Wednesday, March 28. 2007
your comments welcome on the latest developments. The only way laundry has ever been cleaned is to wash it, and then air it out. Otherwise it stinks, or molds.....
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A quote from the letter by +DMITRI:
"...fueled by fear and intimidation from a website..."
Um, Vladyka, the "fear and intimidation" ain't coming from this website. The locus of that is somewhere in Nassau County, New York...
And now, the lighter side of this scandal...
Metropolitan HERMAN was out for a walk when he noticed five young boys talking, with a dog in the middle of their grouping. The Metropolitan was curious and approached them, asking, "What are you doing?" One of the boys replied, "We found this stray dog. We're having a contest to see who wins it." +HERMAN asked, "What contest?" The boy replied, "Whoever can tell the biggest whopper of a lie gets the dog." +HERMAN said, "That's terrible! I would never go around telling lies!". The boys looked at each other, then their young spokesman said, "The dog is yours, mister - you win!"
#1 Wayne Matthew Syvinski on 2007-03-29 05:46
Personally I think with this post you have revealed why such a webpage is necessary. One of the tools necessary to bring about essential change in 21st Century institutional Orthodoxy is accountability. Too often in the past the bishops did and said thing that were not reported to the church and for which they were not held publicly accountable. As the Orthodox Church enters into the reality of the information age it will end up adjusting our practices just as institutional Orthodoxy adjusted to the conversion of the Constantine, Turkocratia, Peter the Great and communism. This means of course increased exposure for those who make decisions and a greater demand for justification for those decisions. It will also mean increased pressure to act when action is needed, and to act wisely in accordance with well reasoned defense for the actions. Stalemates between bishops, secret agreements and behind the scenes talk will become less powerful. It will pull more of the membership into taking an active interest and involvement in the life of the church. Though this transition will be difficult as some will characterize it as the democratization of the church, the end result will be a much more active Church Body with shared responsibility for the life of the Church. Even the debates generated will accomplish what the holy fathers of the 5th Ecumenical Council thought - an invigorated Church striving for the truth.
#2 Fr. Ted Bobosh on 2007-03-29 05:54
Please.........+Dmitri's diocesan website "letter" is professionally known as 'the old bait and switch tactic'......and it conveniently skips over I John 1:8ff from the same epistle, which reads "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.........If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins,and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness".........quoting the 4th chapter in the epistle ("There is no fear in love....") might be taken to indicate that Syosset possesses much more of the former than the latter.........
#3 Metropolitan Smoke And Mirrors Co., Inc. on 2007-03-29 07:03
Dear Fr. Ted,
I personally would have greater hope for the OCA if you had been the newly appointed chancellor. It would have demonstrated that there is no fear in speaking the truth in love. Your words are always thoughtful , gentle, uncompromising, and filled up with truth. This is increasingly rare and refreshing. POST OFTEN!
#4 fr andrew on 2007-03-29 07:06
I find it a bit disingenuous that His Eminence indicates no harm has been perpetrated in his diocese.
Did people of the south not give to the 9/11 fund, the Beslan fund, the appeals for Missions and the seminary appeals? Has the Diocese of the South been withholding the assessments paid to fund the fiasco in Syosset?
Were the representatives of the Diocese of the South absent from the Metropolitan Council meetings?
I suggest the Metropolitan Council members from the Diocese of the South bring the report concerning the behavior of Protopresbyter Kondratik to the appropriate Diocesean Court of the Diocese of the South for a trial. The people of the Diocese of the South have indeed been harmed by the behavior of Fr. Kondratick, as have members of every diocese.
The one thing the bishops are missing -- their people can provide the guidance of the Holy Spirit in such matters. The Holy Spirit does not ONLY flow through the Episcopacy, but through the entire Body of Christ. With the outpouring of nearly unanimous opinion from the Dioceses of the Midwest and New England, the 70 Archpriests, the Deaneries and Parishes, I believe you have to be blind to not see the movement of the Holy Spirit in our midst.
In that movement I take great hope.
Subdeacon JohnMartin Watt
Martin D. Watt, CPA (Inactive)
#5 Marty Watt on 2007-03-29 07:23
Dear Fr Ted: I would only disagree with you in this respect: I am not a theologian, nor am I terribly knowledgable in Church history. I don't care to debate ecclesiology. When I heard about this mess and read the documents on this web site, at first I wept, then my pain turned to anger, at the realization that money intended for widows and orphans and victims of terrorism and natural disasters was diverted to other "uses."
Your Beatitude, Your Eminences, Your Graces, why oh why oh why has it been so hard for you to understand that we the faithful deserve an open and honest explanation of the truth about what happened to our donations to these worthy causes? And why do you now find it hard to understand that many of us will not trust you with any more money until that day when you give us ample reason to trust you?
Frankly, Fr Ted, in the end, all most of us want to know is that the folks in Long Island are being wise stewards of our money. And so far the answer, until proven otherwise, is no.
#6 Michael Strelka on 2007-03-29 07:23
This letter from Abp DMITRI is what I mean by the OCK.
The Orthodox Church of Kondratick.
#7 Fr. John A. Peck on 2007-03-29 07:24
Point 1: Again, our bishops don't seem to be aware of the fact that the OCA is an institution, and not a Christian social club. If you are a member of a body (Synod) which governs said institution, you cannot "sign the document" one day, and issue a press release the next day withdrawing your signature, becuase you don't feel good about it. If you don't feel good about it -- DON'T SIGN IN THE FIRST PLACE. Statutes, bylaws, etc, aren't there to be used as wall-paper, they ACTUALLY MEAN SOMETHING, as do Synod meetings, signed documents, minutes, and so forth.
