Monday, August 24. 2009
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It's evident that the OCA is still in deep spiritual trouble and suffers from a leadership crisis. That +Benjamin and +Jonah have not publicly stood up for truth, ethics, openness, and accountability and diqualified Fr. Brum is quite troubling. This was a no-brainer!
Allowing Fr. Brum to be nominated for the position of bishop is inexcusable. The SIC report and the deafening silence of Fr. Brum about his involvement with the RSK administration, his intimate knowledge of the "inner workings of Syosset and the abuses perpetrated by the leadership, are more than sufficient to immediately disqualify him from ANY leadership position, let alone his election to the sacred office of Bishop.
The fact that neither +Jonah nor +Benjamin have the moral courage and ethical conviction to do what's right, holy, and just in this nomination and selection process is most ominous. They seem to be drifting back to the "business as usual" OCA politics, the gray and lukewarm form of leadership that back in the 1990s and early 2000s set the stage for the serious financial crisis, the massive squandering of God's Talents, and the many spiritual and ethical abuses that ran rampant under +Theodosius and +Herman.
Thank goodness that other courageous and ethical Orthodox priests and laymen are stepping forth and doing the heavy lifting for the Church. It seems our leadership has learned little from the financial and spiritual storm that shook the very foundations of the OCA.
I agree. This is beyond disgusting, its unconscionable. I have lost all hope of +Jonah righting this ship. Its sunk.
#1.1 Anonymous on 2009-08-25 06:43
The latest revelation by the Search Committee is very unsettling. It has become painfully clear that bishop Benjamin has mislead the Search Committee about Fr. Brum. By publicly and irrationally going against his own report (SIC), the very committee that he chaired.
We all are very much aware of the clear connections between Fr. Brum and his obvious role in the problems of the past. No one is been fooled. However, my concern is that this action by his grace Benjamin is not only dishonest but also quite harmful to the Church.
Bishop Benjamin's struggle with his addictions seem to have manifested a deeper problem. Don't get me wrong, he is not to be reviled, rather he should be the recipient of our prayers and compassion. Nonetheless, bishop Benjamin seems in need of serious psychological help and assistance.
If one finds someone struggling with addiction, one would like the sufferer to get the appropriate help. However, one would not want the person to be say a school bus driver or a traffic controller while working out this problems. Then, why would we want bishop Benjamin(or anyone in his condition) to work out his addiction while holding the office of bishop? Are the dangers involved not clear by now given the recent developments?
I am aware that we have programs in the OCA to assist clergy with psychological and/or substance abuse problems. His Grace needs to step down and work out such issues in a place where he can do no harm. Clearly the office of the bishop of San Francisco and the west or the holy synod is not such a place.
Not only am I disturbed by Fr. Brum and the "old scandal network" sneaking back to power in the OCA, but I am extremely worried about bishop Benjamin who is already there. The honor system of the twelve steps groups may not be working in this case. I pray His Grace will seek the "real help" he needs. I know that often those who suffer from addictions are not aware how "out-of-control" they are, and it is up to friends to tell them with love and compassion.
With sadness I call upon his grace bishop Benjamin to voluntarily step down, for his own sake to work on healing and salvation; and allow a healthy candidate to fill the position of bishop of the DOW.
Indeed not only bishop Benjamin, but many others in the OCA power structure should do the decent thing and recuse themselves. If that was the case we would not be in the latest mess. All of this could have been averted if Fr. Brum had followed Dr. Dmitri Solodow's advise and voluntarily withdrew his candidacy. But now not only is Fr. Brum dragging down Bishop Benjamin but also casting doubts on the motives and competence of our new leader Metropolitan Jonah! Can they not see that this selfish behavior cannot have a good end?
Please do us all a favor and step down. Show true fitness for leadership by letting go. You may lose your power, but you may gain your souls. Thus clearing the way for the power of Christ to be made manifest in the midst of His people, and we need this very badly. After all we are called to follow the example of the Forerunner and decrease so that He may increase!
#1.1.1 Al-Anon from Chicago on 2009-08-25 13:37
Two factors regarding Brum:
1) I asked RSK why he brought Brum to Syosset when he was an RC convert priest with no Orthodox theological training. RSK said, "I need him for his Canon Law expertise. There are issues I need him to work on for me." It's clear Brum was RSK's lackey to add Canon Law to many of his RSK's insidious deeds.
2) In the words of Prof. Serge Verhovskoy, Provost and Prof. of Ethics at SVS, "Even if a bishop or priest is tainted with air of misdeeds where his character becomes questionable, he should not be promoted and possibly deposed."
#2 Anonymous on 2009-08-24 12:37
Canon Law expertise? To quote the service for catechumens, "Remove from him his former delusion."
Here, then, is some of the fruit of the Ecumenism cheerfully adopted by the old OCA. Former SVS dean Fr. John Erickson once produced a book, together with a Roman Catholic writer, that compared Orthodox and Catholic canon law. It has been a few years since I have had it before me, but I recall being surprised that its main undertaking was to line up the corresponding canons on various questions (for example, marriage impediments)—as though they were commensurate.
This is like listing in parallel all the things Puritans legislated as sins and all the sins named by Orthodox canons, and calling it a comparison of ethical theologies. No. It doesn't matter if many of the rules look similar, the traditions are entirely different things. They have different spirits.
If Brum was treated as a Canon Law expert immediately upon conversion, it is no wonder he produced his papalizing "Brum Doctrine." This, incidentally, isn't an anti-convert smear: there are plenty of faithful Orthodox who were once with Rome. It is the evidence before us that makes me wonder if Fr. Brum is among their number.
#2.1 A Fellow Orthodox Christian on 2009-08-24 20:54
Dear Fellow Orthodox Christian,
I think there are two problems with the so-called "Brum Doctrine." The first one is the doctrine itself, which is nothing but an analysis that Farther Brum gave to his superiors based on the OCA Constitution. I see nothing in this document that does not reflect the Constitution. Therefore, in my simple mind, I think the culprit is the Constitution itself and not an analysis based on it. By the way, I enumerated the flaws in the Constitution in a much earlier posting on this site and will dig it up if requested.
