Thursday, September 4. 2008
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The Holy Synod expresses gratitude for the service and archpastoral labors of the Metropolitan! Shameful! It is time for other members of the Holy Synod to ask for retirement, so the Church at large can express real gratitude for leave-taking.
#1 Archpriest James Parsells on 2008-09-04 14:49
Your opinion is just that. My opinion is yours is not the way to make a new beginning in the OCA. Any bitterness should have left with Met. Herman.
#1.1 Anonymous on 2008-09-04 17:15
What about the millions he squandered and abuses he enabled for so many years? Should we just forget about that too?
Permit me to refer you to a brief chapter of Metropolitan Anthony Bloom on this very subject. For it's worth, the chapter is titled "Forgiveness" and is quoted from The Modern Spirituality Series, Templegate Publishers, 1987. Metropolitan Anthony says the following:
"Judgement would hold nothing but terror for us if we had no sure hope of forgiveness. And the gift of forgiveness itself is implicit in God's and people's love. Yet it is not enough to be granted forgiveness, we must be prepared to receive it, to accept it.
We must consent to be forgiven by an act of daring faith and generous hope, welcome the gift humbly, as a miracle which love alone, love human and divine, can work, and forever be grateful for its gratuity, its restoring, healing, reintegrating power.
We must never confuse forgiving with forgetting, or imagine that these two things go together. Not only do they not belong together, but they are mutually exclusive. To wipe out the past has little to do with constructive, imaginative, fruitful forgiveness; the only thing that must go, be erased from the past, is its venom; the bitterness, the resentment, the estrangement; but not the memory."
I believe with all my heart that forgiveness here is necessary.
#22.214.171.124 John Lickwar on 2008-09-06 09:35
but lets all remember that forgiving does not mean not trying to get back the money that he and theo stille with the collusion of herman and stikis and kucynda and the others stole.
that money came from thousands of donors and was held in stewardship by those who ran the church, and on their watch, by their negligent stewardship, they let it happen, and afterwards they covered it up and by tdoing sow sowed the soil to allow rsk to feel bold enough to sue us! they can't now say that forgiveness = not going after rsk with everything available to the oca to do so.
#126.96.36.199.1 Anonymous on 2008-09-07 19:28
You are correct-- we must still try to recover this money, because it does not belong to us. Those of us who gave to these appeals gave the money to God for the good of His poor and needy. It belongs to Him and to them, and it is our duty to recover it on their behalf.
Do you want to spend more than what was lost just to recover it?
#188.8.131.52.1.2 anonymous on 2008-09-08 11:49
#184.108.40.206.1.2.1 Anonymous on 2008-09-08 15:09
sorry, that was not meant to be Anonymous....
#220.127.116.11.18.104.22.168 Mat. Donna Farley on 2008-09-08 21:47
I have to agree with you, Bitterness isn’t the best response to the situation we now find ourselves in. I think it was good that they thanked him for his service. Scriptures tells us to love our enemies and to pray for them and the Saints showed us how to fulfill that scriptural teaching.
It’s true that there is a lot of hurt and pain that we have to work out and heal from but spewing bitterness and hatred isn’t the way, that’s not the example the Church sets before us. In the face of severe persecution, much greater than what we have experienced thus far, they prayed for their enemies. We should be compelled to do no less than to pray for our enemies.
We need to continue to hold people accountable for their actions and to impose the proper and necessary disciplines upon them weather it be jail time or ex-communication. We need to balance our desire for Justice with Mercy and Love always remembering that they to are created in the image of God and that what is most important is their salvation, our actions in cleaning up the OCA should be tempered with meekness (not to be confused with weakness), humility, prayer and love.
All the trials and tribulations we go through are given to us for our salvation. The way we respond to these trials and tribulations shows our hearts true love.
#1.1.2 AGS on 2008-09-05 12:27
Indeed, Fr James. We can only hope this is polite language, an interim measure to allow the former Metropolitan to have his back surgery before further action is taken. Nonetheless, the language rates up there with the praise for his leadership and perseverance last spring.
#1.2 Fr Basil Biberdorf on 2008-09-04 17:38
Yes, let us hope this is another classic example of the "Moonbeam of my delight," "O Rosegarden of my felicity" school of ecclesial courtly prose...Thanks for WHAT???
#1.2.1 Sdn Henry Shirley--St Herman of Alaska Chapel, West Bend, WI on 2008-09-04 19:19
I suggest we allow ourselves a mere moment to breath a prayer of thanksgiving to God. He has allowed us miserable sinners the grace of seeing Met. Herman leave the scene.
He can do no more damage.
Thank you, Lord for allowing us sinners a moment of hope and relief. Amen
#1.3 an anony-mouse American convert on 2008-09-05 08:45
May they all go peacefully into retirement. Lies lies lies lies lies lies and only lies. They must all go, now.
#2 no name on 2008-09-04 15:04
Had the will (and the votes) of the clergy and laity been recognized and honored in 1970 (?) the entire matter with MT and MH would never have occured. There would have been no RK! etc. etc. No abuse of funds -- but rather, the mission of the Holy Orthodox Church -- to bring the Gospel to all who are thirsting to hear.
#2.1 Elizabeth Bezzerides on 2008-09-04 22:11
1977 not 1970.
And we'd have had +Dmitri instead, which looking at how somethings have worked out might have been more problematic -- or just as problematic, but in different ways.
#2.1.1 Rebecca Matovic on 2008-09-05 10:06
A simple rebuttal Rebecca, but very important.
No matter who our Metropolitan is, the church needs means to deal with Bishops behaving badly. That is, lying, stealing, intimidating, terminating, etc.
I hope this need does not go unnoticed.
#22.214.171.124 Daniel E. Fall on 2008-09-06 18:06
I am relieved and deeply, deeply saddened by the events that have unfolded over the past couple of days. I'm extremely relieved that Met. Herman and the remnants of the former administration have had their keys taken away, and I'm content to let God judge them.
This is a deeply sad and painful event, even though it is the first step in healing. Although many, I'm sure, will rejoice, I will not join in celebration. I still hope for and pray for the repentance of everyone involved and their salvation.
Thank you, Mark, for all you've done and continue to do, at great personal cost, for the Church.
Martin D. Watt, CPA
#3 Marty Watt on 2008-09-04 15:20
I'm willing to let the polite formalities stand without objection.
The important thing is that +MH is gone without further drama and damage.
We are at the end of the beginning and can begin the very early stages of recovering from this mess. Six months ago, one month ago, even a week ago or a day ago, it wasn't clear we could get to this point. We're here. There's no shame in magnanimity.
[who admittedly gave in to a moment of unseemly spite earlier on a public forum -- so I'm actually rebuking myself and offering this comment in the spirit of repentence]
#4 Rebecca Matovic on 2008-09-04 15:21
+ Dimitri made locum tenens???????? Are these people nutz?
This is the guy protecting RSK in Florida and the rest of the Syosset cronies in Dallas! + Dimitri is DIRECTLY responsible for pushing + Tikhon (retired) into the bishopric of the West and + Nicolai in Alaska.
+ Dimitri should ALSO be retired IMMEDIATELY!
#5 Any-moose on 2008-09-04 15:37
It is time for us Orthodox Christians to take the logs out of our own eyes before taking the specks out of our brothers eyes.
#6 Anonymous on 2008-09-04 16:16
Once again, the Holy Synod had the opportunity to do the right thing. Once again, the Holy Synod failed in its canonical duty to their Church and the Faithful. I believe this to be due to the simple fact that every member of the Synod is to some extent complicit in the crimes committed by the "directors" and "management" of the institution. The one member who main have been exculpated (the one possible exception Archbishop Job) has already publicly accused himself of negligence and should be held accountable as well. It is impossible to comprehend that every member of the Holy Synod was not aware of the financial mismanagement and crimes committed in their names. If they were truly that ignorant, they fail the canonical requirement to be "wise and prudent stewards."
In short, the entire Holy Synod has demonstrated once and for all that they are incapable of leading an autocephalos orthodox church.
Frankly, as much as it will be distasteful to the Faithful, the following steps are really all that is open:
0. The ACC should be immediately postponed due to the vacuum of leadership.
1. The entire Holy Synod must be forcefully retired.
2. The Mother Church of Russian should be petitioned to provide "locum tenens" bishops and a primate until such time as the daughter North American Church can become spiritually mature to the degree that she can provide herself with true monastic bishops. This shows true humility and an acknowledgment that the North American Church as not ready to receive autocephaly in the first place. She has sold her birthright for a bowl of pottage (or credit cards, or houses, or expensive vacations, or lies, or prevarication...take your pick).
3. The retirement order of Metropolitan Herman should be annulled and he should be called to trial for his misdeeds.
4. Likewise Metropolitan Theodosius.
5. Likewise those accused of crimes and misdeeds.
6. Those convicted of a spiritual crime with criminal implications should be handed over to the civil authority.
7. The election of the new locum tenens for Ft. Worth should be annulled.
8. If the Holy Synod fails to take these steps each diocese or local parish should harken to the advice of St. Tikhon the Confessor and take whatever steps are necessary to withhold funding and support from the central administration.
It is a shame that the promise held out by the Tomos of 1971 has been abused and disgraced, but I suggest we see the Hand of God in this and repent of our pride in thinking we were ready in the first place.
#7 George Osborne on 2008-09-04 16:17
"...the North American Church as not ready to receive autocephaly in the first place." Right. So your suggestion is to return to a "mother church" which, allegedly, granted autocephaly only after lots of American money found a new home? And you think the poor OCA has corruption issues? Explain to us just what one must do or become to be "worthy" of the right to run one's affairs. Have you taken a look at what's been going on in Greece? Some of their bishops are doing hard time in the slammer. Perhaps St. Paul should not have left them to their own devices, either. The former Patriarch of Jerusalem was also less than an upright citizen, so maybe our Lord Himself should have kept that Church on a tighter leash, rather than entrusting it to poor, fallible and very human Apostles and successive bishops? Good Lord, read 1st and 2nd Corinthians and get some perspective! The Church has ALWAYS been a mess. We in this land are no exception. Here. at least, the laity have a voice, and we have just seen how that voice was, finally, heard. Thank God.
#7.1 Scott Walker on 2008-09-04 21:03
The reality is that the Metropolia was acting in an autocephlous manner since the Russian Revolution and the Communist took hold of the Russian Orthodox Church in Russia. Thus, the Patriarchial Church in the United States and ROCOR were united with the Metropolia before the Russian Revolution. So to say that the OCA was a mistake is sure nonsense. What we have are two Metropolitans and Chancellor Kondratick taking advantage of the laity and clergy. They abused the power and authority given to them. So lets put the blame upon those who deserve it.
#7.1.1 cshinn on 2008-09-06 07:33
Russia is not our Mother Church, dude.
#7.2 Anonymous on 2008-09-05 20:32
then who is dude?
#7.2.1 action jackson on 2008-09-08 09:17
I don't think I'd be coming around here any more if I were you, Action, after all your sliming of so-called troublemakers, after all your shiftiness when called on your various bogus arguments, after all your charming name-calling. But here you are, and, surprise! you're not apologizing for any of it. How does it feel now, Action, since those troublemakers on the Synod and Metropolitan Council have begun the painful and messy project of lancing the boil that you refused to see, and denied even existed? I had thought that maybe you and All Caps Anonymous Guy might emulate General Douglas MacArthur and just fade away. It would certainly have been more dignified, but I guess that dignity isn't your strong suit.
#126.96.36.199 Scott Walker on 2008-09-08 17:30
Fat chance on that one Walker! I will not apolozie for my opinions! I will however say that we are much worse then we were three years ago. I have seen a lot growing up on a monestary (the 1st and oldest in the US) and I am still here. I must say what has taken place is not a true example of Christ or his followers. I never once refused to see or denied the fact that there was a scandle going on. I will not just fade away. I did in fact say that it was done by RSK (which the report shows) and I did in fact say that +HERMEN did not steal money as so many have implied. I have my diginity and will not even ask you that question. You will see me in Pittsburg! There are no bogus arguments coming from me. The charming name calling is nothing more then the truth...and sometimes the truth hurts! I must say that it is about time the MC and HS has made changes but where have they been for the last 15 years? Why did it take so long for them to as you say it "lancing the boil"? Are they at fault as well...I would have to say yes. Should they be discplined as? Yes! Should all the bishops be accountable for what tranpired the last 15 years...YES! I do not believe that excluding a few bishops and not all of them is right. but again I am just a small peanut in a big shell! It is what it is!
I do find it very interesting the comments on the Orthodox Forum about +JOB? Are those allegations true or false? I think we have right to know. If you do not know what I speak of just go there and read them for yourself. Thank you.
The one the only...action jackson
PS...+Herman's surgery has ben postponed until next week...we should be praying for a full recovery from his serious condition.
#188.8.131.52.1 action Jackson on 2008-09-09 08:30
That's "Mr. Walker" to you, Action. Add rudeness to the rest of your virtues. You should not apologize for your opinions, Action, you should apologize for slander. Or maybe you didn't mean it when you referred to all of us seeking some truth and accountability as "troublemakers"? Good to know. And if not for all of those troublemakers, what would have been done about the scandal you now acknowledge? (Cue sound effect of crickets chirping.) Have fun at Pittsburgh, as you do the voodoo that you do so well.
#184.108.40.206.1.1 Scott Walker on 2008-09-09 11:17
Boys, boys, boys!!!!
What are you going to do when you run into (perhaps literally) each other in Pittsburgh. Sounds like someone wants to take the other out back...
Geez, is this the way it's going to be at the Council?
#220.127.116.11.1.1.1 Fr. Dennis Buck on 2008-09-09 14:30
Are they true or false? Unlike Herman, the rest of the Synod, and Kondratick, Job told us those allegations are false.
You might have been reading only those items on the Forum which excited your eyes and quickly forgot those that didn't.
I really don't think that throwing false allegations at the wall is going to see much stick. Right now they are seen as what they are and that is attempts to defame the person who brought this all to light. Those who make these attacks are just throwing the same hot air at us as the hot air that Kondratick never stole any money. Its pretty much black and white now.
And unlike the threats that are received by members of the South of lawsuits when something unsavory was said about Dmitri, Job reverts to prayer instead of lawsuits when something is said against his reputation. Unlike a number of people at the center of this scandal, Job does not see the Church's mission as litigation, and he's dead right with that. Job should be admired, and those like yourself seen as those elements which we pray for protection against.
#18.104.22.168.1.2 Anonymous on 2008-09-09 16:41
The grass isn't greener overseas. Virtually all of the Old World Churches have problems and scandals of their own, no less serious than what the OCA is going through. Headlines from Russia, Greece and Jerusalem the past year or two come to mind, despite their ancientness and "maturity," while Constantinople and Moscow duke it out over who's going to rule the roost in a religion that preaches, ironically, that "the first will be last and the last will be first." Forfeiting autocephaly would do the Orthodox Christian world no good; it would simply be a return to the phyletism and subordinationism that are not the canonical principle of church organization for Orthodox Christians. The model of territorial unity, self-governance and communion among sister churches must stand, however fraught with risks, dangers and problems (which have never been absent from church life) may be.
