Wednesday, February 25. 2009
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Thank you for the detailed report, Mark.
However, I'd like to take the opportunity to clarify your information about the Koumentakos lawsuit. You wrote, “The lawsuit filed by Ms. Kristine Koumentakos in Maryland against the OCA, the Diocese of Washington & New York, and others, is being defended by counsel retained for the OCA in Maryland. A motion to dismiss the case has been filed by the OCA, and the OCA is awaiting the decision of the court, which is expected soon.”
A hearing on the summary judgment motion filed by the OCA was combined with the summary judgment motions filed by other defendants and was held on February 11-12, 2009. However, it was not completed when court recessed late on the second day. The hearing was continued until April 22-23, 2009, two months from now, and is expected to last for another two full days. **Only then** can a decision from the court can be expected.
There were five defense attorneys representing the various defendants, including the OCA, at the first two days of this hearing. Presumably, there will be five more present when the hearing resumes in April. No doubt each attorney also spent billable time preparing of this hearing….
The bottom line, it seems to me, is that the Church would rather pay attorneys than compensate victims. There is absolutely nothing “pastoral” about such tactics.
Melanie Jula Sakoda
"The bottom line, it seems to me, is that the Church would rather pay attorneys than compensate victims."
Your statement assumes that the OCA central church is guilty of that which they are accused. Obviously they believe they are not.
#1.1 Michael Strelka on 2009-02-26 17:58
You said, "Obviously, they believe they are not [guilty]". referring to those defending themselves in the Koumentakos matter. This seems to me to be anything but obvious. Most Americans believe that OJ Simpson did not actually believe he was innocent of any crime, only that he said so because he was seeking to avoid a jail term. Most people think Blagoyevich probably did something improper and is quite aware that fact; that does not keep him from mounting an ardent campaign to create the opposite impression. I really cannot see how you could know that the lawyers representing the OCA believe their defendants "are not guilty" without any independent information on which to base that conclusion. Naivete or gullibility is not a sufficient explanation for your rather astounding credulity, unless you just fell off a cabbage truck yesterday.
#1.1.1 Offended Orthodox Observor on 2009-03-01 14:31
How many malpractice insurance policies are involved covering the legal fees? Two or three?
No nevermind, guys. We, the faithful, should rise up in righteous indignation. We know the defendants are guilty. We don’t need a trial. We know what the truth of the case is!! Let’s form a posse, round up the sons-of-bitches and hang ‘em.
#1.2 Terry C. Peet on 2009-02-26 18:14
TCP, of what is the OCA "guilty" in this particular lawsuit? Do you have a clue of that which you speak?
#1.2.1 Anonymous on 2009-02-26 23:33
You have misread my post entirely. I am not accusing the OCA of anything. I have no insight on this case.
My post, dripping with sarcasm, was aimed at the apparent prejudgment of the poster to whom I was replying. I decry the lynch mob atmosphere. When I wrote the post I had the mid-20th century novel, The Ox-Bow Incident, by Walter van Tilburg Clark in mind (in which innocents accused of cattle rustling and murder were hung by a posse of hotheads only to find out latter that the murdered person was only injured and no cattle had been stolen).
I have been on the receiving end of false accusations and I have known priests, good men all, in similar circumstances and in the cases I have known, all proved to be innocent of accusations of sexual harassment.
The Koumentakos case is before the courts, where it should be. All of us need to suspend judgment.
#188.8.131.52 Terry C. Peet on 2009-02-27 07:58
With all due respect, how can you say this case belongs in the court? No church matter should end up there. The church should always find a way to make right whatever harm or dispute that has occurred. In this case, it appears that the church has done nothing but turn what could have been a small matter into a very large matter. The list of insensitive idiotic moves they have made are nearly endless but chief among them would be:
Sending Father Karlgut who never even speaks to the eye witness to the offense. The OCA itself has pronounced its verdict on Father Karlgut as an investigator by removing him from this role.
The priest sending highly sensitive, personal, confessional, pastoral counseling information to Mark et al for the purpose of discrediting the victim while not actually responding to the allegations.
The church doing nothing even though a secular organization the Office of Human Right found probable cause to substantiate all the victims’ allegations.
Michael Genute, attorney for the OCA, promising an investigation and response in 60 days which never occurred.
(Mark do you know if the church has made any good faith attempt to correct the problem?)