The second problem is a question that has not been answered: Where does Father Brum stand in relation to the Constitution and, more importantly, to the concept of sobornost that shows up in the Constitution in only bits and pieces and not in a serious, consistent manner? Given his Roman Catholic training and his involvement with the previous administrations, it is natural for folks to wonder. On the other hand, I do remember speculation/reports that some (most?) bishops had wanted to revise the Constitution away from the smoke-and-mirrors conciliarity that it tries to portray and toward a monarchical episcopacy. If this is the case, then it is just more important than ever to satisfy ourselves about the possible non-conciliarity of our candidates.
#2.1.1 Carl on 2009-08-25 11:27
I would want to know if the search committee read "Murder at Holy Cross by Peter Davidson.
I would want to know if the SIC Committee read "Murder at Holy Cross?"
I would want to know how many monasteries and church protectorates are housing and supporting sex offenders?
For those who continue to engage in the network of sexual abuse they need their own cronies, own canon law experts,
own dismissed police and one time legal experts to know the
roads of how to keep skirting the law or getting out trouble.
Remember BRUM was one that saw the 100 times stabbing of Sister Michelle Lewis as "nothing wrong" along with the Kondratick investigation of bringing into the OCA the group from Miami accused of sexual offending while a member was on trial for murder and his accusations of how the murder occured related to his coming under the knife of the sexual offenders.
Of course they would want him in the DOS because they still need to cover their tracks there.
Slow down and open your eyes.
The court cycle calendars kick back up, maybe its the only reason why speed is being sought???
#2.2 Anonymous in agreement with Anon #2 on 2009-08-25 23:58
Nothing has changed. There is still dishonesty,scheming,etc. in regards to all that has happened and still happening in our Church. What else is needed in regards to Fr.DB? Who submitted his name anyway? Who approved it in light of all the info pertaining to his role in Syosset? Birds of a feather flock together...and they're all flocking around MJ.....I know their will be those who dis-agree with me...........
#3 anon on 2009-08-24 13:14
There is no doubt in my mind, Stokoe, Wheeler and Garklavs are spiritual terrorists. You are pathetic!
(Editor's note: Well, that is a new one.)
#3.1 MP on 2009-08-24 15:04
Well, I have heard Mark referred to as Satan, and me as the Son of Satan, but how did Garklavs get to join our club?
#3.1.1 Eric A Wheeler on 2009-08-24 18:18
Isn't Garklav's Satan's tennis doubles partner? I'm mean, well, that's what I hearddddd )
Hang in there Deacon Eric! We love you!
#126.96.36.199 noname on 2009-08-25 08:31
In just as broad swing of comment in the other direction to the posting above, I could see Stokoe, Wheeler and Garklavs on an icon. Perhaps, "The 3 Whistle Blowers of the OCA"? With golden whistles around their necks and the cast down RSK and Metropolitans in the lower corners like unto the deceiver talking to Joseph in the icon of the Nativity? Stokoe can hold a wireless keyboard, Wheeler a solar-powered calculator? Maybe all three treading upon snakes but not being bitten? I apologize, I know it is sacrilege, May Bozhe forgive me in the same breath He forgives others who are offended by my words.
(Editor's note: Apology accepted.Move on.)
#3.1.2 Rooskie on 2009-08-24 19:33
You could add Fr DB to the icon holding a large document entitled 'canon law'.
#188.8.131.52 Yanni on 2009-08-25 20:45
"Stokoe, Wheeler and Garklavs on an icon"
YES!!! But let's wait until they have been reposed for a few years.
(Editor's note: Thanks, now you want us dead! Sheesh....)
#184.108.40.206 Anonymous on 2009-08-28 02:02
You must be aligned with the bad boys who are finally getting their comeuppance. To quote a keen medieval observer of human foibles: "The Lady Doth Protest Too Much, Methinks." Why does quoting the written documents of your friends offend you so? All the RSK enablers are under scrutiny. You cannot hide any longer. Repent or find other professions please.
#3.1.3 Anon. on 2009-08-24 20:34
If we ask questions, then the terrorists will have won!
Now go busy yourselves with duct tape and plastic sheeting.
#3.1.4 A Fellow Orthodox Christian on 2009-08-24 21:00
Are you out of your mind? Apparently so. If you are happy with the "new" leadership taking shape in the OCA, by all means, enjoy!
For those of us who were hoping that Jonah's election meant change, it appears we were wrong. Perhaps those of us who have been witness to clergy misconduct should hit the streets so to speak. Forget lawsuits. Stand outside of parishes, deaneries in a lawful manner and hold signs that clearly state the factual abuses. Alert the media. How fast do you think things might change then?
I am considering this in my own situation. If there isn't some sort of appropriate resolution to abuses committed by my former priest, I will take to the curb outside his parish and at least warn people. Yes, that will put me at risk to a certain degree, but I cannot walk away. Its wrong.
Am I trying to destroy my former priest or the church? No. For God's sake, after years now spent on dealing with my own situation, I am trying to resolve this for myself and trying to prevent this from happening in the future to someone else. I cannot and will not walk away. I cannot fool myself anymore into thinking that these church leaders are holy. How can you?
#3.1.5 Anonymous on 2009-08-25 06:53
I've followed all the events of the OCA scandals with roller-coaster emotional responses. Mostly, the politics of the church are interesting to me but don't really affect my spiritual life. But reading these documents and realizing that Fr. Brum may become the next hierarch of my diocese fills me with deep sadness.
What has happened to the church? Why was this name ever even put forward? It's as if someone from Watergate had been made a Supreme Court justice on the basis of having never been convicted of anything. "He's good at his current job." I'm sorry, but not having been convicted of a crime is a pretty low standard for a diocesan hierarch.
The assertion that Fr. Brum wasn't of the inner circle can't possibly be true. How much more "inner" does it get than secretary to the top man? Should we assume the Metropolitan's secretary was totally ignorant of his superior's actions? This would seem to call the candidate's managerial skills into question all by itself. He worked for the boss for years but didn't know anything the head of the church or his chancellor were up to? They said everything was OK, and he believed them? He just cashed the checks without thinking and handed them the dough? I might admire such childlike wonder--if I bought it. The memos regarding Dn. Wheeler, if accurate, do not show childlike wonder; they show a ruthless operator not likely to be bamboozled.