#7.3 Gregory Orloff on 2008-09-05 21:48
I have NO DESIRE to see the OCA taken over by the Russian Church. We learned all of our worst habits from them over the years: Despotism, secrecy, lying, etc.
Despite the damage done by mismanagement that goes back more then 50 years (yes, it certainly did not start in 1990. it had been endemic in the Metropolia since the 40's just ask my elderly parishioners who saw it all when the chancery was located here), we stand at a crossroad now and we can still be redeemed. The OCA can set a new example of accountability and openness to world Orthodoxy in Jerusalem, Moscow,Bucharest, Istanbul,Belgrade -- all of them! The financial scandal we experienced is peanuts compared to the shenanigans of these "ancient and venerable sees."
Our next Metropolitan will only serve as a caretaker for 3 years, then he will retire. By then we will have identified a suitable candidate to take over.
Most of the members of the Synod are at, or close to retirement age. By the next AAC in 2011 only two of the current hierarchs will still be in office, plus whoever may be consecrated between now and then (hopefully only one bishop). The Metropolitan can be elected from among the laity, diaconate or priesthood -- he need not be, maybe should not already be a Bishop. Let's just be patient.
NO TO MOSCOW'S CONTROL!
NO TO CONSTANTINOPLE!
We are autocephalous Church and will remain so!
#7.4 Fr Christopher Calin on 2008-09-05 22:16
I agree with much of what you've said. In any financial scandel, you always have a group of "higher ups" (In our case the Holy Synod) saying..."but we didn't know. It is your job to know! Therefore I agree with you that every member, save Bishop Job who has asked for forgiveness, be removed and that those indeed who did know but took NO action- Bishop Seraphim (twice warned), Bishop Nathaniel and Bishop Nikon be immediatly removed and reprimanded. The appointment of Bishop Seraphim as Metropolitan See is absolutely unacceptable and should not be tolerated!
A 35 page document + appendicies and the response is 1 meager paragraph. We are sorry, lets move on, we'll try to do better. Unacceptable!
#7.5 Anonymous on 2008-09-07 22:56
In regard to the "SYNOD MAKES +DMITRI LOCUM TENENS, EXPRESSES "GRATITUDE TO +HERMAN FOR HIS PRIMATIAL SERVICE""
Get the facts straight before you post information! Why did you not link to the OCA website?
“The Holy Synod of Bishops resolves that His Eminence, DMITRI, Archbishop of Dallas and the South, be Locum tenens of The Orthodox Church in America. In liturgical commemorations, he is to be commemorated as ‘His Eminence, DMITRI, Locum tenens of The Orthodox Church in America.’”
However it is supposed to be this:
“The Holy Synod of Bishops resolves that His Eminence, DMITRI, Archbishop of Dallas and the South, be Locum tenens of The Orthodox Church in America. In liturgical commemorations, he is to be commemorated as ‘His Eminence, DMITRI, Archbishop of Dallas and the South, Locum tenens of the Metropolitan See.’”
Editor's note: I apologize for the transcription error. It has been corrected.
#8 Anonymous on 2008-09-04 16:26
Mark, your expression of commemoration is correct according to the OCA Website. See the last line.
OCA Holy Synod of Bishops grants retirement to His Beatitude, Metropolitan Herman
SYOSSET, NY [OCA Communications] -- The Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America, meeting at the OCA Chancery in Oyster Bay Cove, NY, on Thursday, September 4, 2008, issued the following statement.
“On September 4, 2008, The Holy Synod of Bishops received a letter from His Beatitude, Metropolitan HERMAN. In this letter, His Beatitude asks for Retirement, effective immediately, 'in the best interests of The Orthodox Church in America, and taking into consideration the current condition of my health.'
“Effective this date, The Holy Synod of Bishops grants His Beatitude’s request to retire from the Office of Metropolitan of All America and Canada of the Orthodox Church in America.
“The Holy Synod of Bishops resolves that, in retirement, the title will be ‘Former Archbishop of Washington, Metropolitan of All America and Canada.’
“The Holy Synod of Bishops expresses to His Beatitude, Metropolitan HERMAN, their fraternal love and gratitude for his primatial service and archpastoral labors.
“The Holy Synod of Bishops resolves that His Eminence, DMITRI, Archbishop of Dallas and the South, be Locum tenens of The Orthodox Church in America. In liturgical commemorations, he is to be commemorated as ‘His Eminence, DMITRI, Locum tenens of The Orthodox Church in America.’”
#8.1 Igumen Patrick (Carpenter) on 2008-09-04 18:47
Mark posted it as it was originally listed on the OCA website. It was changed on OCA.org only after he had copied the original text.
#8.2 Anonymous on 2008-09-04 18:51
I agree with Fr James Parsells: Shameful!!! And, in addition to that, hypocritical!! Many bishops (including the one here in New England) have said, "Oh, yes, I've asked the Metropolitan seven or eight times to resign!" Really??? Then, why a word of thanks as though to say, "A job well done!!!"????? With so much fence-sitting on the part of most of the hierarchy, it is no wonder they are suffering from spiritual hemrrhoids!!
#9 David Barrett on 2008-09-04 17:12
The vineyard was almost destroyed by disease, It is slowly being tilled. New seeds will be planted and watered by the Holy Spirit and a new and healthy vineyard will continue to grow and bear fruit.
This may take many years and many people on bended knee begging for forgiveness of our short coming, Bishops, Priest and every Orthodox Christian who forgot that this is not "OUR" church!
"A job well done" Shameful yes, but frankly it surprised me that a man with your education would stoop so low as to make a comment about the Hieraracy suffering from spiritual hemrrhoids. Please David join us on bended knee!
#9.1 Anonymous on 2008-09-07 21:31
Alas, the scandal continues...
#10 Inga Leonova on 2008-09-04 17:43
It would be meet and right (and canonical) to depose the man and give him a proper chance to repent before his end rather than to thank him and possibly assist him in deluding himself about his 'ministry'. Where is the integrity in offering him thanks??? And liturgical house arrest in a parish for the former primate? Deposition and life confinement in two far northern monasteries for the salvation of their souls and the protection of the Church seemingly would be more fitting. Perhaps this is yet to come. But let us give thanks for what we have received.
#11 Priest Justin Frederick on 2008-09-04 17:52
We have got to throttle double-speak in this Church! Stop it. The Bible calls it lying and deceipt. It fools the innocent, and if you fool the innocent, you mislead the innocent. There is almost no worse sin for a leader than to harm the innocent.
#12 Anon. on 2008-09-04 17:53
Can't resist... this is from tonight's Vespers' reading, Psalm 44:
"Yet you have cast us off and abased us,
and has not gone out with our armies,
You have made us turn back from the foe;
and our enemies have gotten the spoil.
You have made us like sheep for slaughter,
and have scattered us among the nations.
You have sold your people for a trifle,
demanding no high price for them.
You have made us the taunt of our neighbors,
the derision and scorn of those about us.
You have made us a byword among the nations,
a laughingstock among the peoples.
All day long my disgrace is before me,
and shame has covered my face,
at the words of the taunters and revilers,
at the sight of the enemy and the avenger."
#13 Inga Leonova on 2008-09-04 18:12
Any-moose and Any-one - For shame! Apparently God has not responded to your idea of justice ijn the way you had planned. When my beloved Archbishop Dimitri retires is none of your business. Have a little charity. He may be, in fact he is a flawed man, but so, from your highly judgemental remarks, are you. When you next ask God forgiveness, I pray He will soften your heart to offer that same gift of forgiveness to others.
Fr John Hennies, Proudly and and joyfully from Los Alamos in the Diocese of the South. P.S. I would respect your opinion more if you used your name as you pass judgement.
#14 Fr John Hennies on 2008-09-04 18:36
This is also in response to Anonymous #6
If I'm not mistaken, +DMITRI becomes locum tenens due to his being the senior diocesan hierarch on the synod; at AAC in Orlando +KYRILL became locum tenens upon +THEODOSIUS' announcement of his retirement. I think the HS is actually just following normal protocol in naming +DIMITRI, misgivings notwithstanding.
#14.1 Klaus Friedrich Schimmoller on 2008-09-05 07:35
+Theodosius and +Herman can do no harm to the OCA now that they are retired. In a way, they were both "shown the door"...
I believe we need to greatly rejoice with all the current efforts of the faithful, the SC and SIC committees, and the Holy Synod, for what finally appears to be a large consensus of agreeing with the truth!
While this did not go through legal procedings, many people were involved with writing (and righting) this new chapter for the OCA.
Perhaps the MC and HS can close with a Molieben before they end their stay! I think this would be most appropriate as a great new chapter is now being written for Orthodoxy in general.
#15 Patty Schellbach on 2008-09-04 18:36
Dear Matushka Patty,
If you think that Herman can do no harm to the OCA now that he is retired, please think again.
The SIC report reveals only one side of the massive damage that this man has done. Sadly, it seems that only when it is clear that misappropriation of money is the issue are people finally willing to speak up. (And then look how long it took the bishops to do anything about even that). But there is more.
The abuse of funds is only a token of the greater abuse of power, an abuse of many people who were placed under Herman's sway and control.
Anyone who believes that simply retiring Herman will automatically change all that should consider some other facts.
For over 30 yrs, Herman has lived in residence at St. Tikhon's Seminary & Monastery. That didn't change when he became Metropolitan 6 years ago: he didn't move to NY or DC, but continued to live in the diocese of EPA. During all that time, Herman maintained a strict control over the monastery and seminary - just as he did when he was the diocesan bishop there. What makes you think that, just because he's retired now, that situation will change?
It should be obvious that the seminaries have an enormous influence on the Church. Not only what is taught in the classrooms, but more importantly, the spiritual and psychological atmosphere of the seminaries: the worship life, the kinds of relationships which develop within them, and the sorts of behaviors that are modelled.
After the family and the parish, the seminary is where our future leaders receive their most crucial formation. And let me tell you, Herman's style of relating to people, his way of exercising power, have made a profound stamp on at least one of our OCA seminaries.
Don't think that's going to change easily. Sure, Herman will be moving out of the big blue D-EPA episcopal residence soon. But - as he has planned for years - he will be moving into another house just a stone's throw away. He will in all likelihood continue to exercise his influence on St. Tikhon's ("his baby," as is said). And - as it stands now, at least - he will retain all the honor and priviledges of a retired bishop.
I dare say the spiritual malformation and abuse of future clergy and lay leaders in the seminary has a much greater damaging effect on the church than any amount of mismanagement or even financial dishonesty. People have lived in fear of H. there for years now - monks, faculty, students. For years it has been an emperor-has-no-clothes situation, with administration and faculty hiding their heads in the sand, or doing a lot of pretending, or else suffering inwardly in silence.
And now that some small part of H.'s dishonesty and abuse have been publicly revealed, students and faculty at one of the OCA's seminaries will still continue to have to bear his presence with dishonesty, regarding him as an honored senior heirarch of the Church?
St. Tikhon's is run on a system of power dictated by favoritism. Herman's personal circle of favorites - Dcn Alexei Klimetchev, Martin Paluch and John Paluch (staff members, none of whom have administrative or faculty position) - at times seem to have more real decision-making power and influence than the Seminary Rector, Bp Tikhon, and the Seminary Dean, Fr. Michael Dahulich.
No one wants to cross Klimetchev especially - Herman's obvious dearest. "Ordinary" people can be treated extremely poorly, impoverished seminarians scraping their way through can be beaten down with harsh discipline - while this unintelligible favorite of Herman seems to be able to get away with anything, AND be treated for it like a spoiled kid: car, house, motorcycle, truck, etc.
Just ask the pious and hard-working local family whom Herman invited to live in a house owned by the seminary, in order that they could frequent the monastery services - only to be thrown out of the same house by Herman in the middle of the winter so that Herman's darling deacon could move in!
Herman has for years undermined those in authority below him - the ones who have been doing all the work. Authority is not delegated to the ones who are in the actual position to exercise it - or it is delegated arbitrarily, to be taken back at the whim of Herman or one of his favorites.
This is just a tip of the South Canaan iceberg. You can tell a lot about a man by observing how he behaves in his own backyard.
And I haven't said hardly a thing about the poor treatment of the monks and seminarians that goes on.
My only point is this, Patty:
As long as Herman is able to move into his prepared retirement home BESIDE THE SEMINARY,WITH THE HONOR OF A BISHOP, then I don't think anyone should be suggesting that he can do no harm at this point.
It would be well in keeping with Orthodox Tradition and good moral sense for the synod of bishops to reduce Herman to the status of a lay monk. Personally, I 'll be very surprised if this happens (after all, they didn't do it with Nicolai, who was publically seen pushing a fellow cleric: according the canons, grounds for deposition).
But at the very least, the man should not be allowed to live next to St. Tikhon's Seminary and Monastery, where Herman may be reasonably expected to continue his influence there from the backyard like the master of marionettes.
There is a lot, lot more that needs to come out for a proper catharsis.
#15.1 St. Tikhon's Observer on 2008-09-06 01:51
Dear St. Tikhon's Observer,
The page has now been turned for the better in the OCA.
With the help and guidance of so many in this process, and all should be greatly thanked, I greatly rejoice that we came to this day!
I do believe we have those talented people within our OCA administration and leadership who will not allow such another dark day to occur. I also believe they will continue to work in making the OCA even more integral, ethical, and stronger.
I will try to remain forgiving and optimistic.
#15.1.1 Patty Schellbach on 2008-09-06 17:13
Amen to that!!!!!!
#22.214.171.124 Anonymous on 2008-09-09 06:11
Dear St. Tikhon's Observer,
Your post made me REALLY think. I'm sure that you are at least 99.9% correct about ALL of your observations. Hence---I want to retract any of my suggestions that might have even suggested that we not punish or judge further in this matter...at least with regard to +Herman. I think you are correct about everything...and therefore, I'm thinking now that perhaps +Herman should be disciplined further...or at least removed from the ENTIRE E PA area...or maybe exiled to Moscow (not PA either---the REAL one!)...or perhaps excommunicated...or shot at dawn...I don't know, but what you've said (and I know instinctively that you are correct) has me shaking in my sandals.
VERY nervous in Christ,
#15.1.2 Fr. Pius on 2008-09-08 05:47
I like your suggestions, however, I can (for a fact) tell you that one suggestion has a flaw. Moscow, Russia doesn't want Herman there either! *Seriously!*:-)
#126.96.36.199 anonymous on 2008-09-09 20:18
I wholeheartedly agree. Herman should be ordered to sell whatever property he has in E PA and live elsewhere. His presence at St. Tikhon's is not only detrimental to the Seminary, it is also detrimental to the honors and respect due to the actual bishop of E PA. If he doesn't actual want to live in a monastery he could, like Theodosious, be under the "liturgical house arrest", and confined to receiving Communion only at the altar of a particular monastery, say, one in Ohio or somewhere else slightly outside the diocese of E PA. He could buy property (I'm supposing that he has indeed accumulated for himself funds enough) near this monastery and live in as much peace and comfort as he wishes. But, yes, it is high time for Herman to cease encroaching upon another bishop's diocese and it is no good for a retired bishop such as Herman to remain near an important Seminary.
