Tuesday, January 2. 2007
Should the Investigative Committee compel former administration officials, such as Metropolitan Theodosius, to speak to them, if not the press? Or is "no comment" an adquate response for both?
What of the new Reorganization Charter? Your comments welcome.
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Theodosius "declined comment". Well, at least he is being consistent with Kondratick, Herman, et. al.
My belief is that Fr. Kondratick, though obviously a central figure, is probably taking the fall for much that Theodosius bears the ultimate responsibility for. Herman, of course, as acting Treasurer, also shares responsibility. No wonder they are declining comment and pinning everything on Fr. Bob.
#1 Name withheld on 2007-01-02 08:17
I noticed the Metropolitan attending the Funeral service for the late President Ford along with Archbishop Demetrios. Surely this has hurt his standing among the secular authorities as well as the non-OCA hierarchs.
#2 Reader Nicholas Bailey on 2007-01-02 11:30
Dear Rdr., it's little aside comments like this -- pure speculation -- that only make it more difficult to focus on the specific issues at hand.
In general, it seems so many are so quick to pounce. Isn't it bad enough as it is without inventing ancillary issuse which may or may not be items at hand?
The "other non-OCA hierarchs' have a good deal of their own problems to attend to. While ours is bad enough, no "jurisdiction" is having an easy time of it right now.
Happy new year -- Christ is in our midst!
Rdr. John (Tracey)
#2.1 Rdr. John (Tracey) on 2007-01-02 12:06
Christ is in our midst, rejoice...........must agree that it is vitally essential that the "fourth estate" be involved in the all to slow visual unfolding of the machinations of this mockery of a central administrtion, whose scandalous conduct has inflicted upon laity and clergy alike an indebtedness of over two millions dollars.........a very substantial sum, even in the Roman Catholic realm, which is involved in new pay-offs revealed on an almost weekly basis..........will it be necessary to remind those involved, of the forthright entreaties of the prodigal son to his father, that 'he is unworthy to be called his son, to hire him as one of his laborers'..........perhaps the "fourth estate" is all we have left to see over the circle of wagons/defense attornies and bring to light the misdeeds that require forgiveness........for the moment, Mark is one of those deserving of the term "Axios"
#2.1.1 luke on 2007-01-02 23:48
I am wondering how it is that Reader John can make the statement that "all" of the Orthodox jurisdictions in North America are having trouble? The context of his response is the "trouble" which the OCA is experiencing in gross negligence and malfeasance at the highest level, which I would dare say is unique to the OCA. I am a member of the Antiochian Archdiocese, and have read your website in order to keep up on the news of these very important matters. I have not commented until now because it is not my place to speak of issues in your jurisdiction. However, this casual, blanket indictment of "all" of the other jurisdictions by Reader John should be corrected. As far as I know -- which would also mean that as far as Reader John knows (unless he is privy to top secret information from the leadership of "all" the other jurisdictions) -- the Antiochian Archdiocese has its financial house in good order. The bishops are respected by the people. The Archdiocesan Board of Trustees is governing well. I can not comment on any of the other jurisdictions. The main point I am trying to make is that it is not accurate to state that the whole of Orthodoxy in North America is dysfunctional; it is simply not true. I certainly hope and pray that your jurisdiction comes through this current crisis as a stronger and more unified and Christlike organization. Jurisdictional unity in North America can only proceed when the various jurisdictions are healthy and strong. Then at least those jurisdictions which have the will to put aside petty concerns over personal power and ego, and are truly determined to bring about unity, can move forward together to make unity happen. The current crisis in the OCA should be of concern to all of the other jurisdictions because the larger issues that confront ALL Orthodox Christians in the 21st century must be met with a unified voice. The current crisis in the OCA cripples all of us.
With prayers and genuine agape in Christ Jesus,
#2.1.2 I am a presbyter in the Antiochian Archdiocese, and would like to have my name w on 2007-01-05 10:31
I was not suggesting, nor did I say, that "all" jurisdictions were having financial problems. I said that none "were having an easy time of it." Maybe the Antiochians are having "an easy time of it." If so, glory to God! Neither was I seeking to make an idictment. I only just yesterday remarked to a person that that archdiocese seemed to be in healthy shape. So, please do not be defensive with my statement; it was not accusatory nor was that the main point. But I'm certainly aware that there has been scandal within it in the not-too-distant past (which may at this time be resolved, I would be happy to hear). Now, my statement was only to make the point to Rdr. Nicholas that his remarks concerning the presence of our Primate at the recent state funeral seemed over-harsh to me, and to point out that there a "bigger fish to fry" for the various hierarchs, I made that statement.