The church simply can not be without any wrong doing in this case and they owe the victims an apology and to make amends for behaving more like a corrupt CEO than the role models of Christian behavior. Fighting it in court using the faithful’s tithe and contributions hoping to get the case dismissed due to a legal loophole is another example of how the leadership of the OCA has lost it's way and reminds me of the following verse- Matthew 23:25 (New International Version)
25"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence.
(Editor's note: I do not know if an additional investigation was held or not.)
#184.108.40.206.1 S. Lewis on 2009-03-04 15:04
In an ideal world or church, the matter should never have happened. In an ideal world, if it happened, it should have been resolved within the church with sensitivity and compassion. But those things didn’t happen. So when Koumentakos filed the lawsuit, the matter jumped from the church to the civil courts where an impartial judge and perhaps a jury will sift through the enitre corpus facts, which no one knows, except perhaps the attorneys on both sides of the case. Even those testifying on behalf of the plaintiffs and defendant are not privy to all the facts. My previous statements are based on reality and the fact that I know no more about the case than what I read on OCAnews and on my strong suspicion that there is much more about the case that has not been revealed to the public and therefore I absolutely refuse to prejudge the matter.
#220.127.116.11.1.1 Terry C. Peet on 2009-03-05 07:57
Terry Peet wrote in #18.104.22.168.1.1, "I know no more about the case than what I read on OCAnews and on my strong suspicion that there is much more about the case that has not been revealed to the public and therefore I absolutely refuse to prejudge the matter."
Again, the arguments being advanced in the summary judgment motions have nothing to do with the merits of Mrs. Koumentakos' claims.
Melanie Jula Sakoda
Mark Stokoe himself is a potential witness in this case.
In the original thread about this lawsuit in May 08, he verified that he himself was a recipient of private, detailed information about a parishioner from Fr. Velencia, which in my mind speaks to motivation to further distribute such information. Mark was not on the MC at that time. Being a person of great integrity Mark refused to publish details of that letter.
Regardless of the legal ramifications, what kind of church do we belong to which would allow and enable such an inappropriate violation to go unaddressed? What in God's name would ever justify a violation of that nature?
Fr, Velencia was trying to defend himself? Was it necessary for him to detail the information he obtained from the parishioner in confession and/or counseling? To 40 people over the internet? If he was trying to defend himself, why not just answer to the allegations the parishioner made, which.... he did not do?
#1.2.2 Anonymous on 2009-02-27 06:32
I hope Ms Koumentakos win this case. The OCA during this time was and apparently now still is in some jurisdictions a perverse organization that is neither orthodox, moral, or capable of being fiduciariarily responsible. This along with the pervert Nicks's lawsuit and Kondatrick's lawsuit win or lose will finally put the coffin nails into a patrhetic mess that needs to end. Why are forced to go through this year after year... Can we say enough is enough already? ...
#22.214.171.124 anon on 2009-02-28 13:48
In #1.2, Terry C. Peet writes,
"How many malpractice insurance policies are involved covering the legal fees? Two or three?"
I don't know how many insurance policies are involved. Do you? I do know that when a lawsuit alleging sexual molestation at Holy Trinity Cathedral in San Francisco was filed in 1994, the OCA was not insured, although the Diocese of the West and the parish was.
In addition, I know that many churches have found, to their surprise, that insurers can decline to defend those who do not promptly report claims to them as required by the policy. The claims for sexual molestation at HTC were not reported until the first lawsuit was filed in 1994, although the claims were brought to the church in 1991. In that case, the insurers did not decline to defend. If the same tardy reporting occurred in the Koumentakos case, perhaps the insured was not so lucky.
Peet continues, "No nevermind, guys. We, the faithful, should rise up in righteous indignation. We know the defendants are guilty. We don’t need a trial. We know what the truth of the case is!!"
Unfortunately, the "truth of the case" is not what is at stake in the summary judgment motions. The purpose of the motions is to prevent the case from going to court. Where a church advances such defenses, it often turns what we understand on its head.
For example, in one of the HTC lawsuits the OCA petitioned the court to be removed as a defendant, claiming that it did not do business in California. Robert Kondratick's declaration in support of that motion claimed,
"The All-American Council and the Metropolitan Council are not entities controlled by the OCA, being comprised mainly of diocesan bishops and parish priests. For the most part, funds collected by these bodies is recycled for the benefit of the bishops and priests who collect it. The OCA has no direct control over how these funds are redirected to the dioceses of the Church."
Others commenting on OCANews have written about the testimony being given by the Church entities in the Koumentakos case. These motions and their accompanying affidavits are a matter of public record and available at the courthouse in Howard County, Maryland.