#15.1.3 Anonymous on 2008-09-08 14:18
St. Michael's Skete, Canones, NM, might be just the place to send Metropolitan Herman to quietly contemplate his life and faith in the light of the Gospels. The monastic cycle of services, the very small number of monks, a remote location of stark beauty, and the manual labor required to support the monastic community. It sounds like a near perfect environment for His Beatitude to spend the rest of his life trying to work out his salvation, like the Desert Fathers. An opportunity to live the life of a humble monastic. New surroundings in which to the live this new phase of his life.
May the Lord have mercy on His Beatitude and on all of us.
#188.8.131.52 Mark C. Phinney on 2008-09-09 04:09
WHO TOLD THESE SEMINARIANS TO GO TO ST TIKHONS? DONT THEY HAVE A FREE WILL? to go where ever they want? YOU FOOLS! IF THEY DIDN'T LIKE ST TIKHONS THEY WOULD'NT BE THERE!
#184.108.40.206 Anonymous on 2008-09-11 08:46
I just want to confirm that everything "Observer" says is true. He/she exagerates nothing. The damage that Metropolitan Herman has done over the years to various individuals is inestimable. He should NOT be allowed to retire at St. Tikhon's / South Canaan.
#15.1.4 anon.AlumOfStTikhon's on 2008-09-09 14:03
Thank you, "anon.AlumOfStTikhon's," for the confirmation.
As evidence of what I wrote before, it should also be known that beginning this past weekend, the monastery church in South Canaan began commemorating Herman in the liturgy third after Dimitri (locum tenens) and Tikhon (local bishop).
Herman is now to be commemorated in every liturgy as "our retired Seminary Rector, His Most Blessed Master Herman." Further evidence of the hold that this man and his sycophants have on this place.
Where are the other alumni, students, professors, staff, members of the seminary adminstration, even parishioners of the monastery, who will speak up and share what they know is the truth about this situation ? All of you were, or are still, in a unique position to report on the kinds of behavior which lie at the roots of this crisis.
I understand all too well, considering the system you are in and the vindictiveness some of the people involved, why no one is likely to want to sign their name. I am in the same boat with you.
But it astounds me that there is almost no one who has had the experience of living, worshipping and working in Herman's backyard that is willing to speak honestly and openly, in a public way, about the kinds of behaviors they've observed there.
It is not just the extent of the adminstrative and interpersonal chaos - the damage to lives - which Herman has created around him that is yet to be fully revealed.
There is also the matter of the somewhat obvious sexual subtext to much of this crisis - a subtext to which the SIC report only alluded briefly. There are some who have suffered through the experience of Herman's South-Canaan-dominion who learned far, far more about this than they ever wanted to know.
I know for a fact I am not unique in my experience. There are others who have worked and/or studied at the seminary, or lived in the monastery, who know - and who know far more than I do. But it seems that everyone is terrified to say a word about it.
(Again, is it only the mishandling of money that really matters?)
Let's just say that as regards the system of favoritism of which I spoke in my last post, there is a distinctly homoerotic coloring to much of it. (I could write more about this, but I am not sure what Mark will allow here.)
Any other alumni out there willing to give confirmation on this?
#220.127.116.11 St. Tikhon's Observer on 2008-09-09 16:49
why would anyone want to state the facts on this evil website! this website only wants gossip that will make people look bad! if you say something negative about stokoe! nescott! job! it doesn't get printed! say something negative about mt h or rsk or st tikhons it gets printed right now! it would be nice to see rsk include in his complaint this website! reading the sic report i would have to agree with rsk "he did nothing wrong! if this goes to court i will only say rsk has a good chance of "winning" you do agree with me stokoeeeee?
(Editor's note: The angels rejoice that ALL CAPS GUY finally found the shift key! The fact is that I print criticisms of myself, Wheeler and Nescott; there just seem to be more about RSK and +Herman. Go figure.
As for suing me, I certainly hope that will not be the case. But if it happens, I will look forward to asking some questions of RSK under oath, that he will then have to answer.
And as for reading the SIC report and concluding RSK did nothing wrong, I suggest you re-read it with your glasses on this time, especially the appendices, where clearly personal expenditures by he and his family marked " special charity". I guess its true: charity does begin at home....
And after reading it all again, if you still don't think anything is wrong, I would suggest you re-read your Scriptures, because you missed something the first time. Like the Eighth Commandment: You Shall Not Steal. )
#18.104.22.168.1 Anonymous on 2008-09-12 07:57
I must say St. Tikhon's observer, your view of the situation is very one sided. I guess my view shouldn't really count since I'm one of the people that is considered a "favorite" by some people, but then again I'm only a student myself, so I'm not on the list of people to be hated and demonized by people like yourself.
Do you really think the Metropolitan will hold power at St. Tikhon's? In the several years I've been here, he has had very little say in how things run anymore. I've never once felt that anything the students asked for was denied because of the Metropolitan, and in the times I've spoken with him he has been nothing but nice to me. Now that the Seminary and Monastery are going to be directly under Bp. Tikhon until the next Met is elected, Metropolitan Herman has absolutely no say in how things are run here. His position now is just a retired Bishop who lives close to a monastery. Isn't that how it's supposed to be?
As for the people you demonize, sure he gave Fr. Alexei land to build a house But Fr. and his Matushka built the house themselves with their own hard earned money. The Metropolitan does have several other people very close to him (The Paluchs). And while I think they have too much power, they are not the evil people you make them out to be. You make it out like the sole reason these people stay around is so they can destroy St. Tikhon's.
You being an observer can look at a situation and base your opinion on that. But have you ever gone so far as to try and befriend any of the people you hate? Have you ever had a conversation with them about how their life is going. How their children are? or are you more concerned about how much you can hate them? I can tell you right now the Archdeacon and his Matushka are very welcoming people who have worked very hard to have all the things they have, and in my opinion they don't live any more extravagantly than most upper middle class people. (They both work BTW). Martin and John have given their whole lives to the Church. John may not be doing as much work as the school needs, but he's getting old, and just doesn't have the energy to work anymore. And until someone else steps up and wants his job, what else are they going to do?
That's about all of my time your comments are worth. Have a nice day, Make sure you don't eat too many of your brethren today, it's a fast day.
#15.1.5 Another St. Tikhon's point of view. on 2008-09-12 09:30
I never said the Paluchs are "evil people." On the contrary. Nor do I "hate" anyone.
My aim was not at all to attack these people personally, but rather to indicate a little of the interpersonal chaos and fearsome political tensions which Herman has been instrumental in creating and maintaining around himself . That is the only reason why I mentioned the Paluchs and Klimetchev: Herman undermines those who should be exercising authority immediately below him - those who are actually responsible for running the seminary and who are doing the vast majority of the work; and he does this often by means of his favored friends. Again, That is the only reason why I mentioned these people.
Herman's method of maintaining control is "divide and conquer. " Maintaining two deans - Dahulich and Golubov - who don't get along or agree in basic vision for the seminary has allowed a situation in which no real serious decisions could be made without deferring directly to Herman. As another priest who worked at the seminary for 15 years + told me, it was all about who could run to the "blue house" first. The result is a loss of coherent leadership, coherent vision, coherent pedagogy and structure for the academic program, and coherent seminary discipline. And a faculty in which the members hardly trust one another and communicate only rarely and poorly.
A good leader unifies, provides vision, and empowers others working beside him with the freedom, authority and confidence to bring that vision to fruition. That is not what Herman has done. While some in the STOTS community have criticized Mark Stokoe and this website as "anti-heirarchical," it is really Herman himself, with his friends, who is anti-heirarchy. In reality, heirarchy means a ladder in which power and authority are dispersed are shared to varying degrees throughout all steps: there is a clear head, and there are differing degrees of authority, but everybody has a share, and everybody is accountable to everybody else. However, the model which Herman and co. favor is autocracy, or else oligarchy - the heirarchy only an apparent one, all power concentrated at the top, and one-way accountability.
In a situation like that, abuses do not get addressed unless they happen to be perpetrated by someone on the wrong side of Herman and his friends. Evidently you don't know about the havoc the Klimetchevs were capable on unleash on some students and their families in years past. Probably you don't know either about the priest/professor who was known to make homosexual advances towards seminarians repeatedly over many years time - something which continued to happen up until a couple years ago. This priest is no longer teaching, but is still listed amongst the faculty; and I know from several students that he continued to visit 2 or 3 students in their dorm rooms over the last year. More than one student over the last 5 years has gone to the adminstration after receiving advances from this priest - they were told to be quiet about it. Why ? This priest is a personal favorite of Herman.
My friend, I am glad that you have had a positive experience in South Canaan and have been (it sounds) protected from abuse thus far. There are many, many extremely dedicated, long-suffering, generous and good-willed people working there.
But there is also a culture of fear and denial, too - one which many of these good-willed people have sadly enabled by looking the other way, or by pious-sounding but ultimately misguided and individualistic appeals to "working on my own sins," "forgiveness," etc. I have done it myself; I admit is very hard to do otherwise. But while this may be an acceptable option when I am the one under attack, it is clearly not when others around me are being abused.
True piety does not always mean passivity. Nor does it mean stoic or buddhist-like indifference. As Abba Isaiah and many other fathers tell us (and frequently exemplify by their lives), anger is a natural passion of the soul - it is the power of resistance to what is evil and unworthy. The sin of unjust wrath is an unnatural misdirection or excess of this natural passion. But the fact remains that, as Abba Isaiah says, without natural anger there can be no salvation or health for ourselves or our community.
While most of us all too often suffer from an excess of anger, a lack of the natural passion of anger can also be a serious and damaging defect. As St. John Chrysostom says, "He who is not angry, whereas he has cause to be, sins. For unreasonable patience is the hotbed of many vices, it fosters negligence, and incites not only the wicked but the good to do wrong."
You may think that Herman & co. are getting unfair treatment - that those who have posted sentiments like my own on this website are unjustly angry and full of judgment and "hate," as you say. However let me assure you - on the basis of a number of years more personal involvement with the seminary than you - that what you are hearing rather is the end of precisely that kind of "unreasonable patience" of which St. Chrysostom speaks. It is the end of that "unreasonable patience," that foolish refusal - more Stoic or Buddhist than Christian - to get angry and stirred into resistance when precious people and resources are being abused.
#22.214.171.124 St. Tikhon's Observer on 2008-09-12 14:51
29 If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and throw it away; it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away; it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell. RSV
Well, I guess we’ll all go to hell since we can’t seem to do what Jesus tells us. We can’t seem to pluck out the offending parts so the whole part will die.
What is motivating our bishops? I really need an answer to that. It is unconscionable for the HS to not depose MT and MH for their role in robbing us blind. I cannot imagine how many men were deposed for reasons much less grievous to the whole body of Christ. (One comes to mind up in Alaska.)
Why is that Star Chamber mentality still flourishing now that the house of cards is falling? And that also applies to the quick, quick, quick voting for the Bishop of Dallas. Better get him in there quick before someone wants to do it right and proper by a vote of the diocesan members. After all, he’s a team player.
The MC also better get it!!! Make sure that that SIC report finds it’s way to the civil authorities.
And also, on page 19 of the SIC report we read that the SIC found it incomprehensible that armed with information of all the financial malfeasance done by Kondratick, MH still allowed Kondratick to continue as Chancellor without an investigation and without bring the problems to anyone’s attention. Since the report was made by a committee headed by Bishop Benjamin, didn’t the good bishop tell the other bishops in the Star Chamber how heinous this action was to the church? And didn’t he inform the others that members of the church would take offense if proper action wasn’t taken on their behalf? And did they discuss how offended people would be after reading the report and not see the perpetrators properly punished?
That old boy club needs to be dispersed and filled with responsible, honest and God-fearing individuals who are not afraid to do what is right for the “good of the Church!”
#16 Anon in NJ on 2008-09-04 19:05
I would like to point out that Bishop-Elect Jonah was being considered for Vicar of the DOS as early as March 2008. He was approved by the DOS assembly this summer:
"The most significant decision made by the DOS Diocesan Council was the unanimous support for Archimandrite-elect Jonah (Paffhausen) as the Auxiliary bishop to His Eminence, Archbishop Dmitri. With this vote and the support of Abbot Jonah by His Eminence, communication with the Holy Synod of Bishops can now take place so that the Holy Synod can officially act on his candidacy for election."-June 25th, http://www.dosoca.org/latest_news.html
He was then interviewed by members of the Synod prior to this week's meeting, after being elected by the Diocese.
#16.1 Sbdn. Anthony Stokes on 2008-09-04 20:24
In another comment section someone wrote, rightly I believe, that this would have happened had the faithful been praying without ceasing as we are commanded to do.
Where, pray tell, are the tears of repentance for OUR failure to uphold the One True Church in prayer? Where are our tears for the sins of our brothers, all of our Bishops, Metropolitans, ourselves, etc.?
There is gloating, rejoicing, and continued vehemence. Words of hate and anger. Why not crucify +Herman and +Theodosius and the rest? Would that make any of you happier?
This whole situation breaks my heart. Every single thing. The mess in the Chancery. And the mess in the parishes.
May God forgive us all, me included, for our lack of prayer.
Thank you, Mr. Stokoe, for this website. It has definitely be educational to see the character of so many people who have written.
Though I think it sometimes has had some contribution to the problem, in many ways it has been informative.
(Editor's note: Thanks for the backhanded compliment at least. But you are wrong - no one wants anybody crucified, nor has anybody even asked for a pound of flesh. People just want those who claim to be Christians, and hold high office, to admit their errors, confess them fully, and be reconciled to the Church they have wronged. Instead, we get ecclesistical politesse, more excuses, the same minimimization of the problem as we have seen for the past ten years, which in fact was not minimization, but a cover-up preying on the good will, inherent kindness, generosity and faith of those, such as you, they victimized. We have a duty to forgive, yes, but we have an equal duty to defend the defenseless. To forgive the wolf in the sheepfold will not lead you to salvation; it will only lead you to poverty when all the sheep are gone.)
#17 Philippa Alan on 2008-09-04 19:49
Herman has retired.
What more can we say other than:
It's the End of an Error!
#18 Anonymous on 2008-09-04 20:01
So now we move on to cleaning up the Synod
Does anyone think that of those who are liable have any honorable men amongst them?
If they were able to turn a blind eye to what was going on, to the detriment of our Church and against betterment of those who gave what else could we or should we seek for them?
Yes, forgive them, but not until and unless full acceptance and humility is demonstrated.
If my memory serves me correctly, they didnt even ask for forgiveness until their schemeing ways and criminal behavior were exposed?
How many of us were admonished and chastised for our human failings and gall for asking the question "Is it true or false"
How many amongst us felt compelled to give just a bit more... in hopes that somehow... some way... this would all be cleared up and we could once again forgive and forget?
