Friday, January 19. 2007
Your comments on PR, on the Special Commission, on the purpose of any investigation, are welcome.
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To me, paying a law firm several hundred thousand dollars to say that the blame centers on one person, and then to allow that person to find other employment in the OCA -- that smells like a back room deal. Add the fact hat Fr. Kondratick sued the OCA and then suddenly withdrew the suit, and it looks even worse. Is there an understanding that the OCA would pin the blame on Fr. Kondratick in exchange for continued employment and an agreement to not go after the missing money? Is there an understanding that everyone will just keep quiet and hope this blows over?
That is what it looks like to me. If I am wrong (I hope I am), can anyone answer why is Fr. Kondratick still employed in the OCA? And why hasn't Metropolitan Herman proposed seeking restitution from Fr. Kondratick if the Proskauer Rose findings are so clear?
#1 Robert Vasilios Wachter on 2007-01-19 19:36
HOW MUCH have we paid Proskauer Rose so far?
HOW MUCH do we still owe them?
HOW MUCH longer are we comitted to keep them?
HOW MUCH longer will we keep them?
These are simpler questions than the “Are the allegations true or false?” question.
If the OCA won't tell us, we should ask Proskauer Rose.
If we can't get these answers, we should all leave the OCA!!!
#2 Ande on 2007-01-20 06:05
Since we know that millions of dollars were diverted, a two-part question that needs to be asked over and over and very loudly, of PR and all concerned, is: What was the money used for and who used it?
#3 withheld on 2007-01-20 09:17
PR was hired to do EXACTLY what they did, scapegoat Fr. Kondratick, while insulating Herman and Kucynda. Remember, PR was only allowed to speak with who Herman and Kucynda OK'd, not to mention the fact that PR was only showed information that Herman and Kucynda provided for them. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out what happend.
#4 Richard Woods on 2007-01-20 10:02
A very good question!
A couple things are apparent.
1. Met. Herman sees the Statue as irrelevant, and acts accordingly. This is lawlessness, or sin.
2. P-R was not hired to do a full investigation and report of their findings to anyone, except perhaps to Met. Herman.
I suspect that Monk James is probably correct. P-R was hired by Met. Herman (at Church expense and in violation of the OCA Statute) to build a wall around Met. Herman, and probably Met. Theodosius, too. And Fr. Bob is the fall guy.
#5 Name withheld on 2007-01-20 13:17
From all we have heard and the various excuses/explanations of the PR role, what you see is what you get.
Thus far MH seems to be skating on the ice that PR is maintaining. I beleive that PR has been commssioned to keep the current adminsitration from litigation over these issues while allowing them to avoic prosecution. Which is causing the entire OCA to be persecutued as a result of the actions of both Theodosius and MH and thier associated cronies.
As many have said...the longer this goes on without MH and the others owning up to what they have done, the more real the possiblity that the authorities will step in and begin criminal prosecution of these folks.
My question would be, is there a way for Mark to put a poll up on the site around should MH Herman resign in light of all that has been found out about his role in the scandal.
I would bet if you visit St. Tikons and the many other cemeteries late at night where former hierarchs rest peacefully you would hear two things. One being them turning over in ther graves, the second being the call for someone with honor and dignity like those who have come before Theodosius and Herman to step up and restore the honor before the OCA is known as such things in life as the DeSoto and Studebaker, things that used to be very big.
Pray for guidance and a leader to emerge.
#6 A Very Concerned Person on 2007-01-21 09:02
Praying for a leader is not the answer. We have our leader: it's the Spirit speaking through the hearts of the people. Seeking charismatic or Church ordained leadership can only engender false hopes if it's copping out of our own responsibility in a conciliar Church which is Lord's will. We tend to idolize those whom we hope will take charge and make the way straight, so we don't have to get our hands dirty.
Idolization will only tempt a man to pride, the beginning of abuse of power, the cause of a root of bitterness taking hold
when idols fall.
I pray not for a new leader but for the leadership we have to expose and deal with the truth as they are led by the Holy Spirit. Until that happens, we are in trouble.
