Thursday, September 4. 2008
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I congratulate the Metropolitan Council for assertively (and unanimously!!) requesting the removal of Herman! However, I still believe retirement is not the answer! The man should be DEPOSED!!! If a priest or deacon did what he has done, that would be the result of it!! If a layman did what he has done, he would be excommunicado from the Body of the Church and refused the Sacraments, probably for a lengthy period of time!! I believe that the folks who are touting the "forgive-and-forget" chant regarding Herman are folks who really either don't know the Gospel or don't believe in it! In fact, if they did, they would realize that deposition for Herman is actually a Christ-like act of love!! Let me explain!
As we all know from Matthew 25 and the Sunday of the Last Judgment, we will all stand before the Lord and answer for what we have done in our temporary exile in this fallen world. None of us (including and especially, yours truly) will be worthy to be included among the sheep at the right hand!! In fact, according to the Psalms, "there is none that does good, no, not one" (Ps 52/53:1,3). Yet, all is forgiven, all are forgiven!! But (and here's the kicker), will we be in a spiritual condition to be able to RECEIVE that forgiveness??? All are forgiven, but will we be in any condition to accept that forgiveness?? And how are we to get into a condition to receive that forgiveness?? Once again, the Psalms provide the answer: "The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit! A broken and contrite heart, O God, You will not despise!" (Ps 50/51:17). We will not be able to play games and "fake out" God at the Judgment: we will not be able to sin, with a total lack of contrition, humility, and repentance, and then say, "Well, it's been a great ride, but God has to forgive me at the Judgment, so I'll just slide right into the Kingdom!" No!!! What happens at the Last Judgment is a synergistic act: forgiveness, acceptance, and an invitation into the Kingdom on the Lord's part, and total repentance, contrition, and acceptance of forgiveness on our part!!!
Now, back to Herman: while none of us should judge, we are given the faculties by God to *discern*!! And, it's been apparent to everyone (many of whom have posted on this website) that MH's attitude, behavior, and words have manifested a total lack of accountability, contrition, and repentance!! Only by accepting a broken heart can Herman (and the rest of us) hope for any chance into the Kingdom!! And, I believe, full deposition seems to be the only venue that would elicit this response from him!! To put it another way: better to pay the very last copper now, in this fallen world, and have a shot at salvation, than to get away with everything now, and be thrust out of the Kingdom!!! THIS is the perspective of the Gospel, and should be our perspective in dealing with all those who are guilty, have betrayed us, have violated our trust, etc., whether they be MT, MH, Kondratick, etc.
May the members of the Body of our Church not only "do the right thing" in resolving this crisis and moving our Church forward, but may we also "do the right thing" in calling for accountability on the part of those whom we have esteemed "the least of our brethren" in this crisis, in order for them, in the long term, to have a chance at eternal life in the Kingdom of God!!!
#1 David Barrett on 2008-09-04 08:30
Enough! Let us pray for those who sin. But let those who are guilty of crimes and sins against man and God begin repentance by first accepting just punishment and ask for spiritual forgivess. What has been dealt to M. Theodoseus and M. Herman is nothing more then forgiveness and reward, not punishment. It appears no repentance or remorse has been seen forthcoming from either man. Yes, Mr. Barrett, you have said it well and I agree fully. How can I now in all good conscience continue to be a member and support the OCA? It is clear these men stole hundreds of thousands of dollars that were intended for the relief of suffering people and used the money for personal use and pleasure. Even Judas sought repentance and overcome with remorse for what he had done committed the ultimate sin.
#1.1 Robert A. Dodge on 2008-09-15 11:26
In reference to the recommendations of the SIC report, while their intent and direction are crucially important to the healing of the OCA, the proposed method for one of them falls back (albeit unwittingly, one suspects) into precisely the "extra-statutory" behaviour the report denounces.
According to Article XI,3, of The Statute of the Orthodox Church in America, it is "the DIOCESAN Court" which "SHALL act as a court of first instance where the accused is a priest, a deacon, or a member of the laity." Further, Article XI,6,e, states bluntly that "the Holy Synod shall NEVER act as a court of first instance in cases which are within the competence of Diocesan Courts." Overall, The Statute insists in Article XI,1, that "EVERY member of the Church is entitled to due canonical procedure in the courts of the Church."
Thus (and unless SIC is defining the disciplining of these priests as the revocation of their Synodal awards), when the SIC report recommends that the Holy Synod act as a court of first instance to take disciplinary action against Frs. Kucynda, Oselinsky, and Strikis, it proposes a clear violation of The Statute.
Now, the members of SIC are quite capable of bringing proper charges in the relevant Diocesan Court against each of the clergy named and presumably have at their fingertips detailed evidence to prove those charges. So, will somebody PLEASE tell me in words of one syllable or less---so my tiny mind can take it in---how we make things better by becoming more lawless?
#2 Igumen Philip (Speranza) on 2008-09-04 08:30
Regarding the SIC recommendations to discipline Fr. Kucynda, Fr. Oselinsky, and Fr. Strikis, you state that the Synod is prohibited by the Statute of the OCA from acting as the "court of first instance". Which diocese is the "court of first instance" in these cases? The offenses of FrsKOS were against the whole church and not against a specific diocese. Must the disciplinary actions be taken by the Diocese of Alaska, since it is the first diocese of the OCA? Or must the disciplinary actions be taken by the Diocese of Washington and New York, since it is the successor diocese to the Diocese of New York and New Jersey, where the Central Church Administration is located? Or must the discplinary actions be tken by the Diocese of the South, since that is the diocese of the Locum tenens, there being no primate at present?