How many of them have humbly come forward proclaiming his role [and denying himself hope for leniency] asking forgiveness [without pre-conditions] from the whole church or the laity?
Let us not forget that they and they alone have taken on the episcopal yoke and not only failed it but did so worse than a brazen criminal or addict living on the streets fails the hope of his parents and those who love him.
Remember too, that drug addicts and street people do so for survival... what reason/s causes a bishop to continually run afoul of his ethical and spiritual foundation and is that reason so easily ignored only to be forgiven for the sake of forgiveness?
I never saw one of our bishops in a courtroom extolling the right of human life and forgiveness over crime and criminal behavior, have any of you?
Why then should I or you treat them with any more respect other than that of simply humanity, afterall, they have failed much more than that criminal or addict have they not?
I truly hope that justice is sought for those who engaged in criminal activity - be it illegally taking currency out of the country or importing "items" that were sold and that consideration was squandered by the few.
The check cashers whose so called blind obedience led them to fail our church and their own morals.
Let them at least be publicly chastised and admonished, if not legally charged for their ill will and dastardly deeds!
Yes, I believe in life after death, the Day of Judgement... but it is only a foolhardy lot who will sit and await Judgement day while our Church is awash in debt and we turn a blind eye towards the real problem that exists...
And no... I am not without sin or believe I am in any way less sinful that anyone else...
#19 Ted Panamarioff - Kodiak Alaska on 2008-09-04 20:14
We should forgive them regardless of their lack of humility and acceptance of their sins. The Lord commands us to.
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right,
persevering, and steadfast spirit within me. Cast me not away from Your presence and take not Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and uphold me with a willing spirit.
Psalm 51: 10-12
He who covers and forgives an offense seeks love, but he who repeats or harps on a matter separates even close friends. Proverbs 17: 9
If My people, who are called by My name, shall humble themselves, pray, seek, crave, and require of necessity My face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7: 14
For if you forgive people their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. Matthew 6: 14
Then Peter came up to Him and said, Lord, how many times may my brother sin against me and I forgive him and let it go? [As many as] up to seven times? Jesus answered him, I tell you, not up to seven times, but seventy times seven! Matthew 18: 21-22
So also My heavenly Father will deal with every one of you if you do not freely forgive your brother from your heart his offenses. Matthew 18: 35
Be gentle and forbearing with one another and, if one has a difference against another, readily pardoning each other; even as the Lord has [freely] forgiven you, so must you also [forgive]. Colossians 3: 13
#19.1 AGS on 2008-09-05 12:55
Nice... this is right out of the 'play book' of The Catholic Church as they worked their cover up.
This turned into a crooked organization, this church with a small 'c'. The fix was in long ago --and the fix is deep. Too many silent priests. Someone mentioned in the last few days about all the freebies handed out. Some of those ornate crosses came with a high price.
(.. and if bought as gifts by family or parishoners, don't you think that Kondratick scammed even them with a high mark-up?)
#19.1.1 Jim Murray on 2008-09-05 14:19
Let me keep this short and simple. WE FORGIVE, but we also must hold accountable.
You people have to get off the idea that forgiveness and accountability are two mutually exclusive ideas.
Let's sum this up:
We will hold accountable!
#19.1.2 Anonymous on 2008-09-05 16:58
I thank you for reminding me of all the scriptural content that I have never been able to quote...
I also know the words of the Lord's Prayer;
"Forgive us our tresspasses as we forgive those who tresspass against us" - evoking me to forgive first...
Can you also remind me what we are to do with villians and others who would seek to deceive and steal from others in the name of God or His Work?
#19.1.3 Ted Panamarioff - Kodiak Alaska on 2008-09-05 19:14
Ted Thank you for the question, what we do with the "villians" is to hold them accountable for their actions. As I said previously if they need to do jail time or be ex-communicated or deposed or whatever then let it be done but not with a bitter heart or one that is out for blood (for lack of a different word). We need to hold them accountable with love, humility, meekness and prayer. It is for there salvation as much as it is for ours.
#126.96.36.199 AGS on 2008-09-06 01:00
Thank you for all your hard work Mr. Stokoe. It's sad that it took so long to get to this point, but hopeful looking forward now that we are here.
Thank you to Metropolitan Herman for loving the Church enough to voluntarily step down. Lord, have mercy.
Thank you to the SIC and Metropolitan Council for your hard work to begin bringing Truth to the light and this investigation closer to its end.
Thank you to the Holy Synod for taking action when the opportunity presented itself. We remember you in prayer.
Thank you to the OCA clergy who have remained steadfast in your roles throughout this entire time, who have continued to BE the Church, and who continually pray for us all.
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on us as we repent and try to do what is right from this point forward.
What a wonderful way to begin the new year.
#20 Joel on 2008-09-04 20:43
My thoughts after having read through the SC Report and its appendices are to wonder how many pairs of $500.00 shoes can one priest wear in a lifetime.
I am appalled (and somewhat amused and definitely contemptuous) at the vanity, venality and cynicism of our church leadership. I would recommend that several of our bishops be introduced to the comtemplative solitude of monastic life,while residing in a cell (a prison cell). I signed the petition asking the Metropolitan to resign; I will gladly sign a petition to pass this whole affair onto the secular arm for criminal proceedings. The whole church administration and leadership are ripe for RICO proceedings.
I had thought that when the crooks resigned, there would be some relief -- but after reading the details of the abuses of the leadership clique and the carelessness of the synod members for such a long time, I feel that we have all been violated and really do not know if I will ever trust the OCA to do anything right.
This is turning into a rant -- but I like to air one more gripe. I had always viewed Archbishop Seraphim in a positive light. But, after reading his letter to Archimandrite Zacchaeus I am struck by his self-important arrogance , selfishness and pride (while totally ignoring the revelation of major abuses). Quite despicable!
We need more help than I had ever imagined.
#21 Martin McGuigan on 2008-09-04 21:10
I think it was positive that Met. Herman resigned. How long would it have taken to hold a spiritual court to try to depose him? This way, he is removed and we can hopefully move forward. Whether there is further consequences re a spiritual Court at a later date or legal charges filed is another matter.
I do hope that given this critical time in our history, the consecration of the bishop elect Jonah will occur sooner than later (perhaps before the Synod leaves NY) so that he can begin serving in the South since as senior synod member, now Archbishop Dmitri has the added responsibility of being locum tenens.
Thank you and God bless those of you who risked livelihood and/or reputation to speak up along the way and especially to those who made public what was going on so that we could get to this day. Praise God, I feel like we now have a chance, as a church, to spiritually "throw off the old man" and to begin the hard work of rebuilding trust and vision in the OCA on the solid foundation of the truth of Christ and his Church.
#22 Diane Prokipchak on 2008-09-04 21:16
As I returned to my third year at college these past weeks, I forgot about the Synod meeting or SIC report. Then, this evening, I logged on to OCA News to see "Metropolitan Herman resigns" - something I never imagined I'd see. I was simply in shock.
My hope in the future of the OCA is renewed with these landmark events. The Holy Synod has shown vision and leadership that I never expected they would. Their total adoption of the SIC recommendations, while seemingly a no-brainer to most, were for those of us dismayed observers (with our low expectations) stupefying, by the sudden display of reasonability by our bishops.
The people among us who cry "shame" need a reality check. Some lip service to the Metropolitan is nothing compared to the accompanying action - his retirement. For years, we decried similar lip service (targeted at us) as meaningless, without action. Here, we have the deed, if not entirely the word. Who cares? The spigot has opened, and the truth we called for is now beginning to flow forth. Let us quiet ourselves, lest we be dismissed as an implacable bunch.
The calls for total synod resignation are probably gratuitous at this point. George Osborne's proposals are grossly gratuitous - perhaps absurd. Delaying the AAC is not only logistically impossible, but a bad idea. We should convoke a meeting of the Church tomorrow, if possible. Asking the remaining Synod to retire is foolish and impractical as well. For instance, let's just look at the remaining Synod:
1. Archbishop Seraphim
2. Archbishop Job
3. Bishop Nikon
4. Bishop Tikhon
5. Bishop Benjamin
(I am diregarding Abp. Nathaniel, as he is a lame duck, Abp. Dmitri, since he is apparently too senile to run either his own diocese or the Metropolitan See, and the Auxillary Bishops, since they don't seem to be players on the Synod.)
Why would we want these 5 men to go into exile in favor of whatever cronies Moscow sends us? Perhaps they have made mistakes in this whole scandal, but at this hour, they seem to have finally come to their senses, learning their lesson. I would not want to see them go, in fact, I think the 5 of them would make an excellent Synod for us to build off of, into a new future. For them to stand for re-election, while perhaps not terribly canonical, would be bold and visionary, and would confirm our trust in them.
I have always considered this crowd a reasonable bunch, but these comments, in the wake of such achievement, are far from reasonable. Let us rejoice that the Church has found Her feet again.
Of course, excellent job and many thanks to Mr. Stokoe for his reporting in these matters.
And of course, many thanks to Protodeacon Eric and John Kozey, for their steadfast devotion and personal sacrifice in arriving at this moment. I am so sorry Fr. Eric was given the cold shoulder in the SIC report, and I think that if there were a rank higher than Protodeacon, that he should be elevated to it immediately. Perhaps they should award the Order of St. Innocent: Gold Class.
St. Andrew's Church, Dix Hills NY
Student at Syracuse University
#23 Reader Nilus Klingel on 2008-09-04 22:25
I must take exception to your comment about Archbishop Dmitri and his ability to lead his own diocese. If the election of a Vicar for the Diocese is your reasoning for this assumption, than you need to investigate the diocese of the South a little more. One of the main reasons that the DOS needs a Vicar is because of its geographical size. It is the largest Diocese in the country, covering 14 states. It is becoming more and more difficult for Archbishop Dmitri to travel to all of the parishes. Having an auxiliary will take much of that burden off of him.
Also, the DOS opens more missions than any other diocese, at one point had more seminarians than any other diocese, has a balanced budget based on tithing and gives over 25% back into missions and parishes. Also, Archbishop Dmitri has his senses enough to still publish spiritual commentaries, even at the age of 85.
I'm not sure why so many people who are not even near the DOS feel that they can make comments like some of the ones on this page.
#23.1 Sbdn. Anthony on 2008-09-05 08:28
Subdeacon, like you, I don't think Archbishop Dmitri is senile. However, you should consider removing your rose-colored glasses.
Concerning the need for an auxiliary bishop, our diocese, according to documents from the last DOS assembly, has about 2200 adult members (5000 total?) spread across its 14 states. Population-wise, that doesn't call for an auxiliary, especially with two completely vacant dioceses elsewhere. Geographically-wise, Canada is far bigger still, and makes do with a single bishop. Plus, if Bishop-elect Jonah is really intended to handle the geographical spread, why is his office being established in the Dallas chancery? Why is he the Bishop-elect of Fort Worth? Why isn't he placed closer to the nexus of parishes in the southeast, particularly Florida, especially when Miami has a church with cathedral status (http://www.oca.org/DIRlisting.asp?SID=9&KEY=OCA-SO-MIACSC)?
The only thing I can surmise is that Vladika Dmitri is truly ready to retire, and wants his replacement close at hand. Sadly, though, this means Vladika Dmitri has chosen his own successor, an action prohibited by the canons:
"It shall not be lawful for a bishop, even at the close of life, to appoint another as successor to himself; and if any such thing should be done, the appointment shall be void. But the ecclesiastical law must be observed, that a bishop must not be appointed otherwise than by a synod and with the judgment of the bishops, who have the authority to promote the man who is worthy, after the falling asleep of him who has ceased from his labours." (http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf214.viii.vi.iv.xxiii.html).
I personally think that Bishop-elect Jonah will make a very good bishop. (Axios!) However, the process by which he has been named auxiliary in our diocese, and the smokescreen being used to cover it up just stinks. (To be clear, I'm in the DOS, too.)
P.S. Don't buy all the hype about seminarians. Only the DOS would send a slew of seminarians off without providing a single dollar of financial assistance, letting them accumulate tens of thousands of dollars of debt, and expecting them to return to serve in poverty. There'll be talk of "paying off their loans," but it's hardly guaranteed. Thus another generation of clergy families with maxed credit cards and inadequate public aid checks is sown. (Just ask how many DOS clergy receive anywhere close to the median pay in their area. And ask how many of them would have health insurance for themselves and their families were it not for wives' employers and S-CHIP.)
#23.1.1 John on 2008-09-05 10:39
Again you prove your ignorance when it comes to the life of the DOS. If you knew what you were talking about regarding seminarian debt you would know that if a man accumulates seminary debt and he is ordained and comes to the DOS, the diocese pays his seminary debt. However we are not in the business of paying for those who do no get ordained or work full-time in a parish as a seminary trained assistant.
I don't know what axe you have to grind but if you want to come out and discuss your ill feelings about the DOS, then contact the Chancery office here in Dallas. 214-522-4149 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
#188.8.131.52 Anonymous on 2008-09-05 13:55
Well, all I can say is that thoughout this whole scandal the only thing that kept me from leaving the OCA completely was all of the good things I kept seeing happening in the DOS, and there isn't a single one of us here from the DOS that isn't counting down the days until we can get back to Dixie. I would also like to say that I understand why the diocese doesn't stipend seminarians, and despite the financial hardships we go through here its much more important that they take care of the priests and their families already at work, which the diocese undeniably does.
#184.108.40.206.1 DOS Seminarian on 2008-09-06 12:32
I apologize for my comment, then. I did not mean for senility to be pejorative - I was not insulting the Archbishop.
However, whenever I have heard assorted priests or involve lay people mention the Diocese of the South, and Archbishop Dmitri, I have heard from many people that, as an understandable result of his advanced age, he is unable to be involved in the leadership of the diocese in any meaningful way.
If the problem was not of one hierarch's inability to lead, but rather, of a diocese simply being too big, then why not split the diocese, instead of having two bishops lead one? Wouldn't that make sense, and be in line with our Tradition?
Again, my apologies to Archbishop Dmitri, I did not intend any offense.
#23.1.2 Reader Nilus Klingel on 2008-09-06 12:34
Split the diocese? One day it might have to happen, but I would hate to see it happen any time soon. If we are truly an American Church then we need to take into consideration that we who live in that part of the country in question (the old confederacy) are our own unique species with our own unique culture. I think it shows great pastoral concern to have united the south under one diocese, and I would like to see it stay that way as long as possible.
#220.127.116.11 Anonymous on 2008-09-07 06:02
I agree with others on this Web site who have called for more bishops, not fewer. Maintaining the culture of the "old confederacy" isn't really a good enough reason to keep a diocese large, especially when one considers some of the things for which the old confederacy stood. (Even if it were, it's no reason not to have auxiliary bishops. Most dioceses are already divided into deaneries, so the structure is in place.)
Personally, I am more interested in the culture of the early church. In the early centuries of the church, dioceses were often small--sometimes just a single city. Large dioceses are a development that went hand in hand with missionary work in the so-called New World. At its inception, for example, our North American church consisted of a single diocese.
