Tuesday, March 6. 2007
Your thoughts on the Metropolitan's celebration are welcome.
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Mark,after reading your editorial, Business as Usual, I wanted to "puke"! ...MH is clueless on what is going on in the OCA.
I have called for him to resign, now I am calling for him to be FIRED,for he is a disgrace to the OCA. Also, all of his cronies should be put out to pasture. They are mocking OUR CHURCH!
St. James---Brother of the Lord
Kansas City, MO
I have been to many events at the NYAC. To say it is opulent is an understatement. Whirling through the highly polished revolving doors you enter a marble and oak high ceilinged lobby -- it is a like a movie set for the grand era of New York Society.
The banquet rooms are all oak and oil paintings, perfect linen, gleaming silver, everything with the classic logo of the 'Winged Foot". Looking out over Central Park South the small dots of lamplights and the unmistakable outline of Fifth Avenue townhouses, central park West - The Dakota - hey!?
Isn't this where all the millionaires live?
Think of all our coffee hours after mass, some boxes of donuts and styrofoam coffee cups; metal folding chairs and a tilting coatrack with a jumble of hangars. Wonderful fellow parishoners, perhaps planning a Church Festival with some Russian gifts from the display cabinet in the hall; baking stuff, maybe some music. The image of The New York Athletic Club and all it stands for among those 'in the know' contrasted with so many OCA parishes is so sad, very sad.
#2 j. Murray on 2007-03-06 10:24
Mark you should include this important piece of information from the invitation:
"Reservations for this event are limited to 250 and will be based on first come first serve basis. You are asked to post this invitation and make its information available to your faithful. The donation is $100 per reservation. Selection is Grilled Fillet Mignon or Grilled Fillet of Salmon."
Let's see, $100 x 250 attendees gives us a $25,000 birthday bash. (I also like how this was labeled as a politically correct "donation.") A nice gathering at St. Tikhon's paid for by actual donations and catered with reasonable dining options would have been too far below his royal majesty's dignity. It's not as if we're in the middle of a major financial crisis and we just borrowed $1.7 million to pay for the mishandling of the Church's treasure while this "leader" was in charge. Such humility, such sacrifice and selflessness, for "the good of the church" is rare to find these days. What a wonderful example for us all!
The new OCA slogan should be "Let them eat Fillet Mignon!"
Yet another indicator why this whole crew needs to be sent packing and some real Orthodox Christian priests and bishops must be elected to save our Holy Orthodox Church.
I can recall another birthday that Metropolitan HERMAN shared. It was the weekend of my wife's death when I was a new student at seminary and he was a Bishop. He served a Panikhida; he welcomed my children and myself into his home; fed us soup; consoled us; shared with us. A few days later he would journey to my home state for my wife's funeral and offer moving words at her funeral service.
Is it wrong that a Diocese wishes to celebrate their Bishop and Metropolitan's birthday. We may disagree with some of his decisions, but we need not lack respect or be mean spirited. Let us offer our prayers for him and extend wishes of Many Years!
#4 Archpriest William DuBovik on 2007-03-06 11:14
I cannot believe I just read that. So we have mortgaged off OCA property, funds have disappeared into a black hole, we have been stonewalled and lied to and now, the money we have left is going to rent the New York Athletic Club and nice dinners to celebrate the 75th birthday of someone who is at least marginally responsible for this scandal?
Wow. I knew we are were in a bad shape, I didn't know it was this bad. This is not just a another oversight, or a gaffe, this event is a deliberate slap in the face.
We have turned the other cheek (and probably closed our eyes) in the past but after being slapped so many times, we don't have cheeks anymore just raw exposed flesh of the jaws. There is humility and there is stupidity and ignorance. We just need the Lord's help to discern between the two.
God help us all,
#5 Constantin Ditloff on 2007-03-06 11:29
Just when you thought every politically stupid and ethically challenged outrage that could be committed, had been committed, another comes along!
#6 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2007-03-06 12:03
I would gladly donate one hundred dollars and skip the meal if the scheduled birthday party could also be a retirement party for the Metropolitan and his self-serving associates.
#7 Marc Trolinger on 2007-03-06 12:06
Amen, Amen, Amen
Amazed in Washington, DC
#8 Alexander Ivsky on 2007-03-06 12:08
Fr. William --
I have read posts by you on the internet for many years, and even though we've never met, I feel I know you to some extent. I believe you to be wholly honest, humble, and faithful. When others have lashed out at you (in their misguided pain), I have found it disturbing and painful.
I have no doubt that Metr. Herman was kind to you and your family, that he played an important role in helping you through a difficult time. I have no doubt that Fr. Bob provided needed, discrete assistance and fatherly support to you and your family. May they have these deeds to offer as a good defense at the dread judgment seat of Christ! I'm sure many, many of us will have less to show for ourselves.
But people are complex and time, temptation and circumstances do alter them. And sometimes even when people have changed almost to the point of being unrecognizable, they will be more like their true and better selves in the company of old friends. That's a hopeful sign that they know the difference between the good and the bad in themselves and still have nostalgia for the good. But it doesn't mean that the bad doesn't exist in the present.
In my professional life, I've watched a few people do very well and rise to levels of affluence and status far from their personal roots. Some do fine; others subtly shift -- begin to believe their own hype, begin to believe that the adulation of the world means that they are truly better, begin to seek status for the sake of status instead of merely accepting it as the reward for performance.
And sometimes very good people do very bad things for reasons that they believe are good. I think in particular of a former head of state in Latin America with whom I worked closely enough to know the man. There was recently a documentary about him and I read the comments online about it. It was agonizing to read because I knew him to be a good man, but the comments focused on the absurdity of some of his actions as depicted in the documentary -- and even though I understood the back-story well enough to feel that it was all terribly unfair, I knew that the documentary was honest and that the reactions were reasonable. His intentions were not well reflected in the results of his actions.
I think that something similar has been at work among our leaders. Some have fallen prey to the temptations of money that came their way in the '80s and '90s. Some were influenced by people who tempted them to think that they could indulge in various behaviors and function as church leaders with no harm to themselves or others. Some stood by fully able to see what was happening, but sort of deliberately ignoring it and pretending to themselves that they had no influence or control over it (even though having responsibilities and positions that should have put them in charge of matters), meanwhile getting used to some of the benefits that came along as spillover from those who were more actively culpable.
If you're a frog you can sit in warming water for a long time without realizing you're being cooked. And if you're a leader in our church you apparently can become gradually accustomed to various financial and moral lapses those around you, perhaps even in yourself, without noticing that you have begun to live and behave in a way that is totally at odds with your faith, your responsibilities, and your own better self.
Is Metr. Herman a good man? I know many who think he is. I'm sure that he is good in many ways, because otherwise he would not be where he is, nor would he have been (until recently) trusted by many who have trusted him. But does that put his actions above examination? No.
While it's not appropriate for us to speculate or judge the state of his soul, it is inevitable that we will observe the wisdom of his actions and judge the consequences of those actions.
And in the present case, his actions are folly. Perhaps there is a time and place for lavish parties (although one wonders exactly when and where that is in the context of the church). But surely this is not the time.
The decision to hold such an event always comes from people in charge of things -- it's not some spontaneous grassroots manifestation. And the judgment of whoever thought of this at this time in these circumstances is profoundly faulty. His Beatittude's judgment was faulty in not understanding how this looks -- he should have quashed it at the first suggestion.
Does his failure make him a bad man? No, but it proves him to be insensitive and deficient in understanding of how many, many people (one suspects the vast majority of the OCA) feel at this time.
And it proves that, whatever else his merits and faults, he lacks the discernment to lead us out of this morrass.
My most fervent prayer is that we do find a way out of this -- I believe in the vision of the OCA that I absorbed in the '70s. It is a bright vision about living our faith to the fullest, while fully embracing the realities of our life in modern America. If we fail to live up to this calling, I don't know which other group here will do it.
This birthday bash, even if not blameworthy, is a depressing symptom of something gone terribly wrong. I begin to despair of our ability to live up to our collective calling as the OCA.
#9 Rebecca Matovic on 2007-03-06 12:40
For those upset (not me, btw) with some of the harsh comments on this site, this post is a very charitable and generous interpretation of the events and personalities in question. It deserves to be taken to heart.
#10 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2007-03-06 13:54
This latest "editorial" does little to elevate the discourse but it does shed more light on a dead administration in Syosset. The OCA is far from dead, but MH and his feeble attempts at a new start in Syosset are DOA.
Let those who wish to celebrate MH's birthday pay for their tickets and get what they want, time with their hero. I say “Let the dead bury the dead.”
MH lives in a very small world now. He is surrounded by people who tell him he is doing a great job and that he is a great Metropolitan. However the reality is that he makes no significant decisions and will even let others decide who his chancellor, treasurer and secretary will be. He is an empty suit but an empty suit that will celebrate himself with a birthday party.
But, to think that the MC is the body that will "save the church?" Hardly. MH has now set the MC against itself. Watch carefully. Just as MH pitted the members of the HS against each other, so too will the MC be deadlocked against itself after its next meeting. And, all the while, MH will try and slip through the confusion he has caused. Is anyone else fed up with this well-worn tactic? Too many in EPA have lived through this since his early days at St. Tikhon's and many of us the scars to prove it.
He may now have the title of Metropolitan but to us who really know him, he will always be the old divide and conquer “company clerk” Joe Swaiko.
Happy Birthday Joe. I hope you and your die-hard fans enjoy the party. The rest of us will take a pass on it.
- An EPA survivor
#11 Anonymous on 2007-03-06 14:28
I am just sick to my stomach. The OCA is in debt up to its eyeballs, and instead of having a dinner to raise money to help pay the debt, they are having a lavish feast to celebrate the one who, in the end, is responsible for much of the debt.
So many of our parishes are struggling to make ends meet, trying to hold it all together, and is there any help, whatsoever, from Syosset? No, not even tax relief. But let's just have a grand banquet....