#2.1 Mark C. Phinney on 2008-09-06 04:42
Ganked from the internet:
"Organized crime is any criminal operation carried out by a highly ordered group of people. Participating in illegal activities for financial profit as part of an organized crime faction is called racketeering. Since the passage of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) in 1970, organized crime, or racketeering, is charged as a felony... Organized crimes can range from alcohol and drug-related crimes, sex crimes, theft, murder, gambling, and kidnapping for ransom to less obvious offenses such as money laundering, extortion, insurance fraud, and terrorism. Organized crime operates on a hierarchical structure that serves to protect those in power from engaging directly in criminal activities and being discovered by law enforcement agencies."
And there's more...
"Organized crime characterizes any crime committed for the benefit of a structured, illegitimate association. The offenses associated with organized crime are all very different, but there are some generalizations about these illegal institutions that can be made:
*They are stable over long periods of time
*They are based on a hierarchy
*Their aim is to accumulate capital and reinvest it into the various businesses/operations of the group
*They have political or social protection from the surrounding community
*They may use violence to defend their interests.
Most organized crime groups operate behind the guise of legitimate businesses. Sometimes racketeering involves bribing or otherwise manipulating officials or owners of genuine businesses in order to run the racket undetected. Racketeering is charged as a felony with serious consequences."
Let's get this straight in our heads: We're dealing with felonies here, not harmless ecclesial faux pas's. Forget Nassau County, call the Feds! (Although I'm pretty sure they already have the SIC Report).
Thanks be to God for this report! There may yet be light at the end of this dark tunnel.
"[Organized crime is based] on a hierarchical structure that serves to protect those in power from engaging directly in criminal activities and BEING DISCOVERED by law enforcement agencies."
Interesting, Priest Robert.
Is the analogy phere perhaps to some invisble Don who is behind all of the cosa nostra activities of the OCA?
Heard that Herman was going to be retired even before MC/Synod with its SIC report (mostly regurgitated info) began.
Who then is the invisible Don of this crime family who is calling the shots ( and *for the good of the Church*, I suppose)
#3.1 Anon. on 2008-09-05 07:36
If you read the SC Report, attached as an appendix to the SIC report, you will see that the SC met with an FBI agent assigned to investigate OCA.
So, those Federal charges you refer to may be underway soon.
#3.2 Anonymous on 2008-09-06 05:07
This is great news, BUT, it should not be seen as the end of the Joseph Swaiko story. He MUST be held to account for his acts and crimes against the Church and a forensic audit done of St. Tikhon's. He should be retired and suspended pending a spiritual trial to determine his fate amongst the ranks of the clergy.
If the Synod takes this road and retires him, let them know that this isn't the end of the story and he must be held accountable for his actions and that it is just the start of resucitating the Church he worked to destory, its not the end of his story by a long shot.
There's a lot more to this story, we're sure, let's not sweep it under the rug with a mere retirement!
#4 Anonymous on 2008-09-04 09:05
I agree wholeheartedly, not out of vindictiveness, but out of a concern of the salvation of all involved and of those that may learn of the scandals in the future.
Doesn't reconciliation involve confession, repentance, restitution where possible, and the acceptance of the Isn't an integral part of reconciliation the acceptance of the consequences of one's actions or inactions?
Herman, Theodosius, and ALL of the other hierarchs -- active and retired -- who have served since 1999 have failed in their sworn duties as the shepherds of Christ's rational flock and the chief stewards. There are consequences connected with such failure. Trying to avoid those consequences only makes the situation worse ... always. Do we really need to review the history and tradition of Orthodoxy to determine what are the appropriate consequences for the hierarchs' failures to act properly fulfill their roles as chief stewards and shepherds?
#4.1 Mark C. Phinney on 2008-09-06 04:22
If the OCA follows their own statutes, they cannot retire a bishop. He must submit his own request for retirement. However they retired Nikolai - they just refuse to follow their own laws!
(Editor's note: +Herman did voluntarily retire, and Bishop Nikolai agreed to his. Try again.)
#5 MP on 2008-09-04 10:20
You make me, laugh, MP. Weren't you on the Kondratick side against Herman just a few days ago?
Watch what you ask, you might get it. Might Kondratick think the days of freedom are numbered?
#5.1 Anonymous on 2008-09-04 18:22
Maybe this sic will feel the wrath of a real court and buckle with their lies. The oca isn't law.
#5.1.1 Anonymous on 2008-09-04 20:20
Now let's make sure the next Metropolitan who gets elected, doesn't want the job - Just like in ancient times. Find the most honest man, grab a couple sub-deacons & force him down on his knees before the altar. Beware of anyone who steps forth eagerly. This is a position of endless service & critisizm, you'd have to be crazy or corrupt to want the role.
#6 Gabriel on 2008-09-04 10:43
Let's also get out of that mentality that the next Metropolitan has to be a sitting member of the Synod at the time of the election. If we box ourselves into that thinking, you can be sure to get a Swaiko 2.0.
