Friday, April 20. 2007
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I can't wait till RSK's lawyers dig into MH and this lying website. Accusing of now taking that commision letter. You really need a lawsuit against you and this site.
#1 Davis on 2007-04-20 20:35
OK, this post is for all the hotshot lawyers out there.
It appears to me that Kutner is a genius.
Thus far, the OCA has pinned a 1.7M or more deficit on Fr. Kondratick. It is implied to about 25,000 members, albeit not stated. According to Fr. Paul, maybe more like 2M people.
So, suppose Fr. Kondratick stole 100 grand. Is it still not defamatory for the OCA to purport he is the reason for the 1.7M deficit, even if he were a criminal to the extent of say 5% of the OCAs problem?
If I were an idiot in the jury box, I'd side with the criminal responsible for 5% of the problem, but blamed for 100% of the problem, because some other jerks blew the other 95%. In fact, I'd probably go to about 50% or even higher like 80% before I gave him full credit. So, how much of this is truly his responsibility is the question.
Has PR officially ended its engagement with the OCA? If they have no more legal or financial obligations, they wouldn't be subject to any lawsuit from Kondratick, which would be real smart for them, too. Especially true if he is in a lower percentile of the 1.7M. They wouldn't want the exposure against him. He could go after them, too. What candy!
Just a stupid guy from MN, but I'm guessing the Kutner letter now begins to bear weight. Suspension and a Spiritual Court, an implied theft of 1.7M?
Wouldn't it be possible to stave off weight of the Kutner letter by first bringing a civil suit or some other action and publicizing the amount of damages caused, if any, by Fr. K?
Otherwise, it seems like you are opening the door for a possible criminal to sue you by defaming him in front of the body of the church with an implied 1.7M theft.
I'm just a dumb guy from MN, but if I was in the jury box, I may consider siding with the petty crook.
Again, hierarchs, listen closely to Malachi 2:9. Justice, even for the criminal, must be just.
I'm not so sure the Spiritual Court is properly placed.
Am I wrong? If so, why?
#2 Daniel E. Fall on 2007-04-20 22:24
You are NOT wrong!
As I've said before, this Auto da Fe of Fr. Kondratick ia designed to cover the sins and failures of others and to hide and silence the larger truth. If this action was being taken in conjunction with releasing the PR and Commission reports and proceeding with a vigorous investigation, then it would have been justified and credible. But as a device to scapegoat Fr. Kondratick and protect various and assorted heirarchs, it truly "stinkith!"
#3 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2007-04-21 05:17
Mr. Fall: If I knew what your position is/was I could venture a guess as to whether you are right or wrong. The only thing certain about your position re this scandal is that you don't seem to have a position. You seem to vascilate with each post. Just this morning I had a phone call from a reader who said that after reading part way through the post above, he/she concluded that ....."It must be from Daniel Fall". Why don't you sit and meditate for a minute of two before you start writing and see what you really believe and want to convey. Otherwise, your ranting mimics the west coast rambler.
#4 nicholas skovran on 2007-04-21 07:57
I'll save our good editor the trouble of replying to this comment. Mark wrote:
"(Except of course, the one copy that was stolen, *that informed sources say made its way to Venice Florida....*)" He has not stated as a matter of FACT that the report did go to Kondratick. While the statement implies his own belief that it did, such a belief is not libelous. Quoting "informed sources" is a standard, accepted practice in journalism. If Mark could be sued, so could every journalist in America. That's not going to happen because no defaming accusation has been made. There is no accusation in stating what informed sources have reported, as long as you clearly say that you are working off what has been reported. If Mark had simply said that the report went to Kondratick, then he would be liable. Being both a professional journalist and a lot more savvy, he stated the simple truth that an informed source reports that the report went to Florida. Finally, lest you come back with the notion that he made up this "informed source" just to cover himsef, well, I guess that's theoretically possible, but if so, he is still covered. The simple fact will remain that he did not state as fact that the report went to Flordia.
#5 Mark Harrison (aka "Sine Nomine") on 2007-04-21 10:00
I think the issue of assigning a degree (percentage) of blame for a wrong done is more complicated than it appears. For example if we take the death of one human in a Nazi death camp, can we divide up the death and assign degree of blame - 20% for the actual executioner, 10% for the executioner's captain, 20% for the camp commander, 10% for the Nazi Party, 25% for Himmler, 5% for Hitler, 10% for fallen humanity? Parceling out the blame may help us make some sense for what happened, but the victim is 100% dead. Handing the executioner 20% of the total sentence for the crime in a sense excuses everybody who was involved. What's the penalty? Capital punishment? Then the executioner should be made 20% dead, and then let go. Under such thinking none of us would ever be held 100% accountable for what we do for we can always blame others for being involved (my car accident? blame the manufacturer of the car, Eisenhower for inspiring highways to be built, Ketterig for inventing the self starting engine, the Roman Empire for inventing concrete, etc., ad absurdum,). What the situation requires is that each of those involved be held 100% accountable for their role in the crime. The person who actually does the execution is 100% responsible for what he did, even if he says, "I was only following orders." The person who inspired the crime, the Hitler, is 100% responsible for his role in the crime, even though he can argue, "I never directly or actually murdered anybody - I can't be held responsible for what my underlings did." Wrongdoing occurs on many different levels and to varied degrees. The perpetrators may not have participated in every level of the misdeeds, nor in all of the misdeeds, but they each are 100% responsible for their specific role - whatever it was and to whatever degree it contributed to the entire problem - in the crimes. Unfortunately life is not always fair. Sometimes not everyone involved in a problem is held accountable for their role in the misdeeds. But the fact that some aren't proven guilty doesn't mean that those who are should be considered innocent.
#6 Fr. Ted Bobosh on 2007-04-21 11:08
It certainly is one thing to create a website, bang the drum long and loud, rally the troops, and force weak men to do something within their control then to actually prosecute a case. Allegations are one thing, charges are another, proving them is quite another thing.
#7 Anonymous on 2007-04-21 11:22
Admittedly, I'm not a lawyer.
However, the missing funds (or misused funds - take your pick) went missing under Kondractick's tenure as Chancellor (aka, CEO). Unless he can provide evidence that Met. HERMAN directed the funds to go missing somehow, he it would not be defamation to fire him for failing to properly oversee the funds of the OCA.
I have to assume given the reluctance of the Kondractick camp to make such evidence public, that it does not exist. I could be wrong -- they could be saving it for a civil trial.
Important point: Officially, no one has publically accused Kondractick of theft. Only that he has failed thus far to account for the funds under his control, as the individual exercising executive authority in the Chancery.
My guess is, through discussions in other forums, there is ample evidence of a personal benefit (a "private enurement") floating around in the commission report. And truth is an absolute defense to allegations of slander/libel and defamation.
Truth is important here. Juries determine facts, Courts determine guilt or innocence, but God determines Truth. As many have been saying all along, as a Church we need not concern ourselves with the civil proceedings. As trite as it is beginning to sound, we need to do the right thing, and seek to uncover and proclaim the truth. With God's help, then we can begin to both forgive and heal. I'm more concerned with the salvation of the soul of all involved, including myself, than the outcome of a civil action.
#8 Marty Watt on 2007-04-21 12:03
Oh the humor.
You say I have no position. Nothing could be further from the truth. My position is and always has been that the Synod, the Met Council and the administration bear the responsibility for the churches financial health. I know one of the 2005 AAC delegates. Even those delegates should have addressed the financial well being of the church and didn't. I understand they didn't have a full set of information, nor much time, but nonetheless, someone should have shouted from the mountaintops then. I believe there was a blip on the radar and not more.
Crediting Fr. Kondratick for the entire issue is like crediting Hitler for the Holocaust, perhaps somewhat misusing Fr. Bobosh's comments above, or it may be worse. You may be crediting a petty thief in the Holocaust for the extermination of millions.
In my post, I am merely asking the question does Fr. Kondratick own 100% of a 1.7M debt? This is what is implied thus far. By placing him in front of the entire church body in a "Spiritual Court", this implication becomes stonger. It is serious and probably a flaw in the churches direction. I don't care what PR recommended. I'm calling it like I see it.
Every single day in this country, litigation is brought by criminals against their victims. It happens in divorce courts (but I digress). It happens even when a burglar gets injured on your property committing a crime. What would stop Fr. Kondratick from bringing a defamation suit? It is merely a question. And if you think its silly, ask MH why he spent half a million on PR addressing the question and working to minimize the Kutner letter. It must be that wild imagination of the rambling Dan Fall.
Why would the church not bring a civil suit seeking the dollar amount of damages against Fr. K. using whatever set of facts is known?
The answer is clear. It is that the rest of the owners of the churches debt want to credit 1.7M to Fr. Kondratick. And seriously, it sounds libelous to me. KRT doesn't seem to think I'm nuts on this one and he and I haven't always seen eye to eye. What do you think Kutner thinks?
Some of those fools backing Fr. K think that Mark Stokoe will be financially responsible to Fr. K, or others of us raising good questions will be subject to a lawsuit. As Mark H mentioned above, fat chance. You'd have to surf for a lot of judges to find one that'd pin the matter on me, but probably not as far to find a judge that'd hear the case against the OCA if the amounts were reasonable.
Further, Nicholas. I have no details, other than what I've been told and the amounts have not been stated to me. Fr. Kondratick may have "misused" 10 grand, or maybe 100 grand How do I know? So far, it sounds like 1.7M.
Courts all over the land make decisions on whether something must be stated or simply implied to bear weight. For defamation, the implication may be all that is needed.
So, from the basis of what I know and my official position, clearly stated again, I'm just saying the Kutner letter as interpreted by a non-attorney bears weight in the absense of the OCA declaring a balance due.
I'm not a judge, nor a lawyer, but if as a juror I heard a defamation case brought by a petty thief against a bunch of people that had misused the greater share of the money, I'd side with the petty thief. And I'm not an unusual American. Courts all over the nation have provided relief and punitive damages to criminals all the time.
How awful would we all feel if Fr. Kondratick brought a 1M suit against the OCA after pillaging a few thousand dollars which became acceptable behavior over a long period of time and prevailed? Stranger things have happened in US courts.
...but you are certainly allowed to blame my wild imagination...and ramblings without thought behind them..
The point I'm making Nicholas is that the church needs to put a dollar amount on Fr. Kondratick's misdeeds before putting him in front of a "Spiritual Court", otherwise I'd be willing as a juror to hear a case against the church.
Blaming Fr. K for years and years of financial mismanagement in the absense of any wrongdoing is even worse, so the argument that he alone was responsible for the financial management of the church is also a hard pill for me [and any jury] to swallow.
The point I'm making Nicholas is that the hierarchy seem so reluctant to make a dollar amount (presumably less than 1.7M) public record, by my prudent man standard and assumptions they have forced me to make, it would appear that Fr. Kondratick may actually have a case against them. Keep in mind, them is us.
....again, blame my wild imagination for half million dollar jury awards for hot coffee you spilled causing burns and call me the rambling idiot
To make my post even more humorous, suppose, just suppose, the proof against Fr. K isn't irrefutable, or worse, that because he did what he wanted for so many years, his theft wasn't really even considered a theft.
This is why companies that have problem employees that are misusing or abusing money take simple actions. They put a new policy in place and wait for the person to violate it and fire them for the one policy error. They don't make it a big blown out drama. And they never open the door for legal action from the employee. This is also why white collar fraud is so often unprosecuted.
From my idiots perspective, the OCA opened the door to litigation this week and could have avoided such by both stating the policies violated and amounts.
Maybe the case is stronger than I understand. Like I said, how would I know. All I'm left with is fear that our hierarchs who have filled me with a LOT of doubt are making a mistake.
And it isn't like they haven't made any in the last 10 years.
#9 Daniel E. Fall on 2007-04-21 16:44
And so the walls begin to crumble around MH and the OCA leadership.
This appears to be the shot that started the revolution in the name of restoring order to what is left of the tattered OCA.
Mark, your part of the problem for exposing this scandal? Incredible! that someone can even accuse you for exposing this. I suppose the same gentlemen would let his daughters accused rapist run free as the rapist may be scarred by prosecution for his crimes.