+MH not only "does not get it", he doesn't give a flip about the sheep of his flock. Does he just love the glory?
I am seriously considering leaving the OCA.
#12 Name withheld on 2007-03-06 14:34
I'm sure many of us come across as mean-spirited, and (at least in my case) it is unintentional. Please forgive me. I by no means begrudge the Metropolitan and his diocese the opportunity to celebrate his birthday. But do the arrangements make you the least bit uncomfortable, as they do me (and others)?
Would you accept an invitation by your parish to a lavish dinner at the local "high-brow" eatery while the roof over the sanctuary was leaking, and a bucket sat on the altar to catch the rainwater?
Perhaps a more appropriate celebration might be to have the $100 a plate dinner, but hold it at St. Vladimir's and have the students cater and serve the dinner in exchange for the donation. I know a lot of seminarians would jump at the opportunity to earn that kind of cash. Even if the money went to the Seminary as a credit toward tuition -- the money raised would keep a married seminarian in school for a year.
Maybe a struggling parish in the NYC area could use $25K as a rental for their parish hall and catering.
What saddens me is to see the leader of our faith act like some cult leader, living the high life while his followers remain poor, gazing longingly at the rich man's table, hoping for a crumb to fall.
Frankly, I would encourage anyone contemplating attending to forgo the event and donate $100 in the name of Metropolitan HERMAN to one of the seminaries, or to the 9/11 victims fund, or to the Bibles for Russia fund, or ...
Sdn John Martin
Martin D. Watt, CPA (Inactive)
#13 Marty Watt on 2007-03-06 15:02
For your information, the OCA isn't spending one dime of it's money on this event.
The total cost is absorbed in the price of the $100 ticket.
People, let's not get all riled up about this. If the Diocese of Washington and New York wants to have something in honor of His Beatitude, so be it.
If the Church or Diocese isn't footing the bill, who cares?
If people want to attend, buy a ticket.
If people don't want to attend, don't go.
Mark, why did your editorial give the assumption that the OCA was sponsoring this event? Once again, here we go with partial information to rile up the masses all over again.
I for one, could care less what they decide to do. If I want to go, I'll buy a ticket. I'm certainly not going to lose any sleep over the fact that a celebration has been planned, especially when Church monies aren't being used.
Why does everything continuously need to be so dramatic?
Regards to all,
(Editor's note: No where in the editorial do I state, infer or suggest the OCA is footing the bill for it. But frankly, it doesn't matter who is footing the bill - the OCA, the Diocese, or the participants. Any reasonable person is going to agree that this event is totally inappropriate at this time and in this place given the situation of our community. The editorial begins with five reasons why that is so. If you can't see that, well, then, like those who are organizing the event, Michael, you just don't get it. It is hard to imagine leaders being able to lead their people from the desert into the promised land, when they continue to assert there is no desert. It can't help but make one wonder if they have any real understanding of the promised land they are supposed to be leading us to....
As for being dramatic - I don't make this stuff up. Syosset does.
#14 Michael Geeza on 2007-03-06 15:05
Father, please bless.
Don't worry about the OCA. If your bishop is someone that you can relate to in the most important matters of our faith, stay where you are and help the faithful that our Lord has intrusted to you. Help them to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ. This is the most important thing that you can do as one called into the Holy Orders of our Church. May our Lord Bless and guide you.
Your Brother in Christ,
#15 Marc Trolinger on 2007-03-06 15:40
It's true that the Metropolitan's recently acquired Diocese of New York (together with Washington) is hosting this fete. Do we dare bring up the $100,000 or so still unaccounted for from when Archbishop Peter ruled that Diocese? Didn't Syossett have to come to their rescue financially?
The many layers of corruption at work in this church boggle the mind. Given this realization, an event of this kind only adds insult to injury for many of us. So, Michael, please excuse us if such celebrations, however well-intentioned, leave one with the image of frantic people scrambling to re-arrange deck chairs on the Titanic.
Don't you folks get it? MH is being true to form. HE is the HIERARCH. As such, in his definition of the term, he has no boss, no equal except God Himself... and God must've told him it was OK to throw the party. After all, HE has waited a lifetime for this event. No scandal is going to stand in HIS way. HE is the boss. HE has the authority to do what HE wants. HE is rubbing it everyone's faces. This is the action of an authoritarian monarch. HE is accountable to no one. Don't YOU get it? YOU need to get a life and be subservient like the peasants HE so admires in places like rural Russia where the peasants know their places and kiss the bishop's feet like a God. Unfortunately, he has not gotten the word that this view of the Church will not fly any longer. Ah, "Give me that good old time religion, and its good enough for me." Yee Haa
#17 Name withheld on 2007-03-06 21:15
I agree with almost everything Rebecca has contributed in all of her posts so far, and this post is no exception.
#18 Robert Vasilios Wachter on 2007-03-06 21:27
May God give Metropolitan Herman the wisdom to see the untimeliness and foolishness of this party.
#19 Daniel E. Fall on 2007-03-06 23:41
"Be not deceived; God is not mocked; for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap........For he that soweth to his fleshshall of the flesh reap corruption;" .......many lawyers have banquets in the same venue, enjoying the hefty fees they receive from their clients....n'est ce pas?
#20 luke on 2007-03-06 23:56
Rebecca has made some excellent points here. We need not accuse the Metropolitan of bloodguiltiness to recognise that his courses of action have not been sound - at least not recently with regard to this matter.
In Doxa, the newsletter of St Michael Skete in Cańones, NM, there appeared an excellent review of Star Wars, focusing on the character of Anakin Skywalker. Those who saw Episode 1 (The Phantom Menace) will know that as a kid he was kind and generous. Doxa observed rightly that for all the fault we might find in the Star Wars saga from an Orthodox theological point of view, Anakins transformation into Darth Vader should chill us all. It is the all-too-real story of how easy it is for us to rationalise our sick behaviours, and when we have power, we rationalise all the more and inflict all the more. Anakin could have turned into person like St Herman of Alaska. He had that potential just as much as he had the potential to become Vader. The fact (or rather 'fiction') is that he chose rationalisation and power, fear and envy, anger and pain. Thus he was seduced and consumed.
Am I saying that all of this is what has happened to Metropolitan Herman? No, I don't even know the man. i can't say one way or another. I am only observing, as did Rebecca, that a person can start out on the right track, and get derailed with tragic consequences for self and for others. And, of course, there are also degrees of being 'derailed.'
What is apparent here, if nothing else, it is that Metropolitan Herman is acting like a person who is in denial of the scope or gravity of the situation in which he finds himself. He is not demonstrating pastoral sensitivity regarding how an event as the announced birthday party will be perceived. Even if those tickets fully cover the costs, one might wonder what else could have been done with that money. That being the case, he is not exercising the kind of leadership the OCA needs here and now. Perhaps it is not he who planned this event, or asked for it. It probably was not. Obviously, however, it is not a secret, and he could have stepped up and said, "No, I am honoured by your gesture, but this is not appropriate." That would have been the choice of one who is facing the reality of the here and now.
Indeed, may God grant His Beatitude many years. May He look with favour upon Metropolitan Herman's years of leading the OCA's participation in the annual protest of Roe v Wade. May He remember at the dread judgement seat, every kindness ever shown by His Beatitude. We must never cease to wish that for anybody. But may God also grant His Beatitude the wisdom and humility to truly examine the situation of the OCA and his own place in it, and to step down from the primacy.
#21 Sine Nomine on 2007-03-06 23:58
I wonder how St. Nicholas Cathedral will respond to this turn of events. MH makes frequent visits to Washington but has never been challenged.
An expensive, lavish party at this time, is inappropriate. Surely the bishop understands how this looks to his flock.
It makes me very sad.
Love in Christ,
#22 L.M. Blome on 2007-03-07 06:58
This is the "counterpoint" to Rebecca's post, which I fear is a more accurate picture, at least of MH. While I like the analogy in another post to Darth Vader, I fear there is no Obi Wan or Luke to come to the rescue.
#23 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2007-03-07 07:24
Does Fr. Paul and MH think everything is fine ? Maybe so, or he doesn't care anymore about the people. I don't know ? As a leader you must speak and be in contact with your people. They both must GO !!!!!
#24 Jon S. on 2007-03-07 07:47
My understanding [which may be faulty and I welcome correction] is that most of that shortfall was monies owed to the central administration. Assessments were collected and not forwarded and the money went somewhere else. Syossett's help consisted in insisting that the parishes needed to repay what had already been paid by them to the the diocese so that the national assessments could be paid.
#25 Rebecca Matovic on 2007-03-07 08:23
Greetings to all!!
It is pretty obvious that most of us are fed-up with what is occurring in the OCA. So how do we unite at the next AAC and turn this "big massive ship" in the right direction? Complaining just isn't getting us anywhere (besides God doesn't like a complainer)...although I have to admit, it does feel good to "vent".
Is anyone familiar enough with the statues and/or cannons that can offer any advice? How can the statutues be changed to protect the OCA in the future?
Maybe we need a forum of ideas and suggestions for the next AAC that we can take back to our churches and give to our priests and delegates.
Perhaps we need to do Akathists in all of our church to St. Herman for help and guidance to a solution.
#26 Anonymous on 2007-03-07 09:01
Thank you for responding as you have done in reply to Fr. William's postings.
I hope your words help him clarify his perception of the present circumstances in the OCA leadership and what and where responsibility for this sorrowful state of affairs must rest. But that is up to his openess to truth as much as it is to the persuasiveness of evidence.
Whatever effect what you wrote has for Fr. William, your words have benefitted me greatly and I want to tell you so.
The measured gentleness of the manner of your expression reflected to me a genuine example of "telling the truth in love" to a fellow Christian believer. May it help him hear the wisdom in what you wrote. I don't know what would if what you have written and the way you have written it won't do it.
Your reflection about how self-betraying behavior can result from the temptations of high position reveals that you may have, perhaps, at some time in the past, successfully resisted them yourself. But, whether you speak from personal experience or only observation, you have evidently learned the sad reality of how a leader's good intentions alone cannot outweigh the effects of his decisons.
