Wednesday, September 10. 2008
To elect or not to elect, that is the question. Whether it is nobler in mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to sleep, perchance to dream....
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Re: Setting the Stage
Thanks for the update, Mark, and for posting the two new reflections and the poem--all good reads.
I am copying below some thoughts I posted on the Orthodox Forum yesterday. They seem to dovetail with Fr. Wojcik's reflection. Like him, I see many reasons for hope, but also some reasons to be cautious.
I guess we should be praying for the bishops as they hold their
conference call tomorrow. We are all in need of grace and wisdom
from above--may God grant it, unworthy though we be.
I only hope that if we do elect a new Metropolitan at the coming AAC,
the OCA will decide as a body that we will not be trotting him around
the globe to meet and greet every hierarch on the planet. To begin
with, we can't afford it--and we don't need to set up another bishop
for such temptation at this point. It seems to me that before we
talk about our need to evangelize, we need a period of humbling, of
setting our own house in order, and of growing in our own spiritual
lives and understanding. Perhaps that is better accomplished by
allowing our new Metropolitan to remain in the U.S. as much as
possible and to focus on renewal within our parishes here rather than
on what is going on in the international church.
How a jurisdiction that has prided itself in its well-developed use
of the sacrament of confession produced such a questionable group of
bishops and an out-of-control chancellor is really beyond me. We
desperately need a period of time where we deeply probe that question
and throw off all pretenses. The truth is that all our righteousness
is as filthy rags before Him, and we need to pray that God in His
mercy will clothe and lead us in holiness--for HIS name's sake.
#1 Cathryn M. Tatusko on 2008-09-10 04:59
That was an absolutely BEAUTIFUL post! It has the 'savor' of Orthodoxy within it...that honest-love, without which we cannot even begin to be saved.
May the Lord grant us all: honesty before God, honesty before our brothers and sisters, and first and formost---honesty in front of the mirror!
In Him Who calls us,
#1.1 Fr. Pius on 2008-09-10 06:14
You speak as if the next Metropolitan is OUR bishop. He will not be. He will be YOUR diocesan bishop and Metropolitan. Let him stay home to get to know you all in Bethesda and every other parish in his diocese.
The next Metropolitan should stick to what he is called to do by Statute and not one thing more. The Metropolitan has no direct control over any diocese except his own. He is called to be a focus of unity in the Holy Synod. To call Holy Synod meetings and meetings of the Metropolitan council and to represent the OCA to sister Churches and to be responsible for the external affairs of the Church.
This uncanonical idea that the Metropolitan is some super-bishop over the OCA has got to stop and even you, Cathy continue to promote the idea in a backhanded way.
One Statutory change that might even be considered is the See of the Metropolitan. Why does it have to be Washington and New York? Why can't it simply be the diocese from which he now serves with the added title of Metropolitan.....? It sets the right priority that he is first a diocesan bishop, first and foremost responsible for his own diocese with the added responsibility of First Hierarch for the Holy Synod. He is paid by his diocese with a stipend for being Metropolitan. This sets in financial terms how he should divide his time.
The point is this, whoever the next Metropolitan is and whenever he is elected, his role should be only what he is called to do and no more.
#1.2 Anonymous on 2008-09-10 06:19
He is paid by his diocese with a stipend for being Metropolitan.
Don't you mean "should be paid by his diocese"? It has been reported elsewhere that over 60% of the last Metropolitan's upkeep was provided by the central church administration, and nearly 100% for Metropolitan Theodosius's.
It should be a diocesan repsonsibility to pay their hierarch, with only expenses related to being Metropolitan paid by the CCA.
#1.2.1 John on 2008-09-10 11:16
Yes. That is what I meant by a stipend. Now that you mention it, I wonder if the former Met. Herman's deacon and his personal aide, Martin Paluch are off the OCA dole now that there boss is gone?
#184.108.40.206 Anonymous on 2008-09-10 12:22
I agree!Why is MH going to live on Monastery grounds in a private house that was supposedly left to the Monastery,yet was left to M.Paluch? Now there is an addition going on to the house at whose expense,and whose permission? Isnt it a Monastery house? All the years Pauluch was living at the Diocesan Center did he pay rent? Is he now? ... Whats Klimashevs salary and share of the profits from the bookstore.Why does his wife have a jewelry business in the bookstore? How about the store in Philly?.... I wonder ? Does anyone else?
#220.127.116.11.1 Anon on 2008-09-11 09:33
Really, most people do not even know anything about what goes on in South Canaan, at St. Tikhon's. How could they? If these and other matters were widely known, you can bet people would wonder, and probably do more than wonder. Cate
#18.104.22.168.1.1 Cate on 2008-09-11 19:12
I totally agree - I think one of the main factors in this scandal growing to point it did is people treating our Metropolitans like a Pope, instead of "first among equals" The other bishops did not exercise their own, legitimate authority, and simply yielded to the Metropolitan. This has to stop!
#1.2.2 an anonymous Canadian on 2008-09-10 12:51
I actually agree with much that you have said, and I thank you for pointing out my own blind spot.
Perhaps the biggest point of temptation for our Metropolitan as his duties are laid out in our statutes is this question of representing the OCA to our sister churches. This seems to be what has driven the multiple overseas trips, the lavish entertaining, etc. I personally wish we could put a moratorium on the international travel. And if the person who becomes Metropolitan is truly a man of God, I would be delighted to have him worship with us in Bethesda as often as possible!
#1.2.3 Cathryn M. Tatusko on 2008-09-10 15:40
Our Church does not live in a vacuum. We are a sister Church to other Orthodox Churches and it is the responsibility of the Metropolitan to personally or though his plenipotentiaries represent our Church abroad. It is really his only unique duty.
If the OCA assessment is reduced to $50, travel oversees will be a moot point since there won't be that much money to spend. But, it will still be a challenge and thus a discipline to prioritize a trip oversees or for that matter, domestically.
I must agree with Carl in that until the Statute of the OCA is completely reviewed and rewritten we will be putting band aids on open wounds. Our Statute has many minor and major contradictions. It is by and large the same Statute we had as the Metropolia. The Metropolitan Council is one such hold over. It played a major role when there was a Metropolitan and so-called dioceses but with everything run from Second Street in NYC. It lost its central role with the establishment of real dioceses after 1970. Now it is trying to become an overarching body over the entire Church rather than what it is called to be, an arm of the central church with specific duties. Indeed, nature abhors a vacuum and the MC has plunged leaks in the ship of state, but if one is honest, one cannot see such an expanded role in the future.
The MC can not involve itself in the internal life of a diocese. That is the duty and responsibility of the diocesan bishop and diocesan councils, clergy and laity of that diocese. I would like someone to tell me that the new "ombudsman " of the MC is ONLY limited to chancery oversight and not beyond.
Is there a role for a MC when the Statute is revised, I think so but exactly what? Well that might be Plan D.
