Wednesday, June 7. 2006
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What is being described here is the continual tension that exists in every non-profit organization regarding the use of designated funds. It would appear that Fr. Bob's view on the Beslan Fund was that 50% to the designated project and 50% to administration was right for him in this matter.
Fr. Bob's mistake, and the OCA's mistake, is in not having sought and set a policy on the subject of the surcharge that a non-profit organization will place on administrative overhead load costs applied to funds raised. This policy needs to be set and published to potential donors. It is published in many organizations. This is a "Best Practice" that must be set by the OCA. That way, there is no question. If the number is 20%, then 20 cents out of every dollar donated will be flow to administration and 80 cents to the designated project. I picked 20% arbitrarily. I do not know what the number should be for the OCA, but once set, this should be an objective numbers used for all budgeting. It should not be the arbitrary, as it appears to have been in the Beslan situation.
Reference the "Donors Bill of Rights" on the ECFA website. These folks have a solid ethical standard: http://www.ecfa.org/ContentEngine.aspx?Page=DonorBOR
Also, it is very strange that Fr. Bob went to Moscow to extract the 50%. What is that? Is Syosset not able to cover the expenses stateside, where it was collected? It sounds like expense reimbursement procedures are being manipulated. There needs to be a policy and procedure in place and everyone needs to follow it... especially the Chancellor.
#1 Name withheld on 2006-06-07 15:36
What exactly do you see as the overhead cost for this collection.....a surcharge for the FedEx envelope that was used to send the check ? Each parish that collected funds sent their check at its own expense I'm guessing....I know mine did .....what exactly would be Syosett's cost be....? What am I missing here? An entourage of twenty to deliver it perhaps ?
This latest revelation of a tape that exists and was viewed by more than one Heirarch is very distressing. But let's get real here....which one will speak up? Not one is my guess. Which one will want the spotlight turned on him and his shenanigans. Assessments....lack of accurate reporting.....lack of bookkeeping......make no mistake .....there is much yet to be learned and much more to be revealed.
Anonymous by request....
#1.1 Name withheld on 2006-06-07 20:58
The Charity Navigator (http://www.charitynavigator.org/) gives its highest score to fund raising organizations (in which capacity the OCA was acting for these funds) with administrative expenses between 0-7.5%. This earns a score of 10. Greater than 25% earns a score of 0. Where does that put Father Bob's OCA?
I agree with the previous responder: the administrative expense for special appeal funds in the OCA such as the 9/11 and Breslin Relief appeals should be 0%. The mechanisms for the administration of these funds are already paid by other sources except for trivial expenses such as postage.
#1.2 Thomas Hamrick on 2006-06-11 10:55
Hopefully soon the authorities will intervene to bring this scandal to the front and begin to sort out who has done what and whom should be prosecuted.
Suggestion Mark, why not place a poll on the site, "Have you lost faith in the leadership of the OCA at this point?"
This is just plain silly. Its reprehensible, and totally non-defensible. The leadership HAS to go. They can no longer be trusted. They are making a mockery out of the masses of members. The OCA has stepped all the way back to square 1. All of the progress made in 30 years has been undone by greed and thievery.
#2 Bob H. on 2006-06-07 15:59
Is it really worth wasting any time talking about the things BT decides to say or not say? His credibility tanked with me long ago and I don't find a response to him worthwhile discussion.
As far as a response regarding Fr. Kondratick's apparent attempt to bolster the OCAs cash position by squeaking back money from the Beslan relief fund, what can be said that Fr. Wojcik hasn't said. As good hearted, good intentioned as it may have been to want to travel to Moscow, the ends don't justify the means. If this allegation is true, there is at least one unanswered question. Who asked Fr. Kondratick to do it?
Budgets, people, budgets. You budget the trip to Moscow. If the budgets are busted, some things have to go...sometimes the budgets have to grow..
First, you have to report against budgets. Everytime I respond, I keep landing back here. Report against budgets, get a loc for cash management (heaven forbid this would happen first), put some caps on these "discretionary" accounts, and all of this goes away.
The OCA can get its credibility back overnight with full financial transparency and reporting on the OCA website.
#3 Daniel E. Fall on 2006-06-07 17:50
Mr. Fall suggests that Fr.Kondratick went to Moscow to ......
"bolster the OCA cash position".
