Tuesday, September 16. 2008
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Oh my God! What ELSE don't we know yet?????
Will this nightmare NEVER end?
Why are Herman & Co. not indicted yet??????
By now, Metroploitan Leonty is surely spinning in his grave!
#1 Alex Ivsky on 2008-09-16 09:06
Such abysmal squalor and decadence! The princes of our autocephalous church led lives of Byzantine splendor while many of our priests hold lay jobs and are on food stamps to support their families.
#1.1 Protodeacon Alexis on 2008-09-16 11:37
This may not be the place to ask a question about the OCA, but am not sure where else to go.
I am not OCA but am Ukrainian Orthodox who attends an Antiochian mission. There is also a new OCA mission parish in our region. My question is when Bishop Seraphim visited this mission two weeks ago, why was he referred to as the Bishop of the Orthodox Church in Canada, the Spiritual head of the Orthodox Church in Canada, and the Bishop of Ottawa and all of Canada? There was no mention of the OCA or its Russo/Slavic origen. There were references of it to only being multi-cultural and Canadian. To me something is not right. It is an offense to other Orthodox. I also sensed that this misrepresentation stems from some type of exuberance that somehow the OCA is called to see some kind of Orthodox North America. Please clarify.
#1.1.1 David Basaraba on 2008-09-17 08:01
Dear David,I'm a Ukie myself,though neither OCA nor any Ukrainian jurisdiction.The fact is some OCA people think that you can't have anything ethnic at all,which is just as extreme as those churches who don't want any English at all.It's like St.Alexis Toth talking about a Greek-Catholic office worker in the old country who decided to switch to the Roman Catholic church.Then his boss came up to him,shook his hand, and said,'Now I know that you are a true Magyar(Hungarian) patriot."St.Alexis's comment was that in the eyes of a Hungarian chauvinist, being a patriot means to spit on your own heritage.One can be a patriotic American or Canadian without turning one's back on his/her heritage.Sadly,the "English Only"Fascists in the OCA have gained the upper hand to the point that someone like Archbishop Job, who is fluent in his father's Slovak, and his mother's Rusin, is probably afraid to use either tongue in public,when I said,"CHristos Voskres" to him over the phone,after asking his blessing,he replied in English.Yet,we applaud Archbishop Dmitri for rendering the services in Spanish,Archbishop Fan Noli for doing the same thing in Albanian,and the Alaskan missionaries such as St. Innocent, for doing the same in the native tongues.What gives,indeed?
#22.214.171.124 Anonymous on 2008-09-17 14:14
Dear Anonymous #126.96.36.199:
You said "The fact is some OCA people think that you can't have anything ethnic at all, which is just as extreme as those churches who don't want any English at all."
You are comparing apples to oranges here. There are many parishes in the OCA and the Antiochian Archdiocese that have all English services and yet have ethnic events.
Even if you had said banning all languages except for English is just as extreme as banning English, you would still be wrong. The United States and Canada are English speaking countries. It is to this two countries' credit that they allow immigration and do not insist on assimilation unlike many countries in the old world. In such a liberal environment, you could have all kinds of permutations. But, our Lord's great commission makes it clear that the Church must evangelize and convert the heterodox. The Church must use the local vernacular--English in this case.
Bottom line: The Church is not a ethnic social club. Believers who are trying to follow the Lord should not be insulted with the fascist label.
#188.8.131.52.1 Carl on 2008-09-17 18:12
To set the record straight, in the Archdiocese of Canada the Ruling Hierarch wants and blesses the language(s) used in the Liturgy and other services to depend upon the make-up of the congregation and its needs. In the parish I serve, the primary language has gone from Slavonic to English over the past 5 years; but we still use some Slavonic and/or modern Ukrainian. The same obtains in our rural Alberta parishes. In one Toronto parish, the primary language is Slavonic, with some English; in another Toronto parish the language is entirely English. In one Montreal parish, the primary language is French; in a second ontreal parish it is primarily English; in a third, it is primarily Slavonic. Add to that, the fact that out of pastoral concern His Eminence allows parishes founded before 1970 (like mine) to retain the Old Calendar. In short, whatever kind of fascism you imagine to exist elsewhere, does not in fact exist here. And for the record, Canada is not only very multicultural but also at the federal level officially bi-lingual: English AND French.
As a sidebar: I find the facile use of the word "fascist" to be offensive in the extreme. At his own father's urging and command, my father had to flee the old country when he was only 16 years old because his staunch and vocal opposition to Mussolini and the accursed Fascisti was about to get him two shots in the back of the head. None of us born and raised here have any real visceral understanding of what living under genuine fascism was like.
As for Archbishop Seraphim's title, officially---as you can see from the OCA official website--- it is "Archbishop of Ottawa and Canada." And recently, our Archdiocese was granted incorporation as the "Canadian Orthodox Church." Although others may not do so, we take with some seriousness the OCA's autocephaly and its canonical implications (while nonetheless pursuing positive frasternal relations with other Orthodox jurisdictions, of course). If in fact the granting of autocephaly be canonically valid, then the OCA is indeed THE canonical territorial Church in North America, with all that means.
Lastly (at least for now; so don't get your hopes up), St. Tikhon's is not unique in the Orthodox world as a stavropeghial monastery. What that means is that the Primate is officially the abbot, while the day-to-day administration is the task of the Deputy Abbot (in Russian, "namjestnik"). In Russia, His Holiness, Patriarch Alexei, is abbot of, among others the Trinity-St. Sergius Lavr and the Danilovsky Monastery. In Ukraine, His Beatitude, Metropolitan Vladimir, is officially the abbot of, among others, the Kievo-Pecherskaja Lavra and the Pochaevskaja Lavra.
So the OCA Primate being officially the abbot of St. Tikhon's is nothing new or unusual. Whether the whole matter of stavropeghial monasteries is a good or bad idea is another question. But St. Tikhon's history as a stavropeghial institution is older than our current troubles.
#184.108.40.206.2 Igumen Philip (Speranza) on 2008-09-18 06:38
No one with any sense, I do believe,
Would want to hear you say "fini,"
And mean it in perpetuity!
A poor choice of words perhaps (from which the rest of us are, of course, exempt), but I do believe Carl was using "facist" as a descriptive adjective, not a literal comparison to Fascism.
#220.127.116.11.2.1 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2008-09-18 10:16
I know about the Canadian situation and apologise to you personaly for the use of the word,"fascist" considering what your father went through.There is another OCA priest,my friend Fr.John Bernardi,whose father also had to flee from Mussolini.Yet I do think it unfair that some posters here feel that there should be NOT ONE WORD of any language other than English in any Orthodox Service in North America NO MATTER WHAT.Fr.John Bernardi,good-hearted man that he is,used to gently chide us "slavophiles"at St. Tikhon's,yet when he came to see my wife and myself at the hospital on the day our first son was born, and we introduced him to Dr.Petinatto ,who had delivered our son,his first words to the doctor were,"Lei parla Italiano?"Another point,"fascist" is a word that liberals and leftists throw at those of us who are conservative or traditionalists,when in fact,Mussolini was originally a socilist,in fact, his movement and communism were considered cutting edge in the 1920's before Hitler came to power.All three movements were Totaliterian,that is,the state was everything.Most of us so-called conservatives would be "Authoriterians" RATHER THAN TOTALITERIANS,this label would take in such WWII era leaders as Franco of Spain and Fr.Joseph Tiso of Slovakia.The former used Hitler and got away with it,while the latter,sadly, was strong-armed into an alliance with Hitler.To get back to my former post,I'm sorry if Scott feels offended, but I wasn't using that label towards every OCA Anglophile,but towards a certain extremist mindset,which I oppose,just as strongly as any blind chauvinism which has the potential to produce another Hitler-like man.I suggtest,however,you pay more attention to Hollywood and the media,which insult Christians daily.Same thing at the workplace for most of us,when we complain about language that offends our Christian faith, we are told that the speaker is just exercising his/her first amendment rights.There is one religion,however, that we can't speak ill of,we all know which one that is!
#18.104.22.168.2.2 Anonymous on 2008-09-18 14:23
"Yet I do think it unfair that some posters here feel that there should be NOT ONE WORD of any language other than English in any Orthodox Service in North America NO MATTER WHAT"
Well, I was going to count myself among those who would answer in the affirmative, but then I realized we'd have to get rid of things like Eis pola eti dhespota, not to mention words like prokeimenon, etc etc.
So never mind.
#22.214.171.124.2.2.1 Michael Strelka on 2008-09-22 10:39
Well I am in a bad mood admittedly, but I am offended. I am a faithful Orthodox Christian but my "roots" are Scotland, England and Ireland.
The Church of Jesus Christ is NOT an ethnic club and if you think it is I suggest you join a fraternal organization.
Maybe if we had more concern for the gospel of Jesus Christ and less concern about ethnicity we wouldn't be in the MESS we are in now.
Linda Elizabeth Weir (which means small dam in Gailic)
#126.96.36.199.3 Linda Weir on 2008-09-18 13:30
What did I start here? I was not aware that this designation has been given in Canada. I must say that most other Orthodox would not recognize tSeraohim as there Bishop. I will say, with my little contact with the oca, I do sense triumphalism. The priest in the mission I spoke of, through out many of the traditional oca practices, and put in ones that he says were originally orthodox. There is no consideration for heritage, anscestors, or even other older parishes!
As far as making Eastern Orthodox non ethnic. What is Eastern? What is Byzantium? It an't Scottish. One can be Orthodox wiithout being Eastern. Ask someone who isn't Orthodox what their impression of an Orthodox service is? Even one in English. They are going to say it feels like it is from a part of the world they are not familiar with. Ethnic!
#188.8.131.52.3.1 David Basaraaba on 2008-09-18 21:37
Dear in Christ Linda,I'm sorry if my post generated so much ill-feeling,but you know that on my mother's side,I am of Scottish ancestry.Perhaps,you know that the Scots,Irish, and Welsh were ethnicly cleansed by the British.In other words,these people were good enough to help the English build the British empire,but unless they became Anglicised,they were treated as second-class.I NEVER said the church should be an ethnic club.In fact,in every Russian parish I served in,I fought for English.you know,I don't hold the modern Englishman responsible for every ill that some of their forefathers may have inflicted on the Scots or the Irish.Please don't blame all Orthodox Slavs for the current OCA scandals just because of the ancestry of some bishops or priests.BTW,I personaly believe that the Irish Potato Famine of 1848 when the English allowed 1 million or more Irish men,women, and children perish of hunger,while the beef,mutton, and other foods which might have fed them was shipped abroad,inspired Stalin to starve between 6 and 8 million Ukrainian's to die from a man-made famine in 1933.
#184.108.40.206.3.2 Anonymous on 2008-09-19 15:11
I didn't mean to imply that I hold anything against any ethnic group. I forgot to mention that I also have English, German and probably some Native American genes in me!
My point was that the Church, with a capitol T, is the Orthodox Church. As such it is universal. And one should not think it should be a continuation of your particular ethnic heritage but rather it should, in true Orthodox fashion, take root in the land in which it is planted and encorporate as many of the customs as are "orthodox".
The Greeks (let's not fight about that..you know what I mean) evanglized the Slavs; however, Slavic churches have "onion domes" so the snow won't collapse the roofs. Slavic music is harmony (I am afraid to say 4 part because it is not all 4 part, Greek is chant.
I admit my ancestors came to this land so long ago, we have little "cultural" heretage left. No one knows. I only know the first Weir came from Ireland to America just before the American revolution in which he fought.
I just feel that the Slavs of all flavors as well as the Arab Orthodox, etc. chose to come to America as did my folks. I would think one would expect to adopt the language and cusoms of one's new country. If you want your children to be "whatever" move to "whatever". I don't mean that unkindly; I am truly baffled
The Church is the Body of Christ. We are called to evangelize the world. The church is the last place to make people feel they should be slavic or Arab or...to fit in. Our worship practices are different from the west, and do seem "other" (I know) at first, but good grief. They are much more ancient than those of the west and Christ WAS a Jew. The first Christians were middle eastern. The Slavs got their practices from the Greeks who got them from ethnic semites.... So that is not my issue.
When I was a mere "child" in the Church I was at a gathering at the Cathedral in DC. A woman came up to me and asked if I was Russian. I said no and she sniffed and walked away. I would add quickly that that is the ONLY time that has happened and I have been made to feel more than welcome by the "cradle" Orthodox at my parish; in fact I consider them some of my closest friends. My parish is St. Mark as most of you realize and it tends to be pan porthodox and is about half convert.
However, I DO believe that we should concentrate on the gospel of Jesus Christ and not what ethic group we are in and whether of not a priest or bishop mentions the "roots" of the OCA. BTW, +Seraphim is of German extraction and was a Lutheran! Why would this person feel the need to stress the Slavic roots of the OCA. +Benjamin (based upon his last name) is of English extraction. +Tikhon is of French Extraction. All of thse partly, as we do tend to marry across ethnic lines!
What matters is that we are all members of the one Body founded by the apostles (who were probably all dark skinned, dark haired and definitely Middle Eastern).
But thank you for a topic I can actually post something of substance on as one of those "ethnic, cradle" friends of mine is Faith Skordinsi. So I keep my posts to innane comments except this one!
One other comment of substance. In my heart I feel the "crisis" in the OCA is a spiritual one at it's roots. Criminal, unethical yes. But I cannont believe if one is a believing Christian who really wants to be a follower of Christ one could do these things. And if one does, the actions, by their nature, seperate one from the Church.
We have become too caught up in the externals of the Church, how we look to the outside world, good Lord, how many Bible verses could we quote...caught up in the pride of the flesh, pomp, wanting the "best" seat at the banquet, the "honor due" bishops, forgetting how the Apostolic writings say a bishop should behave.
I was at St Tiknons once (by the way, I have always felt a spiritual darkness there) and there was hardly anyone there. It was Vespers during the week and the parking lot was almost empty. Someone came rushing in and instructed this person to move his car as it was in +Herman's place! And +Herman used to almost shove his fist in your face to have you kiss his hand. This is humility?
As I told you, I was in a bad mood that day, my 20 year old cat had died the night before, and probably overreacted to your post. Please forgive me. But I have enjoyed getting to post a reply that says something more that "Mr. Silver, do you think we are Stupid?"
With love in Christ,
#220.127.116.11.3.2.1 Linda Weir on 2008-09-20 10:41
Right, well let's see here...He's stolen money from you, he's lied to you, and now he's mortgaging off St. Tikhon's Monastery. Sounds to me like you people are being bamboozled. Though the situation should be handled rationally and justly, I do believe that it's time to drop this, "let us pray for Herman", garbage and start cracking some skulls. Thou shalt let the wrath of God determine this man's fate, but thou shalt also throw his sorry behind, and any other accomplices' sorry behinds, in prison for stealing from the parishioners. (He) .... deserves to burn for deceiving his own parishioners and stealing what isn't his. "Thou shall not steal" - commandment number 8 for Orthodox peoples, I believe. He has deliberately and seriously gone against God's word and should be condemned .
Now the question is...Who will get the "balls" to stand up to him and give him what for? I'll let you and your religion figure that out. As for me, Lutheranism is doing just fine, and if something goes wrong, I know that my fellow Lutherans will stand up and fight for ourselves and do what needs to be done to stop the nonsense in its tracks, not just stand around and point fingers.
