Monday, October 23. 2006
Your comments on Part Three of this series, or the entire series, are welcome.
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In response to the Kutner letter, I find it extremely amusing that Mr. Kuttner blames everyone else for the Church's problems.
This letter was indeed a threat to the Church and the Metropolitan and His Beatitude did indeed do the right thing by terminating him.
Many of you already know where I stand on this issue with regard to Fr. Kondratick, so I won't bore you with any more rhetoric.
He should simply be suspended until the investigation is completed.
#1 Michael Geeza on 2006-10-23 14:30
I am having a TOTAL lack of confidence without knowing what the Proskauer Rose investigation has found out.
And I am having a TOTAL lack of confidence in not having an All American Council set forth by the Summer of 2007.
I DON'T have a lack of confidence in Christ. But I think Christ might be having a lack of confidence in the OCA.
This story is not over and with more of the Proskauer Rose investigation known, this should catapult the OCA Metropolitan Council to get the OCA where is NEEDS to be to be a worthy representation of what Christ would want it to be.
I don't mind the resignation of Metropolitan Herman. But more than this I want to see the proper church bodies meet in an AAC so that the Church is not devoid of sound communication and plans to move forward as a church entity.
#2 Patty Schellbach on 2006-10-23 16:47
Met. Herman should take a play from President Nixons playbook and resign for the greater good. President Nixon resign during the height of a scandal, which in effect out the scandal to rest and allowed the country to move on. When he finally passed, he passed known for his strengths of improving foreign policy.
Its just time for this to be over.
#3 Bob H. on 2006-10-23 17:21
Dear Mr. Stokoe -- All I can say to your letter is, "Amen, brother!" Very well put. Having said that, given the pathetic reaction(s) of some of the other bishops on the Holy Synod, the thing that scares me almost as much as the Metropolitan staying-on is that one of these gentlemen would be taking over! Frankly, from my point of view the most reasoned voices on the Synod seem to have already announced their own retirements. Our Church needs to lift its eyes and bring to the fore a new temporal leader -- assuming that all worthy candidates would be viable spiritual leaders as well. In my own experience, many priests and lay members of the OCA seem to have a strong spiritual constitution; it seems that it's our role in the practical or temporal world is what is lacking. I'm not even so sure that we need a wholesale reorganization; perhaps finding qualified and COMMITTED people to lead our newly "best-practiced" church organization is what's needed. As for cliques, they are terrible. At least in high school, it only lasts for three or four years at a time! It would be most useful if any and all of those seeking to hold on to "power" would review the statements of the Development and FOS folks and ask themselves, "To what power am I holding on?" Trust has clearly slipped, and now financial support is too. My own FOS appeal letter is still sitting in my in-box, and it will remain there. (By the way, it's wrong. It shows that I contributed 2x in 2005 than I actually did, with the same contribution by check listed twice on different dates, only reinforcing my concerns as to 'Who's counting the money out there?')
I am praying for a broad, clensing resolution to the OCA's circumstances in 2007. In the meantime, I am going to try to get through the holidays of late 2006 by focusing upon the spiritual aspects of our holy faith. I will state, however, that I'm not going to be attending an OCA parish church during Christmastime 2007 if things have not been sorted-out within our hierarchy. That's not a threat, it's merely a statement. In our practice, having our priest come out with the deacon bearing the Eucharistic Gifts intoning the name of our bishop makes the men holding such office far too close to the essence of our faith to ignore on-going temporal weakness. I just can't keep doing that!
#4 Convoluted Convert on 2006-10-23 20:01
In the services of the Church we commemorate the hierarchs (in our practice, usually the Metropolitan and the ruling Bishop) for two reasons: to express our being in communion with them and--given our current situation, more importantly--to pray for them. Funny, how we expect our hierarchs or central administration or government or our parish priest or our kids' teachers to do the best job in the world, while at the same time investing little or no genuine and from-the-heart prayer for them. It is a spiritual reality that because He created us with free will, God does not cram His grace down unwilling throats; and it is prayer, supplicatory and intercessory, which expresses our assent. So perhaps (and this comes, not from an ivory tower, but from a heart repentant over my own crankiness) if we invested as much time and energy in praying for our hierarchs as we do in criticising and second-guessing them, the OCA in particular and Holy Orthodoxy in general would be a lot better off.
