Friday, June 8. 2007
Your comments and thoughts are welcome. What should the Metropolitan Council do? It meets next week, so speak now ....
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AMEN! AMEN! AMEN! You have written an amazingly powerful and disturbingly true commentary on the awful situation we find ourselves in. Your courageous efforts and thoroughly critical analysis on the spiritual and leadership crisis decimating the OCA is a moving testament to your passion for our Holy Orthodox Church and the continual work of the Spirit of Truth among the faithful.
May God bless you for the tireless efforts, hard work, and constanst heavy lifting you have done on behalf of all of us. We owe you and so many others a debt of gratitude.
I sent the following letter to His Beatitude earlier this week:
Most blessed Master, bless!
As the events of the sordid scandal move toward the spiritual court and trial of Fr. Robert Kondratick, serious questions remain about your own leadership during the events which have sickened and crippled the OCA. No matter what the outcome of Fr. Kondratickís spiritual court, the involvement of Proskauer-Rose in controlling the administration of the church has brought judgment in the hearts and minds of the faithful on you. While it is true that you are the "legitimate" leader of the OCA installed by the will of the Synod of Bishops, it is also the case that in the eyes of much of the OCA you have abdicated any moral authority in the life of the Church by placing Proskauer-Rose above the Gospel in the life of the Church. And make no mistake when it is Proskauer-Rose who determines what gets spoken and revealed in the Church, then it is they and not the Gospel of Christ which is governing the Church of God.
Once upon a time, when King David, Godís anointed leader had sinned, he was called to repentance by the Prophet Nathan who told him a story. King David was infuriated by what the wrong doer in Nathanís story had done and promised to kill that wrongdoer. Then the Prophet Nathan revealed the devastating truth to David: "You are the man! Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, 'I anointed you king over Israel "Why have you despised the word of the LORD, to do what is evil in his sight" Thus says the LORD, 'Behold, I will raise up evil against you out of your own house Ö†For you did it secretly; but I will do this thing before all Israel, and before the sun.'" (2 Samuel 12) David the legitimately consecrated King of Israel, was publicly rebuked and punished for his sin.
A tale of two ways to attempt to get the membership of the OCA to recognize your authority as Metropolitan:
When Rehoboam became King of Israel, the people of God assembled before him and asked him to treat them better than his father the king had. Rehoboam told the people he would consider their request. He asked the elders of Israel what they thought of the people's request. The elders answered him, "If you will be a servant to this people today and serve them, and speak good words to them when you answer them, then they will be your servants forever."(I Kings 12:7) But Rehoboam ignored the advice of the older men, and instead listened to his inner circle of advisors, those who had grown up with him. Instead of agreeing to treat the people better and to relieve the problems which his father's rule had caused, Rehoboam said, "My little finger is thicker than my father's thighs. Now, whereas my father laid on you a heavy yoke, I will add to your yoke. My father disciplined you with whips, but I will discipline you with scorpions." (12:10-11) Rehoboamís harsh response, by which he planned to assert his control over the people of God, resulted in the people rebelling and saying, ìWhat share do we have in Rehoboam?" And the people abandoned the king and went to their own tents and tribes and refused to have any part in Rehoboamís rule. Rehoboam remained king, but he lost his subjects, all because he felt controlling people through power was the way to be ruler.
Now we look at how Christ tried to win his followers' loyalty. The Lord Jesus said, "If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me. But if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works." (John 10:37-38) Jesus said the sheep will know the good shepherd because of how he behaves, because of the things he does. Even if the people could not believe what Jesus said, He told them to consider the deeds he did and to believe because of his chosen actions. "Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; but if you do not, then believe me because of the works themselves. Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father." (John 14:11-12). The one who believes in the Son of God, so Jesus says, will do the works that Jesus does. Jesus spoke the truth, Jesus revealed the truth, Jesus exposed the darkness as evil and brought everything to the light. Jesus did not put criminal defense attorneys in charge of His Church, of the Church's ethics, of the Churchís morality, of the Church's proclamation, of what the Church's spokesmen was permitted to say publicly.
Vladyka, you were selected by the Synod of Bishops to be Shepherd and Father to all of us the members of the OCA. You were selected to be the first spokesmen for the truth, to reveal the works of darkness as evil and to show us the glorious works of the Lord. Now in the moment of crisis of the OCA, we are looking to you to expose the evil so that we can triumph over it and to reveal the truth. Proskauer-Rose cannot help in this task, for their goal is to obscure the truth and to hide the works of darkness. You can choose to lead us like Rehoboam, attempting to silence those who ask and those who can tell by your heavy handedness. Or you can do the works that Christ did and by your deeds show us that you as leader of the OCA can be trusted. Dismiss Proskauer-Rose. Demand from them all of their reports and turn all that information over to the Metropolitan Council and the Special Commission. Order everyone involved in the administration of the OCA, past and present, always to speak the truth, to expose evil when it occurs and to reveal the works of God. Let the reports of the Special Commission and the auditors and all the financial statements of the OCA be released for all the members of the Church to see. Then we will know that you are the servant of God and the moral leader of the OCA.
Thus says the Lord, "See, I have set before you this day life and good, death and evil. If you obey the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you this day, by loving the LORD your God, by walking in his ways, and by keeping his commandments and his statutes and his ordinances, then you shall live and multiply, and the LORD your God will bless you." (Deuteronomy 30:15-16).
Vladyka, we are called to obey God, not attorneys. Help us make the right choice.
#2 A Priest of the OCA on 2007-06-08 11:43
When is this man going to do what's good for the Church and leave? Yes, we're tired. Yes, we're getting OCA fatigue, but while this man is there destroying what our earlier generations worked so hard to build up and making a mockery of the entire institution let him make no mistake that we're going to fight until we're free of him and this cancer. If he's not reading this, but his "advisors" are, let there be no mistake that we're not going to give up until we are rid of you and him. Let there be no mistaking that we will fight this treachery until we have succeeded. This is one case where the cancer is not going to kill its host.
We know that the only reason he holds on is a practical reason. He has no moral standing any longer. Not only is he not a moral leader, but just the opposite. He’s an example of moral dereliction and decay. He’s a bad example for any Christian to follow and we’ve allowed him to remain. We’re not much better because of that. He is a joke and an embarrassment on every stage that he is seen on. No one takes him seriously and the longer he stays in this position the more pathetic he looks. It is truly hard to look at him and not wonder what makes this man tick to go to these lengths. We must conclude that the only reason he hangs on is because we're paying his legal bills under the guise that it's protecting the Church. Let there be no doubt this is just another lie heaped upon the pile of lies and deceit that he has given to us for the past 18 months since this became uncovered let alone from when he was deeply involved creating this scandal. His contempt for the people, for his fellow clergy, his fellow bishops, the Church, and God Himself is incomprehensible. His contempt is pathological.
The Council has to take a stand. No more drawing lines in the sand. The lines have been drawn and he’s continually played chicken with the council with the council, some still lackey’s from the prior way of doing things, always failing to do what it needs to be done. MC, there is no question about what needs to be done with MH. Show us you care for the Church, that you want to leave a Church for the generations to come, that you want the Church to be beacon for good, and deal with this problem next week once and for all. Do not let yourself be a major player in the last chapter of the OCA’s history. Make yourself the start of a chapter that brings us out of this morass. Cut the funding for PR. You will have cut the only reason he remains where he is. Cut the funding for PR. Make it abundantly clear we’ve had enough and we’re going to do something about it. MC, the buck stops with you.
This is the man we commemorate as “Most blessed”? We are mocking our worship every time we use that commemoration.
Mark, you are to be commended for your dedication and love for the Church. Few and far between are men who’s courage stands forth to lead a charge against such entrenched corruption. The OCA will be a better organization in the future because of your efforts. We are grateful.