#6.1 Anonymous on 2007-01-22 07:45
protect the Church (including the faithful)
Where to start?
Protect the beach (including the sand)? Protect the forest (including the trees)? Protect the Army (including the soldiers)?
#7 Symeon Jekel on 2007-01-22 09:30
Is there anyone or anyplace someone can contact discreetly to report possible relevent misconduct as concerns this scandal?
Yes. Please contact the Special Commission directly in care of Archbishop Job of Chicago.)
#8 Name withheld by request on 2007-01-22 14:58
$500,0000 in legal and accountig fees, quit a high price to pay for a legal opinion!!! The fact that PR refused to put anything in writing should be evidence enough the Herman and Kuynda got the report that they payed for! How is it that the people in charge of the church and at the center of this scandal are in charge of the investigation?? It outrageous!!! Now that Fr. Kondratick is gone who will Herman blame next???
#9 Thomas Langley on 2007-01-22 17:29
Please remember my friends that as I stated to you all months ago, Fr. Paul Kucynda stated to two senior priests, one then employed by the OCA, and one still employed, that PR was hired to "build a firewall around Met. Herman." THAT was the basis of their being hired. And THAT being the fact of the matter, there was only ONE person they had to be vilified. What a convenient truth!
You don't hire a law firm to investigate yourself. You hire a law firm to protect you. So none of us should be surprised that the PR law firm came to the conclusion they did. Remember it was based on 34 minutes of "exhaustive" questioning of Fr. Kondratick.
And as for the "so-called" special MC committee - the only question one needs to ask is this, "what enforcement powers do they have?" The answer is none. They can say whatever they want, and dictate whatever they want, but they have no enforcement powers, and thus, they are an impotent body. And anyone who thinks they can do more is only setting themselves up for more self-imposed despair.
And as to Mr. Wachter's assertions about Fr. Kondratick still being "employed" in the OCA, why not? If you take the one-sided self-serving guilty before he is tried and allegations being replayed and replayed and replayed as truth on this website, well all I can say is, I hope none of us is ever tried and convicted like Fr. Kondratick has been.
This website and this whole matter is slowing dying. It is dying because it simply must die because unless we can forgive one another it matters not who is "right" and who is "wrong." It matters whether we are doing our best, in fallen human terms, to bring others to Christ.
It's time to change the discourse and return to our parishes and dioceses and do the work we were all called to do, "seek first the Kingdom of God." Turn off the light Mark, you will be the last one out of the building.
#10 Name Still Witheld on 2007-01-22 19:21
Last time I checked, knowing the difference between right and wrong was fundamental to seeking the Kingdom of God.
Moreover, there is much still to illumine. Sadly, you have been trying to "turn out the lights" on this endeavor since it started, But your efforts, obfuscations, diversions, confusions, misrepresentations, and the like have been to no avail. Changes are indeed happening throughout the OCA as more and more people see the light.
In the end, though, it is not my little light you and your co-workers need fear, but the light of Christ that is beginning to shine in all the formerly dark places.
#10.1 Editor on 2007-01-23 13:23
This falsely pious "this website must die" appeal makes me sick to my stomach. How can anyone with a love of truth and light desire anything short of full resolution of these matters at this stage of this scandal? Only the guilty want this to go away now.
#10.2 Name withheld on 2007-01-23 16:59
"Guilty before he is tried"? I think not. Fr. Kondratick had control over funds that have not been accounted for. All he needs to do is say where the money went. That is his moral and legal responsibility. It is as simple as that.
Why isn't he speaking? He already filed a lawsuit against the Church -- and then withdrew it. That announced to the world that he was ready to present evidence -- and then he changed his mind. Why did he change his mind? Why isn't he talking?
#10.3 Robert Vasilios Wachter on 2007-01-23 17:10
He will reply soon. Herman will hear soon enough! Also, are you that crazy to believe Fr. Bob controlled everything? Herman was treasurer and metropolitan...
