Friday, January 26. 2007
What would you like to ask the Metropolitan if you could attend the Q&A in Washington the weekend after next?
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I would ask Metropolitan Herman why he thinks that the OCA will not heal more effectively under the leadership of a new Metropolitan who is not handicapped by this scandal in the way that he is.
#1 Marc Trolinger on 2007-01-26 09:10
I would ask him to describe the ecclesiology of the OCA, and the roles/duties/responsibilities of the Metropolitan, and also those of a Diocesean Bishop. Scriptural references would be helpful ...
Sdn. John Martin
Martin D. Watt, CPA (Inactive)
#2 Marty Watt on 2007-01-26 09:41
Here's a few questions...
Why hasn't he led the church in filing criminal/civil charges to recover STOLEN funds?
How many other loans has he gotten from Honsdale bank?
Why hasn't an audit of ALL OCA institutions been demanded?
Why isn't he living in Syosset (or his own diocese like the statute requires)?
What was P-R REALLY hired to investigate?
What's the timetable for FBI action?
What's the status of Alaskan lands and 9/11 funds?
How can he sleep at night?
(I would fly to Maryland to hear his responses if I thought it was worth it. But I think I'll stay home.)
#3 Anxious for Answers on 2007-01-26 11:18
(1) Are Dn. Wheeler's allegations TRUE or are they FALSE?
(2) How many of his allegations are true or false?
(3) When will an Official and Written document of the PR investigation be released?
(4) Will any of the Questions and Issues raised by Fr. Thomas Hopko in his March 2006 letter to the Metropolitan and the Holy Synod ever be addressed? (http://www.ocanews.org/news/Hopko8.17.06.html)
(5) What has the Metropolitan done about and going to do about the following Critical issues raised by Fr. Hopko which continue to haunt and damage the OCA :
(a) the reluctance and often outright refusal of some bishops to speak face to face with their priests and people about church doctrine, liturgical practices and parochial, pastoral and personal problems
(b) the failure of our bishops to meet together, and the priests to meet with each other, for the purpose of giving an account of their ministry, receiving and answering questions, and fostering unity of teaching and practice
(c) the impossibility to get a serious discussion on practically any church issue among the church's bishops and priests, and between the clergy and lay people
(d) the ordination of men to the clergy and the appointment of people to church positions lacking the ability needed to conduct their ministries fruitfully
(e) the absence of a system of formal performance assessment, continuing education and 'on the job training' of our clergy and church workers
(f) the virtual reduction of church life among many clergy to liturgical services and ritual practices,
with uncritical imitations of old world practices and subjective alterations of our received rites and texts
(g) the virtual reduction of supra-parochial church life to liturgical services, ecclesiastical celebrations and social events
(h) our church's failure to attract American born Orthodox young people to our seminaries and monasteries (for if we did not have the converts, those born abroad, and the clergy children that we do in our seminaries and monasteries, we would have almost no seminarians and monastics at all!)
The post of Chris Banescu comes to the very 'nitty- gritty' of this horendous situation within the church. It should be read in conjunction with the Reflection by Alice Carter as she has got to the heart of what caused this problem in the first place!
If Almighty God,Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit are not "paramount" in our lives as laity,clergy and episcopsy then how can we hope to avoid the type of problem which has been caused by the shenanighans at Syosset!
I would ask the Metropolitan to take an hour of his time and reflect,seriously reflect,upon the post of Chris Banescu(and the letter of Fr. Tom Hopko) as well as the Reflection of Alice Carter. He should then humbly ask Almighty God to help him to make a concerted efforrt to deal with the problem in the light of the two articles he has reflected upon! I am probably being naive in making this point but who knows if the Holy Spirit might just convict the conscience of the Metropolitan to go this way!
Fr. Ian, Port Charlotte,FL
#4.1 V.Rev. Ian P. Hammett,retired,Port Charlotte,FL on 2007-01-27 13:06
The problem with Protopresbyter Thomas Hopko's observations, reiterated by but not originating from Mr. Banescu, is that the problems he decries are not completely the fault of the bishops or the clergy: many of them originate in a lethargic laity ill-informed of Orthodox Christianity and not much interested in living out the Church's spirituality. The question of attracting young people to seminaries and monastic communities is a case in point. How many generations of immigrant or second-generation American Orthodox parents and grandparents told their young becoming a clergyman or monastic was a waste of life, intelligence and talent better channeled into becoming a "successful" doctor, lawyer or businessman and getting on with the business of "making grandchildren"? Are our parishes bursting at the seams with enthusiastic laity zealous for worship at Vespers and Matins? Are our laity's lives centered around prayer, fasting and almsgiving over all else? Bishops, clergy and monastics are only as good as the soil they spring from, and that soil is the laity, which is in pretty weak shape here in secularist, success-driven America today.
To put it more succinctly: Have you told your kid becoming a saint is the most important thing in life today? Will you let them off easy when it comes to prayer, fasting and almsgiving? Let them skip Vespers and Matins for soccer or ballet? If yes, don't complain about bishops and clergy; just say "God, be merciful to me, a lazy sinner" and move on. There's little evidence the bulk of our laity are knowledgable, disciplined and spiritually robust enough to be the end-and-be-all of the Church or provide all the answers to her problems.
#4.2 Gregory Orloff on 2007-02-01 14:41
I would ask...
Metropolitan Herman...what do you think your approval rating is with the laypeople of the OCA in your handling of this scandal?
Do you think a new Metropolitan would restore respect to the office to which you have been elected, should it become necessary that you resign?