#6.1 Anonymous on 2008-09-04 18:01
My husband, Priest Andrew Matychak, (of the "devil at work here in WPA" diocese) had a lamiectomy (spinal surgery) and discs shortened in a 4 hour surgery three weeks ago-- also in Pittsburgh. He was at the altar last Sunday because he serves three parishes. His staples had just been removed two days before and he has sutures underneath. In fact the surgeon stated that with the MRI viewed prior to the surgery-- he expected to see someone in a wheel chair!
If he can return so quickly --there is no reason for a medical leave of absence for Met. Herman. Try again!! God's Blessing to the MC for their recommendation.
This was God's money designated to do God's will. We cannot and will not let people off so easily. I have stood by and with the people of our three parishes as they rolled holupki, pinched piroghi, held basket parties, made dinners, and gave until it hurt so that God's will and work would be done here on earth.
May God be merciful to all who took part in this evil. May God bless the lay people and priests who were insulted daily as they tried to pull us out from this mire. As Ford said after Nixon's resignation, "Our long national nightmare is over!" May our church nightmare now be over. Or has the real one just begun?
My continued prayers and thanks to all who put their heads on the block so that TRUTH would reign.
Look to the Beatitudes--they are very comforting right now.
#7 georgette matychak on 2008-09-04 11:24
If this was Godís money designated for Godís will then why donít we also let God be the judge. A harsher punishment will not bring back the money and certainly wonít force anyone to repent. The key is to protect the future of the Church by revealing the truth and removing those who harmed it. Looks like the OCA is beginning to get on the right track.
#7.1 Karina Ross on 2008-09-04 14:54
Once again, the Holy Synod shows its inability and foresight to show itself to be leaders. God help us ! Theodosius is able to keep all his money and his pretty, pretty things - all of them, acquired with stolen money.
Face it, one and all, the OCA has no further credability in America or the world. Years of lies and deceit from "godly" people - either standing with hands extended and pockets full, or heads turned away from even speaking the truth in the face of outright lies !!!
The Holy Synod must be scared its own dirty secrets are next !
This is what has become of the legacy of the American saints !
God forgive all of you for the years of lies !
#8 disgusted on 2008-09-04 14:04
I certainly hope that this "slap on the wrist," as Mark put it, is not the end of the story where +MT is concerned. The Metropolitan Council is reported to have unanimously accepted the following recommendation: To seek the recovery of funds from +MT and Kondratick immediately after receiving this report during the HS and MC joint session, September 3-5,2008.
The next steps in this ongoing saga should be very interesting as legal proceedings are begun against both +MT and the former Chancellor to recover what they stole.
#8.1 David Maliniak on 2008-09-04 16:10
Well, don't dispair that much. There are still men of honor who know how to do the right thing and when they come in to arrest and prosecute these miscreants justice will prevail and we'll rid ourselves of the remaining tentacles of this cancer and have those who need to be held accountable, held accountable.
What Dmitri, Nathaniel, Tikhon, Nikon WILL not do, Uncle Sam will and that is cleanse the Church of criminals. Its disappointing, but again, they just DON'T GET IT. Never have, never will. When knocked in the head with a report outlining what Theodosius has done, he gets some nonsense house arrest. WHERE DID THEY COME UP WITH THAT ONE?! After Herman not only permitted, but actively covered up, lied, and terrorized those that did good, what happens? He gets to retire and thanks for all he has done - was that thank you just put in there sarcastically? Both of these men should be brought before a spiritual court and tried and in the evitable event of a conviction, REMOVED FROM THE RANKS OF THE CLERGY! Remember, people, REMEMBER, people were deposed in Alaska for looking the wrong way at Nikolai and this Synod went along with deposing them. We have people who have STOLEN, lied, TERRORIZED those that tried to correct what happened and what do they get? They get a thank you for your efforts and a liturgical house arrest. Good Lord! CALL THE COPS! Replace their episcopal pictures with MUG SHOTS! St. Tikhonís needs to be AUDITED and NOW!
ENOUGH! But the remaining elements of the Synod just doesn't get it. We've removed Nikolai, Tikhon of the West, now Herman,and the stink is STILL THERE! Is this SO ingrained that they all have the same mentality like Herman? Why do they not feel free to act rightfully now that he can do no harm? Is it because deep down, they feel the same way that Herman did? Is it because as they go up in the ranks of seniority, they feel its THEIR turn to take advantage? Its a shame, but apparently we have a lot more ways to go before we get the cancers from this Church extracted!
They just DONíT GET IT. Can anyone believe this? It appears that the MC is coming around and has smelled the coffee. We are down to the last remnants of the problems and they all have beards to their bellies and try to make us think they are so spiritually engrossed that they have to walk around with sticks in their hands. Those sticks are not to convey a pastorly man, they are there to remind those that care and resolve to correct these problems that in the end, you do something they donít like and that stick will come down on you and remind whoís the boss, no matter how right your position is.
#8.2 Anonymous on 2008-09-04 18:20
To the "Former Archbishop of Washington, Metropolitan of All America and Canada", I wish a good REPENTANCE!