(Editor's note: Somehow, your vision of 13 defacto "autocephalous" dioceses in the OCA led by 13 "autocephalous" Bishops federated into a token central administration that does little more than represent us, sounds more and more like the old Confederacy than the conciliar, albeit imperfect, Union we are more familiar with. Pardon me if I don't rush to salute that flag. )
#22.214.171.124 Anonymous on 2008-09-10 18:40
And hence the lines are drawn from which a lasting solution must come. What that flag looks like and what it represents is the real work before us so that we all may salute her.
#126.96.36.199.1 Anonymous on 2008-09-11 06:16
Why do these discussions all sound like arguments between Republicans and Democrats, Federalists and "states-rights." all manner of traditional American political debates.
No avoiding it, I guess.
(Editor's note: Hardly, since most of us do live in the USA after all and it is an election year. (Will it ever end?) I suppose we should use analogies to the Liberals, Conservatives and Bloc Quebecois (and New Democratic too - my family was from BC) sometimes as well, given that Canada is also going through an election... )
(Oh, and don't forget the Greens. Would that be all Orthodox advocating going under the EP as the Green Patriarch?)
#188.8.131.52.1.1 Rdr. T. John on 2008-09-12 10:19
Your comment to Rdr. T. John betrays a fatal flaw in the education provided by SVS. As even an infant Albertan knows, it is voting for the New Democrats that is the unforgivable sin.
(Editor's note: Au contre, mon pere. It was not SVS that taught me about the New Democrats. It was my Great Aunt in New Westminster who thought not voting for ND was the unforgivable sin! As a a young American citizen, however, I just let her go on as I feasted on wonderful, delicious and oh so exotic teacakes ...)
#184.108.40.206.1.1.1 Igumen Philip (Spersanza) on 2008-09-13 04:22
Well, my point is this: the issues at hand seem the same. The issue seems to fall upon the idea of power/contral at the "national" level or the "local" level. The arguments sound suspiciously similar to age-old US political debates.
#220.127.116.11.18.104.22.168 Anonymous on 2008-09-14 14:15
Not that it's any kind of precedent, just an example of how that might work: I believe the Anglican Church in Canada elects its primate in exactly that way. In addition to being the archbishop-primate, he could be the archbishop of Ottawa or the bishop of Yellow Knife, as the case may be.
I was speaking with a friend the other day, who said, "You know, when I look at all the bishops we get by various means I begin to think the Moravians aren't wrong just to put all the names of the eligible candidates into a bag and draw lots."
#1.2.4 Morton on 2008-09-11 07:05
Morton, I think this would be a wonderful idea! The delegates could vote to submit their nominations like they presently do, the Synod of Bishops could then verify that the candidates meet the requirements for the office as per Article VI Section 9 of the statute, and finally the Synod could choose the Metropolitan by lot, in the presence of all, after a molieben. The Serbs did something similar when they elected Patriarch Pavle in 1992 in the middle of a highly charged and politicized atmosphere, and look how God's providence saw them through. Unfortunately, the Statute specifies that the Synod elects the Metropolitan by majority vote, but given that so many things have been brazenly disregarded in the course of this crisis (not least among them the commands of the Gospel), I wonder if this stipulation could be overlooked.
#22.214.171.124 ejv on 2008-09-12 11:53
Please note that one of the proposed amendments to the OCA Statute would enshrine the election of the Metropolitan by lot, much along the lines proposed above! The text still needs some fine tuning, but I hope and pray that it will be adopted by the All-North American Council!
#126.96.36.199 ejv on 2008-09-13 08:59
In Fr. Chris' reflection however, Kondratick, it is implied, is the instigator of the *obsession with appearances*. I think it goes much deeper for that particular part of the sickness. Did I misinterpret his reflection?
The roots of the scandal have really yet to be plumbed in my opinion.
#1.3 Anon. on 2008-09-10 09:25
Put me down as one parish priest who will not be attending the AAC if we're not electing a Metropolitan; I see no real purpose for an AAC if we're allowing the Holy Synod to remain on its current path. Our parish is mostly comprised of senior citizens, and we basically operate on a day-to-day basis. I cannot justify an expenditure in the neighborhood of $500 to $1,000 just for the purpose of getting together and expressing our grievances. In Toronto I stayed at a hotel 1/2 a mile away from the meetings and walked to each session to save us money. That doesn't seem to be an option here. the Pittsburgh choice is an unfinished Hilton or a well-known nearby hotel that not only is higher priced, but (if you read Trip Advisor reviews) is infested with bedbugs! To our bishops: please give me (and many others) a reason to attend. Allow the entire Church to help in deciding its future, or postpone this AAC.
#2 Fr Stephen Mack on 2008-09-10 05:22
Thank you, Fr. Stephen, and may Our Lord bless you for your forthright comments.
I appreciated your brave posting of a few weeks ago, as well.
We, especially now, need clear thinking pastors in our jurisdiction.
Please stand your ground. It is priests such as yourself that keep me from leaving the OCA.
I will say a prayer for you that you will be able to continue to fight the good fight in peace!
#2.1 an anony-mouse American convert on 2008-09-10 07:28
Ditto. A tremendous outlay of money for our little parish, only to have to repeat it within the same year? I think not. I believe it would be very poor stewardship to hold two Councils within one year. Either postpone it or get on with the business of electing a Metropolitan in November!
Perhaps, if we are serious about knowing God's Plan A, we might follow the apostolic proceedural model for appointing servants of God, and schedule a time of prayer and fasting will be incorporated in the AAC schedule... ??!
#3 Susan Gander on 2008-09-10 05:46
Igumen Gregory: Anaxios!
Given your defense of Metropolitan Herman, I believe the next logical step is to do away with depositions entirely. No?
When a priest makes a mistake, he is summarily and quietly deposed by a recommendation from his Bishop.
But, when a bishop runs amok, we must all be tolerant?
Why is it so hard for some in the "establishment" -- of which one might imagine you are part -- to stomach the idea of an out-of-control hierarch being disciplined by his brother hierarchs, presbyterium, or flock? Is it that in your perverse perception of Orthodox hierarchy, the control mechanism can only flow from up to down?
If Metropolitan Herman and Metropolitan Theodosius are not deposed, so that we can save their souls (and ours too) then let's ban all depositions (of any rank of clergy) in the future, for the same reason.
St. Andrew's Church, Dix Hills NY
Student at Syracuse University
#4 Reader Nilus Klingel on 2008-09-10 06:24
In reading the OCA statute, with just two rounds of delegate voting, one of which seems to be nominations, it virtually insures that the Synod will be the ones to decide the Metropolitan. It is near impossible for someone who is not on the Synod to be elected, even if worthy with the way the voting is set up now. It seems the Statute should be amended to allow as many rounds of voting as there needs to be until the 2/3 majority is reached for a candidate. I can only hope that if a new Metropolitan is to be elected at the AAC in November, that the SIC report be required reading of all delegates before arriving in Pittsburgh since it sounds as if there is a chance that some may not even know of its existence. After reading it, perhaps the vote would be near unanimous on the first round after all!