#5 Anon. on 2007-01-26 15:22
+Herman to -Herman
How about asking the Metropolitan to step down. In general, what are the methods or procedures that can be used to force a Metropolitan to step down, or do the OCA Metropolitans enjoy a kind of a papal infallibility?
Why am I being so bitter? Well, I am just fed up with lies and scapegoating. A lot of money has been stolen, a lot of lies have been told, and most of all, the trust of the faithful has been lost ( at least mine was). I simply do not have any confidence in the ability of Metropolitan Herman to lead the Church as a spiritual Father/Leader/Pastor/Bishop. I feel that he was also responsible for what happened, if not explicitly then tacitly by ignoring what was happening. So at best it was ignorance and that is enough for me to call for his resignation.
It seems that a lot of good steps have been taken to recover from this "illness" and I think one final step should be taken and that is to have a new Metropolitan. Perhaps Bishop Job would accept the new position...?
#6 Alex K. on 2007-01-26 17:13
You have lost the TRUST and RESPECT of your flock. How do you propose regaining it?
#7 anon on 2007-01-26 18:30
Why lay the question (or the blame?) over the failure to attract young American-born Orthodox Christians to seminaries and monasteries at the feet of Metropolitan Herman, or any bishop for that matter? Why not address that question to generations of parents and grandparents who, out of a desire to "fit in" or live up to "the American dream," told their children becoming a cleric or a monastic was a waste of life, intelligence and talent, thought attending Vespers, Matins and feast day services was "going overboard," and didn't make the Gospel ethos of prayer, fasting and almsgiving priorities in their and their children's lives? Let's not lay all the blame at the feet of our bishops and presbyters: a lethargic laity ill-acquainted with Orthodox Tradition in America has much to do with our spiritual impoverishment here nowadays.
#8 Gregory Orloff on 2007-01-26 23:22
I would ask the Metropolitan the following questions:
1 Why he does not believe that ALL THE ALLEGATIONS ARE TRUE and NONE IS FALSE?
2 How many checks did he sign while in the position of the OCA treasurer and money were not distributed?
3 Removed by Editor
4 Removed by Editor
5 Why he did not act in calling the federal agencies to arrest the OCA perpetrators?
6 Why he is not resigning or retiring?
7 Why the Moscow video are not revealed?
8 How much money from ADM was diverted into the pockets of OCA bishops, chancellor, etc?
9 Why he is not respecting the OCA Statute?
10 Why he doesn't know and respect the Biblical and Canonical provisions regarding the charity money collected for the orphans, church justice, church hierarchy conduct, abuse of power, abuse of people?
11 Why Fr Kondratick is not suspended from priestly functions and investigated as part of these TRUE ALLEGATIONS?
12 Why he did arrange the transfer of Fr Kondratick to the Diocese of South?
13 (Removed by Editor)
14 Why the OCA Holy Synod of Bishops does not take action against Fr Kondratick conduct?
15 Why did Bishop Dmitri accept Fr Kondratick?
16 Are there any moral issue covered up by the OCA hierarchs regarding the OCA clergy conduct?
17 How much money does the Metropolitan have in his checking and saving accounts?
18 Why he is covering up and refusing to tell the truth with his whole mouth?
19 Why he does not bring to the OCA Ecclesiastical court Fr Kondratick?
20 Removed by Editor
21 Removed by Editor
22 Why are the Best Practices are not respected by the OCA Metropolitan?
23 How soon the OCA crisis will be over?
24 Who will be the next OCA Metropolitan?
25 Why he does not want to have a $ 100. 00 salary per day, and give the rest to the OCA Charity?
26 How many OCA bishops must retire or resign because of their IN ACTION versus the current financial, moral, ethical crisis?
Deacon Jacob, 1, 27, 2007
#9 deacon jacob on 2007-01-27 01:47
can we assume that the editorial deletions are because of references to particular individuals or can you articulate the criteria applied?
(Editor's note: See answer below. )
#9.1 Rebecca Matovic on 2007-01-27 17:27
Dear Fr. Deacon,
Unless I misread them, your questions 11, 14, and 19 seem to indicate a lack of familiarity with the prescriptions of the Sacred Canons and Article XI of The Statute of the Orthodox Church in America. I commend them to you for your instruction and edification. Over the past 20 centuries the Church as a whole has arrived...sometimes by extremely painful experience...at an approach to disciplinary action which, when followed, provides for the exercise of both the virtue of justice and the virtue of charity, while allowing also for the exercise of mercy and forgiveness. In short, it ain't broke; so don't fix it.
Further, it is not wise to ask or expect the Metropolitan or anyone else to overthrow the prescribed order in the case of someone against whom (whether rightly or wrongly) one bears a certain animus, then expect the same authorities to respect the law in one's own case or the case of someone one likes. Uniformity of application is one of the necessary elements in the exercise of true justice.
I am, BTW, more than a little curious as to whether or not anybody has made the effort to follow exactly and precisely the path laid down by the Lord in Matthew 18:15-17, and in the spirit and attitude enjoined by the Apostle in Gal.6:1. Who has approached a seemingly-erring brother or sister privately, pleading with grieving love and honest tears for the erring one's return? Indeed, who has asked any of those openly or covertly accused of wrong-doing to tell his/her/their side---not to lawyers and/or not to those outside the household of faith---but to their Bishop as their Father in God, or to the Holy Synod? I don't know the answers to those two questions; but for my own comfort and reassurance, I sure would like to know.
#9.2 Igumen Philip (Speranza) on 2007-01-28 14:57
Regarding consulting one's Bishop as their father in faith: as I remember it, Protodeacon Eric Wheeler did just that. (Probably not a precise answer to the actual question.)
