Monday, November 6. 2006
Your comments on the issues, topics or opinions expressed in the interview with Protodeacon Wheeler are welcome.
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It is refreshing to learn the FBI has interviewed people and is investigating this matter.
I only hope the Kondratick lawsuit wasn't dropped in a bargaining effort. i.e. Don't sue us and we won't pursue you, that would be shameful, more so if veiled in secrecy, which is what we are led to believe by the pickup and drop.
It is also refreshing to learn that Met. Herman and Dn. Wheeler are on speaking terms.
Also, Dn. Wheeler makes a great point in the the OCA can return itself to great, great standing by simple, public disclosure. A successful audit is needed badly. The fundraising going on in TOC this week, without the support of either a good audit or great current disclosure (full quarterly financials), is really going to suffer.
#1 Daniel E. Fall on 2006-11-06 14:34
I rarely visit this site. I am surprised, actually, that it is still up and running. Some interesting articles - but sad that one can't just get on with it - pray for our hierarchy - pray for our own failures - and just move on. The point has been made. The scandal has been revealed. Thank God. Isn't it time you just shut this thing down and retired to your prayer corners? How can this website possibly build up the faithful, glorify God, or do anything more? - other than divert our focus away from God and turning it onto revenge, a crusade to fix, anger and bitterness, etc. I don't get it.
#1.1 Dianne Julianna Storheim on 2006-11-17 22:37
Fr. Dcn. Eric, I do not know if you read the things posted here in the commentary section. We do not know each other and it is not likely we every shall.
I recently read a writing by St. John of Damascus in his work on heresies; namely the one against the Ishmaelites. The crux of his argument lies in the lack of witness to the prophet. Not personal witness, but Biblical.
God sent Israel many prophets and they witnessed not only to the coming of Christ, but also to the misdeeds and evils committed by the rulers of their times. We know that often times this led to their martyrdom, just as with St. John the Forerunner.
You have given witness to what you have seen and experienced. Your story has been level and consistent; considerate but firm. This lends you credibility and leads me to believe your witness, as I have for some time now. And for this witness, you too were (or perhaps are still being) martyred, granted not bodily.
In response to your confession and in anticipation of our journey to Pascha in a short few months: May God forgive us both.
I am grateful to you and to all those who stand up and ask, "What is this elephant doing here in the room with us?"
Unworthily yours in Christ,
#2 John Czukkermann on 2006-11-06 19:51
John, - Beautiful comment. Thank be to God for Dn. Eric's courage and fortitude.
And also thank you, Father Deacon, for showing the example of "honesty, humility and love" (quoting Fr. Robert Arida) and true repentance. How sad that it is not being manifest in the leadership of our church, with just a few notable exceptions...
#2.1 Inga Leonova on 2006-11-07 09:49
I hope the Metropolitan Council representatives will take note of the November 2005 Letter from Dn. Eric which is referenced (and linked) in the interview. It raises numerous good questions which the MC should have addressed at their meeting. But the MC members already have an awful lot to think about. I hope the concerned lawyers and accountants of the OCA will help prepare the MC reps for their meeting by communicating to them how to formulate good and proper questions so as not to show up at the Dec MC meeting unprepared. This certainly has been a hallmark of attending MC meetings in the recent past - the members had little knowledge of what was going to be on the agenda and so had no chance of being prepared to discuss the issues.
A pool of questions and suggestions needs to be formulate for the MC members to consider and have the questions honed by accountants and attorneys so the members can meaningfully participate in the Dec meeting.
#3 Fr. Ted Bobosh on 2006-11-07 05:10
Dear Fr. Dcn. Wheeler,
As God forgives, so I forgive.
Thanks be to God for your honesty and repentance. May we all exhibit the same during our life times. May He continue to strengthen and guide you through these difficult times, granting you His wisdom.
He will bless the good intentions of your heart and your desire to help His Holy Church.
With love in Christ,
#4 Philippa Alan on 2006-11-07 05:56
After 7 years of this scandal we need better info than a repeat of what we already know. This does not answer why Fr. Bob is silent , why Fr. paul gives us the run around and lied to a bank, and the Met. has never mentioned the FBI. This seems a little far fetched. I am now giving up hope. Times up!!
What is it that you don't get? There is a Federal investigation going on and THEY CAN'T SPEAK ABOUT IT!!!
I've been defending their silence for months now and it finally comes out from Protodeacon Eric that the FBI is involved.
What do you and others want from the Metropolitan and Fr. Paul? They can't talk about it.
What is so hard for you to understand about this?
If their silence brings someone to justice, then as far as I'm concerned, they can remain silent until justice is served!
Mr. Geeza's comments require clarification. It is not the FBI which prevents Syosset from speaking about the investigation; it is Proskauer Rose LLP. This is an important distinction that Mr. Geeza fails to make clear.