Regarding comments about enough worthy candidates for bishops, I'd be interested to know if there are widowed or never-married parish priests or monks in the OCA that "the people" or parish clergy think would be good candidates according to the qualities listed by St. Paul, the canons and Church Fathers. A friend who attended St. Tikhon's over ten years ago remarked that at the time, he and others thought Fr. Dahulich would have been a good candidate for bishop back then but they knew he'd never be considered because he was too "independent", wouldn't do the blind bidding of the regime. I have no idea if he would be a good bishop or not, but it causes me to wonder, are there names the people would put forth if asked?
#5 Daria on 2008-09-10 06:44
"I'd be interested to know if there are widowed or never-married parish priests or monks in the OCA that "the people" or parish clergy think would be good candidates according to the qualities listed by St. Paul, the canons and Church Fathers."
Daria: As suggested by Fr Berzonsky recently, look to the midwest, to a city where beer is made and a university named after a French explorer.
(editor's note: Let me save you some time, Daria. Mike is referring to Igumen Alexander Golitsyn, an OCA priest, an athonite monk, and tenured professor at Marquette University. He was once a candidate to be Bishop of the West, but +Tikhon was chosen instead. Marquette lists him as:
Alexander Golitzin (D.Phil., Oxford University, 1980), [Historical], specializes in the origins of the Eastern Christian ascetical and mystical tradition, with a particular eye toward continuities and parallels with, respectively, inter-testamental and Rabbinic Judaism. His recent books are: New Light from the Holy Mountain (St. Tikhon's Seminary Press, 1996); Et introibo ad altare dei: The Mystagogy of Dionysius Areopagita (Thessalonika, 1994); St Symeon the New Theologian on the Mystical Life: The Ethical Discourses (3 vols., St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, 1995-1997); and Historical Dictionary of the Orthodox Church, with Michael Prokurat and Michael Peterson (Scarecrow Press, 1996). Another volume of essays has appeared, in Romanian translation: Mistagogia: Experienta lui Dumnezeu in Ortodoxie (Sibiu, 1998). Articles and reviews have appeared, or will shortly appear, in the following journals: St. Vladimir's Theological Quarterly, Lutheran Quarterly, Greek Orthodox Theological Review, St. Nerses Theological Review, Dumbarton Oaks Papers, Studia Patristica, Vigiliae Christianae, Pro Ecclesia, Mystics Quarterly, and The Journal of Early Christian Studies.
Greek Patristic Theology
Dionysius the Areopagite)
#5.1 Michael Strelka on 2008-09-10 11:29
Golizin would actually make a fine Metropolitan. Many have spoken to him about becoming a bishop and he has resisted. After all, he's tenured at Marquette, teaches and makes good $$$. Taking on the burdens of the OCA may be too much for any sane man.
#5.1.1 Anonymous on 2008-09-10 12:09
its amazing how many people feel free speak for others on intimate matters. have you all had a breakfast of clairvoyant cheerios, or what? let the dude speak for himself
#188.8.131.52 Anonymous on 2008-09-11 05:44
Igumen Alexander is not the only clergyman in the Diocese of the Midwest who would make a wonderful Bishop: remember, for instance, Archimandrite Vladimir (Wendling). While I would greatly welcome their elevation to the episcopal rank, and would be honored to have either of them as the ruling Bishop of my diocese, I recoil at the thought of having to brand either of these fine men with the designation of "OCA Bishop" ...
#5.1.2 ejv on 2008-09-12 11:23
In response to the #1. We in mission parishes are on the front lines of evangelization as a mission supported in part from our midwest diocese and the rest from the people in the mission. Our mission is the only Orthodox presence in all directions of a minimum of 100 miles. We have people from all ethnic backgrounds (including converts) and if we put to a vote there would be at least two families who would vote for old calendar--recent immigrants from eastern european countries. Plus there are other recent immigrants who are from Orthodox countries that are not attending our mission for their own reasons (perhaps they travel to an ethnic parish). Americans are looking for a spirituality other than what the mainline and nondenominational churches are offering. Americans are coming to our festivals and touring our churches (just was at two Greek and Serbian ethnic festivals in St. Louis) and they are asking questions about the faith and how to become Orthodox. It is reality. How we respond to the inquirers is important.
In response to Fr. Mack, many parishes and missions may or may not have a big financial cushion to float and support sending two delegates to the All American Council. However, if you don't send your delegates, your parish does not have a voice in the resolutions presented (regarding the financial, and spiritual affairs of the Church). A new Metropolitan is very important to the NY NJ & Wa diocese, since he is the local bishop for that diocese. I personally think Fr. Thomas Hopko's proprosed resolution (printed on this website) is worth passing. Maybe the AAC committee can find a way for the AAC to be broadcast on the web and for the delegates to vote from their homes via the internet. This might be a way for more tiny parishes and missions to participate in this historic event. It would enable churches in Alaska to participate without having to incur such high expenses (traveling to the lower 48).
#6 cbshinn on 2008-09-10 07:00
This is the best set yet of compare and contrast reflections, and shows that the battle for the soul of the OCA continues unabated.
Igumen Gregory would have us believe that the "fall" of Metropolitan Herman is some kind of Greek tragedy prefaced by his poor reception in 2002 by a stunned and disappointed AAC. Frankly, I think we should congratulate those delegates who apparently "booed" his imposed selection as Metropolitan. They should feel vindicated in their judgment, if not in their behavior--at least according to Igumen Gregory.
Igumen Gregory continues to parrot the same tired refrain about cheap forgiveness without repentance or restitution. He makes it seem like the perpetrator is the victim, not even acknowledging in the slightest the findings contained in the SIC report. So much for truth--another victory for denial. And a shinning example of why Herman must be exiled from St. Tikhon's and a thorough investigation conducted of every facet of its operations from day one--or day one of Herman.
Then there is Father Christopher Wojcik's reflection. I must confess I have long admired his passionate and insightful commentary on this website, and even had the termidity once to suggest that he be made confessor to the Synod. But I wouldn't wish that job on anyone right now!
So it comes as no surprise that I agree entirely with everything he has said in his reflection, while perhaps being a shade less optimistic than he about the future. His analysis and cautions point the way forward for the OCA, if bishops, clergy and laity can seize the opportunity the departure of Herman offers.
Finally, a word about Deacon Eric Wheeler. I agree with those who feel he has been treated poorly in the SIC report--apparently one of its few failings. If ever, Igumen Gregory, there was an example of confession, repentance and restitution it is Deacon Eric's example in this sorted affair. He more than qualifies for unconditional forgiveness and a rehabilitation that restores him to a leadership role in the OCA, not the snide contempt often visited on those who blow the whistle on wrongdoing.
Many years Deacon Eric!
#7 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2008-09-10 07:44
The SIC got it right when it comes to Dn. Wheeler. He was up to his neck in financial improprieties at the OCA. He bragged that "he could makes the numbers say whatever he wanted them to say." The SIC knew this. Give them credit that his nefarious activities were balanced against his blowing the whistle.
If Dn. Wheeler did all of this to gain only applauds and to be vindicated then that would be a sad commentary on his motives. But if he truly did what he did to right the ship of the OCA then no applauds or vindication is needed. His reward is in knowing he did the right thing for the right reasons - without recommendation by the SIC.