#9.2.1 Ed Unneland on 2007-01-29 16:32
Oh, Please! What MORE is there to ask? Do we sincerely believe any new, significant revelations will take place at this Q&"A" Session? The Metropolitan has been and is perfectly aware of all the revelant questions regarding the alleged scandal. He is capable of truthfully answering them at any time and place. (This is in no way saying that he is soley responsible for divulging the truth of the allegations!) It appears that the Q&A Session is yet another "tool" for buying more time.
Consequently, the tentative Q&A Session should be cancelled. This would save time (and, of course, money) for all those planning to attend. (But, of course, there's a part of me that's hoping the Metropolitan will maybe, just maybe, prove me wrong.)
#10 Name Withheld on 2007-01-27 11:35
Alas, many if not most of the above posts illustrate clearly that this matter is not being handled in a a truly Christian matter and that the problem lies not only with whatever failings exist in the hierarchy of the OCA, but with the laity as well. These posts are filled with sarcasm, innuendo, judgmentalism, accusation and just plain rudeness. They illustrate a mindset that will accept nothing less than someone's head on a platter and preferably the more 'platters', the better.
Furthermore, they clearly reveal the disrespectful - never mind unloving - attitude of those who posted them as they circle like sharks in the sea or vultures in the sky awaiting their turn to feast upon the carcass of their chosen victim whomever that may be. Frankly, it is disgusting and, to me, constitutes a far greater crime and sin than the mere misappropriation of money since it strikes at our fellow men (and supposedly our brethren in Christ) rather than whatevere wrongdoing may have occurred. In other words, contrary to St. Paul, we are attacking 'the sinner' before we even know the full extent of or motivation for 'the sin'.
Fairly recently, several Amish schoolgirls were murdered by a man who had even worse intentions towards these innocent children. But the Amish, in the practice of Christianity as that Community understands the Faith, extended to the unrepentant murderer, their forgiveness. Imagine that! This foul creature murdered their daughters - and desired to perform even more disgusting and despicable acts upon their young bodies but could not because of the circumstances of the crime - but these good people (and the word 'good' is appropriate here) extended to this beast forgiveness WITHOUT BEING ASKED TO DO SO BY THE CRIMINAL! This is a true example of Christian forgiveness. It didn't depend upon the man 'admitting' his guilt or being 'repentent' for his crime - and this was a true 'crime'. These Christians didn't wait to be begged or cajoled into forgiveness nor did they demand certain actions on the part of the man who had decimated their lives by killing their children. THEY FORGAVE WITHOUT EXCEPTION OR DEMANDS.
Perhaps some of those posting on this site might consider their own behavior in light of the Christian witness exhibited by the Amish. Frankly, I myself am ashamed for my own hard-heartedness and failure of Christian charity within the circumstances of my own life. And while it is true that Orthodoxy is the true repository of the Christian Faith, it would seem that better Christians are to be found elsewhere - if the present attitude exhibited here is any indication.
#11 Valerie Protopapas on 2007-01-27 11:51
I just love this blame the laity game! No doubt you can find some who deserve to be blamed--just look in the mirror--but for the most part this is just a wretched attempt to divert attention from those who should be held accountable.
You also need some instruction in what constitutes true forgiveness--not cheap forgiveness. Forgiving someone is not a blank check for wrong doing or a pass on accountability for ones actions. Get in a time machine and go back and buy an indulgence from Rome if you want this kind of forgiveness!
#11.1 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2007-01-28 13:38
I 'blame' no one. However, you cannot possibly read the posts in this and other threads - including those deleted by the Editor in recognition of their nature - without seeing a total lack of Christian charity. At 65, I am content to pray to God for His will - not mine or yours - to be done.
On the other hand, that doesn't mean that efforts should not be made to determine the truth and if wrongdoing has taken place, to find and bring to justice those who committed it. That goes without saying. However, as of yet, no one has been accused of any crime (never mind arraigned before the bar of justice) and therefore, calling names, pointing fingers and generally raising havoc does nothing but create more chaos and devision which, in turn, makes it even more difficult to discover the truth. If you can't see that such is the case, then I pity you.
It seems to me from all that I have read, that there are a great many people rejoicing in this scandal while claiming to be 'shocked' and 'horrified' though I doubt that these same people had much interest in the long years in which the Church failed to witness to the growing 'culture of death' in our society. Over 40 million children and countless women have died in the moral and spiritual crisis of abortion, but aside from our present Metropolitan and a few good clergy and laity, the silence from the Orthodox world has been deafening. But, after all, this matter involves MONEY and what is more important than that, I ask!
Sorry. Whatever behavior has happened here whether it is illegal or just stupid, the reaction by far too many 'Orthodox' has NOT been Christian, but rather, it has been that of judgmental and self-righteous people who delight in calling for 'heads to roll' like the crowds surrounding the guillotine during the French Revolution.
Yesterday was the Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee in which Our Lord makes plain that the self-righteous are never 'justified' no matter how 'Orthodox' - while even those who have stolen money (like the tax collector) upon asking for Divine forgiveness - *not*, I may add, the forgiveness of the Pharisee and his friends - will find it. Make of that what you will.
#11.1.1 Anonymous on 2007-01-29 07:09
Ah, but you have just "judged" the motivations of those posting to this site without the slightest evidence to support your charge! To the extent that there are uncharitable comments (mine included) being made, it reflects more anger and frustration with what is happening and has happened than it does "rejoicing" over this horrific scandal.
Despite any acerbic comments that I have directed at you, may the peace of the Lord be always with you.