A large territory makes it practically a certainty that bishops will not be able to be as responsive as both they and their flocks might like. Having more bishops promotes transparency by concentrating less power in the hands of any one. Imagine how difficult the financial scandals would have been to hush up if there had been 40 bishops, instead of just nine!
At one point, the former Metropolitan was archbishop in one diocese, and, I believe, locum tenens in two others. So in addition to being the primate of the whole church, he had responsibility for the governance of three dioceses, not to mention his role as abbot of a monastery and the other positions he held. That can't be good for anyone, least of all the person trying to do all those jobs. Holding multiple benefices has always been a sign of trouble in the church.
I understand one of the problems with increasing the membership of the HS in the short term is a lack of qualified candidates, or at least a perceived lack. (Among all the igumens, archimandrites, and celibate priests do we really not have four or five more qualified people???) We do not live in a society where the monastic vocation is attractive to many people, and monks are by no means automatically qualified to serve as bishops simply on account of being monks. Several possibilities have been discussed on this site, including adding married priests to the pool of candidates, or inviting candidates from other jurisdictions. Both of these options have been normative at one time or another in the long history of our church. In any event, I believe we can find the solution to the problem of bishops in scripture, in patristic writings, and in the rich tradition of the Orthodox Church. More bishops!!
#18.104.22.168.1 Morton on 2008-09-09 09:11
The Holy Synod has shown vision and leadership?? Where??? It was the Metropolitan Council who unanimously voted to get the bishops to wake up by saying, "No, no, no! No medical leave!! He needs to be *OUT*, period!! Full retirement is the order of the day!!" The SOB's (again, appropriately abbreviated), after all of Herman's Stalin-like handling of this situation, thanks him for his "primatial leadership"!!
#23.2 David Barrett on 2008-09-05 11:37
"Why would we want these 5 men to go into exile in favor of whatever cronies Moscow sends us? Perhaps they have made mistakes in this whole scandal..."
I don't know how going to Moscow like that would work, or if it a good idea, but the rest of the HS is far more compromised than you suggest: the appearance of impropriety alone is enough to disqualify most of them from continuation in office.
People keep telling Kondratick to put up or shut up when it comes to delivering the dirt on everyone, but it's clear now that speaking up would thoroughly implicate him as well, so we can't expect it. But the evidence shows this: Kondratick owned the HS and the OCA's top clergy. There are reasons for that, and I want to know what they are — if these men are to continue to lead.
I'm not talking about insufficient vigilance, laziness, choosing to ignore certain warning signs, and so on. We now know that three bishops had standing before them a witness with video evidence that Kondratick was literally robbing the poor by stealing tens of thousands in donations , and they all ignored it — except for Seraphim, who did one worse and actually chewed out the whistle-blower! Why?
Kondratick is perhaps neutralized (though perhaps not, since he might be threatening people that he'll reveal their misdeeds to the government as part of a plea-bargain). But who else knows what he knows? Who has the power over them that this information — whatever it is — gives?
Of course, I am making certain assumptions, but still — and more to the point — do you really want a Synod full of men about who such questions can be so credibly asked?
#23.3 A Fellow Orthodox Christian on 2008-09-06 01:34
The Synod of Bishops, also known as the limp wristed pit of vipers, now scolds Theodosius for his rape of the OCA. This is the last straw. Dmitri is locum tenens ? The protector of Kondratick ??? Are you all simply stupid ? Dmitri,, at least, should have deplined the "Honor", if only he had a brain and a shred of humility.
My parents generation lived and worked to support the churches. My grandparents generation would give "one chicken for the priest - one for the family" as my grandfather used to say. You vipers spit on them all by your arrogance, and not just the hierarchs all of you who have breezed through the halls of Syosset - and there were many !!! Living high off the land. Treating clergy and laity with disdain, snubbing your noses and looking down on those who couldn't "bear the truth". The high and mighty clergy who flaunted the name of the "Othodox Church in America" --- look what our legacy is now !
God help you all ! I pray that God forgives you, and I pray that someday I will be able to do the same.
Take a stand NOW, and do something that shows backbone ! Depose both of them ! Strip them down to their monastic garb and bury them as such ! Not that either of these "Metropolitans" even LIVED as monastics.
Show us all, whats left of the OCA, that you have a spine. But then I think the AAC is going to be an all out revolution and crowns will fall in profusion.
#24 Disgusted on 2008-09-05 03:37
Well, finally, there is real progress. However, I have not seen where even one person has come forward and reveal the "whole truth".
Any reasonable person who truly has the church's best interest in mind would want to know the "whole truth".
What happened to the money? Did Met. Herman or RSK divert any of it to their personal accounts? Are they sitting on millions of dollars of church money? I don't know. Does anyone? But to bring closure, these questions must be answered.
If any individual you know were robbed and the robber caught, the first question would be, "Where is the money?" And there would be no satisfaction until that question was answered fully.
I admit that I didn't read all of the report from the SIC, but if it details about where the money went were revealed, I would hope it would be a headline story.
Whether it was negligence, incompetence, or deliberate malfeasance, the individuals responsible must be replaced in order to restore trust, which will take years and years.
After years of cover-up and denials, I calculate that maybe 10% of the "whole truth" has been finally revealed. There is much, much more to this story and I fear that it will never be known and therefore we will never be what Christ wants us to be as a church.
We, as a church, need at least one central figure in the scandal to truly confess everything about what happened. If we do not understand the history of what truly happened, we cannot prevent it from repeating. And it will repeat.
This sort of scandal has been going on since the beginning of mankind. Please don't let anyone be fooled. It happens in every generation and it will happen again and again until the end of days. And I am an optimist!
#25 Erik Fender on 2008-09-05 04:00
Now that we may have a less of a chance of a "stacked" council, we should look to changing the statutes closer to how our "mother" church handled electing the first hierarch and place the final selection, if necessary, in the hands of God, not man.
I propose a process starting, as now, of a first ballot with the winning candidate needing a two thirds vote for election. If there is no candidate with two thirds of the vote, then there be a second ballot among the five top vote getters, with an election if there is a two thirds vote getter. If not again, then a selection by lot among the three top candidates. as was done at the 1917-1918 council in Moscow, the final election will then be in the hands of *God*.
This approach would mean there would be less of a chance for flooding the candidate list to throw the election to a synod that may have already establish a winning candidate, as has happened in the last two elections of the first hierarch and then a final "vote" that is outside man's choice.
#26 William Kosar on 2008-09-05 04:27
I agree with those of you who believe that the Synod has behaved, and continues to behave, in a shameful manner that prevents us from putting the scandal behind us. Have they even read the SIC report with its damning indictment of Herman's sins and misdeeds? Or are they still too busy cover up their own corrupt and inept roles, also referenced in the report, that enabled this scandal?
Yes, they have let Herman retire "gracefully" and seemingly with honor, since they profusely thank him for nearly destroying the OCA. It is all a lie, maybe a harmless lie under other circumstances, but one that allows them to continue to live in their special little world of deniability, where they have all "done nothing wrong" except allow themselves to be duped by others. Pathetic! Contemptible! Cowardly! Worthy of rebuke and scorn.
Handed a golden opportunity by the SIC report to at least partially redeem themselves, they have blown it yet again, despite bowing to the inevitable and making Herman go. But they still don't get it, don't want to get it and are incapable of getting it so mired are they in their corrupt and heretical preoccupation with themselves and their "glorious" prerogatives.
One can only hope that Benjamin and Job were not part of this hypocritical debacle.
#27 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2008-09-05 05:59
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Retirement is a mere beginning in picking up the pieces. It is true that I waited for a change in leadership, for more than many reasons. But, I have few illusions. This may create a false sense of relief that it is over, mostly over, or that we've crested the crisis. Only time will tell.
As we wait to see how authorities, the Holy Synod, the MC, and the people respond, I am reminded of the aftermath, and search for justice in South Africa and Rwanda, after years of abuse, murder, oppression.
You may or may not be aware of the Truth and Justice Commissions in South Africa, which recorded the stories of abuse and provided a place for an entire country to admit the truths of what happened. Yet, since so many were culpable, imprisoning every person who reaped benefit from the systematic oppression of Black South Africans or turned a blind eye to the injustices, alongside those who swung their weapons, would have destroyed the societal infrastructure. Justice was approached by another definition. Not a balancing of scales, not retribution or payback.
This model inspired the post-massacre leadership in Rwanda. After the murder of nearly 800,000 Tutsis and sympathetic Hutus in three months of 1994, President Paul Kagame, and other leaders, guided the citizens through a process of justice to try the political, military and civilians who were "ring-leaders." Correcting the horrors meant not giving the death penalty or life in prison to every person who swung a machete. The process of identifying the culpability and guilt of each person was a messy, complex process. What justice and restoration looked like was decided one case at a time.
Restoring the finances, faith and right leadership of the Church will be a long-term process. Slash and burn solutions might make us feel like retribution or justice were done, but in the long-term, what will we lose if we demand the resignation of every "player" in this? What will will we gain?
History, recent and distant, is laden with examples of myopic decision making, where populations, driven by lust for a balancing of the scales, were carried beyond wise boundaries.
If there is peace and repentance in our hearts, if we live by rules of prayer, we will cast off our dangerous sense of urgency and human myopia. We must stand for what is right, and paradoxically, follow of Fathers such as St. Isaac the Syrian**, reviling not our brothers. As St. Paul writes in Galations 6:1, "Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted."
Lord, Have Mercy.
#28 Anonymous on 2008-09-05 06:06
For a hot DC minute, I actually thought we were really on the way to recovery. Not there, mind you but, on the way. Then, this.
Let me see if I get this straight. +Dimitri, (removed by editor) who was INSTRUMENTAL in receiving Holy Cross/Protection Monastery, .... into the ranks of the OCA, who has almost all of the clerical co-conspiritors (and the deposed one) in his diocese, is our new locum tenens??? NICE. Just FABULOUS!
And, if THAT weren't bad enough, +Seraphim, who, in his OWN words, cares more for clerical etiquette than evidence of a FELONY, is his assistant???? This is GREAT! Why not just invite +Tikhon, blessfully retired, back into the fray?????
Oh yeah, let's not forget +Dimitri's new auxillary. Sheesh! Now, before anyone starts piling on, telling me what a great guy Paffhausen is, let me just say, for the record that I have nothing against him. But the way he's being brought in is just a re-hash of how we've screwed us in the past with bishops. Once they're in, it's almost impossible to get them out as we've seen repeatedly these last few years. The HS just simply doesn't get it!
Five years ago, I would NEVER have DREAMED that I could POSSIBLY feel this way about the Episcopate but, Lordy, Lordy, they are completely clueless (at best) or, more than likely, criminally complicit in a variety of felonies MOST of which fall under the RICO statute.
ALL of these co-conspiritors, whether clerical or (currently) lay, should NOT be allowed to quietly "retire" and fade from view to enjoy their ill-gotten gains but rather be DEPOSED (if not already) and THEN, turned over for Federal prosecution under the RICO laws. Thus, spending their twilight years, quietly repenting in solitary confinment in a SuperMax facility.
Meanwhile, despite the cost, forensic audits MUST be performed in all areas where Hermie has held power over the last 40 years FOR THE GOOD OF THE CHURCH so that, once and for all, we can KNOW the extent of his thievery before we THANK him for his "service"
Whew, we still have a long, hard road ahead. Maybe that light at the end isn't an approaching train?????
Mark, your diligence and extraordinary hard work are beginning to pay off. Thank you for everything you've done to get us to where we are today.
Holy Theotokos, do not forsake us!
#29 Alex Ivsky on 2008-09-05 06:11
You owe every reader on the website and His Eminence, Archbishop Dmitri a complete apology for your slanderous comments. The Archbishop is not a pedophile. Now rumors constitute proof? I suppose you would like to present such proof?
He was NOT instrumental in the acceptance of Holy Protection Monastery into the OCA. He was and continues to be against their reception into the OCA. If you would get your facts straight first before making such unchristian charges, you would know that the monastery is NOT part of the DOS but was accepted into the OCA directly by Metropolitan Herman and under Herman. As far as I am concerned the monks of that monastery can go the same way as Herman.
So let's see how quickly you will seek forgiveness for your sin of falsely accusing another.
(Editor's note: I too owe an apology to the Archbishop and to all my readers for allowing that sentence regarding pedophlia to be posted. In the rush of postings today I failed to read the comment closely enough and I simply missed it. I am sorry and I sincerely apologize.
I too would ask Mr. Ivsky to offer proof when making such a public charge. But to my anonymous poster I would say that this comment section is not the place to do such. I refer Mr. Ivsky to the Synod should you have such evidence, or the the Chancellor's office, or to the Ombudsman of the MC should you feel the former would not take your evidence seriously. I sincerely hope you do not have such evidence and that your charge is baseless; but given the changes at Syosset, I sincerely hope should you have such evidence, they will deal with it expeditiously.
As for the nefarious Monastery mentioned, the subject of the book " Murder at Holy Cross" by Peter Davidson of Penguin Books - albeit in the territory of the Dicoese of the South, they are not part of it, being listed on the OCA webpage not as part of the OCA as a stavropegial monastery, but as a totally unique category of " under the Metropolitan's omorphion", whatever that means. Whatever that means, Archbishop Dmitri now has the ability and authority to prove anonymous correct, and allay Mr. Ivsky and many others fears, and withdraw that "omorphion" from over that monastery and remove them from any association in any form with the OCA. Should the Archbishop fail to do so swiftly, he is only inviting the criticism anonymous seeks to shelter him from.)
#29.1 Anonymous on 2008-09-05 11:50
Speaking of this newly created "Ombudsman" position, I assume it only pertains to matters under the statutory control of the Metropolitan Council, correct? Obviously, matters pertaining to parish, diocesan, clerical or monastic life are under the direct supervision of the Diocesan or Metropolitan See Hieararch - not the Metropolitan Council, (for which the purpose is to implement the decision of the AAC). Therefore, the matter addressed above is not within the perview of the "Ombudsman," nor could they be involved in any way with it, but rather, it is solely under the authority of the applicable hierarch.
#29.1.1 Anonymous on 2008-09-05 13:47
You need to delete Mr. Ivsky's comment or at least insert some disclaimer directly after his two accusatory statements. Not everyone will read this far.
Second: I'm afraid dealing with Holy Cross will not be as simple as you suggest. If their reception could be shown to be actually uncanonical, perhaps it could be declared void. But otherwise, now that they have clergy under an Orthodox bishop, they can't just be booted: a spiritual court would be needed. This could take awhile.
That said, surely, in the interim, they could be ordered to close their doors to and cease communication with the public, and not to leave the monastery grounds except for, say, medical emergencies.
(Editor's note: Done. The argument I heard was that they were never received into the OCA, but enjoy a singular status, one I was not aware existed. If the latter is the case, it would suggest that an extended omophor could be retracted easily; if the former, you are, no doubt correct. In either case, your suggestions are worthy.)
#29.1.2 A Fellow Orthodox Christian on 2008-09-06 02:15
Enough already! That a novice went nuts and committed a heinous murder is a sin and a tragedy. But it does not necessarily imply failure in duty (much less complicity or other wrongdoing) by that novice's superior or spiritual father.
