Thursday, October 15. 2009
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Thank God forake courageous laymen like Anthony Zrake! You're my hero!
#1 Antionymous on 2009-10-15 08:13
I'd recommend Mr. Zrake hold his funds for his own parish until the Metropolitan either modifies his approach or retires. That way he wouldn't be hurting his own church permanently for the actions of its leader(s).
Giving to the Fargo mission would be nice because my friend Fr. Oliver is there, but I don't agree with that decision because the parish is no longer an AOCA parish and although it lost its support grant, I'm confident it will succeed.
Giving to other charities is okay as long as they are performing the requirements you are asking of church.
Just my two cents worth... I like to give even a despot like Metropolitan Philip a chance to redeem some of his mistakes.
The idea that parishes are required a third party audit is bar none-rididulous. Most 3rd party audits of small revenue earners cost 2-3 grand and would be wasteful I agree. Audits are supposed to be done internally and there is guidance available for churches to follow available through Metropolitan Phillips favorite Bishop-Job of the OCA DoM.
If the Metropolitan Required the internal audit and a report from each church submitted to their respective Diocesan Bishops; it would actually be a good thing.
Here is a link on how to perform an audit for your parish. This is typically done by a rotating group each year.
Metropolitan Philips demand for third party audits of parishes isn't clever, it's just dumb. But shifting his demand to internal audits is sheer genius.
Get smart people.
#2 Daniel E. Fall on 2009-10-15 08:36
This heartfelt and clearheaded open letter can be summed up in one verse from the Gospel that some bishops and "church establishment" types seem to forget, avoid or ignore these days: "A tree is identified by the kind of fruit it produces" (Matthew 12:33). If we're not behaving in a Christlike manner and running our church life in accord with the ethics of his Gospel -- which include honesty, transparency, lack of criminality and aversion to wrongdoing -- we have no room to wonder why people hold aloof from the Church and prefer atheism to Christianity. The fault is ours.
#3 Gregory on 2009-10-15 09:03
My prayers go with you in this endeavour.
It is hard to change cultures embedded over years. I believe that the accumulated personal and specific actions of God-fearing and pious Orthodox faithful, such as yours, will bring about the good things needful.
May your--and my--actions be blessed!
And, may this serve notice to our Church leaders: hierarchs, priests, trustees, etc., that all things must be done "decently and in order."
#4 A West Coast Antiochian priest on 2009-10-15 09:15
Naturally, anyone that learns anything from Mark's website is a misguided bad person! WHERE ELSE do we have opportunity to learn of our sorry debacle?
from The WORD, or Ant. WEBSITE ? Ha!
BUT, I was at the Convention in "vacation World" as one so called "delegate" called it. Delegate? I'd say about 300 legitimate (the ones the clergy begged to stay and not tour the town) at the meetins. The rest mostly PROXY as usual!
I observed of what HAS BEEN WRITTEN. All very true, the avoidance, jeering of speakers, Metropolitan's DIATRIBE wityh no humility. God bless us "dogs" who benefited from seminary education begun long BEFORE Met. Philip!
Listen to the PDF Pod Casts and you will easily note thew UnChristian attitudes of the "delegates" and their spokesman, not to mention Met. Philip's self glorification "State of the Ujnion" ! ..... note the election in Tripoli! Holy men exist and not CEO'S that we experience. I and many nominate Abbot Touma as one of our three to be nominated. We pray SOON!
#4.1 Anonymous Priest So West Diocese on 2009-10-15 16:44
with all the letters that you print in support of your calls for transparency and what not, i am sure that thousands can be generated in support of telling you all to just shut your pieholes. we dont do it because we dont waste our time because we know we have a strong leader at the helm that will take your criticism and throw it to the dogs...those same dogs that he mentioned in palm springs.
so mark, why dont you take your open letters and college student reflection .....
#5 Anonymous on 2009-10-15 10:19
You are truly pathetic. Not only do you have no clue about the Gospel, you have a really really twisted and sick concept of the Church and how we are to function in it.