Perhaps I was wrong. Did "his standing with the...other hierarchs," such as those in the ACA, get hurt by his attendance as Rdr. Nicholas suggested?
Christ is baptized!
#184.108.40.206 Rdr. John on 2007-01-08 02:07
Yes it is about time the press started covering this scandal. It should be reported in all the newspapers. Pennsylvania newspapers need more than ever to report on the scandal. As a large number of oca are in Pennsylvania they need to know just what happened to their money.
I am glad I am not a part of oca. I am in another juridication. I dont think we need stop going to church but we must ask for total accountablility of where our money is going. And we need disclosure of all the moneys coming into the seminaries etc. And full disclosure of all expenses. i just cant believe monks get such salaries and perks. If I had known that years ago I would have become a monk and really raked in the money. I had to go to work each day at a job. Perhaps it is time for the clergy and bishops to get a real job and find out what the real world is all about. And pay for their housing taxes and all. Then they might respect the parishioneers a lot more.
I think that the comments section is a wonderfull idea. It may not get the truth but it will put the heat on the heirachs to think about telling the truth. If we can get them to start thinking it is a start.
#3 John Macenka on 2007-01-02 16:22
i don't think you would have had the humility to be a monk.it is not an easy job to be priest and even harder to be a bishop.i assure you,it can be very hard even physically.standing more or less in one spot,in heavy vestments,sometimes for several hours in blistering heat,then,then having to concentrate while preaching,travelling almost every weekend,a bishop has lots to do.i am a parish priest and a monk, i have put in many 12 or more hour days,just visiting the sick can be a task,if you have to travel in heavy traffic to get to some hospital in the other end of town.we don't only work sunday morning.clergy deserve a decent salary that enables them to make a living.and,believe me,if i was chosen to be a bishop or metropolitan,i'd run and hide where they couldn't find me,because i couldn't handle that kind of responsibility,even if i got 200 000 or more a year.by the way,it's the other way around,it would be nice if the parishoners respected their clergy.at the other hand i do agree with you.there most be total financial transparancy and accountability.
#3.1 Anonymous on 2007-01-04 17:56
Perhaps I dont have humility to be a monk. However I am brave enough to sign my name to my thoughts. In addition please dont tell me your tales of woe. I worked for 35 years and had to travel all over the country. You think being in local traffic for a bit is a problem for you. Tough for you. Go to work in the corporate world and find out what real work is. At the current salary and expense account I would gladly be a Metropolitan and would account for every penny taken in. I would be truthfull and transparent.
Personally I dont think the average priest or bishop has a very hard life at all. A catholic church bishop remarked that they never eat a bad meal. I dont think orthodox bishops eat a bad meal either. Please if you relpy have the courage to sign your name
#3.1.1 Anonymous on 2007-01-09 20:50
It's hard being a monk? Good. It's also hard being a husband and father, or a wife and mother. Or none of the above. We all have callings and crosses to bear. Following the example of the Most Holy Theotokos ("Behold the handmaid of God. Let it be to me as you have said."), hopefully each of us will accept our calling, even if it would appear to be a tremendous burden, instead of getting into a spiral vortex of who's job is harder and who deserves more pay. Anticipated remuneration or ease of duties hopefully do not entice us away from God's plan for us.
May our rewards be great in heaven!
#3.1.2 Rdr. Alexander Langley on 2007-01-10 10:29
Dear John: The vast majority of priests (nearly all of whom, btw, possess a masters degree), be they married or celibate, are dedicated, hard-working, underpaid, and under-appreciated servants of God. Your comments are unwarranted and un-Christian. Moreover, unless you know exactly what Met Herman (I gather that's whom you are referring to) spends his money on (I would bet he tithes, do you?), I would refrain from such comments.
#3.2 Michael Strelka on 2007-01-07 06:45
I am being truthfull at the very least. I am very generous to my parish. I do think we have a right to know where our money goes and how it is spent.
I think each individual priest gets the respect he earns. I want to earn the respest I get--not have it given to me because I wear a collar.
I know many good priests and have meet many bad ones.
I feel that a priest or bishop must realize he is to be the leader of his flock and is responsible for his actions to the flock.
The old days of fearing or respecting a priest or bishop are long over and I thank God for that.