This will not end before the OCA leadership is removed, and it appears that end is coming quickly.
If we're malcontents, then the leadership must be misfits! The indians are about to rise up and overcome years of persecution.
I cannot wait to see what the malcontents have in store for the St. Tikons Pilgrimage this year. We best have a plan in place and have our feelings known to the laypeople that will be in attendance.
God save the church and prosecute thy thieves...ALL OF THEM!
MH, your next!
#10 K.K. on 2007-04-21 20:06
I believe it is worth pausing for a moment to consider the implications of the suspension of the prime suspect, and what might have happened had Archbishop DMITRI refused to return to the original agreement reached at the meeting of the Holy Synod.
First, let's look at this ecclesiastical suspension in the light of how such matters are handled in the secular world. For example, if a police officer in the course of duty shoots and kills a person (perhaps he doesn't even have to kill the person, I'm not sure on that), he is immediately taken off the street while an investigation is conducted. This doesn't constitute an accusation of wrong doing; the jury is out so to speak. Likewise in many other organisations, an employee may be suspended with pay or without pay an pending investigation. Although the Church is the Church, not a secular organisation, such procedures are deemed to be reasonable due process, necessary even for the protection of others and there is no reason the same logic should not apply. If the police officer's actions were not justified, it is critical to get him off the street immediately. If they were justified, he has not been accused or fired, and he should understand from the day he is hired what kind of responsibility comes with being a cop and carrying a weapon. Likewise, as the chancellor of the OCA, it seems reasonable that our prime suspect would have understood the responsibility he bore and the degree of accountability to which he would be held. This suspension should neither come as a surprise nor should anyone view it as an injustice. Although he is being charged, unlike the police officer in my analogy, nobody is suggesting that he should be deposed or "handed over to Pontius Pilate" (no offence intended to our civil government) without the due process of a trial in an ecclesiastical court. Are people afraid that the deck is stacked against him? Perhaps, as a matter of oikonomia, it may be best to invite (at least) one clergyman from another jurisdiction to be part of the judging panel, if the defence so requests.
To consider this matter fairly, we must not ignore the fact that there was a dispute about the canonical status of the defendant. That only complicates the matter. It takes no genius in canon law to recognise that it is generally case law, dealing with particular circumstances and based on precedents. When the Synod of Bishops concurred with the recommendation of the Metropolitan Council, AND the agreement was made to annul the transfer of the defendant to the omophorion of Abp. DMITRI, the Synod effectively established a canon. This is no novel idea. If I recall correctly, it was the Encratites that St. Basil spoke of when he said that by receiving back their bishops, the Church had effectively established a canon whereby it received all of them back. Such an issue had not previously been faced (or at least he was not aware that it had been). The Church, however, was not left paralysed. Similarly, while the rescinding of the canonical transfer may not have been an act for which there is a specific precedent in the canons, it was not anti-canonical either. It did not violate the underlying principles of the canons governing canonical transfers, and there is precedent for acting according to immediate needs. The annulment of the transfer was not a unilateral act, it was, according to official report, agreed to in the context of the Synod's full assembly. There are no reports of anyone expressing reservations. All of this being the case, the annulment, however unprecedented it may be, is evidently perfectly in order.
What, then, would have happened if neither Archbishop DMITRI nor the Metropolitan had relented? Again, it does not take an expert in the canons to know that if the bishop of one jurisdiction ignores the suspension imposed on a cleric by a priest of another jurisdiction, penalties are set for both the cleric who continues to serve and for the bishop who allows him to do so.Potentially, there could have been a breach of communion between dioceses within the OCA. There certainly would have been grounds for a spiritual court to make a determination about the canonical status of the defendant, which would have further rent the fabric of the OCA from the top down.
On the side, our editor reports that His Eminence admitted to his deans that he had not penned the letter rescinding his agreement to the annulment of the transfer. One can only wonder who did, who it was that would have so much pull in such a weighty matter. The only evidence of which I am aware is the text of the letter itself, which suggests (among other things) that the true author(s) considers himself/herself/themselves competent when it comes to the canons, competent enough, and of sufficient stature to advise the Archbishop, and to be his ghost-writer.
Glory to God, His Eminence, Archbishop DMITRI did act "for the good of the Church." He avoided what had the potential to become an inter-diocesan war with extreme implications for everybody invovled and for the future of the OCA as a body. In so doing, he did not abandon the defendant to lawless evil-doers. He faced reality and allowed due process to run its course.
Muchas gracias, Vuestra Eminencia, en verdad, muchas gracias.
#11 Mark Harrison (aka "Sine Nomine") on 2007-04-22 01:40
Christ is risen!
I'm afraid that your equating the worldly corporate CEO to the office of Chancellor, while it may be the "conventional wisdom," does NOT accord with the Sacred Canons and is therefore irrelevant (Article I of The Statute).
According to, among others, Canons 39 and 41 of the Holy Apostles, it is the ruling Bishop of a given diocese (and, by extension, the Metropolitan in the case of the entire OCA) who bears the canonical responsibility for the management and use of church funds.
Because the Bishop usually has much more to do than keep the books, Canon 26 of the 4th Ecumenical Council requires ruling Hierarchs to appoint, from among the clergy of the diocese, a steward to do the actual managing; the steward is to present an annual report. And it would seem that the ancient "steward" is more the equivalent of the modern "treasurer" than of the chancellor.
Admittedly, our Statute is a little confusing and confused on this point. Some of what a steward was supposed to manage, The Statute assigns into the hands of the Metropolitan Council (Article V,4,c-h); and rather maddeningly, The Statute does not contain job-descriptions and/or areas of competence for Chancellor, Treasurer, etc. (Recent job descriptions are of doubtful authority, since they are, in effect, amendments to The Statute but have never been approved by an AAC.)
Most certainly, however, the Canons assign the CEO equivalent, not to any chancellor, but to the ruling Bishop and, again by extension, to the Metropolitan.
#12 Igumen Philip (Speranza) on 2007-04-22 04:43
The solution seems very simple to me. The Metropolitan Council must the job it is charged to do under the OCA Statute, which is to take control over legal matters and demand a legal accounting for the missing funds.
Nobody has come forward to repent and to accept responsibility. Therefore the Metropolitan Council should collectively sue everyone who had legal, actual, or constructive control over the missing money. The Metropolitan Council should sue them all in civil court. Let all of the accused point fingers at each other until the dust settles and whole truth comes out.
Many people had a fiduciary duty to the Church. Let each answer under oath for what he did with the talent Christ entrusted to him.
At this point anything else will be seen for what it is: a farce and a disgrace to God's Holy Church.
May God have mercy on us all.
#13 Robert Vasilios Wachter, Esq. on 2007-04-22 07:38
Scapegoating! Someone needs to be sent out into the desert for the guilt of the People and its Leaders!
Has anyone read
The Unveiling of Violence" by Gil Baili
as well as the Philosophy of Rene Girard?
We are all guilty of the gragedy being perpetuated in the OCA, I believe because we are going too fast in trying to form an American Orthodox Church. After all the Church belongs to Christ! And where is He in the Church at present?
Let's read the Book of Jonah! Repentance is the KEY!
Lord Have mercy upon me a sinner!
#14 with held on 2007-04-22 08:59
This certainly appears to be what is happening. But, even if they pin $1.7M on Fr. Bob, that still leaves about $6.3M that is missing. Of course, it would appear that MH hopes he can simply crucify one man and sweep the rest under the rug.
#15 Name withheld on 2007-04-22 10:33
Father Kondratick was repentant when he met with the Holy Synod for those things that he only had control over but he was not willing to CONFESS as Herman wanted him and make Herman's job easy. Fr Kondratick was not and is not going to take the fall for working inside of an organizational structure that allowed him the level of responsibility blessed by the Metropolitan(s) AND the Holy Synod and the Metropolitan Council's for 2 + decades. Herman can't simply say now "I was the Treasurer in name only" as if that will wipe away HIS blessings of decisions. Herman as primate can't say I didn't know what was going on, when his signature and his presence at meetings in which decisions were made is indisputable.
Remember these words.........FIREWALL..........Kucynda to two senior clerics of the OCA..................SCAPEGOAT.............this process that will lead to a NOT SO Spiritual Court.........hand-picked by Herman to render his verdict on the one man who is taking the fall for ALL OF US.
Herman has acted with only one goal in mind, SAVE HIS JOB no matter what cost to anyone, including Fr Kondratick and the faithful in Venice, Fl. Save his job so that he can parade around in the white hat. Save his job, even if it means the entire OCA is now a joke in world Orthodoxy.
The world is watching how Kondratick is treated. And God will be the ultimate judge of us all. For one, I believe whatever "crime" Kondratick may have committed has been already paid for it by all of us who have tortured him and the Church. If you are looking for a fair verdict out of this so-called spiritual court, you won't be satisfied. If you are looking for a scapegoat, then you should be happy.
Please watch closely in the days ahead when Fr Kondratick will ask for information so that he can prepare his defense and how it will be denied him. He will be denied every fair opportunity for documents, defense witnesses, and for evidence to be entered into the record that counters Herman. He will be left naked to try and recall in detail matters from years past, while Herman and the court will have the benefit of whatever documents they have.
There will be no discovery process. If you would like to view a Soviet Stalin-like court, turn in and let history replay itself.
#16 Anonymous on 2007-04-22 14:39
Goodness, name withheld, I neither misappropriated charitable donations nor lied about it, so how, exactly, am I responsible? "And going too fast to form an American Orthodox church?" What are you talking about? I was in an American Orthodox church just this morning.
#17 Scott Walker on 2007-04-22 16:26
Daniel, do the math it's 24,600. Look at the proposed budget.
If we had 2,000,000 our budgeted income would be $30,000,000. Then we could pay for +MH's attorneys, to blame other people for his mistakes.
It seems that Fr. PK still suffers from visions of grandeur.
Do you suppose the documents to which you refer in the penultimate paragraph are the same as those that were marathon-shredded by Kondratick?
#19 Terry C. Peet on 2007-04-22 21:17
So Fr Bobosh, would that mean that your 100% responsible since you were a member of the Metropolitan Council at some point during this crisis?
Would Mr Stokoe be 100% responsible since he served in some capacity in Syosset?
Would Mr Wheeler be 100% responsible since he seems to have all the facts?
How about all the retired Bishops? And clergyman who also served in whatever capacity in Syosset? And former Metropolitan Council members?
I do recall you saying that you "thought" (or something to that effect) something was wrong "financially" at Syosset. Am I right or wrong???
(Editor's note: I cannot speak for the others, but as for myself, yes, I am guilty as a former member of the Metropolitan Council. In my defense I will only say that when these issues began to be exposed in 1999 I labored long and hard to correct them - with no success at that time. I was prepared to be open to the possibility of something being wrong though, since Fr. Bobosh, my precedessor on the Council, always told me something was "wrong". He just had no evidence, and could gather none.
I was given some, and ran with it. Alas,it was not far enough in 1999-2000 before I was removed from the Council. At that time Eric Wheeler would not speak out publicly, a point on which he later repented. Fortunately for all of us in 2005 he spoke loudly and clearly, which had brought us to this day.
So yes, Michael, we are all guilty. The only difference is some of us are willing to admit it, publicly,and work to correct our mistakes. Others, sadly, still refuse to admit them; and a few are still actively seeking to cover it all up. )
#20 Michael Livosky on 2007-04-22 22:06
Can Herman do anything he wants? Does anyone really have a say? RSK and Nescott spoke out and in his eyes didn't follow the Herman rules. Is this a church or a dictatorship?
#21 Anonymous on 2007-04-23 04:47
Good grief! I hear a lot of this, even at my Parish: "We should not have gone for autocephaly!" "Why don't we just return to the Russian Patriarchy?" And so forth ...