How do we know that Fr. K didn't go to Moscow to bolster Fr.K's cash position? It seems a strange way of doing business,i.e. send the money overseas and then travel over there to ask for money back to cover some imaginary expenses. Are we sure that Fr. K wasn't upset with the Archimandrite because Fr.K wasn't getting his cut?
Didn't the bishop of the west say something about the Children's stocking fund being involved? Was some of that money diverted as well to Fr.K's cash position?
I would hope that the members of the MC would ask some pointed questions AFTER they ask for and view the incriminating tape, which incidentally the bishop of the west says "exculpates" the former chancellor. Learn something new every day. I thought the correct word was ....incriminates.
#3.1 nicholas skovran on 2006-06-07 20:28
This has money laundering written all over it.
#3.1.1 Michael Geeza on 2006-06-08 13:27
Your best work so far is the TAPE article.
Continue in your efforts.
The TRUTH must be revealed.
And I pray that the Provost Marshal does continue
to "spill the beans"!
#4 My name withheld, I apologize. 6-07-2006 on 2006-06-07 19:07
Where are all the defenders of the ex-chancellor now?
I think we already have our answer regarding the allegations.
They most assuredly must be TRUE.
What a disgrace!
We all owe Bishop Tikhon of the West a hearty THANK YOU for his very incitefull posts.
#4.1 Michael Geeza on 2006-06-08 08:38
Please forgive me for disagreeing with you, but I do not believe that we have anything even close to an answer yet. What you seem to view as proof is actually only another set of unproven allegations. But we have, you will recall, the command of the Lord, "Judge not according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment" (Jn.7:24). We also have a warning Apoc./Rev.12:10) about slinging accusations carelessly.
Moreover, I have yet to see anyone making any effort to conduct the required canonical examinations into the character and motives of the accusers (cf. Canon VI of the 2nd Ecumenical Council, etc.).
Further, I have yet to see anyone challenging His Beatitude's torquing of The Statute to dismiss the Chancellor. If we all go back to the study materials given us before the admendment of The Statute at the Pittsburgh AAC, we will see the intent of the framers never envisioned so quasi-papal an application of Article IV,2,i or an action which goes far beyond "pastoral intervention" to the seizing of authority rightly belonging only to the Metropolitan Council and the Holy Synod.
Further still, I see no indication that anyone involved in this mess has been obedient to the direct command of the Lord in Matthew 18:15ff to go through a process aimed at reconciliation.
Too much of what has been said and written stinks of rage, bitterness, self-righteousness, and glee at the perceived wrongs of another. And the Lord warns us in Luke 13:3,5, that unless we, too, repent, we shall likewise perish.
#4.1.1 Igumen Philip (Speranza) on 2006-06-09 03:34
With all due respect, do you honestly believe this investigation would have gone this far had the allegations not been true?
The Three part series recently posted speaks about many facts.
Among these being hundreds of thousands of dollars are unaccounted for, the Chancellor was receiving a housing allowance since 1991 when a home was provided by the church and that said ownership in the home was cleverly asked to be "transferred" to him directly.
Thirdly, a video tape exists with talk about giving back money intended for Belsan but which he needed to cover the costs of a group of individuals who accompanied him to Moscow.
I would love to learn what "other" little secrets lie here.
We are dealing with moral and legal issues which have gone beyond control and accountability for years and it's time they stop.
I respectully disagree with your opinion, although you are entitled to it.
Much wrong has been done and I don't know how much more proof people need to believe. Have we all become doubting Thomas' ?
Much harm has been done to the church Fr. Igumen Philip.
Isn't anyone ever accountable for their actions any longer?
#220.127.116.11 Michael Geeza on 2006-06-09 08:40
As I understand it, an examination into the character and motives of the accusers is only required if the allegation is one of heresy. The accusations here would seem to me to fall into the category of "immorality," not heresy.
Melanie Jula Sakoda
Concerning the scope of the Sacred Canons, they explicitly go beyond the matter of heresy. Please consult Canon 74 of the Holy Apostles; Canon 6 of the 2nd Ecumenical Council; Canon 21 of the 4th Ecumenical Council; Canons 8, 137, 138, and 139 of the Council of Carthage, etc., together with the commentaries by St. Nikodemos of the Holy Mountain. In the process, let us remember that the Sacred Canons are not laws and that it is both inaccurate and Latin-minded to use the phrase "canon law." The Sacred Canons are applications of Orthodox Christian doctrine to specific lived situations and needs; a given Canon answers the question: "What does it mean to be an Orthodox Christian and to live as an Orthodox Christian in this particular situation?" And please forgive my inherent pedanticism.