#3 Publius on 2007-06-08 11:43
Well written, well articulated and well considered. You have a particular gift to synthesize and analyze a complex of bewildering Byzantine (no pun intended) machinations and pithily present them with the powerful punch endemic to truth.
As well, it would seem the possible realities you described in your speculations as to the alternative course of events before us are growing alarmingly apparent -- alarming in that the failure to act, the negligent omissions, of the Metropolitan Council, will inevitably result in the demise (the untimely "institutional senescence") of the OCA qua OCA.
I wonder, perhaps its been done and I've not seen it on this site, but, for those too young or too new or too unaware, perhaps a reflection by someone who both knows and can articulate well, of the original purpose, hope and eschtalogical vision of the OCA as a uniquely American expression of the Church would be in order.
In any event, keep on keepin' on.
P. Rose Kommen
#4 Anonymous on 2007-06-08 12:37
Nicely said, Father. We have made the choice. We have made the choice which Herman emptily preaches to us to make daily in our lives. We chose good, we chose what God would want us to chose. Unfortunately our leader-in-name-only does not share our decision nor the reasons behind it - it is not within his distant and distorted reality. Our decision is cast aside because in his eyes it is not for the good of the Church.
If only he believed any of what you wrote, it would present a powerful, heartfelt, rational plea for the sake of souls that are suffering so much. Souls that are leaving. The sad truth is that if they did read it once you made reference to Christ it found it's way to the circular file or perhaps in the most worn out piece of equipment at the Chancery, the shredder.
We have pleaded with them continuously whether warm heartfelt pleas or more strongly worded statements. Time and again our pleas have been ignored and treated with contempt. Unless we go the road of dismissing all that has happened and worship Herman as our good and Holy leader our words will not be heard. Unless we continue to allow a trust to be trampled upon, our words will not be heard. We can but hope and be optimistic that there was a little pinging of their conscience before they disregarded what was good and right in your letter.
To even contemplate letting a law firm be the guiding force in the Church is an abomination and heretical and no brainer grounds for removal from the ranks of the clergy. But they not only contemplated it, they did it, and they continue it. Having gotten to that point out of fear or embarrassment it would take a miracle of untold magnitude to get them to turn around.
#5 Publius on 2007-06-08 12:48
As usual, our faithful editor has hit the nail on the head. He has laid bare the core truth of the situation we all face. Mark, I know, has seen the Church at large. To borrow (again) from Harry Potter, like a good Auror, he "knows what's out there" and practises "constant vigilance." For this reason, we can be as certain as anyone can be that he has a pretty good grasp on things. He suggests three courses of action that might concretely help, but recognises that none of them is likely to really happen. It's sad, but true.
My attention, however, was drawn to one of those suggestions: that of a no-confidence vote. This idea has been raised many times on this site. What exactly would a formal "no confidence" vote on the part of the Metropolitan Council accomplish?
1) Would a vote of "no confidence" have any canonical standing? I am no expert on the canons, but I did have courses in Canon Law at SVS and I don't recall ever hearing as much as casual discussion about such a notion being present in the canons, not to mention any classroom lectures on the topic. I certainly have never heard that a body like the MC could canonically oust a primate. To the best of my knowledge then, a vote of "no confidence" on the part of the MC would be purely advisory, and considering whom it would advise, that's not saying much. It might, we could hope inspire some hithertofore silent hierarchs to actively support Vladyka JOB, but figure the odds.
2. Might it have legal effect? I am no lawyer either, but I could imagine, in theory, that it could rescue the members of the MC from legal liability. That would be a good thing in itself, but even more significantly, it might give the Feds a basis on which to single out the Metropolitan (and other individuals) and not go after the OCA corporately. If the MC can't oust the Metropolitan, it can at least isolate him legally - MAYBE - if my theory holds any water. Any comment, Mr Wachter?
3. Could it have any ecclesio-political effects? I am back to hope again. It was not too long ago that the cries of those in the Jerusalem Patriarchate were heard abroad and at a meeting of prmates in Constantinople the Patriarch of Jerusalem was removed from the diptychs, effectively paving the way for his canonical deposition from office (or so I have understood the story).
The greatest supporter of the OCA's autocephaly has been the Church of Russia, which granted it. As we all know, the Church of Russia just celebrated the healing of the wound of division with the reconciliation of ROCOR to the Patriarchate. What would happen if the Patriarch of Moscow were to hear a vote of "no confidence" and remove +MH from the diptychs? The OCA certainly couldn't complain to the other patriarchates; they'd be telling Moscow, "hey, you finally came to your senses!" I have absolutely zero grasp on the international politics that would be involved here to know whether such a thing is a likely possibility. But that kind of leverage was in fact used to oust a primate only recently, so I figure it's not totally out of the realm of reason.
Whatever significance these things may have there are two realities that I do know: 1) Vladimir Putin was a player in getting the reconcilation talks going, so he sees the reconcilation as good for Russia; 2) ROCOR hierarchs are now being commemorated occupying the same sees as OCA hierarchs. Maybe that's just all honorific. It seems to me, however, that it is just another sign that when push comes to shove, the OCA's autocephaly doesn't mean much even to the church that granted that autocephaly. If that is the case, a "no confidence" vote against the primate coming from within the OCA might have some political strength. Of course, we also might not like the outcome.
Mark pointed out that ROCOR is poised to "lay claim to our Russian heritage" while the Antiochians can easily take up the mantel of leading the way to an American future. There is NO question that both have a lot more credibility world wide than the OCA. ROCOR, at least, also has a lot more stature now.
While I can't see how a "no confidence" vote would accomplish anything canonically - that is, I can't see how it would directly force +MH out of office - I do believe it could have other positive effects. At the very least, at this point, there is NOTHING to lose with a vote of "no confidence," whereas if we continue on the present course we have EVERYTHING to lose. At worst, a "no confidence" vote won't help accomplish anything concrete. At best it will force +MH to step down or be deposed, and allow for real change to take place.
#6 Mark Harrison on 2007-06-08 13:23
Reading your latest editorial, I found myself nodding in agreement at every paragraph. It is the proverbial clarion call and I hope that our long-suffering priests will, one way or another, communicate their displeasure and disappointment to +Herman. The opinion of our priest will carry more weight.
I would go one step further. All the ruling bishops, including +Job, should step down, except the most recently consecrated, i.e. Nikon, Benjamin and Tikhon (Auxiliary Irineu and exarch Alejo also excepted), as all are implicated or complicit, by commission or omission, in this long-festering scandal. Those old enough should retire if they wish and the others may serve as parish priests. We need a clean slate which is why I include +Job, whom I admire greatly for his service as protagonist [expecting flak on this].
Before another primate is elected, the statutes of the O.C.A. absolutely must be amended with regard to the election procedure (I’ve stated this in an earlier posting). Presently a failure of the AAC on the first vote to elect throws the election into the Holy Synod. The statute must be changed to allow at least a second and preferably a third indecisive vote before the election goes to the Synod. It is critical that the AAC have viable opportunity to elect its candidate.
In your editorial you reference “parties in luxury suites”. I’ve heard stories about such parties at the Manhattan Marriott Marquis. Any confirmation or detail regarding such or is that too hot to handle?
Finally, I am grateful for your service to the church through this website and may the Lord preserve you in this task.
#7 Terry C. Peet on 2007-06-08 14:38
That was a very good letter. I wish you would have signed your name. I believe you speak for many other priests and lay members of the OCA.
You use the scripture and make a good point, however you forget that the Metropolitan also quoted scriptures and issued many "pastoral" letters while at the same time spewing venom behind closed doors, sending threats, gag orders and telling lies.
Simply asking the Metropolitan to "do the right" thing is too late. It is like talking to a wall. The way I see it, it is time to stop talking and start acting, and if "we talk" we need to talk the language of Syosset which is the language of the ( almighty dollar ). Our spiritual leader has taught us well -- I guess money does rule the world after all...