So, if anyone has evidence of any "unorthodox belief, [and/or] breaches of canonical or moral discipline" (The Statute, Article XI,3) committed at any time by any of the monastics CURRENTLY part of the brotherhood of Holy Protection Monastery, that person has a moral obligation to bring canonical charges against that monastic in a spiritual court. If the complaint is ignored, take it to the new MC Ethics Committee.
Similarly, if anyone has evidence of any criminal act committed by any of the monastics of said monastery, that person may well have a legal obligation in his/her state to bring that evidence forward to the police and/or a District Attorney. Failure to do so may constitute a felony.
Otherwise, and in all charity, shut the frak up...or does "put up or shut up" apply only to others?
(editor's note: I suggest you read the book first, Father. The failure of the monks to assist the murder investigation, indeed to hinder it in every possible manner, for years, speaks volumes. As does one young monk's testimony on the stand that lying is not a sin, if it was in obedience to the Superior's orders. Frightening stuff.
Moreover, the transcript of the official interview appended to the end with the defendent makes clear his accusations against his superior and his chief aide, which I would hope would be sufficient evidence to initiate proceedings in any diocese. But then, of course, they are not in a diocese, not stavropegial, are they?)
#29.1.3 Igumen Philip (Speranza) on 2008-09-06 06:33
To take your concerns in reverse order:
1. As has been reaffirmed by a recent OCA spiritual court (and despite vigorous defense protest), Orthodoxy's ecclesiology posits that to be under the omophorion of a Bishop by that very fact renders one subject to the spiritual court(s) within that Bishop's jurisdiction, regardless of one's (historically later) designation as "diocesan" or "stavropeghial" or whatever. As a recent Patriarch of Jerusalem discovered to his dismay, the Sacred Canons leave no member of the Church unaccountable. Thus, as persons "under the omophorion of the Metropolitan," the brotherhood of Holy Protection Monastery are most certainly within the jurisdiction of whatever spiritual court(s) are in the Metropolitan's authority. (Whether or not that extends to a locum tenens is another debate. The usual rule, however, is "sede vacante, nihil innovetur.")
2. The book is irrelevant to the stated matter at hand, namely, subjecting one or more of the monks to canonical discipline. Any written history (including, as we see in John 20:30-31 and John 21:25, the Gospels themselves) consists of facts selected by the author for his/her purpose and filtered through his/her perspective. That may be good historiography, but it's not legally-admissible evidence; on the contrary, it's hearsay and generally inadmissible. "Because Peter Davidson says so" is not proof.
In order to bring anyone before either a spiritual court or the secular legal system the evidence must be from primary sources: eyewitnesses, documents, sworn statements, excited utterance, etc. Therefore, anyone who wants to bring canonical or moral charges (and perjury, obstructing justice, failing to cooperate with a police investigation, etc., are moral wrongs as well as legal ones) against any member of that brotherhood has to back up the charges with that kind of evidence. And unless he be a priest who has learned it in Confession, anyone who has that kind of evidence is morally and legally obligated to present it in a spiritual and/or secular court.
So...who will now speak up and put up? If nobody will do so, then leave the monks to walk the path of repentance in at least exterior peace.
#22.214.171.124 Igumen Philip (Speranza) on 2008-09-06 17:53
The obscene sins are behind all these problems. What we see here is just the tip of the icebergh It is the feeding of the sins. I don't want to spell it out but most of the priests know the name of all these sins, which are the reality of expeling Theodosius and Bishop Mark.
When the root of the problem is known the problems could be avoided and fixed.
Why are we affraid of telling the truth ????? For not being poltically correct ? or ignoring our mission and also God.!!! SHAME ON US !!!!
#30 Just a Romanian on 2008-09-05 06:48
I am writing for the first time on this site. But have read mostly everything written. I thank Mark for this site. He kept it up even when alot of the blame for the crisis was put on him for starting and keeping the site up.
I agreed with some of the SIC recommendations. But want to add a couple more. I think anyone who was on the MC during all this time should also resign. They let their peers down. I am tired of the excuses. They had the power to ask questions and get the answers and choose to be passive and seat back and wait for someone else to take control. They are eyes and ears and have disappointed.
I also think we should not allow any of the Bishops/priests retire with full pensions after stealing or allowing money to be stolen and sat back and watched. I have seen no mention of this. That was one of former Fr. Kondraticks way of getting people to keep quiet. To threaten to lose that benefit. So why should they get it. I would suggest we use that money for them to pay back otherwise let the autorities take action.
I know I will get critized for not sounding christian and not being forgiving. But if we do not make them an example of what we will not tolerate. I am afraid it will happen again.
I also thing the Hold Synod should not be the one to punish their peers. It is too hard for them to punish someonw who they once thought of as brothers.
There is so much more to say on so many issues but thought I would just focus on these for now.
Thank you for letting me have a place to speak.
#31 Maureen Skuby on 2008-09-05 07:15
Does MT and Kondriact need deposition? yes,
MH, and the other named individuals? no,
There is a definite failure of pastoral care, but unless new info comes to light, I think discipline should not have to mean deposition.
Should MH be taken to a spiritual court? maybe.
Did MH and the other named bishops attempt to change things and deal with the crisis. Yes, but in their own way and most likely the wrong way.
Let the individual have his one line of gratitude, I don't think there will be retirement dinners and videos like MT. May the quiet of surgery help him find Christ.
#32 Reader Michael on 2008-09-05 07:26
I'm sorry, thanks to the former Metropolitan seem perfectly in order to me. He gave a lifetime of service to the church, and while I might have preferred that the thanks refer more to that, instead of to his tenure as Met, so be it. I imagine a young priest full of idealism and energy, and then I see him 45 years later resigning in shame and disgrace, and I feel nothing but sadness and compassion. It's time to put the anger away and begin healing.
As far as getting rid of the remaining members of the HS, that is flat not gonna happen. It's not even worth fixating on whether or not it might be desirable. Let's move past that and learn how to work with the bishops. This is the time we can put new structures in place to ensure more transparency and a more conciliar approach. We do need somebody to run things, and until we can grow a new crop of candidates, these are the men we have. We need to learn how to be a more responsible laity, and that doesn't depend on anyone but ourselves.
#33 Morton on 2008-09-05 07:51
A lifetime of service????? ....Herman has a lifetime of power-grabbing, totalitarian despotism, gag orders, aggressive abuse, and other similar Soviet-type behaviors in his dossier!!!!
#33.1 David Barrett on 2008-09-05 11:31
What's happened in your life that makes you soooooooooo angry every time you post something?
From your constant diatrabes, it would appear that either + Herman, + Nikon and/or the church has done something very personal to hurt you.
Would you care to comment?
#33.1.1 Michael Geeza on 2008-09-05 15:00
I'm one of those who will not put my name out !
Because I'm SICK & TIRED of my priest being threatened by Serphim!!!
#126.96.36.199 VERY AFRAID on 2008-09-09 08:02
I say a big "ay-men" to the ideas put forth by Alex Ivsky and George Osbourne, with the exception of cancelling the AAC.
A thorough house-cleaning is in order, and that should start, as proposed, with the method of electing bishops, at this AAC. We also need to have an outside accounting firm be responsible for the books and monies, NOBODY from within ever again!!
Unfortunately it seems that the only criteria for being a bishop
are "single, male, Orthodox and breathing" and we see where that got us.
Absolutely Herman and Theodosius and Kondratick should be tried in the secular courts - Why has no one turned over all this info to the IRS? They usually would be salivating over the fraud and larceny exhibited in this case.
To see Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and Herman go down
on the same day was a huge sigh of relief. However, there must be punishment for these misdeeds! Kwame is getting off too lightly as far as I'm concerned....and as for Herman...
to THANK him for his services is an absurd, obscene, hypocrisy. He covered up, aided and abetted the crimes of Theodosius and Kondratick, and that makes him just as criminal as the original perpetrators.
And yes, the Metropolitan Council for that whole time also
is complicit in all this - bunch of rubber-stamping, cowering,
brown-nosing cowards!!! Where was your sense of right and wrong and your courage to speak up? Makes me sick how people cower in front of collars and miters!! Ever heard of the concept "DO THE RIGHT THING"????
And as a final note, all you folks who sign anonymous should be ashamed of yourselves, don't you have the courage of your convictions??
#34 Pauline Costianes on 2008-09-05 10:23
Bring our bishops and priests before civil courts? Wouldn't THAT uplift the American public! On the other hand---involving the IRS is another matter...and may be something which is part of the consequences of such actis. I think that scandal is something always to be avoided, especially in these days when those outside the Church like nothing better than to be able to say, "See, all religious faith is a sham!" Wouldn't it be better to handle 'family matters' IN the family? What has been done is VERY wrong...evil...and sinful. Now how do we deal with this kind of thing in the Church (Christ's bride)? What did the Lord Jesus teach us about handling such things? How did the Lord suggest that we react to those who sin against us? What does the Holy Gospel tell us about how to proceed in matters such as these? Is our 'way' to be like that of the world? Do we have no teaching that sheds light on this type of situation? I will leave the answers up to each of you. Surely those who have sinned need to face the consequences...but what is to be our attitude toward those who have fallen from grace? Perhaps there is a place here in this process for people like Metropolitan Philip (Saliba)...and other Orthodox bishops who have shown themselves to be responsible in their stewardship? Perhaps the Patriarchate of Moscow who gave to Tomos could respond and assist in such a matter? I don't know, but whatever is done needs to be what followers of the Lord Jesus would do and our minds and hearts must be that of Church rather than that of the world!
May the Lord help us and have mercy upon us!
In His Holy Name,
Fr. Pius, priestmonk
#34.1 Fr. Pius on 2008-09-05 19:27
In 1977 the Holy Synod elected +Theodosius as Metropolitan, rather than the people's choice, +Dmitri. In 2002, the Holy Synod elected +Herman as Metropolitan, rather than the people's choice, +Seraphim. Now the Synodal choices have been handed permanent time-outs, while the people's choices are Locum Tenens and Adminstrator, respectively. Further, without a Metropolitan (at least for now), we have a chance to experiment with a more conciliar form of administration and to redistribute responsibility and ministries away from Syosset to the diocesan level. So how 'bout stuffing a sock in it and allowing the people's choices to have a fair opportunity at making things work?
#35 Igumen Philip (Speranza) on 2008-09-05 11:02
+ Theodosius was elected Metropolitan in 1977 over + Dimitri. + Dimitri was the popular choice of the people, but the people had no idea of what + Dimitri's ideas regarding the OCA were. Coming from a Baptist Protestant background, + Dimitri wanted to insist that only the KJ Version of the Bible was to be used for all church services. He wanted to be extremely dogmatic regarding all church matters and it goes on. Basically, very "fundamentalist." This is why the SOB did not go with + Dimitri, but + Theodosius. + Dimitri never recovered from this and established the "Anti-Syosset" in Dallas.
#35.1 Anonymous on 2008-09-05 18:43
Dear Brothers & Sisters in the Lord Jesus,
GLORY TO JESUS CHRIST!
I understand the anger and resentment that most of you (all of us) feel. I would simply caution us that we call a spade a spade...and take ownership of that anger and resentment and be HONEST also with it: it is a sin...plain and simple. Our repentance must match what we are hoping for from those who have betrayed us! If we harbor our own sins...can we expect something different from those who have betrayed us? I would suggest that we leave all judgment and punishment to the Lord...hoping that He will also be merciful to us on that great day of judgment. Both Metropolitans are now old men and we must pray that they now use their time well to repent and reflect upon their grevious mistakes and beg God for His mercy. Beyond that...haboring anger and judgment will only serve to make our own judgment more severe. May God in His love for mankind have mercy upon ALL of us---and may He soften our hearts and bring us ALL to repentance! One of THE great dangers of the Holy Orthodox Church has always been to be the "Church of Latter Day Pharisees" (from a Synod priest-friend of mine): May we escape this by praying for kinder and gentler hearts! What has been done is done...let us just make sure it doesn't happen again! Make ALL in the Church accountable at every step of their stewardship. Let holiness, which must be marked by forgiveness and love be 'written' upon ALL of our hearts and souls and be found in ALL of our words and actions! Remember that (like it or not) these men have been (in the past) our spiritual fathers...and like our own natural fathers (according to the flesh) they are not perfect by any means, but deserve our love and forgiveness. Would you treat your own fathers this way??? I hope and pray NOT! Whenever we judge another soul----we stand in pride before God and tell Him by our words and actions, that we are BETTER than those we are judging. This is a spiritually dangerous place to put our souls...and we must try NOT to stoup to this! Let us be generous with our 'enemies' and free with our love and forgivness? In the end we will be something that aides us before the 'dread judgment seat of Christ'!
Humbly in His great mercy,
Fr. Pius, priestmonk
#36 Fr. Pius on 2008-09-05 11:38
Get behind me SATAN! Evil disguised as goodness. Shame on you who called good evil and evil good. Have you forgotten the Parable of the TALENTS!
Forgiveness Without Repentance?
"Perhaps no parable is more appropriate to our present situation than the Parable of the Talents recorded in the Gospel of St. Matthew. Christ tells us what happens to the three servants who are each entrusted with five (5) talents, two (2) talents, and one (1) talent.
Upon the Lord's return He settles the accounts with each of the three servants. The first doubles the five (5) talents to ten (10) talents and he is praised: "Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord." (Matthew 25:21) The second servant gives back to his master the original two (2) talents, plus two (2) more talents. The Lord's pleasure is again evident: "Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord." (Matthew 25:23)
Finally, the third servant steps forward and simply returns the same one (1) talent that he was given, saying: "Lord, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not scattered seed. And I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the ground. Look, there you have what is yours." (Matthew 25:24)
The Lord's displeasure and anger is palpable. The Master severely admonishes the third servant: "You wicked and lazy servant, you knew that I reap where I have not sown, and gather where I have not scattered seed. So you ought to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming I would have received back my own with interest. So take the talent from him, and give it to him who has ten talents. For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away. And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." (Matthew 25:26-30)
Does this language from the Lord show anything but condemnation? Is there any forgiveness in His tone and warnings? Can anyone find any tolerance for the incompetence and mismanagement of those entrusted with God's treasure?
Will the Synod be able to return even the one (1) talent entrusted to them? Will the OCA be able to give back even half of a talent?"
And you dare use your position as a priest to EXCUSE all the Judases in the OCA that helped persecute the innocent and squander God's Talent. Shame on you priest! It is precisely ENABLERS like you that helped these corrupt and evil men to do this for so long.
SHAME on YOU!!!!
I'm sorry if I offended you...but I wrote ONLY what I believe with all my heart. After 43 years as a monk, this is what I have learned...and as such, I'm sure it could be flawed or in error. The Lord is well entitled to judge---because He is The Christ and as such He can show righteous anger...we however are only His humble followers. Stand in judgment if you wish...but be sure that you are completely withOUT sin. I pray also...(personally) that you are NOT a priest yourself---for if you were, how would you be able to stand in His place in the Holy Mystery of Confession and forgive with that heart and lips???