My own reflection upon the facts concerning the choices and behaviors of the current OCA leadership suggest that to take the excessively excusing attitude Fr. William exhibits would be to become sinfully complicit in wrongdoing. Being critically judgemental isn't the only way to sin in our inevitable observation of others behavior.
There is an old saying: "It is a sin in itself to put temptation in the path of the weak". Those persons who even now present yet another opportunity for self-indulgent public excess, and by doing support the evasion of repentance and willing removal from the temptations of high office for those for whom this would offer the opportunity to receive forgiveness for their incontrovertible misdoing, will answer for their enabling of wrong. How much better they could have served and honored the Metropolitan if they had helped him come to truth of his situation. The only better thing than knowing you can't resist a temptation is to have someone you must listen to gently and supportively, but unambigusly, point out that your have demonstrated the fact.
What you wrote to Fr. William about the behaviors of the Metropolitan, and those around him who could really help him but are choosing not to, does that so well that I felt blessed by the reading of it.
#27 Jean Langley Sullivan on 2007-03-07 09:04
Than with the above assumption that GOD makes all things, and created all...apparently he delegated the responsiblity of accounting principals to someone else.
This is a travesty. The raping of the OCA continues.
#28 K.K. on 2007-03-07 10:49
An excellent idea in this last paragraph. If I were of the proper economic stature and located in the right diocese, I think I'd do just that. It is a postive, constructive course of action, that could also give a very powerful message. Good thinking!
#29 Sine Nomine on 2007-03-07 10:52
Perhaps you fools should do some real research on this matter prior to sounding off so arrogantly and ignorantly! The dinner hosted for St. Tikhon's Seminary in 2004 was a FUND RAISER with NO OCA monies being involved. These were generous, individuals, Orthodox and Non-Orthodox, gathering to SUPPORT our church rather than these sad attempts to drag it through the muck and mire by Judases like you.
Have you never had a birthday celebration? Did your Mommies fail to make you a birthday cake when you were children? Are we faithful not allowed to honor our Primate on this mile marker occasion of his 75th birthday? Are we to serve cold wet holupki on paper napkins in a dingy church basement on metal chairs to honor this man who, in my opinion, was a hero to take on the challenge of rectifying the years of evil deviancy from the administration prior.
I ask you the following questions: Where were you people in the years prior? Why were the events of the past allowed to escalate to the point that they did? Why did you all sit by and do nothing when the REAL acts of dishonor were taking place? Certainly you observed the behaviors and patterns of the old administration, yet you stood by and did and said nothing to make a change. You are all a bunch of hypocrites who need to take a good look in the mirror before continuing your attack on this HUMBLE man whom we faithful CHOOSE to honor on our own accord!
In my opinion his only mistake was in not cleaning house of the leaches when he accepted to lead us as +His Beatitude Metropolitan Herman.
May God forgive you for continuing to spread this evil.
#30 Larissa Miller on 2007-03-07 11:57
May God forgive you for continuing to spread this evil.
-May God forgive us all!
Have you never had a birthday celebration? Did your Mommies fail to make you a birthday cake when you were children?
-Perhaps when I am 75 years old and have been at least marginally involved in misappropriation of funds and probably telling lies, I shold not expect birthday cakes (and certainly no parties at the NYAC), at least from the congregation that is investigating me for it and lost all the confidence in my ability to be their leader.
You are all a bunch of hypocrites who need to take a good look in the mirror before continuing your attack on this HUMBLE man whom we faithful CHOOSE to honor on our own accord!
-Indeed may God forgive us all if we are wrong. However according to the unfolding of the recent events, I wouldn't characterize +Herman as 'HUMBLE'. How exactly is a lavish birthday party at the New York Athletic Club 'humble', please elaborate on that...
In my opinion his only mistake was in not cleaning house of the leaches when he accepted to lead us as +His Beatitude Metropolitan Herman.
-A humble saint among the leaches...right? Do you honestly believe that or are you just trolling?
#31 Constantin Ditloff on 2007-03-07 14:52
First, congratulations for using your name. Unfortunately, that is the only thing I can congratulate you for in your post.
I hate to confuse you with the facts, but your "humble" hero has been part of the leadership, not only now, but in the period which you labeled the "years of evil deviancy." You castigate those of us now crying shame for not acting sooner--but where were you? Keepng quiet, no doubt, like a good and pious Orthodox lay person should.
I can understand your rage and fury. I feel it too, but for very different reasons.
#32 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2007-03-07 15:04
It is very difficult to read your last line, "May God forgive you for continuing to spread this evil.", as we all need God's forgiveness.
In case you were not at the Orlando, FL AAC, the people DID NOT ELECT HERMAN AS THE NEW PRIMATE. The Synod of Bishops OVERRODE the vote of the people and elected HERMAN.
Clearly you are upset, as many of us are for different reasons. Before you condemn the many good people who are now trying to save the OCA please note that most of us had no idea we were being deceive.
And by the way…
At the last supper, Christ, in all humility, washed the feet of the apostles, not the other way around. He set this as an example, especially for leaders of the church. Do you think this ostentatious birthday party resembles the actions of Christ?
#33 Anonymous on 2007-03-07 15:56
I am reading many excellent comments here about a delicate topic. But I hope we don’t let this cause us to lose track of the real question. We need to keep the “pressure on for meeting dates and reports”.
#34 Ande on 2007-03-07 18:43
Ah, +HERMAN fiddles while Syosset burns...
I can imagine it now...
MH: Let's throw a party for ME!
OCA peon: Your Beatitude, do you think that's wise? What will the laity do?
MH: Let them eat cake...preferably the $100-a-plate kind that will be served at MY party.
OCA peon: Uh...bless, Your Beatitude!
Kids, this is the Keystone Kops in klobuks.
#35 Wayne Matthew Syvinski on 2007-03-08 00:59
Just when I saw a glimmer of hope that matters were starting to turn around, then this PR disaster. Sic transit gloria mundi.
#36 Terry C. Peet on 2007-03-08 06:09
I am not an expert on canon law nor the OCA statute. There is only one way, to my knowledge, to remove a primate against his will, and that is through an ecclesiastical court. Such a court, by statute, must have 12 bishops. There must be a specific number of bishops bring charges (I don't recall, but I believe three). The 12 bishops must agree.
There are no actions within the current statute that would allow for laity to recall or otherwise remove a Metropolitan (or any bishop, for that matter).
I would suggest the AAC change the statute to provide for at least three ballots before tossing the election to the Synod, and only the individuals receiving the top two number of ballots should participate in the second and third ballots. If there is yet no election by a substantial majority (2/3 of ballots cast) then the Synod should choose from between the two candidates.
As for the current situation, as laity, we have few options:
1. Force MH to resign/retire through negotiation. I would suggest negotiation might involve his remaining the bishop of Washington and New York, but relinquishing his role as primate.
2. Force MH to resign/retire through zero funding for any activity in Syosset. Zero funding is an option, but do not discount the difficulty of getting agreement within an AAC or a Metropolitan Council to do so. This basically means the dioceses would step into much of the role not funded in Syosset. I have referred to this in the past as "devolution".
3. Pressure our diocesean bishops to force MH to be deposed.
4. Pressure our diocesean bishops to enter discussions with other jurisdictions within the North American continent, either individually or en masse.
5. Find a champion among the ranks of retired bishops to reform the Synod, and serve as a locum until a new primate can be selected.
I'm sure there are other options, probably wiser than my own. The only real option we have is to pray to God for his guidance and blessing during our trial, and focus on forgiveness while we try to repent. Perhaps the best response is to be the most faithful Christian we can be, acting in love and prayer at all times. On some level, while it is frustrating, if the people of God were acting on their calling in their own communities and their own neighborhoods, the Organization in Syosset would become irrelevant.
May God have mercy on us all.
Sdn John Martin
Martin D. Watt, CPA (Inactive)
#37 Marty Watt on 2007-03-08 07:40
And I felt blessed by the reading of your post, Jean. Right on. Thank you for taking the time to compose it.
#38 Cathy Tatusko on 2007-03-08 09:43
Very true, Ande. It's important that we recognize the task we all share in common to take up our responsibilities as members of the OCA to return our Church structure to health. This is a big tent, and all are included under it, so let's not be sidetracked by personal sniping.
#39 Paula Brkich on 2007-03-08 11:27
Thank you for your eloquently rendered post. It says exactly what I have been thinking. Please believe that the OCA will be righted, and will go forward in the manner in which it was intended. It is not unusual for a large organization to be sidetracked for whatever reasons, and also very common for them to regain their paths and become stronger for the diversion.
#40 Paula Brkich on 2007-03-08 12:01
In the beginning, I was grateful that this website was available to share the information of what was happening within our higher church. I disagreed with many viewpoints as the people took to dividing into camps, those for and those against the actual PERPETRATOR, the former chancellor. Gradually, as any person with better things to do would, I moved forward and continued to pray that “HIS” WILL BE DONE in this case as in all things. However, as I was informed as to the latest “news”, I had to see for myself what was now being said. Sadly, I have concluded that this website is no longer interested in “the right thing”, but instead has become a venue for mostly insolent people who know nothing about spreading the GOSPEL but instead favor spreading GOSSIP, although they throw in biblical quotes as if what they are doing on this website is emulating Christ!
You condemn +His Beatitude for being honored on his birthday, by forward looking people who chose to, and have worked hard to, move up in the world so as to host a celebration in such a place. You are the kind of people who wouldn’t be happy even if the party were being held at McDonalds. I have watched people like you all of my life, the lynch mob, who says that our spiritual leaders should have nothing. That’s obvious by the meager salaries we pay. We expect them to do everything with nothing, to be there at every beck and call. We congregants live life large while keeping them down in the hole, and as the collection basket is passed we throw in a one dollar bill. Unfortunately, this is the small mindedness that will always keep our church down in the abyss.