P.S.- I'd like to point out the fact I'm Lutheran doesn't mean I'm not for righting a wrong. So before you go telling me to buzz off, look how bad your situation is. Somebody from a different religion is trying to help you, because the way you're handling this is so pathetically sorry, that it's literally making me queezey. There's something to be said about that. It's a sad thing.
#18.104.22.168.3.3 0.o on 2008-09-20 11:45
Dr. Faith Skorkinski had the "balls" to stand up to +Herman AND Robert Kondratick even though Kondratick had been one of her Sunday School teachers and had nominiated her for the Metropolitan Council. And +Herman she had known as "Fr. Joe" who has been at her house when she was crawling around in her P.J.s. She loved that man. And she had "balls" as you put it to stare him down and DO something. As did others.
I agree their sorry butts should be in jail but that is not up to us.
And we welcome heterodox opinions on this site. I am curious how you found it? Our leaders are obviously corrupt (now) but our doctrine is pure and Christ is on our altars. for which God be praised.
#22.214.171.124.3.3.1 Linda Weir on 2008-09-20 20:24
Can we all just take a deep breath here?
It is with great hesitation that I discuss any pending legal issues here, but the volume and the tenor of the many comments (below) responding to a legitimate news story released just yesterday concern me, and it really is necessary to calm down just a bit.
The news of this mortgage was made known to the Metropolitan Council about five days ago. At that time, the Ethics Committee of the MC and the Legal Committee of the MC were asked to look into the matter.
Speaking as the Chair of the Legal Committee, all I can disclose at this point is that we are doing exactly that. Before we all start talking about abuses and locking people up and working ourselves into a lather, please give us a few days to try to sort this out.
Speaking for myself, the Metropolitan Council is not given unlimited powers to investigate potential wrongdoing within the OCA, wherever it may occur. It must act within its competence, as set out by the Statute.
So the Legal Committee of the MC, working with Thaddeus Wojcik, General Counsel for the OCA, will have to first determine if the MC has any authority to investigate whatever has occurred at the monastery. Regardless of the structure of other stavropegial institutions within the OCA, the question here is whether the property of the monastery at South Canaan is subject in any way to oversight by the MC and the Holy Synod.
To some, it may be a no-brainer, as expressed in the many comments below: "Of course, the MC must investigate!" or, in the alternative, "The MC has no power to do anything here!" But what is required is a reasoned response, after a review of the facts and the law.
If the answer is yes, then one might expect a proper investigation to occur.
If, however, it is determined that the MC has no authority to investigate, then that will be reported promptly, and any questions and concerns expressed will be passed along to the proper oversight bodies.
This is what I believe: The MC that is now seated has shown itself to be taking its work very seriously, as reflected in its actions over the past two+ years. It will continue to endeavor to meet its moral, legal, and fiduciary duties. Too many years of passive indifference and disregard of the Statute must not now be replaced by demands for vigilante justice, again in disregard of the Statute.
One last note: I don't personally have any warm and fuzzy feelings for our last two Metropolitans. As has been reported before, in 1999 Met. Theodosius banned me from attending MC meetings, even though I had just been elected as the MC alternate by the AAC, after I communicated a deep concern about looking into the serious allegations being raised by Audit Chair John Kozey. The litany of disagreements between Met. Herman and me runs long, with his interference with the work of the Special Commission and his firing me from the SC without cause probably topping the list.
But the insistence of a few posters on this thread, and in months previous, in referring to +Theodosius as "Frankie" or "Lazor", or to +Herman as "Joe" or "Swaiko" is just plain wrong. As angry as we may be with what they have done, they are still clergy, and that should be respected.
#1.2 Gregg Nescott on 2008-09-17 11:53
What a truly orthodox answer: Maybe we should set up a committee to oversee the committee that looks into the committee in charge of looking into the aleged alegations? They could then report to another committee who's sole job it is to supervise the previous 2 committees who can then bring their report to the newly formed committee but let's not forget that none of the committees have no authority to realy do anything or even suggest legal action.
Honestly 2 phone calls is all it takes. One to the monestary "Did you know your property was mortgaged for a secret loan for +Herman?" The secondcall is to a lawyer.
#1.2.1 Gabriel on 2008-09-17 13:45
With all due respect...
Gregg, our use of proper names, which are their true legal names in this world, is nothing, absolutely NOTHING in comparison to the sacrilegious acts done by our most high clergy. If there is any disrespect done in this Church, it is not by those that use proper names when having legitimate anger and frustration, its by those that should be setting the example and preserving the sanctity of the Church who use their positions in ways that are truly disrespectful of the Church. When people who blatantly use the sacraments against people, and their families, as weapons of retribution or intimidation and then get off with a slap on the wrist with a feather, we must put the use of proper names into perspective. Compared to what has been exhibited by the bishops, and their compliant clergy, in this Church, we must all agree that the use of proper names, while offensive to some, pales in comparison and is a very mild form of protest.
In the end, we must remember, theft and abuse of position may condemn them, but using their given names will never hurt them.
#1.2.2 Anonymous on 2008-09-17 16:12
Like many who insist on the rightness of a wrong, you're resting on the sophistry of a false dichotomy in your justification. Yes, calling a Metropolitan by his last name (his "civilian" name, as it were) is not the same as robbing the Church blind, or thieving from orphans; no doubt! But, in fact, the twain are organically unrelated -- the depth and breadth of what a bishop has done in his sin against the Church does not relieve us of our obligation to act with respect toward the office held by the malefacting individual. That option is not made available to us as a viable alternative for Christians in the One Body that is animated and vivified by the Holy Spirit. At the least, in our writings, which have a life span longer than an utterance and are available for the world to see, if not in our speech, we should maintain that respect.
Moreover, to the measure we want to maximize our credibility among just about everyone, to that measure we benefit from not acting like we've lost control of our emotions. The mind of a mature man or woman needs to control the emotion, not the other way round. +HERMAN and +THEODOSIOUS have been outed for the nature of their acts against the OCA; let the chips fall where they may. But Gregg Nescott makes a valid -- in fact, necessary -- point. And as one who in the past has referred to +HERMAN without proper disregard to the sanctity of the position he held in the Church, I accept his admonishment to grow up.
#126.96.36.199 Anonymous on 2008-09-18 05:07
I respect the position, I have little respect for the person holding it. Where does the office end and the person begin, to me that's with name? Now, I will show due respect to the office of Metropolitan, to his See, but when you use a name to describe the person in that office, which is what "HERMAN" is, then we are leaving the position and entering on to the realm of the person.
Bottom line is that a person needs to gain and maintain respect, it would be inappropriate for us to bestow respect and honors to a person who had done all he can to disrespect the office himself. Herman, himself, has disrepected the office by his behaviors.
#188.8.131.52.1 Anonymous on 2008-09-18 10:10
Thank you for once again injecting some common sense and decency into this discussion. May the Lord bless you and your labors.
#1.2.3 Carl on 2008-09-17 18:34
I, too, disagree with the choice that people make to call Metropolitan Theodosius "Frankie," and Metropolitan Herman "Swaiko." In my posts, I have tried to write as if the person being written about was in the room with me. (I am certain that I have not always succeeded.) On the other hand, I know of at least one "Joe the Bishop" who smiles at that nickname, and another one nicknamed "Jake" who didn't immediately think of excommunicating people for it. The difference, obviously, is the intent of the person using the name.
The crux of the scandal is not money. The real root of the scandal is not sexuality. These strike me as symptoms. Is it possible that the real issue is the unhealthy relationship that we have had with authority? Now, I know even less about psychology than I do about law, but is it possible for the use of "Frankie" and "Joe" to be interpreted as the efforts by some to get themselves out from under their psychological thumbs. Considered from this angle, it may well render the use of these names as being incorrect rather than evil.
I am struck by how the abuse of power by people in authority in the church resembles abusive households. We are faced with the spectacle of people who have had no compunction in manipulating the holy obedience of faithful Orthodox Christians to gratify their own desires. Is it possible that the titles that we give to those in authority, "Your Grace," "Your Eminence," "Master," or even "Father" can create in people a hesitation to ask pertinent and reasonable questions. (Especially, if the person, like so many among us, has come from an abusive situation and is longing for authority, decently exercised.) In some, it seems, such titles may even engender a kind of paralysis of the will.
Again, I am not agreeing with the choice some people are making to use disparaging terms on this site. I am also not claiming to speak authoritatively on psychology. But in my gut I can understand what might motivate that choice.
I also repeat my hope that people stop anonymizing themselves.
#1.2.4 Edmund Unneland on 2008-09-18 15:48
Nah, let's not try to read too much into this.
The root of this is, plain and simple, unChristian behavior on the part of those in the administration. This took the form of theft, immorality, and intimidation, then there was the abuse of power in covering it up.
That's the crux and it got to the point where they were able to, by manipulating various people, create structures to make sure the gig self perputated.
I've been bored to tears when I read of people trying to put too much into explaining what it is. Its unChristian behavior and unOrthodox practices. Its anything other than Innocence and Neglect as once proclaimed to be the problem by Dmitri.
#184.108.40.206 Anonymous on 2008-09-19 06:33
Ed, I'm not sure I see where the "disparaging" term is in relation to the subject. I am not even sure why calling someone by their proper legal name is disparaging. Its pure and simple that we do not see them worthy of the office they hold, or held. We can think of a great number of names that are fitting these bishops past and present that would truly be in the disparaging realm and those are used in personal conversation, but to use their proper names. Give us a break, ok, ED? I hope that wasn't disparaging!
Listen, we did not one day wake up and decide "this is the day we begin to disrespect and disparage our bishops! Let's get to it! (after we make a trip to Starbucks)" No, most of us, including this writer were HIGHLY respectful of the bishops and always welcomed their visits warmly. It was after THEY showed us that THEY were not worthy of the respect and honors did we begin with our mild form of protest, a sign that we weren’t going to be a part of their façade to defraud this church and use it for their own nefarious purposes.. It wasn’t til we were WELL into the mess that people began to use what some people consider disparaging names by using their proper names. Do we need to list all the behaviors that caused us to take this route? Do we have to list the lies upon lies that brought us to this? Do we have to list the sacrilegious acts done by these guys in their proclamations that the Holy Spirit WILLED what happened to happen while it was happening? We have a priest, Paul Kucynda, who pressured priests to enforce an unofficial excommunication of John Kozey and family and these bishops give him a slap on the wrist with a feather for that and his WILLFUL negligence during the scandal and his perjury to the Attorney General of the state of New York. Seriously, can YOU respect that? Can you, with a straight face, say that you can respect them with acts of discipline like THAT? What kind of respect were THEY showing to our Lord to basically condoning the intimidation of good people using the body and blood of our LORD as the tool that is was carried out with? Can you tell your CHILDREN to respect that? Be serious, and then go and castigate us about using their NAMES, proper names, to refer to them. Makes me shake my head in disbelief. The bishops, disrespected OUR CHURCH by allowing Kucynda to use the sacraments, the very body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ as a WEAPON and nary a word, but you refer to Joe Swaiko, Marc Mollard, Nick Liolin, etc. and people are going to come down on you for having disrespect. GIVE ME A BREAK! Wake up and take note of what is REALLY important here and then make your castigations. If people do not respect their bishops, its not because we called them by their proper names, its because they became known by their acts.
This is very much a reason why we are in the shape we are in. The ability to blindly follow and the inability to call a spade a spade – so wrapped up in our warm and fuzzy traditionally correct acts that we cannot see the real evil being done here. Until we open our eyes and see what we’re dealing with don’t despair that nothing is getting done or improving.
#220.127.116.11 Anonymous on 2008-09-19 11:19
" And looking intently at the council, Paul said, 'Brothers, I have lived my life before God in all good conscience up to this day.' And the high priest Ananias commanded those who stood by him to strike him on the mouth. Then Paul said to him, 'God is going to strike you, you whitewashed wall! Are you sitting to judge me according to the law, and yet contrary to the law you order me to be struck?' Those who stood by said, 'Would you revile God’s high priest?' And Paul said, 'I did not know, brothers, that he was the high priest, for it is written, "You shall not speak evil of a ruler of your people"' " (Acts 23:1-5).
It's irrelevant what moral disasters our rulers are or have been. The dignity we afford fallen men because of their offices is not about them, but about us and our fidelity to the very thing that they have betrayed. They bear the grace of the mysteries of ordination and consecration. Until they are deposed, this grace is a part of them and it incumbent on us to act like it. This is our sacramental theology: a man who communes unworthily, says St. Paul, still receives Christ, but to his condemnation. A bishop doesn't stop being a bishop because he is a terrible sinner -- he just brings greater judgement on himself. (This is part of the reason that it is unloving to refuse to consider deposing corrupt clergy.) The man you call "Nick": do you think he can ordain priests? It is with his blessing that priests in his diocese celebrate the Eucharist? If he baptizes someone, is that baptism true? If yes, then you must be addressing him incorrectly, because "Nick" can't do any of those things. A bishop can, and bishops have names. Indeed, let's call spades, spades, even despite the fog of war.
(Editor's note: As a point of order, any baptized Christian may baptize another if necessity arises, not just a priest or Bishop. "Nick" , in fact, can do that thing.)
#18.104.22.168.1 A Fellow Orthodox Christian on 2008-09-19 13:01
My apologies: I intended to refer to baptism in normal, non-emergency, circumstances.
#22.214.171.124.1.1 A Fellow Orthodox Christian on 2008-09-19 23:11
I am really not surprised at +Herman's reported action. REmeber, this happened in June, a few months before his announced retirement/resignation.
The SIC report brought out all their grievances about him. He probably did what he did because he knew he was going to go one way or another. By that time he figured out he was going to be toast one way or another; "the hand-writing was on the wall."
What is important, as many have already stated, is that we learn from this and possible change our statutes, and whatever else we need to do, so this type of abuse cannot happen again.
We need to learn and safeguard all we can in the next several years, if this is possible, so the OCA may continue to recover, heal, and thrive.
#1.3 Patty Schellbach on 2008-09-17 17:19
If I were on the board of directors for Honesdale Bank I'd very concerned over how Honesdale does business. Herman had no authority to take out that mortgage, and the bank had to know that. As for Herman, he and the other conspirators responsible for this mess should go to jail.
#2 Staupitz on 2008-09-16 09:19
The bank can't be so stupid as to think Herman has the authority to act alone (or does he?). someone in that bank must be connected to +H ... or no? something aint right here for them to not have asked for a copy of the resolutions of the seminary's or the bookstores trustees. can that bank be that out of it? really?
#2.1 Anonymous on 2008-09-16 12:53
You wana bet they are that stupid......Let me remind you.....
And every other bank and S and L closed down by the FDIC. A man like Herman lives by the motto of P.T. Barnum. "there is a sucker born every minute."
What has been revealed about the Herman reign at St Tikhon's has only begun. Wait until they look into how the "Metropolitan Theodosius Museum" aka Klimechev Bookstore was funded. Wait till they look at the estates that were diverted by Herman for purposes other than what the donor intended. Wait until the abuse of a blind Archpriest who was used to give cover for these and other financial misdeeds is uncovered.
And let us be frank here. Bishop Tikhon of Philly is NOT the man to lead an investigation of Herman.
