Monday, July 16. 2007
Your comments on the Metropolitan Council Minutes are welcome.
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When will the lies stop ? Pushing things to the side and blaming one person is sick. It's time for the truth and answers. With MH in control it will never happen. If the money was spent on a house or cars , MH tell us the truth. Better yet Fr. Kucynda as treasure you have statements where all the money was or is. TELL US THE TRUTH !!!
#1 Anonymous on 2007-07-16 06:56
You should put quotation marks around "Minutes", because, clearly, these are not actual minutes that have been posted as such. They are, at best, an edited summary of the minutes.
It is just incredible that the "spiritual leader" of a Church, can be so dishonest. We might expect it from the leader of some heterodox group, but an Orthodox Church? Such a leader cannot possibly lead any of us to salvation. He will only lead us to damnation. Even if he had had no involvement in the financial misdeeds (and it is clear that he did), how can such a man be our spiritual leader?
#2 Name withheld on 2007-07-16 07:54
We allow our President to commute the sentence of his executive agents that expose our government agents which is normally high treason punishable by death, so why not allow our OCA executives to spend our money to protect themselves from criminal charges related to the influence peddler Dwayne Andreas?
#3 Anonymous on 2007-07-16 08:25
I had the same sick feeling when I read the report. This junk just continues to galvanize my views and reaffirm my convictions, which Fr. Berzonzky clearly summarized:
"We are or ought to be above politics and legalities. We
It really is just that simple! Why are we continuing to hide and cover up?. Do we not believe that the Lord sees all? We are Christians! Open the books, open the reports, open the Gospel! Get on with the Investigating Commission!
Muckraking? Are we talking about not letting Hugo speak about Jean Valjean? Silencing Upton Sinclair and Jacob Riis speaking out about the immigrant "Jungle" that many of our grandparents struggled through, or Ralph Nader and the Corvair!
Open, honest, candid discussion and investigation is the only chance the OCA has of surviving. I don't endorse fads, but let's keep it simple - WWJD. What Would Jesus Do? Did he go into the temple and cut a deal with the merchants so they could stay? Hardly!
#4 Ken Kozak on 2007-07-16 09:46
Thank you, Mark,
Once again you are filling in the necessary and needed gaps in interpreting the whole truth.
I can only hope and pray that all of our bishops and metropolitan council members are consistently reading your website to be fully informed of what is actually happening!
When the Lesser Synod, and then the full Synod, meet toward the end of this month, I hope all the bishops will be as fully informed as you are informing us!
I hope they will draw the necessary inferences and act on necessary changes in Christian faith, courage, boldness, love and with firm conviction that the truth is necessary to report to us faithful who have only asked for the truth.
The administration must act on the proper ethical and moral solutions to this ongoing scandal. That means analyzing and acting upon the behavior of more than one person (Fr. Bob) in this mess.
#5 Patty Schellbach on 2007-07-16 10:33
This paragraph says it all doesn't it:
"At the top of the list of abnormalities would have been an Audit Committee that never met - as Fr. Suda admitted earlier this year that his did not, or when it did, to suggest (as did Fr. Suda in 1999) that "two out of three signatures" on the annual audit were "good enough". That was the same year $4.5 million in ADM donations were discovered "missing", Protodeacon Wheeler was fired, Metropolitan Herman took over as Acting Treasurer of the OCA, and John Kozey, the Chairman of the OCA Audit Committee who broke the scandal and refused to sign the audit, was removedas Chairman, and subsequently replaced by, yes, none other than Fr. Paul Suda. The man who told us all was well in 1999 as the cover-up began, now tells us that all is "normal" in 2007. To the Metropolitan Council's credit, a motion was made to call for a vote of "No Confidence" in Suda and his internal audit committee last December - but was withdrawn at the insistence of, yes, Metropolitan Herman."
The Sysosset gang has to finally retire and exit the stage. The level of unethical conduct has reached tsunami proportions. This is just too much... If the entire OCA does not have the courage and guts to deal with this bunch we truly deserve our fate. Multiple opportunities and enormous leeway has already been given to the Syosset cabal, but enough is enough! This unaccountable, unethical, and unrepentend group will not change. Time for them to go before the OCA becomes another footnote on the ash heap of history.
Thanks, Mark for pointing out some of the absurdities in these minutes. My favorite is the accidental frankness of the explanation for suspending the Commission, "They went into a whole new direction, because of numerous other concerns.Ē
Numerous other concerns ... such as, perhaps, whether the complicitness the MH gang in all these goings on over many, many, many years!
But I'm fascinated by the conflict over reviewing the billing of PR. So the MC asks to see the bills, and Kucynda/Herman say no ... and then what? Does anyone ask on what grounds they can't review the bill? And the MC is the body charged with hiring and overseeing legal counsel for the OCA. If the OCA is the client, then the MC is the administrator of the engagement and should see the bills. How exactly do K/H explain why the bills can't be shown? How does it come about that the MC accepts this refusal?
It's truly mind-boggling.
Let's end the stonewalling and get this thing behind us. Truly behind us by bringing it all out and moving on, not the fake "moving on" that will leave this to fester and poisson our church for decades to come.
#7 Rebecca Matovic on 2007-07-16 11:59
I don't know who you are but, you sure sound like an agent provocateur. I want you to know that this forum has not, except for one mild comment, ever likened what has and is happening in OCA to the Valerie Plame affair. Similarly, I don't recall anyone slurring Mr. Andreas as an influence peddler.
I am replying to your rant because I want the readers to know that this site is NOT used by left-wing provocateurs. What we have here are bunch of normal, concerned believers. That's all.
#8 Carl on 2007-07-16 12:21
Though in the current OCA scandal there have been great effort on the part of those still holding offices in the central administration to place all the blame on one man, St. John Chrysostom had a very different perspective on the responsibility of the bishops who give authority (ordination, appointment) to men engaged in impropriety. St. John says in his sermon on the Martyr Bishop Ignatius that the bishops who ordain men who commit impropriety are fully responsible for the impropriety committed by those they placed in office. Chrysostom said: "My point is that they knew precisely how much danger there is in store for those perform such ordinations carelessly and at random. Indeed again making this same point clear Paul, in writing to the same Timothy, said: 'Lay hands on no one swiftly, nor join in the sins of others' (1 Tim 5:22). What do you mean? Another person sins, and I share the charges and the punishment? 'Yes,' he says, 'since you place your authority at the service of impropriety.' Indeed, just as when a person entrusts a sharpened sword to someone who is raving and out of their wits, whatever murder the insane person commits, that person who handed over the sword takes on the responsibility, so too a person who places the authority that stems from this office at the service of a person engage in impropriety draws all the fire for that person's sins and enterprises on their own head. For the person who supplies the root is responsible in every way for what grows out of it." The implication is clear for our own scandal - even if one man was mostly responsible for what happened, the bishop who appointed him completely shares the responsibility for the impropriety.
#9 Fr. Ted Bobosh on 2007-07-16 15:11
Fair enough, Carl, but I have to say that there have been a number of comments comparing Syossett's response to Clinton and I have been biting my tongue REALLY HARD to keep from answering them by pointing to more current secular, political examples of lying and spin. I might regret even responding now. On the other hand I do find it worth thinking about what it is in our culture today that these particular demons seem to be reaping such a bountiful harvest.
Also, while I really don't know a thing about Andreas, a few people here have wondering about whether the church has been involved in money laundering. I guess "influence peddlar" isn't very nice but I do wonder why he was willing to give so much money to our OCA church in Moscow and not, say, directly to the Patriarchate?
(Editor's note: I thank everyone for "biting their tongues" and not turning this comment page into a political battleground by using analogies from contemporary politics. I applaud you all for such discretion, because it would be really easy - no matter what one's political leanings.