Melanie Jula Sakoda
It is said that every nation brings something of its own to Orthodoxy. The Greeks, for example, brought theology. The Russians - piety. The Americans - lawsuits.
#1.3 Ivan the Russian on 2009-02-27 01:44
Be not too proud, Ivan the Russian. There seems to be no shortage of the urge to sue in even the most traditionalist, emigre, ethnic, diaspora-minded circles too, if one looks at lawsuits between ROCOR and dissident parishes now and in the past.
#1.3.1 Gregory on 2009-02-27 07:34
:-D That is good, Ivan, though one can also look at it this way:
The Greeks--baklava, the Russians--perogi, the Americans--converts and accountability.
The Carpatho-Russian, Ukrainians, or Little Russians, or those outside the Great Russian borderlands have demanded accountability since they left their homelands--the cradle born American-ethnic Orthodox. It is not just the American convert asking for accountability. This financial situation did not just rise up with RFK, but has hounded the Metropolia and the OCA. The synod of the Church (not the hierarchial Synod)--the laity have asked and demanded accountability. Lawsuits are nothing new under the sun. The American Convert of the last several years need to read the history of the Metropolia from the 30's through the 70's.
(editor's note: Touche.)
#126.96.36.199 anonymos on 2009-03-02 07:38
You seem to have missed the spirit of my comment. I'm well aware of American Orthodox history--possibly more aware than most--possibly.
My point was actually along the lines of what yours seems to be--there is no simple group to blame for it all. People across different groups have been involved in all of this. In that sense, I agree with Mark's call of "touche." However, I think the touches go in many directions. I think there are plenty of converts who have been calling for accountability. And, as you yourself point out, the lawsuits that racked the American churches in the past, often involved non-convert Orthodox populations.
None of this means I don't think there are non-converts who are not calling for it any more than I think Orthodoxy didn't convert people in Greece and Kievan Rus.
There was a little tongue in the cheek, "anonymos." So, uh, let's not get our feathers so ruffled over this.
Oh, and as for "touche," if ever you're up for it, Mark, I'll gladly press your use of fencing references into the literal. I don't do sabre, but I'll gladly grab a foil or epee, preferring the latter.
I assume you are in the United States. If so, please stay there! To refer to people from Ukraine as "Little Russians" is arrogant, patronizing, demeaning, tsarist rubbish. And especially in Western Canada, it's a good way NOT to get a warm welcome.
Verbum sapienti sat.
#188.8.131.52.2 Igumen Philip (Speranza) on 2009-03-03 04:43
Perhaps our pious contributor should refresh his memory on Russia’s history. There he may notice a tendency to seek justice by means far more violent than lawsuits.
#1.3.3 Karina Ross on 2009-02-28 06:18
Let's not be silly. Paying even five lawyers is a lot cheaper than 5 million dollars, even if the lawyers are really really expensive. The OCA has a moral obligation to protect its assets. I'd hate to see the OCA having to sell off Syosset, a seminary and a few monasteries in order to come up with 5 million dollars. And remember, even if 5 million dollars is awarded, over half of that will go to her own lawyers. So what do you expect the OCA to do, just lay down and stuff money in the pants of lawyers?
Unfortunately, this case was poorly handled by the previous administration, which is why its at where it is now. Which leaves the new administration in the rough place of trying to deal with this while not destroying the assets which thousands of donors have built over the past fifty years. It would be nice if this case could be brought back to the settlement table with an agreement reached based largely upon policy changes, like in the Sidebottom case, and compensate for lost wages and future counseling.....
#1.4 Anonymous on 2009-02-27 07:01
In #1.4, "Anonymous" writes,
"Let's not be silly. Paying even five lawyers is a lot cheaper than 5 million dollars, even if the lawyers are really really expensive."
"Unfortunately, this case was poorly handled by the previous administration, which is why its at where it is now. Which leaves the new administration in the rough place of trying to deal with this while not destroying the assets which thousands of donors have built over the past fifty years."
Yes, the former administration provoked the lawsuit. However, the new administration has been in place for three months now, plenty of time to change tactics in the case, especially considering that Met. Jonah is the leader of the OCA, as well as the hierarch of the diocese and church involved.
You also might be quite surprised at just how quickly attorneys' fees can add up.
Moreover, if Ms. Koumentakos pursues her claim successfully, whether by judgment or settlement, any funds expended on motions such as the ones currently before the court are over and above what will go to her.