Come on -- enough with self-flagelation. "We," citizens of the United States (for the most part, and Canada), got the idea years ago -- and not a novel idea historically -- that an Orthodox church using our language should be administered in our country. In many ways, that's the story of the Orthodox church from the earliest of time! "We" are not guilty of moving ahead too fast, trying to push too much, etc. It's actually all very, very simple:
"We" are guilty of being infiltrated by one or more criminal men in our church's leadership -- priestly and/or administratively -- and having them fleece the flock while those who should have been watching/overseeing them allowed it to go on; maybe some of the overseers were even "in" on the take -- wouldn't be the first time that's ever happened in history.
BUT, that does NOT mean there should not be an autocephalous OCA! Come on, my friends: There are nearly 350 million people in North America, and with all due respect to our friends in the Greek Archdiocese and the Anitochian, if it is true that in over 20 years of existence, the OCA has only 25,000 members ... !!??!?! I have Protestant family members who go to a Baptist church in one medium-sized city in Florida, where the membership roll (and attendance at each Sunday's services) is over 10,000 people! And that's one single church! In a town with fewer than one million people! And the OCA has only 25,000 actual registered members in all of North America?!
Why is this? This reflects nothing less than a complete failure of leadership in the OCA. Our leadership has obviously been focused upon doing something other than building-up the Church. Whether bishop or administrator (e.g., Chancellor), they've apparently become more interested in fleecing the flock for their own purposes, than in serving the Church.
Are "we" guilty? Only if we allow this to continue. Our representatives? The MC. Our bishops have failed us; our accounting firms have failed us; our appointed leaders have failed us (e.g., the Chancellor). I can only hope that our collective WILL will not now fail us, with calls to "move on," get this behind us by ignoring it. Presumably, our collective will is reflected in the MC.
As for "torturing" Fr. K as a "scapegoat," well ... he accepted the position, and could avoid all forms of "torture" by merely facilitating the truth and the whole truth to come out -- even if it hurts. Right now, he's looking a lot like the Thief-in-Chief! Yes, I'm sure it hurts, but if there weren't some truth in it, then he could have made it all go away by calling in a Big Name accounting firm when he was Chancellor, and asking for a comprehensive audit of the OCA's books from 1992-2006. He invested in a shredder, instead.
No, "we" are not moving ahead too fast to build a North American Church. "We" are not torturing Fr. K. "We" are not hurling actionable insults and libelous accusations at our bishops and administrators. "We" have simply been lied to and stolen from for nearly a dozen years, and the fox may still be in the hen-house! It only gets messy like it is when someone's (or group) engaging in a cover-up. I for one did not think that serving as a bishop, metropolitan, or a priest was a 9-to-5 job; I thought that the "oath" at ordination or consecration implied a 7x24 commitment to serve Christ. A few people seem to have forgotten this, and stolen from the OCA deliberately or in-fact by misuse of funds. As for torture, I'm reminded of Harry Truman: A man once said to him, "Give 'em hell, Harry!" To which he replied, "I'm just going to tell them the truth. It's just going to seem like hell!"
"We" need an Orthodox Church in North America. "We" need a national-level Church to represent us, to be a constructive presence uniting us and coordinating Parish and Diocese activities. "We" need this Church to grow. "We" need the Truth of the Gospel to be expounded. In support of this, we need the truth about the OCA's finances to come out into the open, banish the wrong-doers, and then to move forward -- not "move on" -- as a better, stronger Church to restore our credibility in the pan-Orthodox and secular worlds, so that we may preach the Gospel within the world. So many good people have rightly worked for this -- "we" can't allow a few "bad apples" to divert us from that path, for the sake of Truth.
And to beat the drum yet again, it would be better and "more fair" if all of this came out in a secular court, where Fr. K and everyone else could issue enforcable subpeonas to get the documents and information they "need" in order to prepare a fair case. Someone -- "us" throught the MC? -- needs to wrestle this nightmare into a civil court in order to make this happen.
If "we" cannot do this ... Then we each, individually, will have to decide which Orthodox jurisdiction we wish to worship within, as the ashes of the former OCA smolder. How sad that would be!
#22 Convoluted Convert on 2007-04-23 07:34
"...the one man who is taking the fall for ALL OF US."
I am not sure how Fr. Kondratick is taking the fall for me? I assume that "all of us means," all Orthodox Christians in the OCA. Does that include my children? Is he taking the fall for them? What are they guilty of? I can say that my children have honestly felt the effects of this scandal.
So just what is that supposed to mean that he is taking the fall for all of us?
I agree that he is not the only one who is responsible for all of this. I agree that His Beatitude is trying to save his job, I agree that others are guilty but, to say that Fr. Kondratick is taking that fall for me or my Orthodox children is absurd!
#23 fledgling priest on 2007-04-23 08:20
"Blaming Fr. K for years and years of financial mismanagement in the absense of any wrongdoing is even worse, so the argument that he alone was responsible for the financial management of the church is also a hard pill for me [and any jury] to swallow."
Just a few of notes regarding your comment, and as a followup to Wayne Tatusko's reflection on the year 2002:
1. The OCA ran a $1 million deficit in year 2002. Who knew about this and why wasn't something done about it during the year?
2. The OCA Auditing Committee in their report on year 2002 stated that they compared budgeted and actual amounts. Why didn't they state that there was a $1 million deficit?
3. Over $2 million in securities was liquidated in 2002 to cover the deficit. Who authorized the sales?
4. The notes to the 2003 financial statements state that MH obtained a line of credit to cover deficits in that year. By statute only the MC can incur debt. The notes also stated that MH "borrowed" money from appeals to cover deficits.
What I am saying is this. There are more than a few people who had a hand in this whole fiasco.
#24 Michael Strelka, CPA on 2007-04-23 08:33
Any idea or steps on how to wrestle it via the MC into civil court?
If possible, it might end a lot of the pain people are experiencing in this slow drawn-out, torturing situation which seems to be the self-protecting tactic of the perpetrators.
#25 Anonymous on 2007-04-23 09:12
you reported that at his meeting with his deans, Archbishop Dmitri "admitted he had not written the earlier letter renouncing his signature" (to the Synodal agreement restoring Kondratick to the diocese of Washington DC and New York). Is it known if + Dmitri saw or approved the letter before it was sent? Is it known who actually wrote it?
(Editor's Note: The Archbishop certainly saw it and approved it since it bore his signature. As to who actually wrote it, it would be best if the Archbishop answered that himself. The Archbishop put up an explanation on his website for his earlier actions; it would be helpful if he would do the same for these, no?)
#26 Rachel Andreyev on 2007-04-23 10:10
Comments about this scandal somehow being proof that Orthodoxy was too young in America to have an autocephalous church and that it is time to return to a "mother church" are interesting. If loss of membership and scandal is somehow proof of a need to abandon an Orthodox effort then I'll ask the question - how many Orthodox Christians are left in the city of Constantinople or in the city of Antioch or in Asia minor (or of the congregations St. Paul founded or in the seven cities with churches listed in the Book of Revelations?) Whatever the OCA's problems, and they are serious and they are many, and however few the numbers of members, there still are more members in the OCA than there are Greek Orthodox in Constantinople or in Antioch. Antioch by all accounts was at least 25% Orthodox when Chrysostom was archbishop there with many other Christian groups also present in the city. But today? Does the decimation and disappearance of Christianity throughout ancient Asia Minor, present day Turkey, mean to the Orthodox that the Patriarchates of Constantinople and Antioch are failed experiments whose time apparently hadn't come yet? Orthodoxy has to struggle here in America like it has had to struggle throughout the ancient Byzantine world and through Russia and the Balkans. Our problems may be unique to our New World culture and to our times, but we Orthodox in America have to decide whether we are going to live the Gospel life as Orthodox in America, just as Orthodox have had to struggle with that every where in the world and in every era of history since the foundation of Christianity. Trying to return to or hide under the protection of some ancient patriarchate is not going to make dealing with the 21st Century American scene any more possible.
#27 Fr. Ted Bobosh on 2007-04-23 13:16
Are the 4 members of the court all priests under Met. Herman? And is Met Herman to be the one to determine the punishment? And is the cross examiner someone working in close contact with the Met and PR? It seems yes (right?), and while we must wait to see what occurs and does not occur, its appearance kinda sorta looks slightly not fair and balanced. At least to me. Or am I missing something?
(Editor's Note: According to the Statute of the OCA, the court judging a priest is always composed of priests; and the diocesan bishop always acts as judge. Fr. Kondratick never, ever publicly complained about this system in the scores of church courts held throughout the OCA during his 18 year tenure as Chancellor, nor ever sought to change it at an AAC. It would seem odd for him, or his supporters, to suggest it be changed now - or am I missing something?
#28 Hmmm.... on 2007-04-23 13:20
Thank you for your thoughtful words. Now that we know more about what happened and why, some rational conclusions can be drawn. But, I wonder how many of our brethren who were quick to judge, even condemn, Vladiko Dimitri will take back their harsh words? I would hate to see them suffer from the same disease those ultimately responsible for the scandal are suffering from: pride, to a lesser degree, perhaps, but pride no less. It is quite hard not to give into the temptation to save face, but I pray those who publicly condemned Vladiko Dimitri (Mr. Tobin and Mr. Skovran), will be so bold as to publicly admit they were wrong in their rash condemnation of our venerable hierarch. Alas, I fear these words will fall on deaf ears.
#29 A different perspective on 2007-04-23 14:23
With your knowledge , what do you foresee happening after Fr.Bob is judged. Will the others accused be brought forward. Does MH think that we all believe this is one man's mess. I think MH will try to use this as the final chapter.
(Editor's note: Yes, the Metropolitan has stated privately and publicly that this is one man's mess, and he is not that man. Yes, I do believe he will try to convince people this will be the final chapter. Will he suceed? It is not I, but the OCA that must answer that question.)
#30 Randy on 2007-04-23 15:08
I am talking about the PR report and the Commission report.
#31 Anonymous on 2007-04-23 15:13
Well, Hmmm, you are missing something, again.
The Spiritual Court in this case must be made up of clergy of stavropegial status. Thus Garretson and Lickwar cannot be on the Court since they are from the Diocese of Washington and New York. Fr Kondratick is not in that diocese. The same holds true for Job. He cannot be the accuser because he is not in the diocese of the accused.
Plan B anyone?
(Editor's Note: Well, if you are going to get totally technical, there are only three other protopresbyters with stavropegial status in the entire OCA. That would be Frs. Hopko, Hubiak and Kreta; all retired. While I have no doubt as to the fair-mindedness of a court composed of those men, I doubt Fr. Kondratick would enjoy that court very much! Both Fr. Lickwar and Garretson are very well-known, respected, and honest men. It should suffice.)
#32 Anonymous on 2007-04-23 15:23
Am I the only one wondering about this?
Why should we expect the powers that be to honor the Statute in this trial when they have show such flagrant disregard for the Statute up till now? Hold the trial in secret, at this stage, is a frightening prospect, given their self-serving penchant for keeping secrets. Why should it be secret? This has been a very public scandal.
Would anyone be amiss, given the history, in expecting shenanigans and muzzling from the powers who are running this trial? How can one have confidence in any of the current players in this crowd? Why have these particular people been picked? Are they men of public integrity, or simply men who can be counted on to vote the party line? At a minimum we need a statement from each of them with respect to how they will handle these deliberations and exercise their responsibilities. Just doing the Met.'s bidding is not sufficient. Being "obedient" to the Met. is a loaded statement these days, which usually means "willing to be muzzled and intimidated into silense or acquiescence. It seems certain that the Met. will try and steer this result away from the culpability of past Treasurers, among others. That is possible "in secret." That cannot be allowed. Fr. Bob is not the only one under the microscope here... or shouldn't be.
#33 Name Withheld by Request on 2007-04-23 16:44
What a huge collosal mess the OCA has on its hands.
This whole affair is a huge, shameful, embarassing collosal mess.
Worse than Congress in THEIR politics!!!
KRT is right. We needed to see the PR and Commission reports with this new development of suspension and court for Fr. Bob Kondratick.
Perhaps a GREAT hope with Fr. Bob going on trial before designated reports were supposed to be released is he will spill ALL THE BEANS. DON'T GO DOWN ALONE!
Fr. Bob: Say it like it is and bring this nonsense to an end! Tell all that you know about whom you know. And even if you only say a portion of what you know I am sure you can shed alot of light on this whole issue of financial mismanagement.