That being said, Mr. Andreas officially gave the money in response to a grant proposal written by the OCA, not the Patriarchate, to restore St. Catherine's in Moscow, and turn it into a world-class venue for meetings of religious and social forces engaged in rebuilding Russia after the collapse of Communism. Part of that was a world class conference center that was to be built in his name - that is Andreas', not Jesus'. Unfortunately, all Mr. Andreas got from funding this grant to spread his name and influence was a placque with his name on it - but no center on which to place it. )
#10 Rachel Andreyev on 2007-07-16 15:18
Moreover, Rebecca, it strikes me that Proskauer Rose from the very beginning (if they did their job right and reviewed the internal governance documents of the OCA before even taking on this representation to discern who is authorized to bind the OCA to a contract with outside legal counsel) knew or had every reason to know that their engagement was effected by someone (Herman) not having the authority to engage them ... and therefore not effective.
On that premise -- assuming it is correct -- it seems to me there is every reason, and on the part of the (unfortunately feckless) MC every obligation, to refuse to pay Proskauer even one cent; and to the extent they have already received money through Kucynda or whoever else may be writing checks for the Osyter Bay Cove Kids, to sue PR for restitution. Why? Unless I am mistaken, only the MC has the authority to engage legal counsel on behalf of the OCA. And (I think) the internal governance documents of the OCA are clear on that point. Herman, accordingly, has neither actual nor apparent authority to bind the OCA to a contract with PR. As such, PR was and has since the beginning of their engagement been on notice that the OCA should not and cannot not be held accountable to pay a single invoice of theirs. Their contract, if any, is with Herman in his individual capacity.
I seriously suggest (to whomever is the right person to whom to suggest such a thing) that the OCA file suit versus PR on this. I don't know if there is standing for a derivative-type action on behalf of the OCA by its members (or its member parishes or dioceses), but if there is, and if the wimpy MC won't do anything, then this must be explored.
Fight fire with fire.
#11 Anonymous on 2007-07-16 15:22
Could you please fill us in as to who the syosset bunch is? Do you mean greg sulich, Helen Detke, the cleaning lady, Matushka Glagolev, peter Ilchuk and lydia Ludeman?
Please find better language. All of the aforementioned are fine servants of the church. Don't defame those who truly love the OCA.
#12 OCA is for me on 2007-07-16 16:37
What we have here goes much deeper than offenses committed by a handful of men in powerful positions. You are familiar with the issues so there is no need to go there. However, you would be wrong if you think that:
1. The problem will be solved by having the Special Commission get to the bottom of the scandal and/or
2. You get rid of those people in positions of power and responsibility who are responsible for misdeeds by commission or omission and/or
3. Adopt best possible practices and put the most talented, proficient and spiritual people in the positions of power.
I think all of the above should be done but only as first steps: the governance structure is rotten.
It is rotten because it is based on "smoke and mirrors" where the laity have agreed to a Potemkin village. I am talking about the OCA Statute, which pretends to be conciliar; pretends to empower the lesser clergy and the laity; and pretends to be an enlightened and modern governing document. It is not conciliar, it does empower neither the lesser clergy or laity, and it just continues the status quo of concentrating absolute religious and administrative authority in the hands of the Metropolitan and his Syosset staff.
It is amazing that so many intelligent people have gone along with charade for so long. I do admit that if good people who are truly conciliar are in charge, the Statute would not make them change into despots. However, the Statute makes it possible for the good, bad and the ugly to occupy the episcopal thrones and other positions of authority and end up fomenting and/or covering up scandals (with apologies to Clint and Sergio).
The structural defects do not stop with the laughable Statute. If you recall, the earliest church had divisions of responsibility: deacons and deaconesses took care of administrative matters, freeing up the bishops and priests yo take of the spiritual matters. I would love to see deacons consecrated not as a necessary step to priesthood but to hold administrative positions as in the old days.
Similarly, we have artificially restricted the candidates for episcopacy to monastics. No, it was not always so; you only need to read Timothy and early church history. I understand this happened because the wives and children of the married Bishops had misbehaved and caused scandals. So, they changed the rules, even though it was contrary to Apostolic Tradition (this is with a big "T" my friends)! So much for preventing scandals.
But, first things first.
1. Before anything else can happen, get rid of the current leadership who is implicated with the scandal and cover up. ACTION: The Holy Synod. SUSPENSE: As soon as possible.
2. After that, the Special Commission can and thus must proceed to answer the questions that it was tasked to answer by the Metropolitan Council.
3. After the Special Commission finishes its work, have its report published for review and reflection by the entire church: every lay person, deacon, priest, monastic and bishop.
4. Each diocese should meet to consider solutions to the problems unearthed by the Special Commission. Each diocesan set of solutions should also be widely disseminated for consideration during the next AAC.
5. Finally, the AAC should be convened under special rules, not the current ones. Whatever the AAC comes up with, to include a new Statute if it so decides, should be adopted by either the majority of delegates, of parishes or dioceses, period.
You may know the old spiritual, "Give me that old time religion." Although it is not an Orthodox hymn, it sure applies to many modern day Orthodox. Although some (many?) use this sentiment to hold on to the status quo, I submit to you that you would remain Orthodox if you would just refer to an earlier time.
#13 Carl on 2007-07-16 16:49
It is amazing that after 18 months the Metropolitan has made to my knowledge no real effort to seek restitution of the funds which were stolen from the OCA. Instead he has sunk the Church into debt, ignored the will of the Council and Synod, hired lawyers to distance him from his own actions, organized a shameful trial, and engaged in half-truths and veiled threats.These are not the actions of an innocent man. They certainly should not be the actions of a man consecrated as a successor to the Apostles. The Synod must deal with this situation forcefully or lose the repect and support of the faithful.
#14 David Paynter on 2007-07-16 19:13
I'm not sure I understand all your points, especially about "old time religion", but I do want to say that the most spiritual people may be too busy doing the Lord's work to seek "positions of power".
It seems some people have equated the OCA with "The Church". The OCA is not the Church. The other archdioceses in the US and Canada are not "The Church".
The structure of the Church is made of up people, not institutions. There are ranks of clergy and there are all the people. Some of those clergy and people have botched an institution, but they have not botched the Church. They have sinned, and others and sinned in their responses.
The One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church (there's just one, not several) has survived onslaughts from all sorts of wicked people.
I wonder what it is that people really want to save? Jesus came to save the lost (meaning people). Did that include an institution? Which will last for eternity? Souls or a people of paper with man-authored statutes written on it (and possibly ignored by other people)?
#15 Rdr. Alexander Langley on 2007-07-16 19:25
"Name withheld" wrote:
It is just incredible that the "spiritual leader" of a Church, can be so dishonest. We might expect it from the leader of some heterodox group, but an Orthodox Church? Such a leader cannot possibly lead any of us to salvation. He will only lead us to damnation. Even if he had had no involvement in the financial misdeeds (and it is clear that he did), how can such a man be our spiritual leader?
Since when is Metropolitan HERMAN the leader of a cult? Is he a spiritual leader? Is he supposed to be? That's news to me. He is the primate of a jurisdiction that is part of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. He is not a pope, and he is not the leader of "a Church" as if there were several Churches. The Body of Christ is not several, it is one. Please don't put Metropolitan HERMAN on too high a pedestal. Actually, don't put him or any other human on any pedestal or have such high expectations. If you do, I guarantee you will be disappointed. "Put not your trust in princes, in sons of men, in whom there is no salvation, when his breath departs he returns to his earth, on that very day his plans perish..."
At any rate, a leader can only lead you astray if you let him, and if you follow him. Why follow someone that you are convinced is leading you and others astray? Wicked people have no more power than what you ascribe to them.
You do not need an institution (such as the OCA) to save you. You need Jesus, the Risen Lord. That's it.
You were presumably baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Seek the Holy Trinity. Follow Jesus and the Holy Apostles and Martyrs. They won't lead you astray.
#16 Rdr. Alexander Langley on 2007-07-16 19:39
THE TRUTH , that's hogwash. Everytime Herman wants things to quiet down you hear I'LL look into that or let's blame RSK. 500,000 for what ? We must be stupid to ok anything this man brings to the table. 500,000 what did this do for the church. NOTHING !!!!!!!!
#17 Anonymous on 2007-07-17 04:16
Your points are all well taken!