#3.2.1 Anonymous on 2007-01-09 20:58
We must continually remind ourselves that although it is human nature to look for scapegoats, one person, or even a small group of people, should not be singled out in this scandal. The endemic corruption that is being uncovered is widespread, I believe. Receipt of stolen property (incl. money) is just as much a wrongdoing as stealing it. Many millions were misappropriated. All those who received these funds are just as culpable. If the OCA hopes to restore its reputation and be seen as an organization with integrity, an organization that can be trusted, then it must cleanse itself of this corruption. I appeal to those who have participated in this corruption to either come forward and confess, or leave your positions of responsibility voluntarily so we can move on. Hiding is not an option. Hiding cannot be tolerated. Your hiding simply creates dysfunctional relationships all around you. For Christ's sake, confess your sins. Our children deserve better than to be forced to worship in this environment of distrust. Many of them will see this hypocrisy and simply leave. Do you want this result on your head as well?
#4 Name withheld on 2007-01-02 18:07
A classical bad guy tactic is to obscure actions with rations of crap so that the victims of one's actions will tire of trying to sort out truth from fiction. This task force just creates more confusion.
"In confusion there is profit."
#4.1 Name withheld on 2007-01-03 21:00
The work to reform the OCA into what it CAN be continues.
There is still so much for the OCA to do to get its house in order.
I am not looking for scapegoats or who to blame. I am looking for sound financial practices that still need to be enforced.
I cannot rest, feeling that the OCA has its house in order, until I see, in writing, simple, sound, financial practices being mandated just on the parish level, that affects the national level. We need to see an assertive and aggressive accountability that takes into account not only the national church, but each OCA parish and mission. For instance, priests should not sign checks and not have ownership of the check book. But I have heard about such sloppiness right within our OCA churches, folks. This simple practice led to the demise of an entire parish that has been hangining on the vine due to what was done with the CHECKBOOK.
Do you see in writing anywhere yet within the national level where on the parish level this is not supposed to happen? In the military, there are strict guidelines for the chaplains not to touch the money in the collection and two other people to count and sign off on the parish collection. Do we even have this sort of guideline for the national church yet?
I have advocated for an AAC for 2007/08 so that we may continually fine tune all that is getting decided by, still, a few people. We have so much creative and good energy within the OCA that an AAC should expidite a further dialogue of how to get us where we need to be.
Until I see these type of guidelines in writing for the local church, I cannot see where we can make any sort of real lasting gains within the OCA national level.
We cannot rest as an OCA until we get that specific with sound financial practices from the parish level on up. It all affects what happens at the national level.
#5 Patty Schellbach on 2007-01-02 18:14
Re: the two letters outlining "Charters"
Seems to me that these come from someone realizing that there needs to be a single person actually handling things on a day-to-day basis as the administration is rebuilt. The Metropolitan reached out to Deacon John to be that person. I'd guess that as a condition of taking this on as a volunteer assignment, Dcn. John stipulated that there needed to be clarity on how this would all work. I'd guess he helped draft these charters so that his role would be defined and the definition would be known by everyone involved in the closely inter-related functions of these different committees.
I had the pleasure of serving with Dcn. John years ago on the board of the SVS Foundation. That he is taking a key role in making all these changes happen is encouraging. He is a sincere man, dedicated to the church, with solid experience in the business world -- self-effacing, serious, balanced and solidly rooted. He is the polar opposite of the personalities that the old order used to attract and promote.
#6 Rebecca Matovic on 2007-01-03 09:00
I'm becoming less interested in the past and more interested in the future of the church.
I hope the ties to the vendors of ill-repute (and I believe there were at least a few) are stopped. The OCA really needs to remove a couple of its vendors (if my read is right). This information should be made public as well because we are all walking around with the concern the vendors are still attached in some way.
Has this been discussed at all?
I am hoping part of the efforts of the Transistion officer are to publicly sever ties with these vendors. This will be another step in healing the damage.
There is no tort threat by the OCA telling the public they switched vendors from vendor A to vendor B.
Why hasn't this been mentioned by PR?
It seemed more than vivid in some of the earlier reading I had done.
Mark, can you expound on this a bit?
#7 Daniel E. Fall on 2007-01-03 10:28
What vendors of ill repute are you talking about?
#7.1 Eugenie Osmun on 2007-01-07 09:53
I seem to recall some of the people Fr. Kondratick were dealing with were vendors from Vegas and such..not just the attorneys, but some vestment or liturgical item merchants..
It seems appropriate the OCA would make clear that all ties with these folks are broken.
Maybe I missed something along the way.
