis. Archbishop Job has basically alluded to this.
This dysfunction went on for years and now everybody wishes for it to be cleaned up overnight. How can things come to a close when very relevent and pertinent information has already been allegedly destroyed and no long exists?
How can information from banks be obtained when 7 years have passed and they no longer keep records.
I'll tell you the only way. The FBI.
Let's hope and pray they don't let up in their search for justice. The nonsense went on for 20 + years.
Perhaps they are waiting for the final SIC report to be made public first, before they act? I surely don't know.
I guess I can still dream.
I for one am not giving up hope nor am I entertaining the thought of joining another jurisdiction.
(Editor's note: As I was a member of the MC in 1999, let me answer your questions as an eyewitness and participant. Here is a quote from my report of the November 1999 meeting that was given at the Midwest Diocesan Council meeting in January 2000, but subsequently declared out of order by Bishop Job, stricken from the record at the request of Mickey Herzak, and all the copies, except mine, collected and destroyed. The relevant portion reads concerning the November 1999 MC meeting follows.
"At that meeting, the Metropolitan (+Theodosius) stated that a firm had indeed been hired by Mr. Russin (OCA Legal Counsel) , although he
(+Theodosius) declined, despite repeated questioning by me, to identify the firm by name. Archbishop Herman (OCA Acting Treasurer) assured the Council that this independent “summary review” of the “Discretionary Fund” would be completed within 60 days. The Metropolitan pledged that this summary review would become a regular part of the audit process. No mention was made of the other accounts in question, nor was it made clear that these, too, would be submitted to summary review, let alone audit.
As of this date (January 2000) the results of the review of the “Discretionary Fund” , if any, have not been announced. The 1998 audit has not been signed by Mr. Kozey, who has been removed as chairman of the audit committee, nor has it been signed by Mr. Taylor (OCA External Auditor) The 1999 audit is, of course, also stalled. Additional questions have surfaced concerning the handling of bequests and the actual amounts forwarded to St. Catherine’s."
Not one person present at the MC meeting in 1999 supported my questions and concerns about the missing funds, the diversions that were known (such as the withholding of the Kosovo appeal until a stink was made), etc. They all sat their silently - although a handful came up to me privately to voice their concerns. The same was true at the Diocesan Council four months later - although there, some called me a liar.) In both cases, most chose to remain ignorant. Their cowardice and failure to do their duty though, pales, in comparison with the bold faced lies and deceptions told by then-Archbishop Herman to the MC. Neither Kondratick nor +Theodosius spoke during the entire meeting (on what is now clear as the advice of their attorneys). +Herman did all the talking as they nodded in the background. So yes, they are all guilty of malfeasance, including all the officers of the Church at that time, who found it expedient not to ask too many, or too inconvenient, or, in fact any questions. I asked them, and I was told I was no longer welcome to report to the Diocese about the MC, or about the MC to the Diocese. In short, I was dismissed. And like an obedient idiot, I acquiesed "for the good of the Church".
So, no, Mike you are wrong again. People could know if they wanted - they just choose not to bother to know. And shame on them. They can claim they didn't know , that Bob controlled everything; but John Kozey knew, and no one bothered to call him - not even the MC. And Eric Wheeler knew, and they fired him and threated his pension and severance if he spoke out. And I knew, even in Dayton OH, and I was dismissed, and the list goes on. Those who wanted to know could find out - it was on the internet even in those days. Those who claimed they didn't know are as convincing as the Mayor of Auschwitz claiming he knew there was a bad odor on certain days, but had no idea where it was coming from. Rubbish.
So dream on, Mike. It has always been the way many priests and people in the OCA like to confront the harsh realities of the world. Dream on of being a good Christian while money is stolen from widows and orphans, dream on of evangelizing America while the money to do so is being used for immoral purposes, dream on that one man is guilty because, well, well, if that isn't the case, it would mean we are all guilty!
Denial and dreaming are just so much easier.
In fact, it is called the Buttermelcher syndrome. Seriously. It is a political science term that comes from German history, from a letter written to a German newspaper in 1963 in which Herr Buttermelcher asserted that Hitler was a demon, not human, who tricked good Germans into voting for him - because if he, Hitler, was just a clever, evil politician who used people's prejudices and fears for evil, that would make 44 million Germans who voted for him participants in his evil, and well, you can't say that 44 million Germans are evil, can you?