Igumen Philip (Speranza)
#4.1 Anonymous on 2006-10-24 06:28
Spot-on, Hegumen Philip! We're supposed to pray for our primate, bishops and clergy every day, as part of the daily intercessory prayers for the living and the dead in our prayer books. Yet how often one brings that up in front of lay people, activist or otherwise, and receives a furrow-browed "intercessory what?" One would think prayer would be at the top of the list on "What You Can Do" on this website, but it never even made it onto the list. So much for our spiritual consciousness...
May the Lord God remember your fatherhood in His heavenly kingdom.
Kissing your right hand,
#4.1.1 Gregory Orloff on 2006-10-24 19:12
Yes, a broad cleansing solution that doesn't just remove one more bad apple (scapegoat or not) from the tree, but that goes to the roots of the tree's spiritual problem. The diagnosticians are out there: theologians, pastoral psychologists, and men filled with the Holy Spirit, men of insight (prophets), fearless to uncover the disease and address it with the Word of God.
True and lasting peace is only found in fear of God, trembling and repentance in the presence of Truth.
#4.2 Karen Jermyn on 2006-10-24 07:11
Dearest to Christ Convoluted,
For the "holiday" season I will more often be at the prayers of the Church and at Liturgy. Satan desires nothing more than to isolate us from the body, especially if he can do while instilling the attitude of, "thank God I am not like this man". Please, for the sake of your soul resist the temptation to stay away from the Church because those who are commemorated are sinners. If we failed to remember someone because of sin our litanies would be for shorter and our prayer far less expansive and finally we would have to exclude ourselves from the prayers also. Remember, we are to pray as if we are the greatest (chief) of sinners. i am to pray as if there is no one who needs Christ's forgiveness more than me!
We are all finding disappointment in the leadership of the Church at this time. Many of us have cringed during the prayerful remembrances of at least some of the hierarchy, but your job is to continue to pray that they may rightly divide the Word of truth. Even if the hierarchy is unfaithful, you must of necessity continue in your faithfulness, and the God of all will work good things to those who love him. Please do not stay away from the services of God's house. This is a prescription for only making things worse for the Church and for your own soul.
Fr. Andrew Moore
#4.3 fr. Andrew on 2006-10-24 12:18
CC did not say he would be absent from the Church. He only said he would be absent from an OCA parish church.
#4.3.1 Nancy Shepherd on 2006-10-24 19:22
More to the point Nancy, is that the OCA is also the Holy Church. Has "Convoluted Convert" removed himself from anything even if he/she goes to another jurisdiction of Orthodoxy? The only way that one could reach the conclusion that we are better off in another jurisdiction is if one concluded that the OCA is not of the ONE, HOLY, CATHOLIC AND APOSTOLIC CHURCH. God forbid!
As Holy Church she (the OCA specifically) is filled with those who profess themselves as sinners and at the same time is fully and completely the Holy Body of Christ. In that we sinners are each one also Holy Priests within the Church, we are given to pray for one another, and work for the salvation of all. Bringing the sins of the OCA (rather some persons in leadership positions) to light is necessary (1 Tim. 5:19-21). This process, leading to repentance, has begun and will continue for the salvation of us all.
Staying away from the OCA will not help "Convoluted" or the Holy Church in having the indwelling of the Spirit of Truth or the personal and institutional repentance necessary for the Church to truly be a bright light in dimly lit America! Convoluted is not alone in thinking of the OCA as a denomination rather than the Holy Church. Even if he goes to a "Greek" (or some other flavor) Church he is still in the same Church as the OCA, there are still sinners, and he will still be commemorating all the Hierarchs of the One Church including the Metropolitan and bishop of the OCA that he is trying to avoid!
Going somewhere else (Church shopping) does nothing. This activity that we find amongst the Protestants is at best a diversion and could be a delusion! The only way forward for us as individuals and for the OCA will not be anything so shallow as leaving. Rather, as difficult as it might be the only course that leads to healing is that of repentance. This requires all the faithful to stay and pray (even for their hierarch and the Metropolitan), and continue to speak the truth in Love. We need "convoluted convert" and I hope he will rethink his leaving us in this difficult hour.