#10.3.1 Anonymous on 2007-01-24 09:44
We can hardly wait! Spill it all Fr. B. The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth--so help me......? Fat chance. It will be self serving claptrap! But we will take what we can get and distill from the foltsam and jetsam what we can.
On one point, and one point only, I am in complete agreement with you and the other, like you mostly anonymous, defenders of the poor, beleaquered Father. He should not be made the fall guy in this sordid affair. His enablers/co-conspirators should be held accountable as well. Take note, members of the Special Commission!
Ironically, it is on this question of accountability that the various nefarious factions have the most in common and explains their bitter hatred of each other. Hang together or be hanged seperately. When the Metropolitan deviated from this course of action, for reasons of his own not yet revealed, he brought down the wrath of the Kondratickites for breaking ranks in defense of unaccountable authority.
It reminds one of the doctrine of "mutual assured distruction"--MAD. If you tell, I'll tell. How else to explain everyone in the know, heretofore, remaining silent and Fr. B being sent into exile in Florida and not defrocked.
I welcome an alternative explanation that makes sense, but for now this is mine and I'm sticking with it.
#10.3.1.1 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2007-01-25 09:17
Since Met. Herman signed every check, let's ask him. Blaming one person is wrong. The group of hierarchy were in fault. After all, the accounts were checked of Fr. Bob., The next step is to look at others.
#10.3.2 jane on 2007-01-24 16:47
Do you have knowledge that Met. Herman signs every check? Has this been admitted/stipulated?
We sometimes think we know how things happen, but in this case, we're finding they didn't occur as we imagined. My guess is not only did Met. HERMAN not sign the checks, he did not sign/approve the disbursements.
Until we know who is listed as signers on the account, we have no ability to point fingers (at least not factually).
Mind you, I'm not disagreeing with your main point -- as the Metropolitan, he is responsible. But it may not be fair to accuse him of signing every check when that may not have occurred.
The interesting thing to me is this: should the IRS get involved, and I for one hope they do, if there are any taxes due, the IRS will be able to attach the assets and earnings of anyone who is/was a check signer during the time the taxes became due. They will be personally liable.
Sdn. John Martin
Martin D. Watt, CPA (Inactive)
#10.3.2.1 Marty Watt on 2007-01-26 09:35
The IRS is already involved.
#10.3.2.1.1 Name withheld on 2007-01-26 18:31
It is a FACT that the Metropolitan MUST sign every check!
#10.3.2.1.2 one of the few still in syosset..... on 2007-01-27 17:11
Often, more often than not, the "signing" of dual signature checks is a formality. It is common that the co-signers affix their signatures to a whole series of blank checks, which are then actually written (to whomever) and directed to the payee by the Treasurer, or whoever is functioning in that capacity. It is rare in the parish, and probably in Syosset, for all of the signees to sit down together to write out the checks. Cate
#10.3.2.1.2.1 Cate on 2007-01-29 19:35
may be officers of parishes who take their responsibilities so lightly that they Anyone with signature authority in an organization that signs a blank check should not be trusted with the funds of that organization. I can see no justification for ever signing a blank check, whether one signature or two are required.
I keep the books for my cooperative apartment association and our checks must be signed by two officers of the corporation. I prepare the checks and then present them to the officers along with the supporting documentation. They sign them and return them to me for processing and mailing. Nothing very complicated about this process and certainly nothing that could not be implemented in a parish. Blank checks are never signed.
Several years ago I served in various officer positions in another cooperative apartment corporation. The same process was used there. I am astonished to learn that there would sign a blank. But then, I guess that happened regularly in Syosset.
#10.3.2.1.2.1.1 Thomas Hamrick on 2007-02-02 09:29
As to why the Kondratick lawsuit was withdrawn, while I have absolutely no "inside knowledge," I would assume that Fr. Kondratick numbers among his friends and acquaintances people conversant enough with the Sacred Canons to warn him about Canon 14 of the Council of Carthage, which says that if a presbyter sues and wins, he gets to keep either the award from the court or his priesthood, but not both.