#18.104.22.168.1 Igumen Philip (Speranza) on 2006-06-10 03:18
I confess I'm unable to quote book and verse, at least until I find the cheat sheet I was given. However, the issue is very relevant to the area of sexual misconduct, since many survivors find themselves unable to attend church. Although I know that the monks from Holy Transfiguration in Boston hold a different view, Pokrov has been told that by several sources that there is a different standard for accusers/witnesses to moral impropriety.
Melanie Jula Sakoda
Have you heard of common sense and decency?
KEEP ALL OF YOUR CANONS!
As a child we were taught truth and respect.
WHAT DO OUR SEMINARIES TEACH????
Michael, once again- there are just allegations- no facts! People are all just making assumptions abour different topics being brought up. You should really stop making allegations yourself- money laundrying- please! what other non sense stories will you make up- please talk about facts only!!!!!
#4.1.2 Sarah on 2006-06-10 16:21
"No facts?" Please, cut us a break!
1. Former OCA Treasurer and Secretary Deacon Eric Wheeler says huge amounts of church money were misspent.
FACT: The $1.7 million loan is to replace misspent/lost/stolen --- we don't know which yet --- contributions, with the raided appeals accounts and the amounts missing now publicly listed in the information sheets given the Metropolitan Council. That's money that was donated to help specific folk --- the 9/11 victims, the Beslan survivors and the like --- and never got there.
2. Former OCA corporate secretary and assistant to Fr. Kondratick Paul Hunchak says Fr. Bob spent the summer of 1999 --- right when chief internal Auditor John Kozey, as well as the independent outside auditors, first raised a ruckus about serious audit problems, and Fr. Bob and Metropolitan Theodosius ran out and hired big name, big bucks criminal defense attorneys --- shredding documents from a filing cabinet he kept in his bathroom. Deacon Wheeler says Fr. Bob regularly used to get into shouting matches with two former treasurers, the Deacon and Fr. Paul Kucynda, when Fr. Bob refused to provide receipts of documentation for large cash expenditures.
FACT: Coincidentally, all kinds of records are now found to be missing, delaying/frustrating the audits.
3. All evidence to date, from witnesses and documents, points to Fr. Bob as being at the center of this scandal.
FACT: The Primate of the Church summarily fired him --- a close friend and advisor for two decades -- for failure to cooperate with the audits, disobedience, and for threatening the Church in a letter sent to the Metropolitan by Fr. Bob's personal lawyer.
So Sarah, your knee-jerk reaction that there has been no evidence presented might have been appropriate six months ago, at the outset of this scandal when little was known, but is woefully unsupportable today.
We all await the results of the investigations and audits, but to suggest that there are "no facts" on the record to date is simply disingenuous. There is an abundance of evidence, both direct (from statements of eyewitnesses and from documents and other physical evidence) and circumstantial.
Please read all the documents and articles and reflections on this website, noting all the corroborating evidence, and then get back to us on this belief of yours that there are "no facts".
#22.214.171.124 Gregg Nescott on 2006-06-10 23:49
Why can't you accept the FACTS which have already been divulged by many sources. Protodeacon Eric, Paul Hunchak, OCANews.com and now Bishop Tikhon and the Archimandrite Zaccheus tapes?
What more do you want or need to hear?
Does a list of what has already been divulged need to be prepared for you as a reminder for you to better understand?
It's about time people have the guts to stand up for what is right already. Too much garbage had been going on in Syosset for years and I find it very sad that there are still people out there who can't seem to accept or understand this.
Facts ARE facts Sarah, and there are plenty of them circulating already.
However, just to put your mind at ease, I'm sure more facts will be forthcoming once official results of the audit and investigation become posted, and perhaps then, you will believe.