#7.1.1 Daniel E. Fall on 2007-01-07 17:37
The 2 individuals of Martinez & Murphy fame were a Richard Rock and a Mr. Torbey I believe.
Look back at the early stages of this whole fiasco. Rock was "coaching" Fr. Kondratick on how to act.
I wonder if those two individuals are also being investigated by the Feds?
#220.127.116.11 Michael Geeza on 2007-01-08 09:00
Martinez and Murphy (the vestment and liturgical gear company you're thinking of) went out of business years ago.
#18.104.22.168 Rebecca Matovic on 2007-01-08 12:05
Mark - you wrote about the search process: "The Metropolitan's final choices for each position will then undergo a confirmation process by the Synod of Bishops, as outlined in the OCA Statute."
Actually the Statute reads the Holy Synod has the competence to appoint, "upon recommendation by the Metropolitan *Council*, of the Chancellor, Secretary, Treasurer...." Article II, Section 7(m).
This points out one of the areas that needs to be revised in a new statute. Who hires the Chancellor? Who supervises the Chancellor? Who fires the Chancellor?
#8 Christopher Eager on 2007-01-03 16:17
I cannot believe that the Metropolitan has got an in between guy.
Is nothing sacred?
We were told that a independant committee that he has chosen would oversee what happens.
Now MH will not let go.
Is there not anyonme out there in OCA that is willing to stand up and fight for what we were taught to believe in?
My heart is very heavy but at least now I understand where the Reformation came from.
Gd Bless All.
#9 Lynn on 2007-01-03 16:56
Something that troubles me about the selection process of the new staff is this whole idea of accepting applications. I realize that humility has not been a highly-regarded virtue by Syosset, but I can't conceive of someone thinking that they are 'deserving' or 'talented enough' or whatever to hold such positions as chancellor. And what kind of 'agenda' are such persons going to bring to the posts?! Seems that this was a big part of the previous crew--it was all about them and their power.
As I recall, there is something in the Rule of Saint Benedict (for western monasticism) to the effect that aspiring to the office of abbot is a grave sin. It would seem that this would also fall under that.
Hopefully, no one will apply, and they will have to search and convince worthy persons to take the posts.
#10 Mark on 2007-01-04 15:26
In the Rule of St. Benedict (and let's remember he is on our calendar of Saints), I cannot find the passage to which you refer. The Rule does indeed warn against abbots, deans and priors becoming puffed up (Fry's translation), and reminds the abbot that he will face a fearful judgment for his stewardship of Christ's flock (RB2). And RB7, the chapter on humility, reminds every monk that "every exaltation is a kind of pride," and that the seventh step of humility is "that a man not only admits with his tongue but is convinced in his heart that he is inferior to all and of less value..."
However, let us understand that humility also involves recognizing the talents and gifts one has received from God, acknowledging their Source and giving God all the credit and glory for them, and totally surrendering them back to God, to be used as it may please Him. The tough part about that is that, as in says in RB 7, in order to exercise true humility, "a man loves not his own will nor takes pleasure in the satisfaction of his desires" and that "a man submits to his superior in all obedience for the love of God." Humility involves committing one's self wholly into the hands of one's superior and letting the superior determine how and when and where one's talents and energies are to be used for the common good.
Your apparent confusion stems from a misperception (admittedly, a common one) that being Chancellor or Treasurer or whatever is an honour. It is not; it is, rather, an opportunity to experience crucifixion and to exercise servanthood to the glory of God and the good of souls. Any person who thinks otherwise; who either lets the position "go to his head" or who takes one of these things as an honour, and one which he deserves, is not only risking eternal damnation but will also---sooner or later---get his teeth (metaphorically, one hopes) kicked down his throat several thousand times. That's why God salvifically gives to green priests parish councils.
As for all the comments about monks and monasticism in recent posts, I think we must be fair about this. More than one of our Bishops were tonsured only shortly before ordination to the episcopate. They never had the opportunity to spend any extended time as novices in obedience to an elder, in the daily battle to cut off one's own will, and in the actual living of monastic life. If there is a fault here, it is, I must suggest, our collective failure to encourage and support monastic vocations. So how about we cut these men a break, OK? Under whatever circumstances they have freely and willingly assumed the monastic habit, thereby also assuming responsibilities before God upon which they will be judged by God; so they need more of our prayers and less of our superficial judgments and carping criticism.