Since the Metropolitan and Fr. Kucynda hired Proskauer Rose LLP, they are free, in every sense of the word, to speak about what they wish. If Proskauer has not told them anything that is one problem; if Proskauer has told them and they choose, for whatever reasons, not to reveal what they have been told, that is another.
It would seem to many, myself included, that since it is the Metropolitan Council that is the client here, not the Metropolitan or Fr. Kucynda, the fact that Proskauer Rose has not given the Council any information, except a short briefing to a handful of members last month, all of whom were chosen by Metropolitan Herman, is the more serious problem. The silence of Proskauer Rose will not bring anyone to justice - that is the task of the FBI and other legal authorities, not Proskauer Rose. Proskauer Rose is silent for their own reasons, or Syosset's own reasons.
That silence must end.
Until the Council is fully informed as to the results and conclusions of Proskauer's investigation - which we are all paying for - we have a right and responsbility to demand answers so that this scandal, now entering its second year, can begin to be resolved - no matter what the FBI may or may not do.)
#5.1 Michael Geeza on 2006-11-07 07:35
With all due respect, I am well aware that PR is the entity forbidding the leak of information.
The numerous loose lips which have divulged information when it should not have been done over the past few months is precisely why certain bits of information should not be made public. This goes for the Holy Synod AND Metropolitan Council members.
It's quite obvious whom the FBI is investigating here and I for one hope the Church doesn't tip their hand one bit to the opposition.
Why should justice be compromised because people feel they are entitled to information.
The MC and Holy Synod already had their chance over the years to correct many wrongs. They FAILED miserably in whatever they were doing to oversee the financial well being of the Church.
Actions have been taken in an attempt to get to the bottom of this and correct a very dysfunctional organization.
If it takes more silence to bring someone to justice, then by all means, in my book, silence is golden.
#5.1.1 Michael Geeza on 2006-11-07 17:43
Why would an investigation have to be kept secret? That makes no sense at all! The only person who has claimed that the FBI is involved is Wheeler, furthermore, as far as we know NO ONE else has been interviewed by the FBI for there so called investigation! What kind of investigation only interviews one of the the many people involved in this debacle? I think your watching too much television.
Having spoken to the FBI, I can confirm there is an investigation. )
#18.104.22.168 Thomas Langley on 2006-11-08 07:48
On the contrary, I don't watch much television. Perhaps I'm just better informed than you are.
#22.214.171.124.1 Michael Geeza on 2006-11-09 09:17
Interesting....your "better informed"? I'm pretty sure that everyone knows your a member of Kucynda's church, if not, now they do. What puzzles me is that you go out of your way to explain that "they" (Herman and Kucynda) CAN'T TALK. If that is the case, how is it that you "are better informed" than the rest of us?? If Kucynda can tell you WHY can't he tell us??? When will this lying and double standard stop?? Herman and Kucynda must go!!!!
#126.96.36.199.1.1 Thomas Langley on 2006-11-10 06:11
What do you not understand about an ongoing Federal investigation and the inability to talk about it?
Does every single thing need to spelled out for you? Read into this a bit more. Isn't it obvious that someone might be in some serious trouble here and by prematurely talking about it, it could hinder the whole investigation.
For the life of me, I really am perplexed as to why you and so many others don't understand or accept this.
#188.8.131.52.1.1.1 Michael Geeza on 2006-11-13 09:19
The fact that there may be an ongoing federal investigation does not mean that the administration's hands are tied and they cannot say anything. There may be valid reasons to limit the scope of disclosure, but a blanket "we cannot say anything" is not convicing. And if the administration has not properly informed the Metropolitan Council of the nature, scope and status of the federal investigation it is arguably a violation of the statute.
I have said all along that there may be valid reasons to limit the scope of disclosure. The Metrpolitan Council needs to make an informed decision about what to disclose and what not to disclose -- where to draw the line and why. But as far as anyone can tell, they do not have enough facts to make an informed decision.
Has the Metropolitan Council met with Proskauer Rose and said: "We are an Orthodox Christian institution. We want to tell the truth. We want to be transparent. What have you discovered? What are the legal risks of disclosing this? Are the risks to individuals in the institution or the institution itself? If we choose to disclose it in spite of the risks, is there a way to mitigate the risks?" And after getting competent legal advice, the Metropolitan Council needs to balance the benefits against the risks and make a decision of how much to disclose.
Has such a meeting taken place? Maybe between Proskauer Rose and the Metropolitan and the Treasurer. But that is an obvious conflict of interest.
#184.108.40.206.220.127.116.11 Robert Vasilios Wachter, Esq. on 2006-11-13 22:25
I rarely draw on my professional experience in these matters because it's rarely relevant. But having been involved in various forms of corporate communications work including some crisis management, this conflict over what can and can't be said is not at all unusual. The lawyers always want to say nothing. Management sometimes goes along with that. But management that understands that they need the trust of particular audiences, whether that be investors, employees and/or customers, take the need to communicate seriously and work assidiuously to push the limits and communicate what can be communicated without compromising the legal position.