You dare to condemn +His Beatitude, whom many of you have never even met, for “inaction.” Can you possibly conceive all of his many many years of dedicated service to our Lord, and the many clergy whom he personally prepared and delivered out into our communities? There was a reason he was elected by our hierarchs and he has earned the right to be addressed as +His Beatitude. But in this forum you show such flagrant disrespect as to address him as “MH”, and then many of you post your type written vomit anonymously or hiding behind a first name only. The truth is that you’ll never hide from the face of God. We will all be judged by Him and on the final judgment day He will ask you: What good have you done? And you can reply, I helped to destroy your Holy Church by perpetuating discord amongst its people. How very sad indeed.
Mr. Ditloff, I agree, I do stand corrected on one count, “May God forgive us ALL!
#41 Larissa Miller on 2007-03-08 12:07
Will they arraign him as Metropolitan Herman, or Joe Swaiko?
#42 K.K. on 2007-03-08 13:46
And how much more of a mess would we currently be in had the Synod not over rode the popular vote?
Fr. Kondratick would still be in complete control and power and the OCA's problems would be ten fold by now.
#43 Michael Geeza on 2007-03-08 15:20
Just to clarify, my intention is not to convince Fr. William of anything. I just want to point out that his recollections and positive experiences of some of the men at the center of this are not necessarily at odds with them being culpable in the matters discussed on this website.
Perhaps more than convincing Fr. William of anything, my intention was to remind those of us who have a harsher view of things that we need not tear at someone such as Fr. William who genuinely has positive experience with these men. The contradictions are mind-boggling, but such contradictions are also the commonplace of the human condition.
There are some characters in this drama that I've never much cared for, but I can think of at least one who I have always found inspirational when I've heard him speak. In my limited exposure, I found him genuine, persuasive, thoughtful, well-grounded -- it pains me to no end that the balance of the evidence suggests that he was part of the inner circle.
But your post raises another point that I think hasn't received enough attention. You say:
There is an old saying: "It is a sin in itself to put
temptation in the path of the weak". Those persons
who even now present yet another opportunity for
self-indulgent public excess, and by doing support
the evasion of repentance and willing removal from
the temptations of high office for those for whom
this would offer the opportunity to receive forgiveness
for their incontrovertible misdoing, will answer for
their enabling of wrong.
Beyond those who have fallen prey to the temptations of high office, this point extends to those who have donated to and participated in these excesses. I'm sure that part of the justification of all this excess, especially in the beginning of the slide down the slippery slope, was "We raised the money, we get to spend the money," combined with, "If rich donors want to pay for banquets and trips where they get to indulge, whose business is it?"
In fact, I suspect, some donors were willingly recruited into the excesses.
A friend recounted to me the experiences of a friend of his on a Moscow trip ... she was disgusted with the partying and excess, but many of those on the trip were wealthy and enjoyed it all.
While they were diverting money from widows and orphans, they were also getting money from people who liked all the glitz and glamour, and they were encouraging these people to participate in that scene and to contribute to make it possible. They probably even justified a lot of the glitz as the necessary cost of grooming high value donors.
But as a church we are not just any old fund raising organization. We are the church and everything we do, including how we raise money should reflect that we are the church and should be done for the edification and salvation of those participating.
Perhaps there was a feeling on all sides that donating money to the church was, in and of itself, a good -- and the whys and the hows and the what fors didn't matter. Maybe they felt like these high value donors would give their money somewhere so why not to the church and why not play to the expectations rooted in the fund raising habits of secular organizations?
In my opinion (for you, Fr. Gary!), this in itself was a distortion and source of sin. By actively encouraging ostentatious, self-indulgent behavior in donors for the good of the church (yet again!), they were harming these donors and leading them into sin.
They were harming one set of little ones, while hypocritically justifying their lack of transparency about these activities as a way of protecting another set of little ones.
#44 Rebecca Matovic on 2007-03-08 15:22
Certainly some of the comments here are sharp and even cross over to rude. I take the tone as a reflection of the pain people are feeling over this mess, rather than as a sign of innate disrespect.
And you're also right that sometimes some of the dialogue shifts into that bad old groove of insisting that priests and bishops not get paid more than the poorest parishioner. This kind of talk was particularly evident in some of the discussions when the budget was released. But even then, it did not appear to be the majority opinion, and I don't think that mentality is particularly prevelant here.
The reaction right now is not to the rightness or wrongness of such a birthday bash in the abstract, but to the timing and the lack of sensitivity that timing shows to the open wounds in the church right now.
There is probably a broader range of opinions on the character and culpability of Metropolitan Herman in all of this than on any other topic discussed on this site. What can be said with certainty is that at this moment many people have lost trust in His Beatitude. Perhaps that loss of trust is justified, perhaps it is not -- but the loss remains a reality.
One would hope that His Beatitude is aware and concerned with this loss of trust. One would pray that he actually is the brave leader you portray him as. One would pray that in the end he will be cleared (one can hardly pray that someone be guilty, even if one fears it to be the case).
But guilty, innocent, or something in between, this birthday bash shows a tone deafness to the current mood of the people in the (figurative) pews across the country.
Something can be lacking in blame while also being lacking in wisdom.
If Metropolitan Herman is to rebuild trust and unity in the OCA [and even if one doubts that he can, one must pray that it is possible] he must find a way to reach across all the camps and change people's hearts.
It is not condemnation, but a simple statement of fact that the holding of this party further alienates those who must ultimately be reconciled if this thing is ever to work.
#45 Rebecca Matovic on 2007-03-08 16:29
Let's not get ahead of ourselves here. Arraignment, investigations, FBI, Birthday parties. BTW KK it would be Joe Swaiko, but that is not going to happen. Nor will it happen with Kondratick. Why? Because stupidity is not a federal offense. Proving criminal intent is the question here. Is there proof that either of these men put church money in their pockets? Diverted it, yes, but for criminal intent?
The FBI will not want to get into a cat fight over the amounts of money we are talking about. It may be big money to Orthodox, but its chump change to the FBI.
However, if they wish to press charges against Swaiko for the worst taste in birthday party timing.....He is guilty on all counts.
#46 Anonymous on 2007-03-08 17:23
LOL! I hope that "In my opinion" didn't cause you too much pain. You needn't cater to my hangups, though. LOL!
#47 Father Gary J. Breton on 2007-03-08 17:51
"There is an old saying: "It is a sin in itself to put
temptation in the path of the weak".
Rebecca and Jean,
I've been mulling over this same thought for the past several months, but from the other direction.
I'll just say that as an excercise in "setting a guard" I keep open the distant hope that we will be patient, the "investigation" will come to an end, all will be revealed and we will understand why we were asked to have been so extraordinarily patient with so little information for so long. I try, as an excercise, but it is a difficult hope to maintain. What I do not understand, though, is why if this unlikely scenario is in fact the case, and hearing the pain and confusion of the flock, our bishops haven't done more to take temptation out of our way. Perhaps they won't have been guilty of financial shenanigans but it seems to me they are guilty of the kind of negligence that Jean described above. Bishop Job alone seems to have understood that we need the balm of pastoral care, not by telling us to lay aside earthly cares- since this is rather about stewardship than earthly distractions- but by telling us that he understands why we are scandalized and shaken, and by trying to help us through the woods. "What father, being asked for bread, would hand his child a stone?"
#48 Rachel Andreyev on 2007-03-08 18:03
I've never replied to anything before on this forum, but I seriously cannot believe what I'm reading. From my home outside Shanghai I have absolutely no connection to this other than friends at my home Church and this website. But...
1) if calling +His Beatitude "MH" is disrespectful, then I guess we should get rid of all the "XC" stuff we see in the Church. There is nothing wrong with shorthand.
2) Nobody condemned anyone for being honored on their birthday~ only the extravigance of it and the lack of discernment~ which I'd guess most people thought he had at one time or another.
3) Didn't he sign up for a life of meger salaries when he got tonsured or whatever (I honestly don't know much)? There's nothing wrong with living a life of poverty. From the sound of it, many people on this website are doing it, including myself since I basically do volunteer work (but the tofu is amazing!).
4) It's not a life of poverty when you have an expense account~ common... let's be honest here. This is also kind of true for me. I have no money now and live in a cubicle, but I know that I can return to poshness at any time I want back in the states.
5) Can someone tell me how having posh birthday parties and stonewalling everyone is "spreading the gospel"?
It seems that someone has a lot of repressed anger. Type written vomit, Small mindedness.... interesting choice of words.
And I'm not worried about the Church. Despite what some people think it won't be destroyed. Maybe the OCA will, but that's not such a big thing I think (not that I want it to). Orthodoxy still exists. At least in Ameica, even if the OCA goes down, you still have a spriritual father to go to in times of trouble or need. The Church has been through much worse. Right now the Former Church in Shanghai of St. John of Shanghai and SanFrancisco is a martini bar with icons of Chairman Mao in the dome and it's sitting next to a giant gay nightclub. Another larger Russian Orthodox Mission is a giant dance club called "The Shanghai Dome." I won't say more.
Enjoy your Lent~ I enjoy listening to the Pre-sanctified I have from Fr. Schmemmen (sp?) and the St. Vlad's choir. It's nice.
Eric Pachomius Schmidt
(I'm worried about my spelling in this thing, so sorry, but my English has gone the way of the toilet over the last 5 years)
#49 Eric Schmidt on 2007-03-08 18:49
Congratulation for your outstanding job, patience and dedication to the Orthodoxy on the North American continent.
This site brought to our attention much more than the OCA financial crisis. It brought to our attention the moral crisis existing among every class of the American Orthodoxy: bishops, priests, deacons, monastics, theologians, seminarians, theological teachers, laity, old, adults, young, etc.
The head of the Orthodox Church is the founder of it, it is our Lord Jesus Christ, WHO from His heaven is watching the actual crisis among those mentioned above and he is still waiting as a supreme judge for "those perpetrators" to depart from this world and face Him.