#8 Alex K. on 2007-06-08 15:49
Mark, maybe this scandal has already reached to the pews. Maybe people (bishops, clergy, and laity) at all levels are silent, not from apathy, but from compromise. If this is true, then those willing and able to speak up must organize and forget about cajoling the sleeping masses into action. Gideon defeated the enemy with 300 good men, culled from 32,000. The army of the 300 that has arisen as a result of this scandal must organize and engage. Once I know that such a resolute movement has mobilized, I will break my anonymity. Those of us whom Fr. Ted has referred to that spoke up a decade or more ago and were marginalized can only step out again when there is a platform to step out onto. Organize. Engage. Souls are a stake. God bless you all. This assessment and proposal make a lot of sense.
#9 Anon. on 2007-06-08 17:31
It would seem that Archbishop Job is finally beginning to "mobilize", as you say. Let us pray this is so.
#10 Name withheld on 2007-06-08 20:01
This is a very powerful and unfortunately accurate indictment of our Primate, and reminds us once again of the enormity of the wrong done to the Church by its leadership. Thank you for refocussing attention on the substantive issues and the need for both the Council and Synod to take concrete action against the continuing dissimulation from Syosset.
#11 David Paynter on 2007-06-08 20:09
I must respectfully disagree with one of Mr Stokoe's statements.
First, the ROCOR is not claiming the OCA's heritage. The ROCOR has different roots, and different aims. The ROCOR has, in fact, never intended to be an American church. ROCOR has always viewed itself as an extension of the Russian church. The OCA, from the first mission to Alaska, has seen itself as an indigenous church. The ministry to immigrants was a ministry to those who were on the way to becoming Americans. I don't see that ROCOR has anything to take from the OCA.
Second, the ROCOR - MP reunion carries it's own risks. Out here in the heartland, many of the ROCOR faithful are converts with only the most tenuous, imaginary connection to Russia.
When I lived in Tulsa, I met a Russian women, the daughter of the Pentecostal minster. (Oral Roberts University sponsored a large number of Russian Pentecostal immigrants.) Looking for a Russian speaking medical professional, she visited the ROCOR parish outside of Tulsa. To her amazement, no-one there, the priest included, could speak a single word of Russian ! Internet posts from ROCOR priests from Houston and the Vashon monastery mention their total reliance on transators to navigate their trip to Russia for the reunion celebration.
At a recent meeting of the ROCOR bishops and Bishop Merkuri, it was stated that the re-united ROCOR-MP would have no interest in using the "Protestant" English language. This satement is published on the MP web-site. When the ROCOR-MP outlaws the use of English in the services -this has already happended in the Sourozh diocese in England - where do you think those Anglophonic ROCOR people will turn ?
As regards the Antiochian Archdiocese, have you never heard the aphorism: " Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery" I grew up in the OCA; but I am the cantor and member of the parish council in an Antiochian mission in rural Oklahoma. When the Antiochians, and the Greeks, imagine what their church should become they look to the OCA as the exemplar.
We should remember, that the OCA was never viewed as an end in itself -but a a stepping stone to a united, authentically American church. That dream has not died ! That dream will live on, even if Syosett disappears off the map.
I am reminded of our Lord's saying: " no prophet is acceptible in his own country.." Luke 5:24. It seems quite fashionable these days to discount Fr Schmemman's work. The truth is, his works are far more popular in Russia, than they are here in America. Two years ago, I had the great pleasure to have one of our graduate students from Russia quote Fr. Schmemman's works to me.
Yes the current trials are severe; but every temptation is just a preparation for a blessing to come.
Don't give up hope! "Greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world."
Don't give up on the OCA. Don't give up on each other. I firmly believe that God has his own secret puropse in all of this trauma. Our Lord told St Paul: " My grace is sufficent for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness"
II Corinthians, 13:9.
I am adding my poor prayers to the holy intercessions of our Father Herman of Alaska, all the Saints of America and Our Most Holy Lady Theotokos for God to save, protect and unite His Holy Orthodox Church in this land.
"Courage, courage, O people of God! for Christ will destroy our enemies (our sins,wekanesses and betrayals) since He is All-Powerful " Tone 1 Dogmatikon
Keep the faith.
Best wishes and prayers for all,
#12 Francis Frost on 2007-06-08 20:23
Your latest commentary left me breathless. It seems that in every generation, at moments of greatest challenge, the Lord brings forth men with a unique gift to clearly and forcefully enunciate the truth. I really don't know what state the OCA would be right now had there been no OCA News. You have been the only reliable source of information to guide us through the confusion, obfuscation, lies and intrigue.
With the breaking news today that Archbishop is calling for a special day of prayer and fasting and an extraordinary session of the Holy Synod, it appears one hierarch is willing lay down his life to save the OCA. I say, the entire OCA should join the Midwest Diocese in praying and fasting on June 25. If we humble ourselves, open our hearts and plead for divine mercy, then I believe the Lord will hear from heaven and spare the OCA of almost certain self-destruction. We must also ask for the prayers of the Holy Theotokos, St. Herman, St. Innocent and all the Saints of North America. Lord have mercy on us.
#13 Rich Kendall on 2007-06-08 21:20
I don't think we'll see much action from the MC. Too many of that body's members think of their role as merely advisory.
#14 Matt Karnes of Holy Trinity Cathedral in San Francisco on 2007-06-09 00:48
Mark has made it clear... the salvation of the OCA lies in the Metropolitan Council's hands.
They cannot falter again as they have in the past. They must know the significance of this upcoming meeting, and must make the most of the opportunity the meeting presents.
They have stretched their muscles in the past, as if coming from a deep sleep. I hope that they are now awake enough to fully flex those muscles and finally do something of significance to rectify this mess!
If the laity, priests, and bishops have failed in the past, as Mark suggests, then the Metropolitan Council is the Church's last refuge.
If any of you know members of the Council, please get in touch with them and remind them of their mandate to represent and protect the OCA's best interests... interests which Mark so eloquently outlined in his article.
#15 Rdr. Nilus on 2007-06-09 04:44
Thank you for your uplifting and encouraging post!
#16 Jean Langley Sullivan on 2007-06-09 05:54
I've been following this for some time and my only question is "Why isn't someone behind bars?"..I can't believe the civil authorities have not been brought in by now . If I were the gentleman who had donated the large amount of money and then had the Church officials plot to decieve me, I'd be knocking on someone's door with a fleet of attorneys
#17 Mark Scott on 2007-06-09 09:48
As a member of what has become known as the "Baby Boomer" generation, what strikes me most vividly is the parallel between the current Church scandal and the scandal of "this world" we encountered over thirty years ago, which came to be known as "Watergate". What is frightening is that the same tactics used by Richard Nixon are now being fostered on the clergy and laity of our Church: gag orders; minimalistic investigations (only going back two years for the audit of our books); rescinding of personnel (Nescott, the Investigative Committee); the use of authoritative positions to aggressively control, manipulate, and silence people. While, as Christians, we need not make hasty judgments or decisions, we still, at the same time, need to speak openly, clearly, and lovingly, concerning this crisis. As our Lord Himself declared, "So, have no fear of them; for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. What I tell you in the dark, utter in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim upon the housetops." (Mt 10:26-27) If there is to be any restoration of trust in our leadership on the part of the faithful, legitimate questions need to be addressed, discussed, and answered. Above all, let us continue in prayer for all those involved in this crisis and scandal, even those we deem (or who will be deemed) guilty. For, even if we consider them the "least" of our brethren, whatever we do concerning them, we do to the Lord (Mt 25:40,45). If we do this, surrendering ourselves to God and inviting Him to send His Holy Spirit to us, then we will speak according to His will. For, again, as our Lord reminds us, "it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you." (Mt 10:20)
#18 David Barrett on 2007-06-09 10:17
The salvation of the OCA is NOT in the hands of the Metropolitan Council. What an absurd and dangerous statement. I am no fan of Herman and his band of cronies running the Church into the ditch, but let us not think that the Metropolitan Council is that important or ascribe powers to it that it does not and should not have. In most diocese the Metropolitan Council has not direct connection with anything in the diocese. Remember, it really should be known as the METROPOLITAN'S COUNCIL not what it is now called, because it is a vestige of our old Metropolia, from whence it got its name. It's actions can and should be reviewed by the Holy Synod and it is not above the Holy Synod. Now, granted, the Holy Synod has been less that stellar in what others think they should be doing or not doing in this current situation, but to think that the Metropolitan Council is the LAST REFUGE of the Church is pure overstatement at best and downright heresy at worst.