Point 2: If there is concern that +Dmitri is beyond mental capacity to truly act on his own behalf (with all due respect; we all are growing older every day), then there must be a mechanism to remove him and replace him with someone who can. If there are no such mechanisms in the OCA Statutes, then this would have to be done through the secular/civil courts, wherein it is well recognized that one must be "of sound mind and body" in such matters.
Point 3: All of this talk of love and forgiveness -- I believe in it. But is it not also Tradition (and true) that of the Twelve Apostles, only the said St John died a peaceful death, because he was true and loyal to the Lord even at the Cross -- when the others had fled? The point is, we can love a person and even forgive them in OUR HEARTS and pray for them, etc. That DOES NOT absolve them from having to face the music for their misdeeds. IF Fr. K is dismissed from his "job" as a priest, then he can file a lawsuit in civil court, present his evidence of "wrongful dismissal", and then based upon such evidence (already said by the Synod to be 'not credible') the trial will get to the bottom of it (IN PUBLIC, with lawyers, subpeonas, etc, etc) and he will win -- with back-pay and damages. His Bishop would not be allowed to "shield him from the law" as he's trying to do at this point. In such a case, however, Fr. K would have to once and for all face all of the evidence and the FACTS -- and then at least the ENTIRE OCA could get on with its collective life! We're talking about the THEFT of nearly $2 million from the OCA here! That should count for something! +Dmitri seems to be so concerned for Fr. K's personal life -- but what about mine? I have to work for a living, and when I donate money to an OCA-sponsored "cause" or mission, that's not "just about money," as some have said -- it's about my life! Working for that money took time out of my LIFE, which I could have spent with my family, reading scripture, participating in parish activities. So, why are my bishops so much more interested in protect Fr. K than others of the faithful? Fr. K is going to have due-diligence before he's 'punished.' And the bishops should know, I AM GOING TO HAVE DUE-DILIGENCE before I make any further contributions of money, time, and effort in support of the OCA!
Point 4: Again, I issue the call for SOMEONE or the entire MC, please file for an injunction against the Metropolitan to prevent such whimsical actions (or inactions) from holding up the good order of the OCA's day to day inner workings, with threats, counter-threats, decisions, decision reversals outside of meetings, etc ... and give charge of the OCA back to the MC the way the Statute says is should be. We are beholden to our bishops for spiritual guidance and theological rulings -- but organizationally make no mistake, THEY WORK FOR US through the duly-constituted MC, as stated in the legally-recongized Statutes. PERIOD!
#8 Committed Convert on 2007-03-29 08:15
A handful of points.
1. The letter from Archbishop Dmitri to Metropolitan Herman was, according to this report, sent by email. Archbishop Dmitri does not use email, nor does anyone else in the Diocese of the South chancery, with one exception: Archpriest Joseph Fester.
2. Archbishop Dmitri may have a point with regard to the canonical propriety of "rescinding" a transfer. I'm not sure the canons ever envision such a thing. Thus, for Fr Kondratick to return to the Diocese of Washington and New York, he would need to be transferred back. Archbishop Dmitri is saying he doesn't do that against a clergyman's will. Fair enough. Archbishop Dmitri would simply have to suspend him personally. But that's the rub, as #3 moves to.
3. The real scandal is that Archbishop Dmitri claims now that the charges are "unproven". That, after the special commission prepared a full report, which was accepted by the Metropolitan Council, which then recommended (unanimously, IIRC) that Fr Kondratick be suspended on the basis of the evidence. The HOLY SYNOD then heard that recommendation, quizzed Fr Kondratick, found him (in their own words) "unpersuasive", and indicated that he should be suspended in line with the Metropolitan Council's recommendation. To my knowledge, Archbishop Dmitri concurred with all of this. NOW he claims the charges to be "unproven", even though the matter of proving the charges is not at issue. The question is whether there is sufficient evidence to warrant the ecclesiastical court. As long as this doubt about the matter exists, it will continue to injure the Church.
I can only surmise at this point that Fr Kondratick has incriminating evidence against some majority of the hierarchs on the Holy Synod. That's about the only thing that explains this behavior. It's also becoming increasingly clear that Archbishop Dmitri is being controlled by hidden forces. Remember that this same kind of chaotic behavior happened last summer, where after Archbishop Dmitri spoke of Fr Vladimir Wendling (candidate for auxiliary bishop) in glowing terms immediately following the diocesan assembly, he sent him back to Chicago two days later. His Eminence declared Fr Vladimir unsuitable to the Diocese of the South. What a strange about-face.
#9 A Mission Priest on 2007-03-29 08:28
Selections from the Encyclical "On Spiritual Life": ( http://www.oca.org/DOCencyclical.asp?SID=12&ID=6 )
In times past when a time of spiritual decadence came upon Christian society; when there was a falling away from the truth of Christ and a deadening of the forms of spiritual life and a drying up of the fountains of grace; when there was a loss of perspective and direction due to new human developments and old human sins, there yet remained within the faltering society the seeds of renewal, recovery and restoration. Today this is not the case. Today the forms of Christian culture and tradition remain while the substance of Christian truth and life is being lost.