#126.96.36.199 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2007-01-29 08:56
An interesting comparison. However, it should be pointed out that there is a vast difference involved, here. In the case of the Amish people, the perpetrator had already been arrested, the facts were in the open.
That is definitely a different situation. In our case, no one has been arrested, yet, and the Metropolitan, by his silence, has acted in a way that has only caused anxieties and frustrations to spiral to the point where no one can have their trust in the administration restored short of en masse resignations.
Forgiveness is one thing. Restoration of trust is an entirely different matter. Sure, the Amish were able to forgive, but would they then send their other children to be in the care of the perpetrator? Highly doubtful. And if they did, I would call that foolish, at best.
#11.2 Name withheld on 2007-01-28 14:51
Are you suggesting that the arrest of the criminal has brought 'closure' and made it possible for the Amish to forgive? I cannot believe that! To begin with, even if the criminal were publicly executed, that would not bring 'closure' or in any way relieve the grief of those involved.
Secondly, our system of 'justice' frequently turns back on the streets criminals who have sexually assaulted women and children only to have them rape and murder again. The statistics on recidivism and the increased violence of crimes commited by 'paroled' and 'released' sexual predators is amazing - but our 'justice system' continues to release them back upon an unsuspecting populace to cause more grief to their victims and their families. So the Amish can take no comfort in knowing that this monster has been 'caught'. It may well be that even if he is not released, he may spend the rest of his life being cared for by their (and our) tax dollars, watching TV, 'working out' and having comforts that he might not have had if he were at liberty.
But be that as it may, to suggest that the Amish spirit of forgiveness was in any way predicated upon the man being in custody is, frankly, astonishing and, for me, unbelievable. It appears to be an effort to diminish their Christian witness in an effort to bolster the *un*Christian attitude that seems prevelant in the current scandal as evidenced on this site. Perhaps the poster did not intend to do any such thing, but that is the inevitable conclusion that one must reach.
Of course, it is possible that in these latter days, even those who make the attempt to be 'good' Christians simply cannot comprehend such a 'pure' expression of Christian charity. The current scandal obviously presupposes a certain diminished understanding of our individual duties as Christians on both sides of the issue.
#11.2.1 Anonymous on 2007-01-29 09:15
Your comments are of the type that are always appropriate, in my opinion: to challenge people to review their actions in light of the faith. Today is the Sunday of the Pharisee and the Publican, and probably as good a moment as any for such a reflection.
I would, however, respectfully invite you to consider this:
Can you forgive people and yet still hold them accountable for their actions? Can you forgive people and pray for them and yet sorrowfully ask that they stop hurting people? If they have stolen, can you forgive them and yet urge them to return what they took? If you saw a person attempting to demolish your parish temple with a sledgehammer, would it be right to stop them, unafraid that you might "judge" them in the process?
I respectfully submit the answer to each of the above questions is "yes."
We all have a "tipping point" for making rational assessments of suspicious circumstances. I can only say that I have reached mine when it comes to this question: "Was there a pattern of criminal misconduct that was permitted to go on for far too long to the detriment of the church?"
When the ship runs aground, the Navy is going to ask the captain some pretty uncomfortable questions. When the sheep get unlawfully fleeced, the shepherd is going to get some hard questions. Some people might phrase them gently; others may be moved by the plight of the sheep and be harsher.
I see a distinction between forgiveness -- which I agree we should find within ourselves whether or not a person asks us for it -- and accountability. Unless we take the position that it is NEVER right for lay persons to question the providence of church leaders, I'd say that a scandal of this magnitude justifies questions, even hard ones.
So, I think we should say: "Brother, I forgive you, but you still have to put down the sledgehammer and move away from the iconostasis."
If there is a real doubt that many hundreds of thousands of dollars were stolen from the church, let someone say so.
If there is someone who believes all of the misconduct really was the work of one criminal mastermind who was such a genius no one had any way of knowing, let that person come forward and make his case. (Proskauer-Rose, I'm looking at YOU. And, by the way, on a personal note, do y'all feel extra proud about those billables? Just wondering, one shark to another.)
I'm willing to give a hearing to anyone willing to step up and say "I think $250,000 (or whatever it is now -- a hundred thousand here and a hundred thousand there and pretty soon you're talking real money) to the PR Law Firm was an excellent use of church resources and they really gave us our money's worth."
Finally, if anyone wants to argue that those in charge knew about the misconduct, and were this close to starting their own effective investigation before certain troublemakers forced their hand, I'd even listen respecfully to that story.
Knowing my own limitations, I sincerely suspect you are a better person than I am, and I mean no disrespect to you. And I am also sincere that it is good to raise the issue you did, because it did make me stop and think. But, having stopped and thought, I am still unwilling to abandon accountantability in favor of what I believe is a mistaken "either-or" view of the forgiveness-accountability coin.
If we lay persons are not responsible for our own contribution toward the welfare of Christ's church, then I ask for my assessments and other donations to be kindly refunded, since they were provided by mistake. If the church is interested only in my money, and not my common sense, my experience of the world and my wise-as-a-serpent concern that the church's money not be stolen, then someone should come right out and say so. But until someone tells me otherwise, the church will get not only my cash, but my counsel, and, on occasion, some very, very hard questions.
#11.3 J.D. on 2007-01-28 16:43
I heard a homily a few years back and a light came on. The priest was dispelling a few "myths about forgiveness." One of the myths, as Valerie points out, is that forgiveness somehow depends on the repentence of the sinner. I remember the priest pointing out that when Jesus told St. Peter to forgive seventy times seven, that means we need to forgive even when the sinner doesn't "get it" and has no intention of changing.