So too the OCA. They all can't be culpable can they, although they all knew more and wanted to know less? The fact is that 44 Million Germans voted for evil and failed their country, and all the Bishops and officers of the OCA acquiesed in evil and failed their Church. Germany survived by ridding itself of its bad leaders. I have always suggested we do the same. I suspect, however, the Buttermelcher syndrome is too powerful and too convenient. )
#9 Michael Geeza on 2008-08-06 13:43
I appreciate your analysis regarding the Buttermelcher syndrome. What happened with the MC, the other bishops and lay people was that everyone "TRUSTED" and wanted to believe both RSK and + Theodosius. Who wooda thunk that these people we all put on a pedestal could be thieves and have OTHER issues. How could anyone believe it? Yet, IT'S ALL TRUE!
So, what do we do in the future? As the old Russian proverb goes, "Trust, but verify!" Those old Russians knew something about human nature. NEVER, NEVER, NEVER accept an abbreviated financial report and ALWAYS have experts review financials and report to independent over-watchers. In this case, the MC! "Put your trust in God, not in the men."
#9.1 Ano-nymous on 2008-08-06 16:00
AMEN! AMEN! AMEN!
You summarized the critical issues wonderfully and refuted the lies and misinformation so many are trying to spread here and other venues. Far too many priests, even high ranking ones, and almost all MC members knew or could easily have discovered the horrible mess in the OCA but chose the coward's way out and kept and still keep their mouths shut. They've raised the Ostrich system of management into an art form. They are more than "lukewarm" in a Biblical sense. While the OCA burns they fiddle.
Many of these priest talked up Orthodoxy and all the religious glories but lacked the integrity and courage to say anything to challenge the massive evil and corruption running rampant in the OCA and shattering so many lives. I have lost a great deal of respect and trust for these men, and even now at the 11 and a half hour many are mostly silent or staying out of the fray waiting, it seems, for "nature to take its course." You said it very clearly and eloquently in your letter, these men and clergy have little to zero INTEGRITY when it comes to Walking the Talk.
Alexander Solzhenitsyn's comments in his essay "Live Not by Lies" from 1974 (addressed to his Russian countrymen during the monstrous and deadly communist tyranny) expressed some fundamental truths and principles that are fully applicable to the OCA today for all of us Orthodox, especially deacons, priests, and bishops:
"So in our timidity, let each of us make a choice: Whether consciously, to remain a servant of falsehood–of course, it is not out of inclination, but to feed one’s family, that one raises his children in the spirit of lies–or to shrug off the lies and become an honest man worthy of respect both by one’s children and contemporaries.
And from that day onward he:
- Will not henceforth write, sign, or print in any way a single phrase which in his opinion distorts the truth.
- Will utter such a phrase neither in private conversation not in the presence of many people, neither on his own behalf not at the prompting of someone else, either in the role of agitator, teacher, educator, not in a theatrical role.
- Will not depict, foster or broadcast a single idea which he can only see is false or a distortion of the truth whether it be in painting, sculpture, photography, technical science, or music.
- Will not cite out of context, either orally or written, a single quotation so as to please someone, to feather his own nest, to achieve success in his work, if he does not share completely the idea which is quoted, or if it does not accurately reflect the matter at issue.
- Will not allow himself to be compelled to attend demonstrations or meetings if they are contrary to his desire or will, will neither take into hand not raise into the air a poster or slogan which he does not completely accept.
- Will not raise his hand to vote for a proposal with which he does not sincerely sympathize, will vote neither openly nor secretly for a person whom he considers unworthy or of doubtful abilities.
- Will not allow himself to be dragged to a meeting where there can be expected a forced or distorted discussion of a question. Will immediately talk out of a meeting, session, lecture, performance or film showing if he hears a speaker tell lies, or purvey ideological nonsense or shameless propaganda.