That would be like saying that a parish council controls and is over or runs the parish or a diocesan council is superior to a diocesan bishop and therefore runs the diocese. Of course this is not Orthodox and so is the notion that the Metropolitan Council should run the Church. Poppycock.
People, let's not get carried away here and let whatever frustration we feel sweep us away. History is replete with such overstatements borne out of anger, fear and frustration. Such is also the breeding ground for demigods and dictators.
It is true that Mark through this website is providing a service, but to think that he is some sort of saint is nonsense.
Get a grip folks and let's not take ourselves so seriously. Our troubles are serious but on the spectrum of what the Church has faced through the centuries, it is not THAT serious.
Let's keep a level head and a steady eye on Christ, believing in Him and His Church, and we will come out of this wiser and better for it. If we don't or are not careful we will fall into heresy. If you want an oberprokurator type church, like Peter the Great established, neutering the hierarchical structure of the Russian Orthodox Church, so be it, but look at how that experiment in church structure failed.
(Editor's note: I must have missed the part where someone suggested I was saint. Obviously, it was no one who knows me....
On the other hand, Senior Priest, no one has suggested an oberprokurator, nor suggested the MC is above the Synod. As you say, level heads are needed, which includes reading everyone carefully and attentively to what they are saying. What has been suggested was that given the lack of leadership evident in the Synod and the self-serving "leadership" of the Metropolitan, the Metropolitan Council is our best hope at this time for some true leadership towards resolving this scandal.)
#19 A Senior Priest of the OCA on 2007-06-09 12:17
That missive, Mark Harrison, reveals both your humility and keen sensibilities, combined with what I think is a very accurate contention that a vote of "no confidence" doesn't need to hold legal weight to be very weighty indeed. Your astute claims about its potential effect in Moscow and use of the recent case in the Jerusalem patriarchate as an example are very solid and well thought out.
#20 A member of the new Russian Orthodox Patriarchate Outside of Russia on 2007-06-09 12:36
Do not fret. The civil authorities work on a much different timeline than we do. They will continue to build their case until the statute of limitations is about to expire, and possibly "toll" the statute to provide even more time.
That's to bring charges - not to hold any trial.
We need, however, to focus on reform of the Church. In my view the Hierarchs will need to relinquish most of their "authority" (power?) to bring our Church back into balance. My opinion is the hierarchy needs to take a completely hands-off approach, and allow the Metropolitan Council to have the lead on both investigation and future administrative governance.
Whether or not we retain our current hierarchs, their focus should be on faith, rightly dividing the word of Truth, which is what they should have been doing all along.
Sdn. John Martin Watt
Martin D. Watt, CPA (Inactive)
#21 Marty Watt on 2007-06-09 13:54
Francis: I tried to find the post on the mospat.ru website in Russian (as well as English), but found no references to anything with Bishop Merkuri. I could have overlooked it. Could you point me to that. I am curious to read what was posted.
#22 Mark Harrison on 2007-06-09 14:14
dear archbishop JOB. WHAT TOOK YOU sooo LONG ? i called for one back in july 21,2006 #3 comment durring that summer, i attended a oca church-board meeting when the issue came up. I ASKED THE QUESTION ,DO YOU THINK AN EXTRA ORDINARY SOBOR WILL BE CALLED?THE ANSWER CAME BACK VERY FAST -----NO . IT MAY NOT BE TOO LATE IF PEOPLE FOLLOW YOUR LEAD.LEAD ON .
#23 NO NAME on 2007-06-09 16:23
GOSSIP! some of your writers I have to admit, do say kind things about the church and its leaders! it appears these are the same people who show compassion towards one another! instead of hate!, and trying to destroy the spirit of the Church! "compassion" what a powerful word! Let us all pray for our leaders, and show love towards one another! GOD BLESS!!!!
#24 Anonymous on 2007-06-09 17:38
Your love, care, concern, and comittment to the OCA is very obvious. I believe in your recommendations you gave in your letter, including the clarion call to action by the MC and the no-confidence vote in MH.
I hope the Metropolitan Council will come to bat for us faithful in their meetings this summer (of which I don't know the dates)! I hope Bishop Job will get somewhere with calling for an extraordinary meeting of the Synod in July.
True leaders of integrity within the OCA appear to be coming forth. Now, I hope they do not lose their courage or vision!
If the OCA can pull out of this mess with integrity, honesty, and truth, we will have passed a very significant test of the "Evil One," who lurks at every chance he can to frustrate the goals of Christ.
If we can avoid being amalgamated into another canonical jurisdiction, and to be able restor and re-affirm the stability as the OCA, then I would think this would be an example to other Orthodox jurisdictions faced with possibly their own internal problems or difficulties.
If the OCA does not survive, we still have an Orthodox Church throughout America. But if we can solve our internal problems with the highest of integrity, we may be able to restore, re-affirm, and water with faith, hope, and love, the good intentions of those who came before us to establish the first autocephalous church for Orthodoxy in America.
#25 Patty Schellbach on 2007-06-09 18:19
Mark said "What has been suggested was that given the lack of leadership evident in the Synod and the self-serving "leadership" of the Metropolitan, the Metropolitan Council is our best hope at this time for some true leadership towards resolving this scandal.)"
There will be no reform, no normalcy, no solutions and no stop to OCA's descent into chaos, irrelevancy, and dissolution unless Metropolitan Herman himself becomes irrelevant by (a) resigning, (b) becoming powerless to direct the affairs of the Church, or (c) is deposed/defrocked.
Of course, the Holy Synod is key to any of the above eventualities. However, the ordained priests and deacons, and the royal priesthood/laity can play a crucial role--they can push their bishops to be true servant/leaders as Christ was. Ask your bishops: what kind of shepherds would they be if they lose their flocks' love and respect. If any bishop has to resort to formal authority, he has lost his personal, spiritual authority--he is nothing but a suit, albeit in vestments. If any bishop resorts to formal authority to avoid accountability and perhaps cover up his misdeeds, as Metropolitan Herman has done, he is sinning to cover up his sins.
I cannot believe that his fellow bishops can overlook Metropolitan Herman's self-serving machinations in covering up malfeasance in areas that were/are under his control.
Regardless of what the Holy Synod may do, I agree with Mark and many others that the Metropolitan Council should act in accordance with the Statute, whether or not the Metropolitan or the Holy Synod vetoes their decisions.
There must be a beginning of the end. The Metropolitan Council is the body to start this process--this week!
#26 Carl on 2007-06-09 20:31
#27 Rdr. Alexander Langley on 2007-06-09 20:55
You can call me Ray and you can call me Jay, it's what is in the statue that really matters. You missed the point in Mr. Wachter's piece a few days ago. According to the laws under which the OCA was incorporated, or established, the MC is the "permanent executive body" (an admission made on the oca.org site today) giving it a purely administrative function which is governed by the laws of the state of New York. The Synod has no oversight of the MC when it comes to the laws of New York. The Synod does not have the final say when it comes to fiduciary responsibility. Because the Synod says not to do something doesn't mean that Andy Cuomo isn't going to go knocking on the doors of the MC with good cause - and it won't be the Synod that's going to pay the price. That was spelled out very clearly in Mr. Wachter's piece. And to be honest, I think that Mr. Wachter's piece gave the Synod a big sigh of relief this week! The MC can be seen as handling the matters that deal with our responsibilities to "Caesar" and the Synod responsible for matters that deal with good order in the Church and the protection, in a religious manner, thereof. Granted that the Synod has done nothing to show they hold that responsibility seriously in the least.