#3.2 Morton on 2009-08-25 10:41
Throw him in jail and tar and feather him. HE SHOULD BE DEPOSED.
He's a liar, cheater and thief too. Just like the rest of them. Who are the rest of them? Oh yeah, they're GONE. Get on with life.
#4 Michael Livosky on 2009-08-24 13:58
It is false equivalency of the most absurd kind to equate concern that the promotion to the episcopacy of someone associated with the former administration may be ill-advised at this time with 'tar and feathering.'
The only way I can interpret some of the responses to questions and concerns about the candidacy of Fr. David Brum is to conclude that some see a talented, celibate priest as somehow entitled to be a bishop -- so that to comment that he may not be the wisest choice for a particular position at a particular time is treated as somehow being an attack upon the man.
#4.1 Rebecca Matovic on 2009-08-24 19:23
Who is behind the push to move Frs. Brum & Fester into positions of power? Why is Metr. Jonah allowing Fr. Fester to serve as chancellor in the DoS and allowing Fr. Brum to be nominated for bishop of NY/NJ? Either Metr. Jonah is naïve enough to be pushed into doing so, manipulated into doing so against his better judgment, or is a co-conspirator. None of those three possibilities bodes well for the OCA.
Sic semper tyrannis,
#5 Nemo on 2009-08-24 17:23
The OCA is proving itself to have strange leadership.
Strange, strange leadership.
Particularly with the new information Mark just posted on Fr. David Brum in relation to the recent financial scandal and Dn. Eric Wheeler.
I know there is a time to say, "Let by-gones be by-gones," but the past implications of Fr. David Brum with the situation of Dn. Eric Wheeler does not sit well with me, and I see several other situations not moving toward satisfactory resolution.
It is one thing to move forward with a person who may have made errors of mis-judgement here or there.
But the past financial scandal should not be bringing back any of those players, Fr. Brum included.
Strange, strange leadership in this OCA.
Cappy Larson revealed the name of the cleric who appears to not be getting investigated for sexual misconduct.
That is sickening enough.
Strange, strange leadership in this OCA.
In the recent financial scandals of the OCA, it appears that the OCA is allowing two fall guys only, +Theodosius and +Herman. Perhaps the hierarchical nature of our church is a two-edged sword. The two head honchos got disciplined, and boy, that is enough. The OCA just can't go through any more humiliation when it comes to its hierarchs, because they are the ones still in charge.
If stronger, healthier checks and balances do not become the norm for the OCA, (which they have made attempts at) when a bishop screws up and is then retired, then the OCA has done enough to correct itself.
This is the message I am getting.
Strange, strange leadership in the OCA...
Nothing like our US constitution which tried to protect the people from a king and monarch. That was based out of experience (King George for those needing the recollection).
RSK was not a hierarch so I guess he remained above the hierarch's radar level in totally disciplining him. He is now not a priest but he is still visible with influence in a church.
The OCA, or should I wonder about the bishops of the OCA, do not appear to be very disciplined in disciplining their own clerics and do not seem to really know how to wisely and firmly deal with several areas of misconduct in their own clerics.
I say that because the serious nature of what Cappy Larson shared with the bishops appears to have gone no where.
Strange, strange leadership in this OCA.
Getting rid of two fellow hierarchs does not correct all the recent financial wrongs, but when hierarchs are in charge, it appears that they don't totally get all the years of inertia out of the system.
The birthing process of a breach baby seems to be easier than what the OCA is putting itself through to get to higher moral ground.
There was and remains a whole bunch of people who just need to not be in leadership positions any more in the OCA.
Get over the title. Get them out of their leadership role.
#6 Patty Schellbach on 2009-08-24 17:58
Would you please put blank lines in between paragraphs? Right now your postings are super-hard to read.
#6.1 A Fellow Orthodox Christian on 2009-08-26 12:27
Dear Fellow Orthodox Christian,
I will endeavor to put more space in between my comments.
(I just got my first pair of prescription glasses at the ripe old age of 51 but can't get used to them; back to the OTC reading pair; at least for now!)
#6.1.1 Patty Schellbach on 2009-08-27 14:27
Excellent article, very good use of new source information. However, my opinion is that Fr. David Brum's nomination to be the New York/New Jersey bishop is not meant to give him this particular seat on the Synod, but rather, to keep his name in front of the OCA, and to confront, deal with and dispose of objections to his candidacy. After all these objections are brought forward, and after they are answered to the extent they can be answered, and after they become "old" matters, then Fr. David Brum will be put up as a candidate where he is really wanted as bishop. That would be the Diocese of the South.
Meanwhile, I believe that Fr. Michael Dahulich is meant to be the next bishop of New York/New Jersey, a role for which he is as well prepared as anyone else, and better prepared than most. And his removal from St. Tikhon's will allow someone else who the new Metropolitan has already chosen and who is ready and waiting, to take Fr. Michael's place there. (Another key person at St. Tikhon's, whose removal was also planned, has proven to be more of an obstacle to the process, because the board of trustees blocked it. Such are the bumps in the road for the best laid of plans.) Why can't the persons in charge simply state their plans and preferences for bringing in their own support people, instead of giving us these endless charades?
#7 Cate on 2009-08-24 20:37
Interesting. If you are correct, we are experiencing a more sophisticated politics than we are used to. (Perhaps that is, in a backhanded sort of way, a positive sign — it means the blunt iron fist no longer works.)
I have been toying with another thought. The RSK men have power, whether Met. Jonah likes it or not, because of what they know about wrongdoing in the Church. We can hardly suppose, after all, that decades of corruption and manipulation only touched four or five people at the top.
If he does not get them onboard, they could do much harm—from bitterness, in continual attempts to get back on top, or, if they feel threatened, in the course of ensuring their own financial security. On the other hand, if he does get them onboard, as a man guaranteed to be in power for some time, he can count on their loyalty.
This doesn't mean that they must always have their way. Here, at least some of Mark's and others' protests may be as useful to Met. Jonah as they are to the rest of the OCA, and for the same reasons—though he could not possibly admit it.
Pragmatism, even distasteful pragmatism, sometimes has a place in Church life. We saw what happened when our government undertook de-Baathification without careful calculation. A through "de-Kondratification" would have been satisfying, but I suspect it would have left the OCA with brutal indigestion down the road.