And FYI, what the monastic promises is to "remain unto death in NON-AQUISITIVENESS and in the voluntary poverty for Christ's sake which belong to the common life; not acquiring or keeping anything for yourself except in accordance with common necessity, and then, only in obedience and not of hyour own discretion." But how are Bishops, who must live outside the common life and not in subjection to an abbot, to fulfill all that? By doing what I'm sure many of them already do: embracing the spirit of non-acquisitiveness. Being broke is hard; but relating to money and things as if they did not belong to one and had no importance, is actually more difficult.
Verbum sapienti sat.
Igumen Philip (Speranza)
#10.1 Igumen Philip (Speranza) on 2007-01-07 06:09
It is difficult to believe that persons want to see the problems that the OCA has encountered in newspapers throughout the country. Such articles are embarrasing, often slanted; and we usually find sensationalism in the media, with no reflection on just what the Church is. I doubt any of the papers printing any stories related to our current problems have given much attention to our Church and all the good that is accomplished through her and the importance of being Christians in Christ's Church. I would think Orthodox would find it sad that its problems have appeared in any newspaper. It certainly does not do anything to advance our mission of Baptizing all nations, and of drawing persons to the true Church. I would also add in an unrelated response that being a Bishop or a Priest is a real job--24 hours a day, seven days a week, with many responsibilities, duties, obligations, and much work to do. I spend many years in our professions and can assure persons that the clergy is every bit as real, with no "breaks" from what one is or does, any day or week. Bishops and Priests do not leave their jobs after eight or 10 hours or whatever, and they never thus cease their work.
#11 Very Rev. William DuBovik on 2007-01-06 13:00
Christ and the Resurrection is the illumination of salvation from sin and condemnation per our church.
Without publicity it becomes nothing. Telling noone is worthless.
Publicity is a double edge sword when the children of Paul do wrong. Without it, the story of Jesus would be untold. With it, we prove that the children of Paul are indeed sinners, in need of salvation from sin.
Is the humiliation too great for you? It clearly was for Theodosius. Wouldn't publicity have been the grander idea then, instead of 6 years of mismanagement amuck.
#11.1 Daniel E. Fall on 2007-01-06 17:49
As Orthodox Christians we know we are sinners without any media that has no claims to any faith being involved.
Further Christ and the Resurrection and the salvation He offers us never, never, ever becomes "nothing."
Seeing our problems in media that cares nothing about us has nothing to do with humiliation as we understand it in a Christian sense. I stand by my original comments.
#11.1.1 Very Rev. William DuBovik on 2007-01-08 08:56
I don't think anyone here is delighted to see this in the public press. However, it does seem, when one reads back in the archives, that the stories in the national news were a strong motivation for Syosset to actually begin addressing the allegations. Prior to that, everything amounted to denial, including your own postings on this site.
#22.214.171.124 Name withheld on 2007-01-08 11:45
The reason for the financial problems is simply pride. All were too proud to address the problems and ran the church 1.7M in debt, failing to pay commitments to widowers and orphans.
Probably the best spoken truth has come from Fr. Chris Wojcik on the matter.
If it wasn't for the media coverage (media includes this very website), we, yes all of us, may not have addressed these issues of shorting the poor and needy.
Media coverage is nothing less than a consequence of the evil.
The truth is without consequences, this church would have probably continued down the dark road.
I'm grateful for the media and I pray the OCA is able to reduce its right and just consequences for failure in the future.
#126.96.36.199 Daniel E. Fall on 2007-01-09 17:25
Is there a list of : Dates
Targets, Activity, Progress, Status, REPORTS, meetings, etc
Things that we should be watching for?
If they were listed, I must have missed them.
Iím getting discouraged again.
To answer you question, Ande, no list of targets, activities, reports, or dates have been offered from Syosset as yet. We can always hope.)
#12 Ande on 2007-01-09 10:06
I don't really agree with Ande or you Mark. Syosset has produced a timely budget, and they provided a public compilation report.
They have also started a search for competant staff for these positions/roles.
More objectively, they have not produced a balance sheet, nor have they laid out a timetable for one. This is a serious question that so far noone has addressed.
One thing I have come to learn is that good development is never rushed when amateurs are involved. Professionals can rush development, but nothing about OCA management has been professional, so if it takes them some time to do it right, so be it. We should be glad for the time it takes as long as they continue, or rather, start to be critical of their own performance.
#13 Daniel E. Fall on 2007-01-10 17:39
About the appointment of Fr Deacon John Zarras: I was a classmate of Fr John's in seminary and I must say he is so very solid. I think this was a wise choice and I think Fr John will take his position seriously and do what needs to be done.
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