I suspect that "mangement" in this case is a thoroughly cowed in the face of some hefty potential legal consequences and also has a personal, emotional predisposition to under-estimate the value of communications and the need to enlist and earn support from "key audiences" (in this case clergy and laity).
If they took that need to communicate more seriously, if they understood us more as people who need and deserve to be engaged, then they might be able to overcome their fear and have the right conversations with the lawyers about what can and cannot be communicated.
#18.104.22.168.22.214.171.124.1 Rebecca Matovic on 2006-11-16 12:16
This is the crux of the spiritual sin: the lack of respect for the people who have been generally treated as ignorant chidren. Perhaps this took root a long time ago when we had intellectual and charismatic giants in our midst who were compelled to take complete charge of a young church struggling in a foreign land with issues of language, culture adjustment and so on. The problem is that the early guidance instead of maturing into a strong church where all the members are working in tandem with respect for one another's giftings, was rather converted into a system of a closed, secretive family rule that no longer guided the church to maturity, but instead handled all mistakes and anything that would tend to stain the image with a strategy of denial, fostering more and more ineptitude and sin.
And the worst part was the failure to allow the church to mature by recognizing, then guiding and utilizing the many gifted people sent by the Lord for the growth of the Church. These precious gifted, enthusiatic people were instead ignored, put down, demoralized and made to feel second class. Many have said everyone is at fault, I disagree. An ignored, demoralized, put down person is not at fault; he is a victim. This is the real spiritual travesty: the refusal to see and accept the gifted (some even converts) in our midst, the refusal to let the Holy Spirit work in our midst.
In the Church there is no king but the Lord and there is no noble family but that of all the members of the royal priesthood of believers.
#126.96.36.199.188.8.131.52.1.1 Karen Jermyn on 2006-11-17 08:16
With respect, why can't they discuss the loan application? The vote on the loan by the Metropolitan Council? The 2006 financial disclosures (which are completely insufficient)?
In other words, we have been told that effective November 2005 everything was corrected. We should be able to discourse on events after that point without undermining the effectiveness of any investigation, be it FBI or PR.
The frustration expressed by Dimi and others is that the "investigation" is being used as an excuse, a smokescreen, for the Central Administration to avoid talking about *anything*.
Is PR or the FBI investigating the internal politics of the Holy Synod? I think not. Is it investigating the censure and prohibitions on speech in our dioceses? I think not.
Some serious questions are not subject to the investigation: What is the role of the Metropolitan in the governance of the Church? When, in the Orthodox Church, does a Metropolitan operate autonomously? What is the purpose of the Central Administration? Are financial controls in place to ensure the appropriate accounting and reporting of the financial activities of the Church? What level of transparency is required to manifest the Church in a democratic society? Is it reasonable to prohibit discussion of Church Administration by and among the laity, clergy, monastics, and hierarchs?
If we are to begin to exit this crisis, we must initiate a discussion, and thus far, it has been a very, very one-sided conversation.
Sdn. John Martin
Martin D. Watt, CPA (Inactive)
#184.108.40.206 Marty Watt on 2006-11-08 10:00
I cant help but agree with you Dimi....St. Wheeler....his interview is to good to be true......I don't buy it either!!!
#5.2 Thomas Langley on 2006-11-07 08:03
Brother: You cannot be serious in giving up hope! For a Christian it is antithetical. You still have Christ; you still have the Mysteries; you still have your brothers and sisters in the Lord to support you. Maybe you meant you are impatient at the progress that is being made. So are we all. Progress is being made and the effort to cleanse and restore the church is picking up speed.
May "the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope." (Rom. 15:13)
Terry C. Peet
#5.3 Terry C. Peet on 2006-11-07 09:43
This interview was encouraging to me personally.
It provides a window into Dcn. Eric's motivations and actions. It shows someone struggling to figure out the right thing to do and genuinely concerned about acting in a Chrisitian manner, understanding that our actions and behaviors will determine our salvation. There's no sense of game playing in any of the answers.
It also seems that Dcn. Eric does see some positive movement in the ways things are being reorganized.
At the same time his comments about trust are the crux of the matter.
I really want to be encouraged by the actions that Met. Herman is taking. That we are seeing reports of meetings first on the OCA website is a good thing. That detailed financial reports (even if imperfect, late, etc. etc) are being made public is a good thing. Whatever its problems, we have a posting of the 2006 budget when at the AAC in 2005 there was an absolute refusal to make the detail available for discussion. The discussions about PR remain private to a small group of hand-selected people, but that isn't completely out of line given that there are sensitive issues involved. All this could be seen as reasonable, positive, constructive (even if imperfect).