Of course, I know nothing of Met. Jonah's motives, but I am not ready to condemn them.
#7.1 A Fellow Orthodox Christian on 2009-08-26 13:14
Another thought. Someone somewhere that i've lost track of right now speculated that based on his apparent championing of Brum and Fester, +Metropolitan Jonah was either naive or complicit. "A Fellow Orthodox Christian" suggests a pragmatic forestalling of problems that could arise if the old guard were entirely shut out.
Here's a variation on that theme.
In any situation with a limited pool of talent, people who have relevant abilities will get tapped even if they have significant negatives attached. Unfortunately some of the best people in the sense of being above reproach may not be the most competent. The trick, of course, is to tap new talent that is both untainted and competent. And although we're a small organization, we've seen that when people take the time to talk and look around they can come up with refreshing and surprising solutions -- witness the selection of Bp. Melchisedek.
But back to motivations. I know nothing of the Metropolitan's motivations, but the re-emergence of names like Brum and Fester reminds me of something I've seen before, where I did know the motivations of the person who made the decision.
So, offered as a somewhat bizarre comparison, a story from Bolivia:
Back in the '90s, I did a fair amount of international political work [polling, campaign stuff, some things related to 'selling' economic and political reform]. In 1993, my firm had been working for many years with the man who was elected that year as President of Bolivia. Though relatively junior, I had become one of the folks from our company that he trusted and with whom he spoke frankly.
Goni had an ambitious program of reform he wanted to enact. He also had tremendous popular support -- including from the large native population and the poor. And he set about assembling his cabinet to help forward his programs.
At the completion of a successful campaign, there's a transition in emphasis from the political advisors and staff to the policy folks. Although cabinet choices were policy matters, there was one point that his political advisors were absolutely adamant about -- he could not appoint a certain person to his cabinet. Carlos was authoritarian, concerned only with the interests of the privileged elites, and arrogant. There'd never been anything proven, but he had a reputation for being a better looking, better educated, more sophisticated version of a typical corrupt politician. But Goni saw this as a purely political line of argument, all about 'optics' rather than practical governing. His answer, "Carlos is young and energetic, he's efficient and competent -- there just aren't that many people that I can rely on to actually get things done, and Carlos gets things done. I need him." Yes, he wanted this man close to him so that he wouldn't become an enemy, but more importantly, he needed someone who had proven administrative competence.
Now let's not lose track of something -- RSK recruited highly talented people. So it's not surprising that their names come up as people who have much to offer. I suspect that +MJ is genuinely trying to get people who will help him move things forward and who are recommended by people he trusts [what the motivation of this set of people is -- I have no idea].
But there are other talented people -- it's time for new blood. Once the organization has undergone some cultural change and found its legs, then it is possible that some of the old guard could be re-integrated into positions of responsibility -- but not any time soon.
[By the way, Carlos ran the department that was in charge of the federal police force. During a non-violent, but economically disruptive strike by miners, the forces that reported to him opened fire on protesters resulting in several deaths. The orders were never traced directly to Carlos, but no one doubted that either he himself or the culture he had fostered in his department played a critical role in the tragedy. This was one of a handful of mishandled events that led to a complete collapse of Goni's popular support and that severely hampered his ability to implement his program. Under a subsequent government, Goni was charged with genocide in connection with this incident. He now lives in exile.]
#7.1.1 Rebecca Matovic on 2009-08-26 16:09
A plausible theory, but undoubtedly wrong. Metropolitan Jonah is too closely tied to the individuals in question through his short sojourn in the DOS and otherwise. They even probably arranged his election there and secretly championed his elevation to Metropolitan.
Furthermore, the Church is not supposed to act like the State or the Mafia. Machiavellian machinations have no place in the life of the Church, though they are frequently resorted to, and, as your illustration makes clear, more often than not, blow up in ones face.
#220.127.116.11 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2009-08-28 14:27
I never thought I'd want to live in Western PA...
#7.2 Morton on 2009-08-27 09:56
This may meet with some different opinions, and certainly I may be naive, but I believe that there is truth in what I am about to say. Metropolitan Jonah happens to be a very humble and gentle man. Given his experience and where he has been and what he has been doing the last 10 years or so, I would guess that he isn't viewing websites every day keeping up on the latest news. I suspect that he is kept pretty much in the dark about all of the things going on. He has probably got a very limited number of contacts on a daily basis and I wouldn't be surprised if I heard that the people who travel with him deflect comments and questions away from him as much as possible. This is where I may be naive. Can anyone who posts here tell me what his daily routine is, who "has his ear", and what are the chances that he could be uninformed about the feelings of so many concerned people. I do see a lot of good in him and a lot of potential for him to lead the church, but I don't see a support group around him that instills confidence. I do know that there is a high percentage of parishoners who still have no idea of the problems of the last few years. I know that it is possible to be an OCA member and yet have no concern for the hierarchs or council members, or clergy outside of their parishes, and are perfectly OK with the way things are. I know it seems impossible for the metropolitan to be that far out of the loop but it is possible. Given the continuous examples of things that are not admitted to, until the pressure is too much, or the lack of straightforward answers, until truths are revealed by others, one may think that judging Metropolitan Jonah for inaction is inappropriate. Glory to God for all things and may we be compassionate towards any and everyone, lest we be given their crosses to bear as well as our own.
(Editor's note: If you think the Metropolitan is just uninformed about matters, you are naive. He has been informed.)
#8 Looking for Humility on 2009-08-25 04:30
If a leader can be kept in the dark about the issues that trouble his flock then he is incompetent, if he ignores them altogether – he is arrogant. Hopefully, neither applies to the Metropolitan but I cannot help noticing the trend of growing support for the new administration by the advocates of the old regime.