I am not being harsh with "convoluted convert" but I am speaking the truth.
Fr. Andrew Moore
#22.214.171.124 fr. Andrew on 2006-10-25 09:33
Thank you for your clarification. I understand much better now what you mean by staying in the Church and it is a duty that I am glad to embrace. The way your first message came across I took it as an attempt to silence CC's emotions. I was raised Catholic, it is difficult for me not to associate appeals "the Church" with the implicit threat that the hierarchy can withhold salvation from you if they decide to get offended, even if offense has been unfairly taken. This implicit threat of the power of the hierarchy can be used to silence people out of fear from speaking the truth about what they are feeling in their hearts. But silence is not peace, and passivity is not union. What you say in your second message about the Church is quite good, and helps me understand that you are not trying to silence CC, but to encourage him that the church needs the gift of his struggle and his voice, even if it seems convoluted to him now. However, for those who decide to leave the OCA, I think it is important for those of us who stay not to judge them as less Christian. We need to understand their emotions, and to ask them for their forgiveness and their prayers even if they are offered from another jurisdiction.
#126.96.36.199.1 Nancy Shepherd on 2006-10-25 20:06
Thank you for pointing that out; indeed there are a number of non-OCA jurisdiction churches which uphold Orthodoxy. In previous postings I have said, I will NOT leave Orthodoxy over this scandal -- having searched so many years before finding it -- but leaving the OCA is a different matter. Nevertheless, previous posters are correct and I stand guilty as charged: I have NOT been praying enough for our leadership, and that is a failing of mine. I will actively correct this oversight, and I thank you for pointing this up. You see, we have truly holy men (and women) in our midst who, even in a time of scandal and organizational crisis, can still take the time and have a divinely-inspired moral center to pass-on moral teachings! This, and the love of our God and our faith's communion with Him, is what keeps me going. I hope that such prayers, prayers for comfort, and encouragement to be given the strength to do the right thing, will aid the OCA's leadership.
#188.8.131.52 Convoluted Convert on 2006-10-29 06:55
Mark, Thank you for asking for the Metropolitan's resignation in the manner you have. You have said what needed to be said, in the way it needed to be said: by a Christian, an Orthodox person and a gentleman. I am grateful for the witness of your words.
Five years ago I fled the Roman Catholic Church after a lifetime of as a devoted and actively practicing member. It wasn't only revelation of the history of cover-up of the sexual molestation scandal, or the hiearchy and majority of the laity's willingness to continue to be complicit in that cover-up, that finally overwhelmed my willingness to continue. More than that I fled a "culture war" between those who would "conserve the timeless" and those would endlessly alter the existing in order to achieve "relevance". I fled a "civil war" between those who recognized a limited but incontrovertible authority in Rome and those who recognized no other authority than that of the contemporary popular will.
I fled because I did not choose to spend what is left of my lifetime embroiled in acrimonious contention.
I came into Orthodoxy to spend the remainder of my life in conversion and peace.
When I sought membership in the OCA, I had no idea that the central governance of the OCA would be revealed to be so flawed in its management practices and so corrupt in its stewardship of its members offerings.
Am I disappointed? Of course. But, in reading and following the information made available on this website, I have found a reason for my own hope. I want to offer that reason to anyone who might find it encouraging as well.
Whatever the in-fighting, back-stabbing, character-assasinating villanies, about which I know little but am confident have been perpetrated among and by the "powers that be" in the OCA, the words on this website by it's founder, some of the clerics and some of the laymen and women who have posted here have edified me.
This website has permitted me to "listen" to the concerns, suggestions, clarifications and, especially, the heartfelt anguish the of those OCA members who are even more deeply offended by the betrayal of their trust than I have any right to be. Their outrage and its forthright expression is testimony to the irrepressible presence of the Truth among us.
There have been times in the past year when I have wondered if I had "leaped from the frying pan into the fire"? I have asked myself am I still "in the wrong pew"? But reading this website's content each day has given me this reassurance: the OCA "pew" I am in is filled with some people I am grateful to sit next to.
#5 Jean Langley Sullivan on 2006-10-24 09:14
Beautifully said, Jean. Thank you!