#34 Patty Schellbach on 2007-04-23 17:11
Why do people think that the accuser has to be in the priest's diocese? Why do you think that huh? If priest X abuses a child in another state, that child's parents can accuse him, or their priest, like if he was traveling -- anyone in the world can be the accuser if the priest sins against him, because that would mean a priest could get away with any crimes committed away from the diocese. What are you even thinking?
#35 Eddie Kayeti on 2007-04-23 17:27
Totally technical? You can't be a priest in more than one diocese and you can't compose a court from people of 3 different dioceses. You also can't rescind a transfer. This has become a tragic comedy of Herman trying to save his skin at the expense of another. Totally technical. You miss the entire point, again. It has nothing to do with a title of protopresbyter, it has to do with how a court is conducted. We have rules, which are being ignored. The entire thing can be thrown out already with the blunders that this rush-to-judgement unholy trinity of Herman, Kucynda and Perry have perpetrated.
#36 Anonymous on 2007-04-23 17:43
This is where MH is dead wrong. I don't believe ANYONE will buy the whole mess, $8M missing, sexual misconduct, payment of blackmail, etc., etc., being pinned on Fr. Bob.
He is simply going to ride the OCA ship as it goes under, wearing the white hat, of course.
#37 Name withheld on 2007-04-23 18:29
Not only do I not retract my previous remarks, I reiterate them!
Your bishop, by his own actions and admissions, has shown himself to be a pawn and dupe of the Kondratick elements in his own diocese. He has embarrassed himself and the entire OCA. The honorable thing would be for him to "retire" forthwith.
#38 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2007-04-23 19:19
#39 Daniel E. Fall on 2007-04-23 20:17
Let me be the first to say if someone fraudulently represented themselves as an archbishop of the church, let the hierarchy publicly punish them or let the words of Abp. Dmitri stand as his own.
That way, my malcontent is no longer for the Abp., otherwise it stands.
What part of disappointed in the hierarchy don't you understand?
#40 Daniel E. Fall on 2007-04-23 20:24
Well, I learned something today.
I learned that the civil courts are not an option once a "Spiritual Court" kicks in.
From my small mind, the OCA is taking on Caesar's business.
If the priest committed a crime against the church, try him as a criminal in a secular court. Sue him for the $ damages.
Fr. K is a scapegoat to a degree. I truly hope he pays rightly for any crimes he commited and after that I hope the next AAC changes out a number of hierarchs in exchange for better options.
The truth can set all of them free by me.
In the absence of truth, there is always doubt.
#41 Daniel E. Fall on 2007-04-23 20:37
Christ is Risen!
"One man's mess" -- not! Fr. RSK is going before the church court and that is most fitting. He for years he fostered an atmosphere of bullying, cronyism and financial malfeasance. I believe the witness of those faithful servants of Christ serving on the Metropolitan Council (and special commissions), many of whom I know. How about the whole atmosphere that Fr. Bob created and thrived in, as well as Frs. Fester and Brum? I would like for them to answer some questions. It would be even better if they came forward on their own. Also, +MH, when you were treasurer, but "in name only," what happened to all that money (see W. Tatusko's reflection)? Syosset - perhaps emptier these days, but when will the confirmed Chancellor, et al begin to work? The more things change, the more they remain the same - ? This is our Holy Catholic Apostolic Church. We are the Body of Christ. Closing the door after dealing with the "one man" just won't do.
Lord have mercy on us!
How can someone who is also implicated in the wrong doings sit in judgment of another accused at his trial? This conflict of interest would never be allowed in a secular court as it would cause a mistrial. If this indeed takes place, the judgment rendered whether for guilt or innocence will always be under a cloud of suspicion, and there will be no end to this mess.
#43 Sophia Weisheit on 2007-04-24 05:37
Speaking of sexual misconduct and payment of blackmail, who is "Twinkle Toes?". For those of us who are not in the know, how about some initials or title (no names). Also, who are the other sexual problems we have in the church? It would be nice for the average parishioner to know if their child/family member is in any danger of a priest, bishop or higher. Once again, some hints or initials or title/location would be helpful. It seems that many writers to this website are concerned about the spent money or catching the perpetrator(s). I'd like to try to prevent some future problems, especially with our youth.
Curious in Campbell
(Editor's Note: At no time in this current scandal have there been any intitmations of sexual misconduct involving minors. The various rumours, allegations, etc., all involve consenting adults. )
#44 Curious in Campbell on 2007-04-24 05:47
You say civil courts are not an option once the spiritual court kicks in. Maybe... but did not the Chancellor and the Metropolitan already go outside the Church by immediately hiring
lawyers from the secular world to protect their own interests???? Could this be a loophole, canonically speaking for the MC to instigate civil action? After ignoring the Scripture, can they they now insist on a spiritual court? I don't get it; or sadly maybe I do, and when I think that all this is simply a game plan for self protection, I am so disillusioned. How could the leaders of the Church which teaches repentance and forgiveness, not follow that teaching and trust that in repenting, they would have been forgiven? They obviously trust neither God nor their brothers and sisters in Christ for forgiveness. By their actions, they teach us also not to trust...
#45 Anonymous on 2007-04-24 06:37
Where did you learn this information? I believe you have been misinformed, but then again I may be misinformed. My understanding is no laws prevent civil action after a spiritual court -- the two are completely separate and have completely different competencies.
Sdn. John Martin Watt
Martin D. Watt, CPA (Inactive)
#46 Marty Watt on 2007-04-24 06:38
You sound very bold, Mr. Tobin. A true stalwart of truth, indeed. Would you be so bold to say what you have said, with the same vitriol, vehemence, and certainty to the Archbishop in person. Somehow, I doubt it. His kindness, thoughfulness, gentleness, levelheadedness, would put your bitterness and hatred to shame. Here's an open invitation, come on down to the south, come and meet the archbishop for yourself to undecieve yourself of his competency and character. Travel among the parishes he has played a key role in establishing to see what he's been up to these past thirty years. You'll be glad to know he would give you an audience, and if you would be so bold as to reiterate what you have said here with the exact same tone, he would just smile at you, cock his head to the side and tell you you are entitled to your opinion. Alas, I fear you wish the enfeebled, "dupe" you have constructed in your mind to be true. Are you that in love with the truth to make the journey down here to see for yourself, instead of basing your judgement on heresay and assumptions?
Wishing you find the truth you are so passionately seeking,
#47 A different perspective on 2007-04-24 06:38
A colossal mess to put it mildly. While Kondratick is at the epicenter of this scandal and he was the power behind the throne, there is no way he could have done what he is accused of doing without help or approval. On the surface it may seem logical to start with a trial of the major player, but I am certain, after reading all the postings in the last few months, that any verdict, i.e. conviction or acquittal, will divide the church for many years to come into two camps because the documentary evidence to either conviction or acquittal will not be available to the faithful to examine and therefore either camp will conclude that Kondratick was either scapegoated or was reinstated by the good ole boys club. It’s a lose – lose situation.
Civil action would appear to be the most objective way to proceed as most faithful would accept a trial and a verdict by an independent judge and jury instead of priests and bishops who have known and worked with Fr. Kondratick for many years.
The best and healthiest way to proceed, outside of both spiritual and civil courts, is for a full confession, not just by Fr. Kondratick, but by everyone else who helped, approved or even winked, at the shenanigans in the central church administration. I would not at all be surprised as how forgiving the faithful can and will be.
#48 Terry C. Peet on 2007-04-24 06:55
I was hoping the initiation of spiritual court would give me hope, but it does not. It seems incorrectly composed, to say the least. When I read that His Eminence Archbishop JOB was to be the "accuser", I got a sick feeling in my stomach. Somehow I worry this will all be a way to from him and challenge his episcopacy. Something is wrong. It's proper for his eminence to ask the question "are the allegations true or are they false?", but I don't understand why he wants to be the accuser in this court.
I believe it would be much better would be for all involved to make public confessions, defrock themselves, and spend the rest of their earthly lives in sackcloths and ashes...as we all should, really. Why is it that the chief servants of the church feel so entitled to earthly protection for fear of men. Do they not fear the Lord Jesus Christ??
I hope and pray each person involved will do what is best for his (her?) salvation, which will probably be painful and ugly. But by this they would be setting an example for the church, which is what they ought to do, rather than hide behind civil lawyers, and civil and criminal law and "procedure". Such hiding may confuse and fool the masses, but
GOD IS NOT MOCKED!
There needs to be a 12-step program for recovering bad clergy.
Rdr. Alexander Langley
#49 Rdr. Alexander Langley on 2007-04-24 09:46
#50 Hmmm.... on 2007-04-24 10:05
What the heck is "stavropegial?"
(Editor's Note: An institution under the direct jurisdiction of the Primate of the Church, as opposed to a Diocesan Bishop. For example, St. Tikhon's monastery is physically located in the Diocese of Eastern PA, but is stavropegial, that is, under the jurisdiction of the Metropolitan as Primate of the Church. )
#51 Hmmm.... on 2007-04-24 10:06
You said "We have rules which are being ignored." Please, what rules?
#52 Please sign me as "Anonymous" since he did on 2007-04-24 10:41
I am not particularly troubled by the court being composed of some stavropegial priests, and some from the Diocese of Washington, as it is all the same omophorion. One problem might be for his Beatitude to preside, given that as the Treasurer during much of the time in question he could conceivably be called as a witness. The OCA statute says the court's non-voting president is "the Diocesan Bishop or a member of the clergy appointed by him;" I think it would be better if his Beatitude made use of the ability to delegate that duty.
I think also the members of the court should undertake to allow the fullest possible examination, granting both sides maximum latitude to present evidence. There seems also to be no requirement in the Statute itself (though the procedural rules enacted by the Holy Synod may be different) that the trial be held in closed session. If the court could see its way clear to at least allow a transcript to be released, I think it would tend to reduce the feeling that some sort of "cooked up" outcome is in the making.
#53 Edmund Unneland on 2007-04-24 11:16
Do we honestly believe this will solve anything ???
“THEY” will be able to milk this for five years.
We need to see the final complete report !!! That we paid for.
If the report was released, the criminals would resign on there own. Wouldn’t be necessary to hold these courts.
“omophorion” “protopresbyters” “stavropegial”
a lot of hogwash
STOP THE MONEY !!!
#54 Ande on 2007-04-24 14:03
Yes, I certainly am 100% responsible for the votes I made and actions I took while I was on the MC. My failure to ask more questions, demand to see the financial reports, and challenge the misinformation we were given certainly contributed to the problem and allowed scandalous behavior to continue on the part of the powers that be. Archbishop Job too has admitted how his actions and inactions contributed to the problem. The changes in the behavior of the MC, the changes in personnel, policies and priorities of the OCA have all resulted from various people admitting what they were doing was unacceptable and wrong, and was in fact enabling and contributing to the problem. This includes all the priests and laity who saw wrong doing and did not speak the truth - some kept silent they believed "for the good of the church." But as has been said before all it takes for evil to succeed is for some to remain silent. Perhaps it will still happen that others more intimately involved in what was wrong with the OCA will step forward and speak the truth so that the dumb spirit of darkness which has held so many tongues silent will be exorcised and never allowed to enter into or influence us a second time.
#55 Fr. Ted Bobosh on 2007-04-24 14:18
Heresay and assumptions?! It is from the very mouth of your "kindly and thoughtful" bishop that I draw my conclusions. Did he not admit that his letter of revocation was drafted by others? Did he not renege on the postion he took during the meeting of the Synod with respect to Fr. Kondratick? Have you read the Metropolitan's letter on this issue or were you too busy drafting adulatory hymns of praise to your sainted heirarch?
It is probably true that were I to meet his Eminence in person I would afford him the respect and deference that his office is due, despite my feeling about his competence to hold it. However, you may be assured that I would not be afraid to hold him to the standards that any bishop must meet in order to properly lead and serve the Church. It is not out of hatred or bitterness that I have called for your heirarch to resign, but for the greater good of the OCA.