#126.96.36.199 Michael Geeza on 2006-06-11 10:24
As a historian, history teacher, and "recovering Catholic seminarian," I have to say that all this raises my hackles. No murders or mercenary armies so far, but so much of this reminds me of the corruption in the Catholic Church in the 1400s and 1500s. And we know what that led to. Half measures will not do--and I don't mean an overly zealous, "throw'em all out" approach. However, those culpable of the abuses, as well as the cover-ups, must be consigned to a monastery to remove them from positions of responsibility and to help them work out their salvation. I left one Church due to corruption and obfuscation. I'd hate to do the same regarding Orthodoxy.
#5 Gregory Grant on 2006-06-07 20:25
Dear Gregory: The Church itself is Holy, even though some of its members might not be. Hang in there, brother. You, and we, have thousands of supporters who will see this through to the end, where we right all these wrongs.
#5.1 Michael Strelka on 2006-06-08 08:13
Jesus don't need no stinkin' video tape to know what was said and what was done.
If this is all true about the tape and everything else, it hardly makes for "A good defense at the dread judgment seat of
To Gregory, the Holy Orthodox Church is much more than the sum of its inadequate human parts. Don't let the weeds choke you, ok?
Lord, have mercy!
#5.2 Rdr. Alexander Langley on 2006-06-09 20:30
Easy there Nicholas, you took what I said out of context completely and changed the meaning of it. I said apparent and I called even the manipulation of cash within charity funds evil, not including charging overhead. If I called manipulation of funds evil, graft is nothing less, but as an accountant, it would be irresponsible, and not conservative for me to assume graft. For that matter, for any of us to assume the worst first is irresponsible and has a greater reflection on us than the people we accuse of wrong.
We know little.
Today there are far more questions than answers. I believe we do know that restricted funds were misappropriated for managing the organization, but did that come from the OCA?
Hopefully all of you read Fr. Bobosh's reflection. I truly hope the leadership of the OCA recognizes how easily they can mend the holes in the ship. Do they recognize the holes?
The holes aren't mended by accountants and lawyers researching old wounds after the ship has sunk. The holes are mended by reporting immediately there is a hole. The Orthodox Church in America's membership will be asked to help in this matter, but it won't happen without openness and humility, and a way for the membership to see holes immediately.
That is not to say openness doesn't have its share of problems. I would think a trip to Russia for the Metropolitan and others for a birthday might be okay, others may not. At the end of the day, a reasonable travel budget would be acceptable to everyone. These petty issues are the things the Synod is probably worrying about, but in the context of failing to meet fiduciary obligations to charitable causes, they are nothing.
I noticed a couple of the members of the Synod hinting towards the need for more information for them in the minutes. The truth is, the information needs to go to the stakeholders, the members. Without it, the church is doomed for continued cash problems.
#6 Daniel E. Fall on 2006-06-08 17:28
I have been deployed to Iraq since last fall and have been following these issues in a somewhat detached manner since February or so. Mark, thank you for your efforts and your site since it helps the Truth come out, and as Christians, we should always be searching for the Truth. The things on here are hard to read, often to the point of nauseating, but it is necessary for the information to be published. The only way we are getting information over here is through the internet, so it can be a valuable information tool.
Even though everything we have belongs to God, it is irresponsible stewardship to give to a specific cause and then have those funds covertly diverted elsewhere. God does not call us to sit idly by and let the wool be pulled over our eyes.
Those of us who are wholeheartedly Orthodox and concomitantly wholeheartedly American certainly see no reason to renounce autocephaly and be subsumed under another ancient Patriarchate (as if any "jurisdiction" is without its own problems!). Autocephaly is important in America, but what these problems may illustrate more than anything is that the OCA, while having a history dedicated to missionary work in America, is certainly not infallible. Unfortunately, with these problems, it may have compromised some of its leadership role in leading the rest of American Orthodox into administrative unity. Time will tell.
I have missed the divine services since being deployed, however I realize that it is easy for the icons, the music, the liturgy, etc., to become "idols" themselves, especially if one has been Orthodox for a while and things become "routine." As a priest told me when I was younger, the outward appearances of the church are useless if they do not draw you closer to God. Perhaps this is one problem..... being caught up too much in outward appearances, and not focusing enough on being Christian.
Hopefully, as the truth comes out, this will be a time of making necessary changes and possibly cleaning house as those in positions of responsibility (Holy Synod, senior clergy, Metropolitan Council, etc.) deem necessary. For those who occupy these positions, please do not neglect this responsibility. Perhaps this needs to be a temporary full time job for some on the Metropolitan Council? We cannot compromise our future as a cohesive church body and our mission to America. Remember that our prayers are with you and for our church as a whole.