I ran smack into that one myself 11 years ago, when an uninsured 22-year-old crashed into me and totalled my car. (The concussion was no big deal: no brain, no problem.) The only way I could recover damages was to sue. But according to that Canon, to sue and, more particularly, to win, would've cost me my priesthood; and a 1986 K car, even getting great mileage, wasn't worth it. Neither is US$250,000.00, as a matter of fact.
What's interesting here is the ill-will being expressed. It couldn't possibly be that the Kondraticks had a change of heart, could it? It couldn't possibly be that Fr. Bob was simply protecting his priestly ministry, could it? It couldn't possibly be for any good or decent or even "enlightened self-interest" reason that the lawsuit was withdrawn, could it? It could only be for a reason dark, sinister, soul-chillingly evil.
How long will it take us all to grasp that the Lord means exactly and precisely what He says in John 7:24 when He commands us "judge not according to appearance, but judge with RIGHTEOUS judgment"? Unless and until we can see as clearly into each others' minds and hearts and souls as clearly as God does, we remain utterly unable to judge those minds and hearts and souls.
How long will it take us all to grasp that when, in 1 Cor.13:7, the Apostle teaches that love "believes all things," it means that love always gives others the benefit of the doubt as to their motives and intentions, even if the implementation was disastrous, and even if "they" are people we don't like?
We can and should judge ideas and actions (and their consequences) as good or bad, right or wrong; we have an obligation to discern between "the spirit of truth and the spirit of error" (1 John 4:1,6). But when we're judging another's motives and another's heart, we're doing the devil's work (Rev.12:10). And the consequences of that are terrifying indeed.
#10.3.3 Igumen Philip (Speranza) on 2007-01-25 09:39
For one terrifying moment I thought you had become a secular liberal prattling on about not being judgemental. While your last paragraph saved you from this charge, it does not save Fr. Kondratick from the rightful judgement of his actions or inactions as the case may be.
#10.3.3.1 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2007-01-25 19:14
The day I become "liberal" about anything other than the use of garlic will be three days after they've shoveled dirt in my face.
#10.3.3.1.1 Igumen Philip (Speranza) on 2007-01-26 10:28
#10.3.3.1.1.1 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2007-01-26 14:06
I dunno, as a liberal I value education and peace over war. It is a complex value set, wonder where I learned it?
Neither political party in this country is worth a hill of manure.
One prefers killing babies that might end up poor, the other pretends they don't prefer killing and kill all the time.
#10.3.3.1.1.1.1 Daniel E. Fall on 2007-01-31 23:15
By filing the lawsuit, Fr. Kondratick gave the signal that he was ready to speak and tell his side of the story. He later withdrew the lawsuit -- and you are right, nobody knows his motives. The problem is that when the lawsuit disappeared, so did his apparent willingness to speak.
If he withdrew the lawsuit so that he would not have to forfeit his priesthood, then why not just say so?
Is it appropriate to ask that question? Is it appropriate to question the motive for the sudden change?
Fr. Kondratick has a moral and legal duty to account for the missing funds. He has a duty to speak out and to give an explanation. And until he does, there is nothing wrong with pressing for an explanation why he is not speaking.
Frankly, I think that most people want to give Fr. Kondratick the benefit of the doubt. They want to give everyone involved the benefit of the doubt. But millions of dollars are missing and the people who had control of the money are not speaking. It is not wrong to press for answers, and to demand that people give an account.
#10.3.3.2 Robert Vasilios Wachter on 2007-01-26 21:09
Let us not forget the annuities offered by the OCA. How has the record-keeping been for these significant lump-sums that decent, well-meaning people entrusted to the OCA in exchange for a periodic income.
The reason I ask the above question? Try a thought experiment for a quick second: if there was a mutual fund or an insurance company where executives were accused of vast receipts and expenditures that were not reported in their annual reports or filings like unto an SEC form 10-K, would there not be concern about annuities run by such organizations? This would be the case even though such annuities often have structures that separate these funds from the general funds of an investment-related firm.
In the case of the OCA, were these lump-sums commingled with the general funds of the church, or are there separate accounts that maintain the integrity of (at least) the principal?