Anthony Zrake has real concerns about real issues, as does the College Student, and the hideous behaviors perpetuated on this Archdiocese. You can be as nasty and ignorant as you want, but it does not change nor eliminate the problems...of which you have become a part. And being a bully will never make you right or holy.
Lord have mercy.
#5.1 Anonymously sad about it all on 2009-10-15 19:06
I probably should let Mr./Ms. Anonymous' comment go without drawing more attention to it, but simply cannot. I am sure that Mr./Ms. Anonymous is correct in stating that a thousand "shut your piehole" letters could be written in response to the respectful, heartfelt open letters published on this site in recent days. But I must ask, Mr./Ms. Anonymous, what does it say about the position you advocate that in response to pleas for financial accountability and spiritual purity, you want to throw those pleas to the dogs? If what these writers have said is wrong, testify to the wrong. But if they have spoken the truth, why do you curse them? The model of conciliarity that we should strive toward would have that we should be able to speak with one another in love and mutual respect. Employing this model, and with the Trinity guiding us, we can arrive at a consensus to build the Church up and not tear her down.
Friday morning, our hierarchs will be meeting in Houston to discuss many important issues to the future of our Archdiocese. Later on Friday and Saturday, the Board of Trustees will be meeting to discuss additional issues of importance. Regardless of which "side" we're on, all of us who love the Church should participate with our leaders by offering up prayers that the Holy Spirit be present with them and guide them in their discussions.
#5.2 David Najjar on 2009-10-15 20:38
Your posts defy common courtesy let alone Christian love. Maybe you need to try praying rather than posting.
#5.3 Yanni on 2009-10-15 21:39
After reading the open letter of Mr. Zrake my first thought was that this sounds just like a repeat of what happened with the OCA. Is this really a good idea? Quite honestly I'm not sure that this is a very easy question to answer.
The OCA had a lot of skeletons in the closet and frankly some of them are still in there. It is a simple fact that the withholding of diocesan assessments by the Diocese of the Midwest served as a catalyst for change in the OCA. The unfortunate collateral damage that resulted is evident in the fact that the Fellowship of Orthdox Stewards is a fraction of what it used to be, the OCA is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees to battle Mr. Kondratick, there are still potentially other lawsuits, the central admin. staffing is now primarily part-time staff, and there has been no growth in the OCA for the past several years.
So, is it worth it to go down the path once again and start withholding dollars? Again, just for the sake of history a number of people promised to withhold their assessments and put the money in other special funds during the OCA time of troubles. Did much of this money ever make its way back to the OCA? Probably not.
Is the OCA better off today than it was three years ago? History will be the judge. I'm sure many will pontificate that it was absolutely necessary for the OCA to go through this. I don't disagree entirely, but with the hindsight of history it is also clear now that the path which the OCA took wasn't very well thought out. Had the bishops of the OCA acted more responsibly and decisively with regard to its former chancellor, its former metropolitan and some other characters, it would not be mired in its current legal battle.
I can only hope and pray that along with the call to withhold there will also be a call to sit down quietly, attentively, strategically, and responsibly to manage the affairs of the Antiochian Archdiocese in a manner well pleasing to God.
#6 Anon. on 2009-10-15 10:43
What a wonderful balance of sorrow and sorrowful action. I will follow your example.
#7 Anon on 2009-10-15 11:58
THIS WAS THE MOST UNKINDEST CUT OF ALL...
Anthony Zrake, a privleged son of th AOCA takes the rhetorical dagger to his Metropolitan. He, who spent many summers at the "village", had the Metropolitan to his home and who spent his formative religious existence at St. Mary's in Brooklyn. Thanks for sharing you "inner turmoil" but do you really believe that the rumours and accusations on this website are the Gospel truth?
If you are such a "sinner" as you refer to yourself why did you not unburden yourself with the sacrament of confession? I am sure that your parish priest (who by the way sits on the Board of Directors of the Archdiocese as its secretary) could have guided you in your confusion. The priest, who is an honorable and wise man, must surely comprehend the dangers of these judgements.