#2.1.1 More to Come from the Poconos on 2008-09-16 17:58
Diversion of estate funds. Nice. "Who's gonna know about that one?" The departed's family may well live afar, executor disbursing modest sums at probate. End of story.
Well someone must know. I'd think that an information gathering sweep of the various towns /parishes of Eastern Pennsylvania would be a good place to start. There must be a regional email or internet posting method by and for local attorneys who will handle such wills and bequests in their usual practice.
To somehow put the question out there could trigger the memory of the lawyers that such-and-such family willed a sum to The OCA ... or one of it's entities.. let's say a Bishop. Ethical responsibilities to fulfill the intent of the donor - combined with the justified suspicion surrounding the OCA's money shenanigans could produce a paper trail.
Just a thought. Must be some Lawyers or staff workers in any given parish who could do a routine search, and it cannot be so many cases per parish.
Realistically, the huge sums unaccounted for (ADM millions?) overshadow absconding with estate bequests -- but this is the lowest-of-the-low if indeed the case.
#126.96.36.199 J Murray on 2008-09-17 09:16
To More to Come from the Poconos: Do keep these comments coming, please! For months some of us have been suggesting that it was well past time for an investigation into Herman's involvement at the monastery, book store, seminary, and anywhere else he has had control--instead, after Archbishop Job was safely gone from the synod, he received a "unanimous" vote of confidence, and then after it was unavoidable he was "encouraged" into a retirement in which he was allowed to add that it was in light of his poor health, a lie that clergy were forcefully urged to spread to OCA faithful during worship rather than acknowledgment that he had retired in disgrace. That, in spite of the published SIC report. What could possibly justify such responses from the bishops to a man who has demonstrated over and over that he is an integral part of all the criminal, immoral activity which has permeated the heirarchy of this church? For some, perhaps casuistry and for some, perhaps complicity? What else could the faithful infer about our bishops? Is it supposed that we would choose to elect a metropolitan from among these men?
There has been no Godly sorrow manifest in any of those whose outrageous acts against God's church have been exposed, or from those who willfully ignored or denied the evidence. There has only been worldly sorrow over being caught, and castigation of others for their audacity in asking penetrating questions, questions which might, if actually answered honestly, expose even more damning information.
Thanks be to God for His mercy in exposing to the Light the deeds that have been done in darkness, despite all efforts to keep them covered. May they continue to be exposed, for the salvation of all, including those who may only come to true repentance after criminal prosecution puts them behind bars.
#188.8.131.52 Judith Bennett on 2008-09-17 09:50
The fact that a legally blind priest was the treasurer at St. Tikhon's has been a joke for years.
Everyone joked about it - everyone knew it was a one man show.
It is also noteworthy that this same blind man was the "middle man" for all of the artifacts put into the museums. Yes, there are two - the Guzy Museum and the Metropolitan Theodosius Museum. Many transactions were dealt with and I'll bet there are not records!
#184.108.40.206 MP on 2008-09-17 15:24
Didn't you know; he's the Met and can do whatever he wants. He doesn't need to inform anyone of anything. Financials samantials; "I'm the Metropolitan and I don't need no stink'in permission from no body. I was appointed by God!"
#3 Anonymous on 2008-09-16 09:27
Now you know the REAL meaning of 'DESPOTA' Espola eti....! I was always uncomfortable with that hymn...and now I know exactly why!
May God help us!
#3.1 Fr. Pius on 2008-09-17 12:21
This man can cast a stone at RSK or anyone else ? What a leader , a big crook is what he and MT are. Who else will be blamed for MH and MT's thievery. They sign the checks and the staff plus RSK were the pigeons.
(Editor's note: Nice try, but it won't fly. I suggest you re-read the SIC Report appendix. +Herman did not force RSK into shopping at Bergdorf's, Nordstrom's, Cole Haan, etc., or accompany him to all the $2,000 dinners at the Danielovsky monastery restuarant in Moscow, let alone give him 20+ credit cards for the family's use.)
#4 Anonymous on 2008-09-16 09:37
$2000 dinners at the Danielovsky Monastery? Shopping at Bergdorf's? Good grief! What did I do wrong? I should become a monk instead of a school teacher!)))
#4.1 Protodeacon Alexis on 2008-09-16 11:29
Danielovsky Monastery Restaurant?????????
Anyone read any reviews?
(Editor's note: Judging from the appendix to the SIC report, its expensive, we know that...)
#4.1.1 Fr. Dennis Buck on 2008-09-16 14:12
Please, people, let's understand that the charges against OCA accounts for meals at the Danilovskiy restaurant don't reflect either the number of diners at any one meal, or the number of dinners connected with any particular event. So, it should not be surprising that a meeting of several days' duration resulted in a one-time charge exceeding $13K for the dining room tabs for dozens of people.
Although such a large restaurant expense admittedly looks bad on the SIC's report, that report is seriously deficient in detail. Perhaps the footnoted version will be a little clearer.
In any case, Fr Robert Kondratick shouldn't be blamed for excess here. He was doing as he was told to do by the metropolitans he served, and entertained representatives of the other orthodox churches as he was directed, both in Russia and in the US.
The propriety of such lavishness is another story, but it's not right to blame FrRK for doing his job. He just signed the check.
#220.127.116.11 Monk James on 2008-09-16 16:27
Moscow was and is one of the most expensive cities in the world. So let's move on from this petty thread.
#18.104.22.168.1 Anonymous on 2008-09-16 19:56
Could you tell us what flavor the Kool aid was that you drank? ....
ANd do you think we are STUPID??
#22.214.171.124.2 Linda Weir on 2008-09-17 07:41
That's BS to the highest degree. Your comment should have been prefixed with a BS warning before proceeding, let alone a warning that the reader’s sensibilities and intelligence will be insulted and mocked by the time they were done reading.
We keep hearing all this stuff about RSK just doing what he was told like he was some stupid puppet that couldn't think for himself.
Go ahead and delude yourself like that, but to believe that you have to also believe that he has no integrity and no character, and therefore not qualified for the job he had, because if he had some and exhibited the love for the Church that he professed and HAD THE HOLY SPIRIT guiding his actions as he always said, why didn't he come out and tell all and move to fix the improprieties of the Metropolitans and work to clean the Church up and restore integrity rather than giving his wife the ability to spend $400 at Socks Galore!? Did Herman tell her to do that? What about the charge for Toys R Us? I’m sure that the Metropolitan instructed that charge to be made. And the CVS? We can list a few hundred of these that I’d like to see the memo where the Metropolitan told them to spend like there was no tomorrow. Listen, you can try to blow this smoke at us and you might think it’ll work some day but the fact is that Mr. Rodion Kondratick, if he was such a simple minion following the orders of the Metropolitan, whom he had to see these orders were crazy, did not realize that he didn’t work for the Metropolitan, but to God, then he had no business being in that role, let alone a priest, and the defrockment was one of the best things to happen in the nearly 40 years of this Church! I'm sick and tired of hearing he was just following orders from a shill of a man who won't come out and speak and clear the air even though the shill wants us to believe he's done nothing wrong. You're not a stupid man, Mr. Silver, you have to see the disconnect and its been a constant disenguity of yourself to try to insult our intelligence and make like there is no disconnect. Its been a constant disgrace that you play to know what’s going on, but do nothing to bring it to light, that you want to play like the OCA’s Deep Throat, but instead you tease, tantalize, and deceive, and produce nothing but spin for a man who’s done tremendous damage to the Church you want us to believe you love. It’s a disgrace!
You think of how many times the actions of Mr. Rodion Kondratick were guided by the Holy Spirit, and this is something that should get everyone mad because it was, as we see more and more, a blasphemous fraud to tell us that the Holy Spirit willed they spent exorbitant amounts on these meals or that any other act was guided because the Holy Spirit willed. Mr. Rodion Kondratick doesn’t have to answer to us for that blasphemy, but I hope he repents before he’s judged because to use the Holy Spirit in that way to keep this ugly game going is something you don’t need a theology degree or be a canonical expert to know is a damnable offense. It makes us mad because now, for some inexplicable reason, the Holy Spirit wills him to hole up down in Florida, not speak, and watch the Church that the Holy Spirit guided him when it suited him to fall apart. Yes, Herman turned around when someone said “fraud” at the South River townhall because a fraud it was, and Herman and Mr. Rodion Kondratick were the ring masters, equals to the fraud, and to hear someone tell it in his presence maybe brought it home to him.
You speak he wants his forum and that forum will be court, but is it not the fact that they did not get the summary judgment on the promissory note case because Mr. Rodion Kondratick removed his name from the suit and as a result the judge ruled against a summary judgment stating that all parties to the promissory note must enforce action on the note and not just a subset of the parties. Now, why would Mr. Rodion Kondratick remove himself form the suit when it provided him with the forum he’s been so desparately aching for. For those that are interested, the ruling is publicly assessable on the court’s website.
We know, its because when it gets a court and people can’t be intimidated any more not to say what they know he will be buried. True there will be others, but your guy is going to be buried!
Peace and blessings to all!
#126.96.36.199.3 Anonymous on 2008-09-17 09:49
The HS should formally and officially recognize that Bob's use of OCA monies to wine and dine and give expensive gifts to foreign dignitaries visiting the U.S. and to Russian dignitaries while Bob was in Russia, were illegal and not legitimate, and are subject to repayment by Bob. This was not authorized, and in fact was not OCA business expenditures.
The HS should also state that for the Church, the burden of proof is upon Bob to show donations were given properly to those the money was raised for. For instance, the OCA reported for 1995-1997 that $614,000 was donated to the Russian Orthodox Church; that is a donation that can and should be verified, as well as many other donations.
The SIC report recommends discipline should include seeking recovery of funds from +MT and Bob. This should include the requiring of both of them selling their houses and real estate as a first expression of sincere repentance and a penance before being allowed holy Communion. Clearly, without repentance on their part, they are not in communion with the Church. Bob is suing us! And we pretend he is in good standing, leading his parish in Venice? The dysfunction remaining in Syosset is incredible, literally. Our Prince of Peace Himself threw the moneychangers out of the Temple --and they hadn't even stolen anything, as our leaders have!
There is a complete lack of vision for the positive value of (not to mention the Divine entrusting of responsibility for) ecclesial discipline, especially for bishops. This lack of discipline destroys the Church. The exercise of firm, loving discipline upbuilds and unifies and strengthens the Church. Ananias and Sapphira merely underreported their own freewill donations, and received the death penalty for lying "not to men, but to God." Their discipline directly resulted in the blessed fear of the Lord throughout the whole church, the people holding their bishops in high honor, and "more than ever believers were added" to the Church.
And ecclesial discipline is not just good for the Church as a whole, but also for the individual disciplined. As David Barrett put it, deposition for Herman is actually "a Christ-like act of love. Only by accepting a broken heart can Herman (and the rest of us) hope for any chance into the Kingdom! ...Better to pay the very last copper now, in this fallen world, and have a shot at salvation, than to get away with everything now, and be thrust out of the Kingdom! THIS is the perspective of the Gospel, and should be our perspective in dealing with all those who are guilty." And Fr Justin Frederick: "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.'"
It is actually unloving for discipline to be withheld. The Scriptures teach this not just for children but for adult members of the Church. One post summarized, "I am content to let God judge them," but this not only misses the point of Church discipline but also misses the fearful Last Judgement. I am NOT content to let God judge them on the Last Day, because I love them! Besides the fact that it would be a dereliction of duty for us to just "let God judge them," this would also resign them to die in their sin. We are granted by Jesus Christ Himself the duty to adminster His grace and forgiveness in the here and now. This is our joy and our obligation toward those who have fallen away! As Christ's Body, we are to save them! If we leave them alone ("let God judge them"), we are abandoning them to be separated with the goats.
Some have said "What has been done is done," but what they are heretically misunderstanding is the redemptive value of ecclesial discipline. It is a confusion of the grace and mercy of God, as if it's a universal "pass" for all (the heresy of universalism), regardless of repentance or even acknowledging truth. It is only a "broken and contrite heart" which God "does not despise," and ecclesial discipline is our divinely appointed tool to administer, like a good physician, to those in need of sober self-realization and to assist the Holy Spirit's activity in their hearts.
Some have called us judgemental ("in pride before God"), but what this also heretically confuses is the difference between judging, i.e., condemning people, and discerning/exposing wrongdoing, something we are commanded to do by holy Scripture and something which is to be accompanied in Christ's Church with ecclesial discipline.
As Ephesians says (consider this command from God for us in light of the immorality unchecked in upper echelons the OCA), "Let no one deceive you with empty words, for it is because of these things that the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not associate with them.. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is a shame even to speak of the things that they do in secret; but when anything is exposed by the light it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light."
Fr Alexis Vinogradov's statement that "The persistent desire for punitive consequences for individual leaders takes punishment from the hands of the Judge and arrogates it to human calculations and balances" is not only a serious misunderstanding of the loving pastoral authority of the Church and a misunderstanding of ecclesial discipline ("punitive"), but is a denial of the Incarnation itself. God has entrusted to human beings His Son's Body. He has given us the administration of heavenly discipline leading to forgiveness. (Fr Victor Mamontov's "We need to jettison the temptation to externally influence society" is likewise a rejection of Symphonia.)
Discipline has been equated with "forgetting" about our brethren, but the exact opposite is true: our lack of discipline demonstrates an apathy toward the sinner's salvation and is a "forgetting" about him! The holy Scriptures prove this: "If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons" (Heb 12:8). The Bible tells us not to despise discipline, for "the LORD reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom He delights." So also the Church disciplines those whom we love.
I also believe that bloggers should be held accountable for vicious slander. Jesus said we will all be held account for "every careless word" we utter. It would be a healthy exercise to go through all the blogs on ocanews.org and lovingly confront those who posted hateful condemnation of people. In particular, I urge severe ecclesial discipline for James Silver, and if not accepted by him, the calling of a Church court for excommunication until he repents publicly. As James Silver himself has posted, those who accuse a clergyman without evidence are subject to excommunication. I have personally been scandalized by James Silver's false accusations, and am more than willing to be the one to request a spiritual court for his excommunication.
WHEN ARE WE GOING TO DEFEND OUR BISHOP? We always SAY we'll stand behind him, stand up for him as he faces opposition; well, James Silver in particular has repeatedly and maliciously (and falsely) attacked His Eminence in public. The unbridled and unsubstantiated and reckless venom from his mouth should not be tolerated in the Church, as its source is the pit of Hell. For his salvation's sake, he should be disciplined. (This is what ecclesial discipline is for!) What kind of Church allows such vicious slander to go unchecked? If what he says is true, prove it; otherwise, be disciplined. As the Voice from Heaven described Satan, he is The Accuser of The Brethren, who accuses them day and night. James Silver's posts has followed in these footsteps. Are we going to sit by and let him defame Vladyka's character to the world?
Father Mark Hodges
St Stephen the First Martyr Orthodox Mission
#188.8.131.52.4 Anonymous on 2008-09-17 10:48
Nice try! Now try to explain away Brooks Brothers shirts designated as "charity". I want to be on that charity list! Oh yes, and running a $700 hair salon tab in the 90s also had to take some extraodinary "charitable" effort... was he perhaps treating the MP dignitaries to ribbon beard-dos?