- Will not subscribe to or buy a newspaper or magazine in which information is distorted and primary facts are concealed. Of course we have not listed all of the possible and necessary deviations from falsehood. But a person who purifies himself will easily distinguish other instances with his purified outlook.
No, it will not be the same for everybody at first. Some, at first, will lose their jobs. For young people who want to live with truth, this will, in the beginning, complicate their young lives very much, because the required recitations are stuffed with lies, and it is necessary to make a choice.
But there are no loopholes for anybody who wants to be honest. On any given day any one of us will be confronted with at least one of the above-mentioned choices even in the most secure of the technical sciences. Either truth or falsehood: Toward spiritual independence or toward spiritual servitude."
Maybe at the AAC everyone should stand and Start Reading this Out LOUD as a form of protest. Maybe at the beginning of every single meeting and service at least one person stand up and read it out loud. Maybe, just maybe that will send a message.
Well at least Mr. Geeza wants to call in the F.B.I.--that's progress of sorts.
Thank you Mark for that revealing, painfully revealing, testament from 1999. You tried more than most others in positions of responsibility, and amazingly have the stamina to continue to try, after all these many years, in the face of obdurate evil.
As you said in your town hall statement, truth and integrity are at the heart of this matter. Without them we are nothing, and our faith is nothing.
#9.3 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2008-08-07 09:00
At that time in 1999, were any of the MC members aware of the millions that were flowing in from the ADM Foundation?
I find it hard to believe that anyone knew of the magnitude of the amount of monies involved, other than RSK and + Theodosius.
(Editor's Reply: I was, and anybody else who bothered to look could have seen the evidence on Guidestar, or any of the other charitable reporting sites that are available online. Even in 1999. The ADM foundations, are, unlike the Church, required to report their donations to the government on a yearly basis. Here's what I found online in September 1999 by just typing in ADM to Guidestar:
ADM Donations to the OCA ‘92-’99
1996 $500,000 + $500,000
1997 $250,000 + $500,000
A few months later 1998 was reported at a million, so, by January 2000, anybody could have known at least $3 million had gone into the secret accounts. Which, by the way, were made to the Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Church of North America, the old corporate name of the Church, not the OCA. That in itself raised huge red flags for me at the time. Why would anybody be donating to a name of the organization unused for 25 years - unless of course, there were still old bank accounts in that name? Hmmmm.
Not only the amounts going in, and the manner in which it went in, but the circumstances surrounding them were fishy. I quote from a 1996 report to the Midwest Diocese of my predecessor on the MC regarding the finances of the OCA:
“Unfortunately, after years of deficit spending the general account and reserves of the Central
Administration are totally depleted. They stand at zero. Quoting Fr. Kondratick: “To use the term ‘crisis’ to describe our current financial situation is legitimate.”
Here was Kondratick claiming the OCA was in finanical crisis, and he got $1,000,000 donated to the OCA from ADM that very same year?
But of course, in 1992-2006 no one wanted to know, and no one wanted to learn more, ask questions, or do anything about when they did learn. And so we lost not only $3 million, but over $5 million in ADM donations. Another $1.7 million in charity - and God knows how many millions in bequests gone astray and other monies....
So, yes, Mike, anybody could have known. Synod members, MC members, auditors, priest, monks, laymen and laywomen. No one wanted to know. And while it was not the responsibility of lay men and lay women to know, trusting in their leaders, the clergy do bear some responsibility for being asleep at the wheel, trusting their leaders too much, and the auditors bear great responsibility, the MC members more, and the Synod more, and at the top, the officers of the OCA, and most of all the current Metropolitan, who bears it all. Because, according to Eric Wheeler he knew it all in August 1999 - three months before our MC meeting where he told me it was all taken care of. You bet it was. )
#9.3.1 Michael Geeza on 2008-08-10 17:28
1996 $500,000 + $500,000
Who was treasurer from 1992 to 1996?
What were the circumstances under which that treasurer quit one day in 1996?
#126.96.36.199 Anonymous on 2008-08-10 20:42
In addition to the monies from the ADM Foundation, as I recall there were also gifts from the Andreas Foundation. Did you include those in your tally, Mark?