#8.1 Karina Ross on 2009-08-25 09:36
Thank you. That is something I needed to know. Now, ...I know you can't tell me who is giving him his info. Maybe he is regularly logging on to this site, which I hope, but why is it that so many priests, deacons, readers and even the occasional bishop express themselves here instead of talking directly to him. Are there any open channels to the metropolitan that you know of? I guess it is clear that I find it hard to believe that a clear thinking individual would want to allow the past to repeat itself in this way. Are there really no untainted candidates? Why aren't all nominees allowed to be scrutinized? Are there some there that would refuse to join the "fraternity"? Is their anyone out there these days who will be a true shepherd, and become acquainted with the whole flock? I this impossible to do? Do years of pressure as a clergy man make them so weary as to seek worldly comforts above heavenly? Oh, I give up. The answers are all negative aren't they. Well thank goodness there are many who say TRUST IN GOD! This is our only hope and comfort.
#8.2 Looking for Humility on 2009-08-25 19:52
Please forgive me if I’m wrong about these statements and correct them so that I know the truth. Isn’t it true that Fr. Strikis was squirreled away with the then Monk Jonas in his monastery when all chaos broke forth from Syosset? Perhaps to keep him away from inquiring questions about checks he signed? Was +Metropolitan Jonas aware of why Fr. Srikis was placed there with him?
If I recall correctly, wasn’t it Fr. Brum who said that Wheeler should be sent to somewhere where you can trust the priest to keep an eye on him? Is this why Fr. Strikis was sent to the then Monk Jonas? In other words, was +Jonah a person who can be trusted to keep an eye on a problem like they felt with Wheeler?
Wasn’t he soon after appointed auxiliary Bishop of the South as an entrance point to his present position? Who placed Fr. Strikis with +Metropolitan Jonas in the first place and who made the decision that Jonas become an auxiliary Bishop? Are these the same people who placed Fr. Brum on the list for the Bishop of NY and NJ? Are these same people STILL making moves in the unfortunate OCA? Obviously, whoever these people are, they are the true spiritual terrorists!
#8.3 NJ Parishioner on 2009-08-26 10:07
I am struck by the comment, attributed to Fr. Brum in regards to the removal of Deacon Eric, "Do not have even a second thought about your rights in doing this".
Forgive me, but there are no positions of authority in the Orthodox Church; There are only positions of responsibility. Authority is given to those who have been placed in a position of responsibility so that they can carry out the responsibility they have been given, and only for that purpose. Any use of the authority of office other than to carry out the responsibilities of office is sin against the Body of the Church, sin against Christ Himself.
For example: A parish priest is responsible for the administration of the Sacraments in his parish. He is given the authority needed to carry out that responsibility. If a priest tells his faithful that they need to go to Confession periodically in order to approach the Chalice, and refuses to give Communion to those who do not go to Confession, he is using the authority of his office to carry out the responsibilities of his office. On the other hand, if the priest refuses Communion to a parishioner because they asked a question he didn't like at a parish meeting, he has committed a grievous sin. He does not have the right to refuse Communion, he has the authority to refuse Communion in the context of carrying out his responsibility to properly administer the Sacraments.
In the same way, a Bishop does not have the right to remove someone from their position. What he has is the responsibility of his office, and the authority needed to carry out that responsibility.
To remove Deacon Eric from his position because he is telling the truth, in an attempt to cover up malfeasance, is a terrible sin. For Father Brum to counsel and encourage this is double sin, for he sins himself and urges another to sin with his words.
In my parish, I often tell my faithful that, "nothing is done in the parish without the blessing of the priest", but I always add, "but that blessing is not unreasonably withheld." The authority of the clergy must always be used with the utmost care to insure that its use is only to carry out the true Christian responsibility of that cleric. Used in any other way, it becomes a terrible sword, wounding the faithful and the one who wields it.
#9 Fr Andrew Moulton on 2009-08-25 06:08
An important point needs to be kept in mind when talking about what is considered 'authority' in a clergy and a business sense. I agree with what you have pointed out, with regard to the context of a clergy's role and responsibilities. But, I do not agree from a business sense and perspective. I speak from being in the business role for the last 35 plus years. I will not try to speak from the clergy perspective, as I've found that 2+2 does not necessarily come up to 4 in your world.
From a business perspective, the comment of, "Do not have even a second thought about your rights in doing this", is very understandable and clear. It is strictly what is understood, every day, in an 'employer/employee' business relationship, but not necessarily in a clergy to clergy relationship. This is where the two are constantly intermixed and mixed up when it comes to clergy doing the administrative aspects of doing the business role.
The office of Treasurer is not a clergy position or function, it is a business function and position. The office of +Met in this context is the role of President in a business setting. The relationship between the two is, I repeat, an employer/employee relationship. It is the prerogative of the employer (right or wrong) to hire, replace, demote, promote, and/or fire an employee, as long as it doesn't run afoul of criteria as set forth by the government's labor relations board. So in the business context, the +Met does have the authority or right, acting in the role of the business President, whether one agrees or not. As such, the +Met was advised correctly by Fr. Brum within the above context.
And who is to blame for this? Ask yourself this question, how many business 101 courses are taught in our seminaries? And you wonder why our hierarchs and clergy keep running afoul of basic business practices and law.
(Editor's note: Sorry, DHH, this is not a problem of business ignorance, but ethical misconduct. Wheeler was terminated because he was blowing the whistle on RSK and the former Metropolitan's misdirection of more than $5 million into secret accounts. No one has a "right", even a Bishop, to do wrong. We simply have the ability to do so - and when we do, the last thing we need is someone "justifying" for us.)
#9.1 DHH on 2009-08-25 11:43
It appears that you as well (as me) are not prepared to move forward from the scandalous past of the church.
When will the lunacies of the RSK administration, MT and MH come to rest in the OCA?
It is a serious question. Must all those involved be held to terminal account, or must they have an opportunity to renounce their actions, or what?
I'm not sure. Seems like a leadership vacuum.
#9.2 Daniel E. Fall on 2009-08-25 16:21
Please, please, PLEASE...quit calling Fr Bob and/or the former Metropolitans into question anymore. Fr Bob and +Herman have been held accountable...unfairly one-sided I might add. They're gone and not coming back, EVER. Your bishops allowed that to happen. Your Metropolitan Council members allowed that to happen. They OWE you nothing; people like you were a large part of their lynching, be proud of what you accomplished. If Mark Stokoe would have handled this with a little humility, instead of him and his group of a few people, who did nothing but complain, things may have been handled differently.