I especially second your comments with regard to limiting selection of bishops to "monastics," while recognizing that many of them are monastic in name only. The notion that monastics make holier or better bishops is just so much hogwash as far as I'm concerned. At the risk of having Iguman Philip descend on me like an avenging angel, I even dare to question the importance of monasticism in the current era and certainly question its overbearing role with respect to church leadership now and in the past. I suppose it all gets down to sex--celibacy versus non-celibate--from which flows the gnostic belief that one is superior to the other.
While some of us may be nostalgic for a time when monasticism was a major social and religious institution in a preindustrial age, I am not. Certainly, some may be called to withdraw from the world, but most of us, including the Apostles, are called to engage it. To limit our selection of bishops to this declining pool of talent is, frankly, just plain nuts. After all, even the Pope, theoretically, can can be chosen from among any male Roman Catholic of age!
#18 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2007-07-17 08:53
Dear Brothers and Sisters In Christ, One paragraph continues to come to my mind, this is quoted from Fr. Berzonskys letter with Dr. West-
We are Or ought to be above Politics and legalities- We are Christians!
This today would be my wrist band for Orthodoxy!!!
Praying for the removal of the current administration to be completely removed and cleansed. With love in Christ I wish you all a Blessed Day and Week.
#19 The Faithful on 2007-07-17 09:51
"and all but "a few" transactions had proper receipt documentation"
Since it is my recollection that back in at least January 2006 +MH stated that accounting practices had been revised, I can't help but wonder who hasn't been told that EVERY transaction has to be supported by a receipt. I also wonder what "a few" means, and how much those "few" transactions amount to.
#20 Michael Strelka, CPA on 2007-07-17 10:13
Your question is a great one and it hits to the heart of the issue. There really shouldn't be any missing documents at this point.
It is time to stop making mistakes and seriously deal with the issues. This is not rocket science here. Either a request for reimbursement has supporting documentation or it doesn't get paid.
Personally, much of the fault lies in the fact that some keep insisting that certain roles within the church be handled only by clergy. Stop it already. Stop treating the church like it's the mafia. I would much rather have a treasurer with experience with accounting than a treasurer with a good looking riassa and nice jeweled cross. Let's at least be honest and say that the current system of checks and balances, i.e. one that is completed controlled solely by clergymen, is broken.
Unless the next treasurer has the letters CPA after there name I'm done with my contributions to the OCA.
#21 Another concerned Orthodox Christian on 2007-07-17 13:59
I believe it would be nice to know just how many pilgrams will attend holy transfiguration monastery in ellwood city , pa. this year? If the believers attend in large numbers ,everything is fine; if not ,then the end may be near. the bishops attending are at the top of the OCA. they should attract a large number of people to themselves. maybe it will rain and that will be the reason they"ll give for a poor turn out. who knows?--personally, i think mother christophora will attract more people than the two bishops put together.----please do not use my name. thank you.
#22 Name withheld on 2007-07-17 14:22
CUT OFF THE MONEY!! IT'S LIKE CUTTING OFF THEIR OXYGEN, THEY WILL SUFFOCATE AND EVENTIALLY WITHER AWAY!!!
CUT OFF THE MONEY!!!
St. James--Brother of the Lord
Kansas City, MO
"Avenging angel???" Thank you! It's the first time in my life anyone (including my mother, I fear) has found anything even remotely angelic about my wretched self.
For what it's worth, I too am troubled by Bishops-elect being tonsured as rasophores simply to fulfill a canonical requirement. The results are not always particularly salvific. Perhaps it is time for the Church as a whole to reconsider the restoration of the married episcopate...although getting world-wide consensus on that one, when after 80 years we still can't solve the calendar issue, is less than likely.
But I must suggest to you that the monastic witness (when actually lived, mark you!) is of more importance than ever in the world of instant gratification, self-obsession, self-indulgence, self-will, and self-worship. It's NOT about sex; it's about Jesus Christ, and about bearing living witness to the fact that knowing "Him and the power of His Resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death" (Phil.3:10) is more than worth the loss of personal autonomy, the personal intimacy of spouse and family, financial prosperity, personal ownership of anything, professional success, etc. The monastic vocation, as ordinary Christian life kicked up several notches, is supposed to be one of witness, example, and encouragement.
An example: for me as a monastic, it's always Lent, in the sense of abstinence from meat. Nothing special about that; it's been that way in East and West from the begining of monasticism (cf., e.g., St. Benedict's Rule, chap.36). But the value to the Body of Christ at large is twofold: a kind of intercessory prayer and expiation for those who do not fast at all, and an encouragement to embrace the appointed fasts ("If I can do without meat all the time, surely you can forego it for Lent, right?") And with the willing embrace of personal ascesis comes the real beginning of the journey to that "holiness without which no one will see the Lord" (Heb.12:14).
Not that such witness is always wanted or appreciated. A couple of years ago a parent told a monk of my acquaintance that he was "a failure" in that parent's eyes; that with his education etc., he could be out making 100K a year (in her eyes, still big money!). Instead, he had willingly embraced poverty and detachment. So he was a failure, a disappointment, to that parent.
And admittedly, bearing proper monastic witness doesn't happen automatically. Good monastic formation is crucial, and finding that here in North America isn't easy. Here in Canada we are blessed with Igumen Gregory (Papazian) as a "maker of monks" who turn out not only well-disciplined but joyful. There may be others, labouring in obscurity; I don't know, but I pray so. But what true monasticism has to offer to the Church and to the world is companions on the journey who, having walked the path ahead at least a little, know the way and want to share it.
And engagement with the world in order to help the world find the way out of its perpetual mess is part of what Orthodox monasticism has been about from the get-go. The monastery is not a fortress against everybody "out there;" it is, as St. Benedict puts it so succinctly, "a school for the Lord's service" (Prologue) to which the people "in the world" can repair from time to time for spiritual rest, refreshment, and renewal.
And there's much more than one could add. I would simply urge you to garner your ideas your ideas on monastcism from more authentic sources, e.g., the Desert Fathers, St. Basil the Great, the Rule of St. Benedict, or The Athonite Gerontikon. I would also urge you not to confuse either gnosticism or Irish Jansenism (or both) with genuinely Orthodox theology, which teaches that sexuality is a good and precious gift of God. Otherwise, what would be the point of the monastic offering back to God as a gift?
#24 Igumen Philip (Speranza) on 2007-07-17 15:31
An observation about the 2006 Budget. Metropolitan Herman's decision to put Proskauer-Rose in charge of things cost us $350,000.00 in 2006. This is on top of the loan which he took out to cover what the Metropolitan Council minutes admit was "financial malfeasance." They were able to carve $350,000 out of a "bare bones" budget to pay for lawyers, when for years the OCA always cried poverty and lack of money. In no past year were they able to carve out that kind of money for missions, charity, education or parish ministry. But it makes me wonder whether in fact the OCA can afford to decrease its budget by that amount of money and still operate in years when they aren't lining the pockets of attorneys? Does it suggest that in other years we were in fact wasting that amount of money on unproductive things and that is why so much just happened to be available for attorneys in 2006? Does it mean that we should expect as the role of the attorneys declines in the future that $350,000 will be available to parishes for ministry each year? It seems as if there is $350,000 of cash to play with in the budget. The fact that they could carve that amount of money out of the budget suggests that they saw what it would "normally" have been spent on as relatively unimportant, and that when a real and imminent expense came along that could not be ignored, they could simply shift the money from something non-essential to what was so important that it couldn't be ignore. Perhaps the fact that $350,000 out of the budget was so accessible for redirecting will suggest to the Metropolitan Council that a total evaluation of financial priorities is needed. I certainly would favor reducing the budget by that amount of money accomplished by decreasing the assessment and shrinking the central church administration and allowing parishes to keep more money for their own ministry needs. We don't really need a central church to collect money to distribute it as they see fit. All of our parishes and members can give directly to the IOCC, OCMC, or the OCEC for that matter. Most ministry and charity is really done on the local level. Of course that raises another important question about our parishes: if the OCA reduced its assessment by $15/member, would parishes respond by using these monies for true ministry? That would be a challenge for us all - the OCA reduces the assessment it takes from us with the stipulation that the parish applies it locally to ministries - education, charity, mission. Let's say the average parish has 100 members, and would have $1500/year that it could use in local ministry rather than sending it to Syosset. What local ministry would your parish engage in?