Whatever his accomplishments in the past, and I'm sure there have been some, his recent actions underscore for me the need for new leadership and change in your diocese. His office in not an entitlement that he is free to enjoy without regard to the best interests of the Church. His recent treatment of a candidate for the episcopate in your diocese lends further weight to this judgement.
I would be happy to meet with his Eminence, or you as well, if I only knew your name!
#56 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2007-04-24 15:54
You should be ashamed of yourself. You are exactly the type of person that such circumstances brings out the worst in people. A healthy dose of silence on your part would do your soul good. Archbishop Dmitri was fighting for the people of Venice to have a priest at their altar while the investigation went forward. You really do expose your hard heart when you so glibly sound the "off with their heads" slogan. Shameful, simply shameful.
#57 Anonymous on 2007-04-24 16:09
The quote below is taken verbatim from Mark's editorial and is where I have formed the basis of opinion no civil court will ever get this trial. The accuser, not the accused, is not allowed to appeal to the civil courts. I still don't understand why this isn't treated as a criminal matter first, or subject to a civil suit first.
The greater question is whether the Statutes meant a Spiritual Court takes the place of a criminal court as well.
The whole thing just seems odd. I would have expected this to be handled by the government and the OCA general counsel first. Why split and divide the OCA over something that should be handled by a secular government? Metropolitan Herman is surely in a terrible position if this is the standard he must meet. He is basically required to polarize the supporters of Kondratick and the supporters of Abp. Job. By the very nature of this act, supporters of Fr. Kondratick will end up disliking the body of the Diocese of the Midwest where the "Accountability" phrase was coined. Further, Abp. Job will essentially be shooting himself in the foot as a potential future Metropolitan if the Fr. K supporters have numbers. Hope I'm wrong.
This is from Mark's editorial.
" Section 4 - General Procedure
a. Accusers shall present their accusations in writing to the Bishop of the Diocese of the accused.
b. Before examining the case, the court shall establish the accuser's good and irreproachable character. The accuser shall agree in advance in writing that the decision of these courts is final and non-appealable to the civil courts. If the court is not satisfied in these matters, or considers that the accuser, by lodging his accusation, pursues personal advantage or acts out of personal animosity, the case shall be dismissed."
At the request of the Metropolitan, Archbishop Job has agreed to serve as the official "Accuser" in the case of Fr. Kondratick. As the "Accuser" the Archbishop will not conduct the actual prosecution itself. The presentation of evidence, examination of witnesses, cross examination, etc., will be conducted by de facto OCA general counsel, Jim Perry.
#58 Anonymous on 2007-04-24 18:08
Dear Mr Stokoe:
Christ is Risen !
One issue that has been alluded to, but not addressed above, is the relationship of the Spiritual Court to the Civil Courts.
The allegations against Fr Kondratick clearly include violations of State and Federal Statutes. While the OCA is the victim, it is the civil government's laws that have been broken. Indeed, you have reported that the civil authorities ( the FBI and the IRS) have opened a criminal investigation. Do you know if that investigation continues ?
Perhaps one of the attorneys who posts to your web site could answer the following question:
Would a church court trial pre-empt and / or prejudice the prospective prosecution of the alleged crimes in the civil courts ? It seems to me that this is an important issue.
Secondly, while the procedures for the Spiritual Court are delineated in the OCA statute, the Statute does not require that the court adhere to the normative practices of American jurisprudence.
For example, the Metroplitan has complete control of the court process; depite the fact that he is not a disinterested party. The entire process to date has been conducted in secret, and it appears that the trial will also be secret. If this is so, then it will surely re-inforce the perception of a Stalinesque "show trial ". It will, no doubt add to the argument that the purpose of the process has been to obfuscate, rather than enlighten.
One of the cardinal principles of American justice is the presumption of innocence; yet Fr Kondratick has been labelled as guilty in statements issued by the Metropolitan, who is to serve as the final judge in the trial. These statements have been issued, while none of the evidence supporting these statements has been released. This will no doubt fuel speculation about the fairness of the trial process.
If the trial and the resulting judgement are to be accepted by the church, then the integrity of the legal process is paramount.
Fr. Schmemman said that our church should be "fully Orthodox, and fully American". It seems obvious that a matter as grave as this trial should be adjudicated in a manner that adheres not only to the Holy Canons and the Statute of the OCA; but also to the normative pracice of law in an open society.
Best wishes to all.
#59 Francis Frost on 2007-04-24 18:31
Dear Marty et al.,
Article XI,4,b of The Statute requires that "the accuser shall agree in advance in writing that the decision of these [spiritual] courts is final and non-appealable to the civil courts." Further, 1 Cor.6:1-8 tells believers to settle their own disputes and clean up their own messes within the community and NOT sue each other in secular courts. Clear?
#60 Igumen Philip (Speranza) on 2007-04-24 18:41
I agree with you Sophia. Honest brokers are required if this trial is to be anything by a sham.
Anyone with a conflict of interest in these maters MUST RECUSE himself or herself. In other words, the integrity of the process demands that those with "dogs in this hunt" must voluntarily withdraw even if they are not asked to withdraw.
I have reflected on the "stavropegial" positions of the appointees and, unless I am mistaken about the monastic pecking order, these gentlemen have a conflict of interest since their professional superior is MH? who is himself implicated and cannot possible judge impartially. An independent commission of Church men and women needs to be appointed as honest brokers, then let them choose the judges. (At the risk of making a politically incorrect appeal: no more Jewish lawyers. I have nothing against Jewish lawyers per se, but they cannot possibly understand Orthodox Christian sensibilities. I would complain just as much about having a Mormon or Evangelical or Roman Catholic lawyer involved. On purely matters of law. Fine, any of them, as long as they have integrity, would be alright. But we are dealing here in matters of Church and State. Not just Church and not just State. These honest brokers all need to be Orthodox Christians judging their own. Please.)
If this is to be anything but the American version an old Soviet show trial, honest brokers are demanded.
#61 Anon. on 2007-04-24 20:01
In all honesty what is the chance of Fr. Bob overcoming these incredible odds. With MH having a say in this , you know there is no love loss between them. Is there a chance MH is the next to go in front of the courts. He was the treasure at the time in question and his signature is on most of those checks. Do you believe the right justice will be served.
#62 Randy on 2007-04-25 05:44
Well, as long as you asked ...
Let me state up-front that I am not an attorney, but I have been a business executive for many years, and have to deal with a lot of lawyers and legal issues -- not to mention CPAs! And if the OCA were a "regular company," the situation which we find ourselves in would be positively crying-out for a lawsuit from the investors/contributors and/or customers! Just change the names to "donors," and "laity," and well, you get the point. It is complicated by the fact that we are a Church and accordingly give our leaders considerably more respect, and trust than we would a plain-vanilla corporate officer, for all the right reasons. It is apparent, however, that certain unscrupulous people holding such positions have taken advantage of that (misplaced) trust, and taken money from the Church to spend on themselves. When it's a "dirty cop" in this situation, it's called "police corruption." I don't know what it's called when it's a priest or a bishop.
In law, one must have "standing" in the eyes of a court. I think that the MC, as a duly-constituted body presumably governing the OCA (per the Statute) as it is organized in the State of New York as an entity, would have standing. IF the MC represented to the (State) Court that it had several executives "out of control" or potentially involved in malfeasance of some kind, and perhaps even illegal activities (e.g., theft of funds), then I believe that it could ask for protection of the organization by the Court, over and against the said officials. I have suggested before that this could involve some type of formal "injunction" against these executives; in this case it could involve Fr. K, and even +MH, possibly others who are STILL in possession of power over the OCA as a whole or one of its duly constituted "subsidiaries," (i.e., a Diocese). This would be somewhat akin to a bankruptcy protection request ("Chapter 11"), where the organization asks a Court to "protect" it from certain creditors while it gets its act together. In this instance, the case could be made that, "Your Honor, our CEO and COO (+MH and Fr. K) appear to have been out of control and may have taken funds improperly; we have some evidence (PR report, Commission Report, etc). We're disciplining the COO (Fr. K) on a church level, but the CEO is still in charge and can take punitive actions against us (the MC) and others needed to come forward to get to the truth (e.g., priests, deacons, even laity). We -- the duly-constituted governing body of the OCA -- ask for an injunction against the CEO (+MH) while we further investigate this situation, and enjoin him against commiting funds of the OCA, signing contracts, reassigning priests and other clergy, suspending clergy, etc. Further, Your Honor, we have asked for various documentation which is being held-up, hidden, or declared 'confidential' and we can't complete the investigation without them; so could you please get them for us through the subpeona power of the Court?" Maybe there's more to ask for as well.
I know some will say, "But this is a Church, and the Metropolitan runs it; we should keep our mouths shut and stay out of the secular Court, and let the Synod handle it." Well, I don't think that's what the OCA Statute says. While the Synod is an ecclessiastical body, and appears to be going forward with the ecclessial case against Fr. K at this time, the Statute governs the organization as an organization within secular society. And, the said Synod court is by definition to be conducted behind closed doors and in secret; not a bad idea as far as such things go. BUT, doesn't the investigation of the church as an operating, tax-exempt entity need to be done in the light of day? I submit that it does, and in the absence of a willingness to do this by internal policy, I believe that the ONLY WAY to get this done is for a State Court to insist upon it. As far as I can see, the ONLY group with legal standing in this matter is the MC. Unless the laity or donors of the past wanted to file some kind of "class action" lawsuit against the OCA -- well, that just seems very, very unlikely and complicated.
I also believe that getting this into a formal State Court arena would be good for everyone (well, at least those 'not guilty' of some malfeasance). This Website is fine, but let's face it -- it qualifies as "heresay" and rumor; a Court will have standards of evidence: (a) evidence must be real, and (b) evidence which is 'missing' or has been destroyed can also be given credence, and people responsible in the past for safeguarding such evidence (i.e., Chancellors, Treasurers, etc, etc) can be held accountable for it NOT being available -- i.e., the Court can determine if there has been an attempt at a cover-up. It's all good. Someone or some official body (in this case, the MC) has to initiate such an action. Failing that, then we the OCA simply must wait for some outside agency, like the FBI or the IRS to amass enough evidence to get the thing into a criminal court -- and that's on their schedule, must fit with their agenda, has different standards of evidence, etc. Speaking as a voting member of this Church, with the MC as my duly-elected representatives, I personally have to say, "I don't want to wait for the FBI." The MC should pursue this for the OCA. It would certainly answer the question, "Can't we take care of this ourselves?" Using the Court is not a failure of will -- but waiting and hoping for the FBI to find something worth moving forward with IS.
I'll bet that enough people in the OCA would be willing to commit funds to support such an effort -- with Court oversight and a reputable law firm -- in lieu of seeing more of their/our money going to Syosset to hire who knows who, to further hide what happened. That's just my perception from reading the comments on this Website.
Without such an action, +MH can continue to kick people off of committees, boards, commissions, etc, as he sees fit; and people can say, "That's not allowable!" But, without a Court enforcing the OCA Statute (and possibly State law) then he can do whatever he wants and there is no one to stop him! That means that if I sign this e-mail with my real name, +MH can decide, "Father John Doe (my parish priest, for example) isn't keeping a tight-enough lid on this thing in his parish, so I'm going to transfer him to a mission church in Northern Manitoba." Will all due respect to residents of Manitoba, I don't want that to happen because I like my parish priest where he is, and he may not even agree with my recommendation here -- so why should he be liable for 'punishment' for what I write on this Website?
We have GOT to quit mucking-about, hoping that the current hierarchy is going to deal properly and effectively with this situation, and take action to shine the light of day on what happened, who did it, who covered it up -- and THEN clean house and institute "best practices" etc. I'm sorry, but until I see some evidence to the contrary, I just don't trust the current hierarchy and hierarchs, since the questions outlined elsewhere by others about the magnitude of missing funds, the handling of Fr. K's situation, etc, etc ... it proves that they can't be trusted. And, there will be some that will continue to say, "Poor Fr. K is just a scapegoat." I know I'm just a layman, but it seems to me that there's forgiveness and mercy for the penitent -- and then there's getting off scott-free with theivery of church money.