For those who are ready to "wash their hands" of the OCA - please pause and think about its best, not just about its worst. How many bishops can the world Orthodox Church boast of that have the courage, the perseverance, the true understanding of Orthodox conciliarity of Archbishop Job of the Midwest? And he is not alone among our hierarchs, by the way - Bishop Nikon of New England and the Albanian Archdiocese just went on record declaring his support for Abp. Job. Truly we have people in our church to whom the words of St. Paul that we all heard last Sunday apply: “Are they servants of Christ? – I am a better one” (2 Cor. 11:23).
And just look at this website. I don't think the OCA can thank Mark enough. Setting up the website, and running it in such a professional manner, has helped a lot of people find their voice. Just look at the evolution of the discussions on the forum, and at the sheer increase in numbers, especially among the clergy. Look at the inspired eloquence. Some of the writings are worth publishing for their theological and ecclesiological depth! I think it also reminded a lot of people that our national Church, however small, is neither limited to their sleepy local parish in the hills of upstate New York, nor to their highly enlightened cathedral in a large metropolitan area.
In my humble opinion, if it takes the Internet to awaken our Orthodox conciliarity, all the better! All it proves is that the church is alive in the 21st century in this world.
As for repentance that everyone is calling for - those who live their lives in obedience to their spiritual fathers are taught that true repentance is marked by *desire to amend the sin*. In the words of Met. Anthony of Sourozh, "Repentance is born of hope and rejection of despair. And one who repents, is one who deserves condemnation - and yet, goes away from the tribunal without shame, because repentance is our peace with God. And this is achieved through a worthy life, alien to the sins we committed in the past." What it means to me is that we are ALL called to repent of our sins of placidity, of stagnation, of squandering our autocephaly, of ignoring the wrongdoings or impotence of our ruling bodies - in short, of not being the body we are called to be. Repentance is not an easy process, yet I think that it is largely what we, as a church, have been doing over the past year. If we persevere, we will be cleansed...
#5.1 Inga Leonova on 2006-10-25 07:14
I also am encouraged especially by this website and when I get discouraged I remember Jesus' words: I have come not to bring peace, but a sword. This sword is the sword of truth and Truth will not compromise with half-truths. It is the Lord's sword and it is His battle and He always wins!
#5.2 Anonymous on 2006-10-25 08:42
This scandal has exposed a debilitating moral crisis. If we do not address the roots of this moral crisis, then our solutions will be houses built on shifting sand. For years we have heard examples of how Believers in the Soviet era ignored the sins of their bishops and clergy and pressed on. I am sorry, but I don't buy that argument here in the United States. The behaviors of our bishops and clergy here are by choice, not by coercion. Think back now... How often were those pietistic examples coming from the mouths of people embroiled in this scandal? Were they just buying time? What a travesty of trust. Nothing short of a moral epiphany will save the OCA and Orthodoxy in America it would appear.
#6 Name withheld on 2006-10-24 16:16
I am not so sure that Metropolitan Herman's resignation is the answer. Who would replace him? In the business world an organization can get a fresh start by bringing in someone new, someone from the outside, someone not tainted by the previous administration. In the business world that's easy because there is always a large pool of candidates to choose from. The OCA is a small community. Who among the hierarchs could effectively lead a fresh start? Most of the hierarchs have been silent on the issue -- or have indicated that they approve of the way Metropolitan Herman is handling things. That suggests that very little would change even if Metropolitan Herman resigned.
I would like to see Metropolitan Herman lead the Church out of this with repentance, reconciliation and some radical reforms. It would start with recognizing that those who spoke out on this issue for years did so for the good of the Church. They were punished for speaking the truth. They were punished for doing the right thing. I would like to see Metropolitan Herman reconciled to those who blew the whistle. I would like to see him invite those same people back to work together to clean this mess up.
Impossible? Not if we believe the message of reconciliation we proclaim.
It is not good for the Church if all of the sordid details come to light. Personally I do not want to know all the details. But I do want to know with certainty that things have been set right going forward. And the only way people can have any confidence that things have been cleaned up -- without airing every detail in public -- is for those who were wrongfully dismissed to be invited back to help solve the problem. Of course that would require profound repentance, forgiveness and reconciliation.
I hope for that to happen, but I do not expect it.