#25 Fr. Ted Bobosh on 2007-07-17 16:00
Dear Reader Alexander,
"(Give me that) Old Time Religion" is an old African American spiritual that has been used in popular culture to denote a simplistic approach to faith. The best known verses say: "(old time religion) was good for our mothers...it has saved all our fathers---it will save all our children, and it is good enough for me."
You can easily see the echo by most Orthodox folks: don't mess with our Church for it was good anough...and it is good enough for me.
However, I remember a few other, not so well known verses: "It was good for Paul and Silas...It was good for the Prophet Daniel...It was good for the Hebrew children...It was tried in the fiery furnace." and in some versions: "It will bring you out of bondage...It will do when the worldís on fire."
That is what I meant by "referring to an earlier time." The old time religion is good enough for me NOT because it was good enough for my father and mother, but because of what it represents: a deep faith in God and not in the institution (as you so rightly pointed out).
On the other hand, we've had the institution from the get go and we should pay some attention to it. Why not trying to make it right?
#26 Carl on 2007-07-17 16:17
You do not need an institution (such as the OCA) to save you. You need Jesus, the Risen Lord. That's it.
You were presumably baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Seek the Holy Trinity. Follow Jesus and the Holy Apostles and Martyrs. They won't lead you astray.
Unfortunately, this is Protestant soteriology. "Just me and Jesus". In the Orthodox faith, we are all "saved" or not together. The very first step in the process of theosis (salvation) is the putting off of the passions and the putting on of the virtues. If you have any doubt that MH, as the shepherd, is having a profound affect on the passions of this flock, and our salvation, just read the postings on this website.
#27 Anonymous on 2007-07-17 16:47
It does seem to me that PR was not actually hired by the OCA. I wrote above that PR knew or should have known that Met Herm did not have the authroity to engage PR on behalf of the OCA. Your other points are very well taken, as usual, but would I urge whomever is to be urged to look into whether PR can be sued by or on behalf of the OCA for accepting the engagement when it should have known that the engagement by Herman was violative of the OCA's statutes. That Little Man Man Under the Big White Hat had no authroity to engage these lawyers on behalf of the OCA. PR, as lawyers, should have known that ... heck, they are good enough to say it straight: they KNEW it. This is not a firm with a clean recent past; its been sued twice recently for improper dealings with its clients.
#28 Anonymous on 2007-07-17 19:11
Which noble bishop at the Lesser Synod or the following Holy Synod bishop will go on record and ask Metropolitan Herman to resign?
#29 Patty Schellbach on 2007-07-17 19:26
We have waited, and waited, and waited, and waited, and waited, and waited, and waited, and waited, and waited, and waited, and waited, and waited, and waited, and waited, and waited, and waited, and waited, and waited, and waited, and waited, and waited, and waited, and waited, and waited, and waited, and waited, and waited, and waited, and waited, and waited... When does this waiting cease to be the fruit of patience and instead evolve into cowardice, laziness and bad stewardship?
If ever the history of an ecclesial Church justified a grassroots organizing of the clergy, laity and willing bishops to clear out corruption, this is it. It is time to take all your digging into the history books and Scriptures for precedent and now ACT. The theological, moral and ethical high ground is with you. There is no white knight here other than YOU.
Get on with it. The Synod is not going to act. They are compromised. The MC is too weak. Syosset has retreated to a dark corner where there is weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth. Fence sitters will do nothing but wring their hands. Some of us who were crucified for raising these issues in past decades will join you. But folks, its your turn to grab the whip and attempt to clear the temple. If you don't make it this time around either, then at least you did your best, as did those of us who have preceded you. Godspeed. Stop waiting. Organize.
#30 Anon. on 2007-07-17 19:29
It is less about the corruption of our government and more about how pure power corrupts, along with the obvious questions related to the 4.5M dollars that vanished.
That vanishing money was hidden by the crafty bylaw written in 1999 that allowed discretionary accounts. The bylaw has not been repealed by the Synod. All of you are up in arms about this and that, but noone seems to mind. The bylaw itself has been defended now in this fashion "As long as the amounts are auditable and records are kept...". Yeah, right, as we say in accounting.
We all wonder why the PR lawfirm was hired and what parts of the internal investigation are trying to be thwarted. Perhaps there was influence peddling. Remember the 1990s? Michael Andreas was convicted and sentenced to prison for price fixing in a foreign government.
I hate to be a conspiracy theorist, but absent the special investigation, it doesn't seem unreasonable to wonder.
Why would Andreas not mind if we ripped him off for 4.5M? I understand his wealth is placed about 450M. That would mean the OCA took Dwayne's foundation for about 1% of his overall wealth and he didn't mind much. Hmmmmmmmm [not sure what the assets of the foundation are...]
Maybe there is a good reason PR was hired and maybe its bigger than we understand. Perhaps RSK was trying to take advantage of what he knew and Metropolitan Herman had to hire someone big to deal with the double play.
Things just don't add folks.
#31 Daniel E. Fall-Anonymous on 2007-07-17 19:48
You know, in Spanish the word for "minutes" in this context is 'actas." I think an Engish-speaking person can see the connection. Minutes are supposed to narrate the acts of the body that met, the actual deeds. They should be a first-hand account, not a second or third hand account.
#32 Mark Harrison on 2007-07-17 21:10
I certainly understand where you are coming from, having seen the kinds of travesties of monastic life that I have seen. It is enough to make anyone cynical. Furthermore, having all bishops be monastics is not anything dogmatic. We still have the canons that pertained to married bishops. I do not have a theoretical problem with reviewing the situation, as long as the WHOLE Church does it in concert. Neverthless, I believe that Fr Philip, far from taking the path of an avenging angel (I suspect you mean that with some humour anyway), spoke well, and in the midst of all of this mess, we do need to remember that monasticism has played a great role in the Church. Far from being out-moded, I believe it is more relevant than ever for one very basic, but critical reason: genuine monastic life is a reminder to us all that our citizenship is not of this world, as St Paul tells us. This life is not the goal. If anything, I believe that we need (genuine) monastics more now than ever. Our modern world is so caught up in itself, so hurried, so shallow. I, for one, am glad there are monastics around. I have known some excellent monks, and I don't mean people who thought the summit of Orthdooxy is long, unwashed hair, and mile-long prayer ropes. Monasticism, historically, has been a challenge to the status-quo. We need it to continue to be that. This is woefully brief, but it will have to do for the moment.
#33 Mark Harrison on 2007-07-17 22:41
Good questions. But, reduce the taxes? When was the last time the central church did that? One really has to ask just what the central church does besides collecting taxes, taking cruises and sending out fraudulent appeals.
#34 Name withheld on 2007-07-18 02:59
The restitution of some of the monies involved that were misappropriated or stolen is a result or by-product of the reconciliation of those at fault in the scandal. Reconciliation requires the personal acknowledgement of committing sin, by omission or commission; public confession of the sin, and acceptance both of the consequences of the sin and the forgiveness offered by those injured by the sin. So far, it seems to me, none of those directly involved in the scandal have reached the point of publicly confessing their sins; consequently, it is premature to expect any attempts at restitution.
Your brother in Christ,
#35 Mark C. Phinney on 2007-07-18 04:23
My wife and I were very disappointed to learn that Metropolitan Herman will be a part of the Holy Transfiguration Monastery pilgrammage. We attended last year and were looking forward to attending this year. We are quite torn right now. On the one hand, this is the Monastery's 40th anniversary and Mother Christaphora's 20th anniversary as abbess. On the other hand, Metropolitan Herman's presence will make it impossible for us to have a truly spiritual experience (as we have had many times in the past). In all good conscience we cannot attend. We will most likely visit this weekend or next, but certainly not when Metropolitan Herman will be there as "Master of Ceremonies". We just couldn't stomach it.
Barry & Mary Ellen Sabol
St. Nicholas Orthodox Church
#36 Barry A. Sabol on 2007-07-18 05:10
Monastics as an example for us to emulate is a cop-out in my opinion.