I recognize that for-profit business is often an inappropriate model for the Church, founded as it is on agape and self-emptying; however, I find the checks on the financial affairs of for-profit businessses are often stricter than those found in the not-for-profit world. Thus, for the limited purpose of thinking about best annuity practice, looking to the financial-services sector is not wrong.
#11 Edmund Unneland on 2007-01-23 08:13
Dear Edmund: If my memory serves me correctly, it was previously reported on this website that the paperwork for a number of bequests (which would include annuities) had gone missing. However, I think you could be fairly certain that if an annuity payment was missed, the annuitant would call to ask why.
#11.1 Michael Strelka, CPA on 2007-01-25 16:27
You are probably right --- but I think it is a very serious thing to infect with any kind of mismanagement the "corpus" (if you will, not the exact term) of an annuity that is meant to provide another with a margin of comfort in retirement.
People were inveigled into giving over these lump-sums in The Orthodox Church, in advertisements that made use of people's loyalty and devotion. Remember, these monies represented the fruits of another's labor --- people of old in the OCA tended to have really difficult jobs (e.g., coal mining, steel mills), and this is how you treat money earned in such ways?
Perhaps I'm making too much of this (I sometimes fix on some actually insignificant part of a problem and can't get it out of my head, no matter how hard I bang the side of my skull ).
#11.1.1 Ed Unneland on 2007-01-28 18:09
In response to both Mark's last couple posts and the comments about turning off the website.
Two polar ends of a useless tunnel, if I may. One glint of light is Mark's incessant pounding of administrative malfeasance and mismanagement. The other is someone trying to throw a blanket over all of it; nice try, go home, this is the place where the passion for the Gospel truth in financial matters began.
For the past week or two, I've been a little tired of the website's incessant pounding of past misdeeds that occurred before Dn. Wheeler shown some light on the darkness of OCA mismanagement. I drafted a couple emails, but never submitted them, at least I think not.
Here is a promise I will now make. If Mark Stokoe shuts the lights out, I will turn another one on... Mine will be different. The light I will shed on the OCA will strictly be reserved to evaluating performance after Dn. Wheeler turned on the spotlights on very, very, very poor behavior at our national church. A few points of history prior to the Dn. Wheeler lightshow will remain on my roster.
Here are the questions that I still have an an objective scorecard for you that think the lights must go out.
1. NO affirmation from the administration as how much money will be given to the sacked charities. Objectively, this is something that must, but hasn't happened. I think they said they can't, but that isn't an answer. What's worse is there is no ACTION PLAN that I know of reported by the administration. On Fr. Paul's side for a moment, he did a fine job of reporting the status of the Charity Appeal. However, it would be my expectation the OCA report the status of these Appeals wrt the collections and disbursements publicly at a reasonable point in time that allows for accounting reporting time.
2. NO successful audit. The 2005 audit flat failed. It didn't even get a qualified opinion, let alone an unqualified one. For that matter, it didn't get an adverse opinion even, that is unless you consider nothing an adverse opinion. In some circles, no opinion is worthy of firing all responsible. Something is far worse than the 2005 audit failure. The administration has failed to preempt the likelihood, in fact, perverse likelihood, that the 2006 audit has no chance of success. I'd enjoy being wrong here.
3. Failed promise to report 3rd quarter compilation and failure to report any full set of financial statements publicly. For an organization that has performed as poorly for 15 years or so, this must happen to regain the public trust. I made a small contribution to the OCA last year, but the future trust must be earned in full.
4. On the positives, the administration is now searching for competant employees in financial positions and not requiring those positions for clergy, along with that they have produced an org chart. This is a big positive. How unfair to put a priest in the financial office. First, it isn't his calling. Second, what a conflict of interest.
5. More positives, the expensive law firm, has affirmed, that one person was solely responsible for financial misdeeds, if you will. The thing they didn't say is blatantly clear. Not one single person since 1999 on the MC has gone back to their Bishop and has that Bishop in turned addressed the issues of sacking temporarily restricted funds for operating costs. A couple of our Bishops, Herman and Job have accepted responsibility for their respective failures in the matter. And yes, I consider all of this at this point positive. It is only positive in disclosure, which was forced by this website. No firewall is protecting MH from the reality of truth.