Instead, I fear the Metropolitan will hide behind Proskauer Rose. I fear that he will try to use the Proskauer Rose report to convince everyone that things are moving forward. I expect that the report will not point any fingers, but it will have many bland recommendations -- and the administration will implement every single one of them. And the Metropolitan will hope that is enough to get through this.
Speaking as a lawyer, I have seen this happen before. An organization gets in trouble. It hires consultants to study the situation and make recommendations. The organization promises to implement most or all of the recommendations. Management hopes the storm blows over and the problem goes away. At the end of the day there is no meaningful change. I wish it were otherwise, but that is usually how things turn out.
I will continue to hope for a truly Christian resolution to this scandal, and I will continue to pray for Metropolitan Herman.
#7 Robert Vasilios Wachter on 2006-10-24 23:33
If the scenario you outline above transpires, and is allowed to happen by the MC, then many of us who have been patiently waiting for change will leave. That is the hard truth--not Orthodoxy necessarily, but certainly the OCA. Many who remain will be inactive and non-supportive, financially and otherwise, despite all the pleas and threats from on high.
I will continue to pray that this does not happen and that God will soften the hardened hearts of Syosset. Perhaps Messrs. Orloff and Speranza will join in that prayer?
#7.1 Anonymous on 2006-10-25 08:12
“It is not good for the Church if all of the sordid details come to light. Personally I do not want to know all the details.”
I could not agree less with these statements. It is for the good of the Church, and the OCA, that all of the sordid details come to light. How can anyone have trust in the central administration unless he or she knows what went wrong and that the revealed problems have been eliminated and steps taken to ensure that the rot does not continue? One can paint over rotten wood but it will not last long nor eliminate the underlying rot. The central administration can install “Best Practices” but if the evil that has led to this crisis has not been revealed and eliminated, business as usual will soon return.
St. Mark, Bethesda, MD
#7.2 Thomas Hamrick on 2006-10-25 09:40
Again, I have to compare this to the Catholic Church sex scandal a few years back. So if we were in the midst of that, as long as the priests promised to never do it again, not prosecuting them and airing our dirty laundry would be part of the recipe to heal the church?
I agree with the thinking that people are going to leave the OCA if heads do not roll on this. Met. Herman has the opportunity to resign for the good of the church; soon once the investigations are done he'll be forced out. He is not a victim of circumstances; he was and continues to be part of the problem. Met. Herman has nothing in common with the Pope, and the fact that they elected someone who had not many ties with the central Catholic Church. Met. Herman was PART of the former administrations, he was PART of the Kondratick era, he was PART of the Theodosius reign...he MUST go.
And to the folks who would leave. I and 22 others left a parish that uncovered an "anomaly" for the lack of a better word in a parish in NJ and were effectively told to go screw by Fr. Bob when we went to him. Now we all look at that and actually laugh...he was playing the shell game with big dollars...we were talking about pocket change compared to the scheme that was falling apart as we reached out to him for help.
People have the left the OCA due to this and the former iteration of the administration. And unless big sweeping changes are made it will go from 23 at a time departing to entire dioceses voting to leave the OCA. This problem is easily solved by the lay people. Stop the flow of money into Syosset and they can no longer operate. They must heed your warnings and step away. This is and always has been the people’s church; it was never owned or wholly controlled by the Metropolitan or anyone so empowered.
I hope for the greater good that this wraps up in a timely fashion. We left a great many friends in the OCA, but I could never return until I knew the dirty blood was flushed out. If my rector now has to be away on a Sunday, there is an OCA parish we work closely with. I could not go, as I know I would have to put a donation in the basket...and then I am funding wrong too. Now I would be part of the problem. I recognize how bad that is...why can't the Metropolitan?
#7.3 Bob H. on 2006-10-25 11:58
Dear Brothers and Sisters, I suggested in previous comments that we hold the Vesper Service for Forgiveness Sunday on the property at Syosset. That may be too radical a way of praying for the hierarchy whom I believe are enthralled and powerless to change anything without our constant prayers. However, given the fact that the OCA is not overflowing with candidates for bishop, I wonder if a sort of monastic "boot camp" for our bishops might be worth thinking about. Some place like Three Rivers or Father Jonah's monastery in California, where the living is healthy, but not easy and where the opportunity for prayer and reflection is abundant, as well as spiritual brotherhood and counsel. Somehow it might be possible for all the hierarchs to run their dioceses "virtually" and to take the time to really examine what the calling of Bishop requires. It is very hard to be a Bishop outside of a monastery and easy to fail. Peace, Alice Carter, Holy Trinity Orthodox Cathedral in Boston.