Accordingly, I still think the appropriate question is whether the OCA would rather use its resources to pay attorneys or to compensate victims.
Melanie Jula Sakoda
So if the OCA now admits and everyone knows that Fr.Karlgut was not trained to "investigate" and in fact was one of many who 'dropped the ball' in the Koumentakos case, what is being done? Is the OCA really just sitting back and waiting (and hoping) for the Maryland Court to dismiss? Why? I ask again, why? What kind of a church do I belong to?
We have tons of cases which show that this is a losing (and expensive) plan. The courts will not conclude that the church is exempt from Maryland laws, the courts will not conclude that Fr.Ray was allowed to treat his parishoner and employee the way he did. And meanwhile the OCA is pouring money into lawyers fees (5 attorneys for two full days this month, and two more days scheduled in April) to argue the most embarassing arguments.
I would like to believe there is change in the OCA. But I need to see it. I am a witness in the Koumentakos case and I have never been contacted by ANYONE in the OCA. Ever. I proffered a written statement supporting her claims and first hand knowledge of the vile conduct of Fr. Ray.
If the OCA is really implementing change, where is it?
#2 Aisling Gray on 2009-02-26 04:30
At the risk of offending Hal again by commenting on matters with which I have three decades of general experience - litigation - and hundreds if not thousands of hours of very extensive and direct personal experience - defending and advising on several civil lawsuits about religious doings - I would like to repeat that we do well not to let Melanie and the pokrov leadership and their amen chorus of the anonymous - hijack this debate and focus our attention on trying the Koumentakos litigation or any other particular case in the media - which this site definitely is.
Melanie et. al. have never seen a soapbox they do not like or a discussion they are too circumspect to pre-empt by turning our attention to the single issue that they focus upon.
At some point the single issue lobby's ratio of benefit conferred to detriment caused becomes unfavorable, and we can never count upon the proponents themselves to be anywhere close to able to recognize when that happens.
The public reports re Fr. RV's conduct do not look good, but I lost count of the number of cases I was involved with over the years in which the newspapers got both key and mundane facts mixed up. Plaintiffs' attorneys ALWAYS spin the facts to put pressure on their adversaries to settle. I think we should be smart enough to realize that and reluctant to help them here, and instead should just let it all shake out as it will in either a settlement or a determination of relative degress of guilt and innocence.
We all understand and agree that the previous adminiistration of the OCA was indecisive and ineffective in handling the case. We all agree we would like the new one to do better. And we know that George Washington was the first president too.
We seem to differ on the methods by which THIS administration can be encouraged. Melanie et. al. believe that the creation and maintenance of a stir is the way to go. In the past, when change of administration was part of the agenda, there was a lot of evidence to support that theory.
With the new administration in charge, I tend to think that the brouhaha method is counterproductive and only detracts from the OCA's ability to focus needed resources on both handling the case appropriately and formulating and carrying out good policy for the future. But maybe that is not what they really want to do, at least not as a priority.
#2.1 Fr. George Washburn on 2009-02-27 08:34
Unfortunate that it had to take lawsuits to get the OCA to pay attention to serious problems which should have been handled internally, with care and compassion. Thank God that any future victims of pastoral abuse and misconduct will not be subjected to the lack of training and the questionable tactics.... A small step in the right direction.
#3 Anonymous on 2009-02-26 05:33
I recommend and support the OCA closing their website.
They do not report in a timely fashion let alone anything comprehensive.
(editor's note: On the contrary, that would be a step in the wrong direction. The way forward is for the OCA to publish in a more timely fashion, and in a more comprehensive one. These are not structural problems, but editorial ones. I think the changes envisioned in the website redesign explained to the MC last week are moves in the right direction, and like others, await them.)
#4 MP on 2009-02-26 08:29
This may be naïve, but can someone explain why any of the Metropolitan Council meeting is held secretly in executive session? Are there legal obligations for the officers of a non-profit to discuss things secretly, or is this just "discretion" on the part of the administration?
(editor's note: It's a good question. In the bad old days, the RSK administration sought to treat all sorts of matters as confidential, with the intention of controlling and suppressing information. In one particular appalling instance, when the church-wide census numbers were distributed to the MC, RSK instructed that these were "confidential and not to be shared." The Church could not even know how many members it had! Several members remember challenging that unilateral and rather perverse ruling of what was confidential, and at least one promptly distributed that census report to his diocesan assembly, as part of his report.