Dear in Christ,
This generic "BUSINESS AS USUAL" is telling us about the lack of respect for Holy establishment of the Orthodox Church in general, and of the OCA especially, from the TOP to the BOTTOM of this OCA pyramid. This generic is related mostly to the OCA hierarchy and his negligence of people needs, monastic vows, Gospel prescriptions, canonical provisions.
This kind of lavish party planned by the +MH is one of the MOST OUTRAGEOUS ACT he can do to our OCA in this time of crisis.
I am o reader of the writings of the fathers of the Holy Orthodox Church for at least three decades. Please believe me, I found nothing in regards to any BIRTHDAY PARTY done for St John Chrysostome, Basil the Great, Gregory the Theologian, Anthony the Great, St Ephrem of Syria and all the other fathers of the Holy Orthodox Church, and thei were monastics too.
During the GOLDEN ERA of the ORTHODOX CHURCH, most of the hierarchs did struggle for the "GOOD of the church" fighting the heretics, the pagan rulers, and very rarely among themselves.
Most of the Holy Fathers suffered persecution one ay or the other and some were dethroned from their patriarchal thrones, as it happend to St John Chrysostom. It is something we should reflect upon. They truly deserved much more at that time than they did received.
I made this kind of paralelism between two kind of bishops, monastics and church leaders, just to show you WHERE ARE WE STANDING NOWADAYS. The OCA is not in good hands at the present time. It is a shame for this kind of crisis created by +MH, +MT, R Kondratick and their allies. There are so many other irresponsible people connected to this crisis, namely those who did travel abroad, or attended party here in the USA without controlling the OCA budgets for so many years.
It looks to me that the current OCA leaders (hierarchs) with some exception (Job, Benjamin, Nikon, Alejo) are the most responsible for crisis created in the past and made know just within the last 16 months.
Those involved within the OCA should NOT ATTEND THIS LAVISH party for the 75th birthday of +MH. Everyone should stay home and save money.
Every diocesan bishop should instruct their priest NOT TO ATTEND THIS PARTY, because it is not for THE GOOD OF THE CHURCH, is for the good of +MH's pocket.
The OCA Syhod (which is not a holy body anymore) MUST take a vote together with the Metropolitan Council which will meet next week and CALL OFF this party, at list FOR THE GOOD OF THE CHURCH.
This kind of false monk who is +MH (who is more monarch than monk) should step down as soon as possible. It is about time for the OCA Synod and Metropolitan Council to dethrone this papist, monarchist non-metropolitan out of the OCA Syosset office, as per the canonical provisions. There are canonical grounds which prohibite this kind of lavish party.
Only Herod the King, as per Holy Gospel reports, was so negligent as is +MH of our days. We do not need this kind of despot as our leader. In case +MH loves much more this kind party than the real religious life of the Orthodox Church, he should go back to the ARMY, and enjoy everything.
By the way, Mr +MH ... where are the monastics vows, you should know and respect? Are they not for you too? What do you believe are you? You are not infailable. You are not invincible. You should be dethroned by the OCA Synod or people as soon as possible.
By the way, Mr +MH have you ever thought about the Holy fathers of the Church and their birthday party? Shame on you for not having time to reflect upon their life style and having time just to cook the OCA books with your allies. Time is coming when you will pay dearly.
OCA people should get prepared and boycott the party in case is not called of by the OCA Synod. We hope that there are wise hierarchs in the OCA Synod who can face +MH and telll him about the danger of such a party, which is not for the good of the church.
+MH retire NOW, and we will make a party afterwards, just to celebrate your departure. I hope you learned something from this site postings, and step down on your own.
A dissapointed Orthodox Christian,
Yorgo Gianopoulis 3 / 9 / 7
#50 Yorgo Gianopoulos on 2007-03-09 02:02
Orthodox Christians who read this list: Please be careful not to let your eyes glide lightly over this posting by Larissa Miller. It speaks volumes about the spiritual condition of too many people in the diocese of Eastern Pennsylvania. Whether Ms. Miller is in that diocese or not is not ultimately important. What is important is that that people of good will throughtout the country come to see that if one took out her signed name and put in "Metropolitan Herman" or "*any number of EPA communicants who have been led by the example of their archpastor Herman*" in its place, the attitude conveyed would be pretty much the same. In other words, what you see is a caricature here of a pervasive mentality cultivated in a flock by the example of a ruling bishop (MH was bishop of EPA for 20+ years, influenced it as auxiliary bishop to an elderly archbishop for some years before that, and, even before that influenced it as a priest heavily involved with St. Tikhon's Seminary. This influence and guidance, in other words, goes back to the 1960s). The resulting mentality amounts to the following:
Those who wish to discuss openly, fairly, and with Christian zeal, the legitimacy of bishops' decisions and behavior, are to be attacked as "Judases," "leeches, "troublemakers" and victims of bad parenting by their "mommies," who must ask forgiveness from God for their insolence before the bishop. And, this message is to be repeated in incredibly derisive, mocking, and angry tones by those who tow the bishop's line.
THIS posting, in other words, is the best possible example of why Herman has, and continues to be, such a spiritually dangerous force as an archpastor. Forget about his good or bad "leadership" for a moment. The Christian church has the office of bishop to "rightly divide the Word of [God's] Truth." But if the archpastor, who is charged with guiding the souls of the faithful, leads the people to judge and comdemn others, then the bishop, the effective image of Christ, is counterfeiting the image of Christ with the image of Beelzebub, and many undiscerning people will offer their own caricatures of this counterfeit model. Practically speaking, I invite you to do some checking. See if this is not, in fact, the sine qua non way of EPA's strongest supporters of MH.
This issue brings up two other points. One deals with recent postings about how long into the past Herman has been influencing things this way (particularly as related to messages responding to Fr. William DuBovick). The other one deals with a posting from "an EPA survivor" about what should be expected of MH in the future.
I will label the first as category 1. These deal with the question of whether MH's behavior as primate is a result of a corruption brought on by the office of metropolitan and its attendant power. The other, category 2, is comprised of a single essay that centered on the longstanding ways of, in the author's words, "Company Clerk Joe Swaiko" (the name of MH before his episcopate)
As for category 1: the perception that M. Herman's behavior is an example of a corruption brought on by the primatial office. The faithful outside of Pennsylvania, who have no experience with this diocese in recent decades, should be told something clearly and unambiguously: M. Herman is NOT a changed man these days. On the contrary, he is one of the most consistent of persons.
From the days of the 1960s, when he openly boasted to certain Metropolia laity, "I'm going to be the metropolitan someday!" to his years of ingratiation to Archbishop Kiprian, and then throughout his many years as bishop of Eastern Pennsylvania, he has been the self same person: Like any human being, capable of goodness at times, his essential modus operandi has nevertheless been: vindictiveness, lust for power, vengefulness, intimidation, and and finally (and most importantly) total and utter deceitfulness.
I challenge anyone to do a little more research than suggested earlier: try doing an anonymous survey of longstanding clergy of EPA. Assuring them of absolute anonymity (because they will be VERY afraid of reprisals by Herman if they think he would have any conceivable way of finding out what they say), ask them yourself if this characterization of MH is in any way false, misleading, or libelous.
As for point 2.: The post from the "EPA survivor" urged people to watch the upcoming actions of the metropolitan council and the special commission carefully in reference to MH. The person suggested that Herman and his lawyers would seek to divide these bodies against themselves, thereby providing a gap through which he could slip... escaping culpability once again as a consequence of the confusion thus created. Indeed, this writer has made a VERY astute characterization. Pay very careful attention to this comment and remember it well.
This is assuredly the way he will proceed-- has always proceeded-- and also, very likely, is what, tragically, will result from his proceeding this way. The only way the councils won't be divided against themselves is if they have the spiritual perseverence and clarity to keep their eyes on "the one thing needful." If any of you on the council are reading this, beware. Be ready for precisely these sorts of subtle, and perhaps not so subtle, attempts by MH to manipulate you into suspecting each other, turning against each other in your hearts.
I would like to conclude my remarks on MH's tendency to try to turn people against themselves with a reference to a famous film from the early 1970s. I do this because, in the end, MH is not representing himself alone, or even necessarily conscious of what effect his actions are having. In fact, I doubt he is at all intentionally sowing the seeds he sows. In this film, a priest named Merrin reminds his doubting fellow priest of the principal tactic of their Enemy: "He will lie to confuse us; but he will also mix lies with the truth to attack us." This, dear friends, is who we are really facing; not Met. Herman Swaiko. Let us not ever lose sight of the that.
#51 Another recovering EPA'er on 2007-03-09 02:28
I am a realist and often times and optimist. Therefore I would like to believe that if the Holy Synod did not over ride the popular vote, things would be different...and we can only speculate how different they really would be.
At least under a different primate, I would hope that Herman would not have been able to continue to hide the financial mismanagement that he (and the others) were able to do so well for so many years.
Once again, it is only speculation what could have been.
Keep reading, though. I am going to post again later under what Sdn John Martin wrote under thread 14.1. He got me thinking and I have an idea for the next AAC….I think it has potential.
Yours in Christ,
#52 Anonymous on 2007-03-09 03:54
Well said again!
Reading your posting reminded me of two Roman Catholic Religious Sisters who made weekly visits to the "Projects" in St. Louis to provide "Learning to Read" classes to the desperately poor who lived there. They drove up each week in a very luxurious black Buick limosine which looked like a prop for the movie "The Godfather". When asked if they didn't think such an ostentatiously expensive automobile was inappropriate for women "vowed to poverty" , they replied, "Oh! But you see our cars are donated to us by a very devout Catholic Buick dealer and we certainly don't want to offend such a fine donor!"
They just "didn't get it" that there was something profoundly incongruent about two Religious Sisters dressed in flowing black pre-Vatican II veils and habits emerging from that ultra-luxurious limosine to enter the rat-infested poverty of their destination.