The way in which a diocese functions would, I imagine, be based on their charter, and if incorporated, upon the laws that they are governed under. You cannot, in intellectual honesty, extrapolate the circumstances of the OCA under law to each diocese.
God helps those that helps themselves. God also expects us to use our talents and not bury them. He has placed this scandal at our feet and is measuring how we handle it. Following Christ and being obedient to God does not require us to roll over, play dead, and allow what's happening, because its "in the name of Christ" or by the "will of the Holy Spirit" to keep on occurring. May false prophets have come and gone using those phrases. We have to use our good judgment on which to follow and which to confront.
#28 Publius on 2007-06-09 21:02
We have come to the point in this scandal where we now have scandal-speak. "Gossip" now means "facts". "Hate" is now used as used in the secular world where you want to give the worst possible motivations to people who have an opposing view or are repulsed by a particular type of behavior. Your side is right and those that disagree with you are filled with hate. That way you can easily say people who want to get to the bottom of this are being unChristian because they "hate". Finally, "compassion" now means to forget about any crimes whether spiritual or civil that have been committed against the Church or the civil authorities. Compassion also means to stop everything associated with this scandal and go back to how it was in the spring of 2005. The new "compassion"'s synonym's are amnesia and ignorance.
God bless! We can only hope those words still have the same meaning for all of us!
#29 Anonymous on 2007-06-09 21:16
Prayer for All Saints of North America Sunday
Lord, look down from heaven and watch over this vine, Your Church in North America, planted by Your right hand through all the saints of this continent, whose holy memory we honor today. Tend her and render her holy, healthy, flowering and fruitful in Your sight, ever resistant to any blight foisted by the forces of evil. Safeguard her orthodoxy, unity, integrity and peace from all heresies, divisions, scandals and unrest. Increase her numbers and deepen their spiritual maturity. Keep her bishops, presbyters, deacons, subdeacons, readers, monks, nuns and laypeople rooted and growing in Your truth and grace. Teach her members repentance and forgiveness. Cultivate love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control among them. Train them in virtue and equip them for every good work, so Your
light can shine before their neighbors, leading others to know and glorify You. In Your love for humankind, save and have mercy on Your Church in North America and all her children, through the intercessions of Your spotless mother, our all-holy Lady Mary, the ever-virgin Birthgiver of God, whose graciousness has shone forth through her miracle-working icon in Sitka; Your holy bishops Innocent, John, Nicholas, Raphael and Tikhon; Your holy presbyters Alexander, Alexis, Basil, Jacob, John and Juvenal; Your holy monk Herman; Your holy layman Peter; and all the other spirits of righteous people made perfect in North America, whose names You have not yet revealed to us. Amen.
#30 Gregory Orloff on 2007-06-10 08:42
I do not know who you are, you probably do not know who I am, but judging from your post, I would assume you are taking most issue with what I said. Let me address a few points:
"The salvation of the OCA is NOT in the hands of the Metropolitan Council. What an absurd and dangerous statement."
Certainly I do not mean spiritual salvation. However, the future of the OCA depends solely on the Metropolitan Concil, now that the Metropolitan and his administration have shown themselves incapable of stewarding that future righteously.
"...Let us not think that the Metropolitan Council is that important or ascribe powers to it that it does not and should not have. In most diocese the Metropolitan Council has not direct connection with anything in the diocese."
I don't know what having a connection with dioceses has to do with anything, but be assured I am not ascribing to the Council powers that it does not have under the Statute. Very potent powers the Council is ascribed by the statute (powers which are referenced in Mr. Stokoe's article) are the following:
Article V, Section 4:
c. Establish the budget for the operations of the Church and examines all financial reports of the Church;
f. Provide for the maintenance of the central administrative bodies of the Church and for the allocation of the general Church funds;
k. Appoint officers and committees on matters within its competence;
l. Initiate, prosecute, and defend all legal matters affecting the interest of the Church;
We have all received a thorough briefing on the legal matters affecting the Church discussed in part L. However, the opportunities to enact change that Mr. Stokoe proposes (such as rechartering the Special Commission, and cutting off funding to the Metropolitan and the Central Administration) all seem within the powers ascribed by the Statue... not within the powers you say I am personally ascribing to it.
"...To think that the Metropolitan Council is the LAST REFUGE of the Church is pure overstatement at best and downright heresy at worst."
Calling a fellow Orthodox a heretic is certainly a lofty enterprise, "Senior Priest." I am glad to see you are not contributing to the negativity and disunity associated with this scandal.
But if I am indeed a heretic, tell me... where does the last refuge of the Church lie? Don't resort to a safe answer like "God"... such a reckless, safe remark is akin to putting your head in the sand while men who do not seem to care much about God's presence in the church, introduce sin and worldly cares to derail our Church's spiritual mission.
"People, let's not get carried away here and let whatever frustration we feel sweep us away. History is replete with such overstatements borne out of anger, fear and frustration. Such is also the breeding ground for demigods and dictators."
We should not let our frustration sweep us away. But appreciate that this is not some trivial frustration. This is the frustration caused my major corruption going unaddressed for over 10 years. I'll withold any remarks about dictators...
"It is true that Mark through this website is providing a service, but to think that he is some sort of saint is nonsense."
I never said anything to the extent of Mr. Stokoe being a saint. I'm no fanboy... I just happen to agree with him more than I disagree with him.
"Get a grip folks and let's not take ourselves so seriously. Our troubles are serious but on the spectrum of what the Church has faced through the centuries, it is not THAT serious."
How reckless! When will someone finally realize that this IS a serious situation, and poses a major threat to the mission of Orthodox in America.
It has been said that 'souls are at stake!' Is that "not THAT serious" to you, "Senior Priest"? To ignore the scandal at hand, simply because larger scandals have rocked the church in the past, is an indefensible stance.
"If you want an oberprokurator type church, like Peter the Great established, neutering the hierarchical structure of the Russian Orthodox Church, so be it, but look at how that experiment in church structure failed."
I never suggested such a thing. However, know that you are effectively comparing apples to oranges.
"Let's keep a level head and a steady eye on Christ, believing in Him and His Church, and we will come out of this wiser and better for it."
Indeed. I believe in Christ and His Church... and that is why I do not care to preserve unrepentant crooks within its ranks. With a level head and a steady eye, we will restore the Church to its rightful dignity, and end this blemish which is an embarassment to us all, and a defamation of Christ's Name.
I beseech the Metropolitan Council to respect the responsibilities invested in it by the Statute, picking up the slack left by the hierarchs, clergy, and laity, and finally enacting some change at this week's meeting. And by "some change" I hope it's some form of what Mr. Stokoe articulated in his article, as I believe that those changes could provide a world of help.
#31 Rdr. Nilus on 2007-06-10 08:53
In the words of ol' Dodger? fans "Throw the bums out ! "
#32 george cingolani on 2007-06-10 08:54
May I ask you all about a (hypothetical) situation? What if our primate told you that not only was he going to visit your parish for such-and-such a weekend, but that he would be bringing his personal deacon and subdeacons with him (even though your parish is blessed with both)? Oh--and then there's the matter of the insistence on (swanky)hotel accomodations? Did I mention that all of these expenses would be covered by your parish, and it's not a rich one?
Suppose you are in agreement with the many people who have posted on this website, who say that the charade must stop, that it should have stopped long ago, and that as long as the primate continues to be a "despot" in the English (not so very nice) meaning of the word and does not show full repentence he really ought not to be our Primate.