We Orthodox Christians must be very careful that we do not idolize any of our practices and forms. We must be heedful that we do not keep the traditions of our forefathers in such a way that we overlook, or even deny, the substance and power of the Gospel of Christ. We must be diligent that we do not merely hold the forms of our religion while rejecting its reality, its power and its divine truth and grace.
we must be deeply respectful of our churchly traditions and sincerely grateful for the richness of our churchly forms. But we must be careful as well. We must be careful to distinguish between what is essential and what is not, between what builds up and edifies the life of the Church and what is practiced and preserved just because it was once the expression of believers before us to which we have grown accustomed, but which no longer serves to open our lives to the understanding and grace of the Kingdom of God.
Let us flee from every temptation to spiritual immaturity and pride. Let us not be ensnared by the temptations to spiritual vanity and power. Let us not allow ourselves to be caught by the temptations of spiritual avarice and luxury. Let us not be the victims of the lust for spiritual pleasures. Let us not be what our fathers in the faith have labeled "spiritual hedonists," which is not a less condemnable condition than being hedonists of the flesh. Let us not give our approval to any forms of Christian piety and devotion, however enthusiastic and fervent, and accompanied by whatever signs and wonders, that will take us away from the narrow path of Christ in the sane and sober denial of ourselves in the bearing of our crosses in all humility and meekness. Let us seek only to love the Lord our God with all our minds, hearts and souls; and our neighbors - and even our enemies - as our own very selves in faithful obedience to our one Master and Lord.
Beginning with the clergy of the Church, every member of the body must be in the continual struggle for growth in the Spirit of Christ. Every man, woman and child who lives in the Church must be making the constant effort to overcome that which is evil and to do that which is good according to the commandments of God. Every member of the Church must be perpetually striving to cooperate with God's grace that the works of God's righteousness might be present and powerful among us.
The Lord Jesus Christ will come at the end of the ages to render to every man according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, He will give eternal life; but for those who are factious and do not obey the truth, but obey wickedness, there will be fury and wrath. (Romans 2:8)
Our task today in America as Orthodox Christians is the only task which is given to all human beings by God: the task to become by God's grace all that God Himself is by nature, following Christ, the Perfect Man, in the accomplishment of goodness and truth, in self-emptying love for the sake of all people.
Sdn. John Martin Watt
Martin D. Watt, CPA (Inactive)
#10 Marty Watt on 2007-03-29 09:00
ONCE AGAIN, MR.STOKOE AND FELLOW CONCERNED ORTHODOX CHRISTIANS KEEP THE VIGIL AND THE GOOD FIGHT.
What is Bishop Dmitri thinking? If I as a parishoner stole church offerings, pledges, etc. for years should not I be punished? So, Fr. Kondratick apparently filled a church...Let him attend church as a parishoner and perhaps when the various issues and scandals are resolved, etc. he can be an active priest again. Furthermore, I can not believe the silence of his family, especially those on the OCA payroll. Did they benefit monetarily from Fr. Bob's actions?
As far as another bishop is concerned, Bishop Nikolai, his whereabouts during the synod meeting speaks volumes. Apparently, his assistant, posted an article, #75, only to question the bishop's priorities and judgment. May I add, the article seemed somewhat condescending towards Native Americans. The orthodox church should thank them and hold their culture, etc. with the highest esteem. It really is because of the Native American that "ordinary preists, missionaries" could do fulfilling work. Someone earlier in the Black Sunday section wrote about a Ukrainian priest, here's another quote attributed to him that is pertinent today "TRIBULATIONS ARE MY DISTINCTION AND PROVERTY MY GLORY."
Finally, there are many distractions and decoys being used to lessen or at least convolute the matters. WE HAVE A HIERARCHY THAT IS FAILING, NOT ONLY IS THERE NO COMMON SENSE, BUT AT LEAST FOLLOW THE TEN COMMANDMENTS.
BEWARE GOD WILL HAVE" REVENGE ON THE WOLVES THAT DEVOUR THE LAMBS."
#11 a concerned orthodox christian on 2007-03-29 10:25
In regards to +Dmitri's comment "fueled by fear and intimidation from a website." I would suggest that anyone who is interested in understanding how the World Wide Web is changing the way the OCA works should read, "The World Is Flat" by Thomas Friedman.
It is a good read, plus it reveals how the Internet is able to flatten the hierarchical playing field in the OCA between clergy and the laity. The WWW is here to stay and if Mark wasn't working on this website. Someone else would have website(s) addressing financial scandals in the OCA.
#12 Neil Dingman on 2007-03-29 10:27
Really wish I had time to write more fully ... maybe later today.
But a couple of pressing points in shorthand, mainly response to some discussion in the very long previous set of comments.
There is a lot going on behind these letters from Abp. Dmitri. It is simplistic in a counter-productive way to lash out at his standing and morals. That does not mean that I agree with his actions in this matter. But it would be better either to be fair in our assessments of personalities and their motives, or, perhaps easier to do and even more constructive, to refrain from commenting on motives/personalities and concentrate instead on actions and their consequences.
There's a LOT going on here; it makes my head ache just trying to parse it all. But one thing among the many is that various parties to this mess are looking and trying to figure out how to act 'for the good of the church.' For some, this tired phrase is simply a fig-leaf for self-interest and self-preservation. But for some it is a genuine concern. When we display righteous anger (and much of what has been said here since Friday falls into this category), people see that the good of the church demands that these issues be confronted and dealt with. But when we fall into petty attacks, it's tempting to think that enough is enough and more harm than good can come from further pursuing these matters.