MAJ, MC, USA
#7 Gregg Gerasimon on 2006-06-09 00:05
If the scenario described by the editors is inaccurate or mis-leading, you are a disgrace and should be dealt with severly.
If the scenario is accurate, all those supporting the folks involved should reconsider their positions and those caught on tape should be defrocked. I have no desire to see them in leg-irons, because, as Father John said, "the road to hell is paved with the skulls and bones of priests...". God will deal with those who steal from widows and orphans.
We now have an issue that cannot be subject to "spin". It is what it is.
#8 Peter Baker on 2006-06-09 04:22
I am not sure what you mean by not wanting to se them in "leg-irons." I am assuming that you do not see the need for criminal prosecution if appropriate.
I would disagree. Part of repentance is the acceptance of the consequences of one's actions. This may involve criminal sanctions or civil remedies to pay the debt of one's actions to both society and individuals. There is an interpretation of Christian forgiveness that tends to let a transgressor of the hook for their actions. I think that this is a misguided interpretation and that it is a Christian obligation to ensure that appropriate consequences follow actions.
#8.1 Thomas Hamrick on 2006-06-11 11:42
My point was that my priority is to remove them from any position of real or perceived authority in the church, ie, administrator, pastor, priest, etc.
I agree that we tend to forgive and forget, but that is not really the way it should be. I would think that someone who steals from orphans and widows could admit their guilt, repay their ill-gotten gains and quietly accept the legal consequences. What a way for a person to repent - to bring the Word of God to prisoners.
However, if leg-irons are appropriate, let's use them.
#8.1.1 Peter Baker on 2006-06-15 03:52
In his remarks to the New Jersey Deanary now posted in the Reflections section of this site, Fr. John Nehrebecki references the
opinions voiced in the past by Archbishop PETER to the effect that the Statute and the various statutory reporting patterns laid out therein were contrary to cannonical good order and, therefore, not binding on him.
In the course of his Grace's postings on the internet, Bishop TIKHON has made some references to the Statute, with the apparent implication that some provisions of the Statute are inconsistent with good canonical order.
In the minutes of the Holy Synod meeting published on the OCA website, there is discussion of the scheduling of the next AAC. Seemingly some asked about moving it forward, but the conclusion was that this cannot be done because the Statute urgently needs revising and time will be needed to do that before the next meeting.
Now the original explanation (if I recall correctly) for spacing the AAC at a longer interval was to save money. Now it's all about the Statute.
So my question is, are we about to see that the response of our hierarchy to the current crisis is going to be an attempt to consolidate administrative authority within the Holy
Synod on all matters and officially to demote the AAC and Metr. Council to the merely advisory bodies they have in effect already become through careful selection of members and tight 'management'?
That would be a truly mind boggling response to the current situation.
Is this really the time to be messing around with the Statute (admittedly an imperfect, compromise document that probably needs revising)?
And is this really the time for Bishop KYRILL to go off to Bulgaria for a celebration? Or is it considered extra important because we've got to try even harder, and spend even more money, to keep up appearances in the face of the current controversy?
Mark, the article on the tape is the most important thing you have published for some time. It gives a clear picture of a church administration which totally lost track of the fact that the OCA is first, foremost, always, and only a CHURCH. Instead they got caught up in some sad and soul-destroying parody of high flying influence peddling. It was all about cultivating "Major Donors" and "Friends" with trips and entertainment and favors (tablecoths, presumably custom-made in Russia). And somehow this was all justified because it's important for us as the autocephelous church in America to act the part, to be seen in the right company, to have influence and respect.
When the conversation turns to autocephaly -- well it's a complicated question, isn't it? If autocephaly means the parody of self-importance persued in the past decade and a half, then who needs it? But autocephaly (as Fr. Nehrebecki movingly points out) is a promise and a trust. We need to be good stewards of what we have been given, and that means not only money but also the vision of a church truly rooted in America.
Can someone in authority please stand up and show some clue that he gets it that it is time for the OCA to get back to being a CHURCH and stop being a development office and public relations machine run amok?