(Editor's note: The author is a former member of the Kondratick administration, and does not represent the views or opinions of this website.)
#7.1 One of the Many Interviewed by the SIC on 2008-09-10 11:17
Why the disclaimer, Mark? When does any of the comments here reflect or not reflect this website?
(Editor's note: They never do, but that comment was so petty I did not want anybody to think that I wrote or approved of it in any way. And I wanted to make that clear.
What you say is true, but does not make it any less petty given the circumstances of the past nine years, and the past three especially. Yes, Eric was part of the problem; Yes Eric was punished; Yes Eric repented; Yes Eric spent his time, honor and efforts to make things right in a way few, if any could match. Would only that those others mentioned in the SIC would have done, or do, the same! But, in a rare cynical addenda, let me say I doubt any of them will. Eric risked all, lost all, but regained all, most especially the respect of all who have worked with him and the Church he disappointed. Few deserve more honor at this point. Let's just see what the others involved do, since unlike Eric, they do not now, nor ever have expressed any shame for what they did, but continue to justify their actions and inaction, in word, deed, and by the big, big smiles on their faces these days.)
#7.1.1 Anonymous on 2008-09-10 11:55
I stand chastised and given Dn Eric's personal circumstances, which I know well, and pray for him and Alla each day, I apologize to him, you and all the readers here for my petty remark.
(editor's note: Thanks. I knew you to be a better man than that one remark, and you have shown it to all. Best of luck. )
#184.108.40.206 One of the Many Interviewed by the SIC on 2008-09-10 14:29
A reiteration. Electing a Metropolitan seems to be a requirement of the AAC. I don't see why it wouldn't happen, I don't see how it couldn't happen. I'd like to see the elected Metropolitan announce his resignation immediately in 2008 for the 2011 AAC. I'd like to see a line item in the budget of 5% for debt reduction on Honesdale. I can't believe people have proposed a reduction of or to 50 bucks to the cca for the assessments when we have a debt due Honesdale.
#8 Daniel E. Fall on 2008-09-10 08:19
Where does Bishop Benjamin stand with his brother bishops of the Holy Synod given that he lead the SIC? Are they upset with him? Will they try to get rid of him?
Where does Archbishop Job stand? I was assuming that the majority of clergy and laity delegates would vote for him for office of Metropolitan. Is this assumption wrong? Or would he just not get the 2/3 required? Would the Holy Synod veto his election?
(Editor's note: The Synod has grave problems with both: +Job for asking the question, +Benjamin for answering it. If an election were to be held in November, one could speculate that these two would receive the most votes of the current Synod, as Dmitri at 86 is too old, +Nathaniel may be leaving - and so to elect either would most likely require another vote within 3 years. +Seraphim and +Nikon were both cited in the SIC Report as having failed to protect the Church which damages each's reputation, which leaves +Tikhon, who is not well known, but has never shown any leadership throughout the scandal, but a determined effort to obey +Herman in every way. By elimination that leaves +Job, at 63, or Benjamin at 54. +Job does not want the position and has stated his intention to retire in 3 years. Benjiman, on the other hand, could well be Metropolitan, if elected, for 30+ years given current demographics. I imagine the vote will go to that one of those two who the Bishops think least guilty of lese majeste.
Of course, someone else could be elected, but it hard to see how they could get 2/3 of the votes on the first ballot, or even be among the top two in the second.
So there you are. Your guess is as good as mine. )
#9 Mark Giesh on 2008-09-10 09:25
Mark: See the Statute of the OCA. One need not be presently on the Holy Synod to be nominated to be Metropolitan; he could even be a layman (it has happend before in history). He need only satisfy the requirements of Article 6 Sec. 9 of the Statute.
btw, it is interesting to read the minutes of the 2002 AAC to see who got votes. Were I a delegate, I know who I would vote for (hint: see prior comment).
(editor's comment: Yes, laymen have been elected and raised to the episcopacy in recent history. In the 1980's a single male religion teacher in his thirties in Finland was elected to be the Bishop of Joensuu over several clergy candidates. Bishop Alexei was an assistant to Archbishop Paul, a very popular hierarch, and would no doubt have been his successor one day, had he not died from cancer at an early age. So it can happen, but it is very rare.)
#9.1 Michael Strelka on 2008-09-10 13:21
Two more examples,Archbishop Nathanael's predecessor,Archbishop Valerian(Trifa) was a laymanwho had recieved theological education in Romania.He was advanced through the ranks in as little as three days,which is the bare minimum,since it takes one day to make a man deacon,a second to ordain him a priest,and on the third day, he could be consecrated as bishop.His original elevation took place in 1953,but because it was done by a questionable Ukrainian church,the OCA reordained him through the ranks in 1960,when it recieved the Romanian episcopate.ROCOR'S Bishop Gabriel(Chemodakov) was a graduate of Holy Trinity Seminary,but had taken neither monastic vows nor any Holy Orders(except,perhaps,that of Reader) until he was made bishop in 1996 still in his 30's.I don't know the details,but he might have remained the layman George Chemodakov right up until his nomination.
#9.1.1 Anonymous on 2008-09-10 18:26
Thanks for the information.
I've never met Bishop Benjamin, and I don't want to say anything negative about him, especially given his courage to really use the SIC for it's real purpose.
But, I remember reading that Bishop Benjamin had previously taken a personal bankruptsy totally unrelated to Church matters.
A friend of mine is a lawyer at a nonprofit (secular), and he said that if someone had bad credit, much less a personal bankruptsy, you really cannot place them in a leadership role at a nonprofit.
#9.2 Mark Giesh on 2008-09-10 15:45
I just finished reading Igumen Gregory's statement. I'm sorry, but this is yet one more attempt to play on the emotions of people rather than look at the hard facts that laws may well have been broken, crimes may well have been committed to the tune of millions. Prosecution must go forward. No one can tell me the early church and the early communities/cities did not have and practice some sort of due process. I'm tired of people trying to convince me that if someone says "sorry" I'm supposed to say "that's okay. keep the millions and don't do it again".
#10 anon on 2008-09-10 09:45
The whole meeting can be done online for less money. No more stupid spending to honor the un-honorable. The bishops have to command respect, not demand it. And continue to do so. If they don't like it, they can always become actual monks, and very few of them will be missed. No more business as usual. If we are electing a Metropolitan, certainly consider someone from outside the OCA.
#11 ANON on 2008-09-10 10:58
I am sorry #11 capitalist ANON. I hope you are not the same capital man that has done all caps. No, whywould we elect someone from outside the OCA. That we elect someone we don't know. Man that might be far OUT. Sorry.
#11.1 anonymus on 2008-09-10 11:52
Mark is asking for plan C:
Have a council now.
Have an election for an Administrator for the next one or two years, until the Synod allows an election of a new Metropolitan.
That is, meet now, but only if an election is held, so that the people will have the Administrator that they have chosen.