Your tears, Lacremosa, are suspect coming so close to the meeting in Houston. Are you trying to sway a whole generation of "gen Xers" to revolt. For what purpose, to rip the fabric of this Archdiocese? What happens when your accusations are unfounded? What are you and every other synchophant on this web site going to say? "Sorry...".
Clarity and transparency (the mantra of the editor of this blog) will come soon enough.
"Ingratitude, more strong than traitor's arms, quite vanquished him: then burst his mighty heart."
The Tragedy of Julius Caesar. Act III Scene II
#8 George from Brooklyn on 2009-10-15 15:29
Anthony has the heart of a lion. You should be praising him for his courage and his love for the Church, but instead you call him a traitor and an ingrate. The ancient codes of gratitude, shame and power have no place in our Church anymore, George. Those days are over.
#8.1 Gail Sheppard on 2009-10-15 17:29
That Anthony is a 'priveleged' son of the AOCA only makes his actions stronger and more difficult for him. He is living, as he said, the Gospel message, that truth and justice and righteousness should be followed at all costs, even if that means parting paths with your family and beloved leaders when they decide to head down the wrong road.
To what 'rumors and accusations' are you referring? There are no rumors on this website, except perhaps a few in the comments (but those cannot properly be contributed to OCANews itself). On the main page there is no such thing. It is not a rumor that Bp Demetri is a convicted sex offender who the Archdiocese pays thru a "gift." It is not a rumor that the Metropolitan agreed for our bishops to be reduced to auxiliary status, thereby taking away our self-rule. It is not a rumor, nor an accusation, but a 'fact' that our Archdiocese does not practice generally accepted accounting principles and proper disclosure and transparency for an institution or organization its size. It is not a rumor that at least one criminal, Walid Khalife, is allowed to serve on the BOT.
And who are you to know if Anthony has taken advantage of the sacrament of confession with Fr Michael. I know Fr Michael, and I cannot believe that he would break the pastoral relationship and reveal to you whether or not Anthony has been to confession and what, if anything, he has said. So, who, in fact, is guilty of rumor, speculation, accusations, and misjudgments?
Anthony has shown that his only loyalty is to the principles of Christ, who Himself was accused of being a traitor by those condemned in the Gospel.
#8.2 An East Coast Priest on 2009-10-15 17:53
Yeah, truth, what a terrible mantra, huh?
#8.3 Daniel E. Fall on 2009-10-15 18:24
There is no such thing as love without truth, nor is there truth without love.
A true "son of the AOCA" prefers his loyalty to a fallible human being to be based on love AND truth. One does not need the reports and blogs of OCA News in order to hold honest, heartfelt convictions that there are many, many things that point to the very real possibility that scandalous behavior is ongoing in our archdiocese. It took only the proceedings of the convention openly broadcast on AFR and the many (very public and well-documented) actions and comments of the archdiocese itself - all matters of official archdiocesan record.
Not all of us rely on the content of OCA News to draw our conclusions. Some of us check the facts first. One should never draw firm conclusions based on a one-sided account, nor should anyone believe rumor or innuendo against anyone - especially a consecrated ruler of God's people. But neither should anyone faithful to Christ place loyalty to a leader above love and truth, regardless of all the good he has done. So it is that Mr. Zrake's comments are made with tears.
I, for one, hope you are right, George. I, too, hope clarity and transparency come soon. But please - and I mean this sincerely - what would be helpful to those of us who would prefer to give the benefit of any doubt to His Eminence is a defense based on something more than the kind of unity that is based only on human loyalty and blind obedience, neither of which is required of a Christian.
Like all of us, Mr. Zrake is a rational sheep of Christ's flock, and as such it is his duty as a steward to manage God's money (the tithe) with all due diligence and a clear conscience in the sight of God. The performance of this duty can be sometimes be based on incorrect or insufficient information, but no one with a true sense of Christian duty would knowingly allow God's resources to be used for questionable purposes.
And that's really the gist of it all. There have been many substantive questions, but few substantive answers. Some ask what right anyone has to ask questions. What they fail to understand is that without satisfactory answers to such questions, we cannot fulfill our stewardship as servants of Christ with a clear conscience.