Really, of all the ridiculous explanations... and by the way, I've been to the Danilov restaurant. Even by Moscow standards running such a tab there required serious effort. Now, a modest dinner at "Pushkin" would have qualified...
#184.108.40.206.5 Inga Leonova on 2008-09-17 11:12
I have eaten there many times. It's a restaurant in the hotel that is on monastery grounds. Keep in mind, the Patriarchate's business is on a much larger scale than we are used to in the little OCA. The hotel is necessary to keep costs down as compared to the other hotels in Moscow. The restaurant is OK, but nothing that special. Someone was drinking expensive bottles of something, getting gouged, ... or getting a big tip for services.
#220.127.116.11 Anon. on 2008-09-16 16:27
Thank you for the review. Anyone know of a good diner or kabob house nearby?
#18.104.22.168.1 Fr. Dennis Buck on 2008-09-17 07:54
Family use , they must be all wearing armani !!! Give me a break stokoe , your a bottom feeder. I hope you get your's one day , that's not a threat but a wish. Go to church and stop watching soap opera 's. Church KILLER !!!
#4.2 Anonymous on 2008-09-16 15:43
YOU sir are in peril of your soul, passing judgement while piously spouting "its only a wish! go to church!"
It is not Mark Stokoe who is a church-killer. It is people such as Kondratick, Herman, and all those who let them get away with sinful misappropriation, gluttony, greed, and oppression. And you accuse Mark of being the sinner who will kill the church?
As a fellow media member, I can say without equivocation or hesitiation that Mark's actions and activities in running this site and reporting the "OCA news" has been beyond reproach either from a professional news standpoint OR an Orthodox Christian standpoint.
Not liking the message doesn't mean the messenger is guilty of doing something wrong.
Mark, ignore fools such as this last poster. I suspect he/she is ALL CAPS POSTER, been born again with a new keyboard or a sudden enlightenment about how to use the Caps Lock key.
(Editor's note: Sadly, he is not.)
#4.2.1 Kevin Nikolai Payne (not afraid to say what I have to say AND post my name with on 2008-09-16 17:56
More fine Christian rhetoric from yet another anonymous keyboard warrior, whose hateful mind and heart is a far more effective church killer than our host could be in All Caps Anonymous Guy's worst nightmare. Stay classy, Anonymous. Oh, and did I mention you're a coward? That's what people are called who toss around things like, "I hope you get yours," while hiding like a frightened child behind anonymity. Way to go, big guy.
#4.2.2 Scott Walker on 2008-09-16 18:24
Mark (and Alex above),
We do not know "a lot", and may never know everything!
What +MH has done here, against the authority of the MC is absolutely criminal and he should be sued / removed from St. Tikhon's immediately!
I originally felt extreme anger toward +MH and the Synod over the financial mismanagement of these past years. Now, however, I feel great sadness. +MH and the Synod are sick. Crime is a sickness (as is prolonged fraud). They need serious help!
How could +MH alone sign for the loan? Would it not require the Treasurer / member or two of the Synod Finance Committee? What of the reform / controls in place?
I was sick to my stomach in reading the comments of the Treasurer in stating that many reforms have been slow to take place. I imagine there still must be petty cash funds afloat as well.
What does +Tikhon know? He too should be removed along with +Seraphim, +Nikon and +Nathaniel (all named in the special report)! None of these men (and they are men) should be in serious consideration to be Metropolitan!
Mark, Stephen King would have a difficult time making up the drama involved here. Imagine if this website / blogs did not inform us, the corruption may very well be continuing to the highest levels of immorality!
All this - with no services to mark 9/11 - and a "celebration" of the Chancery?? How can there possibly be any celebrations?
+Herman should now seriously be considered for ex-communication and immediate removal. (Oh, must +Nikolai be laughing abroad!)
Thank you again for your good work Mark. So sad.
#5 Anonymous on 2008-09-16 09:44
thank you mark for digging up more "gossip" THE MC HAS NO CONTROL OF ST TIKHONS" THEY WOULD LIKE TOO! BUT THEY DONT! I THINK ITS TIME TO TAKE THE MC COUNCIL INTO COURT! MAYBE THAT WOULD NOCK THEM DOWN A COUPLE OF STEPS!
#5.1 Anonymous on 2008-09-16 14:08
Oh, that's right all caps guy...you told us in an earlier rant that Herman could put up the 300 acres at St. Tikhons if he wanted to..I believe this was in reference to the first Honesdale loan. I guess he heard you ? Or did you hear it from him? I guess he decided he need some pocket change. You must be an insider All Caps Guy and we didn't even listen to you..Shame on us!
#5.1.1 Anonymous on 2008-09-16 14:53
Oh dear, he's found the caps lock again.
Spelling hasn't improved, however.
Meanwhile, the battle for the very life and meaning of the OCA as church continues. Some seem to think it's only about money and power. That says a lot about their perspective.
#5.1.2 Rebecca Matovic on 2008-09-16 15:28
To refer to you, All Caps Anonymous Guy, as a buffoon is to insult hard working and decent buffoons everywhere. Honestly, why don't you go somewhere else and deposit a steaming pile of rant there? Don't you get it? Your hero is shown to be a weak and sorry and dishonest excuse for a hierarch, is finally shown the door by his colleagues on the Synod, and yet here you are, still shouting, still rude, still obsessed with power. Give it a rest. Your act is old and tired, and I strongly suspect that everybody else in the OCA is more than ready to move on.
#5.1.3 Scott Walker on 2008-09-16 18:37
DEAR TROUBLED SCOTT: WHO WROTE THE SIC REPORT? DO YOU THINK NESCOTT LIKES MT H OR MET T? THE ANSWER IS NO! DO YOU THINK THE REPORT WAS SLANTED? THE ANSWER IS YES! IN THE SIC REPORT WHERE IT STATED MT HERMAN KNEW THIS AND THAT! PLEASE SUBSTITUTE THE NAME "BISHOP JOB" HE KNEW MORE THAN MET H DID! DOES THAT MAKE YOU WANT TO GO TO THE MENS ROOM AND THROW UP? IT DOES ME! JOB IS THE CAUSE OF ALL THESE PROBLEMS! HE WAITED TOO LONG! NOW HE'S PLAYING DUMB! NESCOTT HAS A CHIP ON HIS SHOULDER BECAUSE HE WAS FIRED! MY TEARS RUNETH OVER FOR THE GUY! GET A LIFE!
(Editor's note: Like the scriptural dog returning to its vomit, All Caps Guy returns - this time to play the same two-notes endlessly played so much earlier in this drama. The first note was that it is the not the malefactors (RSK, +Herman) who are guilty of the disruption of the life of the Church, but those (like +Job) who helped expose it. And the second note is that this is all about personalities, earlier Wheeler, now Nescott, both of whom did what they did not because they were whistleblowers, but rather, each had " a chip on their shoulder". All Caps Guy's remarkable preference for ignorance and denial rather than the truth reminds me of the old saying that "where ignorance is bliss, 'Tis folly to be wise"; or as I had it put more bluntly to me recently: "Beauty is just a light switch away". Stop living in the dark, All Caps Guy.)
#22.214.171.124 Anonymous on 2008-09-17 16:31
Well, actually the retired bishop of Alaska is too busy causing controversy in his new home.
According to the article, he is "under the hospitality" of the Serbian Orthodox Bishop of Australia, Bishop Irinej. Doesn't he have to be released from the OCA first?
(Editor's note: The Age is Melbourne's largest and oldest newspaper. And being released is the least of our worries according to the article. In it the Bishop denies he is retired, let alone released from the OCA! (There is also a misidentification of Fr. Oleksa,who is a senior priest, but not the administrator of Alaska.) This too all needs to be clarified...)
#5.2 Reader Nicholas Bailey on 2008-09-17 08:57
I am so sorry to say but I agree. It seems that the entire Hierarchy has been compromised and tainted.
#5.3 Rebecca on 2008-09-17 09:56
Growing up at St. Tikhons I know that the MC has no say over St. Tikhons! Does or did St. Vlad's or St. Herman's Seminary's ask the MC for permission to get loans when they needed them? I don't think so. Who also governs the other OCA monastary's...not the MC. Who do they ask permission to get loans if they need it...not the MC. So I think your judgmental response to this is way off base. Get the facts straight.
You know this site is really funny, I now come on here on my lunch break to give me comic relief from my stressful job.
One more comment, I now find it amazing that a lot of posters on this site are now condeming the other bishops on the HS, but +JOB is the saint, the one who will guide us back to???? I don't think so folks. Maybe we should not even have an
ACC since Stoke and company have already made the decision for the church that +JOB be the next Met.
I for one am considering leaving the OCA and going to the Greek or the ROCOR church, even though I am a PK of the OCA!
Thanks for the laughs Stoke and crew...you really know how to stir things up. Your doing just a great job in the eyes of the beholder (whoever that maybe, surely not me!)
#5.4 action Jackson on 2008-09-17 10:23
It’s very telling of what kind of person would think all of this is funny - laughing instead of prayers and tears at these terrible events. You sound juvenile, mean-spirited and have a sick sense of humor....
#5.4.1 Anne Marie on 2008-09-17 14:00
You obviously don't read much of the site (does that make you a liar for stating that you often come here for amusement--probably not since it does not require reading or comprehension to be amused, I suppose).
If you had actually read here with any depth, you would have seen plenty of criticism of Archbishop JOB--from Mark S. and many others, including me. While some of his people believe him to be a shining light in all this, most of us realize (including himself) that he has willingly been part of it all, only coming to his senses relatively recently.
A saint? No one here thinks so.
But if he's not, what does that make YOU? (And the rest of us?)
#5.4.2 Kevin Nikolai Payne on 2008-09-17 15:58
Screen door. Behind. Don't let them make contact on your way out. Maybe you and All Caps Anonymous Guy can form your own church.
#5.4.3 Scott Walker on 2008-09-18 11:28
It must be nice having your own piggy bank! One does wonder, however, when we will be reading about the Honesdale Bank going "belly up" and transitioning to the religion business. What kind of lending practices does a so-called banking institution have when the character and authority of a signatory are in such question?
By all means, let's now have another chorus of "Move on OCA!" No need to pick on our fallen Metropolitan, who must clearly be enjoying his lucrative retirement free from the demands of his ungrateful subjects. And don't worry about St. Tikhon's--everything is hunky dory and to suggest otherwise is to question the holiness and competence of its Herman recruited staff and spiritually inspired atmosphere.
Just join hands in an orgy of love and forgetfulness, while the band plays merrily on.
#6 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2008-09-16 10:09
Maybe he needed to pay off Klimitchev's house since they will probably have to live on reduced incomes. But when he took out the loan, he never intended to be retired - you can go to the bank with that!
#7 mp on 2008-09-16 10:27
Not just the house, but I understand they just bought a new jewelry store as well. Not to mention the new minivan. Yeah, Herman hooked his boy up.
#7.1 Anon. on 2008-09-21 14:44
Mark, if I understand this correctly, the first issue is, who owns St. Tikhon's Monastery lands. If it is the OCA, then the MC and Holy Synod would have to approve borrowing against the lands. If the Monastery owns the land, then money could be borrowed against it following whatever rules the monastery has in its charter or bylaws regarding financial decisions of this nature. I've read the "rules" of some monasteries which allow financial committments like this to be made only with the approval by vote of the monastic brotherhood, others allow a monastic council to make certain decisions. I can only hope that the monastic brotherhood as a whole made this decision in order to cover shortfalls that may have been due to reduced donations and lower numbers at the pilgrimage this year and that it was not another scam. I do find it rather curious that the Monastery lists Met Herman as their abbott when in theory, he was living in Syosset or Washington, DC. I recall the abbott was Bp. Tikhon of PA before he was elevated to Bp, and assumed he either remained in that position or the brotherhood elected another of their ranks to be abbott who actually lived there but I guess they can elect anyone they want as abbott. I pray that answers will be forthcoming. St. Tikhon's is hallowed ground to me and many others. I know I passed on the pilgrimage this year and have not sent donations this year due to the fuzzy nature of the former Met.'s involvement with them and worries about whether my donation would actually go to benefit the monastery and the monastic brotherhood. I pray I will soon be reassured. As soon as that happens, I will send them a check.
#8 Dianne on 2008-09-16 10:49
Within the past months, St. Tikhon's Monastery has been incorporated as an LLC. Herman is the President and Klimitchev the Secretary/Treasurer. They were empowered to do this!
#8.1 MP on 2008-09-17 08:41
Is this true? If so, where were the Trustees???
OMG, it just keeps getting worse...
Lord have MERCY!
#8.1.1 Alexander Ivsky on 2008-09-18 04:56
Our collective blood should be boiling for a few reasons. First, the obvious reason that Joe Swaiko did this and all the while lying through his teeth that he was improving the operations of the organization. And people want us to think that he’s repenting! Secondly, that the Synod on the DAY that it KNEW, Sept 11, did nothing but assign Tikhon, one of Joe’s cronies, to take over. This reminds me of Fr. Zacchaeus in Russia talking to Seraphim, Nikon, and Nathaniel and all three of them ignoring him. Well, they get more information, BAD information, and they do nothing.....
But, what does Joe have to worry? His infraction is going to be ignored and swept away or he will receive liturgical house arrest or be REALLY punished and get a letter of reprimand. Remember, punishment, such as defacto excommunication only comes when you tell the truth in this organization. Yes, we have not forgotten about the light punishments!
People, when are you ALL going to get it that you have to stop the money? We are now at two people who should, obviously and without qualification, should be arrested and yet, they are walking the streets using their ill gotten gains basically thumbing their noses at those they stole from. And we, not taking to heart what we do know and what we know is still hidden, based upon that which we know, gladly give money and ask for more money for this to continue.
(Editor's note: There is no evidence that the Synod knew on September 11th in the afternoon; unless of course, Dr. Skordinski or someone else with the documents told them earlier. We do know that the MC did not receive them until that evening, after the Synod had made its decision. )
#9 Anonymous on 2008-09-16 10:52
if not enough money is comming in to pay the bills at st tikhons, what other choice is left? in tough times! you go out and barrow money! until conditions improve! get over it people!
#10 Anonymous on 2008-09-16 10:53
You said, "you go out and barrow money! until conditions improve! get over it people!" Get over it people??? Pardon me, but that's just plain STUPID considering the rest of the story! And that's why the U.S. is heading into huge financial problems, Scarlett O'Hara, "I won't think about that today, I'll think about that tomorrow". Not only stupid, it's probably CRIMINAL! Are ya gettin' any of this yet in that noggin of yours?????
Really Mad Now
#10.1 Really Mad Now on 2008-09-16 14:38
If you say extreme measures for extreme times, then so be it. However, if that is indeed the case here, then Mr. Swaiko is still guilty of a lack of judgment and transparency. A prudent person would not take out a loan, unilaterally, when there are allegations of misappropriations of funds pending against them. Perception is everything.
#10.2 Anonymous on 2008-09-16 14:56
That is the most asinine financial plan I have ever heard!
When times get tough and money is short you don't go borrow money--not if you want to keep what you have!
You STOP SPENDING MONEY and cut your expenses to the bone. You sure as hell don't BORROW and SPEND!
As Christian financial advisor Dave Ramsey says "Beans and rice, rice and beans, macaroni and cheese!" (He isn't Orthodox but he sure should be!)