Melanie Jula Sakoda
(Editor's reply: Yes, in the two figures given for several years one represents a donation from the ADM Foundation, the other from the Andreas Foundation. In most discussions of the gifts, however, one just says the ADM monies, or the ADM Foundation, since Mr. Andreas was the chair of both at the time, and whether the monies came from his personal foundation or the foundation of his family-controlled corporation, is largely irrelevant. )
Everyone in the inner circle of Syosset and the Synod at that time knew that RSK was managing this private war chest. Theodosius, Kucynda, Fester, Wheeler, Dcn. Eric, Hopko the Younger, Hunchak, the future Bp.Nicholai, Bp. Tikhon, etc.... the many other beneficiaries. A few of us who smelled a rat spoke of full disclosure and accountability and were rousted right out, never to be named again. I don't know who was spending the funds, but FRK was spreading it carefully around. I believe that is the main reason Dcn. Erik, Hopko the Younger and Hunchak finally bailed, the duplicity got to them... but they can speak for themselves. But you'd better believe FRK had all the bishops where he wanted them, right on the private payroll. Only Job has bailed so far it would appear. Thankfully the duplicity eventually dawned on him.
... all, as FRK was fond of saying, "For the good of the Church."
Whose church? This was FRK's version of a private army of mercenaries, all laboring for our benefit, God bless 'em.
#188.8.131.52.1 Anon. on 2008-08-11 21:33
Are you saying all those people "Theodosius, Kucynda, Fester, Wheeler, Dcn. Eric, Hopko the Younger, Hunchak, the future Bp.Nicholai, Bp. Tikhon, etc" actually got some of the money?
And how are duplicity and secret payments for our benefit?
#184.108.40.206.1.1 Anonymous on 2008-08-12 11:03
Yes, the benefits were spread around liberally... and, they weren't for our benefit at all! My comment was intended to be dripping with sarcasm (and sadness). One's receipt of dirty money is a strong silencer, as we are watching in living color.
#220.127.116.11.1.1.1 Anon. on 2008-08-12 16:57
As with Solzhenitsyn, it is now realized that he made Russia and the world face the horrible truths of what was really happing in Soviet Russia. So, this web site is truly making the faithful aware of how corruption at the highest levels can invade the Church. These things can no longer be hidden or swept under the rug; everyone knows. What is yet to come out is the extent of immorality practiced by those involved.
#10 Anonymous on 2008-08-07 06:24
I repeat this web site has informed us but also made us complicit participants in the total inaction of our leaders. (as, in my opinion is the web's want) Again, I repeat the OCA institutionalized complicity for the last 20 years, at least. I observed it nurture the turning of a blind eye to all sorts of shenanigans, to put it politely. It was part of the culture. It was part of being in the know. It was part of showing support for the church. People were always cynically making comments about the now Mr. Kondratic and this priest and that deacon, about dubious monetary transactions, about sexual misconduct, and dubious connections (mostly monetary) with the Patriarchal Church and they did this while paying Moscow a sickeningly reverent homage only equaled by the cynically hypocritical view of their own church. What a joke and this cynical joke continues it's just that now everyone knows about it. This is the only OCA most people remember is this what they want to save? Who isn't guilty, that's the real question.
This scandal will replace the memories of fasts well or not so well faught, dear friends made, wonderful Feasts, blessed Nativities and Paschas of weadings and baptisms, of ordinations, and monastic tonsure it will make a mockery of our lives in Christ, we can only prevent that with drastic resolve and aid of our Amighty Father.
#11 Formerly OCA on 2008-08-07 13:50
I'm sorry you feel this way, I wish you hadn't walked away. I have only been in the OCA for three years, I am NOT complicit in continuing the status quo of "turning a blind eye." I have become a member of my church council, I have attended diocesan conventions of the Midwest where we are trying to get things changed with our bishop, +JOB. I am NOT happy with the way things have been run in the past, but I am not responsible for that, I am only responsible for helping to change what is happening now. We have a dear friend enrolled in seminary at the moment, believe me, his ordination will not make a "mockery of our life in Christ," but will be a shining light in our lives.