#9 Alex on 2008-09-04 14:15
Why don't you just be happy Metropolitan Herman is not in charge anymore, forgive & stop adding fuel to the fire that is trying to simmer down through the, love, hard work and dedication of the Holy Synod, Chancellor & other administrative staff. Did not Jesus Christ Himself in the Gospel of Matthew say to forgive not 7 times, but 70 times 7?...in other words, don't keep track, just FORGIVE!?!?! It seems Orthodox Christians of today are forgetting the true meaning of forgiveness and repentance
(Editor's note: Feel free to disagree.On one point I must take exception though. I see many people asking for forgiveness, but I see no one who has confessed to anything specific, and even fewer have repented of anything. Consider the Bishops recent Pastoral Letter. In their bowing low they stated: "We are truly sorry that this could come to pass in the Church, and that this has happened under our supervision." Being sorry it happened is not the same as confession or repentence, at least not for my parish priest. I am more than willing to forgive 70x7 times; but no one has personally confessed to anything. Not Herman, not Kondratick, not Theodosius, not Oselinsky, not Kucynda, not Strikis. Nada. The only ones to "acknowledge" ( their word, not mine) are the Bishops as a group for relying" on the truthfulness of administration personnel instead of beginning to investigate the veracity of what was being said." Then for "not acting expeditiously." Such a statement is in itself misleading, a self-serving attempt to rewrite history. The major problem was not that they did not act "expeditiously" (although they did not) the problem is that the consciously attempted to prevent anyone else from acting at all. (See the Lesser Synod's decision in late January 2006 for instance) And this when every one of them, according to the SIC, had been told of the misdeeds, some of them repeatedly. No, real forgiveness is predicated on real repentence, of which truth has to be a component. So far we have not seen any repentance, forgiveness for everyone, and little truth. Cheap grace. Perhaps that suffices for those who do not know better, but for those who have known the cleansing and healing power of the real thing, it is a sad, sad and unacceptable subsititute. )
#10 Anonymous on 2008-09-04 16:13
NOW ISN'T THAT A STUPID COMMENT! STOKOE! DO YOU MEAN THEY DIDN'T CONFESS THEIR SINS TO THIS EVIL AND GOSSIP WEBSITE? BY THE WAY WAS THAT SIC REPORT SLANTED IN ANYWAY? WHO WROTE THIS REPORT? NESCOTT? WHO DOESN'T LIKE MET HERMAN? IN THIS REPORT WHY DOES IT MENTION A INCIDENT THAT TOOK PLACE AT A MOTEL IN PITT BETWEEN MT H AND MT T AND ANOTHER PERSON WITH NO PROOF? WHY WOULD SOMEONE MENTION IT? OR EVEN BRING IT UP? WITH NO FACTS!
IF I WAS IN MT HERMANS SHOES OR MT T MY LAW SUIT WOULD NOT BE FOR 25 MILLION BUT FOR 250 MILLION. HOW MUCH IS YOUR CHARACTER WORTH STOKOE? NOT MUCH YOU SAY!
(Editor's note: Nescott did not write either the original SC Report or the SIC Report. The first was written in great part by the attorney for the SC, Alex Makosky Esq.; while the latter was written by the committee, listed on the front page, themselves in a series of lengthy meetings. I seriously doubt either former Met. Theodosius or Herman will sue the Church, as, to their credit, both appeared and testified before the SIC voluntarily. No one forced them to say what they did; or do what they did.)
#10.1 Anonymous on 2008-09-09 08:50
Considering the exposure of the activities of the two former metropolitans; the Holy Synod should have stripped them both of the title "Former Archbishop of Washington, Metropolitan of All America and Canada." Metropolitan Theodosius, Retired.
Metropolitan Herman, Retired. By the same token, Bishop Nikolai, Retired. The honorable names of Dioceses should not be attached to unworthy hierarchs. Our Holy Synod still doesn't understand the gravity of what has taken place.
#11 Archpriest James Parsells on 2008-09-04 17:47
So this reply is to Mark, in editing in his requirements for forgiveness:
So Mark - can you only forgive when someone has confessed their wrongs and told you that they are sorry? Does that mean that you cannot / will not forgive those that wound you and insult you without realizing and stating their faults? Or forgive those who simply aren't big enough or too proud to confess their sins? You must be a hoot on Forgiveness Sunday, then. [Insert visual image here of Mark, standing in a circle of fellow sinners, insisting on a direct personal statement of wrongs before blessing his neighbor.]
It would be hard for me to ask for forgiveness if I were to impose such requirements on others.
(Editor's note: On Forgiveness Sunday, in my parish, we stand in a circle beginning with our priest, who asks forgiveness of all and behalf of all, and then one by one we move down the line personally asking of each " Forgive Me", with a response " May God Forgive us All", usually accompanied with a kiss of reconciliation. So, yes, I do expect a personal act of confession, even if the sins are not enumerated, and yes, I do reciprocate the expectaction of forgiveness as Christ commands.)
#11.1 Marty Brown on 2008-09-05 08:20
That's where you're wrong. You should NOT expect a confession. You should forgive no matter what!
(Editor's note: Then why do we even bother with confession, if everything should be forgiven "no matter what?" Why did Jesus begin his ministry - his first public words in fact - with "Repent, For the Kingdom of God is at hand..." if that Kingdom is ours without repentence? Just asking...)