However, the priest also wisely pointed out another two other myths about forgiveness that put things into context.
One is that forgiveness is the same as trust. In fact they are very different. Forgiveness must be freely given and cannot be earned. Trust, on the other hand, has to be earned. If someone sins and the sin destroys trust, that breaks the relationship. Forgiveness does not automatically restore trust. Trust can only come with true repentence, and is very dependent on the actions and attitude of the one who sinned.
The third myth was that forgiveness is the same as reconciliation. Again, they are very different. Forgiveness is a necessary part of reconciliation, but it is only the start. Reconciliation requires an understanding of how things are supposed to work in the relationship, and an agreement on both sides to honor that understanding going forward. The most obvious example of the difference between forgiveness and reconciliation is that you can forgive someone who wronged you and had died -- but you cannot be reconciled to that person, at least not on this side of the grave.
After I heard that homily, a lot of things in the Gospel made a lot more sense to me.
While Valerie may be right that people need to freely forgive, the problem runs deeper than that. Trust has been lost. We need to forgive, but forgiveness alone is not going to restore the trust that has been destroyed.
#11.4 Robert Vasilios Wachter on 2007-01-28 18:07
Trust will be restored in the same way as the Fathers of the Church validated their Councils - by the passage of time. If a Council stood the passage of time without being proved invalid, it simply continued to be accepted. If, however, the Church with the guidance of the Holy Spirit realized that the Council was in error, it was discarded. This proven method of determining the existence of the truth has spared the Orthodox Church the many heresies that afflict the Church in the West and later, the Protestant breakaway.
The West demanded that every doctrine be described and circumscribed whereas the East understood that as we cannot describe and circumscribe - or understand - *God*, we have to be willing to patiently bear the passage of time as we await the final determination of the validity of a Council or the unraveling of a scandal within the Church. To attempt to hurry such things usually results in error upon error and, in the end, the matter is not resolved to anyone's satisfaction.
Trust is a wonderful thing. We (hopefully) 'trust' God. However, our fellow man is as fallen as we and therefore trust must be accompanied by vigilance and wisdom - as well as love. For while it is true that Jesus commanded us to be 'gentle as doves', He also demanded that we be as 'wise as serpents'. Unlimited trust that lacks both discernment and wise and respectful oversight by those in positions of authority - together with a considerable amount of disinterest and apathy by the rest of us - is what led to this problem in the first place.
#11.4.1 Anonymous on 2007-01-29 18:25
Very good point Valerie. In essence what your saying is that if the alleged guilty parties would have disclosed the truth in a timely manner then the Devil could not have sown the seeds of discord in the laity (and clergy). In the Amish episode, as with the adultress in John 8, the details of the crime (sin) were revealed (ironically, in timely fashion) prior to the acts of forgiveness. There was closure. At this time, we only have a snippet of the whole truth to forgive. Sad to say, the Devil will only continue to nourish the tares (negative attitudes and emotions) until the time that the whole truth is known.
#11.5 Name Withheld on 2007-01-29 00:38
They did forgive, but they would not invite the murderer to be the teacher to their children. They forgive because they recognize the man as having done evil. They also extended human compassion to the family of the murderer. Many in the OCA are willing to forgive, but not to let the perpetrators teach our children. Many would be willing to extend compassion to the families of the perpetrators of the OCA scandal because we would understand those families were victimized as well.
Our leadership has not yet even admitted what exactly was done, nor the extent of the sin/crime, nor is there any acknowledgement of who is responsible for the rape of the OCA.
So who would we be forgiving? And what would we be forgiving? And does forgiveness then mean that the unrepentant perpetrators continue to lead and teach?
Your call for mercy over justice is a good reminder, but your example does not fit what we are facing. There murderer is dead, continued hatred of him serves no purpose, and healing is called for. In our case the perpetrators are still in positions of clerical power.
#11.6 Name withheld on 2007-01-29 05:29
And if the murder is dead, that settles matters with the victims' families? I think not. Indeed, I can give you a clear illustration that the passage of time does little to alleviate anger and feelings of hate and injustice if the individuals involved do not choose to 'let go' and forgive.
In a symposium in Richmond, Virginia on 'Controversial Confederates' - one of whom was General Nathan Bedford Forrest - the presenter on Forrest told a very interesting story about the late Southern historian, Shelby Foote. It seems that Mr. Foote contacted Forrest's great-great grandaughter by telephone and in the course of their conversation, the historian exclaimed that he had found only two geniuses in the Civil War, her ancestor and Abraham Lincoln. Suddenly the phone line went completely silent, so silent that Foote thought that he had been cut off. As he went to hang up and redial, a very cold voice came to him out of the silence. 'Mistah Foote!' said the old lady with great dignity, 'We do not mention THAT MAN'S name in this house!' The American Civil War ended in 1865. Forty years later, the lady in question (who had not even lived during those turbulent years) had yet to forgive Abraham Lincoln.
So it is obvious that the subject's death does not automatically cause an individual's hatred of that person to cease. It is not only possible, but demonstrably true that dead people are often hated by those whom they have wronged or are perceived to have wronged. Ergo, your position lacks substance. Furthermore, the Amish extended their concern (*not* 'forgiveness) to the family of the criminal in the understanding that they, too, were suffering from the acts of their family member.