Considering how much was concealed by the OCA in recent years, it seems to the MC that the confidentiality of Executive Session must be the exception, limited to discussions of discipline of personnel, and to legal strategy and tactics. (It would be foolish to reveal one's legal strategies before one used them in court; and inappropriate to discuss personnel matters given legitimate privacy concerns....)
It is the feeling of most, I would be bold enough to assert, that the OCA must be as open as possible, if we are to ever earn back the trust and confidence that was squandered. I am not convinced that the investigation into St. Tikhon's falls into either of the above categories - yet, the Bishops asked it be done in Exec Session, and so it was. As I wrote, I hope they will reveal all quickly.)
#5 Rdr. Nilus Klingel on 2009-02-26 10:01
Never give up Pokrov, never.
and thank you.
#6 no name on 2009-02-26 12:28
I must admit you never give credit to either metropolitan - you constantly refer to the RSK administration.
(editor's note: I suggest you re-read the SIC report about how Metropolitan Theodosius was a figure who abdicated his responsibilities; and the fact is that Metropolitan Herman was present in Syosset but one day a week. For the years he was in power, RSK did run the administration, largely as he saw fit. That is not to say the the two former Metropolitans were not responsible - they were. But in a different way.)
#7 MP on 2009-02-26 12:50
Were these men compensated?
If so, they were responsible and I might add had fiduciary responsibilities whether they worked there or in Timbucktoo.
#7.1 MP on 2009-02-27 13:22
I agree that Bishop Tikhon should address the community about the results of the investigation. Anyone who has been there for any amount of time has some idea of how things were going down, but like you said, for the sake of the rumors that will and are already sprouting up in the community a full report is needed. That being said, I doubt its ever going to happen, so if there is anything that you can tell us, then please do. Bishop Tikhon just does not seem like the kind of guy that likes to deal with problems in a straight forward way. I love and respect him, but I'm not holding my breath until we get any information out of him.
(editor's note: I sincerely hope events will prove you wrong.)
#8 Anon. Seminarian on 2009-02-26 13:58
I have some questions: Would the Serbian church be within its rights to receive the former bishop of Sitka into the church without a canonical release from his superior? If it proceeded with such an act, what would actions could the OCA take? Has the Serbian church recognized OCA's autocephaly?
#9 Morton on 2009-02-26 14:22
In answer to your questions:
2. Probably nothing, any more than we did when the Jerusalem Patriarchate received clergy we had deposed. The only effective options would be to suspend or completely break communion with the Church of Serbia; and one must wonder if that would really be worth doing, especially in light of our good relations with Metropolitan Christopher.
#9.1 Igumen Philip (Speranza) on 2009-02-27 05:01
Thank you, Fr. Philip.
#9.1.1 Morton on 2009-03-01 07:06
What will come out about STOTS is that for years, since + Kiprian, very questionable financial practices have taken place there. Also remember, + Herman hand-picked RSK to run STOTS before he pushed him into the position at Syosset. So you see, the entire mess started many years ago. Now, where's the $$$?
(editor's note: See, this is the problem with non-disclosure. Misinformation spreads. STOTS is not at issue here. It is the monastery/bookstore about which Bishop Tikhon spoke. )
#10 Anonymous on 2009-02-26 15:19
So the finances of STOTS are not at issue - the monastery and bookstore are. Fine. But I think there are some here, probably including the other anonymous seminarian who posted earlier, who do believe that, yes, that are serious issues at the seminary as well, which do require some outside oversight and at least some kind of more public acknowledgment.