Christ has called us all to an ascetical life of prayer and holiness, to be soldiers for Christ. We cannot please God by passing off our obligations to a group of people whom we send to monasteries where they are safe from the stresses and strains of every day life, who can pray and fast then in relative peace thus fulfilling *our*obligations fro us. Maybe it was right for another time and perhaps it was expedient for the formation of a literature to aid all of us in spiritual growth. Now however, the world moves at a dizzying pace, spiritual warfare is magnified all around us in all levels of everyday life, and the scriptural imperative of becoming soldiers for Christ is upon us *all*: soldiers who pray and fast and live simply, because to be encumbered with worldy goods is foolhardiness for any soldier who wants to remain alive to serve. This segregation of monatsics by dress, by where they live and how they live, may have been expedient for the Church at one time, but I wonder sometimes if it's what is best for us in this day and age. If I live a life of prayer, a life of
simplicity, a life of guarding my mind, my heart and my mouth, will I not be a better witness to the world around me than a bunch of monatics hidden safely away from the world's insanity. What happens then to these people, who, when God might be calling them out of that cocoon, refuse to hear His voice? If they refuse, will God bless their disobedience? Will they be strengthened spiritually for their spiritual battles, or will they be left only to paltry help of their rules and regulations?
Tradition is the work of the Holy Spirit in the Church; it is only Tradition when it is truly the Holy Spirit working and leading; it is not Tradition when
the Holy Spirit is moving in a new direction and the Church digs in its heels because it eschews any change.
#37 Karen Jermyn on 2007-07-18 06:57
Thank you for your eloquent posts which I had hoped to provoke from you and others! (I forgot the "smile" after "avenging angel" previously).
Fr. Philip presents and represents the bright side of monasticism which I wholeheartedly embrace as a vocation for those chosen to live it. I especially endorse the service aspect he so beautifully articulates.
So we are mostly on the same page, and I welcome the comments of both of you with respect to selecting bishops. Until we can consecrate "married men" as bishops, let us at least expand the selection process beyond monastics, i.e. single, widowed males with the requisite qualifications ( Mark, if single, and Fr. Philip would be a good start).
My final point on monasticism is that it must not be viewed as "superior" to a secular vocation. That is where the prideful problem begins!
#38 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2007-07-18 06:58
Anonymous. Very easy to say what is on your mind without being reprimanded! Maybe what you say is something we should all hear. But no! Stop! We need to know your name. If that is so key, then all of you who demand a name at the end of a posting that may say something important have to stand behind that name if and when any chastising is evident. It is time to stand up and be counted!
Some people on this list are in the Washington, New York Diocese. Not a very good place to be right now. All the players in this soap opera are here. My goodness, if you check savetheoca.org petition, even people out of this area are not placing their names in print even though they support the effort. Did you! On the other hand, some people in this area did place their names on that list. Kudos to them! I did! It is time to stand up and be counted!
I find that all of us are appalled with the events taking place and some of us want to sit back and let the Holy Spirit do the work. Well, it is OUR responsibility to care for the Church of God.
28 Take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God which he obtained with the blood of his own Son. 29 I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; 30 and from among your own selves will arise men speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. (RSV Acts 20:27-30)
Reading that should give you goose bumps! And it should make you DO something positive. Prayer is foremost. We need to know how to care for our church. But, we are placing too much trust in the ďsons of men,Ē our Bishops. After all, they also are in a quandary about all of this. The very least we can do is offer a small token amount on savetheoca with a name and area. And yes, your Bishop is accessing that site to see how many people in his area are willing to stand up and be counted. That petition can be a very driving force if it is used! It is time to stand up and be counted!
This website has been very instrumental in bringing the truth to light. I canít imagine how long this corruption in the administration of the oca would have continued without it. It has, and is serving, an important purpose; however, I donít see anything else we can do as a group except constantly posting on this website that shows frustration but little else.
The Orthodox Christian Church will always stand but the oca will fall and we will all scatter unless we change from this secular organization it has become which is run by lawyers. How sad!
#39 Anon here but not on savetheoca.org on 2007-07-18 09:57
I agree with you; we have waited long enough. I agree with you that we must organize from the grassroots; this website is an excellent beginning. But who is going to have the courage to act, to speak up and to come forward when the call comes from someone who is afraid to sign his or her name.
Alice Carter poignantly tells her tale where fear of serious reprisal (bodily harm, death) is far more than anyone might worry about in the OCA scandal. The quantum increase of anonymous and pseudonymous postings is only hurting efforts to push for the truth and to effect reform. One might reasonably assume that all those postings are from one or two individuals. Who knows? I pay little heed to such postings except to note their irony - bold, brash, and off-the-wall too many times.
There are, thank God, many postings made by well-respected clergy and laity which ought to give aid and comfort to anyone experiencing fear or hesitancy of posting openly. Otherwise, those involved in this scandal who seek to suppress the truth and avoid reform take refuge in your fear and your hesitancy and hope it will continue, because they know anonymous postings are worthless without a real name. Youíre the ďfence sitterĒ; grab your own whip and crack it (i.e. sign your name).
#40 Terry C. Peet on 2007-07-18 10:44
I enjoyed your reflection very much. I, too, would like to see more real names to postings, but until such time we have an administration that is friendly to the truth, this may be difficult to accomplish.
My husband was just told that his new assignment to an Orthodox mission had been "iffy" because his wife blogs on OCANews.org. Do those in OCA administration in each diocese know we have a crisis on our hands?
I will continue to post and sign my name because I want to know the truth about our finances and I want our OCA to become the model of integrity that is within its grasp to become.
#41 Anonymous on 2007-07-18 11:09
While this writer feels sympathy for the extremely tough situation that Alice Carter has experience, I think she is too narrowly focused on what she perceives are the reasons for anonymity. Thereís more than just Herman from whom to fear as he is not the only person who is implicated, which if you want to believe what he says, he has nothing to fear so why would he perform any punitive action anyway? There is more than one person at the middle of this and they all have something to lose (freedom, i.e. prison, money, home, reputation). Peripheral people who were enablers who fear their reputation could be at risk or that they will forever be tainted by their association or participation, however minor, in what has happened, people who counted on this continuing for their own benefit and are now feeling vindictive, and just others who now are angry over what is happening. On the other side, we have many people that have a lot to lose if they speak out whether that be their reputation, job, etc.
Yes, there are bad people out there in this scandal, very bad, who can do very bad things to you irrespective of their cleric rank if even they are of the clergy. Harm can be done in many ways that do not have to be associated with the church or with oneís standing in their job (clergy). As Alice points out, death threats, which while, this writer hopes, is an extreme that we should not contemplate, does show that retribution can come in many forms and from many angles and not just from the obvious people at the center of this. There are a lot of people who were enablers and partakers in this scandal over the past 18 years and a lot of those people can be harmed in ways spanning the entire spectrum. You can never know to what extreme someone is going to go when faced with the fruits of what they have sown. Retribution and fear is not a point, itís a matrix. A matrix of possible people to fear and possible actions that can occur. Unfortunately we have been witness to actions by Herman that one would never have thought he would think let alone be capable of, but nonetheless have become commonplace for him. Actions which are anti Christian and anti Orthodox and have lead people, including this writer, to questioning whether he is a religious man who fears God anymore. In that context there is no knowing just how low they will go in order to silence, protect themselves, and get back.
Take a look at another aspect of this. Some people just canít be put in front of a group of people to voice an opinion. They might have an insecurity which prevents them from going out and to fear embarrassing themselves fearing perhaps that they may say something stupid or overly obvious. If they are able to use anonymity they do not have to have that psychological trauma heaped upon them if what they say is mocked, discounted, or whatever fears the person may have. There are others that want to say something, but have a demeanor which is quiet, which they want to preserve. There are others who do not involve themselves in conflict or scandal and use anonymity to keep their reputations intact in that respect and keep that overt appearance of a back bencher who goes to church, gives his donations, and goes home afterwards. Yes, a person might have a problem with the clergy, but wants to retain cordial relations with his parish priest. Some people want to appear unaffected although they may be highly angry, rightly so, because of this scandal. There may be a person that Herman trusts completely who needs to air out. The list goes on.