What do you do? What do you do if you're not the bishop of this parish? What do you do if you're the parish priest? What do you do if you are a "mere layperson" (his --the primate's-- words, not mine)? Do you:
a) avoid your parish for the weekend?
b) submit a letter of protest to your bishop, priest and warden?
c) get a protest sign ready?
d) save up your rotting tomatoes?
e) ask him to repent as you approach the Chalice?
f) try to talk your bishop out of allowing him to come?
g) stake out his hotel?
OK, some of these are silly suggestions (if I don't allow myself some comedy of the absurd I'm forever crying at this whole ugly, unGodlike mess...).
Have any of you had to deal with an unwanted visit during this crisis? What did you do? How did you handle it? Aren't there canons prohibiting people from serving at the altar if they are involved with certain (ahem!) situations? Aren't there canons somewhere that state something like "one must keep expenses to a minimum in order to help misssion parishes and the poor"?
Please advise soonest...
Don't Know What To Do
#33 Don't know what to do (Mark, please keep me anonymous on this one) on 2007-06-10 10:01
The recommendations for change to the Statutes that Terry Peet presents is an idea that must be kept in mind when we are in a position to really modify them. But, let us remember the procedures used during the 1917-1918 Council called for the final decision to be made by a drawing of lots (by God), not by the Holy Synod. St Tikhon did not have the majority, or even plurality vote.
The same procedure should be part of the OCA Statute for indecisive elections.
#34 William Kosar on 2007-06-10 10:51
There is one church where about 25% of the parish had already committed not to attend when he was to visit. In addition, a lunch was planned in his "honor", but merely 3 people committed to going.
If you are in an area that has another Orthodox parish, I am sure they would appreciate your fellowship with them for that Sunday. It could end up being a constructive moment in an otherwise bad situation. Maybe it would be a good week to take a vacation and get away.
You have to really ask yourself if you think that the primate in your hypothetical situation believes in Christ. Based on his actions you have to question his sincerity in his pastoral duties and if he is someone that you want to be your example of Orthodox and Christian behavior. If your answer to that is no, then it is best to avoid and not let yourself be deceived with his visit. What does it mean to get his blessing? Seriously, consider that. I would imagine that it would be very painful and embarrassing just to see him go through the empty and programmed motions when you know there's nothing behind it.
At worst, he's being blasphemous, at best, terribly insincere. His soul is lost at this moment, you have to consider yours. Maybe at some point he, when he's about to go to his judgment will consider what he did and is doing, but now there's no sign that he even believes any of this is wrong to start with. He blamed the internet for all of this! I know I would not welcome a man like that into my home, why would we welcome him into our parish home?
It's sad to say, but no one believes in him or what he does. His words are hollow and he doesn't believe them or else he would be doing the right thing. He's such a tragic person. Why did he want to be Metropolitan if he was going to destroy the Church he was to lead? You would think that when no one wants him around or to be around him that he would get the picture. If he does see it and maintains doing what he's doing, its all the more tragic.
Lord have mercy on him.
#35 Stonewall on 2007-06-10 13:42
I have been posting on this site since my first posting some months ago, that it is the MC that must act, per the statutes. I have been told in reply postings, "Oh, Mr. New Convert, you just don't understand how the church works." "Oh, Mr. New Convert, just calm down, now."
Mr. Stokoe's editorial, and this your reply to it are, in my view, right on the mark! The MC may not have canonical power in the Church, but according to the Statute, they (the MC members) are our representatives, and as a result our voice. As you state, a vote of "no confidence" will have consequence, especially when combined with personally, parish, or diocesean withheld funds.
I have spoken personally with several members of the MC, and have been told, "Don't worry, we're working with some really good lawyers now, and you're going to like the outcome." Well, I certainly hope so, but ... what about in the meantime? A good group of lawyers is all well and fine, but what about a statement such as a no-confidence vote? While many seem to be for parishes and diocese to cut off funds, why doesn't -- as is suggested in the subject communications -- the MC cut-off funds from the OCA Central Administration?
I know that there is a lot going on right now behind the scenes, but it is a bit disheartening that more isn't going on in front of the scenes!
#36 Convoluted Convert on 2007-06-10 14:44
Dear "Don't Know What To Do,"
I am a "mere layperson." Thus take what I say with a major grain of salt.
You serve at the altar of God. Not at the altar of the Primate, no matter who he is nor what he has done. Serve God and serve Him with joy in your heart. The angels and all the Saints will be there to serve too.
Make hotel accomodations at the local inexpensive hotel. Then go into the room and put fresh flowers, a nice small Igloo with some cold snacks and soda, and a welcome note. Humbly ask his forgiveness that your "poor" parish could afford only those humble accomodations and that you trust his understanding.
Let God see a humble heart in YOU because that's all that matters right now. YOUR heart in service to HIM.
God says treat your enemies as kings. Let Him heap the coals. That's His job.
Hope this helps.
#37 Philippa Alan on 2007-06-10 14:54
The statement can be found in both English and Russian on the MP representation web-site - News Section, date 19.4.07
re: meeting of Bishp Mercurius with representative of ROCOR.
#38 Anonymous on 2007-06-10 16:54
Thank you Publius and Rdr. Nilus for dealing so effectively with this fatuous post from Senior Priest. It exhibits the kind of clericalism and contempt for the laity, and lay leadership in the OCA, that I deplored in a post on the previous thread. Your seniority, Father, apparently does not come accessorized with wisdom and understanding.
#39 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2007-06-10 18:28
It is precisely attitudes like yours that allowed the OCA to slip into its financial mess.
The OCA has financially tripped and fallen under at least three spiritual leaders in the last and present Metropolitan and under the Priest Kondratick.
The Metropolitan Council has proven it is a powerless, nearly useless body. And yet, and yet, there are still priests and hierarchs like you, that under the slightest mention of giving them some power, you twist it into a spiritual collapse of the hierarchy, or a few individuals. Let's see, in the next 200 years, we'll never get another bad leader or one that misuses another million?
Frankly, if the Palatine Resolution is enacted, it is not a testimony to the administration. It is a misdirected resolution. It circumvents the Metropolitan Council no different than the Metropolitan has circumvented it. The Council, Father, is responsible for the financial health of the church, just as the small parish councils in our local churches. If this is not the design of the church, then other things become apparent.
We elect the council members, not to blindly support a Metropolitan's any wish, whim, or fancy, but to support the church. Calling it the Metropolitan's Council is truly an absurdity. If this is what the Statutes had idealized, no wonder Father, no wonder things have gone wrong. What a terrible design...
If this is what the Statutes idealized, and you agree with the Statute, you must agree the entire Synod needs to resign. Surely, they are responsible for allowing audits to fail in 1999 and the voting to allow discretionary funds which basically sanctioned the audit failure. This would include Archbishop Job.
You can't have it both ways Father. If the Synod is solely responsible, hold them responsible and demand they all leave. However, let's stop for a moment. Should a monastic bishop of the church have an accounting degree to be seated as a Bishop? How about its priests Father?
Sorry, but the truth is the Metropolitan Council needs to be made up of people that can help the church manage itself. It needs enough power to do so. The right amount of power would be to hold a ceded Chancellor accountable to the Metropolitan Council and to remove the Metropolitan and administration from voting powers. Then, if the laity aren't pleased, they direct their displeasure at the people they rightly elect.
What local parish council would allow itself to run without producing or reviewing financial statements for 6-8 years? Let's say they did, and they were running in the red. What parish council would not have brought the matter to the laity that elected them Father? I beseech you, not one, not one parish council would have allowed this, yet you want the Metropolitan Council to continue to behave as lemurs.
Mark Stokoe's next article headline should be Metropolitan's or Metropolitan Council?