In closing I would ask that we consider John 12:3-6 and Luke 11:42-43. I really get uncomfortable when I consider our leadership in light of these passages. I know, I am not perfect, nor even penitent enough for my own sins, nor do I expect perfection in my church leaders. But truthfulness and penitence would be refreshing. As I've said before, I don't enjoy or even feel comfortable with any such talk about our leadership. I just want a dispassionate official (i.e., a State or Federal judge) to tell me what happened, who did it, and how amends are to be made. Then I can get back to listing my own sins in need of repentence, and start worrying about how we can work together to get more than 25,000 people in all of North America to see the true light of the Orthodox faith through the OCA's efforts.
#63 Convoluted Convert on 2007-04-25 07:05
Nothing prevents the OCA or someone else (like the FBI, etc) from going to civil/state/Federal court. It simply says that "the accuser" agrees to not do this. It DOES NOT mean that the church court will be the one and only and final venue. It means that +JOB will not seek to have the decision of the Church Court overturned by a secular court. Doesn't mean that additional (civil, criminal) charges can't be filed. I mean, do you think if the Church Court decides to NOT defrock Fr. K that the FBI would say, "Well, I guess that's that, we won't be looking any further into the theft of $2M from a tax-exempt entity." No! If that were so, I guess that Enron would have declared itself to be a church, and all the executives there could be weeping in a very well-appointed monestary for their crimes right now -- instead, some of them are sitting in prison (well, a few anyway). Other than taking away his positions and ordination, I'm not sure that a Church Court could even compell Fr. K or anyone else to "pay back" any funds, or otherwise penalize him (or them). It is important to remember: In our modern society, the use of force and compulsion are restricted to the state and Federal governments. A church has no power in general society, excepting perhaps granting a marriage annulment -- and that may not even be "legal." (A Church wedding is not even "legal" unless it's accompanied by a Marriage License issued by the State.)
That's why this action -- while being a step in the right direction, maybe, if we assume that the foxes are still not guarding the hen-house, and the "trial" is conducted on the up-and-up -- is really not sufficient to fully address the issues which face the OCA. From my read of this Website alone, it seems that maybe 1/3 of the folks believe that whatever happens, Fr. K is being made a scapegoat. That belief is inevitable given that it's a "secret" trial. Only a government (State or Federal) can COMPEL all of the evidence to come out -- or to have those involved EXPLAIN IN FULL why any evidence may be missing if it doesn't come out.
#64 Committed Convert on 2007-04-25 07:26
[I meant to right "I worry this will all be a way to frame him..."]
#65 Rdr. Alexander Langley on 2007-04-25 07:30
Another nameless coward for Kondratick/Dimtri! I think I'll have some bumper stickers printed.
#66 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2007-04-25 08:00
Ah, thank you Father. I stand corrected.
So while the civil suit would be prohibited, appropriately, a criminal prosecution would be unaffected, correct?
Sdn. John Martin Watt
Martin D. Watt, CPA (Inactive)
#67 Marty Watt on 2007-04-25 08:50
The court "shall be competent to judge cases involving allegations of unorthodox belief, breaches of canonical or moral discipline, marital problems, disputes involving clergy and parish officers, disputes over parish institutions, and any other matter involving the good order of the Church." Article XI, Section 3.
Article XI courts do not have authority to resolve issues of criminal liability. Article XI courts have no enforcement power to compel an accounting. Article XI courts do not have authority to determine whether a representive of the church breached a fiduciary obligation. Article XI courts have no authority to adjudicate tax matters. Article XI courts have no authority to compel restitution.
Many here have been praying that the leadership heed the Apostolic adminitions -- not just those in the first epistle to the Corinthians, but also those counselling repentence, truth, love, integrity, humility and reconciliation. It hasn't happened yet, and there is no sign that anything is going to change anytime soon. What happens when the people have no faith, no confidence, and no trust in the integrity of the Church's institutions to resolve disputes like this?
There are plenty of precedents for Caesar's intervention. That may be tragic, but it's the truth.
#68 Robert Vasilios Wachter on 2007-04-25 09:32
But the Scriptural rule of settling things within the Church was breached already when the Metropolitan and Fr. Kondratick went to their secular lawyers to settle
their differences, building firewalls and threatening lawsuits, was it not?
Of course if full confession and the whole truth were to come out of this spiritual court to the whole of the Church, I believe in the goodwill of the people to accept confession and repentance, so that all would be settled mercifully in-house, as the Bible prescribes for the good of the Church
#69 Anonymous on 2007-04-25 10:00
Several people have mentioned, in discussing the make-up of the church court's jury, Bp. Job being the person to bring the charges, the "accuser." Wherther or not he "wanted" to be in this position, I do not know, but it occurs to me that, should there be an appeal on the part of Fr. Kondratick, it would be the Synod that would hear the appeal. In that case, Bp. Job may be forced to recuse himself from the deliberations, or at least not vote, as he was the original "accuser." Cate
#70 Cate on 2007-04-25 12:01
And what does the Bible suggest about criminal acts. Are those also to be remediated by the parties?
Its truly a loaded question, so a bit of apology, but you opened the door with your response/comment.
#71 Daniel E. Fall on 2007-04-25 13:06
Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's and to God what is God's. If repentance is shown (full confession and restoration given ) we must forgive. However, the sin of refusing over and over again to repent within the Church will bring and apparently is bringing its own reward, that is judgment from outside the Church or from those who have lost all patience and respond according to society's laws. And I judge none in this regard, for this too may be God's plan to clean up this mess. I understand all ungodliness as sin, so misdemeanor, crime, etc. have no meaning for me *in the Church*. Sin is sin and all is ultimately forgiveable in the Church. Outside is another story, another less than perfect way that also can accomplish the will of God.
#72 Anonymous on 2007-04-25 14:07
Ah, but the foxes are guarding the henhouse. Not only that, but one fox is trying to pin everything on another fox. No one cares a bit about the hens.
#73 Name withheld on 2007-04-25 14:23
Ande, I like your sentence before STOP THE MONEY!
Someone did not pay INCOME TAX ON STOLEN MONEY!
Stolen money crossed state lines.
The IRS will nail everyone involved in this stupid mess. The FBI will become involved in this mess.
We won't have to worry about bearded bishops and priest being a sycophant to our metropolitan. I have a real problem in our church, when we pray for our metropolitan and bishops three times during Liturgy. There are times when I become nauseated when we come to these prayers.
Because of the large ego's of some of these men, a GREAT CHURCH may not survive.
St. James-Brother of the Lord.
Kansas City, MO
Do you or anyone know or guess when this trial will start, how long it may last, and will we be given the results (or will the results also be confidential)?
I may have missed it if someone already posted it.
(Editor's note: No. No & Yes. At least I would assume the verdict will be released immediately, given the intense interest in this case. )
#75 Ande on 2007-04-25 20:04
You may have stumbled on a very important way to resolve this mess. If we truly wish for the Church and all of us to learn from this situation, it may be best for someone like an outside arbritrator, or binding arbitration to take place with the goal that we expose the human errors, confess them, forgive each other and turn the page. What do you think?
#76 Anonymous on 2007-04-25 20:46
What's crazy (is that) Fr. Bob will be questioned which he should but what about MH the treasurer, MT the Met., ozilinsky the other treasurer, and Kucynda the man on both sides? Records and all of these people know where every dollar was spent. Strikis has to find receipts , how do you just loose them? Mark, these people know the answers wouldn't you say?
#77 Randy on 2007-04-26 04:03
Mark when will the charges be named ? Are they thinking of them now ? RSK doesn't even know why he's been suspended or going to spiritual court. I hope MH knows what he's doing.
(Editor's note: Only the Metropolitan and Mr. Perry know the answer to the first question. I am told they are indeed working on it even as we write. On the other hand, if RSK does not know why he has been suspended, or why he is going to spiritual court after appearing before the Holy Synod three weeks ago to explain the charges brought before him then I would suggest he, or you, are either extraordinarly dim, wilfully blind, or being disingenuous. Since RSK is neither dim or dense ....)
#78 Anonymous on 2007-04-26 04:55
Christ is Risen!
Was Father Kondratick, as Ceo and whoever was treasurer at the time of the missing funds, not bonded under an insurance policy for their positions?? Every treasurer in the churches has to be bonded and anyone who handles the finances in the local parishes. Has the M.C. filed a claim under these policies for the missing funds?
#79 annonymopus on 2007-04-26 08:47
While we are quoting Fr. Schmemann:
“My point of view is that a good half of our students are dangerous for the Church-their psychology, their tendencies, a sort of constant obsession with something. Orthodoxy takes on a different, ugly aspect, something important is missing, and the Orthodoxy that these students consciously or subconsciously favor is distorted, narrow, emotional-in the end, pseudo-Orthodoxy. Not only at the seminary, but everywhere, I acutely sense the spread of a strange Orthodoxy.” (from his journals 12/23/76)
We are witnessing a strange Orthodoxy indeed...
#80 Moses on 2007-04-26 09:40
The concern for the faithful of Venice is disingenuous. I daresay there are many newly ordained priests who would be willing to serve there. What I have learned is that if a priest does not actively seek out parish positions, there is no way to easily find out where they are available. If it is true that there is absolutely no priest available to serve in Venice FL, then our OCA is in a sad state indeed, and the financial scandal is only one symptom of an all pervading spiritual illness.
#81 anon.priest on 2007-04-26 10:17
"a sort of constant obsession with something"
What does this mean, does anyone know? Obsession with *what*? What was Fr. Schmemann driving at here?
#82 anon on 2007-04-26 13:03
The accuser may not take the matter to the civil courts. But the civil courts have their own rules, and they are not subject to the spiritual court. It might be possible that they would take the accuser's prior agreement not to take the case to a civil court as some sort of binding agreement, but I can't imagine that the spiritual court would in any way prevent any other person from bringing suit.
It is my understanding that anyone who was directly harmed by the alleged improprieties -- which could include anyone who donated money that was used for any purpose other than the one they specified -- would have standing to bring a civil suit. Because most of us made only small contributions, I would guess that a class-action suit could also be made.
(Mark, please do not publish my name with this. Thank you!)
#83 Anonymous on 2007-04-26 14:02
We are making a simple job too complicated. We are pursuing the wrong questions. Wasting time, chasing our tails.
We (the employers) should be demanding (not asking) to see the reports that we paid for!!! The job is completed, the answers are there, but we don’t realize it; we keep going off on different tangents.
Until we realize who the employers are, and who the employees are (those receiving a salary); this disaster will never end!!! The employees are experts at changing the topics, and hiding behind bylaws that they created for their benefit. These bylaws have very little to do with Christianity.
STOP THE MONEY !!!
#84 Ande on 2007-04-26 15:16
The idea that a hierarch has a better standing in heaven is very interesting.
And obviously an idea that isn't tooted from a very loud horn, lest he not get any bread at all on earth.
And obviously an idea that some must believe.
This type of dialogue is almost enough for the most of us to want to just dispense of organized religion altogether.
...or just keep our wallets in a special place
#85 Daniel E. Fall on 2007-04-26 18:43
To all my fellow Orthodox Christians and all human beings,
I have followed this news blog since it started and I think we are losing sight of ourselves. All involved in this scandal were called by Our Lord to serve. Some tried and failed but the thing that we have lost sight of is that they are not divine. They are not gods. They are just human beings like most of us and subject to all the temptations that we all are. Most of all, they live in the same country that we do and are subject to the same rules and laws that allow us the luxary that we enjoy as long as we don't break those laws. They are first, our fellow citizens, and second whether they like it or not, our hiearchs. I ask you, take all of the bishops, Metropolitan, and a few priests thrown in for good measure and strip them of everything but what they were born in. Take off the clergy shirts, the klobuks, the crosses the empirical robes. I defy any one of you to idendify who is bishop, priest, or laymen. For you see, they are not divine. They are just human beings, constucted just like you, tempted just like you, and as has been shown just as weak as you although that should not be for one who is called to the high calling of the clergy. It is not easy to be a clergyman of any status whether it be deacon, priest, or bishop which the metropolitan is. It takes what most of us laymen don't have and it is special. Some can't take it and if they can't, it is best that they leave lest they sacrifice their soul. I know, only too well!! Someone once told me "If you can't stand the heat get out of the kitchen"!!