But here's the rub for me ... the only reason any of this has happened is because Dcn. Eric's letters were made public and because there has been a year of outrage and pressure. Met. Herman knew the contents of those letters months before they were public and did nothing. By virtue of his office and his former positions of authority in the OCA, we have every reason to presume that the underlying issues outlined in Dcn Eric's letters were known to him for many years. But he did nothing.
We can't change the past, but ... we can repent of the past. Perhaps for valid reasons (hypothetically conceding for the purpose of argument although I remain unconvinced in fact) the details of the PR report should not be made public. But the Metropolitan's personal feelings about the general outline of the issues could, should, must be made public. If things went on that were wrong (and surely we wouldn't still be having this conversation if the investigation to date had been exculpatory), then without details of what happened, Met. Herman could still explain his personal perspective on how and why these things came about, his role in allowing them to come about, the sources of the mistakes in oversight that permitted the abuses.
Regret. Repentance. Acknowledgment of error. Some genuine human insight, shared out of love, into his own thinking and motivations -- it's asking a lot, but without that I don't know how to trust again.
Dcn. Eric very humanly, very honestly ends the interview saying, "This was hard."
Metropolitan Herman, when are you going to speak forthrightly about your perspective, your regrets, your actions? I'm not asking you to speak to the actions of others. Do you see the difference between Dcn. Eric's answers here and the answers you gave in your interview with Dcn. Peter?
This past year has been hard, and it continues to be hard. But only by doing the hard things can we get to somewhere new and more promising than the morrass we've been sinking in.
#6 Rebecca Matovic on 2006-11-07 11:26
I think you nailed it when you said
But the Metropolitan's personal feelings about the general outline of the issues could, should, must be made public.
See that is exactly what is bothering me, it is not the fact that they are not talking, it is the general feeling, the emotion (or rather the lack of it) in their response. It is that gut feeling that we keep telling our children about. Something doesn't add up.
We are getting mixed messages, just like some children get mixed messages from their parents -- they are told not to lie, but they see us, the parents doing it. The same thing here, we have heard sermons and homilies from these bishops about repentance, about love, about forgiveness, BUT now, during a time of trouble and therefore a time of repentance, love and forgiveness, I don't think we are seeing good examples. In other words we have all heard the words, now lets see the deeds !
I have not heard anyone involved repenting (not ONE !), I would be willing to forgive, I would not throw them in jail, perhaps I would not keep them in office either, but I would forgive them. Lord knows, if I would be in their position of power, perhaps I would fall to temptation as well. But all it would take is a simple sincere "forgive me" / "yes, I wanted a new BMW so I took the money" / "yes, I lied..." and so on.
So now we have these great people of the Lord, our spiritual pastors and Fathers who supposedly have a great faith in God. BUT when it comes to the scandal, they listen to their attorneys more than they listen to the scriptures. Talk about a schizophrenic (in the etymological sense of the word) personality. It is not the FBI who told them to be quiet it is their lawyers! And, this is the real kicker, the lawyers hired using our own money... ouch!
They church says "repent" and the lawyers say "keep quiet, you idiot" and they sure don't listen to the church. I wonder what God are they serving...?
#6.1 Alex K. (OCA) on 2006-11-12 00:59
"...we must also look at all the other administrative bodies that have been asleep at the wheel - the Holy Synod, the Metropolitan Council, the administration of the Central Church, the internal auditors, too many representatives at the All-American Councils - for many, many years."
Deacon Eric: I am one of those whom you speak about above. I was my parish's representative at the AAC in Pittsburgh in 1999, where you made the following comment in your Treaurer's report:
"For a brief time in history, those of us placed in positions of administrative leadership are given the awesome responsibility of being wise stewards of the material resources of the Church. We will be held accountable before God for this. But we are also accountable to you, the clergy and faithful who provide us with the prayerful support and material resources to carry out the work of the Church."
I distinctly remember turning to my parish priest and asking "what the heck does he mean by THAT?" In retrospect, I could have, should have, approached you afterwards. Perhaps now we could be 6 years further along in the curve than we are right now (although even the esteemed lawyer Nescott gave it his best shot and didn't succeed).
So, Fr. Deacon, it is not you who need ask forgiveness, but rather I who now ask for your forgiveness.
#7 Michael Strelka on 2006-11-07 14:59
.... and Michael, some of us were raising red flags much earlier in the 90's decade than that, back when even Dcn. Eric himself admitted that he was himself participating in the early days of the scandal. It is kind to say that people were "asleep at the wheel." The moral lethargy of practically the whole OCA is being revealed here. Why was practically everyone, clergy and lay, willing to turn a blind eye? Truth seems to have been sacrificed on the altar of "the art of looking good." Everything about the OCA's behavior seems to have been absorbed by a narcissism that needed legitimacy of some kind that drove people (like you?) to be so willing to not ask questions. Paul Hunchak said it in his interview... nobody seemed to care. Why not? The whole OCA seems to have been on some sort of institutional drug. Is the drug finally wearing off?