There has been a general tendency here to focus only on financial abuses, which are only a sliver of the bigger picture. But what about the following issues at St. Tikhon's Seminary:
• the seminary's unhealthy atmosphere of control, and the abuse and intimidation of seminary students as well as of some faculty - perpetrated most esp...... by Herman and his favored personal associates (both chronic and extreme examples of this);
• unjust firing practices (like the OT professor several years ago who, having come to teach at the seminary after years of being "wooed" there, was informed he was being let go in April of his first year, with no time to find an academic position for the following fall);
• up until just this year, absurdly heavy course-loads forced on students (many of whom have families) at a supposedly "graduate" level, at one point up to 28 hours of class-time a week - with threats of expulsion from the registrar and academic dean for students who attempted to reduce their hours to a more reasonable burden;
• deception of ATS (the Accreditation bureau) regarding the actual number of course hours required for the program (16 credit hours a semester, but countless more non-credit hours required);
• lack of proper pastoral care and respect for confidentiality with regard to the students' choice of confessors;
• an unhealthy and frequently un-family-friendly, misogynistic atmosphere at the monastery church where all OCA students are required to attend;
• lack of any regular program of parish internships, apart the required summer program before graduating year (the example of those students who spend 7 years total at the seminary - both undergraduate and graduate - and yet finish the MDiv with almost zero parish experience comes most to mind);
• sexual predation of seminarians by a professor-priest who, while no longer teaching at the seminary, is still listed as faculty on the website, still serving as priest and still appears on campus and in the dorms from time to time - protected as he has been by Herman for years;
• the silencing by the administration of students who have complained about such predation;
• the complete lack of any means of appeal for students who have been abused - as evidenced in the existence of a student handbook which most students have never seen, including clauses which essentially allow the administration to change the rules at any time;
• +Herman's continuing presence at the seminary - still listed as "distinguished professor of pastoral theology" (bosh), and still serving liturgies as a bishop in the monastery church.
These are just some of the major issues at one of the OCA's two major seminaries, which have yet to be adequately admitted or addressed.
Met. Jonah, Bp Tikhon - we are waiting on you to speak!
(Editor's note: You have a choice, future priest, that all of us involved in this effort the past three years have had to make. Keep you mouth shut, and bitch in private, letting the predations, lies, and deceptions continue and become a collaborator yourself; or take a stand. Having done it, I encourage you to take a stand. It may cost you your future priesthood in the short term- but of what value is it, if it is not to protect your flock? So you can stand in the high place in colorful robes? The great pay? If it is not to help people, and serve the Lord, why are you even thinking about it? So begin now. Serve the Lord by telling the truth, and help those around you by leading as Christ led - with the authority of truth.
In this case, I think if you speak out, alumni, faculty, and all who love STS, will rally behind you to save the reputation and future of the place they loved by dealing with these current failings. Now is the time to do it.
Contact the ATS and explain the deception. Accreditation is a powerful incentive to change.
Contact the Chancery and report the sexual predator in your midst. The Church can no longer afford to hide and cover for these people.
Its a lawsuit waiting to happen.
Demand better from those in authority, such that handbooks are revealed, procedures are followed, rule enforced equitably. Are you students, or indentured servants?
Refuse to be silenced unjustly, for this is how those who have collaborated with evil operate - through intimidation, silence and self-censorship. Now is the time to change things. Give +Tikhon and +Jonah the benefit of the doubt that they too are honorable men, who will seek to right wrongs.
Unless, of course, one thinks it better to let it all just crumble into dust.... So that is the question you, and everyone reading this must ask: How much is the heritage of STS worth to the OCA? Is it worth changing, or fighting for? Or is it best just to let it continue the downward spiral, and let it eventually die?
#10.1 Another Anon. Seminarian on 2009-02-26 22:35
Dear Brother in Christ,
May God send you a great host of angels to accomplish your mission to free the prisoners and bring salvation and truth where it is needed most.
Matushka Carol Klipa Bacha, Survivor
#10.1.1 Anonymous on 2009-02-28 00:35
Thank you for encouraging our “future priest” to speak up and tell the truth. However, as it stands now, one cannot help it but to think that the only thing he would bring about will be his punishment/dismissal. Until we have an environment of “no fear” and regard for the truth, our “future priests” will be leaving in dismay.
I read your report about the MC meeting and the decision that the investigation of St. Tikhon monastery to be done in exec “confidential’ session. It seems to me that this is another attempt by the bishops to maintain secrecy to avoid embarrassing truth. I admit I have no right to reach this conclusion since I know no facts about this matter. But it is clear that this process of secrecy is just a repeat of what the SAME bishops did during the previous administration. I can assure you this is not the way to restore the trust between the people and the church hierarchy that they floundered so badly. This trust is essential for the church healing NOW.
Until the statutes of the OCA are rewritten, I would think the new MC is operating under the old rules that gives them an independent governing status. If we end out with the new administration and the bishops controlling the new MC then the members should also be blamed for allowing the bishops to abuse their authority. The Mc members were elected/selected to fulfill their administrative responsibility they were entrusted with and we, the church members, should hold them accountable. If they are prevented from meeting their responsibility, then they should not be there.