Why do you think the U.S. economy is so bad? Why did Lehman Brothers go under? Stupid money management like "when times are tough go barrow money!" That's not even good advice when times are rosy!
#10.3 Kevin Nikolai Payne (not afraid to say what I have to say AND post my name with on 2008-09-16 18:05
sorry to inform you but that is the "american dream" barrow as much as you can to party with! and down the road try to pay it back! if you cant pay it back go chapter 11! you dont agree! try it you'll like it!
#10.3.1 Anonymous on 2008-09-24 15:24
Mark - first of all thanks for all you've done for the OCA. This is a general comment, don't know if its been mentioned before: there are so many anonymous writers. Even though they're anonymous, might it be possible to assign them a designation like, the first "anonymous could be A1, 2nd A2, etc.? Some of the anonymous comments are legitimate individuals who feel a need to protect themselves; others are shills. A designation would help readers know and compare comments written by the same individual. For example, if I knew this particular writer was "A5" or whatever, I could see his/her designation and therefore save myself the time of reading his/her future rants. Just a minor suggestion to a site that has proven to be a greater service to our Church than I ever thought possible.
#10.4 Fr Stephen Mack on 2008-09-16 19:08
If there is not enough money coming in, let people know. God will provide. There is no reason to do it this way and give the impression of impropriety. As Archbishop Serpahim said, "I appreciate the candour with which the comments were written, and I am paying attention.... Further, anonymity in this manner makes it more difficult for me to comprehend how many of the faithful in the Cathedral congregation are represented by such comments. I would therefore appreciate it very much if people would be direct, and honest withme....Indeed, such anonymity lacks the honesty being asked of me." It appears the synod has not been direct and honest about all they know,, knew, or suspected. None of the Holy Synod are anonymous but they do lack comments.
#10.5 Alaskan, looking for humility on 2008-09-16 20:27
As I think about, the integrity of the Honesdale Bank comes into my mind. Some investigation into this bank is needed. Did they not do due diligence in mortgaging a property by determining who owned it and who has the legal rights to mortgage it? Did Herman present doctored or fake papers? I really want to know how the bank could have mortgaged Church property to someone who doesn't have the legal right to enter into that kind of an agreement. Can we bring legal action against the bank to nullify that loan then? There's a lot more here that needs to be uncovered.
#11 Anonymous on 2008-09-16 11:09
My, my, when is the "innocence and neglect" going to end?
#12 Anonymous on 2008-09-16 11:11
Did the SIC bother to ask +MT where all the funds that were in the discretionary accounts that he (alone and together with Kondratick) had control of, went to? I didn't see anything about that in the SIC report.
#13 AnonyCT on 2008-09-16 11:43
What does it mean that he Mortgaged the seminary? Does than mean he sold it or...what, exactly?
(Editor's note: The Seminary sits on the monastery grounds. They are too different entities although located in the same place, so to speak. The Metropolitan mortgaged the Monastery for $152,000; that is, he promised to pay back the Honesdale bank $152,000 in 5 years (actually, whenever they call in the note, that is, anytime). If he fails to do that, the bank can take the monastery grounds listed in the agreement (about 128 acres, give or take a perch.) Hope that helps.)
#14 Ignoramus on 2008-09-16 12:16
128 acres are worth only 152 K? Really?
#14.1 Morton on 2008-09-18 05:40
St. Honsdale Monastery and Seminary.
#15 no name on 2008-09-16 13:11
Has anyone caught the 50th anniversay at Syosset notice on the OCA website? I mean, really!!! These people must all be walking around with signs around their necks saying-KICK ME..."
#16 no name on 2008-09-16 13:16
Better yet, if any one knows who Bill Engvall is, all I have to say:
Here's your sign!
#16.1 Anonymous on 2008-09-17 16:24
I think that THIS certainly makes things VERY clear: The man belongs behind bars---period!
I have no sympathy left...sorry dude!
#17 Fr. Pius on 2008-09-16 13:16
Without any question Herman should be brought in front of a spiritual court for all this! This is OUTRAGES! How can those so-called hierarchs do such things? It's unbelievable! They seriously think they are above the law of man and the law of God!
#18 Dan on 2008-09-16 13:28
I hang my head in shame in re to OCA. This latest revelation goes to the root of disconnected leadership. What will it take? FBI investigations culminating with an indictment under RICO statutes(racketeering and organised crime)? Lord Have Mercy On Us!!!
#19 Vladimir Bogolyubov on 2008-09-16 13:32
The Monastery is a unique institution of the Orthodox Church in America, like St. Sergius Chapel and New Skete. Its abbot is the Metropolitan. +TIKHON I believe has been listed as the deputy abbot which means he generally runs the day-to-day operation of the monastery in the absence of the Metropolitan. I do not know if New Skete has a deputy abbot or not but ultimate spiritual care resides with the Metropolitan.
There are other monasteries in the OCA that are within the boundries of a diocese and typically have their own abbot. I'm not aware of another monastary whose monks are members of the OCA that has a member of the Holy Synod as its abbot. However, there are monasteries in other parts of the world that are headed by a bishop who is the abbot. Holy Trinity Monastery-St. Sergius is the first one that comes to mind and also All Saints in Canada by +VARLAM (I think he's the abbot - it's listed on the OCA website).
#20 Methodios on 2008-09-16 13:57
Methodios, I am abbot of All Saints of North America Monastery in Canada. While I think that I should be on the Holy Synod, I am not. I want to mention that, as a not for profit organisation in Canada, we must submit a detailed financial report to the Crown every year, several pages, plus a balance sheet, and we are subject to a federal audit periodically. It requires the signature of all five members of the Board of Directors to secure a loan. We intentionally have two lay members on this board. It would be complicated, because our wetlands are covenented with Ducks Unlimited, and our woodlands with the Nature Conservancy of Canada. At this point in time, we certainly do not want the Holy Synod to have either access to or title to any of the property anyway. The section being zoned for a cemetary and the new church building will not be "saleable" either. But will be subject to a regular audit as to the administration of the cemetary segment. We like it that way. There should be much more of this sort of accountability
Your brother in Christ, Vladiko Lazar
Why is MH being allowed to live on Monastery grounds?Why hasnt canonical action being taken? MH had no right nor authority to take a mortgage out on property he doesnt own.
The Monastery belongs to the Church not MH,and MH is not above the Church and must suffer the consequences whatever they may be.Audits on the Monastery,Seminary and Bookstore should be taken as soon as possible going back to the year that MH became in charge of everything.There should also be an investigation most especially into the Bookstore,Klimashev,etc. What was his salary.Who received the profits from sales.Who owns the store in Phila.These and many more quetions concerning MH and Klimashev are to be demanded by the MC and S of Bs.
Faithful send money every day to Monastery for services,etc.
Whos been getting that money? MH appointed himself Abbot
years ago.The Brotherhood is to vote for their Abbot....
#21 Anonymous on 2008-09-16 14:34
Glory to IC XC!
What's the big deal? The mortgage is for only about as much money as the monk who signed for it makes in a year. He signed for it, certainly he can pay it off-- no problem.
Rev. Bartholomew Wojcik
St. Nicholas Mission Church
#22 Rev. Bartholomew Wojcik on 2008-09-16 16:05
Well, it needs to be revealed why the mortgage was taken and how was the money used. What were the terms of the mortgage? And does the OCA own this property or another organization.
#23 Anonymous on 2008-09-16 16:29
Herman is playing his "I am the monarch" and "I can do whatever I want" cards to the end... Orthodox theology of the symphony between hierarchy and conciliarity be damned.
Some of us have been trying to highlight this sickness for several decades. No matter what we said, almost nobody wanted to listen. It was worse than that. You ridiculed us folks. I take no great pleasure in watching this debacle unfold and finally be vindicated. I only ask now that you look within yourselves and search your hearts to root out whatever it is that caused you to persecute the truth-tellers. Let's now learn and grow in Christ.
#24 Name withheld on 2008-09-16 16:35
In these times when financial institutions are paying dearly for granting poor risk loans, I can't help but wonder how MH was able to get 1.7 million for Syosset and 152,000 for the seminary as collateral. Can anyone explain what his connection is to the Honesdale Bank? Does he have a personal financial interest in that institution? After all, no one knows exactly where the missing OCA money has gone.
Lies and deception must be a heavy burden for a religious person to bear. What do we have here?
#25 ANON on 2008-09-16 18:04
I wonder how the Syosset property could have been listed as collateral since, it is my understanding, that at the time of the "transfer" from the Griswold Estate to the Metropolia there was a condition that should the Church ever decide not to use the property as its headquarters, the property would revert back to the Estate.
If anyone has information to the contrary I would love to see it posted.
(Editor's note: Such a condition is not recorded on the public deed of record in Nassau County. If such a condition exists in another legal document, whoever possesses such a document had best make it known ASAP to have its validity determined. It will save any future strategic planning commission a great deal of trouble and effort.)
#25.1 I have questions..... on 2008-09-19 17:58
Our Metropolitan Council needs to investigate the details of this loan. To understand the nature of this loan; the OCA faithful need more facts. (Was it proper or improper?) Sad, but true, every action by someone connected to Syosset is being second-guessed by many of the OCA faithful.
#26 Sam Osman on 2008-09-16 19:58
Does anyone know what the money was spent for? Is thia another item that should be turned over to the IRS???
Yes it does.
My question, has any one questioned Herman on this?
Or has someone and he just stated that question was out of order?
This is a serious indictment on the SIC report. To have this going on, under their nose, as they're investigating malfeasance in the Church is not good and puts into question the report with regards to how much else they missed. Do we need another investigation to find EVERYTHING? Also, this is a serious indictment on all those procedures that the administration and the MC want us to believe were put into place to make this a more accountable organization with at least the appearance of governance and integrity. If neither the administration or the MC knew of this new debt then the they're blowing smoke at us concerning improvements. If either knew then they are knowingly circumventing procedures put in. In any event, this is a serious failure, two years after they worked so "hard" to improve the functioning of this organization.
In the end, either they've been lying or need to be relieved of their roles because they are not capable of handling them, in other words, terribly inept.
#27.1 Anonymous on 2008-09-17 10:54
Frankly, I think that no action is being taken because people are just happy enough that he is gone. I understand. That in itself gives many of us the hope that things can get better from here on out. I know that many of you will not understand this, because you have not been around him constantly, but just having him out of the picture for the past few weeks has been enough of a blessing that if it could stay this way I would be happy without there ever being any legal or spiritual action taken against him and his crew. I am at St. Tikhon's. I cannot describe for you the joy of not hearing his name mentioned at every service (or having to respond to the petitions of his archdeacon), of knowing that he is no longer the president of the seminary or pretending to be the abbot of a monastery he has never lived at. It is like a dark cloud as lifted. People are not walking on eggshells anymore every time him or one of his henchmen are in the vicinity, or doubting their calling to the priesthood because of who the Metropolitan is. I know that things are not peachy, but compared to what we have had to deal with up until now, it is a much better situation.
(Editor's note: You write like an abused spouse who refuses to press charges because it's good enough that the beating has stopped. The trouble is, that is no solution to the problem, only a temporary respite until the beatings start again. You have to deal with the problem, not just the symptoms.)
#27.1.1 Anon. Seminarian on 2008-09-21 15:07
I understand your point but I think that your analogy is a little off. The abusive spouse has "left the building", so there will be no more beatings. What is left to deal with is pain caused by that person. That could never happen while he was still in office, but chances are it could happen now. Before the Met.'s retirement everyone seemed pretty happy with the changes that were being made while at the same time being in agreement that Herman had to go. Well, he went. What is it going to take now? I am not ignorant. I read this website and am well up to date on all of the issues, but I just don't see the Church's lack of dealing with Herman and his ilk in a judicial manner as being as serious of an issue as those that have already (and finally) been dealt with. Don't get me wrong. I hope that something is done. I don't believe that criminals should walk free. Its just that its been a long time since something positive has happened and I would like to be happy about it for a while.
#126.96.36.199 Anon. Seminarian on 2008-09-21 20:22
Actually, sad to say, having him gone the past few weeks has done nothing to change anything. Yeah, we got one down, but the problems have not gone away, people are not happy, we're wondering about the deal he cut to "retire", there are many other areas where the corruption is very much entrenched and difficult to extricate.
Unfortunately the ones still there didn't see the opportunity, but have shown that its not just ole Herman, he had a support structure that could hold the titanic...
#188.8.131.52 Anonymous on 2008-09-22 10:42
+ Herman has been a customer for years at the Honesdale Bank, a frequent visitor to that institution. They also at Honesdale funded monies for the chancery did they not just a year or so ago. There could be legitimate needs for these funds.. perhaps the Honesdale Bank should be the next stop to find out just what is and was being borrowed over the years.
Corruption or just bad timing? Curious the Met can use the land as collateral.
Is he still 'in place' and in power at Tikhon's ?
#28 anonymous on 2008-09-17 03:18
MEATS FOR THE BELLY: As a student at St Tik's in the 70's our food quality (imho) was very poor. We used to receive our meats from a store in Waymart (Kacer's?). Several students found a store in Lake Ariel that would supply better quality meats at a lower price. The individual who ran the Waymart store was a friend of MH's. It was only when we very clearly demonstrated to other professors (and especially Matushka Borichevsky of blessed memory) how the seminary could save money and have better food that MH reluctantly agreed to switch. I bring this up only to point out that MH has nearly 50 years in the So Canaan area and he has numerous friends and acquaintances. I'm sure the officials at the Honesdale Bank are basing their loans on false info and a distorted perception of MH.
#29 Fr Stephen Mack on 2008-09-17 05:13
Word on the streets has it that the quality of refectory food is still quite low. Lunch (when everyone is present - faculty and married students) is reasonable, but dinner for the single students is little more than leftovers, if there is any, and toast if there is none. Supposedly, the person in charge of buying the food (a lifelong friend of Herman's) says that he does not have enough money to buy food for dinner. Though he apparently still buys food from local supermarkets (paying whole market price) than contracting with a wholesaler (such as GFS, etc.). Also, it is really very mysterious how much money he receives to buy food and how much of that money he spends on food. Apparently, no records are kept and no one bothers to look. I realize there may be bigger fishes to fry at St Tikhon's (like bookstore operations) but not feeding board-paying students is also very important.
#29.1 Anonymous on 2008-09-17 10:56
I used to run kitchens for a living, and if it's true that the food service manager is buying from grocery stores, he should be immediately fired. It is possible with careful planning and purchasing to deliver tasty and satisfying meals for about $2.50 a head, even if one is serving meat and dairy at every meal. I know this because I used to do it. It should be easier in an Orthodox kitchen, where the menu consists of beans and veggies in one form or another for almost half of the year! It cannot be done, though, if one is paying grocery store prices, nor if one is not buying seasonally and using a cycle menu. More Great Moments In Management from his lamentable ex-Beatitude. And he used to be the Treasurer because...?
#29.1.1 Scott Walker on 2008-09-17 17:21
Actually, it can even be done buying food at retail. I know, because I have done it. I have been responsible for events of up to 100 people and provided good food--very good food--for about $5/person per day. Three very good vegetarian meals every day. And it is generally a little more expensive to provide good vegetarian food, paradoxical as that may seem. There may be some excuse for bad food, but it's not cost.