#7.1 Name withheld on 2006-11-10 20:14
Reading Protodeacon Wheeler's account of how this scandal developed, and reflecting on the suffering that the people of the OCA have endured over the past twelve months, one is struck by the stark differences in how our crisis has been handled, and how last week's scandal within the Evangelical movement was handled.
Just last week, serious allegations of misconduct (sexual immorality & drug use) were made by a gay male escort against the Rev.Ted Haggard, pastor of a 14,000 member church and leader of the 30,000,000 member National Association of Evangelicals. The allegations were publicized around the country. The Evangelical movement was shaken to its roots by these serious allegations.
By Wednesday, Pastor Haggard was on the airwaves, flatly denying the allegations in a radio interview.
On Thursday, Haggard placed himself on administrative leave from his positions, pending a full investigation. Members of his congregation and his supporters were interviewed and quoted as saying that the allegations couldn't possibly be true, and that the allegations were politically-inspired and threatened the Evangelical movement.
On Friday, Haggard admitted possessing methamphetamine and to some improper conduct, but denied the most serious of the immorality allegations.
On Saturday, the Evangelical overseers reviewed the allegations and fired Haggard, unambiguously and unapologetically.
On Sunday, Haggard released a letter, read to his congregation, in which he admitted the allegations, confessed his sins, and repented for his actions.
And yesterday, the Evangelicals began the process of healing.
Contrast that with the experience of the OCA over the past 12-plus months, and the charges and counter-charges and confrontations and silencings and denials and delays.
Maybe the Evangelicals are on to something here, in dealing with scandal. If our approach had been a bit more forthright, if we were commited from the beginning to seeking the truth, perhaps the Wheeler allegations, first made public on November 1, 2005, could have been dealt with by, say, November 8, 2005?
Gregg Nescott, Pittsburgh
#8 Gregg Nescott on 2006-11-07 15:13
You are right on all counts, counselor, except for one important fact. Deacon Wheeler and John Kosey, the head of the OCA's audit committee (and you, in fact) tried to bring these problems to light years ago. Instead, the messengers were fired and the problems ignored. Only six years later did the peasants find out what was afoot.
#8.1 Michael Strelka, CPA on 2006-11-08 10:27
To paraphrase John Kerry: Dcn. Eric was for the cover up before he was against it. We must circumspectly evaluate what made the whole OCA, including Dcn. Eric, so willing to turn a blind eye for so long. The moral bankruptcy here is deafening. If our dialog and prayer do not get to the bottom of this spiritual malaise, any solution going forward will be built on shifting sand.
#8.1.1 Anon on 2006-11-13 21:05
Luke 16:8 says "So the Master commended the unjust steward because he had dealt shrewdly. For the sons of this world are more shrewd in their generation than the sons of light."
This Evangelical by repenting before his congregation was shrewd and probably made friends of those who would have remained enemies
had he not publicly confessed and repented. More than that not only was he shrewd, but also wise for His own salvation in the eyes of his Master who merciful and forgiving.
What is wrong then with the Orthodox who purport to have the light?
#8.2 Karen Jermyn on 2006-11-08 11:11
Well, fortunately (or unfortuately) Orthodoxy in America is "the best kept secret". If the scandal made the ABC Evening News and the front page of USA Today for several days in a row, then I'm almost certain the OCA today would be well 'back on its feet' again. Making the middle of Section A in a handful of NE United States newspapers one time obviously didn't 'inspire' the alleged guilty parties enough to confess the whole truth and ask for forgiveness. Let us hope ours doesn't have to become as well publicized as the NAE scandal.
#8.3 John D. Sheposh on 2006-11-16 01:14
While the Evangelicals recover from the Haggard scandal and move on, we of the OCA will be consumed. We have had an entire year to attempt to understand what made these so called religious leaders do what they did for so many years. The problem is that the laity does not have a full understanding of exactly what was done. The huge amounts of money that disappeared had to go somewhere. Where? Why?
When Mark Stokoe asks about references to blackmail and inappropriate personal behavior and Dec Wheeler responds that he will not publish a page of his letter to Met Herman, one can only surmise there is something more, something dreadful.
I no longer want to know what happened or where the money went. My energy will now be directed in another direction which will be uplifting and beneficial. My decision has been made. I will no longer be consumed by the OCA cancer.
#9 Withheld upon request on 2006-11-07 19:50
Yes, even Met. Herman has told the MC that the truth is far worse than has been revealed (a member of the MC told this to me). The blackmail/sex issue (the withheld page) really is the moral bankruptcy that is destroying our Church. When one is leading a life of moral sin, misappropriating funds to cover it up naturally follows, and just leads to more sin.
Until there is confession of sin, and seeking forgiveness, there will never be any rebuilding of trust.