There's a new crew in Syossett and new MC; complain to them. I'm sure Mark Stokoe will address your concerns. Complain to all the bishops who are still around and allowing this to happen. You can no longer continue to blame Fr Bob. The bishops are their own men, who make their own decisions.
The whole story will never come out folks. At what point are you going to stop looking back and start looking forward. That's the problem with you people; your stopping any progress with your constant bitching about everything that happens that doesn't please you.
(Editor's note: I am not sure how my humility, or lack of same, affected RSK and two former Metropolitan's misdirection of funds and the subsequent cover-up. And as long as the story is not being fully told, you can bet Mark Stokoe will be trying to do make sure it is told, fully, honestly, transparently, so that those responsible may be held accountable. I am not going anywhere, or doing anything else. Sorry to disappoint.)
#9.2.1 Anonymous on 2009-08-26 16:39
Thank you for the well expressed reminder of the proper relationship of authority and responsibility for the hierarchs and other clergy. Do you have any examples that pertain to the laity?
#9.3 Mark C. Phinney on 2009-08-26 03:40
This is the best news that has been delivered ( in writing) that I've read, in this avenue of orthodox accountability. Isn't that the 'Truth'! I don't know for sure, but at least I think so...but then again, what do I know? The only problem in your address, Father ( as I see it ), is that your approach is the broad way. We need to know a little bit more about the skinny way. Can you yourself (or even with a little bit of help and concern from some friends in and out there ), provide us with some MORE detailed 'better than the best' of the BEST News? I think it is the ultimate responsibility ( besides WITNESSING CONFESSIONS ) for all orthodox preachers. It can't be that difficult to read between the lines. I for one can't always read the writing on the wall if it looks anything like 'CHINCKEN SCRATCH'. I can't stand the suspence of it all. Please teach us more of what is really going on here... Could you express the truth in a more unique way for us? I promise to be a good member the audience.
#9.4 Patty Kusnir on 2009-08-26 21:07
Now would seem to be a good time to review this post by Fr. Ted Bobosh...applying not only to those who are already bishops, but to those who may be offered as candidates to receive the "Axios!" of the people of God.
In the new reflection by Jason Barker on Metropolitan Philip and cult-like aspects of the Antiochian Archidocese, he concludes with this description of a healthy church, by Ronald Enroth:
"How can we recognize a healthy church? In addition to matters of appropriate doctrine, a healthy church is reconciling and restorative, not adversarial and elitist. Members of healthy churches seek to deepen and strengthen their family commitments. Legitimate leaders will welcome dissent and hard questions from members without threat of reprisal. Trustworthy leaders will encourage accountability, and they will establish checks and balances."
While Enroth wasn't writing from within the Orthodox tradition, I think we can all agree the characterization is a valid one. And this latest news makes me realize how far the OCA remains from being a 'healthy church' - particularly when it comes to leaders welcoming dissent and hard questions.
The performance of Fr. Lickwar and his Committee has been shameful in this regard. What is more shameful is that our Locum Tenens still has not publicly weighed in on this controversy, or labored to bring it to rest. Instead, there is stonewalling, stalling, and secrecy, all climaxing in another mind-boggling revelation from OCANews. This is the same pattern we've been experiencing since 2005. When will the "New Era" invoked at the AAC begin?
I don't see how the Election could legitimately occur, at this point. Brum is not a valid candidate (now, nor ever) and the other two leave much to be desired, particularly in their emphasis on unconditional obeisance to the bishop. To top it off, none have publicly responded to the questions Mark raised last week, which is really, really disappointing.
The Extraordinary Assembly would best be used as an open forum for the clergy and laity to discuss these concerns with Metropolitan Jonah, and to elect a new episcopal search committee, with a new and conciliar mandate. And, again: new deans and a new chancellor.
#11 Rdr. Nilus on 2009-08-25 14:17
Thank you for the in depth background about Fr. David Brum, Mark. I would make one addition. According to the OCA Website, Brum, along with Robert Kondratick, conducted "a thorough investigation" of Holy Cross Monastery before its reception into the OCA in 2003.
Holy Cross Monastery, which was a Byzantine Catholic monastery located in Miami, Florida, is now called Protection of the Holy Theotokos Monastery, is located in Weaverville, North Carolina, and is "Under the Metropolitan's Omophorion," a unique category on the monastery page.
For more information about the monastery, Cappy and I highly recommend Peter Davidson's very readable book, "Murder At Holy Cross." Additional information about the group is available here.
Havens of gossip and conjecture? Conjecture for sure with so many, many lies from within the church. And so much gossip started by the last two Metropolitans and their dear Chancellor.
Before I said I didn't care, but now I care. How did that ever get out of committee?
As a point of clarity Mark, did Bishop Benjamin decline an opportunity to sign the letter? You imply that he did, but we then assume.
"You damn right I did. I ordered the code red" comes to mind after reading about the role of Brum in the termination of Wheeler. A nice thought for a potential Bishop of the OCA, eh? A disgusting secular movie with Jack Nicholson and a dead marine. Way to go! That's a sermon I won't forget. At least Dn. Wheeler was only dead in his career path for 10 years or so, oh well...that's the way it goes. An honest man is scorned and the tailor is lauded and promoted.
Fr. Brum needs an opportunity to explain his role in the scandal. Whether he was simply lied to, and how. Or if he understood what was going on and thought it was right to assist the leaders under the "Brum Doctrine", and what he thinks today. His silence is sickening. But he doesn't need to stoop to my thoughtful level. No, that is just fine.
Even with that forum, he is unlikely to be accepted by anyone because he appears as a lemur at best, and scum, at worst; not a leader. It is judgemental, I know, but Fr. Brum hasn't exactly been vocal and damning of RSK and the past 2 Metropolitans who we all now know have stinky fingers.
No disrespect intended, just third party observations from someone who cares enough to speak.
Shame on whoever put me in this place and not me nor Stokoe for our utterances. Too much debris is still under the OCA rug when memos like these appear at a perceived late hour.
It is a real problem considering Brum; sadly for him when I offer every possible benefit of doubt. So much for those who laughed at Fr. Ted's earlier suggestion of a T&R forum. Now when the proverbial crap hits the OCA fan. What will fly from it?
Have some faith that Metropolitan Jonah realizes the fallout.
I'm counting on him cuz I'm a doubting Thomas at this point...to a degree that is easy, but painful.