In another thread I put forth more reasons, relating to group dynamics, as to why anonymity has been used and why itís good and should be used. Unfortunately there has been a lot written about the use of anonymity on this site and almost invariably from the point of view that itís a bad or not a good thing. Itís a tool, like this very computer that we use to communicate is a tool. Itís a tool that a new medium affords us to use and use effectively. A medium which has enabled us to do all we have done to date in battling this cancer in the Church and which, Herman is right in thinking, if we didnít have it, heíd be living the high life yet. We have much more open and frank discussions because of it. Instead of that pervasive feeling here that people are hiding because of fear, which may be the circumstance in some situations, it is also that people see the value and the freedom in all senses that they have because anonymity is available. If you doubt that, consider the activity and level of discussion on this site versus others.
Pseudonyms have a long, cherished, and celebrated history. For instance, more people know Mark Twain than Samuel Clemens. No one knows who William Sydney Porter was although he wrote over 400 short stories, but they have heard of O. Henry. In both cases the pseudonym does nothing to lessen what was written. My own name, Publius, was used by three of the founding fathers in their defense of the newly created Constitution of the United States. John Jay, James Madison, and Alexander Hamilton were three of the best known and well respected of the founding fathers. One became the First Supreme Court Chief Justice, one a President (and author of the Constitution), one a Treasury Secretary with a list of accomplishments that takes a good long while to read. A pseudonym allowed them to argue the case of the Constitution from the point of view as a disinterested person concentrating on the defense rather than the defenders, which is probably the reason why political writings were always pen named during those days. The Federalist Papers, to this day, authored under a pseudonym, remain, and will always be, at the pinnacle of political writing in our land. So, maybe, itís not so bad after allÖ
#42 Publius on 2007-07-18 12:10
You have to be pretty elastic to make the kind of stretch you make there and pretty uninformed as well.
Your name would better be "Rubberonymous".
#43 Anonymous on 2007-07-18 12:56
It stretches the imagination to think that several millions of dollars could be stolen by individuals who spent it on themselves (how many BMWs and Mercedes did Fr. Kondratick drive?). I could understand that perhaps 10's of thousands of dollars might have been misspent by greedy and/or lax individuals working in the central administration (for boondogles and fancy vestments), but not millions.
In the news this past week we heard an the announcement of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Los Angeles paying hundreds of millions of dollars to victims of sexual abuse. The reports also reminded us that 5 dioceses of the Roman Catholic Church in the USA have filed for bankruptcy, and that the Diocese of Boston had been forced to shut down and sell 60 parish churches to pay for their sexual abuse settlements.
Has it occurred to anyone that Metropolitan Herman may be trying to hide the transfer of these several millions of dollars to pay for quiet settlements to victims of sexual abuse perpetrated by members of the OCA (bishops, priests, deacons, monks, or layworkers)? I could imagine that he might justify this misappropriation of funds as a good deed, done to help those who have been injured by members of the church and also as a way of protecting the church from scandal. Those who have received these payments may be unwilling to divulge these transactions, which would also explain why there has been no news about FBI investigations into the missing funds. If this is indeed the reason that 4-7 million dollars has just vanished, I can imagine that Metropolitan Herman would do all in his power to obfuscate and shift the focus of the investigation away from this line of inquiry in order to "protect" the church and the victims. The sorrow in this (if this is the correct explanation of the missing funds, and is an explanation for the frenetic beaucratic shifting of chairs on the deck of the Titanic), the sorrow is that even more victims have been produced and an even greater scandal has been brought upon the Church. Sexual predation is a great sin, but so is lying and misappropriation of funds.
(Editor's note: While the claim that millions went to settlements for sexual abuse is interesting speculation, is it no more than that. Neither the Metropolitan, nor any member of the Synod of Bishops of the OCA has indicated in private or public that such was the case. It is unlikely the author, who has claimed in earlier postings to be a priest of the Antiochian Archdiocese has any better knowledge. In public remarks on the case made in Cleveland last month, Archbishop Job did state that not just tens of thousands, but much much more had been spent on personal items. No cars were mentioned. The Church court will make its findings to the Metropolitan this week; and a decision will made at the Synod of Bishops meeting in two weeks, after which we can only hope the Report will be released, and speculation will end. Sadly, despite the good father's hope that there was some "good" reason behind this debacle, the facts suggest we would do better to learn to "stretch our imaginations", and weep. )
#44 Anonymous on 2007-07-18 13:58
Remember, if Herman is paying off "black mail" he would be lieing to to the members of the OCA.
Also, Herman does not hold the keys to HEAVEN. We are all taught, do not be afraid GOD WILL TAKE CARE US.
HERMAN HAS TO GO!
CUT OFF HIS MONEY! HE WILL WITHER UP LIKE A BLADE OF GRASS WITHOUT WATER IN A DROUGHT!!!
SIGN YOUR NAMES, HERMAN FEELS LIKE HE HAS US CORNERED!!!
St. James--Brother of the Lord
Kansas City, MO
I'm afraid you miss a vital point: monastics are not hidden away from the world's insanity because monastics do not and cannot "escape the world"....nor are they supposed to !!!
We take the world with us into monastic life, and that in two ways. Firstly, we take with us that part of the world that has made its home in each of us; and that is our spiritual battlefield. What we escape in this regard is the distractions the world provides to lure us away from that battle. The silence in which we are at least supposed to spend most of our time provides no hiding place and no diversion from "the world, the flesh, and the devil" that have become all too comfortable in each of us, fallen creatures that we are. Till our dying moment we remain only too familiar with the world's insanity, because it is a perennial and perpetual crop of dandelions on the lawn of our soul.
Secondly, we take the world and its insanity with us because we embrace the ministry of praying for a world that does not pray for itself and for people who do not pray for themselves. We are called to move away from the embrace of a specific family so that we can become open to and embrace in our hearts the entire human family as the object of our loving and prayerful concern.
Please consider these words of the late Mother Mary Francis, C.P.P., former abbess of the Poor Clare monastery in New Mexico. And yes, I know she wasn't Orthodox; but her grasp of the monastic vocation is surpassed by very few.
"Most persons in the world," she writes in A Right to Be Merry (1956), "are willing to applaud those who serve God in His members. One wonders why they are so perplexed, even outraged, at those who choose to serve God in Himself (p.59)...It is only in leaving the world that we are sufficiently purified to take the whole world into our hearts. The unique vocation of the cloistered contemplative is to be entirely dedicated to the service of mankind because she is utterly given to God (p.60)...When Martha served, our dear Lord found no fault with her. She was rendering Him a very perfect service in the vocation to which she was called. It was only when she turned an accusing eye on Mary that our Lord rebuked her (p.138)...Who knows how many chasms of sin are leaped, how many hatreds wilt, how much anguish is softened and consecrated in the world because some have stepped out of the world to begin the work of eternity beforehand (p.153)..." Now there's a monastic spirit!!!
It appears that you have had little or no personal contact with Orthodox monasticism at all. Depending on where you live, it might be worth your while to spend a few days at oen of our (or another jurisdiction's) women's monasteries. I think you'd be rather deligthfully surprised.
#46 Igumen Philip (Speranza) on 2007-07-18 17:44
This is not meant for posting, but is an observation and criticism for the editor, Mark:
In other "anonymous" postings, you have not seen fit to insert an editoral comment with information that would identify the poster as being "a member of the OCA" or "a purported priest of the XYZ", etc. If you disagreed with my comments, or found them to be offensive or overly-provocative, you certainly had the right to simply not post them.
My question to you, as editor, is why you felt it was necessary to insert in your editoral comment: "It is unlikely the author, who has claimed in earlier postings to be a priest of the Antiochian Archdiocese has any better knowledge." Whether I may or may not have "better knowledge" is speculation on your part (and I may, indeed, have more knowledge than you suppose). My point here is that the insertion of this sentence goes beyond your normal editoral practice. I find it a strong breach of etiquette, if not a moral lapse on your part.
Since you have chosen to make an "exposure" of my anonymity, and used this a means of criticising my posting, then I would expect that in the future you will likewise insert an editorial comment that describes the background and situation of all the others who choose to post comments anonymously on this website.
If not, I suggest you remove the sentence, which I quoted above, from your editorial comments.