#11.1.1 Anonymous on 2008-09-09 06:18
Fr. James is thinking correctly here. In most other Churches, a retired bishop is simply listed as that - retired.
#11.2 Nikolai Preobrazhensky on 2008-09-06 11:04
haha, its ridiculous....you people got what you wanted....His Beatitude Retired and no longer runs your OCA. Now all you want is blood....
Look how Stoke titles his stories: Metropolitan "Voluntarily" retires....like he didn't retire and was kicked out.... All people like Stoke wants is blood, blood, and more blood. JUSTICE!!!!! It will be a miracle if this man can stand up again (Metropolitan Herman after his surgery).
Whats next I wonder? Everyone got what they wanted, so does this website disolve? The answer of course is...No. Next it will be something else......Someone else was seen going into a hotel room with other men....oh dear god, another conspiracy theory!
The synod will not be electing another Metropolitan at this American Council...because it believes that the OCA is not ready...and I have to say this I totally agree upon.
When Laity...thats right, Laity like Mark Stoke and friends, can allow disrespect of our bishops, and grow more influential and powerful than the Holy Synod itself, there is something wrong. Its not with the administration...its with people like you Mark. Yes, there were funds missing...yes, there were problems with the administration financially...but the newly formed split in our church is because of you. Thanks Mark...
#12 ridiculous on 2008-09-04 18:13
I've never seen a more appropriate signature.
#12.1 Timothy Capps, Esq. on 2008-09-04 19:48
I thank Mark, but sincerely. How many more years, decades would this have gone on if he hadn't had the courage to point out what was going on? Would there be anything left to save if it hadn't been done? NO. We could never have depended on the bishops for this kind of courage and wisdom. If we could, where exactly has it been ? Which ones over the years have tried to be part of the repair, and which ones part of the damage? The mess is so thorough and so stupid it just needed to be dealt with. When something gets diseased enough you have to amputate. As for praying for the bishops, well, we do that pretty frequently. The liturgy can't stop talking about them. Maybe for a real change they can start living up to the accolades they get in every service. Before looking for jobs. The resignation of the Metropolitan was a good *start*.
#12.2 anon on 2008-09-04 22:35
Enough Mark we now must heal. Truthfulness must be wedded to justice and MERCY,too. Pray for the sinners ... "hate the sin but love the sinner". Right?
(Editor's note: As much as admire and respect Mohatma Gandhi, the author of that phrase, I would prefer to abide by the admonitions of our Lord in these cases. It is the Truth that will set us free, nothing less. Not justice, nor even mercy. I am a great fan of justice, but know enough that mercy is a greater virtue - and know even more than mercy without truth is just another form of collaboration, carelessness, or hypocrisy. It is cheap grace, and in our state of poverty, we need the real thing. I will no longer accept reduction upon reduction of our Church, with each new reduction cloaked in pious sounding words that prey upon the faith of the very people being victimized. Enough!
#12.3 Anonymous on 2008-09-04 22:43
Mark, please stop using the phrase "It is cheap grace", it is blasphamy! Grace comes from GOD, so there is no such thing as "cheap grace". Either there is grace, or there isn't. Find another word to use for what you are try to say.
On the topic of disrespecting the office of Bishop or Clergy, I was always taught that if you have to say something negative about a priest, or bishop, etc. You have to say the phrase "aside his priest hood". That way you are able to express your self w/o disreaspecting the clergy office they hold. It would be a possitive step on your part if you required that, or edited accordingly. It is a fine line of keeping people informed, and not crossing the line of inflaming people to the point that there is no respect for the office of clergy. When we cross that line, we stoop to the level of those bishops and priests that have sinned, shamed and disrespected the office they hold. And by allowing that, your good intentions become unintentionaly harmfull the Church, its people, and the whole cause.
My prayers for the whole churc.
(Editor's note: The phrase " Cheap Grace" is not mine. It was first used by the German Christian matryr, Dietrich Bonhoeffer in the 1930's, and perhaps a better translation would be "false grace", for precisely the reasons you point out. Whatever term is used the point is the same: people exonerating themselves by presuming on the generosity of God.
And I have never heard of this expression you used. Was it a Russian expression? Or Rusyn? I would be interested to know if anybody else has heard of this....)
#12.3.1 anoymous on 2008-09-08 23:19
Let's lay aside the questions of Christian forgiveness and mercy which have been debated effectively by some and rather less so by others, I think.
Let's instead look at the issue of how retired Met Herman should be treated now that he is out as comparable to the question "how should Nixon be treated now that he has resigned?" and the way our country resolved that question more than 30 years ago.
There was a full pardon issued by Pres. Ford. Do any of the same reasons for or against the handling of that problem translate into this situation? Why or why not?
p.s. - I think that breakfast got eclipsed.
(editor's note: A dangerous analogy, Fr. George, for acceptance of it would suggest we are no different than secular society, with the same concerns, and aspiring to no higher standards than those manifested in political life. We can do better. We have to do better.)
#12.4 Fr. George Washburn on 2008-09-04 22:47
Dear "ridiculous on 2008-09-04 18:13",
You sound like a insane person who has lost his ability discern fact from fantasy.