Thank God Mark is still mad as hell and able to point out the twisted ironies present.
Fr. Brum needs to write a book; subject matter should be obvious.
..my thoughts for anyone listening, it is really hard to not be sardonic when irony like this abounds..another hour wasted on the OCA's dribble
#13 Daniel E. Fall on 2009-08-25 16:12
Well said Fr. Andrew.
The true standard of leadership from our Lord's example is servanthood. Tisk, tisk. How did this Church of our Founder degenerate into such neurotic demands of authority and obedience? I say to the wrongdoers and their enablers. Repent or find other professions.
#14 Anon. on 2009-08-25 19:02
All these continuing revelations just confirm to me that the OCA scandal is so vast that the continual "bad judgments" point more twards the truth of a cover up than just coincidence. People will say that is a conspiracy theorist talking well I challange those that say that and explain why is it acceptable to be "coincidence theotists"! The consistant, deceptions, ommisions,and just plane bad calls truly point to an orginazation that is willfully not only morally bankrupt but has forgotton Jesus Christ. Thankfully and indeed miracalously through the grace of God people still worship despite the consistantly milignant leadership; Church festivals, bible study, book clubs lectures, services , sacraments and last but not least Liturgies. As painful as the ultimate truth is it will prevail but, if the church leadership choose to shun the truth the OCA will not prevail.
#15 Anon on 2009-08-26 06:32
out of the three F.Dahulich is by far the most educated, inteligent, and one with business training. a clear choice for me.
#16 Anonymous on 2009-08-26 08:27
You may be right, but you do a disservice to your diocese to elect anyone produced by such a poisoned process. Far better to start anew, as many have suggested, than to cave to a manipulated and controlled "choice."
With respect to Post 9, while I certainly agree with the main thrust of Father Moulton's comments on authority, I do detect a slight odour of "Father knows best." This incipient clericalism is at the route of all that plagues us, and while, in the past, I would certainly have let it go unchallenged, both theoretically and in actuality, experience has shown that this is not the right course.
We are all vested with authority as intelligent and free willed human beings, to one degree or another, and will be judged on how we use it. It is not the sole prerogative of any individual or class of individuals.
#16.1 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2009-08-27 08:32
At the core, isn't the job of the Church to bring people to Christ? How is the BS going on in the OCA working to that end? What are people on the outside, non-Orthodox, non- believers seeing in us? A route to embrace Christ? Doubtful.
This just infuriates me. Its an abuse of power, nothing less.
What stinks is when people in authority, people you should be able to trust, pretend they are being guided by some higher power, pretend they are acting in the best interest of those in their charge, pretend they care....but in reality, THEY ARE BIG FAT UGLY LIARS. There. I said it.
You know what else stinks? People who look the other way, swallow the BS from those authority figures because they are afraid or because they convince themselves of some twisted notion of "God's will". To paraphrase someone I know who is very wise, making good of something bad is one thing, calling ungodly BS God's will is whacked.
Correction: BIG FAT UGLY LYING ABUSERS. ok, I'm done now.
#17 Anonymous on 2009-08-27 06:43
There has been a great deal of talk about how the process of choosing a diocesan bishop in the OCA should be done. The example of the Diocese of Western Pennsylvania is given as an example of the best way, while many point to the process being undertaken in the newly reestablished Diocese of New York and New Jersey as a kind of shotgun wedding where the Holy Synod simply jams in the candidate(s) it wants for the role.
I thought a look at the oft quoted but seemingly little read Statute of the Orthodox Church in America regarding what it says about a diocese and its bishop in order. Article IV of the Statute on 'The Diocese' sets forth the (minimal) requirements for Election in Section 10:
Section 10 - Election
The election of the diocesan bishop shall proceed as follows:
1. The Diocesan Assembly shall nominate a candidate and submit his name to the Holy Synod;
2. If the Assembly fails to nominate a candidate acceptable to the Holy Synod, the Synod shall elect the bishop of the diocese;
3. Upon the approval of a candidate by the Holy Synod, he shall be summoned to a session of the Holy Synod for the canonical election.
What I find interesting here is that there is no requirement for the procedures lauded in the recent election in Western Pennsylvania. They may be very good procedures, but they are not required or even preferred in the Statute.
What we do find is that the Diocesan Assembly - with no further qualifications noted as to how they go about their work - will "nominate a candidate and submit his name to the Holy Synod". There is no requirement regarding how this nomination is to take place. The Assembly can accept the recommendation of its previous bishop or the Holy Synod or the monastics or a layman, a name could be pulled from a hat, an extensive search and approval process can be undertaken diocese-wide with input from all levels and corners of the diocese and beyond, or anything.
The key thing that must be remembered in how a nomination process is structured is that the diocese does not elect, consecrate or install its own bishop. The diocese merely nominates a candidate to the Holy Synod, a delineation of responsibilities seen also in the Moscow Sobor of 1917-18, the prototype of the conciliar church structure of the OCA, so that bishops are alone responsible for bishops' work, but with the input of the lower clergy and laity.
The Diocesan Assembly must "nominate a candidate acceptable to the Holy Synod" because otherwise "the Synod shall elect the bishop of the diocese" on their own, regardless of diocesan input. Therefore, it would behoove all parties involved to receive the input of the Holy Synod as to what candidates and characteristics they would and would not find acceptable.
This is an important factor in determining the nomination process within the Diocese. That is, it's not just about the diocese; it's also about the local Church and the composition of the Holy Synod that rules the local Church. The Synod must have input. The Diocese must have input. The process cannot be gamed so that one side dominates the other. The bishops have the power and authority to elect whom they please, but that's what in soccer is called 'playing a hospital ball' - it's setting someone (and the diocese) up for failure and injury. The bishop can have absolute control, but if he drives away all his parishioners he is absolute ruler of himself alone. A good jockey may guide and 'rule' his horse, but the jockey who beats his horse soon finds himself racing on foot. Similarly, the clergy and laity of the diocese have not been given the authority or responsibility to elect their own bishop, to rule the local Church. The horse does not ride the jockey. Input is important, but a leader cannot lead if the led refuse to follow; anarchy results. I would argue that the Diocese of New York and New Jersey has allowed its various parish popes far too wide a latitude in defining for themselves what Orthodoxy 'really is' regardless of the diocese as a whole, the OCA, Orthodoxy around the world, etc. - many have seen conciliarity as a license to do what they will and demand others respect their pastoral decision or higher learning regardless of Tradition (this has been exacerbated by the fact that so many high profile stavropegial institutions - e.g., Syosset, SVOTS, New Skete - are peppered throughout the diocese thus placing diocesan and sometimes idiosyncratic metropolitan institutions side by side under different bishops and policies; not to mention that NY and NJ are full of so many other jurisdictions and their own leadership offices). Neither side can demand the best seat at the table, such is not the Orthodox way.