#9.1 Please withhold my name on 2006-11-08 17:52
beloved in Christ,THERE IS NO OCA CANCER!!!because the OCA is the CHURCH,the immaculate BODY OF CHRIST which in essence cannot be affected by the sins of the individual members.in fact,the Church is for sinners to work out their salvation,after all CHRIST CAME TO SAVE SINNERS.My point is, THESES FEW(i don't know what I should call them in english,in russian would be zhuliki,moshenniki,svoloch,rather prefer not to translate,but everybody knows what i mean,LOL)ARE NOT THE CHURCH,they are members of the Church who have sinned.it does not matter what rank they have,THE PRIESTHOOD ITSELF IS HOLY,but the priest, as a man is not,he is a sinner like everyone else,who struggels with his sinful self.I hope that noone leaves the oca or even the orthodox church because of this scandal,remember,people are people,no matter where you go.and i also like to add that personally I still love all the people in question,no matter what they may have done or not done and I would not want them to retire or be punished.we should have a council where we should pray and fast together and yes,even fight and argue with each other,but REMAIN BROTHERS AND FRIENDS.it is never good to be in any way vindictive,WE ALWAYS MUST FORGIVE those who have wronged us even if they don't repent,ultimately all will stand in the presence of GOD and all will be revealed in HIS LIGHT.
#9.2 Anonymous on 2006-11-10 14:07
How can we overlook and forgive our religious leaders for their actions when they do not acknowledge them? I have been waiting over a year to have them seek forgiveness. Being a weak human, I ask why has this misappropriation continued for so many years? Why did knowledge of these misdeeds spread to many people? Now I ask why are these religious leaders using our money to engage a criminal law firm to direct their next move? Forgiveness, yes, but they must take the first step. The cancer must be halted before it can begin to heal.
#9.2.1 Withheld upon request on 2006-11-12 18:38
Indeed, reliable rumors suggest something more dreadful has happened. So dreadful, in fact, that this website is discerning enough not to divulge them at this time. However, this does not excuse the alledged guilty parties from withholding the truth and for so long now ... especially since the allegations have created such a relentless stir among the OCA clergy and laity alike. The "cancer" isn't going away ... its only growing. Are you suggesting that the misappropiation of $4-5 million be swept under the rug in order for this "cancer" to disappear? For the Love of God I sure hope not!
#9.3 Name withheld on request on 2006-11-19 19:12
Fr. Deacon, none of us can imagine how difficult it must have been for you to come forward with what you knew. None of us can criticize you for what you chose to say or when you chose to say it. Anyone who has ever been a whistle-blower at some level, has great empathy for you and your family. You continue to be in our family's prayers.
#10 Marina Dugan on 2006-11-07 20:50
I too am very impressed with Deacon Wheelers willingness and honesty in this situation. There was a comment above around forgiving...I don't forgive Deacon Wheeler, the gentlemen did nothing wrong.
It would be refreshing to see a communique from the ofice of the Metropolitan owning up to all of the atrocities which have occured, confession to each and wrapping it up by closing his page in this dark time in history with a stout resignation. That would actually impress me.
On the day after the country has chosen to switch gears, we too should take a page from that playbook and switch gears as well.
This scandal already has become +Herman's legacy. He could walk across water and he'd be remembered in our hearts for financial miscounduct that almost cost the people their church.
As my 6 year old daughter says "It time for go now!" (Your Beatitude)...do the right thing, not as Metropolitan, but moreover as a man who is sorry for his actions and has the self respect to know when its time to move on.
#11 Bob H. on 2006-11-08 09:46
This whole process of accountability is so necessary for the continued growth and development of the OCA.
Protodeacon Eric Wheeler's persistence may have opened a can of worms. But it was too necessary to do so because our foundation must be built on more logical and sound principles than what has ocurred so far.
Whatever correspondence has taken place on this web site so far, the bottom line is that things need to change in the OCA to truly become that which Christ calls it to be: a witness to Him rather than the fallen world!
I applaud Protodeacon Eric's courage, integrity, and committment in not giving up on the OCA and trying to get it to a better place! Among other poor accounting actions, a $1.7 million dollar loans is an action that does not really help the OCA.
It sounds as if an All American Council for the Summer of 2007 is within our grasp. With the thoughtful reflections and responses that have occured so far on this web site, it should be a very enlighening and productive AAC. It certainly beats taking out more loans.
#12 Patty Schellbach on 2006-11-08 16:09
To Syosset: Revelations to St. John...chapter 3 "And unto the angel of the church of Sardis write; These thinge saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name, that thou livest, and art dead Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die, for I have not found thy works perfect before God. Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent; if therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels"
#12.1 luke on 2006-11-08 22:41
The question I have is if the FBI is investigating, do we have different lawyers looking after the church's interest and individual defense lawyers advising persons who are under investigation? This situation is rife with potential, if not actual conflicts.