One has to wonder how much thought is given by many posting here to the hurt and pain suffered by both those under suspicion and their families. For it is far worse to be the family of the criminal than the victim. All sympathy is with the victim's kin, little or none is extended to the loved ones of the person who committed the act even though they suffer two fold: first because they have lost their family member and secondly because they bear the shame of his or her actions. The Amish were right in extending a loving presence to the man's family knowing that they too were suffering but were being denied the sympathy of the rest of society and, indeed, were frequently included in the rage and condemnation directed at criminal.
As I noted originally, this was a true crime of violence. No 'motivation' could possibly explain away or excuse what was done. Yet the Amish people not only forgave the man but extended the hand of kindness and Christian love to his family in recognition of the grief that they were experiencing because of his acts. I only ask that all who have commented here look at their own acts and emotions in light of what is surely a true 'Christian' witness of forgiveness.
#11.6.1 Anonymous on 2007-01-31 07:32
The man who killed the Amish girls committed suicide at the scene.
The Amish did extend forgiveness to the killer's wife and family, and the killer's wife was very repentant.
Sdn. John Martin
Martin D. Watt, CPA (Inactive)
#11.7 Marty Watt on 2007-01-31 08:00
They did not 'forgive' the man's family as the family was in no way responsible for the killer's actions. Rather, they extended sympathy and expressions of condolances in recognition of the grief that the man had caused his family.
It is hardly necessary to extend 'forgiveness' to people whose only 'crime' is being related to the person guilty of the offense. And in the same way, it is hardly 'Christian' to worsen the grief of people whose family members are under suspicion (but not yet charged or convicted) of committing a crime. A careful reading of many posts illustrates that judgments of guilt or complicity have been and are being made regarding various individuals in this matter. Surely, that is not a 'Christian' response at least as the Amish would understand it.
#11.7.1 Anonymous on 2007-02-01 05:35
As a member of the Orthodox Church and the Orthodox Peace Fellowship I have given much thought over the years to the issue of violence and forgiveness, and was happy to see the post from Valerie. I was a Quaker at one time, during the Vietnam War and encouraged my son to get a CO category. I have always been extremely puzzled by the Orthodox view on war. I think the issue of forgiveness is tied to it, if we are taught that it is permissible to kill our enemies, in defense of our country, then forgiveness is really not on the Orthodox agenda. We isolate it to the personal realm as on Forgiveness Sunday. There is a dreadful consistency to the war in Iraq as a response to enemy attack, and the relentlessness with which we address the hierarchy as a response to their perceived attack on us.
Here is the contrast:
"Confronted with tragedy, the Amish are taught to forgive and go on. And that is what the 2,700 residents of Bart Township have been trying to do since the attack, on Oct. 2. "People don't fuss about it," Mary Stoltzfus, 36, a member of the community, said outside Fisher's Houseware and Fabrics. "It has calmed down."
Ms. Rhoads said that although the victims' families and friends had been devastated, "there's no anger." "There is a lot of 'why?' " she said. "But life goes on. The healing
continues. It's not to say they're not sad. They are sad. They are
mourning, but they're doing well."
The Amish and the non-Amish have given the widow of the gunman, Charles C. Roberts IV, and the couple's three children comfort and unconditional support. Neighbors put up a Christmas tree at the local volunteer fire hall and decorated it with toys and gift cards for the family. Soccer players at Solanco High School in nearby Quarryville made it a point to show their encouragement by attending soccer matches played by the Robertses' young son Brice."
#11.8 Alice Carter on 2007-02-01 10:27
Why are so many questions asked by the users removed by editor? I counted at least 5! Why are they being censored. Did Deacon Jacob ask a normal, intelligent question and then added another one full of unspeakable obscenities, and then went back to asking intelligent questions? What is going on Mark?
(Editor's Note: The short answer is "yes". The longer answer would clarify that the writer did not use "unspeakable obscenities" in the few questions deleted , rather, he poised those questions in such as way that I felt they shed more heat than light, would sure to be personally insulting to the Metropolitan, and offensive to some, if not many, readers in how they were phrased. While I have no aversion to either heat or light where appropriate, I do not have the ability to ask writers to " Please rephrase your question, sir" , as a judge does in court. Most of the writers questions were fully legitimate, and so I posted almost all of the comment. I thought it best to omit a few that, in the heat of the moment and the tensions of the times, were less charitable in expression.
I have done that in the past, indicated with ..... and will continue to do so in the future when warranted.)
#12 Removed By Editor on 2007-01-27 16:25
Your curiosity is quite understandable. However, let us trust the discernment of our editor. God bless you Mark for the thorougly wonderful work you've done over the past year. At times you too might have been tempted to "sweep this under the rug", but I'm sure that your (our) patience and determination will be rewarded.
#12.1 Name withheld on 2007-01-28 20:54
It should come as no surprise that there may be a mistake here and there on this website. Mark Stokoe is not a professional journalist. Mark has done an admirable job at keeping those mistakes to a minimum, establishing himself as a credible source of information and a necessary part of the OCA's continuing process of self-correction. If he believes an elipsis or two is necessary so that the tonality of the argument is helped, I'll defer to the judgment of the guy who's been working his, ahem, something or other off.
Now I know what they mean by "damning with faint praise". Thanks, Ed, I think....)
#12.1.1 Ed Unneland on 2007-01-30 09:07
Since I doubt he'd answer questions asking for a frank divulging of information, I'd concentrate on questions that explore his understanding and response to the scandal, his role, and his views of the church ...
1. Your Beatitude, by all accounts the problems with mismanagement, diversion of funds, cover-ups and payoffs date back at least 20 years. Various people in and out of the administration have been trying to get these issues addressed for eight years. Now that you see the destructiveness wrought by letting the problems fester this long, do you have any regrets about how you acted in the past?