#9 Rebecca Matovic on 2006-06-09 06:11
Thank you for your insightful post. The drive of the OCA to cultivate respect and influence through the pomp and circumstance of overseas ventures, will not be nearly as effective as cultivating our established churches (some of which are dying on the vine), our many mission churches, our seminaries and seminarians, our monasteries and monks and nuns.
The fruit of THIS cultivation would bring worldwide respect from Orthodox Christians. As Father Hopko has so ably pointed out--this financial scandal is only a symptom of misplaced priorities and spiritual rot. I pray daily for the light of Truth to shine brightly and illumine the hearts of all involved.
Barry A. Sabol
#9.1 Barry A. Sabol on 2006-06-09 09:02
"Honesty requires realism. If you prefer dishonesty, any proposition will do, the sillier the better." -- J.R. Nyquist
I believe the first comment on this thread, asking us to believe that the events described in the article about surveillance tapes is an example of "the continual tension that exists in every non-profit corporataion" between administrative expense and intended use of donated funds, illustrates the level to which silliness can go, in the pursuit of dishonesty. But, it gets sillier.
"$90,000 was subsequently collected and forwarded to St. Catherine's." Given Bp. Tikhon's caution to remind us of "rake-offs" in the Russian banking system (does anyone know any stories of the same "right here in River City," as the song goes?) are we to infer that the $90,000 was carried to Moscow by nine men from New York, each bearing $9,999.99 in cash under his cassock, accompanied by a kid with a dime in his pocket? Or, maybe ten men, each carrying $9,000?
Is it really, truly not possible to wire money from a New York bank to a Russian bank, either directly or through an intermediary bank in Europe?
Fr. Zacchaeus "received a call from Fr. Kondratick that he was on his way over to collect the money." On his way over across the ocean, across Europe, or across town? To "collect" half the money that had previously been sent to St. Catherine's from the very place where Fr. Kondratick had his office? So far, in this tale, we've bought either ten, or eleven, or more (remember "the entourage") round trip tickets from New York to Moscow, to deliver $90,000 and then take back half of it? And then, are we being asked to believe that the part about taking back half of it was to pay the way of the entourage who had just traveled half way across the world for the purpose OF taking half the $90,000 back?
"Illegality" is only an issue for the courts. Illegally gathered evidence is not admissible, but we're not in court. We're discussing amongst ourselves family business. In civil law, the "victim" of "illegal taping" can sue. He may not win the case, but he can sue. The whole issue of "illegality" is a big, fat, smelly red herring. And, incidentally, I ask: are the American ambassador and various Russian officials frequent visitors to Fr. Zacchaeus' office? If so, on what business?
If, on the tape, our "former disgraced Chancellor" explains to the young Archimandrite how "OCA funds have been manipulated for years," those who have been donating the funds have a right to ask: How? By whom? Fr. Kondratick? Others? Which others?
If the tapes "exculpate the former disgraced Chancellor," then he must have been ratting on somebody else in his conversation with Fr. Zacchaeus? If the tapes "exculpate the former disgraced Chancellor," then why would Fr. Kondratick care whether they were shown to the FBI, or to anybody else? How does any discussion of the tapes then have any potential for "blackmail?" Did the person who e-mailed Fr. Kondratick demand money from him to keep the tapes away from the FBI? That would be blackmail. Simple threats are not blackmail, they're simply threats. And again, I ask, why would the FBI want to see them, and why would our former Chancellor want to keep them away from the FBI? Bp. Tikhon has just assured us that they absolve Fr. Kondratick of wrongdoing. But then, who is it that they do NOT absolve?
We are, as Mark points out, grateful to Bp. Tikhon, as he is in fact the sole member of our Holy Synod or current administration who is willing to share any information publicly with the clergy and the people of the OCA. Yes, he spins it like crazy, but maybe that is just to make us think, and because he enjoys a good puzzle himself. Who else has demonstrated that he thinks we have a right to know anything at all about what is/has been going on?
As for what has, in fact, been going on, someone mentioned in one of the comments that it looks like money laundering. At least. And what else could have been going on, perpetrated by an attitude and a culture of utter materialism without regard to spirit or ethics? Will the OCA's story when it is finally written, be the non-profit mirror of Enron, Las Vegas, and all the others rolled into one ghastly, gooey glob?