#13 Just a Criminal Defense Lawyer on 2006-11-09 10:34
There have been posters on this web site ---and other forums---saying this for months. The actions of Metropolitan Herman and Father Kucynda are clearly conflicts of interest.
#13.1 nicholas skovran on 2006-11-10 17:32
Does anybody know whether Proskauer Rose was hired before there was notice of an FBI investigation or after?
#13.2 Harry Coin on 2006-11-11 17:09
That's what I don't understand as well. It seems to me that PR are the lawyers payed by the church but defending personally the few in the administration.
Now correct me if I am wrong, but here is their business plan so far:
1) Steal from us for years (the church)
2) When disclosed, deny everything
3) Hire a legal firm (PR) to defend against us, using our money to pay for the legal services
4) Tell us that the legal firm (PR) is working for us
Now given all the above points, these people are either:
I) Very stupid and never really stole anything. Just misdirected the funds due to lack of accounting experience. Then didn't want to look stupid and hired lawyers who told them to keep quiet.
II) Very smart and concocted a very clever scheme to steal money and keep some silenced and others in the dark about it. They want to get away with it and hired the lawyers who told them to deny everything and keep quiet while artificially prolonging the investigation.
If we are dealing with I) or II) , in either case, they could not possibly be good Christians because in both cases they lied to us and now refuse to repent and they rather listen to their attorneys than to the Scripture.
I personally cannot see how these people can absolutely and totally believe in God and yet behave in this way. There is no "believe in God on the weekends" or "believe in God except when stealing money" or just "50%" it's all (100%) or nothing, and I think for these people it's nothing...
#13.3 Alex K. (OCA) on 2006-11-12 05:32
I think there is a slight problem with your 2 point analysis above. You fail to realize that both are probably true. Someone was certainly concocting and someone was failing due to inexperience in financial management.
The someones failing were people in the administration, the MC, and the Synod. The Synod also approved a law that they have failed to repeal to date that allowed discretionary accounts. Subsequent audit attempts were also not done on these accounts.
Today, only two people have taken responsibility for the failure part, imo, MH and Abp Job. The Council speaks as a body, but I don't believe the Council has made a statement accepting responsibility for financial mismanagement with all members signing.
The [rest of] the Synod and those July 2005 returning members of the MC have not taken any responsibility.
The Synod, in fact, has not voted to repeal discretionary accounts, nor have they made a statement in the bylaws that states such accounts are subject to audit. Nor have they stated that remedial action for failing an audit is termination of all responsible parties.
So, it appears today as though there has been a lot of concocting that was made possible through extreme failures and through the Synod's sanctioning of extremely bad behavior.
And yes, other than the two people I've mentioned above, most of what has been happening in the OCA is not in agreement with the Gospel Teachings. Trouble is, did the Gospel teach us to always make sure temporarily restricted funds were not used for operating expenses? Some might say not.
My advice to you, don't oversimplify the issue. It isn't simple.
At the same time, thanks for pointing out there are dichotomies between Scripture and legal advice on this issue that are unresolved to date. I sure wish we'd hear that from MH.
#13.3.1 Daniel E. Fall on 2006-11-13 13:55
The statute makes "all church-related institutions" subject to review by the Auditing Committee. I don't think there is anything short of a change in the statute, approved both by the All-American Council and the Holy Synod, that can repeal the totality of that statement.
(I do have to admit that I have advanced the mischievous interpretation that Art. IV §15 also applies to parish accounts; but let us get the metropolitical offices straightened out first.)
#220.127.116.11 Ed Unneland on 2006-11-13 20:01
Does the Statute also define remedial action for failure?
#18.104.22.168.1 Daniel E. Fall on 2006-11-16 15:02
That is the most baffling thing. We have not heard ANYTHING of any real substance from Met. Herman, Met. Theodosius, Fr. Bob, Fr. Kucynda, the Metropolitan Council, etc. No confession, no repentance, nothing. It is as if they have no love or concern for their flock. They are only concerned with appearances and their own hide.
This is simply not Christian behavior. Is there a Christian in the Administration of the OCA?
#22.214.171.124 Please withhold my name on 2006-11-13 20:17
Daniel - Why is it so surprising to you that there have been no mea culpas from the Synod and the MC, when there is a federal investigation in progress?
#126.96.36.199 Michael Strelka on 2006-11-14 09:15
You wrote: "Trouble is, did the Gospel teach us to always make sure temporarily restricted funds were not used for operating expenses? Some might say not."
"Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work," Titus 3:1
The Holy Scriptures are pretty clear that Christians are to obey "rulers and authorities", which would include obeying laws. The only case for not obeying the law would be when it goes against God's law. An example might be a law requiring babies to be aborted.
So, the question is: Is it legal to solicit funds for one purpose, but to spend them for something else, or even to convert them to personal use? And, even if it were legal, is it honest and above reproach?