In matters of governance, we Father, disagree. Governance requires the proper balance of powers for the best result.
The proof this is necessary is in the manner of a loan from the Honesdale Bank for 1.7M and the unaccounted for 9/11 monies, and the 4-5M from the Andreas Foundation that may have been used for God knows what.
Further, when people have buy-in and they have a voice, then tend to become more, rather than less, involved. As a priest, I would hope you would desire involvement from the laity.
The Synod needs to reverse its 1999 decision. Until they do or until it is voted on, I will kiss no hand. Is this your wish Father? They sanctioned financial collapse. Should it be them or the Council of professionals we rightly elect that we credit for the failure?
#40 Daniel E. Fall on 2007-06-10 18:30
Dear Father Senior Priest,
You're frustratted, it would seem. But, just like we shouldn't punish children when we are angry (or go to the grocery store when hungry), we shouldn't write when we are feeling negative emotions. I assume you did this because of the fact that you have presented us with a very common, but also very shallow and immature, argumentative stategy: you have presented us expressly with a one false dichotomy (implicity, I think, with maybe a few others): that we must choose b/t and "oberprokurator type church ... neutering the hierarchical structure ..." and a structure wherein the MC's "actions can and should be reviewed by the Holy Synod and it is not above the Holy Synod."
The latter statment (that the MC' actions can be so reviewed) is, on its face, simply incorrect. The former statement, as well as the notion that the MC's actions in respect of certain of its duties should be reviewable by the Synod, is just plain silliness -- no one is trying to snip the bishops where it counts; but also, no one in her or his right mind would want bishops to have oversight authority in respect of legal and financial affairs (that's why we have this mess, b/c of the de facto authority they took and we let them take!).
To have any meaningful input to this situation you must first accept and understand the realities of corporate entities in the modern American legal milieu. You may not agree that the Church should find its earthly expression in corporate entities, but that is irrelevant, since at this time in history this is the reality of our situation. This legal context does recognize the heirarchical structure, as do the OCA statures; but, the MC's actions in the exercise of many of its powers that are enumerated in the statutes as delegated to it are -- and should be -- without any risk of veto by any bishop or bishops. This does not defang the bishops; it simply recognizes the proper role they play in the life of the Church. In fact, it frees them, facilitates their laying aside of earthly cares to a great extent so they can focus preaching the Gospel and handing down the faith once for all delivered to the saints, and to direct their attention to other matters of ecclesiology, pastoral concerns and (for good or for bad) theology. By the same token, the MC does not -- and should not -- have any authority over matters theological or ecclesiological.
Now, I must say, your rather flip comment that we should not take ourselves too seriously is shocking. Do you not know that we are to judge the angels? That we are a holy nation, a royal priesthood, a chosen people? Do you not know we are called to be the salt of the earth ... and very specifically to not let our light be hidden, but to shine forth? If it is at all possible to take ourselves too seriously, then it would be by setting our sights, our seriousness, on our selves, or on earthly cares as we want them to be in an expression of self interest. With all due respect, Father, you have totally missed the mark on this, big time! And it would seem to me that spelling it out for you how you have missed the point would only be fruitful if you were willing to see it; but if you are willing to see it, you probably don't need it spelled out.
#41 Anonymous on 2007-06-10 21:06
The question is not "if" any bishops have to resort to formal authority in the OCA, it is *how many*.
#42 Mark Harrison on 2007-06-11 00:42
"Don't worry…we're working with some good lawyers now…you like the results"? Hmm. Maybe. I'd like to get my hopes up, and have them be fulfilled. So, what could this mean? The following is sheer speculation based on the assumption (for the sake of argument) that what "Convoluted Convert" is reporting is not only accurate, but generally representative.
1. It would mean that the MC has recognised that they MUST do something and do it now. This could be very interesting since the OCA web site is telling us the agenda for this meeting, and it doesn't sound like it includes anything to do with dealing with the crisis of leadership. Isn't any attempt to raise something not on the agenda going to be ruled "out of order"?
Admittedly there is a reference to receiving reports from the "investigation committee"? Er, which investigation committee is that? Is this referring to the one that +MH suspended indefinitely? If not, what investigation committee is it? The rest sounds like a big gloss over everything - a "steady as she goes, full speed ahead" kind of thing that Syosset wants us all to hear.
2. Are these "new lawyers" a team that Syosset gathered? Does Syosset know about them (or rather, did they before the $700/hr team from PR read this site)? Is this what the reference to the investigation committee is about? Just exactly whose lawyers are these? How did they come to be contracted?
3. Ah yes, perhaps the "investigation committee" is reporting on the progress toward the Kondratick trial, which actually was supposed to commence on Monday, I thought, but then, last I heard there was a request for a continuance and a bit of disagreement about whether the defendant has or has not been duly informed of the charges. This would make more sense than anything else I can think of. Last I heard, the special commission had reported all it was going to be allowed to report.
4. We'll like the results. Well, that would a nice change, but whether it comes to pass that way will depend on whose lawyers these are and whether or not anybody will be able to get a word in edgewise.
If this team of lawyers has been retained by the MC, is it for the council members to protect themselves as I suggested a "no confidence" vote might do? Has such a team of lawyers figured out ways to pierce +MH's shield? Whatever they have in mind, will the Holy Synod approve it - or will they need to?
Of course, I haven't touched on the fact that Gregg Nescott should be back on the MC. I've not heard any rumours that +MH might try to block him. Are these new lawyers something he arranged? That would be good news indeed, but I still have to wonder how anybody is going to get anything done that isn't on the Metropolitan's agenda without being ruled "out of order."
It is not your words, "Convoluted Convert' that I doubt. I appreciate your kind words and your own reflection, and I do hope that good things are going to happen this week. The fact is, however, that from where I sit (on an island in the Gulf of Alaska for the next 5 days and counting them down), what you told us is very sparse. I am sure you realise that too. My perception is that it would take a lot of very powerful work for these lawyers to actually accomplish anything. It would mean a meeting quite different from what the official agenda indicates, at least in the end.
#43 Mark Harrison on 2007-06-11 01:27
anyony who calls met herman an idiot is a discrace to himself and the church. it is "GOSSIP" like this that is destroying the spirit of the church!
#44 Anonymous on 2007-06-11 05:08
Reading your post I reminded me of the response of St. Francis of Assisi when asked why he continued to show respect and courtesy to priests he knew to be hypocritical and wicked men. He replied that they alone could confect the Eucharistic sacrament which was the closest encounter with his Lord Jesus Christ possible for him during his earthly existence. This was the basis of his respectful behavior toward them.
In the hypothetical situation under consideration, tbe only change in your response that I would suggest is that I would not ask forgiveness of the recipient of the gifts for the modest nature of the accommodations, small treats, etc. but would instead in my welcoming to him include the fact that the additional monies that could have been spent on more lavish and extravagant luxuries for him were instead donated to a local charity whose mission it is to feed the poor in your community.
This, it seems to me, would give everyone involved the opportunity to fulfill the directions of Jesus Christ with regard to the care of our neighbors and by doing so give glory to God.
I am not, of course suggesting any kind of deprivation of what is essential and appropriate to the comfort and well-being of the visitor.
The scandal of luxurious lifestyles by highly place prelates is an old one in the history of the Christian church. I do not believe it is in any sense "anti-clericalism" to invite them to practice what they preach with regard to consumption of this worlds luxuries.
And, if they have ceased to practice or even preach the part of gospel that includes modesty and moderation in the enjoyment of all the good things God gives, at least to "not put temptation in the path of the weak" by supplying them with luxuries. It seems to me that we are in danger of becoming complict their disregard of gospel teaching if we provide for them with lavish excess.