#8.4 firstname.lastname@example.org on 2009-10-15 19:50
George from Brooklyn, your words are powerful. Not that I am drawing any conclusions; only that if the truth has not been made absolutely clear, we need to be careful what we think, say, believe, and especially, write for all the world to read. And your words, "...for what purpose, to rip the fabric of this Archdiocese?" is a reminder to me that this kind of mess within a religious institution has happened before. A lesson could be learned from those past mistakes, but won't be. I am reminded of the Book of Kings and the days of Israel's kings, when the Prophet Ahijah was told by God to tear into twelve pieces the new cloak of the "industrious" young Jeroboam. God allowed Israel to rip itself apart because the leaders and the people were so self-serving. I guess He figured the true, honest and faithful remnant among His people would be made stronger in exile, while the weak would just keep sliding lazily along, "like a half-boiled beet"(!) (see Isa. 51:20 in the OSB) no matter what happened. Well, people can read the Old Testament story (3 Kingdoms 12:26-36) and draw their own parallels and conclusions. History repeats itself. I suppose that's because we tend not to learn from the lessons of the past. Thanks for your comments. I appreciated reading them because they had some real substance. Words can be cheap, but they don't have to be.
#8.5 Anonymous on 2009-10-15 20:33
It's interesting how often the topic of gratitude comes up with regard to rebuking the Metropolitan's critics. Curiously, the issue of gratitude to Christ is not also raised. Indeed, gratitude to Christ for His work in the Church and in our salvation necessitates that we do what is needed to heal the wounded Body whenever required.
Further, true gratitude to His Eminence includes treating him as a true Christian - which includes seeking to show him where he has erred and wooing him back to the straight path so that we may all be healed.
These are the works of a grateful heart.
It would be the height of ingratitude both to God and to Sayidna PHILIP to ignore the wounds our holy Archdiocese has suffered lately.
After all, what is it that we are grateful for? It is for the healing of Christ and nothing else.
#8.6 An Antiochian Priest on 2009-10-16 04:31
Could you please name one thing that Mark Stokoe has written about the Antiochian crisis that has turned out to be false?
#8.7 Ferris Haddad on 2009-10-16 05:14
Dear George from Brooklyn,
Your little condescending lecture to a young man with some genuine spiritual sensibilities is for lack of a better word troubling..asinine and troubling. An even better word to go with troubling.
How dare "the privileged son" who has had the good fortune to have benefited from this Archdiocese now dare raise his voice no matter how humbly or meekly in the face of abuse of power and corruption?
This is not the Sicilian mob we are talking about and the young man is obviously not interested in becoming a made man.... Uh well the young man is at least not interested in that sort of advancement.
Unfortunately it seems this privileged son of Antioch is more interested in hearing and proclaiming the gospel of that See's true founder than blindly following an Archbishop who seems increasingly removed from that sort of bothersome thing.
Time to face the very real possibiliteies that there are a whole bunch of young folks who actually care more for the Kingdom of God than the fleeting praise of a despot.
#9 Kevin Kirwan on 2009-10-15 17:55
Every time I come back to North America there is some new “mishkili” ( I am told that can mean something like a troublesome thing) about the Archdiocese.
Now the Zrake boy has been somehow made to believe that the molehills of problems faced by every church body in the world are mountains. Indeed, they are, Anthony. Mountains of lies.
First of all, you, Anthony, have as your own parish priest a man of true integrity and loyalty to Metropolitan Philip. He was appointed by the Metropolitan to serve as the Archdiocesan Board Secretary.
Please, Anthony, go to Father Elias and he will tell you that much of what you have heard is not true.
I beg to differ with the “East Coast Priest” who claims to know Fr. Michael Elias so well.
Of course Fr. Michael would not reveal anything from the confessional, but neither would he have so little integrity as to serve on the board and at the same time counsel a congregant to withhold funds knowing how that would hurt the Archdiocese. Fr. Elias and his family are long time supporters of the Metropolitan and they are even somehow related.
Both his family of origin and the beautiful family of his own generation are solidly in the Metropolitan’s camp and he would not be part of a body which did nothing to disavow the scandals Anthony so detests.