(The Administrator has to be ELECTED by the people now, so that they will chose according to their opinion of who will do the best administrative job while waiting for the next council.)
If this plan is declined by the Holy Synod, then there is no need to meet now. Money will be lost , but money will also be saved !
#12 Matushka Julianna Schmemann on 2008-09-10 11:25
Does the administrator have to be from the Holy Synod?
#12.1 Anon. on 2008-09-10 12:07
Does the administrator have to be a bishop?
#12.2 Anon. on 2008-09-10 12:08
"But in the OCA we appear to be practicing: “Be ye legalistic, take advantage of any opportunity ye find to strike out at your brother or defame him, and take vengeance to the utmost.” "
What an astonishing statement. Sure, you see a few commenters around who speak pretty harshly. But most have merely -called for- the canonical penalities to be imposed on the various wrongdoers. The editor of this site himself has suggested a much lighter 'penalty', that the guilty should voluntarily surrender all their honours and titles.
But how many of those penalities actually have been or likely will be fulfilled? This is 'the OCA' practicing 'legalism' and 'vengeance'?
The biggest actual practicioner of 'legalism' we have seen around the OCA has thankfully now been retired from the high office whose power he abused for so long. Countless 'mere layfolk' and clergy have experienced his punishment of the smallest mistakes in liturgical performance or church protocol, while at the same time he was betraying the sacred trusts of stewardship and shepherding.
Time to take that gigantic Douglas fir out of your eye and quit poking about in other people's for any alleged splinters.
Thank you for your different perspective on the retired metropolitan.
Let me ask you a very direct question that requires a YES or NO answer.
Was it pastorally responsible (forget the canonical issues for now) for the Archbishop of DC & NY to refuse to reside within the boundaries of his diocese?
I pray for the former metropolitan that his recovery will be complete and that his repentance will be true, and that Almighty God will have mercy on him, and us all, at the awesome and dread day of judgment.
#14 Peter D. Vranich on 2008-09-10 12:16
Thank you for your good work. It's because of you and this website that ultimately this entire scandal came to light. You too are to be thanked, especially in light of the "thanking" toward +MH by St. Vladimir's and others at his forced retirement.
As I see it, there are two sides to the coin. First, ironically, the report coincided with +MH's surgery and request for leave. Intentional or cruel justice, it provided the Synod with a way (albeit cowardly) to remove him. I use the word "cowardly" because they did what should have been done months / years ago practically behind his back, and in this respect, I felt sorry for +MH. Men of "God" should look men in the eye! I have fired and hired, and each time I have done this!
The flip side is whether (like the NY Yankees) +MH hung in his hat, and provided this opportunity intentionally, although I doubt it based on the public disgrace of it all.
On with the Administration, how can +AchSer be the administrator when he was named in the report as one who covered up the scandal??? My gosh - here we go again! He and +Arch Nathanial need to be removed immediately as well. Let's end this!
But, how can it end? The lawsuits are very real, and FK's case potentially believable in court. And, for this reason, Iguman Gregory has it all WRONG! This is NO setup. This scandal is a crime and needs to be tried!
I'm just so saddened, that instead of changing it all year's ago a group of men have practically brought down an entire church. Should FK win, there will be little to no assets left! +MH and +MT have destroyed a wonderful opportunity!
Or to flip, have they done what needed to be done. I ask - has the OCA been a private front to the former Soviet Union and its friends for all these years? Is this why it was given autocephaly? Politics and religion have mixed since the beginning of time. What is not believable about it all?
As a young man, growing in my faith, I am sad and look now elsewhere. Not outside Orthodoxy, but away from this part of it.
If this was a non-profit organization outside of religion, +MH and +MT would surely be in jail, with Frs Oselinski and Kucynda. You can't have it both ways and one minute say you knew, and not the next. There is negligence in abetting crime and its against the law.
Mark, you are to be commended. Thank you. Thank you for bringing this all to light and allowing me to find my faith in God and not man. I don't see how more priests and all the Synod is not in on this. And, as I never trusted +MH, I don't trust them either.
I encourage you to dig deeper and follow through with the rumors of sexual misproprieties in Syosset coinciding with the financial scandal, as I do the misuse / missing funds in the Diocese of NY/NJ under +Arch Peter, which NO ONE will address.
Thank you again, and God bless.
#15 Anonymous on 2008-09-10 13:08
I do have two question's for you! How long have you been at St. Tikhon's? Were you present 25-30 yrs ago when all of this started? Please, this is not to attack you, it is to find out how much you really know of the situation. Thank You!
#16 Anonymous on 2008-09-10 16:52
Don't elect a new Metropolitan until after the OCA statutes are fixed. Instead:
- Have the current Diocesan bishops rotate a year at a time representing the OCA. We need to have a bishop chair the Holy Synod and represent the OCA externally; we do not need a permanent super-bishop. Ancient custom but bad theology and bad results.
- Pick a most qualified person, does not have to be clergy, to act as Chancellor. This is the person who would report directly to the Holy Synod and coordinate Synodal matters between the bishops, and external bodies. The Holy Synod should be expanded to include the Chancellors of each diocese, and deans of the seminaries and the abbots of the monasteries.
- Pick a most qualified persons, again does not have to be clergy, to act as Treasurer and spokeperson/press liaison/secretary. These two would report to the Metropolitan Council, which should be expanded to include all the bishops. Just make sure that the dioceses freely elect their own clergy and laity representatives. My thinking here is that you cannot totally separate the bishops from fiscal and administrative matters.
- Day by day business would be run by a small subset of both the Holy Synod and the MC: The current presiding bishop, the chair of the MC or designee (if chair is a bishop), the Chancellor, Treasurer and Secretary, supported by their staff. Consultation with the larger, parent bodies may be made via email or teleconferencing.
- Pick a good planner and facilitator to head an Accountability and Governance Committee to revise the OCA Statutes. This committee would report directly to the AAC.
- Along the way, stay open to the idea of other Orthodox jurisdictions joining the OCA.
#17 Carl on 2008-09-10 17:06
To me, it has been perhaps a strange, if not perverse irony, that the OCA's previous administration was so embroiled in financial wrongdoing when one of the OCA's strength has been its ascetical roots.
This may indicate how one must WORK at asceticism and it is not just dropped into anyone's lap as a birth-right.
How can the OCA work to better model the ascetical model that the Russian church seems to have given us?
Do we need to have our administration on Long Island, one of the most expensive places to live?
Can we not scale down on salary if we leave Long Island and help curbe the cost of living?
Do we even have to have our AACs at big hotels? There are plenty of cheaper conference centers around the world.
Many of these same questions have been brought up time and time again.
Why have a central administration with services that could be taking place in each diocese?
I think the question was posed and was in the SIC recommendations to look at how the OCA should progress from here and to take some time to do so.
But I have said in the past and agree with others, such as Fr. Chris Wocjik, that I remain optimistic.
I probably do, as Fr. Chris and others, remain cautious too, but now this Great Lent, even though still months away, will seem more authentic and meaningful to me.
I have waited, as I think manny of our faithful have, for this great new page to be turned in the OCA.