#45 Jean Langley Sullivan on 2007-06-11 06:50
The makers of this website should be ashamed of themselves. I have not seen this website since Pascha. I come back here while surfing the web and find the same hogwash over and over. Stories are being reprinted and the same facts are being thrown in again and again. A couple people messed up and did wrong, they commited sins which if they were true orthodox christians, they went to confession for already. Mark, and the other hateful commentors of this website, need to realize that the sins of these people are already forgiven in the eyes of god. Now its time for the next set of confessions, starting with the confession of Mark and the hateful commentors on this website. Release yourselves from the influence of the devil by allowing this website to dissapear....forgive and forget, and stop trying to ruin the Orthodox Church in America. Your hateful website has broken apart families, it has casued once good friends to break up, but most sinful of all, it has caused people to question their faith because of the mistakes of few. Stop and think, then go attend vespers and repent.
#46 GTB on 2007-06-11 13:43
Dear Mark,.........some wonderful news has just been posted on web site "concernedorthodox.org"..........the Indiana court has today ruled in favor or the parish priest involved.........the posting makes marvelous reading
#47 Luke on 2007-06-11 17:35
Dear Don't Know What To Do:
First, inform your bishop and ask for his guidance.
If anyone came imposing upon you, see if you can round up some parishoners to put them up in their homes and feed them. Ignore the requests for a hotel and finery. Their salvation has no need for that fluff. Be polite and hospitable, but do not indulge any temptation to flatter or puff-up, and do not indulge or participation in their struggles with pride, lust or gluttony. You know what humans need to survive: shelter, food and water. Provide that with what means you and your flock have. Did Jesus stay in the finest hotels? No. His servants never deserve better. His servants actually know they deserve worse. His monks certainly know this. And aren't all bishops monks?
Read the Didache and remind yourself of the life of the Church before the Gospels were even written. Remind yourself of the humble truth about you and them.
If they are disgusted by less than what they feel they deserve, that is their problem. Not yours. Do your best, but don't over do it. Indulging anyone's fantasy of entitlement is not salvific.
Remember to call your bishop. It's his parish, his diocese and his job to maintain order.
#48 Rdr. Alexander Langley on 2007-06-11 20:50
I do agree with one part of this post -- we all do need to confess. It is a fearful and terrible thing to have to oppose our church authorities and the temptation to anger, self-righteousness and bitterness is constantly present.
But as to the rest -- it's fascinating how far we've come. In the very early church there was no confession. It was felt that once united to Christ, one would live by a standard of conduct consistent with one's calling. And when it became evident that even the Grace of God poured out in baptism and the eucharist was not sufficient to keep us from constantly falling into sin, then confession was instituted. But look at the penances that were set in place -- long periods of abstension from the eucharist and very gradual reintegration into the life of the church. Think for a minute about the standard of behavior that those penances imply.
Now consider GBT's contention that those guilty in this matter have gone to confession and should be left alone. So from a dire remedy for the almost inconcievable possibility that one united to Christ would sin in a grave manner, confession is now reduced to a get-out-of-jail-free card or a ticket that you punch ... Picture that scenario ... Tell me your sins my child. Well, Father, I've been systematically redirecting church funds for personal use for nearly 20 years, over time it's gotten bigger and bigger, I've lied to cover up, I've attempted to extort money from those entrusted to deliver it into the hands of widows and orphans, I've used the money to cover up and perpetuate habits and desires that are themselves grave moral sins ... Okay, well pray some more and try to do better, we all sin, just get on with your life as a priest.
Of course repentance all around is needed in this. Of course those of us who speak on this matters and those charged with acting on these matters must pray and humbly ask that God guide us and let us not fall into the temptation of revenge.
But the church must also impose discipline on those who have strayed so gravely. That such would be left in their offices as priests and just go on with things because, well, we all sin and all need to forgive ... that is a gross distortion.
#49 Rebecca Matovic on 2007-06-12 04:48
Comes now the end game, ladies and gentlemen.
Pray hard if you want the OCA to survive. Vladyka JOB, along with at least two other hierarchs, have called for a special meeting of the Holy Synod of the OCA, scheduled for July.
This is the last chance the OCA has to correct itself. If the Holy Synod fails to clean house, there are only two possible alternative outcomes.
1. In time, the OCA will fail to exist.
2. Since the bishops would not have been able to discipline themselves, law enforcement will do it for them.
Quick note: nothing precludes both alternative outcomes from happening.
For those pinning their hopes on the Metropolitan Council, an intransigent Synod will force the Council to avail itself of legal means of correction, if in fact it chooses to engage in corrective measures at all. Please refer to alternative outcome #2 above.
#50 Wayne Matthew Syvinski on 2007-06-12 07:24
The laity are waiting for their priests to act, the priests wait for the Bishops to act, the Bishops wait for the Metropolitan to act, and the Metropolitan just waits for the lay people to tire and the problem to fade away. Everyone is waiting for someone else to fix the problem. In the meantime the crisis festers and worsens. NOW is the time to stop waiting and start acting. We must push to correct our course to save our OCA.
Fortunately we have the Metropolitan Council, the only body with authority to take actions to fix the problem. They can initiate a vote of “no confidence” in the Metropolitan and his administration. They control the funding of the central administration including the Metropolitan office and therefore can stop the financial abuses.
The council will meet soon and we the people are watching them and praying that they exert positive action. It may be difficult but they can do it. We should remind all the members of the council, elected or appointed, that they represent the people, that is the Church, the body of Christ. They DO NOT represent Metropolitan Herman and therefore they are under no obligation to pledge “blind obedience” to him. It is in their hands to correct our course. They must not let this crisis continue. Act now, we cannot afford to wait.
Holy annunciation Orthodox Church
#51 Michel Michail on 2007-06-12 09:48
Dear Friends --
Now, THAT was just about the most penetrating, pithy analysis of this whole sad situation we've seen so far.
Do you remember the film 'Broadcast News'? A news anchor tells his viewers that they should open their windows, stick out their heads and yell 'I'm fed up and I'm not gonna take it anymore!!!'
The camera pans over the city and focuses on various apartment buildings and shows people doing just that.
It's time and past time for our people to do exactly the same with regard to Met. Herman's crazy-quilt attempts to function like the Roman pope in his administration of the OCA, and regarding the Holy Synod's inaction which allows this tragedy to continue.
Speak up! As we hear in the Sunday Dogmatikon in Tone 1: 'Be brave! Be brave, people of God!'
Priests and monastics and laity alike, we have nothing to fear from Met. Herman, but only for our failure to have a good answer at the 'dread judgement of Christ'.
Peace and blessings to all.
#52 Monk James on 2007-06-12 17:12
Rebecca, I respectfully agree with you. But the point is that this whole ordeal has gotten out of hand. There are innocent people, families, and friends that are being ripped apart for a sin which they did not commit. People are losing the faith. And do we view confession as a get out of jail free card? What do we go to confession for? What do the tears mean when we cross ourselves, kiss the gospel and cross, and get a blessing from the priest? The tears and feelings you get are ones of relief. A relief that this heavy burden, these sins which you has commited, has been lifted from your shoulders. All sins are forgiven in the eyes of god, no matter how horrible. To deny these wrong doers the relief which they so strongly desire is in humane. Forgive me if I misinturpreted. May god grant us the strength to forgive and forget.
#53 GTB on 2007-06-13 18:05
No one would deny them the relief, but only someone indifferent to the welfare of the Church would allow them to continue in roles of leaders and pastors.
#54 Rebecca Matovic on 2007-06-14 05:11
FRK is no savior here. It appears you are attempting to set up FRK as some sort of good-guy in juxtiposition to MH. That won't work. Contrasting FRK's behavior with MH's is not going to win FRK any points. It is not surprising that they don't like each other now, since they both spent the ADM monies freely and are running for cover now that their "discretionary funds" have dried up.
#55 Anon. on 2007-06-14 15:45
Why do people insist on writing sermons on this website?
#56 Anon. on 2007-06-18 22:32
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