Mark Stoke is not responsible for a "newly formed split in our church." If such a split exists, and I would say that it does NOT exist, it was caused by corrupt bishops & priests in the central administration of the OCA.
Mark Stoke merely created a forum that allowed the Church, laity & clergy alike, to express its thoughts & feelings freely, without fear of being persecuted by a first hierarch with a predilection to abuse his God-given authority. Mark Stoke gave the muzzled and oppressed OCA a voice, and an opportunity to demand accountability for actions that were undeniably evil.
Bishop are not "above" the Church but rather "in" the Church. Saint Cyprian, 3rd century bishop of Carthage, said, "The bishop is in the Church, and the Church is in the bishop." Infallibility is a characteristic of the whole Church, not merely the bishops.
Bishops are infallible humans, and if they lapse into sins that jeopardize the spiritual welfare of the sheep entrusted to their care they must be called to accountability when they refuse to acknowledge & repent of their sins. This is not done out of a "thirst for blood." It is necessary because the sin & its devastating effects must be put to an end as quickly as possible in order to minimize the spiritual harm that it causes.
I have a profound respect & love the bishops. In fact, I have prayed for His Beatitude, Metropolitan HERMAN & the entire Holy Synod of Bishops throughout this scandal despite the fact that I was convinced that His Beatitude was acting inappropriately on numerous levels.
Your concept of blindly accepting & submitting to episcopal authority under any & all circumstances is pathological. It is more in line with a Roman Catholic's view of the papacy, not an Orthodox Christian's perspective on the office of the bishop. Dissent can be holy & healthy, even dissent with bishops. This is evidenced by many examples in the history of our Holy Orthodox Church.
Please give the statements you made in your last post some more thought & prayerful consideration.
#12.5 Christ's unprofitable servant, Seraphim on 2008-09-04 23:25
Good sir, I believe it is you who cannot discern fact from fantasy. Go back and look at posts in this website. They condone hatred towards our bishops!
I may not have agreed with everything that has happened. I may not agree with the character of some of these bishops...but I still respect them and their position. These people that post on here are nuts...."Swaiko" does this...Swaiko Does that...its like a total slap in the face to our church elders.
Where will it stop? There have been instances in this country, where not only are people disrespecting their bishops, but it has gone to the priests now. What kind of church do we have when we begin disrespecting the office of the priesthood...let alone the bishops? There was a reason we called them "Vladiko" and there is a reason we call our priests "Father"...its out of respect which all of you people have completely lost.
Did theo. cause problems? Did he take money? I don't know...he might have. But does that mean that I will not go up to him when I see him and ask for a blessing? No...and that is what you people have turned into...
I don't agree with everything Bishop Job has done...and I still am a +Herman supporter becuase I believe he hasen't done anything wrong (my opinion...just bad place at bad time)...but I will still respect Job as a Bishop and a person who has had the laying down of hands.
Lose the hate and the malice...respect the shepherd and stop being the crazy sheep who wants to drown our church into a river of hate.
(Editor's note: Amazing. You are more worried about protocol while millions are stolen from widows and orphans. I think the words of the Lord suffice: "HAVING EYES, DO YOU NOT SEE? AND HAVING EARS, DO YOU NOT HEAR? AND DO YOU NOT REMEMBER?" (Mark 18:18)
#12.5.1 ridiculous on 2008-09-05 10:50
You believe Herman hasn't done anything wrong????? Wow!!! As Mark said, "Amazing!" Do you think Hitler, Stalin, Kruschev, and Nixon didn't do anything wrong, either?? Hey, Ridiculous (a most appropriate pseudonym for you, for sure!!), I have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you!!! Want to buy it??
#220.127.116.11 David Barrett on 2008-09-05 13:58
I invoke Godwin's Law. David (as usual) loses.
#18.104.22.168.1 Anonymous on 2008-09-06 06:22
Father Philip, Bless!
Thank you for pointing out a typographical error in my previous post. You are correct; I did intend to write that bishops are FALLIBLE NOT INFALLIBLE humans. I submitted that post at 2:30 in the morning after I had finished a long shift in the emergency room.
I cannot argue with you when you point out that many individuals have posted incredibly rude & disrespectful comments about the bishops on this website. I agree that this is inappropriate, shameful and quite honestly, embarrassing. ALL things should be done in love, with kindness & gentleness. One sin does not justify retaliatory sins. One can only pray that our Lord will grant us all grace to act with humility and sensitivity toward everyone at all times, especially toward our bishops.
We, the laity, do need to regain our respect for the OFFICE of the bishop, regardless of the person who fills the office. Admiration for an individual person must be earned, but admiration for the office of the bishop should be a given.
[Having said this I feel obliged to commend Mark Stokoe for allowing uninhibited discussion to take place in this forum. It takes great restraint, even humility, to allow others to make sinful & inaccurate statements and not exercise ones ability to edit or alter the comments that have been submitted. He has shown great respect for the freewill of others, and allowed everyone to discern right from wrong, truth from lies for his/herself. This is how our great & loving God treats us as well.]