#18 Patty Schellbach on 2008-09-10 18:28
It seems to me that it would be crucial to have the AAC occur as planned even if the election of the Metropolitan is postponed. There are resolutions from parishes and the Metropolitan Council regarding the "fair share" assessments. The SIC recommends many things that they hoped would be accomplished before the AAC or at the AAC itself. Also, there are 6 MC positions that are elected at the AAC. Since the election of the Metropolitan is not based on speeches and question-and-answer periods, it seems that an election could happen in a year or two through some type of electronic or mail-in voting. Delaying the AAC would just postpone the administrative reforms that are needed for further healing.
#19 Jodie Captein on 2008-09-10 21:09
Mark, I agree with many of the writers above. Iguman Gregory is completely out of line to suggest that +MH has been set up in any way. +MH is a criminal - he willingly stole and allowed the misuse of funds otherwise dedicated to the church. This is a fact! He conspired also with +MT when he was Treasurer. God is the final judge, and now, +MT and +MH are set to live out the rest of their days in sickness, disgrace and sorrow.
Mark, what of the hard working parishioners of the church who have given generously all of these years? Can they now sue in class action for their money back? Should money be returned?
And, what now of the church, especially with a "paired down" budget looming? How can it develop missions and do its work both in this country and abroad?
+MH has made the OCA a laughing stock among world churches. His retirement is a universal dismissal of his failed dictatorship in which he acted according to his own agenda and not that of the church!
Iguman Gregory should be smart enough to realize this - both privately and publicly - and stop positioning himself for a hierarchal promotion.
Our church is in a serious crisis, and, as one writer suggests, what more don't we know / will never know. ....
What are we left with? A very ailing overseer. An administrator named as an accomplice, and two other bishops named with him. That's four of seven bishops!!! One very sick, three named and accused! Who can be Metropolitan among them?
For this reason alone, all must step down! And, the church must seriously think of declaring Chapter 11 before all of its assets are liquidated by Fr. K. and other lawsuits!
Orthodoxy will survive. Hopefully, so will the OCA. I love the church because I am American - not Russian, Georgian, Greek, etc. I'm an American and I speak English! Where now do I go? And, how can I possibly stay and give in this church?
Thanks, Mark for everything that you have done.
#20 Anonymous on 2008-09-11 04:33
What this web site does is create an idea of doom & gloom in the church. Remember: Christ has conquered all and the Holy Spirit REALLY does guide the OCA. What's going on is just a "house cleaning." Men work within the church militant and their sins taint the church, but the church itself remains pure. So, the OCA elects a new "Administrator;" the people in Syosset have been changed; new bishop candidates have been identified; a new Metropolitan may be postponed (probably best); RSK will drop any suit after confronted with counter-suits; the OCA will re-build and the dioceses will become stronger in church operations. So, what's the big deal? You don't think ALL the other Orthodox don't have "scandals?" Most have worse, they just don't have this web site. Put your trust in God and in a couple of years the OCA will have recovered nicely with new hierarchs and more checks and balances!
#20.1 Anonymous on 2008-09-11 09:26
Please tell me your not related to the ALL CAPS AND COMPANY, you certainly quote all of their messages, or better yet just pick up the rug and place all of this underneath it, will all just pretend it didn't happen, or maybe, just maybe change some history in the church.
That word is Hope if you read me.
Ignorance is just the same, if not worse.
Ignorance is the same coward that got us into this mess in the beginning and still seems to expose some roots here and there.
#20.1.1 Anonymous on 2008-09-15 19:45
In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is stoned to death.
- Joan D. Vinge
#21 Anonymous on 2008-09-11 07:02
Thank you so much for all you have done. Perhaps, I'll have the last word here...
Today is 9/11. I live in close proximity to ground zero. +MH NEVER once came to NY (to his own Cathedral) to celebrate liturgy on 9/11 (NOR DID ANY HIERARCH). This to me was the biggest statement about these men!
Once a year on 9/11, why not have the Metropolitan come to his Cathedral with all / some of the hierarchs and invite a visiting international hierarch. Weekday / weekend I guarantee that the Cathedral would be packed! Not once in seven years has this happened!
There is not even a sermon posted on the website!
We will never achieve unity in Orthodoxy if we ourselves (the OCA) are not united! 9/11 is one such day of solemnity where our hierarchs can put aside their dislike for one another / discord among one another, and seriously pray for those deceased, and the peace and welfare of our country!
I respectfully ask any bishop of our church who reads this post to please comment and tell me why this has not happened - if not in NY then anywhere in our country?
Particularly in this time of crisis in our church, what a wonderful expression of faith it would have been for all seven bishops to come together in NY / Washington and pray together today - 9/11.
Mark - I am sad today, personally having lost friends in the attack, and I am angry that there are no services today - not even by my parish priest! Why not make the service of the Divine Liturgy mandatory on 9/11 or strongly recommended? Ringing of the church bells? I'm sure some parishes do it, but not all!
I am a student of business and public policy. I was taught that in the absence of leadership there is anarchy, meaning that subordinates will do whatever they want. Someone needs to lead our church and direct our priests! I, like others here, really don't see who that could be, when you automatically exclude +Dimitri (age) and the three others mentioned in the report and +Tikhon for his mismanagement / missing receipts at St. Tikhon's!
In the face of all of this, Mark, could these same bishops, who profess such love of the Faith and of people, not serve on 9/11 in one or both of the Cathedrals vacated with the departure of +MH? Am I wrong?
Whether you respond here or in a blog piece, I sincerely hope you mention 9/11 and my comments, it would mean a lot to me. Perhaps you can ask +Job to share his comments and explanation. By default of excluding the five others above, he is the most likely for Metropolitan.
May the memory of those innocently departed on 9/11/01 be eternal!
Thank you, Mark.
#22 Anonymous on 2008-09-11 09:02
That is a great question. I have always felt, as a cradle Orthodoxer, that the Orthodox Church is in a shell unto itself. Almost as if we are somehow "better" than the other faiths. Other faiths reach out to the community, i.e. 9-11 services, but what do we do as a faith, except for our own internal causes? Why dont we have 9-11 serivces? Why dont we have Church sponsored outreach? And why do we continue to wonder why we dont grow? Maybe if we were to reach out, we WOULD truly have 2 million members. I know of 2 priests personally that conduct their own little missions, and God love them for what they do. But what about the Church as a whole?
May God rest the souls of those who departed this life on this date 7 years ago.
#22.1 Another Anonymous on 2008-09-11 19:26
Dear Anon #22,
Amen! My past observations have been that tragic world events sometimes get lost in our Church calendar. We’re so busy ‘going to church’ for this service and that, we sometimes forget to be really Christian and deeply pray for events unfolding right before us. Many church services were held in 2001, but after that, 9/11 seems to have fallen by the wayside. I would like to see your suggestions happen and I would also like to know the answers to the questions you pose. I also knew a hero who died that day. Memory Eternal
#22.2 Anne Marie on 2008-09-12 11:08
...According to the (Julian) calendar, 9/11 is the Feast Day of the Beheading of St. John the Baptist and all churches who adhere to the calendar have a very strict fast day, also have a service for the victims of 9/11 and have church services, because it is a major feastday...... So I feel if you need to go to a service on that day find a Patriarchal or a Rocor church for such services....