Therefore, it is important that Anthony Zrake’s heartbreaking disappointment at the dealings of his beloved Archdiocese be dealt with spiritually. Perhaps even speaking to the Metropolitan directly would help if he is unwilling to accept the counsel of Fr. Michael. I know the Metropolitan would be happy to speak to the spiritual son he has always loved.
Do any of you know what happened to the other website that used to be around in the summer time? The one that did and said everything opposite of this one? It was always interesting to see the two so different sites say how they viewed the same thing.
If you know about what happened could you let me know on this space?
#10 Anonymous on 2009-10-16 07:31
Here's a novel idea, anon...instead of having Anthony go to Fr. Michael and +Phillip to be TOLD the truth...why don;t they OPEN the books to an audit and SHOW him the truth?!?!?
That's how we do things here in America. Having +Phillip or +Antoun or Fr. Michael give their word to us may work fine somewhere else, but not here, not now and NOT anymore. Open the books. Prove us wrong...do it. Why not do it?
As to the "theantiochian" website? Well I believe the author(s) decided that +Phillip had "shot" us ungrateful dogs and he/she/they stopped posting. The Metropolitan shooting us dogs...yeah that's a different and interesting perspective isn't it.
#10.1 markw on 2009-10-16 09:24
Apparently, Fr. Joseph Antypas' friend no longer has time to be the moderator. I do miss some of the comments when I need a good laugh. What ever happened to "Per Nygaard" and "Lover of Metropolitan Philip"? The latter, especially, was great for comic relief. It was nice to read a serious piece here and then read something so off the charts over there.
#10.2 Phil (but not "Dr. Phil") on 2009-10-16 11:22
If Anthony's parish priest's position as secretary makes him unable to see the truth of what is going on in the Archdiocese (and I don't believe it does--although I'm not trying to say that he would support withholding funds), then we have a term for this: conflict of interest.
If Anthony's priest is related to Metropolitan Philip and that clouds his judgment of reality, we have a term for this: conflict of interest.
My point in this and my original post is not to bring Anthony's parish priest into our discussion (George, another parishioner of his, already did that), but to correct a faulty notion made by George: to judge Anthony Zrake's intentions and actions/omissions.
I do know Anthony's parish priest and I trust his wisdom in keeping his pastoral relationship with Anthony just that: pastoral (as opposed to public).
#10.3 An East Coast Priest on 2009-10-16 18:26
I am not anonymous!
It was I who just returned to the same troubles in North America and asked about the now lost other orthodox website.
My name is Khalil Habib and I used to sign myself on the other site O.F.F.C.D., because I first became acquainted with the Antiochian Archdiocese in Chicago in the '60's.
I believe those who write anonymously are not true persons but have other than pure agendas.
There is no pusishment for truth in this country if your truth is not addmitting a crime.
Anthony Zrake, don't weep, habibi, your grievances will be addressed! Ask your priest to sit with you and Metropolitan and the Metropolitan will speak to your misgivings with the help of your priest. If he does not then I too will withhold funds. Those who know me are well aware of just how substantial those funds are.
You are far too special a son of Antioch to be left feeling so distraught and betrayed.
Courage! It will all be made to make sense in your eyes soon.
#11 Anonymous on 2009-10-16 10:08
"There is no pusishment for truth in this country if your truth is not addmitting a crime."
Really? Dear sir, I don't question your heart or intentions, but have you heard anything that has been said in the past 8 months? Even asking questions to find the truth is punishable in the Antiochian Archdiocese. Fr Oliver Herbel or his friend Owen are proof enough of that!
#11.1 Anonymously sad about it all on 2009-10-16 17:01
Speaking of admitting to a crime, Khalil Habib was the one who acknowledged paying for the the private investigators and warned us to beware of our "glass houses." - Since your funds are so substantial, Khalil, perhaps you like to send me a check to cover the cost of my sliding glass door.