Indifference to, or attempts to justify, some levels of this kind of incongruence are culpable wickedness. And to such. outrage is an appropriate response.
#53 Jean Langley Sullivan on 2007-03-09 09:13
“TWO WAYS TO SAVE THE OCA”
1. Bury our heads in the sand and convince ourselves that all the accusations are false, and move forward....
2. Continue to insist on finding the truth.
I just heard an interesting comment. An Orthodox woman in the East central states knew nothing about the scandal. But I will let her know “ALL”. Should someone else have given her a milder version first?
Local parish priests could communicate to the parishioners that there are serious accusations, and an investigation is going on.
Priests, PLEASE STAND UP AND BE COUNTED.
Before it’s too late.
“IT DOESN’T LOOK LIKE GROUP 2 IS GOING TO GIVE UP”.
Thank you, Ande
#54 Ande on 2007-03-09 10:49
Mr Geeza: There have been many comments on this site over the past months claiming that the Syosset administration, and its ardent defenders, always end up reducing everything to personalities. You, one of the current administrators' most consistently ardent defenders, regularly live up to this billing in two ways. You defend Met. Herman to the nth degree because of [?] while brushing off all facts that cloud your cult of personality in this regard, while at the same time, just as strongly, reducing all evils to the personality of Fr. R. Kondtatick. IF Fr. Kondtatick has sinned, I find myself wondering, have YOU decided that he is to be publicly castigated on the basis of personality or of facts?
Here's a fact for you. I offer it in light of your most recent "who cares" dismissal of facts that happen to paint your chosen personality in a poor light-- that a total of $25,000 of "donations" for a one night bash relate badly to the fact that monies for more important things remain missing. I openly invite, and would genuinely welcome, your refutation of what I present not on the basis of personality but on the merits of the facts themselves. I'm going to purposely remain anonymous in this case so you can't target my comments as merely the bad results of my "personality."
A little over twenty-five years ago, before his diocesan predecessor's body was even cold in its grave, the diocesan bishop-to-be (Herman Swaiko), hatched a program whereby all deanery parishes in his new Diocese of Eastern PA were to be assessed a high amount of monies solely for the purpose of building a massive new home at St. Tikhon's for himself. In order to justify this outright demand for cash, he styled the place the "Diocesan Center." Even though he and his attendant alone were to live in the huge home, it supposedly belonged to the diocese. This euphemism was obviously absurd, but he (as so often has been the case) got his way. The big blue palace was built, and in he moved.
Fast forward to his "election" as metropolitan. There has been sufficient charge that his continuing to live in this "humble monastic cell"/Diocesan center-- while the new diocesan bishop, Tikhon, does not-- is both morally wrong, and results in a canonical abandonment of his new dioceses of Washington and New York. Some of these accusations came from his brother bishops (I'm sure in those cases you would attribute the canonical charges as based not in canon law but in the "personality conflict" between men on the Holy Synod). Incidentally, people who don't reduce everything to personalities realize that even people with lousy personalities can sometimes be right.
So, what does this string of facts tell us? It tells us that we're either dealing with someone who blatantly lied about the house in the first place or, if not, is presently afflicted with the belief that as metropolitan, he is somehow "more in charge" of the Eastern Pennsylvania diocese than its own bishop is and therefore, still has the right to live in EPA's "diocesan center." Either way, even you might admit (although I doubt it), something is amiss.
Since I ask you to admit something, let me admit something first... lead by example, as it were. I admit that it would be difficult for Herman to actually reside in his newly concocted super-diocese of "Washington and New York" if he did decide to actually leave St. Tikhon's, since he would need to achieve bi-location in order to live both in New York City and Washington D.C. at the same time. I admit that one possible solution to this new conundrum I can see him proposing would be the building of two new "diocesan centers," in both cities, with perhaps an private underground subway linking them. Maybe this could sold then to "the masses" as constituting a single "diocesan center," thus justifying the new round of assessments to build them.
On the other hand, with the level of humility that people such as Larissa Miller have attributed to him, his level of personal sanctity is no doubt at the level where he could achieve bilocation not by subway tunnel but through purely spiritual means, as is testified to be possibl in certain saints' lives
Now the cards are down and I ask you: How do you respond to the fact that lying and de-facto theft were involved back when the home was built (which says a lot about "personality")? If Herman believed his own story from years ago, he would have, at the very least, left the home and moved on to other grounds at St. Tikhon's when Bishop Tikhon was installed. He hasn't moved. What does this fact say about his "personality"?
If he did believe all along that it was his own house, than he lied those many years ago. What would this fact say about his "personality"?
Now we are to the point of his upcoming birthday party. I'm not suggesting that he forced anyone to throw it for him, but I am suggesting that once again people are being encouraged to spend a lot of money for his personal glorification instead of directing it to worthwhile causes, like donating "again" to Bibles for Russia programs, and the like.
I cannot wait for your response. If, by the way, you choose not to respond directly, I will assume that you view me as merely one of the riled-up "masses" you mentioned in your posting. If you are not also a part of the masses (perhaps you're one of the owners of the 'means of production'), you'll have sufficient clout to see to it that none of the hundred dollar-a-plate "donations" for the metropolitan's wonderful party are illegally "diverted" to other OCA-related projects, such as an account labeled "Bibles for Russia," and we can all rest assured that financial impropriety will have been eliminated with the dismissal of the "personality" at the center of it all, as you say... one Fr. R. Kondratick.
#55 A recovering EPA'er on 2007-03-09 10:51
Dear Subdeacon John Martin,
Thank you for answering back. I certainly appreciate your ideas & I have added to some of them below. Hopefully more people will contribute with ideas for the next AAC.
Option A (the bishops removing MH). I think the easiest option next to MH resigning on his own. However, it probably would never happen just for the fact that no bishop is going to vote to remove another for fear of being just as easily removed from their see. Although a good idea, I would presume that Option A won’t work.
Option B (Voting). I agree with you that at least three ballots should be cast for metropolitan in representation of the Trinity. (Maybe this is where we went wrong as Met. Theodosius was elected the same way as Met. Herman.) The question is how do we get a vote on the agenda for the next AAC to amend the statutes?
Option C (statute to remove a metropolitan). Speaking of amending the statues, I was thinking that if it takes two-thirds of a vote to elect a metropolitan, then why can we not have a two-thirds vote to REMOVE a metropolitan? If a metropolitan is that unfavorable among his flock, then we should be able to request a new leader. I will try and research how statutes get amended.
Option D (financial starvation). One of our most immediate and likely option is for people/churches to begin or continue to financially starve Syosset by sending money directly to the charities. This has been a popular solution on this forum obviously because it has more of an immediate impact. I don’t know if it is working or even sending a message to Syosset, however I think it is a step in the right direction as missions, charities, and seminaries are actually receiving money. However I think Fr. Hopko was correct in one of his earlier reflections by stating that we still need to fulfill our obligation to the OCA and pay our dues, i.e. OCA assessment.
Option E (pray, pray & pray). This is the most real option of all. Everyone who says we need to pray is absolutely right. I read (a long while ago) one of the holy church fathers who said that you get the priest you deserve. Well I wonder if we got the metropolitan we deserved because of our sins, lack of faith and lack of repentance. If God lifted his grace from Holy Russia, it can happen to us. This is the perfect opportunity to repent during Lent and make the appropriate changes.
I have faith that with God, the OCA will see better days.
Yours in Christ,
#56 Anonymous on 2007-03-09 10:52
Dear Larissa: From one who has never hid his name on this site, Please allow me to point out the following:
1. It is my understanding the the tradition of the church is that "God grant you many years" is not to be sung to monastics. Therefore, a birthday party, and most certainly a $100 per plate bash at a bastion of wealth, is just out of place. Why do you find that so hard to understand? I am told that a certain archbishop recently celebrated his birthday with a cupcake.
2. His Beatitude himself sactioned the diversion of charitable contributions to pay other expenses. It's in the OCA's financial statements. Yet he said in his interview on the OCA web site "I have done nothing wrong." Why do you find it so hard to understand that we're more than a little upset?
3. At his recent visit to St Mark's he admitted that he knew that cash was being taken to Russia, monies that were not part of the OCA's budget. Again, why is it so hard to understand that we are more than a little upset?
4. At St Mark's His Beatitude also said that he "was Treasurer in name only." Beyond not performing his legal fiduciary duty, don't you think that he had some moral duty to be a good steward of the Church's funds?
Larissa, instead of joining with the Metroplitan Council in trying to find answers to all of our questions, His Beatitude has constantly put up roadblocks. Why is it so hard for you to understand that we are more than a little upset?
#57 Michael Strelka on 2007-03-09 10:53
Reading some of these posts, I can't help but think back the last birthday of our own bishop. Did we rent a hall? Did we get expensive catering? Did we sell plates? Not at all. We put out a modest but decent spread in our church basement. I think there was salmon, but other than that, the event totally lacked this grandiose opulence. Was Vladika offended that we hadn't done more? No, he accepted our efforts and our love, and even said that he hadn't expected anything, since his birthday was the following week, and he planned to spend it quietly with family. There is a difference between wholesome and fitting celebration and prodigality, which, frankly, has been an offense of many of the OCA's official functions, including the last AAC.
#58 Reader Anthony on 2007-03-09 11:41
I lose track with so many threads:
Who is meeting again this upcoming week? What is their agenda supposed to be?
Thanks for responding.
An article is forthcoming on Monday)
#59 Patty Schellbach on 2007-03-09 17:39
In all honesty, I don't think the Met is in reality. ....
Now should we enable this? No. Someone should have suggested a very nice dinner at St. Tikhons (which he refuses to leave), let the seminarians serve and donate the money to pay down our loan.
This has become too sad. I can only hope the Met resigns. We will never heal under his leadership.
I also think we should decide what we want to happen then consider what we can do to move that forward. Deny money? To what end? Me I want him to resign and I believe the Synod has to take care of that. So what can we do to help bring that about? Or we need to change the Statute to allow the laity to remove a Metropolitan.