#86 Thomas Haulune on 2007-04-26 21:46
FR.Bob it is time to put the oath aside for what MH and this site has done. Take them all down.
#87 OCA Priest on 2007-04-27 05:08
Dictatorial and autocratic pastoral/managerial styles in the Church are probably less effective than desired within a non-Orthodox culture such as the US where most people are not born into the Orthodox Church, and where entropy, assimilation and a lack of catechesis and praxis have drained most 'ethnic Orthodox' out of Orthodoxy here in America. This is especially true since Americans must freely choose to support the Church; we are in no way compelled to do so as in Orthodox countries where the government subsidizes Church budgets. Secrecy, combativeness, the piecemeal revelation of wrongs and lack of accountability (no reassignment, resignation, termination, defrocking for incompetence) are probably poor ways for bishops to motivate congregations to support the Church financially - and are poor witnesses to the repentance, loving-kindness and self-condemnation we preach as a part of Orthodoxy.
At the same time, I am concerned by some of the most recent Reflections and comments posted on OCANews. I am not sure how they are too much different than the various streams of ecclesiology coming out of the Protestant Reformation from radical individualism to congregationalism to bishop-as-temporary-CEO. As one who has converted from Protestantism, perhaps I am more aware of these blind paths than are those whose sole experience of Church life has been within Orthodoxy (though a case can also be made that some/many converts never fully convert and effectively become 'Eastern Rite Protestants', but I digress).
The canons are clear as to where authority lies in the Church: one's diocesan bishop, and the other local, regional and universal synods of bishops. There is a role for the laity and 'lower' clergy, but this is more defensive and reactive, as can be seen in the 'non-acceptance' or 'veto' of the bishops attending the Council of Florence where the laity and priests did not have an equal seat at the table with the bishops prior to or during that process. There is also a popular misunderstanding of the Moscow Sobor of 1917-18 that sees the Church as being somehow democratic in all it activities. This is not the case. The choice on most 'big' issues was reserved - consciously and canonically - to the bishops. (Besides, conciliarity itself undermines an appeal to the authority of this Sobor since it was never accepted by the other Orthodox Churches as The model of church administration, and was never really put into practice in the Russian Church due to the Bolsheviks.)
Arguments starting with "The early church did X..." or "The Church used to do X until so-and-so did such-and-such…" just seem so Protestant. It ignores the fact that X hasn't been that way for 1000 - 1500 years. More importantly, it sees Church History as no more than a series of culturally biased accidents rather than the divine action of the Holy Spirit guiding the Body of Christ, in the maturing of that Body since Pentecost. Neither church nor liturgical history are grab-bags of practices and precedents and prayers we can choose from in creating our own, individual 'best' version of what 'real' Orthodoxy ‘should’ be ‘if it wasn't for the Babylonian captivity of... (the West, the Roman Empire, the Turks' ethnarchy, capitulation to the Tsars, peasant piety and ignorance, etc.)' This is Smorgasbord Christianity of a decidedly un-Orthodox type employing the same 'logical' and even ‘scholarly’ rationalizations the multiplying non-Orthodox churches have used to defend their often uncanonical, ahistorical beliefs and practices.
Conciliarity also doesn't mean that our individual opinions on ‘what should be done’ are valid and have equal weight to that of the bishops. The perhaps overly vaunted 'doctrine' of conciliarity means we don't make conscious changes in our belief, worship, practices, etc. without consensus and alignment with the rest of the Church - here in the US, in the old world and the entire Church. Perhaps our theologians and our lack of administrative unity in the West have allowed too great a freedom for our seminaries and priests and jurisdictions to creatively play with Orthodoxy. Perhaps we have forgotten that we are called on to preserve the Tradition, not to 'develop' it; to refuse to move the ancient landmarks of our Fathers, and to deliver only that which we have received. We are not – especially not the laity and lower clergy – called on to (re)introduce that which has died away from earlier Church practices but which has been somehow 'rediscovered' or ‘reconstructed’ by the often fickle findings of changing scholarship.
Let us not allow our anger over poor stewardship boil over from a truly Orthodox need for repentance into a decidedly un-Orthodox call for Reformation.
Dear Randy: See my earlier post on this subject. You would think that all six people you mentioned had some knowledge that they were running way over budget and borrowing appeals money. But in this case, truth is sometimes stranger than fiction.
#89 Michael Strelka, CPA on 2007-04-27 14:53
I certainly understand what you are saying. However, it is a bit naieve to believe that everything that has transpired or developed in the Orthodox Church has been guided by the Holy Spirit. The present situation in the OCA, as well as the attitude of the hierarchs in the sexual misconduct issues going on in the GOA at present, both speak to developments in the thinking about hierarchs that is more accurately described as gnostic, rather than Orthodox, much less guided by the Holy Spirit. Many times, ideas have entered the Church, spread, developed and grown, which have their origin apart from God. There were even Ecumenical Councils to deal with some of them.
You should read the reflection about Pseudo-Dionysius. It is excellent, and speaks to the gnostic thinking that has thoroughly permeated much of the Orthodox Church in its thinking about hierarchs, clergy, and laity; certainly the OCA and the GOA.
An OCA priest.
#90 Name withheld on 2007-04-27 16:51
Obsession with viewing things out of their context (the whole picture) with exphasis on one's own slant or expertise. If you don't get it maybe you should put the book down and return to the Bible.
#91 unnamed on 2007-04-27 17:33
Christ is Risen!
You make some excellent points.
If this were about faith and doctrine and dogma, I'd concur wholeheartedly, but it isn't. It's about mismanagement, and (frankly) illegal acts (alleged, not proven).
In the Church since Constintine, there have been governments and emperors to oversee the administrative aspects of the Church. In faith, doctrine, and dogma the bishops were autonomous - but not in administration. The Church was intertwined with the state. The bishops were accountable to the Tsar, Caliph, Emperor, King, etc.
In modern times, the notion of separation of Church and State has become normative. In many, many respects this is a very good thing. Unfortunately, the freedom (enshrined in our Constitution in the United States) was abused by our heirarchs. They told us, as you have told us, that they were not accountable to us - they are accountable to God alone.
For the record, I find it incredibly interesting that Jesus allowed Judas to be the keeper of the common purse, and Judas saw fit to use the common purse as his personal purse (as we are told in the Gospels). I'm not sure if that means we should let our heirarchs continue in their existing ways or not.
The issue we have to deal with, since Orthodoxy has not encountered separation of Church and State before without being an underground church, is the replacement for the accountability of heirarchs formerly provided by the state.
That question is very much unanswered, by anything in Church history.
Further, we have to understand the role of a primate. To use the United States analogy, is the primate like the "speaker of the House" or like the President? The speaker of the house is still a member of that body, with a district ("diocese") to tend to. Maybe Chief Justice of the Supreme Court is a better analogy.
Can the Chief Justice tell other members of the Court how to behave or act or vote? Can the Chief Justice interpret the laws of the United States unilaterally?
In a Democratic society, there are checks and balances, like dual chambers of legislative authority, an independent executive, an independent judiciary, and even the so-called "fourth estate" of journalists. In a monarchical model these checks and balances are provided by the monarch or the monarch's designee.
So we have a dilemma. What we all are struggling with is the idea of unaccountable bishops, and most particularly, unaccountable central church control.
For me, I believe you are correct -- the center of our structure is the diocesan bishop. As such, I believe the correct answer is devolution of all money and authority to the diocese. There is (ecclesiastically) simply no role for the central church administration. Then, and only then, can the Synod of Bishops behave as they should - as a check and balance against the actions of any one bishop. Conciliarity exists in Synod.
I believe the authority and scope of the Metropolitan should be reigned in, and administration devolved to the dioceses. Others will disagree with me, as is their right and responsibility. Ultimately, though, the answer will be found through consensus and dialog. The answer will most assuredly not be found through silencing and censuring others, and acting autocratically.
There are plenty of examples for us, notably Acts chapter 15. The whole church was involved in that discussion. Paul was charged with bringing the issue itself to Jerusalem. He was not an apostle -- the Apostles and Elders listened to him. The debate apparently involved everyone, as a group of believers who were formerly Pharasees took the other side.
The Apostle James, brother of our Lord, did not say "I have decreed." The Apostle Peter did not say "I have decreed." They said they were of one mind, in consensus. There was no primate although St. James was the author of the opinion.
We need such a gathering today, to deal with this situation before unknown in the Church.
Sdn. John Martin Watt
Martin D. Watt, CPA (Inactive)
#92 Marty Watt on 2007-04-27 17:55
An arbritrator? An intriguing idea. Thinking a bit further, what about a special commission established to elicit confession such as the one in South Africa after the fall of apartheid? Whether an arbritrator or special commission, no punitive action, just forgiveness. It's worth a shot.
#93 Terry C. Peet on 2007-04-27 20:40
Christ is risen!
If you check Acts 15:19, you will see that the Apostle James did exercise his authority as Bishop of Jerusalem to say "Therefore I judge.."(RSV, NKJV) or "It is my judgment, therefore.."(NIV, NAB). He wasn't just offering an opinion; "It is my judgment" is a pretty definitive and authoritative statement, yes?
Further, my dear brother from Ottawa is quite wrong in ascribing some of what he perceives to be our problems to the influence of Pseudo-Dionysius. Note that somewhere around the year AD 115 (thus, long before Pseudo-Dionysius), St. Ignatius the God-bearer wrote "Jesus Christ, the life that cannot be taken from us, is the mind of the Father; and the bishops appointed to the ends of the earth are of one mind with (lit. 'in the mind of') Jesus Christ. Hence, it is right for you to concur, as you do with the mind of the bishop" (Ad Eph.3,4). He also writes, "I exhort you to be careful to do all things in the harmony of God, the bishop having the primacy after the model of God and the priests after the model of the council of the Apostles, and the deacons (who are so dear to me) having entrusted to them the ministry of Jesus Christ..."(Ad Magn. 6). In his letter to the Smyrneans (8,9), St. Ignatius writes "Apart from the bishop, let no one perform any of the functions which pertain to the Church...It is good to acknowledge God and the bishop. A man who honors the bishop is honored by God. A man who acts without the knowledge of the bishop is serving the devil" (cf. also 1 Clement 40-44).
Similarly, Canon 39 of the Holy Apostles (which also pre-dates Pseudo-Dionysius by a century or two) says plainly, "Let Presbyters and Deacons do nothing without the consent of the Bishop. For he is the one entrusted with the Lord's people, and it is from him that an accounting will be demanded with respect to their souls." (See also Canon 38...which I mistakenly put as Canon 39 in a previous post...and Canon 41 of the Holy Apostles, which make the bishop---or by extension, in the case of the whole OCA, the Metropolitan---responsible for all diocesan funds and assets.)
Concerning the Metropolitan, note Canon 34 of the Holy Apostles, which says: "It behoves the Bishops of every nation to know the one among them who is the premier or chief, and to recognise him as their head, and to refrain from doing anything superfluous without his advice and approval: but instead, each of them should do only whatever is necessitated by his own parish [i.e., diocese] and by the territories under him. BUT LET NOT EVEN SUCH A ONE [i.e., the primate] DO ANYTHING WITHOUT THE ADIVCE AND CONSENT OF ALL. For thus will there be concord, and God will be glorified..." (emphasis added). The primatial role is canonically required, but limits on primatial authority are built into the very same Canon. Note also that according to Article IV,2,i of The Statute, the primate's "right of PASTORAL [but not administrative or judicial] initiative and guidance, and when necessary the right of PASTORAL [but not administrative or judicial] intervention" is limited by "the framework of the holy canons" (emphasis added).
So the "checks and balances" you deem necessary are already built into the system...IF the other bishops can discover within themselves that commitment to proper canonical order which will empower them rein in any primate holding inaccurate and/or exaggeratedly exalted views of his own authority.
#94 Igumen Philip (Speranza) on 2007-04-28 05:24
Ignore the Canons and Statutes.