The Church is where I attend each Wed, Sat., and Sunday, with a loving, open Orthodox family, led by a loving priest who respects us, and allows us to express our own opinions, under a bishop who allowed me to say " I choose to disagree with you," at our townhall meeting and I wasn't asked to leave, and there were no repercussions. Maybe you should move to the Midwest where the men and women here are treated with respect and our opinions are heard.
I respect Mark Stokoe for giving us a public forum for airing our views, whether I like them or not. This is America, not a repressed former Soviet republic. If you don't like the website, why do you read it? I am sure that this is the only outlet for information for those in dioceses or churches where the continuing scandal is not to be discussed. Shouldn't they also have access to information? Your bitterness makes me think that you are just a little too close to all of this, either physically or emotionally, perhaps you need to search yourself, and not just spew against others.
#11.1 Dianne Combs, Indiana, NOT anonymous on 2008-08-09 06:30
I am sorry you read this as bitterness and not just honest observation. I am quite happy and active in the church I am in now (not OCA) and it's a blessing. I am not from the Mid-west and can only say I come from the center of the storm. I certainly know enough people and have seen enough lives ruined to feel strong statments like the one I made to be a duty. Just because you are comfortable doesn't mean the building next door isn't on fire, and if you have been reading these pages you can't deny it is a fire that threatens to burn down the whole town.
#11.1.1 Formerly OCA on 2008-08-09 09:41
Mr. Klingel is totally off-base and disingenuous. I translate from Russian daily, and priests and deacons are called "otets" more often than "ierei". Priest's wives are always called "matushka", no exception. His comment is obviously made by someone not familiar with common and accepted Russian church usage. Sorry, Mr. Klingel. ....
#12 anon on 2008-08-11 01:27
To anon (12.)
I'm very glad (and envious) that you are so proficient in Russian. Having been born into the OCA, and having grown up in it for 20 years, I'll be honest - I really don't have a familiarity "with common and accepted Russian church" practice.
And I don't care, either.
There are a lot of things that are common and accepted in Russia that aren't in America, or in other countries. For example: annual/infrequent communion. I'm glad we in the OCA are not a carbon copy of the Russian Church, especially since there's plenty wrong with the Russian Church.
I'm not going to start calling priests' wives "matushka" just because that's how they do it in Russia. Orthodoxy didn't start in Russia, and Russia isn't the only place the Holy Spirit works. Sorry, Mr. anon.
Perhaps it would edify you to go to post #8 to see the rest of my response to you, and others.
#12.1 Reader Nilus Klingel on 2008-08-11 07:11
Dear Reader Nilus,
You are a bit too strident on this issue of titles/honorifics/special words for the wives of priests.
In most of the world, and some parts of the United States, relations between people do not start with first names but with formal titles. The transition to relating on a first name basis is not automatic. Thus, we do need to use some word for priests' wives.
"Mrs" or "Ms" are certainly correct but, in the context of the Church, neither indicates the special role that she plays. It would be similar to referring to you as "Mr."
In Bulgarian, priests' wives are called "Presvytera" formally, or "Popadia" informally. In either case, the meaning is simply "priest's wife."
Now, the polite thing to do is to accede to the priest's wife's preference, except when it would cause confusion and disrespect. Example: Start with, let's say, John and Anne Doe, married with children. They could be called Mr. and Mrs. Jon Doe, John and Anne Doe, John and Anne, or dad and mom, depending on the situation. Let us suppose that John is ordained to the priesthood. Now we have additional possibilities: The Reverend and Mrs John Doe (very formal); Priest John and Anne Doe (potentially misleading as Anne could be his sister, mother, daughter or daughter-in-law); Father/Otets/Presviter/Pop John and Matuska/Presvitera/Popadia Anne (last name usually optional unless there is another John/Anne around); John and Anne (to very close friends and fellow clergy and in private); mom and dad (to the couple's kids). Now, neither "Father and Mrs." or "Priest and Mrs." works simply because the "Mrs." can be the priest's daughter-in-law.
As you can see, there are some good options and some that are awkward. I would not mind an English version of Matushka, or Presvytera, etc. We just need a suitably descriptive and respectful term. In any case, let us honor whatever usage that is preferred by the priest's wife.
#13 Carl on 2008-08-11 17:19
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