We need coordination. Beyond the Commission. Well, let's wait and see what they say or don't say. Then let's stop whining and try to end this. The Greeks got rid of someone by withholding money but they had the EP worrying about the money. I just don't know what to do but we have spun our wheels for too long.
#60 Linda Weir on 2007-03-09 18:59
Dear Larissa, Christ tells us to call no one "fool," foolish is ok though. In spite of his many perceived failings I don't know who can replace the Metropolitan, certainly the thought of Bishop Nikolai of Alaska becoming Metropolitan makes me want to nail MHerman's feet to the floor. I think it would be a wonderful thing to have Archbishop Lazar invite them all to a retreat/work party at the monastery in BC., for a couple of weeks to get a perspective on how to truly serve the Orthodox Church in America. I took the liberty of suggesting this to the Archbishop and hope it many happen. We don't have many candidates for the office of bishop, should we lose the ones we have. I knew one man who, as our unmarried and celibate archdeacon, served the Church in humility and love and who would have been a very good bishop. He was so humble and low key that many in his own parish never knew who he was. I'm sure they were surprised to see how packed his funeral was; people Orthodox, non-Orthodox crowded in to pay their respects to the one who brought the love of Christ to them in a living and joyful ministry. As Flannery O'Connor pointed out in her story "A Good Man Is Hard To Find." Memory Eternal Archdeacon Roman.
#61 Alice Carter on 2007-03-09 20:59
This is perhaps the most important and insightful post to appear on this website concerning the character and operational style of his Beatitude, Metropolitan Herman, Archbishop of Washington and New York, Metropolitan of North America and Canada,... etc.!
The only thing it lacks is a signature, which would further inhance its value, but probably at an unacceptable personal cost if this poster is, as is likely, a member of the clergy.
Read it carefully, and ponder its implications!
#62 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2007-03-10 08:34
I dare to differ here. The FBI is always interested in fraud, regardless of the amount. Recall not too long ago, the FBI became very interested, and arrested, two catholic priests in Florida for embezzling $2 million from a local parish.
The FBI has, in my experience, gotten involved in cases down to the $100,000 level (I'm an auditor/forensic accountant, and have seen the FBI work at an intimate level.) In fact, the Russian connections may pique their interest more than the money.
Proving intent to defraud isn't difficult in this instance, either. They could simply point to the grant proposal prepared for ADM, and the continual shift of funds from appeals to operations (or private purses), to demonstrate a pattern of behavior over the years where the money wasn't used for the purposes it was raised.
I would encourage the Metropolitan to release his personal tax returns, as our elected leaders in Washington DC do.
Hopefully, they (Syosset) have already entered into a plan of self-correction with the IRS. If not, the individuals involved should be very afraid of the repercussions. Capone was jailed on tax evasion, not racketeering or other criminal statutes.
I'm frankly very proud of the laity of the OCA, and for their restraint in not filing civil suits against the Metropolitan, the Chancellor, and the retired Metropolitan. Each one of us has standing to do so, however to my knowledge, no one yet has. It is a testament to our willingness to forgive, to exercise Christian charity, and to follow the admonition of St. Paul against recourse to the civil courts.
In my estimation, Metropolitan Herman lost his flock about six months or so. He is Metropolitan in title only, and very few continue to follow his counsel or leadership. What I strive to do, and what I hope others do, is cease being an enabler. Our father is an addict. We've been trying for the past year and a half to hold an intervention, to no avail. It does not diminish our love for him, because he is our father. But as anyone who has dealt with an addictive loved one knows, it is not healthy nor kind to facilitate the addiction any further.
The contrast between our Metropolitan and that of the Antiochian archdiocese is striking. Last fall, Metropolitan PHILIP was given a gift on the 40th anniversary of his consecration to the episcopacy. That gift totaled $250,000. He immediately (in his remarks that very evening) stated his intent to put the money into a fund of the honoraria he had received over the years, and transfer the money to the retired priest housing fund. As such, $1 million was transferred into that fund.
Can the same be said of our Metropolitan's "discretionary" accounts?
The Antiochians, and Metropolitan PHILIP, have their issues as well. Financial issues are not numbered among them. We should, I believe, follow their lead. Archbishop JOB appears to want to do so, as does Bishop NIKON. Perhaps a few others. Many years, holy fathers!
Metropolitan HERMAN -- I received the holy Communion from you at your enthronement in Washington, D.C. I thought at the time how sad you appeared. "Stressed" in the language of my teen aged daughter. The burden of leadership was showing. I dismissed my observations assuming the events had simply tired you.
Vladika, in hindsight I believe it was the burden you carried, the knowledge of the activities going on, that caused your demeanor and affect that day. I feel such sorrow for you. All the opulence and comfort in the world cannot compare with the burden you carry.
Vladika, I am no one but a fellow believer in Christ. All I can do is remind you of the forgiveness offered by God. As we heard in the Gospel reading a few weeks ago, the tax collector Zacheaus accepted the forgiveness of Christ, gave half his possessions to the poor, and restored anything he defrauded fourfold.
Please, Vladika, do not continue to carry this burden. Follow your own advice, and the advise of our savior, and repent. We will love you all the more for it, and rejoice with our father that the son who was dead is now alive. We do love you, and fear for your eternal soul.
Sdn. John Martin
Martin D. Watt, CPA (Inactive)
#63 Marty Watt on 2007-03-10 08:41
A few terse remarks responding to your comments:
1) Christians are required to collect and distribute alms for the fatherless, the poor, widows, and those in need. (Just pay attention to the dail Lenten radings from Isaiah). When the leadership of the Church fails to do this on multiple occasions - and we're obviously not talking about a few dollars here - there is something seriously wrong. Accepting such a betrayal of the Gospel in the name of 'unity' is perpetuating collective sin and social surd.
2) The bishop's primary ministry is to maintain sacramental order and unity among the Church God has appointed him to oversee. This is the primary responsibility expressed by the prayers of episcopal ordination. The only way unity can be restored in the OCA is for the truth to be revealed. The money trail tells us that these huge funds designated to help the needy went elsewhere. It seems to me that is the primary cause of the problem.
3) How can you possibly substantiate your claim that there is only one perpetrator - the former chancellor - without knowing all the results of the investigation through due diligence? Hey, if you are privy to new information that exonerates the rest of the people who were responsible for withholding funds designated for the aid of suffering people, I'm sure the readers of this site and elsewhere would like to know - do tell!
4) I object to the stereotype you painted about all the contributors to this site. It would be impossible to agree with every statement made on a blog like this. Many of the posts are theologically rich and Gospel-centered, written by faithful presbyters and people with legitimate theological education, whether formal or informal.
5) I don't think we should shortchange God's activity during this crisis. Since when does God act in conventional ways? God's plan will unfold as He wills, and it shouldn't surprise any of us if our current state of discord turns out to be his means of reconstructing us into his holy temple, especially if 'discord' engenders meaningful dialogue, exchange of ideas for solutions, and parresia.
And finally, why is it so darned hard to answer this brief and direct question:
Are the allegations true, or are they false?
Let us fervently pray that God would resolve this crisis for us as we ponder the paradox of his cross at this mid-point of Lent.
#64 N. Denysenko on 2007-03-10 13:17
This is a federal offense. When monies or any properties are moved across state lines, it becomes a federal issue.Someone is going to get nailed.
MH, should be FIRED, do not let him have the luxury of resigning!
St. James---Brother of the Lord
Kansas City, MO
Money doesn't have to be moved between state lines to be a Federal criminal offense Income tax evasion isn't very difficult to prove. Follow the paper trail, interview the right people, ask the right questions & gather the right evidence.
An ex-IRS agent.
#66 Anonymous on 2007-03-10 20:10
How the OCA administration in Syosset has responded to this financial mess is beyond my understanding. By their actions, I gather Syosset must take me for a fool. Until this metropolitan and key administrative heads are relieved of their duties, I am not giving a dime to the Syosset. Sadly, when a portion of my giving to the local parish flows to the diocese, and then a portion flows to the archdiocese, I have to stop supporting the local OCA parish in order to avoid giving a dime to Syosset. This is my only recourse. No longer will I play the part of a fool.
When will Syosset leadership realize that the trust they have with most parishioners is now on life support?
#67 Samuel Osman on 2007-03-10 20:31
I would like to remain anonymous. If you need to, Mark, you can confirm my identity by e-mailing me, but I don't think it really matters who I am for this idea to be considered or discussed:
What if everyone who is unhappy about this inappropriate $100 a plate party sent instead $100 directly to an Orthodox charity of their choice, and sent Met. Herman a birthday card informing him a donation had been made in his name? What if the people who do buy the $100 dinner party tickets are also challenged to make a matching donation directly to an Orthodox charity of their choice?
Do you think more than $25K could be raised? Is there a way for this site be used to confirm such donations have been made (even if the donors wish to remain anonymous) and demonstrate that the so-called "whiners" are willing to put their money where their mouths are, and do something positive for those who really need our gifts?
What result would such a campaign have on the Syosset administration? I don't know, but it might be interesting to see. But at least it might put some cash directly into the hands of Orthodox charities that may be suffering as a result of the OCA's financial mess. And it might give the disillusioned faithful joy to find a way to bring a small bit of good out of the pain they have been suffering.
#68 a priest's wife on 2007-03-10 21:06
I beg you to consider these two multiple choice questions based on the New Testament: Which figure openly challenged the Churches to right the many deviations from Christ's teaching he saw in them, pointing out the specific nature of their corruption with bold humility? a) Judas Iscariot b) Apostle Paul?
Alternately, who betrayed the Lord himself by first remaining quiet and then turning Christ himself over to the chief priests and other "established religious leaders" for judgment on the charge of His rocking the boat of their religious Institution? a) Judas Iscariot b) Apostle Paul?
#69 Wondering on basis of New Testament on 2007-03-11 13:19
Even easier is the current favorite against high-profile defendants. Forget the original allegations; did you lie to investigators? Martha? Scooter?