In His great love,
#36.1.1 Fr. Pius on 2008-09-05 12:34
Thank you Fr. Pius. I found your words healing.
I believe it is possible to hold others accountable through love, not rancor. Like the report of the SIC says, we are at the end of the beginning. Where we go from here is yet to be seen; the seeds of openness have been sown, and I have much hope that they will grow to fruition.
This morning while looking into the eyes of Christ in an icon of the Pantocrater I found myself grieving on His behalf because He has been betrayed by the actions of leadership in the OCA. Then I remembered (or perhaps was reminded) that He is God and able to handle anything. I choose to put my trust in Him and pray if I or our leaders or anyone is called by Him to take action, we will answer yes Lord and act appropriately. Christ is still the Head of the church, and perhaps He is cleaning house in our jurisdiction, but this is His work, not ours. I am not suggesting we abdicate responsibility; on the contrary, I am asking that we indeed act responsibly. Think consensus building, persuasion, building up the body of Christ, confrontation in love with the hope of redemption, working synergistically with the Holy Spirit. How will you know if you are acting with the Holy Spirit and not against Him? "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law."
A beloved elderly retired priest from our parish said to me one time, "Christ is our life and the Church is our home." Let us be good housekeepers and always remember whose life we embody.
May God help us all,
Kathy, a parishioner
#188.8.131.52 Kathy Erickson on 2008-09-05 17:33
Well said...I couldn't agree more!
In His great love,
Fr. Pius, priestmonk
#184.108.40.206.1 Fr. Pius on 2008-09-06 11:30
Dear Fr. Pius,
Let me take a somewhat different approach. Many members of the OCA have been personally offended or sinned against by the bishops or their underlings and are therefore angry in a personal sense. When one considers that this includes abuse of sacramental authority in some cases, i.e. withholding the Lord's Body and Blood for manipulative reasons, their anger is understandable.
Others, like myself, are angry with the actions of the bishops, but bear no personal grudge or personal animus. I have no desire for revenge, but only hope and pray that said bishops will repent and be forgiven and reconciled to the Church they have betrayed. While we all must forgive, this is not a blank check or pass that now enables the bishops to continue on in their positions as if nothing has happened.
As many have said, to just forgive and forget constitutes cheap grace which your comments, perhaps unfairly, seem to imply. But anger must give way to constructive reform and amendment of life, for all concerned, which can only happen if our bishops find the grace to confess and repent.
#220.127.116.11 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2008-09-05 18:11
With all due respect Father, when Christ was being judged by Pilate before his crucifixion he did not declare that they had no right to judge him, to the contrary, he stated to Pilate that his power came from above. That, father, reveals to me that earthly justice for crimes committed against fellow man are not inherently wrong, and those involve the process of judging one's guilt. We bring certain crimes to the point of judgement, we do not call people to be judged if they do not commit acts below a certain threshold. It is telling, I think, that the crimes which people are prosecuted for are those that are declared as commandments.
Father, we understand you’re trying to take a moral high road, Christ like in his turning the other cheek, and let by gones by gones. We appreciate your position especially when one of the most notorious personalities in this entire scandal has been a monk – a monk, we should note, who is for the harshest possible condemnation and punishment of the entire Synod – imagine us trying to reconcile what you and he say!?. Let the Lord judge and let’s turn the other way and act like it never happened. That’s all well and good, but we live in a fallen world and we live in a world where crime is rampant, like in our Church. Punishment is done so that people, who are in a fallen state, have boundaries in which they live their lives so as not to endanger or harm others and a consequence if they do. We do this because we know that many people do not fear their Godly judgment, why a lot don’t even believe it, but they do know about jail and don’t want to go there. Myself, I wouldn’t THINK of doing what Kondratick did because I’ve been raised that its wrong and I truly do believe I will have to answer for it. Unfortunately there are people like Mr. Rodion Kondratick who are willing to tempt God and go out and harm and cheat people. It is the job of our civil government to protect us and one way to do that is to let it be perfectly clear that if you commit a crime you will pay a consequence. That’s how we deter people who do not fear a judgment from God.
In this case here, we’re not judging lightly, hell, we’re not even judging! We have a clear cut case of criminality and by a former priest to boot! It is our responsibility to make sure these crimes don’t occur and when they do to make the person an example as to what will happen if they do occur. If we do not make Kondratick an example and send him to the clink, there’s very little preventing another devious mind in the future from doing the same thing. We’re human after all!
Look, father, Christ hung on the Cross between two thieves. One recognized and believed in the Lord and repented and asked to be remembered, to that one Christ promised to bring him into paradise. To the other thief who did not act as such he did not give blind forgiveness, he said nothing. He didn’t say it wasn’t proper for the Jews to condemn him for his crimes, he didn’t even promise him the Kingdom. He was punished for his crime and then faced his eternal judgment.
I understand you wanting to take the high road, be all forgiving, but we must recognize that not all people live their life by the Gospels, especially our higher clergy. Paul Kucynda, for instance, has committed grave acts using the power of his position. A position that people respect and honor and because of that respect and honor he felt a power over them to force them to submit to the nefarious ways of Kondratick. He abused that which was entrusted to him. If he abused a person we would be outraged, why are we not outraged when he abused gifts directly from God? Why are we not outraged that he abused the Body and Blood of our Lord using them as a weapon of retribution against a person who had done no wrong? Do we not consider them as precious as our very self? Do you, Father, consider the gifts of Grace from God as precious as another person? We cannot, in good conscience, allow him to continue to sacrilege the sacraments, defame his role, and continue in his ungodly acts, cloaking his dastardly deeds under the guise of a priest. The Church must preserve and protect that which is sacred. Its all well and good to say that “we’re gonna leave it up to the Lord to take care of” and in the mean time allow him to be privileged handling the most important assets we have on this earth and those are the gifts of the Grace of God, our sacraments. Punishment is truly in order in that case and in his case its deposition. Surely you would not let someone you feel is not worthy to handle the Body and Blood of our Lord! In this case we have someone who has proven he is unworthy, and he will get his day in court, but if it goes against him he must relinquish the privilege which he used for purposes in direct opposition to that which he should. You would agree, I am sure, that he should not be permitted to handle the sacraments after using them as a weapon because he does not have the same reverence for them as we do. But we must judge his acts in relation to what is expected and if there is a disparity, in this case a WIDE one, we must act and, not so much punish him for his acts, but to preserve the sanctity of that which we hold precious.
#36.2 Anonymous on 2008-09-05 16:52
Sorry, folks, but one more item I need to take to task on: I don't know what's behind the removal of Fr Matthew Seaforce from the Metropolitan Council. It may, in fact, be totally justified. *However*, the timing of it reeks!! Removing someone, anyone, from the MC at the dawn of the combined Synod-MC meeting smacks of political opportunism!! Just a thought to ponder!
#37 David Barrett on 2008-09-05 11:41
Why don't you ask him?
Fr. Matthew Searfoorce
Home Phone: 856-227-6915
From the oca website
#37.1 Anonymous on 2008-09-05 12:48
I don't really disagree with you...merely wanting to remind us all that anger is a passion and judgment should be left to Almighty God. Christ certainly had/has every right to judge---because He is God. We on the other hand have His words to live by: "Whatever measure you judge others---the same will be used on you!" Of course we must make certain 'value judgments' in the course of our lives and these will help us to have 'bench marks' by which to make our decisions, but judging anyone's soul without knowing the full struggles they are working with is always dangerous. Punishing I believe is better done by others who are completely objective and who, given the law (canonical or legal) have that responsibility.
Other words to remember here: "I desire MERCY not sacrifice!" (Matthew 9:14)
Wishing you every blessing from Him Who calls us all,
#37.2 Fr. Pius on 2008-09-06 11:16
Perhaps you will help enlighten us on the difference between judgment and discernment. If I understand Orthodox teachings correctly, we are forbidden by Christ's own words to judge another person, yet we are also commanded in the Gospels to be discerning, to be "as wise as a serpent." How do we practice discernment without judging another person? It seems to me that we are to determine whether or not the actions of others are harmful or not, I am not supposed to try to determine what the motivations were, just simply determine the nature of the results -- discerning whether or not the fruit is good.
Similarly, are we not supposed to "render to God what is God's and render unto Caesar what is Caesar's"? In this situation, I take that injunction to mean: (a) we are not to judge those identified in the SIC report as committing offenses by action or inaction, (b) that we are to call the identified offenders to repentance forgive them, and help them reconcile to the Body of Christ if they confess their sins and repent; and (c) report any crimes they may have committed to the appropriate secular authorities.
Please Father, help me and others to do what is right in this situation. Help us to avoid judging others, but also not sin by not being properly wise.
#37.2.1 Mark C. Phinney on 2008-09-07 03:58
In one of the Corinthian letters, the injunction is : judge not those OUTSIDE the Church. Inside the Church it's a differnt matter.
#18.104.22.168 Ever and anon. on 2008-09-08 09:01
This idea that full disclosure of the crimes committed (yes, they are crimes) harbors anger and resentment is a smoke-screen for continued inaction and cover-up. Had we listened to these false calls for reconciliation earlier, the crimes would still be hidden.
Repentance, if it is real repentance, requires full disclosure of the sin. Repentance, in the case of our miscreant hierarchy must go to God (only He knows the full moral dimension of their grave failures), although an apology to the Church is certainly welcome.
Reconciliation, however, can only occur when the true nature and extent of the offenses are admitted. Reconciliation begins with repentance but repentance alone is certainly not reconciliation. To pretend that it is puts the cart before the horse and effectively short circuits the process necessary for reconciliation: full disclosure.
Remember, these offenses, while moral failings, are also crimes. Money was stolen. There has to be an accounting where the money went. Further, while I welcome the apology, the fact that years of stonewalling ended only when exposure was imminent, begs this question: are there even more crimes under stones left unturned?
These calls for repentance, and the implicit demands for an end to investigation they contain, threatens to close the painful process of self-examination that would reveal how such endemic corruption ever seeped into the Church in the first place. This self-examination is absolutely critical in order to root out the cancer that afflicts us. I fear that the eagerness to avoid it is merely the cancer metastasizing in another form.
Priests, where are your voices? Why do you ostracize those willing to take a public stand? Do you not see that your ideas about protecting the Church by covering up the abuses actually weakens it in the long run? Do you not see that facing the abuses head on (including your own complicity through silence) is the only way that the original mission of the OCA of bringing the Gospel of Jesus Christ to American society can be restored? Do you not see that honesty and courage are the virtues that must be honed in this time of crisis?
Put off the appeals to silence in the name of Church unity. They are misguided. Demand an accounting of your leaders. Let them know how the rot has robbed the faith and confidence of the people put under your charge (and perhaps your faith as well). Understand that the Church cannot return to the complacency that marked the last two decades and allowed the corruption to flourish.
Calls for silence under the cloak of repentance will merely foster corruption in other places. It will not bring healing.
#38 Anonymous on 2008-09-05 14:58
I hope in the near future to reveal my my name, but until I reveal my feelings to my parish and my bishop, I feel it would not be approriate to do, and I'm still absorbing the shock of these happenings, I simply need vent for now.
I believe that the retirement of +HERMAN is a good first step, but it must be only the beginning. It is imperative that +HERMAN and +THEODOSIUS face a diocesan court and respond to these allegations. While I personally believe that there is ample justification for defrocking and excommunication, let us follow due process to which all are entitled. Given that no trial has yet to take place, I think the Holy Synod had no choice but to make a positive comment or remain neutral in their statement, so as not to appear to prejudge the outcome should a trial occur (and given the report and the recommendations of the Special Investigative Committee, I will be outraged if charges are not brought forth.)
However, it cannot end there, as there are other members of the Synod who according to the report, were aware of the situation and yet did nothing to raise the alarm. While I don't expect any one individual to have solved the crisis, assuming the investigative report is correct, I cannot understand why my own Archbishop Seraphim kept silence. In light of his inaction, and allowing this evil (there is no other word to describe the actions of our "most blessed" metropolitans and our former chancellor, not only should he not be administrator of the OCA, he should resign as Archbishop of Canada. Only this week, I was told that His Grace had asked the faithful of Canada not to visit the OCANews website, as it was the fruit of disobedience. Given what I now know about his inaction when Protodeacon Eric Wheeler revealed to him the state of OCA finances, I find that the height of hypocrisy. Where else, pray tell, were we to find out the truth? Not from him, obviously.
One lesson to be drawn from this - the laity need to remember that while we owe the episcopacy due reverence, we do not owe them blind obedience. No man is infallible, and we are justified in asking on occasion what may be hard and inconvenient questions.
To be honest, I already found the bishops irrelevant to my everyday spiritual life (I know that's not the way it's supposed to be, may God forgive me!), and reading the report only reinforced this way of thinking. My main thought was "Where the bishop is, there is the church - what a load of crap!!! (language sanitized)" All the bishops who knew of this malfeasance and mutely stood by must face the diocesan courts, and hopefully, be deposed.
While I am angry and hurt, I'm trying to remember that our first recourse is to prayer. I've already discussed with a few parishioners the need to read moliebens to the saints of North America during this trying time, and I urge all of you to do the same. While I do not know what the future of the OCA is, I know that the Orthodox Church will not be destroyed by this, and if we put our faith in Christ, neither will we.
Holy Fathers Herman, Juvenaly, Peter, Alexis, Raphael, John of Shanghai and San Francisco, Tikhon, Innocent, Alexander, John, and all saints of North America, known and unknown, pray to God for us!
#39 An anonymous Canadian on 2008-09-05 16:15
Mark, I wrote a comment the other day under the name Ridiculous and said that I believed you were partially responsible for split up in this church...that you have allowed disrespect towards our heirarchs and priests.....and it should be stopped. You told me that I was worried about Protocol and not about the millions.....
Mark, the day that the office of bishop and the holy priesthood become "protocol", is the day this world ends and we all sit at the judgement seat....you are truly lost and this scandal has consumed you...this will be my last post on this site...
God bless the OCA....and their leaders....
P.S. As much as I dislike this website...you are going to be sued for slander if you don't remove that comment about +Dimitri being a pedophile...an apology won't do the trick becasue you haven't removed it. I suggest you take care of that.
#40 Saddened on 2008-09-05 18:10
Screen door. Behind. Don't let them make contact on the way out. Seems to me that some hierarchs and priests have abundantly earned any disrespect they have received. Others have been heroic and faithful servants of Christ. As to the "You are truly lost" comment, with all due respect, Saddened, just who are you to make that judgment? Isn't that particular call way above your pay grade? I love the smell of hyperpiety and judgmentalism in the morning. Smells like...napalm. Or brimstone. Take your pick.
#40.1 Scott Walker on 2008-09-06 11:03
Two points to your P.S:
The phrase "rumored to be" preceded the charge about Dimitri, who is after all a public figure.
The truth is an absolute defense to libel and slander.
Therefore I doubt he will sue or win if he did.