#11.2 Gail Sheppard on 2009-10-17 04:33
As Yogi Berra once famously opined, "It's deja vu all over again" for this former catholic. People there voted with their feet and money vis-a-vis an unreceptive and corrupt hierachy that closed their hearts and ears. If only I had a dollar for every person I've hear say, "I was raised catholic..."
Oh and George from Brooklyn .... in the RCC they said the same things you do: "OBEY THE POPE! DO AS YOU'RE TOLD! SHUT UP! DON'T ASK QUESTIONS! Look what happened. He who fails to take note of history is doomed to repeat it. Pretty soon I'll start hearing, "I WAS Orthodox."
If anything printed on this website is inaccurate, SHOW WHERE IT IS INACCURATE. If not, why do you curse?
#12 Kevin Klein on 2009-10-16 10:35
I was Orthodox.
#12.1 Anonymous on 2009-10-16 15:04
Let us keep comments civil and constructive, always.
There is only one camp, Christ’s camp, and we are all in this together (1 Cor. 1:12-13).
No more talk about my pastor, as this distracts from the issues. He is a priest of the highest personal and spiritual integrity, and a wise counselor. I kept my own counsel regarding my actions and the open letter, and nobody counseled me to withhold money. Please let this be the last word about him.
Sorry for any confusion. This “young man”, the “Zrake boy”, is in his 40’s, going gray at the temples, and drives a minivan. By the way, is there a minimum age to run for the Board of Trustees?
Thanks for comment #5. It made me smile in the midst of serious stuff -- “shut your piehole” is one of my favorite slang phrases.
#13 Anthony Zrake on 2009-10-16 16:30
My name is Khalil Habib and I used to sign myself on the other site O.F.F.C.D., because I first became acquainted with the Antiochian Archdiocese in Chicago in the '60's.
I believe those who write anonymously are not true persons but have other than pure agendas.
Fantastic! Good to see that you have finally attained personhood Khalil. I guess we can now dismiss all of your previous anonymous posts as the missives of a non person with an impure agenda.
#14 Kevin Kirwan on 2009-10-16 19:21
Mr. Zrake writes:
"My parish pledge I will no longer pay, since ten percent of this would be forwarded to the Archdiocese."
Such is the apparent quandary of many. How does one support his parish financially if one can no longer in good conscience support the archdiocese, knowing that 10% will automatically be forwarded to the archdiocese?
Someone has rightly said that the things that make for good Christians and parishioners (faithfulness, obedience, etc.) are the very things that enable scandalous behavior, if indeed it is ongoing. Those who understand financial stewardship as a Sacramental offering (“Thine own of Thine own we offer unto Thee, on behalf of all and for all”), find ourselves victims of ecclesial dysfunction. In other words, we are in a situation in which there is no clearly correct way to behave.
Please do not read ANYTHING into this that is not intended, but what is meant here by ‘ecclesial dysfunction’ finds an analogy in a dysfunctional family. Serious questions arise for which there are simply no right answers such as:
When parents divorce (dysfunction), who should have custody of the children?
How does a child properly obey a parent who is abusive or alcoholic (dysfunction)?
It is very easy to criticize Mr. Zrake because he, like many of us, find ourselves in a dysfunctional situation in which there is simply no easily definable, purely correct way to behave. I hope and pray that our hierarchs and the board of trustees take this into consideration when they meet together. It’s not about them, and it never has been. I seem to recall something about drowning under the weight of a millstone being a better fate than causing one of the faithful to stumble.
Personally, and in fairness to all, I am awaiting the outcome of the local Synod and Board of Trustees meetings this weekend before taking principled action similar to Mr. Zrake. There is, however, a way to do it without hurting one’s own parish. More on that if the occasion arises. Hopefully, it will not.
#15 Brian Van Sickle on 2009-10-17 10:03
To Kevin who never quite hits the understanding mark:
I never posted anything anonymoously. On my first, and at that time only posting on this site, the editor did not use my O.F.F.C.D. signature. Ii must have somehow been missed. But you can always be counted on to jump right in with an impuned wrong motive....
(Editor's note: The fault was not Kevin's, but the editor's , who did indeed miss the OFFCD line.)
#16 Anonymous on 2009-10-19 00:18
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