#22.3 annonymous on 2008-09-13 09:10
I agree -- I know my parish which celebrates on the Julian Calendar always has a service on 9/11 for the victims of that attack. Our priest never forgot what happened on that day -- there's always the Memorial Service following the Divine Liturgy for the Feast of the Beheading of St. John. The American Orthodox Church should certainly remember that day in honor of fallen Americans -- by the way, our parish is a member of ROCOR.
What happens in the OCA effects all Orthodox -- you are not alone. We all grieve with you over what has happened within your jurisdiction. God bless all concerned Orthodox who weep over this travesty!
#22.3.1 Concerned Orthodox from Another Jurisdiction on 2008-09-15 03:04
Dear Anon #22.3,
I’m really glad to hear that 9/11 services are being held at many churches. In my home city I had my pick of Orthodox churches. However, many of us now go to Mission churches where Orthodoxy is scare in our area – finding an ‘Old Calendar’ church is not even an option. I still think the OCA should have special 9/11 services, even if it’s after Divine Liturgy on a Sunday. The OCA has a large presence in NY, DC and PA where these communities were so impacted – there’s really no excuse for no services at least at these locations.
#22.3.2 Anne Marie on 2008-09-15 07:06
Instead of consistently bashing, let us pray that we ALL may be enlightened with the grace of the Holy Spirit, and that through the prayers of St. Alexander, the right Metropolitan is elected.
from "The Prologue of Ochrid" #3, August 12
The Hieromartyr Alexander, Bishop of Comana.
He lived in the town of Comana near Neocaesarea as a simple charcoal-burner. When the Bishop of Comana died, St Gregory of Neocaesarea, the Wonderworker (Nov. 17th), was invited to preside over the Council to choose a new bishop. At the Council there were both clergy and laymen. They were unable to come to agreement on one person, estimating the candidates they selected according to their outward worth and behaviour. St Gregory told them that they must not give so much weight to the outward impression as to the soul and the spiritual aptitude. Then some wag called out mockingly: 'Then let's choose Alexander the charcoalburner as bishop!', and there was general laughter. St Gregory asked who this Alexander was. Thinking that his name would not have come before the Council except by the providence of God, he commanded that he be brought. Being a charcoal-burner, he was black with soot and in rags, and his appearance provoked further mirth in the Council. Then Gregory took him aside and asked him to tell the truth about himself. Alexander told him that he had been a Greek philosopher, enjoying great honour and position, but that he had set it all aside, demeaned himself and made himself as a fool for Christ from the time that he had read and understood the Holy Scriptures. Gregory commanded that he be bathed and clad in new clothes, then went into the Council with him and, before them all, began to examine him in the Scriptures. All were filled with amazement at the wisdom and grace of Alexander's words, and were quite unable to recognise the former charcoal-burner in this wise man. With one voice, they chose him as bishop, and he received the love of his flock for his holiness, his wisdom and his goodness. He died a martyr for Christ under Diocletian.
~ St. Alexander pray to God for us! ~
#23 Anonymous on 2008-09-12 07:10
I like many others will never forget what we were doing or where we were when the planes hit the twin towers in NYC. We saw pictures of Orthodox clergy praying for victims and consoling the surviviors in the midst of the burning buildings. And what did our OCA Syosset do with those collected funds meant for the victims of 9/11. And the hierarchs and clergy and other people involved do not acknowledge what they have done. The SIC report should be sent to the legal authorities. How can we as a Church move forward if we don't deal with the past sins of our Church? Fr. Calin said recently on this website that his elderly parishioners tell about the financial improprieties from back in the 1940's. Parishes cannot be acting like independent, congregational churches and not being concerned about what happens on the diocese level and the national level. And to read on this website, that the sacraments were used as weapons against laity who were bringing to light the corruption. How can we just retire bishops and not do anything more. There must be consequences. There must be independent accounting firms involved in the financial auditing of not only Syosset, but of all institutions and diocese of the OCA.
#24 cshinn on 2008-09-12 09:57
I have known Vladika Herman for over three decades, ever since I was a lad attending St. Tikhon's summer camp and he was our beloved "Fr. Joe." The condemnation and "piling on" reminds me of those who participated in the open trial of our Lord when Pontius Pilate elicited mass sentiment--"crucify Him," the throng yelled. Many of which heard our Lord's message of love, witnessed His miracles and saw what he did.
Thirty-five years ago St. Tikhon's was in essence a "shack." If it weren't for the tireless and selfless efforts of Vladika Herman, our beloved Seminary wouldn't be what it is today. Vladika's blood, sweat and many tears have not been in vain and our Lord, the real judge of all men's hearts and actions, only can fathom the magnitude of his sacrifices.
Was Vladika errant and negligent--perhaps if Vladika was a CEO of a public corporation subject to securities laws and regulations we would have to say a resounding yes--the Church my fellow sojourners in Christ is not a corporation, and Vladika is not a CEO. We aren't in a position to render vicarious judgement for our vantage point--no person is--no one know what Vladika must have shielded in his heart as a Father Confessor, what he was faced with answering to a higher ideal.
Can I ever forget the literally countless liturgical services, vigils, matins, in waist-high snow that Vladika commemorated, can anyone condemn Vladika for not loving the Church and our beloved Seminary? Spiritual life is inherently a burdensome "cross' that we all must bear--my heart cries for Vladika at the humiliation he now must bear, he is undergoing spiritual, mental and even physical pain and is truly being tested. Fr. Gregory and many others urge us to "pile on" in prayer, for Vladika, for our Church, and for ourselves. We are all capable of tremendous good and evil--all of us, especially me had to drop many a stone I was about to cast at others when I realize my own weaknesses and shortcomings, on a daily/hourly basis.
"Caesar's" judgement of the facts will take place--the investigators and press, & others relishing on any opportunity to trounce upon the Church, will see to that--but for our own salvation, for the benefit of our Church, stop the prattle, the obsession to add fuel to the fire, to yell out "crucify Him," when we should be fervently praying instead, with great humility beseeching that our Lord pour His Grace on us so that we may each contribute to the strengthing of our Church.
Our Church has survived many tempests and shoals and She shall survive many, many more. We live in ominous times and the dark one revels in his many victories. This is not gobbledy gook, but as real as real can be. Satan's snares start within each one of us and as our Lord admonished each and every one of us--we must first remove the log within our own eye, the log of "sin," before we condemn our brother.
Fr. Pasios of the Holy Mountain, a man that beheld the Grace of our Lord, a man of many spiritual gifts commented that our brothers and sisters in Greece were plagued, and are still plagued with all that they must bear from Ottoman days to modern day Turkey as God's way to make them better Christians. For through suffering, through injustice, persecution and inequity, we are afforded the opportunity to overcome the same by growing closer to our Lord. Michael Phelps our great Olympian endured tremendous physical and mental training to emerge victorious. Similarly, the many Saints and Martyrs we commemorate and venerate underwent their own tortures.