At the risk of compounding my breach of etiquette, or lapsing even more, I post your thoughtful critique as well with this brief explanation, with grateful thanks for both.
I must do it publicly because you have never provided an email address by which I could contact you and share my concerns privately. (This is my usual practice, when possible.) However, that not being the case, I decided to post your previous comment without editing, but with a comment at the end. My concern was that at this point in the process (after 55 people from the MC, Synod and Special Commission) have read the report detailing Fr. Kondratick's financial dealings, to suggest it was about sexual abuse payoffs is speculation, and should be clearly labeled as such. Otherwise, at this time, it borders, in my opinion, on disinformation.
In this case, I chose to post it as is my practice because I want people to hear all sorts of voices with as little editing as possible, even those I disagree with. Given the above, though, I thought that I needed to explain to readers that in my opinion, given who you have claimed to be in the past , it was unlikely you could have insider knowledge unknown even to anybody in the OCA beyond Metropolitan Herman. Perhaps you do. It still think it unlikely.... I would be happy to be proved wrong, if it brings us closer to the truth.
As for "outing" you by revealing you have posted before, you are not the first. I have done it twice before in similar circumstances. In no cases, though, have I revealed anybody's real name.
Let me conclude by saying: a) I apologize for any breach of comity, a breach which could be solved in the future for all readers and commentators if they fill in a email address when they post. Gmail and hotmail provide free anonymous email service; b) I sincerely appreciate all of your well-written, thoughtful comments and hope you will continue to share them with us, even though I may disagree with portions of them and c) I ask for your forgiveness. This is not my day job, and I am learning as I go. Such critiques as yours, meant sincerely and constructively, rather than the usual dreary hate mail, are really helpful. I hope you will understand this second lapse is the only way I could reach you, and all our readers, so as to make our common dialogue more fruitful.
All the best,
#47 Anonymous on 2007-07-18 19:01
It has been very telling that the people who are closest to our most blessed metropolitan, the people of the DC area, which is his official see, are the ones with the most entries on savetheoca.org. Some of us have taken to think that when he held that Q&A session that the results were so bad that they couldn't get to savetheoca.org fast enough. I wish he had more of those because apparently when you look into his eyes when he lies it's convicting.
In an area that is well known for its gridlock, the people of DC/VA/MD, are providing leadership by their entries on savetheoca.org.
#48 Anonymous on 2007-07-18 19:32
The poor man if he thinks he has us cornered. What more do we need to hear to conclusively say that he fears no God? The surprise is on him, because he will be in a corner, without Sarah Gold and her people when he faces God in his judgment. Woe be to the person who thought he could control everything that he felt mattered. He may gain the world, but he's lost his soul.
What doesn't he understand concerning God?
Can't wait for the mugshot!
#49 Anonymous on 2007-07-18 19:38
Not fer nuthin' everyone, but this whole distraction re anonymity is a real and completely unnecessary detour from the destination we all (hopefully) want to reach. The devil is the divider; by divisiveness he attempts to conquer, sowing dissention and illusion among those who would otherwise spend their time and focus and energy seeking and defending the Truth.
The problem in the OCA is NOT people who (for probably so many more reasons other than what some have presumed to be fear) want to post on a blog anonymously. And fear is NOT the only reason some person may post without using her or his name. And if someone is in fact so fearful, let them simply be, for cryin' out loud. Someone's said on this site "don't be afraid, the Lord will take care." Well, fine, but no one's supposed to seek out persecution, either, and there are doubtless priests posting who are in Herman's sphere of control. Another might merely be shy, not desirous of attention; another might also not want anything she or he says to be imputed to family members, or to her or his parish priest if he's under Herman's thumb; another may not want to risk receiving emails from random strangers in response to a posting; another may be humble; etc.
But, even this very posting of mine is now a distraction (I'm guilty of participating)! Folks, get off the who anonymity thing. Its NOT the issue. Sheesh! This is like watching a political campaign and you just know that one side is "this close" [I'm holding my thumb and forefinger close together] to disintegrating over some random, totally bogus non-issue that has no more than emotional value to it. Lets get past this, y'all.
The content of the words offered is important; holding back funds to Sysosett is important; prayer is important; respecting another's weakness (fear) or other motive for anonymity is important; voting on your parish and diocesan coucnils is important.
This red herring, though, is not important.
#50 Anonymous on 2007-07-18 20:16
The use of a pseudonym is quite different from posting anonymously. Among the reasons for posting anonymously: (a) a fear of identification, (b) a lack of expertise in using the web site software, or (c) an unwillingness to follow the web site etiquette. Posting anonymously due to the fear of identification says a great deal about the atmosphere surrounding discussion of the various aspects of the scandal, none of it appropriate to Orthodoxy.
The use of a pseudonym, given the type of subject and its seriousness, shows that the author is either afraid of identification or has an adolescent understanding of what he/she is doing. Yes, pseudonyms have been and continue to be used by authors of various forms of fiction, for a variety of reasons, and the use is considered acceptable. And yes, pseudonyms were used in Eighteenth and early Nineteenth Century American political controversies to allow the arguments to be heard on their merits without the reputation of the author prejudicing the discussion. The use of pseudonyms is no longer considered good style in any serious discussions. (This is why much discussion on the Internet is dismissed as frivolous, whether the subject is or not.)
As a matter of courtesy, I think the use of anonymous postings should be kept to a minimum, but each person posting has to make that decision. As for the use of pseudonyms, I think the person posting should post anonymously if there is a fear of identification; otherwise, the person should "sign" the posting.
Mark C. Phinney
St. Mark Orthodox Church
#51 Mark C. Phinney on 2007-07-19 03:54
OOPS!!! It should be "Mother Mary Francis, P.C.C." C.P.P. is the acronym for "Canada Pension Plan," our equivalent to Social Security. Hmmm. An interesting freudian slip, yes? Sorry!
#52 Igumen Philip (Speranza) on 2007-07-19 04:40
Let those who wish to post anonymously, do so, but please, no more clarion calls to storm the Bastille from them Ė itís all too hollow.
As for the devil, who comes in many guises, he too posts anonymously.
#53 Terry C. Peet on 2007-07-19 06:14
Thanks for your reply. I am not against the spirit of prayer for all humanity.
I just see a dualism at work in the concept of monastic vs. non-monastic, for example in the quote you gave of of the Poor Clare nun that God is somehow approached and served in His two parts: His members and Himself (whatever that means)
So we're in the world, but not of the world means something different for monastics than for other believers (??)with in the world being primarily a physical reality for the non-monastic, while it is only a spiritual reality for the monastic??? Again I see a daulism at work.
I did spend a week at St. John the Baptist monastery in Essex, England. It was a good experience of hospitalityand rest; but I constantly felt the artificial wall of division between the monastics and myself created by their dress and their way of life. I don't have answers, but I do believe that living spiritually is a moment to moment decision and can only be done the hard way as Christ Himself showed us by becoming a truly human being, by His identifying with us fully (without sin) and by kenosis. He did this not only by prayer and fasting, but by living among the people, dressing like them, suffering with them the *slings and arrows of outrageous fortune*, enduring the cross for the joy set before Him. It was the greatest of all podvigs for Him who is Very God of Very God to do these things. Such we should emulate in a unified, undivided way as the Body of Christ. The greatly spiritual monastics and the less-spiritual rest of us is not reality, at least as I see it; and dress and monastic rule can never make it so.
The idea of taking the the whole world into one's heart in prayer is the goal for all of us that we show that we are all in God Himself. Archimandrite Sophrony has suggested all can aspire to such a spirituality, calling it the prayer of Gethsemane. It is all about God at work in the human heart.
#54 Karen Jermyn on 2007-07-19 07:03
What is more important? The message or the messenger??????
#55 Huh? on 2007-07-19 09:29
I post anonymously here but I did sign my name on savetheoca site. I'm not as eloquent as most posters here but I feel I have a right to be a part of the discussion. Althought all my friends know how I feel, I wouldn't want my friends to know how hard it is to put my feelings in printed words.
#56 Anon on 2007-07-19 09:39
A favorite priest of mine once said, "The devils sleep outside the bars. They are very busy in the church." So be alert of his influence everywhere in the church and concerning the church.