#40.2 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2008-09-06 15:11
Some of us have been disappointed because only financial wrongdoings have been identified and the actions of the Holy Synod have not been strict enough.
However, the end result is a series of recommendations and actions that, stripped of the externals, are fundamentally correct and put the Church in the right direction.
Glory be to God! Now, it is the season to be magnanimous, not vengeful. We are at a tipping point and, as with most such momentous times, let His will be done.
#41 Carl on 2008-09-05 19:03
To all who have shared their wonderful insights, constructive ideas, and boundless energy, poured into the postings here: I am in awe. I pray you are also working to bring them to life in your parishes and communities where they will do much good. Bless you.
#42 Nancy Williams on 2008-09-06 13:27
I recognize that we all live the in “world” and therefore exact justice will never be realized.
That being said,
I am personally grateful the report we were presented by the SIC.
I am grateful that MH & MT and those priests involved have been exposed for their wrong doing.
I am grateful to Bishop Job for his love of the OCA, his continuous support and prayers.
I am grateful to the MC for their hard work and perseverance.
I am thankful for the HS for now moving the church forward....even if it is not the forward everyone wanted.
I am grateful to all the Priests, Matushki and laity who have spoken up to save the OCA.
I am most grateful to Mark, who (and I can only imagine) endured a great amount persecution from many people and time to keep all of us informed of true nature and magnitude of the events that unfolded over the last several years.
I hope the MH & MT and the others involved the scandal will now be able to spend the rest of their years in repentance.
Although we still have a long road of recovery ahead of us, I hope we, the OCA, have learned from the past and will always keep a watchful eye of future events.
Glory to Jesus Christ! Glory Forever!
PS...See you all in Pittsburg
#43 Juliana on 2008-09-06 17:42
Suppose a priest bamboozled 1/100th of what the synod and church leadership bamboozled. Would they
a) be asked to retire or to confine their sacramental activity to their present parish with full pensions and the thanks of their grateful peers
b) defrocked and directed to leave their present parish?
#44 Harry Coin on 2008-09-07 10:43
+MH and +MT should not be referred to as former Metropolitans.
That title should be eliminated. They should be referred to as
+MH should be sent back to where he came from and not
permitted to be at St. Tikhon's.
There should be a housecleaning of the Bishops since some
were privy to this information and did nothing.
Bishop Job was the only one asking for the truth and he was
being chastized for this.
The number of bishops should be reduced.
Syosset should be vacated/sold. The Metropolia residence
could be relocated to St. Tikhon's thus expenses would be
#45 Lillian Spak on 2008-09-07 12:30
The letter of apology from the SOB"s was read today at the Divine Liturgy. In it was included an apology to John Kozey, the head of the Audit Committee, who suffered when he refused to sign off on things that didn't mesh.
While this was definitely called for, why wasn't there an apology to Protodeacon Eric Wheeler, the initial man who made us aware of what was happening regarding the misappropriation of monies??? He also, along with his family, suffered immensely: everything he said was downplayed, minimized, and disregarded. On top of that, he was fired by Herman, because he had the nerve to act Christ-like, that is, to speak the truth!! Now, his wife, Matushka Allah, is suffering severly from cancer, which, in my opinion, is directly related to this crisis! I have done a lot of work with emotion-related ailments and illnesses, and it is common knowledge that deep-seated anger settles in the body in the form of cancer!! Some may say I am off in left field on this. However, on that Day when we all stand before the Lord, we may see that this association is not so far-fetched after all! Anyway, with all that being said, I still feel that an apology from the SOB's and the MC would be a minimal first step in reconciling the Church to the man who, without his courageous voice, would find all of us in the Church still swimming in the cesspool of inappropriate money laundering!!
#46 David Barrett on 2008-09-07 13:11
Has the HS turned over the SIC to the IRS? $2million in unreported income, wire fraud, conspiracy, structuring...seems like the IRS would jump at the chance to go after these guys.
#47 Anon on 2008-09-07 17:07
I am "quiet priest" from Eastern PA because I still fear MH's temper and abuse. Many years ago a friend of mine (also a priest under MH) stood up to him at a deanery meeting and told him that his parish was against the New Calendar. Herman told him that his parish must obey him and change the calendar as of September 1st. This friend of mine (he's no longer a friend and I don't blame him because all of us clergy bowed to Herman's wishes and went against this priest who was the only one at the time who saw Herman for what he truly is) ended up leaving the OCA and went to ROCOR with his parish. As this priest once said -- it wasn't only the calendar issue that was at hand -- it was the entire idea of Herman's becoming Diocesan Bishop. He was and still is a power monger! My personal apologies to this priest and his entire parish for all that was said about them and done to them. We, as clergy, had to read back then a letter from MH stating that this priest was no longer Fr. John........but, Mr. John.....What about Kondratick, what about Theodosius, what about Herman? My apologies Fr. John, if you should read this website. Maybe someday I'll have the guts to apologize to you in person for all the wrongs done to you and your parish!
#48 Quiet Priest from Eastern PA Diocese on 2008-09-08 04:02
Thanks for the comments. I'm still your friend! Call me.
#48.1 Anonymous on 2008-09-08 12:10
Funny about the old calendar. When MH took office. He gave permission for the cathedral in Washington DC to hold both new and old calendar services. How hypocritical of him.
#48.2 No Name on 2008-09-08 13:00
Just some info for you! From what I was told Bishop Tikhon of Eastern Pa. recently gave permission for St. Stephen's Church in Philadelphia to have Nativity services on the 7th of January and permission to use Slavonic. If my memory is still correct I believe that St. Stephen's was built to serve American Orthodox Christians. So for what reasons would they need the Julian Calendar and the use of Slavonic? Talk about confusion. The sad part about this calendar issue is that even if the oca wanted to return to the Julian Calendar it wouldn't fly. There is a WHOLE generation of people who know nothing about it. ....
Amazing though, the +Herman will retire at the monastery, however, he will be living in a house with all the comforts. Not living like a monk in the monk residence. I HOPE HE PRAYS FOR ANNA AND JULIA EVERYDAY, OR AT LEAST THANKS THEM ONCE A DAY
#48.2.1 anonymous on 2008-09-08 20:01
Please if you are going to post peoples comments, Please post ALL of it. I noticed what I have written, # 48.2.1 it is not in its entire texts. Thank You! There wasn't anything inappropiate
(editor's note: We disagree then about what is appropriate.)
#22.214.171.124 anonymous on 2008-09-09 13:28
Interesting that you should bring up the late Julia Jacewicz & her sister, Anna Dziemba. What did happen to all of the money the two of them supposedly left to St. Tikhon's Seminary & Monastery. When I was involved with the Friends of St. Tikhon's, Julia told everyone that all she had on this earth would be left to the Monastery & Seminary. Everyone knows those two ladies were very wealthy -- did the Monastery & Seminary get their bequests or did it go to certain individuals. Are the 2 houses built for the two sisters deeded to the Monastery or to individuals? If the money went to the Monastery & Seminary, maybe those sums could help put the Church back on her financial feet.
#126.96.36.199 Wondering in PA on 2008-09-09 14:13
Just for a clarification:
The house near the seminary that Herman is planning to move into any day now is the one that belonged to Julia Jacewicz.
I don't know whether the house is titled to the seminary, or to Herman personally.
#188.8.131.52.1 St. Tikhon's Observer on 2008-09-09 15:35
After the two homes were built, Met Herman and Martin Paluch went to the nursing home and took the two sisters out to see their new homes and after they saw their new homes took them back to their homes at the nursing home. They lived at the nursing home until they passed away. I understand that Bishop Tikhon took residence in the monastery home recently and MH went to one of the NEW HOMES OF THE SISTERS,
#184.108.40.206.2 annonymous on 2008-09-09 18:45
I recently took a ride to St. Tikhon's and I noticed alot of construction going on around the homes that Julia Jacewicz and her sister Annie paid for -- MH is moving into one of the houses so I hear. Does anyone know who owns these two residences. I'm glad to hear Bishop Tikhon finally moved into the blue house - formally MH's residence. It's about time!
I'm so fed up by what's going on I feel like joining one of the local ROCOR parishes or one of the Patriarchal parishes in our area.
Also, I, too, feel there's no need for a Chancellor of Pennsylvania. Everyone knows the chancellor was just another name for "MH's squealer!" What will the chancellor do now that his "boss" is out of a job?
#220.127.116.11.2.1 Full of Questions on 2008-09-10 16:58
Is this true about St. Stephen's Cathedral in Philadelphia? Have they been given permission to serve on the Julian Calendar again? Why? There are several Old Calendar Churches in the Philadelphia are which would fill the needs for those desiring to celebrate the Nativity of Christ on January 7th? Why would the OCA, after all these years, now agree to allow anoter one of Her churches to return to the Old Calendar? What's happening to our Church? Don't get me wrong I was never against the Julian Calendar but after all that the Church went through when MH first became a ruling Hiearch why would this happen after almost 30 years? Of course, we have no confirmation that this is true, or do you?
#18.104.22.168 Wondering in Pennsylvania on 2008-09-10 02:25
After speaking with a friend who lives in Philly and does attend St. Stephan's he did confirm that it is true. He also stated to me that he has concerns over this, especially will all Feast days be celebrated on the Julian Calendar or will is just be for the Feast of the Nativity! Basically, he stated that this is intended for the large number of Russian immigrants in the area. He is confused about this whole matter and to be honest very upset. Why do something so many years ago and then all of sudden disregard it. He really is not getting any answers from anyone either.
#22.214.171.124.1 Anonymous on 2008-09-11 07:50
Dear quite priest from Eastern Pa.
In regards to your letter I would like to make a comment. The letter you write is very warming, and I was touched by the words you spoke of Fr. John, I would like to tell you this: when everything happened in the years past I was 10 years old, and I must say I remember clearly what happened. It was such a large impact at such a young age and forever embedded in my mind. I will be honest, as a young person I had harsh feelings for those who spoke against our priest, my family, friends and parish. Yet, I always had one person telling me that living with such harshness is not the Christian way. I was advised to (*FORGIVE*), but not to (*FORGET*). Forgive, for they know not what they do, not only to the individuals but more importantly to the Church. To remember, so I will always have knowledge of how evil can work.
On a daily basis, I come in contact with many who have chosen to leave the Julian Calendar, to speak against my family, friends and parish. However, I do not act in anyway of harshness to them, because I was told as young boy to forgive. I haven't forgotten but I have forgiven. For those who know me can confirm what I have just written.
I feel you have made the first step by posting what you did, I feel you should call and speak with Fr. John. So many things have happened over the years, sad times and joyous times. Even if it begins with catching up on old times.
I know Fr. John well, I know he has forgiven those who spoke against him, his family, friends and parish many years ago. I know he still thinks of many those he was in contact with in the years past and sometimes will recall many good times and I also know he PRAYS for all you daily.
Just to recap on what I mentioned about earlier concerning forgiving I would like to say, those words of wisdom came from Fr. John who by the way is my father. A man who so many love, a man who has gained respect and given respect to so many, a man who loves his Faith, family, friends and enemies.
When you feel the time is right to call I want to let you know I think you will be surprised on how you are received. My parents number hasn't changed and easy to find. If you wish you may email me for any reason and I too will greet you with brotherly love.
Sbdcn. Nathaniel Sorochka
#48.3 Nathaniel Sorochka on 2008-09-11 08:31
Now that herman is retired, does the Diocese of E Pa. still need a chancellor??? There never was one until herman became metropolitan, which the position was created for obivious reasons. There really isn't a need for one now since Bishop Tikhon is capable of running (*HIS*) own diocese. So why do they need one now???? Herman shouldn't live at holy Mt. Pocono. I also wonder if there is anything to say, will Tikhon have the strong attitude to tell herman to backoff and leave his diocese alone? By rights herman will have no say in the monastery, seminary and the whole diocese. Is +Tikhon capable of making this point to herman??? Interesting to find out!
#49 here's a thought on 2008-09-09 20:42
I pray retired Met. Herman's back surgery is successful. After his recuperation, perhaps he can be temporarily retired to Fr. Ephraim's monastery in AZ where it would probably be assured he would be able to have the opportunity to live a secluded, humble, monastic life for a while.
#50 Daria on 2008-09-10 07:00
Various readers mention a "Letter of Apology" that was read in their parishes to the parishioners. Our church, St. Michael's, in Jermyn, PA never heard such a letter. What's it all about? I wonder why our priest never read this letter. The only information he gave us was that MH retired and he intoned Many Years for him. I have a feeling that the people of Northeast PA were kept in the dark about alot of what's happening -- we're too close to the Monastery and MH. Some of the clergy in our area were definitely Herman's puppets -- it's obvious. God have mercy on us all! Is it possible to print the letter of apology that was read in other parishes? Thank you!
#50.1 Anonymous on 2008-09-11 03:26
Regarding the letter of apology: I am not surprised that the letter wasn't read in your parish in Jermyn. Being that your priest was the right hand of the retired Metropolitan, and hearing things of him throughout the years. My suggestion to you would be to ask your priest about the letter and see what he has to say. (Please keep us posted on his response, interesting to hear the reasoning). Also, if I am not mistaken I believe the letter was or still is listed here on this webpage,you might have to search the page to find it. Perhaps, Mark can direct you in the direction to where it is at.
#50.1.1 Anonymous on 2008-09-11 07:45
Fr. Ephraim's monastery in Roscoe, NY, St. Nektarios Greek Orthodox Monestary is just about an hour north of St. Tikhon's.
For anyone concerned about the salvation of Met. Herman then the environment and monastic rule of that monastery is just what Herman needs! And it would be a good step in preparing for life in a jail cell should that occur.
#51 Anonymous on 2008-09-10 20:03
Dear Jermyn Parishioner,
The culture of secrecy and denial is strong especially with your priest having an active involment with Herman and all the affairs of the Diocese and Seminary. In our parish our priest had copies made of the full SIC Report for anyone who does not have internet access. Ask your priest to have copies of the report made and press for the truth to be told.
#52 Anonymous on 2008-09-11 10:41
To bring up the topic of the two houses which were built for Julia and Anna again, I was thinking this. In order for the homes to be built on Monastery grounds they would have to be left to the Monastery. So that should answer part of the initial question of the monies left behind. Then I thought this, if somehow the money didn't go to the Monastery then who gave permission for the houses to be built on Monastery grounds? Who decides who lives there? Shouldn't these homes be owned by St. Tikhon's and not an individual? Shouldn't the Abbot of the Monastery decide who lives there? The Abbot should make the decision on the price of rent, if utilities are included, if a family with no income should stay there (and perhaps work on the grounds to compensate for the rent money) etc.etc. etc.. I would think that these are good questions and I feel that if Herman did build these homes for himself and somebody else, who gave him the authority to build a house for himself on the property for PERSONNAL use, which is land he doesn't own? Another reason that Herman should not retire at St. Tikhon's!!! If a priest retires from a parish, is it acceptable for him to build a house on the Church's propery for himself and his family while the new priest is living in the Church's house?
#53 Here's a thought on 2008-09-14 19:20
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