#8 Alice Carter on 2006-10-25 12:18
Have you been reading my mind?
“This is and always has been the people’s church; it was never owned or wholly controlled by the Metropolitan or anyone so empowered.”
I agree with you 100%. But the problem isn’t just with Syosset. I have seen many parish priests with the arrogant attitude that they own everything. This deeper problem (the clergy “UNION”) also has to be addressed.
#9 Ande on 2006-10-25 13:14
I agree with you on the arrogance of some, and only some clergy. But, I think you need to look past that a bit too. You need to remember, look who taught them. I know there will be a small faction of outliers that do not embrace a administration change and lay the blame on the lay people. Likewise, I know in my case in an my former parish, the same folks to said we were troublemakers for raising questions now must look back and say...you know...maybe those folks were onto something and they weren't actually bad people.
I said a long time ago, my particular situation with my former rector I let go of. I have a sick child and he was part of my immediate and extended families support network. He actually beat me to a run to a hospital one night to visit my child. We live 5 minutes from each other and I was in a rush. I respect him, and always have for the position and office he holds. We had a disagreement that ended with us stepping out (for the greater good). I would have NO issue with him being my rector again in the future, however, this situation needs to be solved and changes need to be made.
He was taught by folks who probably instilled in him some "inconsistencies" in how to manage his flock. His fault? Nope. Your only as good in life as your teachings.
You can bet your bottom dollar that there are alot of priests keeping themselves attached to thier bishops, but at an arms length as well due to handwriting of change being on the wall. In my heart I beleive that many of the "dictator" style priests and heirarchs need to see changes in the adminsitration and all of a sudden they'll adapt thier style as well. I am sure many have.
You cannot blame the clergy though. Just like in a large company...they are just towing todays company line. I am sure most all of them know that change is abound...and I am sure after this scandal going on so long, many of them are longing this to be over and a new adminstration to right the ship.
Keep the faith, even if you feel your clergy is arrogant. They are truly in a bad way. Remember, they, like us have mouths to feed and families to provide for also.
I am not riding the fence on this issue, but moreover trying to keep an objective look at those affected. Its not just the layity, the clergy are also victims of the fallout of the scandal.
If anything, pray for them to have the wisdom and guidance to get your parishes through this and to be part of the solution.
#9.1 Bob H. on 2006-10-26 00:32
I am trying to “Keep the faith”. I also have mouths to feed, etc. In the company I work for, I have to answer to those who pay my salary.
This may not be “exactly” the same in the case of clergy, but shouldn’t it be close to that. Who pays their salary?
I’m hanging in there, Ande
#9.1.1 Ande on 2006-10-26 12:21
Perhaps there is a middle ground.
One question that has not been answered, at least not to my comfort level, is the proper and appropriate role of the Metropolitan in the administration of the Church.
I know the Antiochian Archdiocese does not have a clergyman as Chancellor. I believe, but am not confident, that the Chancellor serves at the pleasure of the Board of Trustees, not necessarily the Metropolitan.
As an aside, I find it extremely interesting that Metropolitan PHILIP donates gifts and his own salary to benefit the retired priests of the Antiochian Archdiocese.
My point is this: resignation from administrative oversight need not require resignation as Metropolitan.
Ultimately, the Apostles chose to segregate themselves from administration of the distributions, to devote themselves to "preaching and the word". (Acts 6:1).
Our current synod should follow the example in Acts 6. Note the Apostles did not select the deacons - the people did.
We have to be very careful we don't embrace Donatist heresies. Because our fathers and hierarchs sin does not invalidate the gathering, the sacraments, or the Church. And ALL of our fathers and hierarchs sin. They are human.
Each lent, and perhaps more often, we pray that famous prayer of St. Ephraem the Syrian. We ask for deliverance from many things, including "lust for power". I have a translation that uses the word "ambition" for that phrase. Whether or not the Metropolitan resigns is somehow not relevant. If the Metropolitan (and other hierarchs, fathers, and laity alike) repent and embrace the abandonment of ambition, I believe our Lord will be pleased.