#70 Tim Capps on 2007-03-11 14:30
I like your suggestion, however, do not send it in honor of his name. This is a GREAT idea. Count me in.
St. James---Brother of the Lord
I couldn't agree with you more above your point #5 that God is working good in all of this and I would pray thus:
Thank you Father, Source of life
On knees I offer back to you Your love
Confessing that Your ways are past my ken
So not my will, but that which You desire.
Renew all that which I am powerless to change
Begin with me the change, enfranchise me
Enlarge my heart to take my rightful place
The place wherein I lay down my life for You.
Wisdom leads Love to self-sacrifice
The peaceful weapon ready at my side
Looking neither right nor left, my eyes see only You
With goodness and mercy following quick behind.
I must be perfect as You are, O Lord
In Your Kingdom, my humanity fulfilled
In Christ, Mature, where hearts are joined to tell
Of Father God who loves us more than life.
#72 Karen Jermyn on 2007-03-12 07:30
What do you want to accomplish by withholding money? Say, if we want the Met to resign and we think withholding money will do it, we need a coordinated effort. If an individiual parish withholds money the diocese has to make up the difference. We need to work together on this.
What I am trying to say, is that rather than focus on the Problem, we should focus on the cause of the problem and what we, as laity can do to end that behavior or cause.
I think the met must resign, I think we need to revise the statutes so that the liaty can remove any bishop for cause (good cause). We need a WORKING AAC not one that provides goodie bags and wonderful talks that none of the bishops attend. And nothing comes of these talks. We need to stop acting like something we are not. With these boondogles (sp) trips around the world and large gifts.
WE have too small a pool of bishops and I don't know what to do about that because that would need an ecumenical council to allow married bishops. which the "mother Churches" don't want because the situation in the "diaspora" may change and the money would then flow the wrong way. A Great Council.
Now what can we reasonable do to work toward these or other suggestions of the cause of our troubles.
And what about Robert Kondratic? Why isn't he defrocked? I think he knows too much dirt. Just an opinion.
#73 Linda Weir on 2007-03-12 10:06
If Archbishop JOB and Diocese of the Midwest makes good on its resolution from last year's Assembly, 25% of the Central Administration's funding will evaporate. A poke in the eye like that might just get someone's attention.
Then there's always the FBI and the IRS to shake things up a bit too and, in spite of the wishful thinking of some that we're "small potatoes," the IRS doesn't take kindly to 501(c)(3)s playing fast and loose with money earmarked for widows and orphans.
Why don't you ask Fr. Kondratick where all the missing monies went as he is THE ONLY ONE WHO KNOWS.
When will you and other's get it that this guy KNOWS EVERYTHING and STILL ISN'T TALKING. Has he suddenly developed a severe case of amnesia?
Do you need to be reminded that he had every opportunity to speak with PR (after insisting that a court stenographer be present), and he and his attorney refuse to answer the very first question asked of them which happened to relate to the ADM money?
Did we forget that it was proven that Church monies were used to pay personal credit card bills? Did we forget that there was a continuous flow of unaccounted for cash advances in $9,500 increments?
Why is it that so many people conveniently forget about that?
In my opinion, the 2 areas where Metropolitan Herman lacked good judgement were in reappointing Fr. Kondratick as Chancellor at the last All American Council in Toronto and then not suspending him when the news of financial improprieties broke.
As for the birthday party, bad timing, yes. But let's not turn this whole thing around and blame him for missing money when the man who was running the show for too long doesn't even have the courtesy to speak to the Church about it or defend himself. I don't hear anyone lamenting how much harm he's caused the church by his actions. All I hear is the never ending daily badgering of Metropotian Herman and anyone else who is trying to remedy a horrible situation.
Why don't some of the badgerers out there finding something more productive to do (perhaps offering some of their talent to the Church) rather than finding another reason to lambase the Metropolitan.
Why oh why are Metropolitan Herman's actions the only ones which are crucified in public, when other's have done much more harm to the Church than you could shake a stick at, and they get a free pass? Doesn't anyone remember the reports of Protodeacon Eric Wheeler. Boy, how soon do we forget.
I swear, if Christ Himself were the Metropolitan of the OCA, I think some of you people would find fault with Him.
Sadly, you provide the answers to your own questions. With the exception of his public shills, such as the "monk" James Silver and a few anonymous posters to this site, no one defends the actions or continuing silence of Fr. Kondratick. I agree with you, both his and former Metropolitan Theodosius' continuing silence says more than their words from now on ever will. There is no doubt that they shall answer to the civil authorities for the questions that have been raised in the past year; most notably, where did all the OCA's money go?
That being said, as you pointed out, there can no excuse for the current Metropolitan's actions the past eight years - first as Acting Treasurer in 1999, then as Metropolitan. Why did the Metropolitan not demand to know where the money went in 1999 when he learned of all this from Protodeacon Wheeler? Why did he aprticipate in the cover-up of the diverted ADM monies, evidence of which is found in the Rock emails? Once he became Metropolitan in 2002, why did he not terminate Fr. Kondratick then when he had the authority to do so? Rather, he reappointed him of his own free will! And again in 2005! The Metropolitan signed off on the diversions of charitable and appeal monies initiated by Fr. Kondratick as the Metropolitan Council Minutes evidence. When he was given the Moscow tape, why did he not stop Fr. Bob then? Or when Protodeacon Wheeler made all his allegations public in November 2005? In every one of the above instances the Metropolitan sought to cover-up, hinder, and silence any attempts to learn the truth of what was going on in Syosset - a pattern which continued in multiple public announcements to be quiet through December, January, February of 2006 as well.
Finally, in March 2006 he acts and dismisses Fr. Kondratick - not for acts he may have committed against the Church - but for threatening him ( Metropolitan Herman!). But nothing further is done - Fr. Kondratick continues to live in the Chancellors house for 5 months, laudatory articles appear in the OCA newspaper, and he is then transferred to a new parish, as if nothing had happened!
But that is not all. THe Metropolitan refuses to allow Proskauer Rose to offer a written report to the Council detailing the abuses, and then tries to influence the Special Commission as well by restricting their investigation in both scope and length.
And you ask why people are calling for his resignation? Why they are not more appreciative of his attempts to "move on", when he has done so only when forced to do so? There is a direct one to one correlation between bad press and his "reforms". Therefore to doubt the Metropolitan's sincerity or committment to the reform process is not ill-will, it is just common sense based on his actions. The public Birthday party is simply more evidence that he just doesn't believe the problems he has so woefully contributed to are serious – and that the Potemkin Village OCA he enjoyed for the past thirty years should go on, albeit sans Kondratick.
Pardon me if I disagree with the Metropolitan. The OCA must go on, but better without Fr. Kondratick - and those like the Metropolitan, who enabled him. At worst they did so in full knowledge, if not approval of his deeds. At best they can only claim wilfull ignorance. Either way, all those who knew and stayed silent, and those who choose not to ask, are culpable, and should step aside.)
#75 Michael Geeza on 2007-03-12 12:13
Dear Michael, Mark, et al.
I am reliably informed that after his dismissal from office, the Holy Synod extended to Fr. Kondratick an invitation to appear before the Synod to answer whatever questions the hierarchs would put to him; that he accepted that invitation; and that it was the Metropolitan who, at the last minute, upon the advice of lawyers outside the Church, withdrew his agreement and torpedoed that arrangement. Why?
Further, while I am not informed by anybody on this point, I certainly cannot but wonder if anyone from the Special Commission has interviewed the former Chancellor or even invited him to be interviewed. If they have not, why?
And I do wonder if, Mark, you have extended an invitation to Fr. Kondratick to be interviewed for this site? If not, why? (Given some of the things said about him on this site, Fr. Kondratick's response to such a request might be colourful in the extreme---mine certainly would be---but you don't win a Pulitzer by timidity.)
Further still, I must wonder if anyone other than my suspicious self has factored into this equation the moral requirement placed upon the former Chancellor to maintain absolute confidentiality on certain issues. What those issues would be, I haven't the foggiest; but I know that I, as a priest, have a moral obligation to be "ol' velcro lips" on a good chunk of what people disclose to me; and I would imagine that someone in that postion of authority would have even more of a responsibility in this regard. And one hears via the grape vine (and NOT, I hasten to add, from either of the principals) that even after his dismissal as Chancellor, Fr. Kondratick was ordered by the Metropolitan to maintain confidentiality with respect to matters concerning the Metropolitan's office. That is, admittedly, rumor; but it does have a ring of truth to it and is not necessarily conspiratorial. Let us remember. for example, that while the reasons why clergy are suspended or deposed are never disclosed publicly, the Chancellor always knows those reasons; yet he has a moral obligation not to spread that kind of dirt.
My point is that Fr. Kondratick's silence thus far cannot necessarily be construed as hiding putative guilt. And it is disappointing that yet again people posting on this site deliberately choose to believe the worst rather than the best about a fellow believer.
#76 Igumen Philip (Speranza) on 2007-03-14 04:42
What do you want to accomplish by withholding money, a good question for me. Over the last few days, I have formed my answer.
When I give financial support to a church, I intend for the church to use it to spread the Gospel, teach the Gospel, etc. I do not expect the church to use the money as our archdiocese has over the last fifteen years. This does not mean I must agree with the spending of every nickel. It means I need to feel comfortable with how; in general, the church spends money given to it.
As I commented earlier, the local parish and the diocese get hurt financially when parishioners take my action. That is a result of the OCA organizational structure. It places a lot trust in the Syosset administration, the Synod of Bishops and the Metropolitan Council. Trust they have not merited for a long time.
For more than a year, I have hoped to see the archdiocese properly clean house. Sadly, I have not seen this.
Ultimately, I feel responsible for how I use the gifts I get from God. Over the last year, I have concluded it is not wise to continue supporting the archdiocese of the OCA. It seems as unwise as putting gasoline into a car that has no engine.
#77 Samuel Osman on 2007-03-14 18:59
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