2. Do you believe that the current crisis in the OCA is more a product of the underlying misdeeds now partially acknowledged or is it the fault of those who have sought to uncover and address these misdeeds?
3. Do you believe that the majority of the clergy and laity are mature enough to hear an honest and complete accounting of what has happened and be asked for foregiveness by those who are both directly and indirectly responsible, or do you view them (us) as children in need of protecting from the truth?
4. Do you believe that the hierarchy and you personally can continue to lead in the absence of trust from your flock?
5. How has this crisis changed you?
#13 Rebecca Matovic on 2007-01-27 17:24
Questions for Metropolitan Herman:
(1) How much of his own money has he contributed to repaying the money that was lost?
(2) Given that he gets a salary as metropolitan I'm sure that he can also get a personal loan. Therefore, how much of a personal loan has he taken out to repay the money that was lost?
(3) Given that most of his personal living expenses are paid by the church, how much of his current and future salary has he pledged towards repayment of the money that was lost?
(4) Given that he probably has some items such as pectoral crosses and panagias that would have some value, when does he plan to sell these items and give them as repayment of the money that was lost?
(5) Given that he receives honorariums for his episcopal visits, how much of these honorariums has he given as repayment towards the money that was lost?
If the answer is "no" to all of these questions, I simply can't understand why anyone would want him to continue as metropolitan.
#14 Priest Michael on 2007-01-28 16:37
Dear Fr. Michael,
In response to your 'Question #5', there is a very sad, sad little known fact to the general public.
Metropolitan Herman will not only ask for an honorarium for himself, but DEMANDS that an honorarium be given to his unintelligible Archdeacon, as well as his personal driver. This occurs every week during an Episcopal visit. The Metropolitan "takes care" of himself, and those close to him... which adds up to a healthy amount of money every month! This is a true, and very sad fact.
My question to our Metropolitan is this: "How can your Archdeacon possibly afford four vehicles along with an enormous brand-new house?" -Oh, now I see... he's a bookstore manager and seminary bursur.
You people want to talk about "shifting of funds"... there's LOTS of fun-facts hidden on the grounds at St. Tikhons and their mega-bookstore! But where's the transparency?
#14.1 Anonymous on 2007-01-29 19:54
I have it on very good authority--my own very recent experience--that His Beatitude does NOT make this demand each and every week. The impression he left with my parish after a recent visit is very much the opposite of the picture painted of him in many of the comments here and on other topics. And I even went to the "other" seminary!
Can't speak for anyone else, but this just didn't happen and, whether I agree with how he's reacted to the crisis or not, the statement above is certainly not always and everywhere true. he actually couldn't have been more gracious.
#14.1.1 Fr. Dennis Buck on 2007-02-01 09:11
With all due respect, given the seriousness and depth of the spiritual crisis enveloping our Church, the mountain of problems that have already been disclosed, and the dire state of affairs in many OCA parishes which continued to be unaddressed, being a "nice" and "gracious" sort of fellow is simply not enough.
The time of a wishy washy, let's get along, let's focus on administrative and processes, I'll act only when my back it to the wall, maintain the status quo, nice guy kind of hierarch is long gone; if it ever was supposed to exist in the first place.
We need, much, much, much more! We're talking about a St. John the Baptist, St. Peter or St. Paul class sort of leadership, ethics, character, integrity, passion, vision, dedication, and courage. We need a real Christian Orthodox man to lead and be a true Shepherd. Nothing less will suffice.
Understood. However, that's not what I was addressing. Someone said something was categorically, universally, at all times and in every place, true about how His Beatitude conducts himself week by week on parish visits. Truth be told, there are a number of postings concerning this aspect of His Beatitude's conduct throughout this site, whatever bearing that aspect may or may not have on the question(s) at hand. From my own experience, I happen to know that this one allegation is simply not true--not in the universal sense that it was offered--certainly not one particular weekend in one particular place. Thought it worthwhile to point out. Of course, I can't respond to the circumstances of the author, as he/she is "anonymous;" and, as I said, I was only speaking for my own experience of dealing with the Metropolitan.
#188.8.131.52.1 Fr. Dennis Buck on 2007-02-02 10:04
Here is a clear example of a false statement on this site that is simply not proper. I know from personal experience as a parish priest and as a former member of other Churches that our Metropolitan nor our former Metropolitan does not ask for an honarium of every parish he visits nor for that of anyone in his group. I have never been asked to give any money to any hierarch, Metropolitan or Bishop, when they visit, nor by any priest or deacon. In fact I know of at least one Bishop who gives monetary gifts to altar servers.
Let us stop insulting our hierarchs, and fellow Orthodox, with some of the hateful and insulting comments being made on this site. We are Orthodox. We do not live that way.
And if parishes do want to give a gift to Hiearchs they do so out of their own desire to do so, not because it is compulsory.
#14.1.2 Archpriest William DuBovik on 2007-02-04 15:09
#184.108.40.206 Fr. Dennis Buck on 2007-02-05 16:23
if archer daniels midland gave 5 million dollars...then it would amount to spending $16000 a day AND every day for 2 years in order to squander that much money.there should be a paper trail somewhere for this amount of activity,or some memory [recall]by the metropolitan or his associateson these vast expenditures
#14.2 george gresko on 2007-01-30 21:26
Unfortunately, paper trails last for only a certain period of time with banks and their computer systems. Perhaps there is no paper trail available?
#14.2.1 Michael Geeza on 2007-02-02 13:04
When will you be vacating the Metropolitans residence?
#15 K. K. on 2007-01-28 18:58
Doesn't the Metropolitan have to first move into the residence before he can vacate it?