Personally (as must be evident by now!) I think that the issues must be confronted and dealt with. But we really must exercise some restraint and maturity in how we express things so that we don't feed the cynical manipulation of those who might rather avoid more disruption and who are offended by intemperate expressions (but who are nevertheless 'good guys') by those who want to put a lid on things for their personal benefit and protection (the 'bad guys').
There are a lot more good guys around than bad guys, but some good guys are so successfully played by the bad guys that they can begin to appear bad, and often it's hard to tell one from another -- but still, we need to always be advocating for positive steps, not causing harm by our words.
#13 Rebecca Matovic on 2007-03-29 10:46
Your disrespect is well-suited to this website. His Eminence has more class and honor than you could ever comprehend. But he would even extend his loving hand to protect your right to serve at an altar in his diocese, for the sake of his flock, even if he had to put up with your stupidity.
A Son of the South
#14 Anonymous on 2007-03-29 11:51
"Frankly, Fr Ted, in the end, all most of us want to know is that the folks in Long Island are being wise stewards of our money."
I beg to strongly disagree. In the end what I want to know is that the church that I am part of is being run in a true Apostolic counciliar tradition, with honesty, integrity, and love - love for truth which is no other than the truth of Jesus Christ our Lord. What we have discovered is that on many levels it is exactly the opposite - deception, dishonesty, and hatred. The mismanagement of the money is just a symptom, and in a way the least of my worries.
#15 Inga Leonova on 2007-03-29 11:53
Unlike some, when I give a gift I no longer claim it as mine. Thus if it is used for the intended purpose, or is used for another in the Church, I TRUST those who are now use it will do so based on what they consider the greatest need is. They will have to answer before God for their actions.
I like your idea of a spiritual court down here. Won't ever happen because Herman needs to control the entire process so he can cover his tracks.
As for us down here when it comes to money and the church, we figured it out along time ago, its called Tithing and we are doing very well following this biblical standard. You all up north keep collecting your dues and have your appeals, we will tithe to our parishes and our parish will tithe to the diocese, and yes we will dutifully collect that silly oca assesment and pay it too, but again, once it goes north of the mason dixon line, it aint our money to control.
Lucky to be in the DOS and God bless Archbishop Dmitri
#16 Anonymous on 2007-03-29 12:06
Thank you for your kind words, but the very reason I can post at all is that I am not the Chancellor, nor on the Metropolitan Council nor on any special commission, so I am not under any constraint forbidding me from speaking. I also am not in certain dioceses where there is a fear that being honest will put at one risk for being silenced or worse. St. John of Damascus wrote his beautiful treatises on icons while under the protection of the Muslims, whose relgion itself forbids any images. Ironically the Muslims didn't stop the Christians from having icons or writing about them, only the (not so-)"Orthodox" Byzantine Emperors did that. There are many in the OCA who are under one constraint or another regarding the scandal. It is a silence that makes some deaf and others dumb (unable to speak). Christ cured both deafness and dumbness. Come, Lord Jesus! I would also say the comment is a bit unfare to the Chancellor-elect whose silence now hopefully is that of prayerfully listening to God's voice, so that when he steps up as Chancellor he will find voice.
#17 Fr. Ted Bobosh on 2007-03-29 12:49
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.--Mt 23:23
#18 Fr John M. Reeves on 2007-03-29 14:26
Well said. I have a feeling that there has been a little more heat and a little less light of late. Names have been named already. We don't need to read one or more of the same three or four names in every other post. I respectfully invite people to consider refraining from using a person's name in their comments, just as an exercise. It would immediately refocus us on institutional reform rather than this continual game of personalities.
If you choose to disagree, that's fine, but I respectfully invite you to consider whether you believe the current problem is (a) just a few bad apples that somehow managed to get into the barrel, or (b) institutional weaknesses and imbalance that have contributed to the problem. If the answer is (b), continual criticism of the same people is not really helping.
If the answer is (b) there are many positive steps we can take starting now that will result in a better OCA. Here's the first one. Read the publicity from the OCA website on the last AAC. Take a few moments to let the disconnect between the words and the reality to sink in.
Now imagine a mobilized laity taking concrete measures to field qualified, reform-minded delegates from every parish to the next AAC. These delegates will be backed up with facts, programs, and advice from some of the better theologions in the church and independent Orthodox legal advocates with competence in civil, criminal and canon law.
#19 Timothy Capps on 2007-03-29 14:30
Your notion of stewardship and responsibility ending with the giving is hardly what Christ taught, and reads more like the teaching of a shyster fundraiser. As reported by the Evangelist Mark, Jesus "said unto them in his doctrine, Beware of the scribes, ... Which devour widows' houses, and for a pretence make long prayers: these shall receive greater damnation" (Mark 12:38-40) Christ did not bless those who collected monies from widows to do with as they wished, nor did he bless those reigious leaders who in the name of piety pry every nickle and dime they can from trusting faithul. None of this is good stewardship in Christ's doctrine. And for all the money being collected by the temple, Christ after condemning those who collected the money from poor but pious givers pointed out that the entire temple was going to be thrown down (Mark 13:2). In other words those who in the name of piety wrangle money from the poor in order to do with it as they deem proper are building a religion that God is going to demolish. It happened in the OCA under the teachings of the likes of yours. "Give expecting nothing in return" isn't the same as "give no matter what those institutional leaders do with it." Stewardship is giving as Christ's witness not witless giving. So please do keep sending your money north but keep your Christ rejected teachings to yourself.