#184.108.40.206 Morton on 2008-09-18 06:04
OK yeah, the food is bad, but nobody seems to complain much anymore. A couple of years ago a few health conscious seminarians pushed the issue of having more fruits and vegetables available, but since then I really haven't heard any more complaints. Everyone seems to like the cook and thinks that she does a good job with what she has to work with. Kacer's??? I don't know what it was back in the 70's, but all it is now is a guy selling sausage out of his garage. Literally. The food issue doesn't bother me because like most seminarians living off campus I choose not to eat there, which saves me a hundred bucks and keeps me from having to do KP. Oh yeah, keep in mind that the meal plan is only a hundred dollars per semester, so even at 2.50 a head the money set aside for food would not cover it. The fact is that St. Tikhon's needs a serious overhall. There are a good number of people who just need to go. Not because they are bad people, but because its the year 2008 and they just can't cope. Then there are others who need to go.... Can't say who for the same reason I can't give my name, but here is a hint...The bookstore. There is definitely a cold war going on at St. Tikhon's. I believe with all of my heart that our dean, Father Michael, is a good and spiritual man and has only the best interests of the seminary and the seminarians at heart, but he inherited a bad situation. Simply put, everyone with ties to Herman should be forced to step down as he did. And finally I don't know if Herman will continue to wield power here or not. He certainly plans to live right next door. We will just have to wait and see.
#220.127.116.11.1 Anon. Seminarian on 2008-09-22 12:32
It really is time to consolidate. The OCA doesn't need two seminaries. SVS is near many more institutions of higher-learning. STOTS should become a REAL monastery and retirement community for clergy.
#30 Anonymous on 2008-09-17 07:29
For heaven's sake -- what on earth would make you think that any priest in his right mind would want to spend his golden years in a community with a bunch of other priests!
#30.1 A Midwest Priest on 2008-09-17 12:16
When I drive over the Santa Cruz mountains to go to the beach I pass by a beautiful clergy retirement home run by the Roman Catholics: Lap pool, putting greens, sauna, vast library, a gorgeous chapel. It sits high on the hillside, and all the rooms overlook Silicon Valley. I've often wished we Orthodox had something like this for the aged preists of our Church.
#30.1.1 Anonymous on 2008-09-18 23:13
Our lack of discipline continues to harm the faithful. There is no vision for the positive value of ecclesial discipline in the OCA, especially not for bishops. Bishop NIKOLAI continues to serve in Austrailia:
A SERBIAN bishop who was forcibly retired in the US after a revolt by his clergy is working in Victoria, where his presence has divided the Serbian Orthodox community.
Bishop Nikolai Soraich was removed as bishop of Alaska by the Orthodox Church in America this year after two investigations upheld a litany of complaints, including that he appointed to the clergy in Alaska a man jailed for sexual abuse of minors.
The bishop was forced to cancel his visit to St Stephan of Dechani church at Carrum Downs 10 days ago after members of the congregation protested before the service. And police were called on Sunday after a confrontation between the congregation and members of other Serbian churches who travelled from Greensborough and Keysborough.
Official church investigations in Alaska into Bishop Nikolai found that he repeatedly abused and intimidated clergy and laypeople, violated the church's rules on sexual misconduct and fostered an atmosphere of fear and mistrust. He was also sued by a missionary he sacked after the missionary complained he was sexually harassed by Bishop Nikolai's chancellor, Father Isidore.
Father Isidore, who often referred to himself at Mrs Soraich, complained when drunk that Bishop Nikolai beat him, but retracted the complaint when sober, according to reports from Alaska. There is no suggestion of sexual relations between Bishop Nikolai and Father Isidore, whom the bishop repeatedly and rapidly promoted, but allegations of psychological abuse are cited in the official church report.
Nevertheless, Serbian community sources say Father Isidore is planning to join the bishop in Australia.
Archpriest Michael Oleksa, who is now administering the Alaskan diocese, told The Age that "the last five years under (Bishop Nikolai's) management were some of the most difficult we have endured in our 210-year history". "He was racist, he attempted to redirect our church so as to significantly change its identity, and he was personally unkind to the point of cruelty. Each of these charges could have several pages of testimony. All were upheld by the investigating committee that came from New York after dozens, if not hundreds, of complaints."
Bishop Nikolai was investigated twice, first by the chancellor of the Orthodox Church in America, then by two bishops. Both investigations upheld the complaints. Rather than be suspended, Bishop Nikolai agreed to take permanent leave of absence.
Father Oleksa said Bishop Nikolai was extremely charming and intelligent, and he was not surprised the bishop had found sanctuary in Australia. Now Bishop Nikolai is based at the St Sava monastery at Elaine, near Ballarat, and is leading church services and visiting parishioners.
Asked by The Age about the strife in Alaska, he said: "I wouldn't comment on such ludicrous statements. Once you comment on something that's foolish you have to comment on everything that's foolish."
But he said he had not been forcibly retired. "In the Orthodox Church a bishop cannot be forcibly retired. He can retire voluntarily or be removed by a church court, and neither has happened."
He said he would love to stay in Australia, "the people have been absolutely wonderful".
Bishop Nikolai is in Australia "under the hospitality" of the Serbian Orthodox Bishop of Australia, Bishop Irinej, who has been overseas. The diocesan office did not return calls.
"Under hospitality" means Bishop Nikolai has no canonical status in Australia and operates as guest of Bishop Irinej. The pair were reportedly friends in the US, and Bishop Irinej notified all Australian parishes that Bishop Nikolai should be welcomed.
The Serbian Orthodox community in Australia is small, but tensions are high after a merger between two branches 15 years ago. Some churches are in dispute with Bishop Irinej and have declared independence.
The parish secretary at Carrum Downs, who did not want to be named, confirmed that Bishop Nikolai's visit had been cancelled after parishioners read about his problems in the US on the internet.
from The Age
Did I read that right? Mrs. Soraich? Surely that had to be misquoted, if not its a truly very sad statement on Fr. Isidore's state of mind. One of the greatest failures of the OCA in handling the Alaska problem was the total writing off of Fr. Isidore and allowing Nikolai to take him. A terrible failing on the Church's part to take care of its own. A terrible failing on any organization to intercede in that case on his behalf.
At least, for the Australians, unlike those in Alaska, they know to start off what they have on their hands.
By the way, what's the word on the EEOC complaint? Has a ruling been made?
(Editor's note: Yes. Since it may now involve litigation, it is best you hear it first from Mr. Sidebottom.)
#31.1 Anonymous on 2008-09-17 10:38
It seems to me that taking out the mortgage was ultra vires on Metropolitan Herman's part. It is then possible that Honesdale has no recourse to the OCA or to St. Herman's if we refuse to honor it, and that Honesdale would have to then look to Metropolitan Herman. The difficulty is that that course of action, as satisfying as it sounds (to me also, I must admit), might impair the OCA's future ability to secure credit.
Not that a simple situation, this. I was willing to let a man in considerable pain to just go away quietly; I must admit that willingness is a bit impaired today.
#32 Edmund Unneland on 2008-09-17 09:18
Many letters have mentioned our Bishop Nikon as one who saw the tape from Father Zacchaeus and that he suppressed the information on it. Not one person on the SIC interviewed Bishop Nikon, who, by the way, is not a Russian speaker, he is Albanian. To continue to assert that he was party to a decision to ignore that tape without interviewing him is contrary to good legal as well as good Orthodox practice. Get this straight, our bishop is not implicated in any of the extensive crimanal actions of the former Metropolitanate, trying to indict him as a co-conspirator is simple minded, witless and slanderous. Let's stop throwing him under the truck and focus on the real culprits. Alice
(editor's note: No one has ever suggested, not on this site or in the SIC Report, that the Bishop is guilty of doing anything: just the opposite. The criticism leveled by the SIC - and myself - was that he knew of the criminality as early as 2004 and did nothing publicly. Others did. He didn't. Interviewing him would not have changed that fact. Moreover, when the topic came up in public discourse, the Bishop supported the former Metropolitan's efforts to keep it quiet - see for example the January 2006 Lesser Synod statement. Or take, for example, the recent vote of confidence in the Metropolitan recorded in the Minutes of the Synod meeting in May 2008. The Bishop now says he was not present when that vote was taken. OK, I believe him. But did he state that publicly at the time? No. Why not? It is the same question that other are asking about the statement in the SIC Report. If he knew about the criminality, why did he say nothing, do nothing about it publicly for 2 years? Others did. Why did he do just the opposite? Other's didn't. We know why +Seraphim did not - he felt it wasn't his responsibility. So what is +Nikon's excuse?
Yes, the Bishop may or may not have done things "privately" - but he will have to speak of that himself should he wish and explain what they were. But even those efforts, if such existed, do not excuse the public silence when so many were publicly laboring so hard and being attacked so violently -publicly - for those efforts. Hence my term "co-conspirator". Not because he profited, assisted, or did anything criminal; he did not. But because he assisted in the conspiracy of silence. He is culpable because he knew and kept silent and so assisted in the criminals continuing their criminality. That is not slander - that is the truth, backed up evidence. All it takes for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing. And in this case a good man seems to have done just that. Excusing him won't help him, or us, or the Church. Repentence, confession and forgiveness will. And if that is witless, or simple-minded, then count me as a fool.)
#33 Alice Carter on 2008-09-17 10:30
I like to be at the front of the line when there’s a buffet, but when it comes to giving Nikon the benefit of the doubt and sympathy, I’ll gladly go to the end and stay there.
I can imagine that Nikon was highly disturbed and felt like he was blindsided when he saw his name in the SIC report as basically blowing off information he had received into the corruption by our former Chancellor. I can imagine a terrible feeling in his stomach as he read that he ignored information given to him. I can imagine him saying, “that was 4 years ago, who remembered THAT?” The thing that got Nikon shaken up was, basically, he got caught. A bishop caught in the truth headlights revealing that he ignored when told, that he’s not the lily white person he wants to portray, that he turned the other cheek when told of corruption at the Chancellor’s level. Ouch!
I do not have the SIC report in front of me, but I do not recall any bishops other than Herman being interviewed. Is this part of Herman’s gag order on the Synod that we noticed with the townhalls? You really have to wonder. You have to wonder why the people who heard the financial reports from the Chancellor, the people who dealt intimately with him, the people who received things from him, the people who were told of improprieties would not be interviewed, and if they weren’t, they might just request to be interviewed. It’s a nice way of deflecting their own responsibilities, people like Nikon, to say, “the committee never called me.” Its like “if I was not called then I have nothing useful to say”, when all along they could have volunteered to talk to the SIC. What a concept! Its like a game of hide and seek with people like Nikon. You have to go looking everywhere to get any snippet of information because those in front of your face are stonewalling and not volunteering. You would think, you would really think, that the bishops would have been jumping over each other to speak to the SIC and preserve the sanctity of the Church of which they are protectors. But that’s not our Synod, and that’s not your bishop Nikon. You see, they didn’t want to do that. While the SIC went on, and we can only guess under what circumstances they weren’t called, they tried to hide like the 8 year old up way past his bedtime watching TV hoping his parents won’t notice him. We can surmise that it was Herman’s gag order and/or they were afraid they might slip up and well, talk about being told of the corruption by Fr. Zacchaeus. Best to not to say anything and pray that no one remembered and all will be well. Oops! Someone DID remember and now Nikon wants us to have sympathy that he got blindsided.
Alice, Fr. Zacchaeus is from the US. He served as Archdeacon for Bishop Job in Chicago. The fact that Nikon doesn’t speak Russian, but Albanian, means absolutely nothing in this instant. It makes us question even more, though, why he was in Russia in the first place, so thanks for bringing that up!
Let us be very clear here, one of the biggest obstructionists, and its been written here many times, has been the Bishop of New England. It is unfortunate for him, truly unfortunate, that when he gets upset that he was mentioned, we are only led to believe that he got caught and didn’t want that incident to reach any one’s ears again. We have to, sorry to say, give benefit of the doubt to the truth not being told when it comes to Nikon.
#33.1 Anonymous on 2008-09-17 16:46
I am not getting into the subject matter of this conversation because it is useless and the sentiment of the witch hunt and complete lack of concern for the persons involved is all too evident. I just want to inquire, why is it that so many of such posts are unsigned? I've said it before and I want to repeat it again: if you feel you are righteous enough to throw stones (especially sharp-edged rocks), do it with an open face! Otherwise, how can there be an honest dialogue? I may disagree with what Mark says on occasion, but at least I know who I am talking to and what he stands for! Ditto for many others. However, when it gets to rants or disrespectful name-calling, it is done anonymously in 99% of the cases.
To quote Gregg Nescott's words from the thread above (for which he has been duly bashed, not entirely unexpectedly): " the insistence of a few posters on this thread, and in months previous, in referring to +Theodosius as "Frankie" or "Lazor", or to +Herman as "Joe" or "Swaiko" is just plain wrong. As angry as we may be with what they have done, they are still clergy, and that should be respected."
I can confess firsthand that St. Paul's "Be angry but do not sin" is one of the hardest maxims to achieve, but isn't it also one of the most important ones? Yet on this forum it has been summarily thrown away in pursuit of the "objective good" (Machiavelli's logic, anyone?). "Bring 'em down on their knees and then on their faces and keep 'em down, summarily, who cares who is who and who's done what exactly?!" Any word of moderation or temperance is shouted down (I've been waiting for someone to throw a punch at Fr. Vinogradov, and it has just happened, courtesy of Fr. Hodges). No wonder so many people who have been posting here in the beginning have withdrawn!
Well, I said more than I had intended to and for this I apologize for I may have started another cycle of stone-throwing. Just one rhetoric question: I wonder how many people are sad more than they are outraged?..
#33.1.1 Inga Leonova on 2008-09-17 18:42
I am in the strange position of agreeing with most of what has been said by everyone on #33. As I believe Mark has said, let this be resolved by Bishop Nikon publicly addressing the question of his knowledge and involvement. He may have to eat "humble pie," as did Archbishop Job, but he may find that preferable, even tasteful, compared to remaining under a cloud of suspicion and doubt, justified or not.
The rehabilitation of our remaining bishops is a worthy objective and greatly to be desired for a myriad of reasons, not the least of which is the cleaning of their own souls. But they must proactively help with this process--"you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink."
#18.104.22.168 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2008-09-18 05:53
The Lord Jesus was BOTH sad and outraged. Righteous indignation (the virtuous product of outrage and sorrow) leads to ACTION, and in the case of Christ *to the cross*.
The problem is not that sadness is somehow better than outrage, or that outrage is not at all acceptable. The Holy Spirit will use them both to bring us to OUR cross in this mess and His ultimate victory!
#22.214.171.124 Ever and anon. on 2008-09-18 06:26
Quite to the contrary, there are more comments and more new writers than ever before. Those that eave are those who cannot keep the charade going any more or are those that have had their images of these men shattered, who were hoping, that in the end, their conceptions of what these men were like were true, only to be shattered, and continually so, at what surfaces.
#126.96.36.199 Anonymous on 2008-09-18 08:51
Wow - just reading this all for the first time! I'm confused - How can the Metropolitan alone take out a loan? Doesn't he need one or two signatures, just like signing the payroll? Also, what of the bank? How could they give him such a loan? What did he put up against it?