After all, that is the whole of the scriptures. Abandon ambition and embrace our Redeemer and Creator.
Subdeacon John Martin
Martin D. Watt, CPA (Inactive)
#10 Marty Watt on 2006-10-25 13:26
Yes, why do *heads have to roll*? The goodness of God leads to repentance: the boot camp for our bishops might just be of the Lord. Can the bishops be humble enough to accept such an idea? I truly believe they are not the enemy; rather they are deluded victims of an evil spirit that pervades our whole culture: whatever dresses up outward appearance is what counts in our culture and anything is tolerated as long as things are nice and neat and appropriate to the world's eyes. Seeking power through ambition is just symtomatic of the delusion of of those men pleasers who want to be out there on the front lines showing the world how nice and neat and appropriate they are, how they fit in with their worldly possessions and their titles and degrees, and all the while their hearts are condemning them for their secret lives, born out of the frustration of living a lie. God will not be mocked and we bring upon ourselves our own tormented, fractured living that comes from being false to our true selves, hidden in God, but which we are called to see by the eyes of our faith. Not living out this faith is what afflicts our Church. And all this misery just to feed the god of materialism, the *men pleasing god*. We need the root of the problem addressed which is in my opinion the spirit of false values and cover-up: which is the lack of godly wisdom governing our actions, showing that we are not of the world, that our values are instead Kingdom values; secondly, the lack of godly fortitude that would stand against anything that would seek to draw us into pleasing men rather than God. This is the spirit that should be acknowledged through prayer and repentance, as we stay the course during this opportune time of our healing.
#10.1 Karen jermyn on 2006-10-26 07:40
I'd like to support the comments made by Robert and Marty.
Like RVW, I believe PR is nothing more than an expensive shield that will provide a path for better performance, if its likely "bland" directives are followed, which I guess will be followed at about 50%. If PR had found anything concrete or had even hinted as much, certainly Fr. Kondratick would not have been so quickly reassigned, but rather suspended. I believe Metropolitan Herman has already forgiven Fr. Kondratick for the wrongs that have been done. I believe PR will serve to hold the tigers (us) at bay long enough to make needed corrections.
Like Marty, I believe there has been serious managerial incompetance shown by EVERYONE involved in any governance and management role in the OCA. Bishop Tikhon told us as much quoting the 2002 compilation reports. Like Marty, I would rather see the Metropolitan of the church, and his clergy work on the WORD and not on the books. Granted, a budget formulates the path for growth, sustenance, or shrinking the church, so some involvement is needed, but ultimately, I see little place for the books/legal admin to be done by people that are supposed to be preaching the WORD. I'm sure this will get some heat, but if Metropolitan Herman (or any bishop/clergy member) had not accepted the position of Treasurer from Metropolitan Theodosius, where might the OCA be today? If the Metropolitan Council had been watching the books like they were charged with in the 1990s and the Bishops hadn't passed "laws" allowing discretionary accounts to cover up Kondraticks "jail" talk, where might the church be?
Wouldn't it be fantastic if Metropolitan Herman had a press release and said all administrative/financial matters have been turned over to the Metropolitan Council so that he could concentrate on developing Missions and Priests?
Wouldn't it be great if the Metropolitan Council abolished the discretionary account rule? The Synod has shown no eagerness to turn this issue around and this was the start of the first coverup. Met. Herman should take little pride in not putting this in front of the Synod. In fact, he should be ashamed that this has not been changed.
I think the OCA Bishops want it both ways. They want their hands in the administrative pie, but don't know well enough how to manage eating it.
#11 Daniel E. Fall on 2006-10-25 21:06
Some speak of the arrogance of others? Do we not see it in ourselves. Is it not arrogant to comment as if we had all the information about everything that transpired? Is it not arrogant to believe we have all the answers? Is it not arrogant to belive we have all the correct solutions and ideas? Is it not arrogant to condemn others?