Just asking. Cate
#10 Cate Shea on 2006-06-10 13:27
What so many of those who post here and so few of the people in our central administration, especially our hierarchs, seem to understand is that being an autocephalous church is not about acting. Yes, there is the saying that one must 'act the part,' but perhaps that should read 'one must live the part.' What we are seeing is kiss-up play-acting. Not only does is not work, it offends - it causes one to lose respect, not gain it.
Fr. John Nehrebecke spoke well of the treasure of autocephaly that was given to the OCA. I am glad that he can still stand by that treasure. But if we are to preserve that treasure we must stop play acting with it and start really living the life of an autocephalous church. We must find within ourselves the spiritual maturity, and Fr. Thomas Hopko's list of matters to consider is an excellent starting point. He is well-known for taking a pastoral approach that focuses on facing the realities of one's own life.
In the past I have strongly urged considering ROCOR as place to turn if we cannot hold together. Certain issues have been pointed out to me and I have backed down from that to some degree. Nevertheless, I still admire ROCOR's recent approach to the realities of their own history and their present circumstances. One point that seems to be relevant to our OCA situation is that they recognise the need to apply the canons of the Church within the context of the legitimate laws of each country in which they live. Certainly that would never mean giving credence to abortion, but it does mean that they would respect the tax laws and things like that, and apply the canons appropriately. That approach respects both the canonical tradition of the church and the realities of present-day life. In our situation, that same approach would be fundamental to truly living the life of an autocephalous church in the United States and Canada. If the Statute of the OCA lacking by canonical standards, certainly that should be corrected, but the laws of the land, both the United States and Canada, must also be duly consulted. What seems to have been happening of late is that our leaders have been ignoring and even evading the laws of the land, whilst some of them pretentiously point to the canons, using them to attempt to gain the moral high ground. It's laughable, or it woudl be if it weren't so pathetic. Such behaviour is not a shining example of devotion to the Tradition of the Church, it's just playing in Fantasyland.
The recent article regarding RSK's dismissal from his post as chancellor was absurd for about the same reason. I am not suggesting that the accusations against him should have been listed there, but to make it sound like he retired with a gold watch, etc. was again a contradiction of reality. A simple, single paragraph stating the bare fact would have avoided any lawsuits for libel and would not have come off like a bit of air freshener in an outhouse. Even if the article had indirectly alluded to the present controversy surrounding Fr. Kondratick, while going on to remind readers of his accomplishments, it would have rung true.
Brothers and sisters, we cannot BE an autocephalous church by dressing up as one. Hardly any other Orthodox in the world respect our autocephaly anyway - including the MP which is basically ignoring it as it always has done - and dressing ourselves up and so forth to convince ourselves, not to mention others, is the absolute wrong kind of transparency. Everyone sees through the charade. If that's all we can do, let's offer the autocephaly back to our Lord, and pray that He who is quick to forgive will accept our repentance for not multiplying the talent given to us and will, instead of giving it to others, keep it in trust until we are ready to try again. Otherwise, let us strive to live in reality so that we can multiply that talent, learning to live the common life of a genuine autocephalous Orthodox church.
#11 Sine Nomine on 2006-06-10 16:47
My Parish regularly sends a monthly sum to Russia to help out a widowed priest's wife with 2 young children. We take up a collection on the 1st Sunday of each month, our treasurer goes to the bank, wires the money into her account in Kursk. This cost us $15.00. She receives the money within 3 -4 days and pays her bank 3%, an amount she was told about right from the start. There are no rake offs, no pay offs etc.
What an idea! as +Tikhon might say...
#12 Eugenie Osmun on 2006-06-12 06:50
Saddened to remember all of the outreach and collections our sweet church school children have collected over the years for various charities, only to be sent to Syosset into the hands of those who have no heart! Shame on you!
#13 CONCERNED on 2006-06-12 10:17
This disturbs me. I was in Moscow at the time, and saw Archimandrite Zaccheus and all the members of the parish there caring for the Beslan orphans. Beyond supporting them in hospitals, I saw those very orphans come to the Church one Sunday, where they were given teddy bears and taken out for lunch. Fr. Zaccheus is a righteous and god-fearing monk. I commend him for using all of the funds to help those in need, and he has my prayers.
#14 Anonymous on 2006-06-13 09:33
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