Despite the fact that sinful attitudes about the bishops have been displayed and sinful comments have been directed toward the bishops, it does NOT invalidate the dissent. The actual protest remains valid. We cannot allow these sins of the dissenters to cloud our judgment of the fundamental issue. Grave sins of theft & deception were committed by bishops & priests (the former Metropolitan, His Beatitude, THEODOSIUS and his chancellor, now layman Robert Kondratick) and then the sins were denied and hidden for years (the former Metropolitan, His Beatitude, HERMAN and other priests as well).
The example that Dan pointed out from the Acts of the Apostles is a perfect example of the type of sin that has caused this scandal. Ananias had kept money that belonged to the Church & then attempted to deceive the apostles about it. When the Apostle Peter (the first among equals within the body of apostles) confronted Ananias with his double sin of theft & deception God immediately struck him dead because of his "sins of commission." Ananias' wife Sapphira had not actually stolen the money, but she was aware of what Ananias had done. She chose to remain silent, and when questioned by Saint Peter she chose to lie rather than confess & repent of the sin that she had become an accomplice in. For this God struck her dead as well. Initially she was shown more mercy than her husband, and was given the opportunity to come clean because until she lied she was only guilty of the "sin of omission."
The Church is conciliar in nature. The bishops proclaim the truth, but the whole Church, both bishops & laity, are the guardians of the truth. When things are awry in the episcopate the people MUST raise their collective voices in order to prompt the bishops to be more attentive and responsible in their governance of the Church.
As is frequently the case, people engaging in the process of protest & dissent for honorable reasons are often swept away by the temptation to act as arrogantly as the people they are attempting to steer back on course. Obviously, this springs from the sinful passions of our fallen human nature and it is wrong. Nevertheless, the dissent itself remains valid & appropriate.
I pray that everyone of us will call upon the Holy Spirit to help the OCA repair the leaks in the Ark of Salvation so that the work of saving souls would continue in North America!
#22.214.171.124 Christ's unprofitable servant, Seraphim on 2008-09-05 14:13
We cannot blindly love someone because of their position or rank. i.e. Bishops.. This is a large part of the lesson of the scandal that our own Bishops have taught us through their actions and nonactions.
There is no split. That is a fantasy in your mind and really noone elses. There might be a few Bishops that aren't really happy right now, but as long as they focus on the church and not on themselves, they'll come around.
If you look closely, the SIC report can be the beginning of a new day for the church.
Our Bishops still have unchecked power and this needs to be changed somehow. Whether it is through an ethics board or some other fashion, it must change. Bishop Nikon, who has been identified as asleep at the wheel in the report, recently fired a Diocesan Council member for tough talk about the Metropolitan, it would appear. How can this be an effective way to govern a church? The first time someone speaks strongly on an important issue any disagreeable Bishop cans him?
While there has been vitriol and hatred directed at our Bishops at time, quite a bit of it is out of sheer frustration at their behaviors.
The only ridiculousness is truly all the $9,500 dollar cash draws made by the Chancellor for all these years and the money spent on lawyers trying to stop people from looking at the books.
Elitism is officially over for sure.
I think you need to rethink your position a lot.
#126.96.36.199 Daniel E. Fall on 2008-09-05 17:30
You write, in paragraph 5, that "Bishops are INfallible humans" (emphasis added). One hopes you meant to say that "Bishops are fallible humans." And please don't confuse infallibility with impeccability. The first means "unable to make a mistake," while the other means "unable to sin." Only too obviously, neither applies to our hierarchs....or to the rest of us, for that matter.
#12.5.2 Igumen Philip (Speranza) on 2008-09-05 11:13
"Ridiculous", I applaud you in what you wrote. I'm sick of the 'lynching crowd' that has been created from this website as well. It started with good intentions, but has taken a turn for the worst. Mark & the rest of you bashers of the OCA's Holy Synod & Holy Orthodox Church as a whole; remember Christ's words in Matthew "Judge not, that ye be not judged." Quit judging and bashing and start praying and helping to remove the hate that has been created.
You ask why Kondratick is not in jail; what about all the other crooks and worse criminals (murderers, etc) that are on the loose in the U.S.? Kondratick is not the only one who has not been put in jail!!!
The Church has been, & is now even more so, taking a step towards the better! Again, stop bashing & start praying/helping! The Holy Synod asked for forgiveness. But whether they asked for forgiveness or not, we are to forgive them anyway as Christ Himself said to do.
No one is perfect and if you ("you" in general) seek a perfect Orthodox Church you will not find one. We are all human. And as the Saints have said, if by rare chance you do find a perfect Church, do NOT join it! For at the moment you join it, it will immediately become imperfect!
#12.6 Anonymous on 2008-09-05 06:14
Please read Matthew 5:20 and Matthew 5:48.
Christ said *Uness your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall in no wise enter the Kingdom of heaven"
And He commanded "Be ye perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect."
Not judging and being forgiving are indeed parts of being perfect and righteous, but so also are standing without apology for integrity, for truth and holiness.
Mark Stokoe has no imbalance in his mission to see a totally healed OCA.
#12.6.1 Anon. on 2008-09-05 08:55
"Mark Stokoe has no imbalance in his mission to see a totally healed OCA."
IF that is the case, then he should start respecting what the Holy Synod & Met Council are doing to reconcile the problems & stop the insinuating headlines and opinions and let the OCA heal. The OCA is being VERY open on their website. Not to mention today the Synod & Met Council issued another apology this morning...STILL not posted on this site! http://www.oca.org/news/1636 (hehe why is it the SIC report was posted on this site within what seemed like minutes, but THIS takes hours!