#20 Read the Gospel on 2007-03-29 15:45
Tithing may not be all that you seem to think. We had a proposal for one of our Midwest Diocesan Assemblies a few years back to have all of our churches tithe to the diocese. We on the Diocesan Council rejected the proposal because many churches exceed tithing to the diocese and to limit our Diocese to the Biblical minimum would have severely restricted the budget.
One can assume that this is because everybody is too "stingy" to tithe personally to their home parish, and that such is the real problem. But that would be to assume, and we all know what happens when one chooses to ass-u-me. Besides, it would be not only assuming, but judging a brother in Christ.
Not all dioceses are in the same situation. Each has its own archpastor, its own administration, and its own "modus operandi" for good reason.
#21 Rev. Bartholomew Wojcik on 2007-03-29 15:52
While I currently reside in Dayton, Ohio, My family and I hail from Blount County, Tennessee and the Great Smoky Mountains. I was born and raised in Tennessee, and was received into the Orthodox Church in Memphis, Tennessee. I am a child of the South. All my people live in the South. My wife and children are from the South. My family lived in the South before there was a United States of America. I've lived in Tennessee, Georgia, Florida, and Louisiana.
You said you gave freely and only asked that the money be used for the good of the Church. It has been alleged that the money, some $8 million, was not used for the Church at all, but lined the pockets and filled the stomachs and relieved the wanderlust of the leadership in Syosset over the past 20 years. Such were the allegations of Protodeacon Eric Wheeler, the former Treasurer and Auditor of the OCA, and confirmed by numerous parties subsequently.
If Fr. Kondratick is not guilty, as he and his supporters claim, then I would think he would be demanding his day in court. He was given time before the investigators and refused to answer the questions they asked, apparently. He was given time before the Synod, including your Archbishop DMITRI, and your Archbishop said (with the others) that the explanations given were not credible or persuasive.
If Fr. Kondratick has apparently decided to let this matter play out in the court of public opinion rather than speak to the investigators.
The question here is why Archbishop DMITRI would claim that Fr. Kondratick "has done nothing wrong as a priest in my diocese". As Chancellor, he was a priest in EVERY diocese! Anything he did in ANY diocese was done in the Diocese of the South as well.
Archbishop DMITRI may very well protect Fr. Kondratick from a day in a spiritual court. He will not however be able to hide him from the law. And certainly not the Fearful and Dread Judgment Seat of Christ.
So, dear "anonymous" Son of the South and supporter of DMITRI, I conclude:
That dog won't hunt.
Sdn. John Martin Watt
Martin D. Watt, Tennessee CPA #9815 (Inactive)
Son of the South
Free Man of the Midwest
Servant of God
#22 Marty Watt on 2007-03-29 17:22
I recently had the opportunity to visit with some friends in the San Francisco area and I was pleasantly surprised to hear of the comraderie and brotherly love that is being exhibited amongst OCA, ROCOR, Antiochian and Greek Archdiocese clergy.
What baffles me is why so many people that have posted recently stay with the OCA. As time goes on the OCA is becoming less and less an extension of Russia, ROCOR parishes are becoming increasingly more English speaking, Antiochian parishes are losing their Arab identity and Greek parishes are incorporating more and more English.
I'm all for change from within but given the most recent antics from the ranks of those that wear klobuks, it hardly seems worth all of this angst. Perhaps it is time for the OCA to become something new.
I've read many of the posts on this site yet I haven't found even one compelling reason why the OCA should exist as a separate and unique archdiocese in the United States. The arguments that have been put forth thus far are very weak. The Antiochians for example are well organized, financially sound, and moving more and more towards complete autonomy. Other than some issues with the Royal Doors, their liturgical practices frankly do not differ that significantly from traditional Slavic parishes. ROCOR will very shortly take a very bold and dramatic leap into the 21st century with its entering back into communion with the rest of the Russian Orthodox Church -- and by extension the rest of canonical Holy Orthodoxy.
I would like to humbly propose that rather than try to continue to force the hierarchy of the OCA into something it desperately doesn't want to do or be, it might be wiser (and dare I suggest more in keeping with God's will) that we struggle towards a different solution. If Vladyka Job is serious about putting the OCA out of its misery, he could do this simply by taking his entire diocese under a different jurisdiction.
I know of many Orthodox Christians that have proudly applauded parishes and clergymen of Anglican, Episcopalian, and other denominations that have left everything to enter into Holy Orthodoxy. We tell them that they have done the right thing. I know a number of people personally that have sacrificed their livelihoods as ministers to enter into the fullness of faith. They have made more sacrifices than many of us can imagine and all for the sake of the truth.
Are Orthodox Christians in the OCA ready to make such a change and say that what their Holy Synod is doing is wrong?
I personally believe, and it saddens me to say this, that the OCA hierarchy appears to have lost its way. Bishop Nikolai wishes to be king of Alaska and can't seem to be bothered with his other bishops, Bishop Demetri can't seem to make up his mind, Metropolitan Herman thinks he's the pope, and the rest of the bishops have about as much strength as bowl of jello.