I think a better way of determining the mind of the Holy Synod and its conjunction with the mind of the Diocesan Assembly could have been found in NY/NJ. I think the structure of the pre-nominating process has the appearance of the Synod gaming the process in its favor over the mind of the Diocesan Assembly, as a whole. That is, Deans have been beholden to the previous diocesan bishops and do not, perhaps, represent the view from the bottom, but the view from the top. The Holy Synod, including our very new Metropolitan whose diocese included NY/NJ until recently, does not really know what the diocese is, much less what it needs. Flying in and out of New York to go to Syosset or St. Vladimir's is not an adequate primer on the needs of the Diocese of New York and New Jersey.
The Statute states that "If the Assembly fails to nominate a candidate acceptable to the Holy Synod, the Synod shall elect the bishop of the diocese". This could mean that an option for the Assembly is to not nominate any of the pre-selected three candidates and take more time with the process - perhaps even revisiting the same three candidates again. The language does not provide explicit language regarding a time frame for the Assembly to make a nomination. However, the Statute language could also mean that should the 'assembled Assembly' fail to nominate a candidate, then the Synod can determine " the Assembly fails to nominate a candidate acceptable to the Holy Synod" by not nominating a candidate at all. Clarification on this language should be had from the Synod.
Whatever course of action is taken by the Diocesan Assembly, the Holy Synod and the three pre-selected candidates (and any others that might arise in the Assembly), the words of OCA Fr. Stephen Freeman of Tennessee should be remembered regarding the ecclesiology of the Orthodox Church:
"The Orthodox Church has perhaps the weakest ecclesiology of all, because it depends, moment by moment, on the love and forgiveness of each by all and of all by each. Either the Bishops of the Church love and forgive each other or the whole thing falls apart. “Brethren, let us love one another, that with one mind we may confess: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.” These are the words that introduce the Creed each Sunday, and they are the words that are the bedrock of our ecclesiology." ('The Ecclesiology of the Cross', Glory to God for All Things)
Let us not fall back on legalistic parsing of documents, let us actively love one another, forgive one another, and prefer the lowest seat to the highest.
I will be a layman, choir member and reader in the new bishop's diocese. I will chant his name and title in the Polychronion prayer. I will be directly affected by the choices made by the Diocesan Assembly and the Holy Synod. I do not know the candidates. I confessed once to Fr. Michael Dahulich in South Canaan, which I remember well (I also think it is important that the Synod not be almost entirely made up of adult converts to the faith, which he is not); I don't know Fr. Mahaffey at all; I fear the SIC baggage that comes with Fr. David Brum (either here or in Dallas), though I always found him friendly in the past and think it unfair he is often dismissively tarred as a papist for having converted from Roman Catholicism. I pray that all involved do the Lord's bidding, humbly, prayerfully, with patience and love and fidelity to the Orthodox Church, not their personal vision of 'real Orthodoxy', and with eyes wide open regarding the sins of omission and commission in the recent past - perhaps it is time to turn the leadership page (which is why the Deans should not have dominated the pre-selection process) while also letting bygones be bygone (meaning we should avoid too close an association with reprimanded, past administrations).
O Lord, save Thy people and bless Thine inheritance!
I see little love or forgiveness in this selection process or, for that matter, in the actions of the Holy Synod for many, many years. Therefore, as you rightly point out, "the whole thing falls apart."
#18.1 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2009-08-27 13:28
To be fair, though, I also "see little love or forgiveness in [response to] this selection process". As I pointed out, nothing was really done contrary to the Statute, just contrary to the way (some) people would like to see the blanks in the Statute filled in.
Of course, I think there are better ways the process could have unfolded, but I run processes like this for a living and have some experience 'herding cats' in a contentious ministerial search, so... It is very difficult to please everyone - especially when everyone is willing to second guess everything quickly and publicly and ascribe all sorts of motives to the actions and decisions taken. It makes one yearn for Holy Russia and, well, every other local church where your bishop just shows up COD from the Synod.
Perhaps if we weren't all so enamored of having 'our guy' in power so he could enact all the changes we want, then we wouldn't have to be so worried about which guy gets the job because the job doesn't change anything. Such is the result of seeking to change the Church rather than letting the Church change us. Sin isn't so wildly different today that we need dramatic new anything.
I see today on oca.org that there was a meeting in Syosset on Monday August 24 regarding the OCA Sexual Misconduct Policies and Procedures.
While I am glad to see that a review of the policies and procedures is being conducted and hopefully overhauled and improved, I have a question/concern:
Why did the OCA feel it was necessary to note the contributions of the Very Rev Alexey Karlgut? Wasn't he released from his position as an investigator because HE WAS UNQUALIFIED and because HE HAD A REPUTATION FOR INTIMIDATING VICTIMS? What exactly were his "contributions"?
Like I said, great that the OCA had this meeting...hope it amounts to something good....but cut the crap about Karlgut. Whoever had the brilliant idea to include that little blurb, should go back and edit.
#19 Anonymous on 2009-08-28 14:58
overhauled and improved? fat chance. paul sidebottom's attorney was at the meeting, remember him? you think they had the meeting because they see the need for change? because they want to do the right thing? no - they had the meeting to try to meet the terms of the sidebottom settlement. but guess what? not happening, because the powers that be are more worried about the "bad things" that could happen if real improvements to the current policy are implemented. they'd rather let their clergy continue to abuse and get away with it. who cares if a victims and the truth are swept under the rug? have to protect "the church" at all costs, to hell with doing what is right. disgusting.
#19.1 Anonymous on 2009-08-29 17:47
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