6. Another positive, the OCA released a public budget in 2006. On the negative side, the 2005 budget was, shall we say, slightly filled with hogwash on one line in particular. The 2006 budget, has salary and excess positions cut, reduction of the floating point in the 2005 budget, and even better, the 2006 budget was produced in a timely fashion. Overall, the 2006 budget reporting and effort is the first, best thing the OCA has ever done financially in 15 years.
So, you think the lights can be turned off? In my humble, but outspoken opinion, the lights can be turned off when Herman ends his tenure, after having fixed the mess that happened under his watch. When audits are happening, and when the Gospel is followed.
What does the Gospel tell us about the way Deacon Wheeler was treated by the administration? What does it suggest be done, now knowing what we all know?
Objectively, I think Mark has done more pot stirring than necessary in the past month, but let's be realistic, I've pointed out some objective questions here that need answers. The lights can't be turned off until the OCA is respectable.
#12 Daniel E. Fall on 2007-01-23 22:58
"Respectable" doesn't cut it. How about "Godly" or holy? Of course the human components will always fall short of this ideal, but this must be the goal and the institution, in this case the OCA, must reflect it. What we have now is an almost complete lack of "holiness" at least in much of our leadership structure, and the health of our church, regrettably, shows it.
This is why all the accounting controls in the world, however desirable, won't really fix the underlying problem. The light of truth must truly illumine all. Keep on shining and stirring Mark!
#12.1 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2007-01-25 07:36
I would just like to offer my "amen" to Kenneth Tobin and to Alice Carter, who so beautifully articulate the true nature of the challenges facing the OCA. Also, to express my great appreciation for Mark's continued devotion to our Faith and our Church reflected in his efforts to keep us informed through this website. May our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ protect and guide Mark, and all those like Kennith and Alice who sincerely strive to heal the wounds of the OCA.
#12.1.1 Marc Trolinger on 2007-01-25 15:54
many thanks to Alice for a well written reflection........."It is an abomination to kings to commit wickedness; for the throne is established by righteousness.........Righteous lips are the delight of kings; and they love him that speakest right..........The wrath of the king is as messengers of death; but a wise man will pacify it........In the light of the king's countenance is life; and his favor is as a cloud of the latter rain......How much better it is to get wisdom than gold! and to get understanding rather to be chosen than silver!........The highway of the upright is to depart from evil; he that keepeth his way preserveth his soul......Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall......(Proverbs, chapter 16)
#220.127.116.11 luke on 2007-01-25 22:29
Thank you very much for your reflection. Your words and thoughts are right on. I hope the administration has "ears to hear."
#13 Patty Schellbach on 2007-01-25 19:26
They Still Don't Get It!
On Dec 17, 2006 Metropolitan Herman in announcing the DOW assembly to elect a new bishop stated:
"Every parish is to be represented by a single clergy delegate and a lay delegate..."
Unfortunately for His Beaitude this is in direct violation of the Statutes of the OCA. Our Statutes clearly state that parishes are to be represented by each of its clergy and a corresponding number of lay delegates. By the Metropolitan's accounting certain members of the DOW were to be denied the right to vote. Can you imagine if the President of the US were to make such a decision about the American electorate? There would be such an outrage across this land. We heard nearly a peep from the DOW about this. Are they so far removed from the seat of power or have they grown accustomed to accepting whatever?
Apparently a few peeps were heard because coming in for "damage control" was Bishop Benjamin in his capacity as administrator of the diocese. Bishop Benjamin stated:
"There has been some confusion about who may attend and who may vote at the upcoming assembly..."
"Confusion?" The Metropolitan made it quite clear by his choice of the word "single." What's "confusing" about this?
Bishop Benjamin continued:
"The confusion arose from the fact that the by-laws of the various dioceses vary and His Beatitude was not aquainted with ours..."