#188.8.131.52 Please withhold my name on 2006-11-15 13:03
"So, the question is: Is it legal to solicit funds for one purpose, but to spend them for something else, or even to convert them to personal use? And, even if it were legal, is it honest and above reproach?"
No, no and no.
#184.108.40.206.1 Michael Strelka, CPA on 2006-11-17 15:52
How do you know so much ? I think less gossip and more praying would soot everyone better. We should praise every priest who has dedicated their life to helping others. Way too much hate on this site. Bless all of you!!
There are those in the central administration of the OCA who have the ability to discover passages in the bible behind which to camouflage their actions and explanations. Yet are unable to find selections such as the following:
God catches those who think they are wise in their own cleverness. ST.PAUL,CORINTHIANS 1
The essence of leadership is fairness and truth. ST. JOHN 1
Fix your thoughts on what is true honorable, and right. ST.PAUL_final thoughts to the Corinthians. PHIIPPIANS,4:8
A leaders style provides a window into his character . Leaders should not only preach the word of God , but more important,live
Gods word and be an example for others to follow. ST. PAUL__TITUS.1:7
Each person is accountable to Christ befor he is accountable to others. While the church must be uncompromising in its stand against activities expressly forbidden,it should not create additional rules and regulations and give them equal understanding with the law of God. ST. PAUL__ROMANS
People may be pure in their own eyes, but the Lord examines their motives.__PROVERBS 16
If we are not accountable to someone else we may never understand why people reject our advise.DEVOTIONAL BIBLE,page number 666!!! A coincidence ?
And these from SOCRATES: He calls on us to think for ourselves,to challenge authority,to do the right thing,to speak the truth,to
keep our souls alive through friendship and love.
Do not be convinced by me--- be convinced by the truth. The way toward the truth is to ask the right questions.
Free speach,open and direct questioning of authority,are essential to a healthy society
We must question"conventional wisdom" to verify the truth for ourselves,rather than rely on tradition.
This from BENJAMIN FRANKLIN: He that is of the opinion money will do everything may well be suspected of doing everything for money.
And,this bit of wisdom from SOCRATES relative to women,such as those who were(are) instrumental in having the central administration of thr OCA answer legitimate questions:-----To judge a persons capability by gender is like judging a mans intelligence by the amount of hair on his head.
And,finally, this regarding Protodeacon ERIC WHEELER whom I admired from the outset for his courage to bring forth what was happening in the OCA, and admire moreso after reading the posting of his interview with ocanews.org. He asks forgiveness for attempting to address the problems himself,for all the people who have been scandalized for what he had done,for those driven away from the church due to thepublic disclosure of the scandal. To him,whose sincere expressions of his feelings he made known,I say this:
"Eric,you were driven by your conscience----one`s soul companion. You have no need to feel guilt, nor ask forgiveness. I suggest you read JAMES,4:17 in which James says '....TO HIM WHO KNOWS TO DO GOOD AND DOES NOT DO IT,TO HIM IT IS A SIN.` "
#14 Andrew Fedetz, Harrisburg PA on 2006-11-14 07:48
Our parish's Wednesday morning discussion group is reading the book, FORGIVE AND FORGET, by Lewis Smedes. Apropos to our OCA situation, Smedes describes a Pastor Gambit who turned counseling sessions with female parishioners into erotic campaigns, which became the center for a church scandal. His denomination had a court of the church in which Gambit was charged with ministerial malfeasance. I'll let Smedes tell the story:
"Some of Gambit's colleagues (who knew that there, but for the grace of God, went they) made a pitch for the court to forgive him, in the style of Jesus, who once turned to a woman guilty of a like sin and said to her: 'Neither do I judge you, go and sin no more.'
But the kindly clergy were getting forgiving mixed up with tolerance. Gambit needed forgiveness all right, from somebody. But the court's job was not to decide whether Gambit could be forgiven, but whether the church could tolerate what Gambit had done."
As Smedes says, "Forgive me and you heal yourself. Tolerate everything I do and you are in for trouble." and "The group that puts up with everything eventually kills itself."
#15 Fr. Ted Bobosh on 2006-11-15 08:15
I don't think I missed the place where our Lord put a limit on forgiving, loving and caring for others. It is a dangerous path when we try to do so...
As St. Maximos the Confessor wrote:
Let us not render evil for evil, and we shall not receive our due for
our sins. For we find the forgiveness of our trespasses in the
forgiving of our brothers; and the mercy of God is hidden in
mercifulness to our neighbor. Therefore the Lord said, “Forgive, andyou shall be forgiven,” and, “With what measure you mete, it shall be measured to you again.” See how the Lord bestowed on us the method of salvation and has given us eternal power to become sons of God!
#16 Archpriest William DuBovik on 2006-11-16 13:42
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