I grew up in ROCOR and there is one thing that you can never take away from any of the bishops over the years, they were never willing to compromise. They stood up for what they believed to be the truth and they never wavered, no matter what public opinion said. Often many of their decisions, such as not entering into communion with the other jurisdictions in America were extremely unpopular. In a world that is full of relativism I kind of look back now and say, maybe they were right. And despite sometimes very strong disagreements amongst brother bishops, there was always love and respect -- something that is entirely lacking from the hierarchy of the OCA.
I hope and pray that this crisis is the beginning of a new path for the OCA and its flock.
May you all continue a blessed journey to Holy Pascha,
#23 Priest Michael on 2007-03-29 17:35
Your blesssing, father. I for one am from the DOS, and having visited many parishes in the south, I have seen with my own eyes how much the people of the south love Vladiko Dimitri. He has been their number one supporter in their missionary endeavors these past 30 years. Rather than out of fear, I believe the southern faithful refrain from "sharing their comments" out of love for their bishop, and that love expressed through obedience. And not just blind obedience, but obedience with understanding. After spending hours pouring over the comments, it is obvious the scandal has all but not a few people. I know that it at least takes me one hour to sit down and wright, then another, maybe thirty mintues parousing new comments. Some of our brethren are spending upwards of 5 hours daily on this site. It seems strange to hear people saying its not enough to pray anymore, we need action, when surely hours and hours of hundreds of persons' prayer time is being squandered, not by reading this site, but by allowing it to preoccupy and distract our minds at prayer.
Father Ted, what can that do to a person, spiritually speaking. I mean, reading so many direct personal attacks, slanders, angry remarks, calls to arms, etc., for that much time......I feel drained, personally, prayer life is becoming a parroting of written prayers, while my mind runs through the fun house of Kondratick, Herman, Stokoe, Rebecca, Fr. Ted, Bob, arguments and counter arguments, and before I know it I reach "Meet it is in truth", the "amen" and I've wasted my prayer time.
It has caused some to leave the church, some to boycot the divine services (is Christ not present when an unworthy priest is serving?) I hope this isn't happening to you Fr. Ted, especially as you serve at the alter. I hope your mind is singly on Christ. Not Christ and the Scandal, just Christ. Like we sing: All life cares, now lay aside. There's no denying it.
The OCA has a problem, but could our scandel be exacerbated by our lack of prayer. I don't mean our accumulated hours of standing before our oil lamps, incense and icons, because we orthodox are good at that. Maybe what's missing is hearfelt, humble, intense and tearful prayers.
Elder Porphyrios of the holy mountain once told a story of two monks. One had been living in a village that was in the midst of a huge drought. That monk and the people of that village spent hours, days and weeks prayer for rain, but none came. On the road, that monk met another monk. The new monk asked the monk from the village what was wrong, and he told him the story of the drought and their unanswered prayers. Then the new began praying intensily, with humility and tears, and before he finished praying it started to rain.
Father Ted, you are the teacher, my intent is not to teach you a lesson or put you in your place, God forbid. But, I get a sense in these comboxes that those who choose to remain silent and pray are being accused of copping out. Maybe they can be accused of being naive, and blindly obedient. But would you agree that it is beyond any of us to be their judge and accuse them of trying to sweep things under the rug when they are sincerely taking this to the Lord in prayer? We must also remember that Christ commended Mary for "choosing the one thing needful". And the hymnography of our Church teaches us that both action and contemplation are needed, the former embodied by Martha and the latter by Mary.
Maybe what we need is both. It does the Church no good for us in the OCA to split up into factions. Would it not be better to acknowledge the contributions of those who act and those who are silent and pray? Mark Stokoe and great body of the faithful are vigorously pursuing the truth up North through action; in the south, through prayer.
I don't know...but one's things for sure. I've wasted yet another hour of time I could have spend with my wife, reading, working, praying...living.
asking your blesssing,
#24 Anonymous on 2007-03-29 18:27
As always with your posts, AMEN!
It is good to see you posting again, though I'm sure you enjoyed the sabbatical.
#25 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2007-03-29 18:47
The invocation of canons by +Nikolai (re meeting time of the Holy Synod) and +Dimitri (re the transfer of Fr. Kondratick) are risible, transparent and callow. Citing canons selectively, not for justice or out of common sense as done by the ancient fathers, fails to meet that standard of “jurisprudence of the Holy Spirit”, a phrase often used by Fr. John Meyendorff. Bishop Nikolai would be horrified to learn that the Holy Synod of the Church in Russia just met – during the Great Forty Days! I am certain that the transfer of Kondratick to the Diocese of the South was done intentionally to avoid bringing the former chancellor to justice. Hiding behind canons reminds me of a saying in politics: “Patriotism is the last refuge of scoundrels.” In this situation “Canons are the last refuge.”
The word on the clerical street is that Krondatick and sidekicks are still calling the shots from afar on some issues. The sources for this word, the same that have been whispering in my ear for almost two decades, have been spot on, years in advance of the revelations of the past 18 months. So far, I have no reason to question the veracity of these sources. The former chancellor knows where “the bodies are buried” and he could make the situation difficult or very embarrassing for certain bishops. Kondratick has dutifully put out many a fire and as a result has amassed a mountain of IOUs. From what I hear, Bishop Job in anticipation of forcing the situation with respect to accountability and transparency, has frankly told his clergy any thing real or imagined that the former chancellor might have on him. The good bishop is Teflon-coated and is unencumbered to prosecute the scandal without fear of any revelation.