This is a smoke screen! Diocesan By-laws have nothing to do with it. In this case the DOW By-laws just reiterate what the OCA Statutes say. It could be no other way. All the Metropolitan has to know is the Statutes of the OCA not individual diocesan By-laws. It's like saying the President of the US has to know the constitutions of the 50 states. It's all smoke and mirrors to cover the proverbial "butt."
No, what this is all about, is what all of this has been about for quite a few years now. Subordinates do not want to ruffle feathers of their superiors. No wonder Bishop Benjamin, on the eve of his apparent shoe-in as DOW bishop "covers" for the
Metropolitan. This is what others have been doing all during this scandal. Additionally it seems that everybody has "got something" on somebody else. This is what keeps certain people in power and/or free of suspensions or worse The charade of the "old boys network" goes on and on and on...like the Energizer bunny. But even Energizer batteries burn out and the bunny falls in place.
God willing we will start replcing our "batteries" with Gracefilled individuals who are "in it" for the right reasons.
A Senior Priest of the OCA
Please do not use my name. Thank you and God bless your important work for our Church
#14 A Senior Priest on 2007-01-26 09:12
Short version: too many crimes, too little, too late to do anything about it but resignations would be a fine start.
I wonder if anyone has discussed the federal RICO statute (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act)? The pattern reflected in the allegations -- which at this point we now have no reason to believe are untrue -- is racketeering pure and simple.
There is only one principle anyhone needs to know to understand almost everything that has gone on and continues to go on:
"Nobody talks, everybody walks."
Think about it. If even part of the allegations are true, and the logical inferences from those allegations turned out to be valid, the worst federal prosecutor in the world would have no trouble drafting an indictment and securing convictions. The fact that it has not happened yet probably reflects: (a) the patience of federal investigators; and (b) the lack of poltical will to gut a church with "200,000 members" (U.S. Attorneys like to issue news releases that Cletus the Meth Cooker and 27 codefendants just got sentenced to a bazillion years in the federal penitentiary. "Department of Justice Destroys Church" isn't as appealing.)
This is not -- in terms of understanding what's going on -- a church matter, a public relations matter, a personal matter, or a spiritual matter. This is, in my opinion, a routine criminal matter and can best be understood as such. It CANNOT be resolved, because the most likely resolution would see people going to prison, and no one really wants that happen. There is every motivation to drag it out, because, as I like to tell my clients, every day you haven't been put in prison is a good day. Besides, hope is a virute. Maybe people will just get tired of it. (Is there really any doubt this was Plan A?)
When you see something in this case that makes you scratch your head, ask yourself this: does it make sense in light of "Nobody talks, everybody walks?" Does it look like a desire to avoid criminal prosecution is the most logical explanation for something? I respectfully and sadly invite someone to provide a better explanation.
In the meantime, folks, its just white collar crime, amateurish as white collar crime so often is, as most crime is, come to think of it. No one set out, I'm sure, to steal from the church at the beginning. There was a lot of money around, no one was watching the till, and I bet it was just a little here and there at first. There were a million rationalizations as the amounts stolen grew over time. (I bet those rationalizations are clung to more even tightly than ever.)
But one day some people felt sick to their stomach when they realized it was all likely to all come out into the open. A hundred times a day the fear gnaws at their gut when they became undistracted for a moment. I think there is room to feel sorry for good men who yeilded to temptation, first to steal, then to cover up, and finally to hang on to their positions for dear life.
So surely we can forgive, and can forgive even the human weakness that prevents the guilty from asking for our forvigeness. But we should not be expected to ignore the crimes, or be happy that people who have done a craptacular job running things want to stay in power.
Just go. For health reasons. For the good of the church. To end "our long national nightmare." Whatever. Because reform has zero credibility without a new regime to implement it. Because we ARE tired of this, but not in the way you hoped for. Because the flock is wandering around in the desert unprotected as the shepherds are too busy talking to their lawyers, and these days the shredder gets fed more regularly than the sheep. It is getting dark and cold and the wolves are starting to howl. And it looks like no one cares.
#15 J.D. on 2007-01-27 11:26
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