And, the irony - all of this, no mention on the OCA official site, but alas, a "celebration" of the anniversary of the chancery. As one person put it, how can there possibly be any celebration other than the fact that the bishops are not in jail? There is no moving on from this. The allegation of financial fraud is serious, separate from "forgiveness" and confession.
If +MH can take out a loan in June against the explicit order of the MC, how can the OCA claim that there has been change and reform?
#34 Anonymous on 2008-09-17 11:21
It depends on the bank's interpretation of who holds title. Canonically, the seminary and monastery are part of the OCA, however, legally they are independent, just as many parishes are independent, through their own articles of incorporation and bylaws.
I have not seen the incorporation papers (a recent report above indicates it is an LLC, or Limited Liability Corporation, with Met. Herman as it's president), nor the bylaws/operating agreement for the Monastery, but +Herman may have been, as much as we dislike it, very entitled to take the action he took.
Not only would there be no criminal activity involved, there would be little if any civil recourse as well.
Bottom line - we set up this legal entity (the OCA) with the idea that our Bishops would be men of integrity that we could trust. Unfortunately, that has proven not to be the case. We will continue to find these irregularities until the statute is modified and the governing documents of each and every institution associated with the OCA are reviewed and critiqued.
Perhaps we need the AAC to appoint a governance commission to draft comprehensive re-writes of the statutes and bylaws of the OCA, a model for dioceses and parishes, and for monasteries and other affiliated institutions. A part of this revision should be a delineation of the responsibilities and competencies of each unit and the OCA as a whole (largely the Central Administration). This delineation should be done, but may or may not be part of the governing documents.
Please note that forcing these changes are impossible - they will have to be adopted by each unit individually. This will be a multi-year process.
I for one would be happy to serve in any capacity I can, as I indicated in my first posting on this site in January of 2006.
It took us 15 or so years to get to this point. It won't go away overnight, by any means.
Martin D. Watt, CPA
#34.1 Marty Watt on 2008-09-17 15:17
For these reasons, both the GOA & Antiochians have consolidated the ownership of all their churches and monasteries under themselves. No church under the GOA or Antiochians can sell, mortgage, etc. any church property without the permission of the archdiocese incorporated officers. This is good and bad, but one thing for sure, a rogue priest, bishop or church council can't fool around with church property.
#34.1.1 Anonymous on 2008-09-18 05:55
It could be that the "property" of the Monastery is privately owned and not part of the OCA. This has to be explored for it's legality. There may be nothing wrong with the mortgage, however, more checks and balances are certainly needed throughout the church.
#35 Anonymous on 2008-09-17 14:24
Jailtime will not help those Bishops. They need qualified spiritual guidance and reduction in rank to simple monk under the direct supervision of an Abbot and to spend the rest of their days doing obediances at a Monastery.
#36 Vladimir Bogolyubov on 2008-09-17 14:38
I'm curious where did the money go? Does anyone know?
This happened in Alaska while Bishop Nicholai was the ruling Bishop.
Who pays for these?
#37 Curious in Alaska on 2008-09-17 14:50
Not so many nights ago, I had a dream - quite a vivid one. I was travelling through North America visiting parishes in the various Orthodox Jurisdictions to sense the ambience and spirituality therein.
Whenever I went near any OCA parish, I kept hearing the strains of Wagner's Gotterdammerung playing in the background. Perhaps, I thought at first, it was coming from a nearby home stereo.
Some of the clergy in some of the parishes I visited agreed that they, too could hear Gotterdammerug, and wanted to silence it but could do nothing about it. Other clergy in other parishes merely thought it was one of Gershwin's Rhapsodies, or something from Mozart, and dismissed my concerns as paranoia.
I badly wanted to believe it was Mozart, until I read about the St Tikhon's mortgage. My worst fears were then realised. I then knew that it was not just a nearby home stereo, but infernal music bubbling up from below.
I had heard this Gotterdammerung before around ECUSA parishes, and had lingered to hear it (sadly) played out to the last bar of the movement.
My only fear is this: will the OCA be able to stop this final part of the Nibelungenlied Cycle from playing out to its end around OCA parishes? Or will it follow in the footsteps of ECUSA?
The original vision of the OCA deserves to succeed.
May God arise and His enemies be scattered!
(Editor's note: Well, the fat lady hasn't sung yet, and trust me, after sitting through 5 Ring Cycles in my life, I know when it is coming. But remember this, John: in the Ring, as in the Gospel, in the end the world is redeemed by love. I see much love for the OCA - from some Bishops, many priests and many, many lay men and women throughout the US and Canada. And that cannot be without effect....)
#38 John Battye on 2008-09-17 14:55
I thought we were in Gilbert & Sullivan here, not Wagner.
#38.1 Fr. George Washburn on 2008-09-17 23:24
I worry that if folk are looking for a help from the government regarding the apparent not-following of the internal rules such as who may do what with money the answer will be with state legislators. Right now I think the wrongdoers in high places seek protection on the unwritten tradition that US law recognizes only Protestants (internal rules properly enacted are enforcible by courts) and Catholics (the highest official interprets the rules as he likes, from moment to moment everything written down amounts only the advice of paying or paid guests no matter the process involved in drafting it).
We need legislators or enlightened jurists to recognize a third way so courts can act to recover against anyone who violates rules properly adopted by a synod.
It might be time to write state legislators. Right now I
#39 Harry Coin on 2008-09-17 17:50
Concerning Herman's financial improprieties at the expense of the St Tikhon's properties, the only thing that needs to be said was said by our Lord, long ago:
You will know them by their fruits! (Matthew 7:20)
#40 David Barrett on 2008-09-17 18:28
RSK was one of + Herman's FRUITS!
#40.1 Anonymous on 2008-09-18 05:45
I have hoped and prayed that this whole crisis was the result of poor judgment and not a product of illegal activity. It just gets worse. +MH is retired, send him to a monastery far away to live out his days in prayer. The others involved should repay any funds not ethically or lawfully received and move on to careers as laity. Our remaining bishops and leaders are unable to function correctly in this culture of fear. I truly believe that the remaining bishops will make things right and ensure transparency in the future. I'm bewildered now.
#41 Wish I were Antiochian on 2008-09-17 18:47
I think the first thing I would do is to investigate the ownership of the Monastery. It would not surprise me if Hermans name was the owner. I recall there being a church outside of Hazleton, Pa. in an old coal mining town called Sheppton (might have heard of us, famous for the Great Sheppton Mine Disaster), where there still stands a Russian Orthodox Church named St. John the Baptist, I believe the oldest Russian Orthodox Church in NEPA. If I recall correctly it closed roughly 20-30 (?)years ago. I believe Fr. Joseph Martin was the last priest there. Anyways, the church belonged to the OCA and after it was abandoned, yes abandon (Altar Table, vestments, Icons, Crosses, Church music still in Choir, Iconostas still intact, candle stands with candles in them etc. etc. etc.) it was sold to a local guy here for whatever reason he wanted it. I recall in a conversation with him that on the original deed it was owned by the Church, then at the time Herman signed the church over to himself and then he sold it to our local guy, lock, stock and barrel. Then the church was sold again to a parish in the ROCOR. So, my questions would be where did that money go to and was Herman able to transfer the church over to himself and sell for personal benefit? So I would advise whoever to look into the ownership of the properties, obviously this man is capable of doing things on the slide if the above mention is true.
#42 Anonymous on 2008-09-17 21:16
How dare he incorporate St. Tikhon's Monasytery with himself as the Pres and his deacon as the sec. treas.!!!!Our grandparents , with Bishop (St. Patriarch Tikhon) founded this beloved monastery and no one willed it to him. this is thievery THOU SHALL NOT STEAL It breaks my heart to see what he has done to the beloved Orthodox community of ST.TIKHONS AND THE OCA AND ORTHODOXY . MAY GOD HAVE MERCY ON HIS SOUL.
#43 annoymous on 2008-09-18 06:14
The remark that Fr. Shafran's motion at the last New York Diocesan Assembly was "soundly defeated" is not quite accurate. There was a voice vote. Many voted for the motion, but it appeared that those who were against it shouted louder. Because the chair was obviously against the motion, he quickly ruled it defeated. Perhaps it was defeated by a majority of delegates, but because a hand vote was not taken, we will never know for sure. But even the voice vote showed that it was not "soundly defeated."
Be that as it may, one can disagree with Father Shafran's motion. But his plea for civility went unheard. It was appalling and disturbing to see priests shout with such anger, blood lust, self righteousness and glee at the fall and humiliation of another human being - regardless of his position in the Church. One wonders what these priests preach about when the Gospel of the Unforgiving Servant is read at Liturgy.
Yes, there has been wrongdoing in the Church - and that has to be dealt with. But the vindictive spirit that often permeates the response to this wrongdoing makes one feel that the medicine is worse than the sickness.
Sex, money and addictions of all sorts (to drugs, alcohol or power) are the classical ways the devil seeks to bring down clergy - and he often succeeds. But these Big Three sins are, at least, obvious and self evident. Far more pernicious are hatred, self righteousness, disrespect, contempt, spite and vindictiveness covering themselves with the mangle of religion. We can easily become blind to our own sins and convinced that we are fighting "for the good and healing of the Church." If the spiteful spirit of some of those who write in this website is what we are fighting for, if that spirit represents the future Church "cleansed" of all evildoing then I, for one, want no part of such a Church and, I suspect, neither do many others. As Father Schmemann of blessed memory tirelessly pointed out: it was not thieves and harlots who crucified the Lord, but religion and religious people who were convinced that God was on their side. One is reminded of the devil in one of Dostoevsky's novels who loves to go to church, light candles and sing in the choir. His greatest victories, he says, are won in the church and through pious people whose piety has blinded them to his presence. "Judge, but judge rightly," and let us never, ever, assume that God agrees with everything we say or do in His Name - for though our actions might be externally "pure," our hidden motives may not be.
It may behoove all of us to read Fr. Schmemann's inspired sermon, "Forgivness Sunday," a sermon he preached into the Soviet Union and which can be found in "Celebration of Faith," SVS Press. "Each is guilty of everything before everyone." Each of us might consider sorrowing over the Church in our own hearts, striving for that humility, joy-producing sorrow, tenderness and love that make it possible for the Holy Spirit to do the healing that has to be done. It is hard to see the Holy Spirit at work in the face of spite, hatred and the joy at another's misfortune.
In another matter: you omitted to report that, at the Assembly, the chair proposed that the Assembly approve forgiving the debt of those parishes who had been withholding assessments. It was declared that these parishes did this "from conscience." The proposal was met with "noisy silence," and was not adopted. I think the unstated implication here was that those parishes who did not participate in withholding assessments had no "conscience." But in fact, parishes continued to remit assessments - not because they were indifferent or approved of the evildoing that is going on, but because, through "conscience," they understood that the work of the Church (including the funding of MC meetings and the SIC meetings and report) must go on - regardless of what the leadership is doing. The Church is Christ's Church, not the bishop's (or priest's or layman's). It is His Body - and no one else's.
Thanks for your website. It is the only place where anyone can learn what is going on the Church. The OCA website is useless in that regard. Being of a timid heart and soul, I ask that his posting be posted anonymously - for I do not wish to enter into polemic with anyone or be spat upon by those who disagree!
(Editor's note: I didn't know you could spit on the internet. Polemics, yes: but spitting, no. Nevertheless, thanks for the clarification and further news. Reports from witnesses to events are always welcome!)
#44 Anonymous on 2008-09-18 10:04
"forgiving the debt of those parishes who had been withholding assessments."
Forgive me, but I thought it was only acceptable to withhold if you kept the assessment in escrow. In which case, when they feel they can pay assessments again they can simply write a check for a large lump sum. Parishes which did not set up escrow accounts would be met with "noisy silence" from me too.
#44.1 Anonymous on 2008-09-19 05:27
Please don't take this as spitting, Anonymous.
You say Fr. Schememann wrote it was not thieves and harlots who crucified the Lord but religion and religious people
Well, who were the real thieves and harlots? I contend they were the religious people who stole the relationship of the common people to Father God, replacing it with guilt and fear, and religion itself was the greatest harlot, gone astray from Christ the Bridegroom, the Light of transparency and truth between God the Lover and Man the Beloved.
Yes, let's consider hidden motives of the heart. What would be the motive of one saying *Each is guilty of everything before everyone*? Could it be that it excuses the person from
having to deal with his/her own and everyone else's *dirt*. Is it an easy way to *sweep things under the rug*? What is it that is being stolen and prostituted here? Perhaps it is religion's more subtle way to lead people astray. Religious people are adept at using words to confuse the hearts of men, the home of paradox and mystery where the Holy Spirit works without words to enlighten and save man.
So in my heart, I might say in true humility before God I am guilty of all before all, and it is the Holy Spirit that will convict me of my OWN sins and lead to me to confess them openly before God and man. The Holy Spirit will never hold me accountable for all sins before all, for there is no man
who can claim that distinction for himself, for that would indeed be the most devilish of prides. I question any man who teaches such. What are the motives? Does it lead to not having to deal with sin at all?
#44.2 Ever and anon. on 2008-09-19 06:05
If I knew your name, I would have liked to thank you personally for this post, but as much as I dislike anonymous discussions, I still want to thank you - for the spirit of your message.
It would have been amusing if it wasn't so sad how unpopular the voices of moderation have become. In respectful response to the (anonymous again!) responders to my post in the thread #33, I just want to clarify something. To the first - I'll just repeat, my point is "be angry but do not sin". I am as outraged as many, maybe most, of my brothers and sisters here. I am, however, striving (not always successfully) not to cross the line into the unrighteous anger. Also, it is infinitely hard to hate the sin but love the sinner, but this it what the Lord commands and as hard as it is, this is what we must try to do, inasmuch as we fail, time and again. Our Lord died on the cross for Robert Kondratick as well as for Archbishop Job. How each one of us responds to His sacrifice is between us and Him... Feel free to disagree with me.
And to the second responder, I did not say there were fewer posters. It is wonderful that so many voices have joined in the discussion over the years of the existence of this website, and we are forever indebted to Mark, among other things, for making it happen and also for exercising some prudent measure of moderation so at least we are protected from many rabid postings which unfortunately abide in the other Internet venues. Yet I find it sad that many of the best and wisest voices which were heard in the beginning (and there were several signatories of the "letter of the 70" among them) have fallen silent, and no, it is not due to the "shattered illusions" (come on, what illusions do you think OCA priests with over 20 years of tenure on the East Coast or in Alaska can possibly have?), but because the spirit of our discourse has deteriorated over these years to the level on which many people just don't find it possible to dialogue.
At the risk of inciting another outrage, I will repeat, after the previous poster, that it is to our condemnation that we so frequently allow the spirit of hatred, vindictiveness, self-righteousness, and disrespect to dominate our diatribes. It is the voice of the adversary, the one we pray against in our hymnody for the Feast of the Cross - "grant victory to the Orthodox Christians over their adversaries"... I consider it, among other things, one of the symptoms of the pitiful deficiency of pastoral and episcopal care in our Church. In very concrete terms, if I say things I will later have to bring to confession, I would really rather NOT say them in the first place. Yet if so many of us DON'T even KNOW that they would need to bring some of their words to confession, we are in trouble indeed...
I apologize for this long-winded post. I think it is time for me to again withdraw from this forum. I didn't expect to return to it and I am not sure I should have.