Dear Fr. William:
Thank you for your contributions. However, I must forcefully disagree. Like self-interest, there is always enough arrogance in any situation to make the charge stick. Therefore the charge is usually less helpful in clearing up a problem than in keeping it covered up. Moreover, just because one does not have all the information does not mean one should not, or cannot comment. If that were the case no one would be able to say anything about anything, ever.
In this instance, though, there is plenty of information available to make judgements about those responsible for the administrative chaos in the previous administration. The failed audits clearly outlined the chain: Fr. Kondratick would send a signed request for slightly less than $10,000 in cash from the Comptroller, who would make out an OCA check for cash, take it to the bank, and subsequently give the cash to Fr. Kondratick. This was done to the tune of over a million dollars in less than 5 years. Fr. Kondratick is unable to provide receipts for these disbursements. My own personal opinion is for one to believe that all the monies went to “the needy”, as Fr. Kondratick claims, given that we now know the designated charitable and appeal funds were looted for other purposes during the same time period, is to be so unmindful of the facts as to be complicit in the malfeasance. But that is my own opinion. Feel free to disagree. But it is not arrogant to ask how such a irregular and unacceptable situation could have been allowed to continue year after year after year; it is called stewardship, and is a virtue extolled by the Lord Himself.
No one on this website believes they have all the correct ideas and solutions; if any did, there would be no need for this comment page. Rather, it is by the open exchange of ideas that we believe truth is most likely to emerge.
Likely, not guaranteed. But I do guarantee that unless such things are brought out and discussed in the open the truth has little chance of ever being known. You may be comfortable not knowing the truth; but it is the truth to which we are called, not comfort.
Nor is it arrogant to condemn that which is condemnable. Everthing can be forgiven, but not all can be tolerated. The financial administration of the OCA in the past twenty years can be forgiven; but no longer tolerated - just as those responsible can be forgiven; but their continued administration should not be tolerated. To overlook such a breach of comity and responsibility because it might be difficult causes one to cross the line from victim to accomplice. You may be willing to wink, wink, nod, nod, Father at indiscretions; but pardon the rest of us if we will not join you in pious platitudes and warm stories that only serve to excuse the perpetrators, with scant regard for the damage they have done.
As writer upon writer to this page has stated, we are more than willing to forgive if only those who have shamed us and brought our central administration low through diversions, debt and cover-ups would confess. They have not. That does not make us arrogant, Father; but them.
Until they do, though, we will continue this search for truth; uncomfortable, unwarranted and unpleasant as you may find it.
#12 Archpriest William DuBovik on 2006-10-26 08:24
Speaking to the “spiritual reality of this crisis” (as Mark and others have said), most of our military chaplains (and their families) also have a “weary heart.” I know many of our active-duty military chaplains very well and want to speak about their plight.
They will be meeting (together with institutional chaplains) November 2nd-4th at St. Tikhon’s. They are under the omiphor of Metropolitan Herman, and their dean is Fr. Boback.
How have they have been treated over the past number of years? Generally speaking, they have either been ignored, berated, or bullied, (Unfortunately, I know that too many civilian clergy have experienced the same.)
Metropolitan Herman does not look after this flock, either.
We hear, even from Fr. Vansuch, the FOS Director, that FOS is struggling. I am angered that they keep running photos of our military chaplains, saying FOS supports them, when their own pie chart shows that all of 1.11% goes to chaplains (for what year? 2005?). FOS has assisted no military chaplain I know, but is certainly getting mileage out of using their photos. Shame, shame!
I have two hopes and prayers. First, that a new Dean of Chaplains would be appointed. Next, that Metropolitan Herman consults with his brother-bishops and enlists a bishop to take care of the chaplains, someone whose heart is in the job.
Having active-duty chaplains is vital to our ministry as Orthodox Christians in America. Your civilian parish priest is an “outsider” to the military system. He would not be given the access that is needed to help the Orthodox flock serving in the military. We need priests to serve as chaplains in the military. Pray that if someone you know is in the military, they have access to an Orthodox chaplain.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, please pray for our Orthodox chaplains serving in the military. Remember them as they gather at St. Tikhon’s. Support them in prayer.
I did respond to the commentary on my initial message regarding this topic. For some reason it was not printed. I did not want persons to think I ignored it or agreed in any way with the response that was offered by the editor.
#14 Archpriest William DuBovik on 2006-11-05 12:42
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