(editor's note: With a full time job with deadlines on Fridays, I am not as free to post articles on that day as others, a fact you may have noticed from the schedule of my postings over the past three years. I apologize if this inconvenienced you.)
#188.8.131.52 Anonymous on 2008-09-05 13:07
It is clear that those hierarchs have no priestly/hierarchal conscious! It is a grave canonical offense what they have done and that should be punished. If a priest or deacon would do such a thing they would waste no time in deposing them. But when it comes to their own doings there is that mentality that I AM THE LAW, I AM THE CHURCH which some bishops of this Synod seem to have. From their words and actions they are not accountable to neither God nor the Church, the people of God. If you steal from the Church and cover it up, it is an offense against the Holy Spirit (read the Book of Acts again - Ananias and Saphira). It proves that our hierarchy really lacks in leadership and humility. They bahave like popes and authority figures instead of father and shepherds. They all should be retired and removed. We are not behaving like an autocephalous Church with such leaders. May God protect us from such leaders and grant them time to repent before it is too late.
#13 Dan on 2008-09-05 07:41
I feel comfortable that due process has been had up to this point. Of course, it is up to civil authorities now what civil due process is to be undertaken. The SIC came through with integrity One must agree with those who assert that the OCA has not behaved or been goverened as an Autocephalous Church should. And this is what is so needful now: that we should assert ourselves as the Autocephalous Church of NORTH America (provided the institution wants Canadians to be a permanent part of the organisation). No leadership will be satisfactory unless and until it clearly defines the OCA as THE autocephalous Church on this continent, and worries not a wit for what Istanbul think about it. Remember that three successive Patriarchs of Constantinople condemned Patriarch Saint Tikhon and sided with the "Living Church" Schism in Russia, against the Moscow Patriarchate and against Patriarch Tikhon, almost facilitating the exectution of the Saint.
Your brother in Christ, Vladiko Lazar.
Sin envelopes us all and in times like this it is proper and right to look within to find God, after all, God is the Captain of all ships, neither hierarch nor layman.
Perhaps a short bibliography of excellent books may be of help to some to steer us away from the shoals and towards heavenly "truths" that make "earthly truths" pale in comparison. If even one or two talents worth of time is spent on these, the returns on the investment are tremendous, and things we sometimes can't seem to make sense, become much clearer:
Bacovcin, Helen "The Way of a Pilgrim," Doubleday, 1978(translation)
Palmer, G.E.H., Sherrard, Philip, Ware, Kallistos, "The Philokalia" Vol. 1-4, Faber & Faber, 1995
Sisters of the Holy Convent of Chrysopagi, "Wounded By Love The Life and the Wisdom of Elder Porphrios", Denise Harvey (email@example.com), 1995
Ward, Benedicta, "The Sayings of the Desert Fathers", Cisertcian Publications, 1975
Elder Ephraim, "Counsels from the Holy Mountain", St. Anthony's Monastery Press, 1995
Archimandrite Aimilianos, "The Authentic Seal", Ormylia Publishing, 1999
St. Anthony's Greek Orthodox Monastery, "Monastic Wisdom The Letters of Elder Joseph the Hesychast," St. Anthony's Monastery Press, 1998
Colliander, Tito, "Way of the Ascetics", (Unknown Binding) 1960
If I may also share a short and true story I heard from a very Holy Elder at the Holy Mountain about a hierarch that lived a long, long time ago, and a troublesome priest under his jurisdiction: the village Priest was a simple man, certainly not a theologian by any means and not particulary impressive, to the contrary, the village Priest was prone to drinking and thus scandalizing his little village parish that mocked him, and made him the subject of much gossip and indignation. The Priest was consumed by the pleasures that accompanied drinking and the flock vociferously complained to their hierarch to do something about it--however, the Bishop was reluctant.
The last straw was when the priest showed up to perform the Liturgy apprently under the influence. The flock sent a delegation to visit the Bishop apprising him of their disgust and setting forth their ultimatum. The Bishop was forced to remove the priest from his duties and now really shamed, the Priest hit the bottle hard.
For the next three nights the Bishop was plagued by nightmares of hundreds of faces--faces he didn't even know that screamed at the hierarch in agony and terror. The Bishop would awaken from these incredible nightmares visibly shaken. They shook him to his very core. There seemed to be some sort of nexus between the dreams and relieving the drunken Priest of his duties--but what? The hierarch decided to pay the Priest a visit to try to help solve his personal enigma.
He found the priest in a sad and repentful state. "What was your average day like, describe it to me?" asked the Bishop. The Priest replied, "I knew I was a miserable drunk, and I thought to myself, that the least thing I could do, was to go every morning to the cemetary, and say a "Trisagion," for the souls laying there, it wasn't much, but I thought at least I could do that."
Like a lightening bolt, the Bishop now understood what the dreams were--the placated souls of the departed lying in the abyss were soothed by the daily rays of light that even a drunken Priest's humble prayer was able to accomplish. This glimpse of "Heavenly justice" versus human condemnation and human justice, forever enlighted the Bishop.
#14.1 Anonymous on 2008-09-06 21:35
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