We too are asked to bear much in our familial, work and spiritual lives--and this is where we are today Blessed brothers and sisters. This is our test, this is our opportunity to emerge victorious. We can be involved with rebuilding our faith, with forging a new and glorious path toward fulfilling Christ's mission. First through prayer, then through proactive engagement, in our parish, our diocese and on a national level.
Some have called for inquiries into St. Tikhon's Seminary, their books are independently audited, their Board are comprised of many distinguished, dedicated and God fearing Christians--become one of them--its easy to play armchair prosecutor, it's harder to dedicate our time and our talents which takes commitment. Build the Body of Christ, don't tear down--be the bricks and the mortar rather than the wrecking ball.
Let us all work together at this critical juncture to build our Holy and Most Blessed Orthodox Church.
#25 Concerned Orthodox on 2008-09-12 13:47
Another great example of why Herman should not be allowed to stay at St. Tikhon's.
I'm reminded of the words of a song - "some people want to abuse you, some people want to be abused by you"
I'm glad Herman was able to make people think he was simply indispensable to the daily functioning of St. Tikhon's, I'm sure that made his decision to never leave the place very easy. A good leader (not a corporate CEO, just a good basic sensible leader) makes sure to situate a situation to run properly without his or her presence. What you are basically saying is that Herman had absolutely no trust in the Bishop of EP, nor the Dean, nor the Board, to run things without his immediate presence. That's not a sign of health, that's a sign of dependency. And people who make other people feel completely dependent upon themselves scare me. A lot.
#25.1 Anonymous on 2008-09-13 19:16
I think something must be cleared up. It wasn't MH who laid the foundation for St. Tikhon's as it stands today -- it was the late Archbishop Kiprian -- a loving, caring, spiritual man who put the Church first. MH saw the completion to the Archbishop's endeavors for St. Tikhon's. It was Archbishop Kiprian who started the building program at St. Tikhon's which was witnessed by Joe Swaiko while he was a student. It was Archbishop Kiprian who initiated the accreditation of St. Tikhon's of which Herman was a part. So, please do not give MH all this credit. If you want to give him credit for something give him credit for being.... the only Metropolitan who almost destroyed his Church single handedly! MH initiated nothing 30 - 35 years ago.
#25.2 Anonymous on 2008-09-14 16:40
To put things in perspective; + Kiprian truly did great things for STOTS. + Herman continued that work and also did some very good work on his own. The question is: Where did the money come from? Where it all went wrong was + Herman becoming Met. He was fine as a diocese bishop and taking care of STOTS with it's "own" mentality of Orthodoxy, but as the Met., he failed miserably. He pushed himself into the Met. spot with RSK's help and only perpetuated what RSK created. Everyone knows RSK was + Herman's hand-picked guy to run STOTS and then Syosset. The next big question for the OCA to ask is: Does the OCA need the cost of two seminaries? Why not a seminary close to other institutions of higher learning and a REAL monastery and clergy retirement community?
#25.2.1 Anonymous on 2008-09-16 06:19
I beg to differ on the issue of +Herman doing fine as a Diocesan Bishop. I'm a life long resident of the Diocese of EPA and believe me....you see what he did on a national level as Metropolitan but you should have seen what he did 25-26 years ago as a Diocesan Bishop. His ego to be #1 Honcho in EPA Diocese was evident when he took over after the late Archbishop Kiprian. He wanted to show us who ruled and he did....especially to the people in Mayfield, PA where his axe fell from the priest to the parishioners. The priest was supposedly defrocked...I remember being in my church one Sunday AM when our priest read a letter saying that Fr. John was no longer Father but Mister, I remember hearing about all of the excommunications in that parish, starting with the President and other members of the church council, etc. That parish stood their ground and left the OCA....the 50 parishioners who left were told to never go back to that church, not to support projects in that church, give up their cemetery plots, practically told to spit on the priest and the parishioners of that church. And they listeneded like puppy dogs! I know because many of the 50 joined our church. This was Orthodoxy? This was Christianity? Well, we all see now what was going on with +Herman and the rest of them. I bet those fine folks at Mayfield Parish and Simpson parish (yes, there is a ROCOR church in Simpson, PA, too!) are proud they left this mess all those years ago. They knew more then than the majority of us members even realize now! That was another joke....Herman gave the blessing for another St. Basil's Church (this one under the OCA) to be founded in Simpson. This man was a maniac then and he's still a maniac. What a few hundred people were aware of then....thousands discovered over 2 decades later.
Mark, thanks for all of your good work in informing us concerned Orthodox. God bless you for all you've endured!
EPA Diocese Ashamed Parishioner
#220.127.116.11 Anonymous on 2008-09-17 03:24
26 years after the Mayfield Court situation began, I would like to say that I am one who left St. John's, stuck by the OCA and +Herman. I have since asked Fr. John, pastor of the Mayfield Church, for forgiveness and have extended my own personal apologies for all of the wrongs done to him and the parishioners of his Church. He was more than willing to speak to me and forget "the past". I will never forget how +Herman would not allow Fr. John to set foot on my present parish's cemetery when a loved one passed away. Fr. John performed the burial service in the Mayfield Church and was very gracious in accepting the fact that +Herman forbid him to set foot on our cemetery. However, a few years later, when another loved one from an OCA parish passed away but owned plots in the Mayfield cemetery, Fr. John allowed our parish priest to do the interment. This act I never forgot. In a time of bereavement one does not need church politics animosity -- Fr. John was the bigger person!
This is just another example of Herman's viciousness and vindictiveness! God have mercy on him for his "bad attitude!"
#26 One Who Left the Mayfield Parish on 2008-09-17 07:07
For those who speak of St. John's Cathedral in Mayfield, I would like to say something. I read that "Herman's axe fell on the priest and the parishoners" yes his axe fell, however, instantly his axe flew back towards him. The people of Mayfield were and are strong and overcame the evil, and even forgave the evil. ....
... I would like to point out that in any scandal or negative publicity involving any Orthodox Jurisdiction paints a bad picture for those who are Orthodox, no what was jurisidiction you belong. For this Herman, Theodosius, Kondratik and all those invovled should be punished. Not only for their crimes committed, but also for their actions which in reality affects ALL Orthodox Christians. Majority of the people in today's society do not realize that there are different Orthodox jurisdictions, so again this type of action includes all. It is a shame that the news channels do not report such a story, not only to help bring justice to the criminals, but also to show that the oca is not the only Orthodox faith here in America.
#27 another concerned Orthodox from another jurisdiction on 2008-09-18 20:39
I agree -- this scandal involves all Orthodox -- no matter to which jurisdiction one may belong. I pray for all members of the OCA to have enlightenment and strength. I pray that one day we may all be of one mind as far as the Orthodox Faith is concerned. I pray for those who have done this to their Church...to our Church. May God have mercy on us all!
#27.1 Sad Orthodox Christian on 2008-09-20 03:28
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