Even in this eleventh hour, if the bishops were to repent of any misdeeds and failure to “oversee”, the faithful would, I believe, be compassionate and forgiving. As things are now, trust has largely disappeared and every statement emanating from the Holy Synod is suspect. Until this boil is lanced and the stench and pus are released, this scandal will not subside and those running interference are foolhardy in thinking the faithful will let it quietly melt away. Now is the time to repent. “The Lord gives rest to him who comes on the eleventh hour as well as to him who has toiled since the first.”
#26 Terry C. Peet on 2007-03-29 18:53
Fellas! Fellas!!! Please, let's not become the problem! Obviously much of this was tongue in cheek, but let's try to remain focused upon the seriousness of the matter at hand.
#27 Committed Convert on 2007-03-29 22:42
Is that a valid reason, "Because he can't make up his mind", to turn our backs on a Bishop. Fr, are you saying we in the south should turn our backs on our bishop because you think he can't make up his mind. Are you telling us to turn our backs on our bishop and forget the great labor he has performed over the last thirty years here in the south. Every other bishop in this country has inherited their diocese. Vladiko Dimitri is the only one who has had the vision, resolve, wisdom to found a brand new diocese. Under his leadership it has grown from a 15 parish to over 60 parishes. Every year hundreds of people are recieved into the church in these parishes. Its not just about numbers, either. Most of these parishes have very rich liturgical lives, traditionally minded priests, many of whom I would say any ROCOR bishop would be proud to have in his diocese. Every year new missions open up and at the head of this great missionary endeavor is our beloved Vladiko. It saddens me to hear a priest join the ranks of those who, knowing nothing, nothing at all, about Vladiko Dimitri, make such .....unfounded remarks.
If your remarks are meant to edify, and offer "a differnt direction", then I'm afraid they have come short. Instead you offer schism, discord, and triumphalism. Being a ROCOR priest, you might be familiar with Fr. Seraphim Rose advice to those who belong to dysfunctional and parishes: Humbly remain and bear your brethrens' burdens. I think the same would apply to jurisdictions.
I love the Russian Church. I've had the blessing of traveling extensively in Russia and visiting many communities and people. What's strikes me most, now, in the darkness of this scandal, is how different the Russian attitude toward church life is. Here in America we have a sense of entitlement, that some how we are worthy or deserve the perfect church, perfect heirarchs. I remember being in the monastery of St. Sergius, The Holy Trinity Monastery. One of the lay guides was showing us the iconastatis of the main church with its beaituful Rublev icons, but there was one missing, the one to the right of the royal doors. Of course it is the famous Holy Trinity by Rublev. The guide explained how for years and years the church had been trying to get it back from the Trechekov Gallary in Moscow, but had failed countless times. Why? she asked us. Because we Russians are unworthy, she said in a soft voice. Such simplicity, such humility. Unworthy? even after having experienced so many decades of persecution and martyrdom. And we orthodox in the states are ready for any kind of compromise, triumphalism, pride and arrogance, legalism, hard heartedness, judging, etc. Are unworthy people worthy of "worthy" heirarchs?
Fr. Seraphim Rose voiced the same attitude. What would we do with a pefect church, with perfect heirarchs, holy elders? We would do exactly what some in the Church Abroad did to Vladiko John Maximovich.
Your solution, Fr, is rather just a symptom of a greater disease we "orthodox" in America have. Ity would be best for many of us who hate our bishops to say as the Russians use to say, "God bless the bishop and keep him far, far away" and focus on exerting our energies edifying our local communities.
God bless the OCA, God bless Vladiko Dimitri, may the Lord Grant them Many, many years.
#28 Anonymous on 2007-03-30 07:27
Being a Christian, I am going to say this as nicely as I possibly can, because right now I am biting my tongue so hard, it is almost bleeding.
Please go away and recruit from somewhere else.
We are fighting to save our OCA, an OCA that so many of us love. There was a great deal of sacrifice by so many to get our autocephaly and to just throw it away over money is just ridiculous. This situation will be resolved in time. It will be a painful journey, but there are many of us who will fight for Christ's church in America to the bitter end!!! We are not cowards; we don't run away from problems in the OCA.
And please, don't deceive us by saying how much greener it is on your side of the Orthodox fence. Your people & clergy sin too…ours just finally got caught.
#29 Juliana on 2007-03-30 08:41
Thank you for this informative and "spot on" post!
#30 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2007-03-30 13:37
Be angry and do not sin. We can be angry and pray for all the bishops and the Metropolitan recognizing that we are sinners as well. My post was angry but ended in the hope that God will have mercy on them. I love our hierarchs as my Christian brothers, my affection will never be diminished by my anger. But since I am almost 80, it's really quite possible that I may not see the end of this current crisis, and will miss out on the great celebration at its conclusion. So, expecting and trusting that our Metropolitan and the bishops, as well as any others involved in misconduct, will offer full disclosure of every wicked deed, repenting and seeking forgiveness from all, I rejoice in that future reconciliation however long it may take. Alice Carter Holy Trinity Orthodox Cathedral Boston
#36 Alice Carter on 2007-03-30 05:50 (Reply)
#31 Alice Carter on 2007-03-30 14:04
I have refrained since the inception of this website in making any comments on here. I have, in other places, been quite critical of the tabolid nature of this enterprise. However, I believe Fr. Michael's comments warrant a fair hearing, even if OCA-loyals might be nauseated that they originate from a member of ROCOR's clergy.