Peace in Christ,
#44.3 Inga Leonova on 2008-09-19 08:45
Your post is a worthy one, O Timid Person, a sincere contribution to this discussion in which most of us can find things with which to both agree and disagree. And I admittedly write about it and all these matters from a position of little risk - outside the OCA.
But let me exhort you to quickly, and if possible, completely, reconsider your position of posting such responsible, but not necessarily majoritarian, comments from underneath the cloak of anonymity. You don't want to be spat upon. Of course. Generally speaking neither do I or the others here. But sometimes we can't serve Christ without at least risking it.
After taking his readers through the roll call of faith in Hebrews 11 and the sufferings God's OT Saints endured, and reminding us of the great cloud of witnesses, the author of Hebrews exhorts: "Consider Him who endured from sinners such hostility against Himself, so that you may not grow weary or faint-hearted." (Heb. 12:3)
What does that have to do with you and me? What do we get from considering matters from that standpoint?
First, the reminder that we are called to the same fate: crucifixion with Christ in whatever form that may take. Second that it is "through many tribulations that we must enter the kingdom of God." (Acts 14:22) God gives us grace and strength in the midst of sufferings, not for the sufferings that we decline or avoid, and He will for you too. In fact I am trying to do the very same thing in my own little world just now! Best to you as you do in yours.
#44.4 Fr. George Washburn on 2008-09-19 09:13
While you are dripping with disdain for the mortal sinners who dared withhold their assessments, let me ask you this:
If your elderly mother and her two sisters worked their fingers to the bone every night, cleaning office buildings just so you had a place to live and some food to eat, and you had some idea that the banks where they kept their hard earned funds had recent and repeated histories of being robbed blind while the management looked the other way, would you continue to deposit your mother's and aunts' hard earned funds in those banks? Of if they wanted to support the local food bank where everyone knew the food wasn't getting to the hungry folks, but the cooks were wearing Armani aprons, would you continue to send their hard-earned monies to that place? Or if another service organization took their donations and provided not one ounce of service, would you consider your family's donations well invested? Shame on you if you would!
And since you find the stewardship called withholding so distasteful (regrets to your "poor mother and aunts"), would you tell us how you handled the last three years; what was your witness by which you hoped to get the attention of our leaders before they destroyed themselves; or were you just another little ripple in the black sea of fear, waiting for someone else to take a stand while abandoning our leaders to their own wiles?
And if, investigations not withstanding, the underlying conditions which caused all of the above remained in place, what would you tell your mother and her sisters to do now?
fr. jason kappanadze
elmira heights, ny
#44.5 Fr. Jason Kappanadze on 2008-09-19 21:52
"The wickedness of others becomes our own wickedness because it kindles something evil in our own hearts." (Carl Jung). The vindictiveness and spite which the scandal has produced in our hearts is as bad as the primary evil itself - if not worse. Such a response is a response of "the world" and worldly people and leads to nothing but an endless cycle of hatred: today's freedom fighter becomes tomorrow's tyrant and today's reformer becomes tomorrow's corrupter. The only way out of the vicious cycle of evil being met with more evil is crucified love. "Forgive your enemies" is impossible unless an inner transformation has taken place in our hearts, for forgiveness itself is a suffering, an inner crucifixion, an "interiorization" of that Cross that was so recently venerated in our churches. This whole scandal, as bad as it is, is also a great opportunity for all of us to truly repent - that is, change our whole inner focus and partake of the Cross which, alone, heals, restores and renews all things - and makes authentic forgiveness and reconciliation possible. Putting people in jail, howling for the last ounce of blood, demanding confession and restitution are, of themselves, useless and will lead to nothing in the church except the satisfaction of our own insatiable lust for revenge and sick glee at someone else's fall into sin. A "purified" church built on such a foundation is a church that may feel, smell, look and sound like Orthodoxy, but is, in fact, an ersatz church, a church without the Cross, a church that will quickly simply collapse. Putting lipstick on a pig...Humble, crucified, all-forgiving and unconditioial love is the greatest power in the world, and through it the world is conquered for Christ. And when it disappeared among Christians and they fell into the "ways and logic of the world," the world was lost. It is very easy to be shocked, self righteous and shout for restitution and revenge. But it is not so easy to respond in a Christlike manner. Yet it is crucified love that elicits repentance and confession. A priest who pours the vinegar of rules and regulations probably does not hear real confessions, but a priest who is full of kindness, love and humility will probably bring out the deepest sins that we hide and are ashamed to confess. If we want the wrongdoers to repent, love them. That's how Christ does it. "Depart from me, O Lord, for I am a sinful man." We repent before Him and confess because we have first encountered the pure love and joy of God in His Face. I find it odd, Father, that I have to remind you of this - when you, a priest, should be reminding me!
The Church must be supported, period. As a small boy, my Russian grandmother used to give me a quarter for the basket. "You have to give to the Church," she said. You give because you have to give. You give because, confessing Christ, you have put yourself under restrictions - chief of which is that you must give - not only of your wealth - but of yourself - in fact, of your whole life. It is not negotiable once you say "I believe." Of all the charges hurled against Christ, nowhere do we hear that He did not fulfill His responsibility to the Temple, nor did He forbid the widow with her penny - knowing full well the corruption and thievery connected with the Temple. But so long as it stood, it remained the "house of my Father," and was to be treated as such. The Church is the Church, the Body of Christ. You go after the corruption and expel the money lenders. But you do not destroy the temple in the process. You disagree, but to me, the withholding of assessments appears as being little more than a temper tantrum which wants its own way - in another words, just another "worldly" response. And when, at the Assembly, such activity was raised as an act of "conscience," as though such parishes were on a higher moral plane than others: then a sense of outrage (not disdain) was engendered in the hearts of many, an outrage expressed by a cold silence.
When Christ called the people to repent, He called all to repent, rich and poor alike: the rich for oppressing the poor,and the poor for their inner resentment and hatred at being oppressed. Father Florovsky, of blessed memory, said that, during the Russian Revolution, some of the most violent attacks on the Church came from the pious Russian babas, many of whome, n their hearts, were actually "nihilists and atheists." Let us be truthful, father, and not romanticize - neither the rich nor the hardworking poor. All need to repent.
As far as "lurking:" Everyone has to make up his own mind about what he or she is called to contribute to this whole scandal. That decision is no one else's business and requires no approval or permission from anyone. Again, this website is a great thing and fulfills a genuine need in our church, and for that we should be grateful to Mark. But it also seems that, in some ways, it has degenerated into the same 20 people or so saying the same things to each other and filled with the same attitudes and opinions - which, to me anyway, are unworthy of those who are supposedly striving to live a Eucharistic life - and which, as your response illustrates, Father - have become intolerant and disdainful of anyone who is not part of the party line. And no one seems to be challenging this attitude. So that's why I wrote. Peace.
(Editor's note: As a point of fact, over 1100 different posters have contributed in the past 3 years. Some seem to post everyday; others only once. If someone can come up with a better idea for exchanging ideas and sentiments, let me know. Until then, we shall keep on.)
#44.5.1 Anonymous on 2008-09-22 10:53
This was a beautifully written post but I cannot fully agree. We can forgive all those responsible for all the problems in our church. That is not the problem. The problem is that those responsible have not owned to the accountability of what they have done. Someone took millions of church funds for personal use, someone is involved with the immorality, someone lied, someone cooked the books, someone went to “Toys R Us” on our dime, someone signed checks for personal use out of funds that were given in charity, someone traveled extensively on church funds. Reasonable people can conclude that it could not be only one person. So where is the humility? Where are the resignations? Where are the funds being returned? Where are the gifts being returned? One priest involved said outwardly, “I have done nothing wrong.” I forgive him but for what? He has yet to admit to himself he did wrong.
We may be the bad people going after them but remember it was the “good” people who crucified Jesus. The “nice” people in the robes who told the Jews how they should behave. The problem today is that people have lost their sense of sin! Jesus said He did not come to change the law but to fulfill it. He wanted us to believe that if one truly loves, he will not steal, lie or kill. If that is true, then all those involved did not love because, obviously, they stole and are probably still lying.
I agree that we need to support the church. I don’t agree where. There are so many OCA parishes in need, pick out any one of them instead of sending the money into the bottomless pit. Many of our best charities (who post their budgets on line for easy viewing) have an administration cost of between 5 and 10 percent. A little arithmetic, and their pie charts, tells me that 90 to 95 percent goes to good works. How has the central church used their money? It really isn’t too hard to figure that out. By the way, how much money was used for mission parishes recently (from 2001 to the present) and for the youth? What about soup kitchens and food for the poor? Has the central church even thought about that? Maybe that’s where all the socks were donated, to the poor people in New York since that’s near where they were purchased.
I wouldn’t pick on the churches that are withholding yet. When the dust clears, their money may be just what we need to pull ourselves out of the shambles, like an insurance policy after Katrina. But right now we’re still in the storm.
Please be reassured that we all love and cherish our faith and our love of Christ is our anchor in this present confusion. We all want to go to church and pray and live a Eucharistic life. We all want to go home after church and not rehash all this horrid disgrace. Finally, without any doubt in my heart, I truly believe God, through the Holy Spirit, is slowly bringing us back to the true, honest, loving church he founded.
#188.8.131.52 Anon on 2008-09-22 16:53
Jesus said *Which is easier: to say I forgive or to say
Take up your bed and walk?
Of course it's easier to say *I forgive and move on, but to see the healing come we must go to the cross and win a victory over the disease and this will be painful and not easy. We must emulate Christ who went to the cross and there defeated the devil. His statement of forgiveness was a product of that defeat, and not itself the monstrous struggle of bearing our sins, for it is easy to say I forgive. It is much harder to deal with the sin and bring healing. And how can we bear the sins in this our struggle for healing if we do not know what the sins are are. Instead we're given platitudes like Everyone is guilty of all before all. What a cop-out that is! Just close your ears, your eyes and your mind, and say you forgive is what we're hearing these days. This is a pipe dream, not worthy of soldiers of Christ, who are not above their Master.
Winning the victory takes more than just saying I forgive, it means seeing the hidden lurking evil completely cleansed from the Body of Christ. And we must take an honest look at that evil, before we can defeat it. That will take real WORK and real HUMILITY and real HONESTY.
Let us remember also the divine words that faith without works is dead.
The soultion to this mess is not easy and is not over.
#184.108.40.206 Ever and anon. on 2008-09-23 05:54
A mad idea; 152 laymen from the OCA buy the Note on the Seminary... $1000.00 each. I know it wouldn't mean much. Unless it goes south on the man from South Canaan. Talk about taking back the organization! Orthodox Laymen for being Accountants.
#45 anon on 2008-09-18 12:27
This is in response to ALL CAPS GUY. We should pray for him. I believe he is suffering from a mental/spiritual pathology.
And to ALL CAPS GUY: Show me the data to back up your claims or please cease posting.
And I am serious that you might want to see a health care professional. And your father confessor. In either order. Do you realize how irrational you sound?
You are beloved of God, created in His likeness and image. Your words are unbecoming to your high calling.
ANd if you are just "pulling our legs". Then shame on you.
#46 Linda Weir on 2008-09-18 13:45
There is a simple way to find out the ownership of St. Tikhon's-read the deed and any attached articles. Deeds are public information. In many areas deeds are kept at the county seat.
#47 Anonymous on 2008-09-18 15:43
Here is information from the
Recorder of Deeds Office
Wayne County Courthouse Annex
925 Court Street
Honesdale, PA 18431
Phone: (570) 253-5970 Ext. 4040
Q. CAN I GET INFORMATION OVER THE PHONE?
A. General information can be obtained by phone but for more detailed information you should come into the office or retain a Title Searcher or Attorney. Office employees are not permitted to make searches.
Q. WHAT ARE THE HOURS OF THE RECORDER OF DEEDS OFFICE?
A. The office is open to the public on week-days from 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM; however no papers will be accepted for recording after 4:00 PM.
#48 Jeff Beck on 2008-09-20 00:37
Folks may be interested in reading additional information from the Wayne County, Pennsylvania Public Tax Information Website. This site includes information about the property as well as dwellings, auxillaries (other out buildings), and historical and current ownership. The map feature allows one to examine the records of adjacent properties.
I have provided some property information for the two key parcels. See these pages for details:
ST TIKHONS ORTHODOX
Tax Map Number: 24-0-0271-0040.0001
Control Number: 027011
Owner: ST TIKHONS ORTHODOX
Township: SOUTH CANAAN
School: Western Wayne Area School District
Neighborhood: SOUTH CANAAN
Location: SAINT TIKHONS RD
New Land Assessment: $355,500.00
New Improvement Assessment: $6,301,800.00
Deed Date Record Date
Sale Price Owner
$0.00 ST TIKHONS ORTHODOX
$0.00 RUSSIAN ORTH THEO SEMINARY OF
ST TIKHONS ORTHODOX MONASTERY
Tax Map Number: 24-0-0271-0040.
Control Number: 027010
Owner: ST TIKHONS ORTHODOX MONASTERY
Township: SOUTH CANAAN
School: Western Wayne Area School District
Neighborhood: SOUTH CANAAN
New Land Assessment: $396,900.00
New Improvement Assessment: $1,859,400.00
Deed Date Record Date
Sale Price Owner
$1.00 ST TIKHONS ORTHODOX MONASTERY
$0.00 RUSSIAN MONASTERY
#49 Jeff Beck on 2008-09-20 01:07
The ownership of the property is clearly under the OCA. + Herman has some explaining to do. To take a mortgage without anyone elses knowledge is problematic.
#50 Anonymous on 2008-09-23 05:31
May the Lord God, forgive us all at this deep-suffering time!
All of these problems, be they Mortgaging St. Tikons, or all the other scandals that have been emerging recently are nothing more than the results of what "DICTATORSHIP" is all about. Read History! and you will all see how "SECRET SOCIETIES" work themselves out in the daily lives of ordinary people. Anything that is IMPERIALISTIC is going in the wrong direction, as far as I can see; and that is not very far considering present implications of just simple thievery and manipulative control.
I have not solution to this MESS, personally, ..... The Church according to Our Lord Jesus Christ is supposed to be an inner Kingdom! and inner dwelling place as the Gospels state so simply. Not all this imperialistic control of others through a multiplicity of rules and regulations, canons, and all else.
Shy not simply do as Our Lord Jesus Christ invited His followers to do and live? Read the Gospels over again; and you'll certainly be able to see as much as the Holy Spirit of god intends you to see.
The OCA SHIP is hitting the rocy coast line at present! Will it survive as well as its members. The OCA, I don't know! That is God's perogative, not mine or yours. As far as I am concerned, I am trying to live my personal life according to the Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ. It is far less complicated than all of these Canons at al!
I need to be faithful to Christ and to His Gospel and noit to some Church entity that seems to be leading us all astray, rather than into a dee[er love of God and neighbor and into the REAL and TRUE Kingdom of God, which is within!
God help us all! Let His Presence be our refuge; and not all this turmoil that brings nothing but havoc to our personal lives and to our Church; and to our world!
Dictatorship is wrong! Control of any organization by secretive tactics is wrong! Working for personal financial betterment is wrong!
FAITH in God is what is needed not in human frail broken persons who do not know what they are doing; or saying! Forgive us all for we know not what we do!!!!!!
#51 annon on 2008-09-24 07:47
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