Holy Annunciation Church
(editor's note: The MC will not allow its authority to be abridged. I agree the with the St. Tikhon's matters the Bishops have been less than forthcoming. On the other hand, it has only been 3 months, not 3 years as with earlier problems? It is my hope and understanding the Metropolitan will address these issues by the end of this week. If not, I think people have a genuine issue to complain about - as will I.)
#10.1.2 Michel S. Michail on 2009-03-03 16:26
I am probably the subject of this individual's post since I taught OT at St. Tikhon's for a year (2006/07 academic year). I wish to offer a correction. The poster implies that I was fired (he mentions "unjust firing practices"), which is absolutely not true. I was hired on a three-year contract that was subject to renewal annually. They decided they were not going to renew the contract after the first year. It is true however, that, all the way up until April, I was led to believe that I would be asked to teach in the next, and subsequent years. It was quite out of line with academic protocol to let me know only in April that I would not be teaching the following year, so there is some truth to what the poster says about that. And in general it appeared that something not quite above board resulted in my not being asked to continue teaching. But it is wrong to cite this scenario as an instance of "unjust firing" since I was not fired. Instead, my contract was simply not renewed, as was allowed by the terms of the contract. I have to admit that I do feel some relief at being out of that environment--it seemed in many ways spiritually unhealthy.
To the above poster & professor:
I ask forgiveness for the inaccuracy of my phrasing/word choice. My only point was that what was done to you by STS, ie the way you were let go on such short notice, and with no apparent good reason, was unprofessional, un-Christian and unjust - and a very telling and typical example of how this institution has up to this point treated both students and faculty.
Again, with respect to you, I ask your forgiveness.
#10.2.1 Another Anon. Seminarian on 2009-03-02 20:07
I believe that decentralization is extremely harmful to our church. Who will really be in charge? How much smaller can the central administration possibly get? There absolutely still needs to be a Treasurer, Communications Officer, etc.
In essence, it seems that the Metropolitan is saying that He and the central office cannot be trusted.
What will decentralization actually do? It will trade one huge problem for 10 or so. With each bishop ruling more of his own area, more problems can arise outside the scope of the church. Look at all the problems in the dioceses now. in my opinion, none of the bishops display any understanding of business ethics / administration, separate from spirituality. I cite as examples the present state of the NY/NJ Diocese - non-orthodox living in former +Peter's residence (no one will acknowledge the past problems here); St. Tikhon's bookstore; Fr. K still serving in the south; Alaska. Gosh, you can go on and on and on.
What distinguishes say a "Joel Osteen" from the Orthodox Church? Mr. Osteen is among the top preachers in the world, selling stadiums and arenas globally. Thriving. He understands business - marketing - financial management.
As a church, it's horrendous that our leaders and administrators are not formally schooled in finance and business administration. The church is spiritual foremost, but its also a business (not-for-profit) accountable to our government and members.
Its only when our leaders see the church in this respect that it will change. Unfortunately, there is no sign that +Jonah does, and its very very disturbing how he wishes to silence the council, albeit it too needs an overhaul - youth and fresh ideas.
We have the faith - we just don't have the message and methodology. Hence, Joel Osteen has more members and millions dollars more than we do, and our problems remain ignored.
(And, again, I ask Mark, please, please lead a discussion / investigation into the atrocity still taking place in NY/NJ! The Diocesan Center has been a joke for years and no one knows the truth! Those who do, still are scared to speak. In many respects, its worse than what is happening on the national level!)
Thank you as always.
(editor's note: Where are the clergy in NY-NJ? Why do they not demand answers of their Bishop and Chancellor and Treasurers, past and present? Where are the laity? Is Rod Dreher correct, that we do not want too much truth? Can Orthodoxy, like some exotic hot house plant, only survive if the hard, cold facts of reality are kept at bay? Now is the time to come forward with the sad facts of the "diocesan center", the misdirection of funds, and turn the page. Otherwise, it's just another cover-up and just another festering sore on the Body of Christ. Begin Lent with a full confession, work through the troubles during the next six weeks, and then let us celebrate the Resurrection with pure hearts - rather dirty hands from burying the troublesome past. )
#11 Anonymous on 2009-02-26 20:54
Exactly what issues in the NY/NJ Deanery? You've posted this before, but there are no real issues. You refer to + Peter, but he's long gone. You refer to his residence which is still held by the NY/NJ deanery, but no one lives there ( maybe + Jonah will). Your accusations are just baloney. If you have some real issues, let's hear them. Go ahead!