As a parishoner in the Diocese of the Midwest, in the city of Chicago, under Archbishop JOB, I have found myself questioning why the OCA continues on or, more specifically, why the Diocese of the Midwest continues on with the OCA. The best answer I have uncovered is that it is out of love and hope. At the parish level, there is much good to be found in the OCA still and it is there that souls will be Saved. The sort of information and gossip that flows forth from this website has undoubtedly had its adverse impact of making less discerning members of the OCA distrustful of everything. Some, I fear, may have become distrustful of the Holy Orthodox Church as a whole. That is unfortunate to say the least. What is fortunate, however, is that the parishes carry on. That is, that they continue to preach the Word of God regardless of the bickering. I do not doubt that there are many in the Diocese of the Midwest who believe that by doing this, it can be a model for the rest of the OCA to continue on in faith and love, shouldering this burden, and restoring order.
Is this a fool's hope? That question has to be asked. And, more importantly, is there a risk that the shoulders which remain now in the OCA simply are not strong enough to carry the load? If the answer to the second question is "No," then perhaps departure is in order, not out of spite for the OCA but out of genuine concern for the well-being of Christ's flock. I don't know if anyone is seriously asking that question. I think on it often. It is possible that I, due to my place, am simply incapable of answering it honestly.
I will say that I have no sentimental ties to the OCA. As my last name indicates, I am of Hispanic heritage and the the Slavic blood that runs through the other half of me is Polish. The OCA only means something to me as the Church in America, not an extension of Panslavic religious piety. Similarly, ROCOR holds no appeal to me on that front either; its virtue is only in its capacity to be the Church abroad. If there is an honest consideration of ROCOR over the OCA, it is a question that should be answered in the name of the Truth that the Church is charged to proclaim to the ends of the world, and not who manifests "Holy Russia" or any other peripheral ideal. Yet, as I commented on my own web-log, I am especially thankful this year for the Feast of the Ascension because in fullness, and with hesitation, all Orthodox can examine that question free of baggage.
do you think that the people being moved to act aren't praying? You must know from experience that sometimes, when we "take things in the Lord in prayer", His response is to move us to action. I believe He does this according to our gifts (and not according to our dioceses). Clearly Fr. Ted, Mark Stokoe, Rebecca, and many others have a gift for seeing the issues and clarifying them and clearly they are filling a need. Maybe they are, in fact, the Lord's response to your prayers?
#33 Rachel Andreyev on 2007-03-30 16:24
It was posted not long time ago a very interested comment related to the poor knowledge of the OCA hierarchy versus the Orthodox Church Canons. It is about time to once again admit that NONE of the current OCA hierarchs have any acceptable canonical knowledge and they are dealing almost on a daily basis with something like this: Orthodox Church Canons versus priests and laity relations.
To my curiosity NONE of the OCA hierarchs seems to have self esteem and not ridicule any brother hierarch at leats during this time of moral, financial, faith crisis. This kind of CRISIS the OCA is facing at the present time is beyond the pages of the history of the Orthodox Christian Church. Maybe this would be a reason to include this crisis within the pages of the Orthodox Church History, not only for the American readers, but for everybody else.
The WHOLE world of Orthodoxy is laughing by the OCA crisis and their poor theological schooling hierarchs who are making mockery of each other and are entertaining such an - Christian show even during the Great Lent. SHAME, SHAME, SHAME on you OCA hiersrchs ... it is a GIG SHAME to have such a Synod in place made up of unfit people. This Synod cannot be called Holy Synod. The word HOLY has no place in Syosset as long as the purpetrators are still bying time and stealing money.
+Herman, +Dmetri, RSKondratick, Suda and their allies are facing the bigest CONFLICT OF INTEREST from the inception of the OCA. As long as the Federal Agencies will not step in to put behind bars and pressing charges upon those names are part pf the MC Special Commission reports (unreported yet), peace will not come for anyone of us.
In case G Nescott or +Job do not go directly to the Feds to report about their findings, +MH and his allies will dance KHAZACHIOKKK for many months to come.
There IN NONE RESPONSIBLE within the OCA Synod to feel the pulse and the disturbances of the OCA members and show a real back bone in driving us to a better destination?
For how long WE have to suffer and watch the UNCHRISTIAN CIRCUS offered to us by the OCA hierarchy? SHAME, SHAME, SHAME, on the OCA hierarchy for considering us 3rd class people, poor russian peasans.
Stop paying anything to any OCA Central Administration cause.
Call on a daily basis the Syosset and ask for +MH resignation.
Think about a peaceful MARCH after pascha in Syosset asking for +MH resingnation.
As we all know the 75th party for Joe Swainko was cancelled. We will succeed in MARCHING after Pascha for three days, and we will not leave Syosset until +MH will resign, and Nescott and his folks will prosecute the OCA purpetrators.
OCA hierarchy must resign entirely.
NO selection of ANY hierarch without adecvate theological preparation.
ONLY monks with small salary will be elected to the episcopacy.
We wish you a very blessed Paschal Season. Make sure we will make any effort to MARCH in Syosset following Pascha.
A disturbed Orthodox Christian, 3 / 31 / 07
#34 John Petrovic on 2007-03-31 00:57
The devil loves it when we get snarky with each other. Could we spend Holy Week praying for our Church. our hierarchs and one another, and keep the nastiness down?
#35 Scott Walker on 2007-03-31 11:58
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