(for this scandal)
They have been ignored for 15 years.
Why start following them now?
This is a criminal civil case!
Demand to see the PR report that “WE” paid for!
#95 Ande on 2007-04-28 07:18
I like what Ande says, forget the Canons, Statutes and the rest of the pecking order! Let common sense prevail.
During the day when I do or say somrthing, not right, my sub conscious mind will not let me fall asleep. Once I make amends I can go about a normal life. I wonder if this happens to other people?
I also wonder if priest, bishops and the metropolitan ever realise how many people they actually HURT.
I worked with an Orthodox priest that told me on many occasions that a little white lie is OK. He also told me and many more at meetings, what the bishop dosen't know won't hurt him. Now I realise, why I don't trust many priest, bishops and our metropolitan any more.
This is a very sad day for our CHURCH.
Thank you, Father, for your explanation. I agree, although I apologize for my misinterpretation of Acts 15.
And I agree that the diocesan bishops are the check and balance against any individual bishop, including the primate.
I still believe the "central" church represents an abdication of responsibility by the diocesan bishops, or a successful power play by the primate (or a combination of both). This "monarchist" interpretation is not unique to the OCA - which is why I think we need a better definition of the role of centralized authority within the Church, and why I believe devolution of authority to the diocese level is an imperative.
Sdn. John Martin Watt
Martin D. Watt, CPA (Inactive)
#97 Marty Watt on 2007-04-28 14:37
The greatest crime on earth was the wrongful execution of God Himself, and this turned out for the good - it's happening was guided by the Holy Spirit. It is a slippery slope to start charging various things we don't like in the Church to 'cultural conditioning' as if it only became a part of the Bible or the Church because of cultural conditions, biases, etc. We often say this in favor of our own 'cultural biases' and place ourselves in the position of reforming the Church rather than allowing the Church to reform us. This is the unfortunate path that the mainline Protestant churches have followed for the past century and look at their eviscerated state, especially in post-Christian Europe where it was most accepted. Let us beware of the same fate.
While there are mundane, worldly, practical, perhaps even less than virtuous, reasons why a given practice, hymn, vestment, etc. entered the Church this does not undercut the fact that God allowed it to be incorporated into the Church for a reason. Everything in the world happens either by the will of God or by His allowance - every single thing including this scandal. The prophecy of Isaiah concerning the virgin birth is a prime example that applied both to a contemporary event of a 'young woman' giving birth, and, when looking through the eyes of faith or the 'canon of truth', it is also (and more importantly!) a prophecy of the coming Messiah, the God-man Jesus Christ. So, too, the Bolshevik Revolution is due partly to the sins of Russia, mainly to the sins of the materialist Bolsheviks themselves and to the spirit of this world, but more importantly to spread the Orthodox Faith into the world beyond the "Orthodox countries".
Repentance is aching for the wrong; Reformation is frustration at being right. Let us flee the latter's pride. Let us look with the eyes of faith, rather than the wisdom of this world as we seek to ensure the proper stewardship of the treasures of God we have been given and give to the Church, our lay authority - without stealing from God's bishops their rightful authority.
SAID VERY WELL,BR.CHRISTOPHER,THANK YOU,CHRIST IS RISEN
#99 Anonymous on 2007-04-28 17:47
What is the meaning of this post? "Take them all down?" This would seem to imply that Fr. Bob has some superior knowledge that vindicates him and makes everyone else the fools. It also implies that he took some oath of silence that trumps all other oaths. This is a strange thought that seems to be supported by this OCA Priest who has knowledge of this secret also... which means it is not so secret; that it was shared with at least one other priest. Please enlighten us further OCA Priest.
#100 Anon. on 2007-04-28 23:33
Bunk! I was impressed with your previous post, even while disagreeing with much of it, but this is over the top.
You make such an idol out of tradition, that it strangles any further possibility of change let alone the workings of the Holy Spirit. Paradoxically, while rejecting reform/reformation you equate the unfolding of all events in the Church as the will of God, forgeting that free will exercised by human beings often results in sin and evil. While God may ultimately ameliorate the results, it is hardly His will that has been done in the first instance. Perhaps this site is the Holy Spirit's way of routing out evil in the OCA?
The need for a "perfect" authority in this world is often the evidence of an unconsciencously fearful and sceptical heart. Faith in God's goodness and truth is the only true antidote, not blind faith in bishops and their pronoucements.
#101 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2007-04-29 14:21
Of course, your line of argument can equally be a defense of the push to reform certain matters -- if God allows it and these reforms are incorporated, they were meant to be.
#102 Rebecca Matovic on 2007-04-29 15:13
I think we should go back under the Russian Orthodox Church in Russia. We need some kind of guidance/order/authority imposed on us from above. We are flaundering. Obviously, the leadership we have now is incapable of leading.
#103 withheld on 2007-04-29 21:37
the following lyrics simply speak for themselves.
god money i'll do anything for you
god money just tell me what you want me to
god money nail me up against the wall
god money don't want everything he wants it all
no you can't take it
no you can't take it
no you can't take that away from me
no you can't take it
no you can't take it
no you can't take that away from me
head like a hole
black as your soul
i'd rather die than give you control
head like a hole
black as your soul
i'd rather die than give you control
bow down before the one you serve
you're going to get what you deserve
bow down before the one you serve
you're going to get what you deserve
god money's not looking for the cure
god money's not concerned with the sick amongst the pure
god money let's go dancing on the backs of the bruised
god money's not one to choose
you know who you are
"head like a hole" by nine inch nails
#104 sk on 2007-04-30 00:41
I planned to write asking “again” if there is a date set for the trial (game).
Now I see we don’t even have the roster of the players yet.
Players, date, rain date, appeal date, etc???? ps Our team has no plans to forfeit this “game”.
They should be able to *milk this for another year*, before they even start.
Many parish priests still will not admit to their parishioners that there is anything wrong. They continue to try to hide it.
Please no more sermons, we attend Church for that. This is a civil criminal case. Fool us once, fool us twice, fool us for 15 years!!!
STOP THE MONEY !!!
STOP ALL THE MONEY !!!! NOW
#105 Ande on 2007-04-30 08:34
There have been some questions about civil, criminal and ecclesiastical trials.
Civil cases use the courts to resolve conflicts between private parties. Criminal cases are only brought by the government, either state or federal. There is no way that an ecclesiastical court would impact criminal prosecution at all, at least not directly.
The idea of "accuser" is mostly a formality. The military justice system uses the exact same terminology. It is just a safeguard to insure that someone is willing to step forward and state that, based on what they have learned, misconduct has been committed. It forms the basis for a "probable cause" determination similar to a preliminary hearing or grand jury in criminal courts; i.e. that a crime may have been committed and the accused may have had something to do with it.
The ecclesiastical court is not intended to reflect the great Anglo-American tradition of rights of criminal defendants, such as "presumed innocent until proven guilty." (While certainly livelihood and reputation are important, this is not a prosecution by the State where life or liberty interests are at stake.) Nor is it an adversary process as we understand it in our courts. It is what is known as an "inquisitorial" proceeding in which members engage in factfinding to learn the truth, although the accused is certainly given the right to prepare and present his case.
#106 Timothy Cappsw on 2007-04-30 17:19
It looks like we may be re-inventing the wheel. A lot of our money was spent on the PROSKAUER ROSE investigation; the answers to all our questions should be there. Once we force them to release the results to the people; all the problems will be resolved quickly. I am not interested in all the loopholes that they (the criminals) will try to come up with using their self made bylaws.
They have abused the Statutes so badly that they are no longer valid.
The Fr. Kondratick trial is just one tactic to get us side tracked from the major problem. They are experts in getting the people to go off on one tangent after another. We should forget this trial, and concentrate on getting the PR report released.
They have demonstrated that they cannot be trusted to self police themselves. They need direction from us!
Too much time and money has been wasted already.
If necessary, we should sue Metropolitan Herman to get the PR report released to us. Yes we have a right to sue him.
The PR report exists!
#107 Ande on 2007-04-30 22:18
The ecclesiastical court is simply to resolve serious allegations against a priest within the context of the Church. The PR report is not a substitute (although I'm sure it contains much of the evidence that will be presented against the accused) because the accused still deserves his "day in court" so to speak. I don't think too much hope should be placed in this trial to do more than it is intended to do. (Indeed, if it were to be touted as a resolution of all issues so that we can "put this all behind us," that would definitely be a red flag.)
If the PR "report" (was there ever one actually put to paper?) does indeed lay all the blame at the feet of one person, it seems to me it would be more of a lamentably expensive starting point, not "the answer to all of our questions." Indeed, the entire business of one man engaging one of the most expensive law firms in the country when the Statute reserves to the Metropolitan Council the duty to "*initiate,* prosecute, and defend all legal matters affecting the interest of the Church," is a huge problem, in my opinion. When you add in the "firewall" allegation, and the hard-to-swallow public announcements regarding PR's findings that suggests it was just Fr. Kondratick's misdeeds that caused all the problems, there is reason to be suspicious. Suspicious that PR was hired to act as one man's personal defense firm at Church expense. I'm sorry, but the whole history of this sorry mess fairly raises that question.
Personally, I'm looking forward to the report of the investigation into PR's report for the real answers
#108 Timothy Capps, Esq. on 2007-05-01 10:44
Running back to Russia is not going to help. Most of the people in our parish, for example, are no more Russian than they are Martian. We Americans will have to find the way to deal with the problems in our American church. And a good place to start might be to dump the clericalism that is poisoning the Body of Christ.
#109 Scott Walker on 2007-05-01 18:26
"Ignored Scripture" by going to a secular court? How about, "Thou shalt not steal." How about, "Thou shalt not bear false witness." As someone else has said, "What part of 'Thou shalt not' don't they understand? I feel like I'm locked in a time warp ... the days keep marching on, we're several weeks past Pascha and still essentially NOTHING! I know that the MC is essentially a volunteer body, but is the OCA a real church, or is it not! Is there NOT ONE semi-retired attorney willing to offer pro bono services to the MC to get this disgraceful mess into a civil court, which will then establish deadlines and due dates for getting things into the open?! I understand why those under suspicion want this to drag on and on, but at this point, they'll all be long retired and maybe beyond that before the first subpeona is issued! Why cannot the MC issue a formal statement as to the plan of action? Money was contributed; theft was committed by one or more people in a very small circle of candidates. Getting to the bottom of this is going to take as much time as an ecumenical council! Is ANYONE actually working on these issues! It seems to me that folks spend more time helping to run their kids' little league teams than is being spent trying to sort-out the theft of several million dollars from a national church! In my Parish, we will meet yet again to go over, yet again, whether or not to withhold money from the Diocese - a corrosive and divisive discussion I can assure you, which no one wants to have (and yet, we're having it again). Everyone in the Parish attends these meetings, because the situation is so dire. When I think of the man-hours represented by everyone sitting there discussing this at my Parish alone, it's staggering. I'd pay $1,000 if someone would outline a specific plan of action on this Website, as to how to hire a law firm to find the perpetrators, get them into court, and have the entire Synod dismissed or sent packing unless they could individually demonstrate that they've been lied-to just like the rest of us. I'll forgive the lot of them - but we've got to get them out of office if we're going to have a real Church! Come on! I've seen Boy Scout troops run better than this! Our Church is staggering along like an office of the DMV - impressive building, complete chaos inside!! MC members - now is the time to take a week off on vacation and work at this like it was your full-time job! I cannot be the only person feeling like this! I'm not going to 'feel it' for much longer. I'm going to be forced to leave my wonderful Parish and get into another jurisdiction. We can snipe about Syosset's mis-handling on the talent given them for stewardship, but we've all got 'talents,' and we need to collectively assert these through the MC to force the issue here.
#110 Committed Convert on 2007-05-01 23:21
I am relieved that His Eminence Archbishop JOB is no longer the "accuser." I think he made a wise decision.
In fact, I don't believe he was the "original accuser" as someone indicated. He did ask the question "are the allegations true or are they false". Asking such does not make him Fr. Kondratick's accuser.
#111 Reader Alexander Langley on 2007-05-04 10:54
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