(Editor's note: Be careful what you ask for. THere are several issues with the Diocese, not the least that the SIC Report requested its books be audited. It is well known and not challenged that the Diocesan Center was in fact alienated from the Diocese for many years, while a non-orthodox group of people related to the ex-caretaker of Abp. Peter lived there - rent free. Why was that allowed to continue? Good stewardship requires not only that one be generous to the Church, but that those assets given be used for the purposes given. It would seem that if the Diocese wished to recover from years of episcopal neglect, a good place to start would be to confess and repent of the misdeeds and failures of the past. Or has nothing changed, anonymous?)
#11.1 Anonymous on 2009-02-27 08:43
"(Editor's note: Be careful what you ask for. THere are several issues with the Diocese, not the least that the SIC Report requested its books be audited. It is well known and not challenged that the Diocesan Center was in fact alienated from the Diocese for many years, while a non-orthodox group of people related to the ex-caretaker of Abp. Peter lived there - rent free. Why was that allowed to continue?)"
+ Peter had a caretaker due to his diabetes and many ailments. She administered to + Peter. Upon his death, she remained in the house until she could find a suitable place to live and this was good to have someone watch the house rather than have it deteriorate and be broken into. Not a real issue here. The caretaker did leave when formally requested.
(editor's note: Clever answer, but not really sufficent is it. What about the 2,3,4 years the Archbishop was in the Caribbean with his housekeeper/aide, and her relatives lived in the Diocesan Center? Look, the real question is why was this allowed to go on? And how are we going to prevent it from going on in the future?)
#11.1.1 Anonymous on 2009-03-01 15:52
"(editor's note: Clever answer, but not really sufficent is it. What about the 2,3,4 years the Archbishop was in the Caribbean with his housekeeper/aide, and her relatives lived in the Diocesan Center? Look, the real question is why was this allowed to go on? And how are we going to prevent it from going on in the future?)"
+ Peter's aide was from the Caribbean. Due to his diabetes and related ailments, the cold Winter's were most difficult for him. He would then vacation in the Caribbean and planned to retire there. When some of + Peter's aide's relatives visited NYC, they spent time at + Peter's residence. Where are the horrendous issues here? Prevent WHAT from going on in the future?
(editor's note: This is fun. After first trying to suggest there was not problem because it was Peter in the house, now you admit it was her family members in the house - but only while visiting NY. Right. For years? C'mon, stop treating us like the fools you think us all to be! If this is the way you want to the story to slowly be revealed, drip, drip, drip, the only one that will be hurt here are those who allowed it go on. Why not just fess up to the problems? )
#184.108.40.206 Anonymous on 2009-03-02 12:00
Mark you said: "It would seem that if the Diocese wished to recover from years of episcopal neglect, a good place to start would be to confess and repent of the misdeeds and failures of the past. Or has nothing changed, anonymous?"
I think nothing has changed. I refer to the failures of the past in this case. Failures of the past include more than financial matters. Although my complaint concerns something very minor in the eyes of most, nevertheless, it is a symptom of the continuing non-Christian attitude that still prevails. A flyer was distributed to all the churches in the NY-NJ deanery listing all the mission services throughout March and including April 5. Then it goes to Bright Wednesday Vespers following Pashka. Palm Sunday Vespers on April 12 was not listed at all. It would have been nice to see this service also listed, after all, even if it is sponsored by the FOCA instead of the NY-NJ Deanery, aren’t we all still in the same boat? Maybe not. But unless we start to respect each other and help each other, the boat is liable to sink!
(editor's note: If no one is willing to help correct the oversight, you? another? all one can is that we can do better in the future....)
#11.1.2 Sad in NY-NJ Deanery on 2009-03-02 09:37
First of all...Seeking restitution from MT.Fine. What about re-stitution from MH, RK and Klimashev? And yes,why is MH still listed as a Professor?.Why still offering Liturgies at the Monastery church? Why allowed to live at the Monastery/Seminary complex which is creating frustration and intolerance? I dont know about deception in regard to accredidation...I do know that a library is supposed to be built to maintain the accredidation, but still has'nt even started.Yet,there is more concern about housing for married students,which is not necessary with so many places within a 15 mile radius which offers cheap rentals for decent homes/apartments.No institution is obliged to offer housing for its married student.There is a myriad of questions in regard to housing,such as insurance,maintenance,care,repairs,water table,sewage,utitilities. And lastly,a full report on the finances of the bookstore under Klimashev must be made know to all.No ifs,ands or buts...Get it done! Do it!
#12 Anon on 2009-02-27 13:46
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