Sdn. John Martin
Martin D. Watt, CPA (Inactive)
#15.1 Marty Watt on 2007-01-30 08:46
Why, when you made an oath of poverty, etc., that you are not being accountable for all of the mismanagement of money? Why, do you keep upping my OCA dues when that Taj Mahal in Syosset, NY should be sold and move yourselves to a cheaper location? Why, do you keep asking me for more money? Clean up your act before you ask me for anything else!
#16 Bonnie MacArthur on 2007-01-28 21:22
Some good questions.
In looking at the assessment (tax) bill for our parish, it is very striking that the assessment from Syosset is so much higher than the assessment from the Diocese. In my opinion, the opposite should be the case. It is the Diocese that actually works to help and benefit the parishes, far more so than Syosset. (There is precious little help and benefit that comes from Syosset, unless one considers countless trips abroad for pomp and ceremony as somehow beneficial.)
Doesn't the Diocese of the South tithe to Syosset, rather than just passing on assessments? That is as it should be. The parishes should tithe to the Diocese, and the Diocese, in turn, should tithe to Syosset. That leaves the most resources where they are most needed and where they will do the most for the work of building up Christ's Church.
#16.1 Name withheld on 2007-01-29 07:05
Did you deliberately form the investigative committee after the Proskauer Rose investigation so that the investigative committee would only receive the documents that PR wanted them to receive?
Will the investigative committee be allowed to interview other people outside of who PR interviewed? Such as your former Assistant Fr. Brum, former Chancellor's assistant Fr. Fester and former Treasurer Fr. Oselinsky? (To name a few) Why were these people never intervviewed?
#17 Thomas Langley on 2007-01-31 14:36
I agree , what about everyone else. I believe it was all lack of funds and mismanagement of money. We have to remember that these people are preists not financial advisors or accountants. Was it stolen money or mismanagement ? I believe since PR never named a name because of lack of evidence how could we blame ONE. Thinking logically we can't . But someone must step up and answer all the allegations truthfully. Let's put this all to rest . One day maybe someone will ?
#17.1 Jon S. on 2007-02-01 05:25
I would like to believe that funds were simply mismanaged, but what happened with the properties in Alaska? What happened to the millions from ADM? It is extremely niave to believe mismanagement is the sole reason for our plight today.
#17.1.1 anon on 2007-02-01 14:03
I would simply ask the Metropolitan if overhopefulness about future donations was the main thing that got the OCA into the mess.
#18 Daniel E. Fall on 2007-01-31 23:25
My question, which will never be asked or answered, for the record is:
In view of the overwhelming rejection of your leadership by your "flock" (see above), and your admitted failure, heretofore, to forestall the financial pillage of the OCA when you were in a position of direct responsibility, is it not the heighth of arrogance and hubris to cling to your office with the implied claim that only you can lead us out of this spiritual desert?
#19 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2007-02-01 08:34
I remain astonished at some of the attitudes displayed on this site and the disdain in which some hold their hierarchs, clergy and fellow Orthodox. If I felt that badly about all of these persons and was truly horrified by them I would find another Orthodox Church.
I am almost reluctant to again post as I can predict the negative and dismissive answers that will result to any questions I pose. And again I have seen in some commentaries motivations that lie well before the problems at hand.
I would pray that somewhere the persons that have used so much of their time on this site have joined our Metropolitan in his at times lonely voice against the horror of abortion. Millions of children, not millions of dollars as some alledge, are affected by abortion and our voices in protest are not heard often enough nor being noticed enough.
I would pray too that as we live in these pre-Lenten Sundays we are preparing ourselves--each, each one of us--for the personal examination of our lives, our thoughts our conduct so that we can struggle in our repentance as we journey through Great Lent.
I would pray too that the time spent on this site is at least equaled by the time spent in spiritual uplifting ways. We all need this, myself included.
I would pray that we can find real forgiveness in light of Christ's teachings and practice it. I am a sinner and I need forgiveness. And Christ made clear that we all do sin and that we all need to be forgiven.
I would pray that all who remain in our beloved Orthodox Church in America, which has contributed much to our lives, will embrace her and her mission, and indeed support her appeals to help others. If all funds in the past were not used exclusively for this purpose, if funds were used for other expenses of the Church, well we have recognized this and spoken out against this practice. I would pray that no one would seek to cripple new efforts by our Holy Church.
I would also pray that before some continue to hurl stones and demand heads they reflect on the Biblical teachings on such subjects and allow the words of the Lord to penetrate. We all have made mistakes in our lives. Does making a mistake disquality one from life--from service to the Church--from service to God and each other. Only today we heard the Gospel of the Prodigal Son who turned against His father and yet after living frivously, came to repent and return to his fathere. And guess what Christ teaches--that our Heavenly Father takes us back with love, forgiveness, trust and joy and no reservations. That is Christ's message not mine. As one who has made mistakes and has sinned, it is a great message to hear, awesome, and perhaps hard to comprehend for those who engage in other machinations in their dealings with their fellow women and men.
May God have mercy on all of us and may we ever praise Him for His mercy and love.
#20 Archpriest William DuBovik on 2007-02-04 14:58
One of the reasons I have not yet left the OCA is the satisfaction it would give to people like you! By the way, I am amused, and I mean ADMUSED, that abortion has now become the new diversionary subject of choice for the defenders of the status quo. Perhaps you should focus on spiritual abortion aided and abetted by clericalism.
As for your other pathetically cloying admonitions--well you know what you can do with them.
#20.1 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2007-02-05 09:48
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