#57 Listens to Sermons on 2007-07-19 14:22
The dualism you think you see in the existence of monasticism simply doesn't exist in monasticism itself. "Spiritual" versus "less spiritual" is a judgment no sane monastic would dare to make. If such nonsense exists in the mind and heart of a monastic, that poor soul is suffering prelest' (delusion) and needs to be shaken from it good and hard. The Desert Fathers address that spiritual illness very specifically, with stories of how certain monks who though themselves oh-so-holy had that delusion ripped from them by angels showing them local villagers far holier than they. And a monk thinking that monasticism is a better way FOR HIM than life outside the monastery is no different from the guy who's still in love with the woman he married 30 years ago and wouldn't trade her for anything or anybody on the planet. It's called loving one's vocation and appreciating it as a gift of God.
Your apparent insistence that we are all called to the same way of living out our relationship with Christ and the Body of Christ is, alas, contrary to the Scriptures. Note, for example, that in Matthew 19:11-12, the Lord Himself says that celibacy for the sake of the Kingdom is for "only those to whom it has been given" and that "he who is able to accept it, let him accept it." Note also that while "holding all things in common" (Acts 2:44) was the practice of the most of the early Church, it was not mandatory, because Ananias and Saphhira still had control over their property if they wanted it (Acts 5:4); and it certainly did not remain parish practice (cf. your own chequebook), but does remain as a fundamental part of coenobitic monasticism. Take another look at 1 Cor.12:1-30, about "diversities of gifts....diversities of ministries...diversities of activities..."
As for the monastic habit, my rabid curiousity wonders if you have the same objection to wedding rings. Those bits of metal also set certain people apart from the rest of the crowd and are visible proclamations of their specific vocation, right? Further, I must suggest that your issue with the habit fails to factor in the way the physical is meant by God's designing to work with and to reinforce the spiritual. That's why the Lord gave us a sacramental life: the Spirit acting in and through the matter which is so essential to our human nature. (And given that right now it's 90 Fahrenheit and humid, I'm certainly not defending the habit because it's comfortable!)
As for serving God in His members and in Himself, the Divine Liturgy contains both elements. Worshipping God is serving God in Himself; reading the Scriptures to the assembly, preaching, administering Holy Communion, etc. are serving God in His members. A monastic getting up while the world is still asleep to praise God and pray for that world is serving God in Himself; the nurse caring for a feverish patient at 3:00am is serving God in His members. Obviously, there's some cross-over; but the point is that both are necessary and both are valid. Remember about Martha and Mary; both served the Lord, but in rather different ways, according to their respective calls, talents, and gifts. Take another gander at Mother Mary Francis's comment on that Scripture; she's got it nailed.
I would ask you also to consider the fact that even before Anthony and Paul out in the Egyptian desert, forms of monastic life existed in the Church and continue to this very hour; God continues to sow new monastic vocations in human hearts; God's Church continues to bless monastic life; and members of the Church continue to find pilgrimages to monasteries and interaction with monastics sources of spiritual nurture. That monasticism may not be your calling from God doesn't invalidate it.
#58 Igumen Philip (Speranza) on 2007-07-19 14:40
....A sad state of affairs, indeed.
#59 David Paynter on 2007-07-19 17:45
You are probably the same person that would say Michael Andreas would have never gone so far as to fix grain prices in foreign markets. A crime he was convicted for... What rubbery fool decided to prosecute that?
You are probably same person that would probably say Fr. Kondratick never took 137k from the church without privilege to do so. I mean, really, what wild speculation that a priest would reimburse loosely! For what reason?
You are probably the same person that would not question where 4.5M went. The absurdity of it! Surely the money was used for building a conference center and plaque purchase (minus the conference center).
The same person that would say our OCA would never improperly use 9/11 earmarked monies for, ahemmm!@#$, 5 years. Most rubbery thoughts for sure.
...and turn around and call me rubbery for obviously wild speculation printed only to give the management of the church (the Synod) compelling reasons to fully explain if this was just bad financial management, poor investment practices, wild spending, or potentially other illegal activities.....
And then there are those of you that would condemn Metropolitan Herman for overspending on attorneys, when his own brother Bishop in the South is now working to forgive Fr. Kondratick ahead of his possible conviction. And there were those that were upset with the "fashion" in which the termination was done. Rubbery indeed. It becomes quite clearer everyday that Metropolitan Herman had little choice but to hire PR and to do it on his own and to term Fr. Kondratick on his own. A first non-rubbery step in maybe 12 years.
The truth will set us all free from namecalling and conjecture and wild speculation. For now I will forgive you for calling me rubbery, hopefully you will recognize I'm not the rubbery one for questioning what happened to 4.5m bucks and start asking yourself.
#60 Daniel E. Fall on 2007-07-19 22:51
Monasticism in the world was the hallmark of early Christianity. Then monastics were simply called believers; today we call them *white monastics*, those who walk the narrow path of the Gospel *in the world*. The world that early Christianity encountered was pagan and today there is a great return to paganism. A return to early Christian principles may disturb our traditions (with small t) but that may be just what we (and the world too, need. Only God knows this and His will must be done. St Ephrem of Syria himself said *Monasticism is not the habit, not even the fact of being tonsured, it is a yearning for divine and heavenly things*. This yearning is in all of our hearts and that's why all religions have had a form of monasticism for those who wanted to actively seek to fulfill that desire, but we know that gnosticism and dualism grew in those pagan practices. In early Christianity for the first time, it was seen that all could seek this heavenly gift that was available freely to all. The source of the early Church's successful witness and evangelization was precisely the fact of God's free gift of eternal life for all in Christ Jesus, an eternal life lived out moment to moment seeking the heavenly Kingdom, i.e. the Holy Spirit which St. Seraphim of Sarov was the goal of the Christian life. This monastic yearning for the heavenly, which was common from the beginning to all men, was now possible to all men through the gift of the Holy Spirit. What a witness to the pagan world, blindly and futilely seeking to know and experience in their gnostic rituals.
Vocation and celibacy are indeed gifts, but they are not the Giver. Where does the love for vocation end and the love for Giver take its rightful place?
Today we have clerics who are so enamored of their gifts, that they have almost forgotten the Giver!
They defend their right to their gift, to their vocation, their position, forgetting that they did nothing to deserve the gift in the first place.
What will God do in such a case? Perhaps He will shake them up, just as He is doing. He takes away and gives, but always His gifts are good, always meant to draw us to Him. Who can fathom the depths of spiritual giftings for they are of the Holy Spirit, the wind that blows where it will?
In the liturgy, I pray with my mouth and with my heart for all monastics, everywhere.
#61 Karen Jermyn on 2007-07-20 06:20
Dear Reader Mark:
I think that Patty Schellback oin Comment 20 above, answers your issues about posting annonymously. There are ramifications which may be applied to others, whether they agree with your posts or not. In a hierarchical structure, questioning the Authorities can have serious adverse consequences for many people, even those who disagree with the poster - the Authorities might seek to take out "revenge" on their colleagues, co-parishoners, priests, etc, in an effort to isolate and place a form of "blame" on the person posting. I for one do post using a pseudonym, because I don't know if my parish priest would agree with my comments regarding the OCA leadership - but he's under their control, and could be targeted for retribution on my account, even though I suspect he does not agree with me, especially in my more distraught moments! Why should he, and my parish, take the heat for my opinions?
#62 C.C. on 2007-07-20 08:36
Usually, I find myself in complete agreement with what you have to say--but not this time.
Are we really at the point where guilt by association is the modus operandi of the OCA hierarchy? If so, then we all must be willing to face martyrdom in the face of such dissolute and repugnant evil. I have given a pass in the past to those in immediate jeopardy, such as clerics under authority. But at some point we must stand forth for the truth, and to Hades with the consequences. Is that not Our Tradition?
Remember Mark Harrison and Eric Wheeler!
#63 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2007-07-20 13:21
Your confusion between The Way and monasticism as one method of living The Way is painfully evident. Is every believer called to leave all (father, mother, brothers sisters, wife, children, houses, lands, etc.) to follow Him (Mark 10:28ff)? Is every believer to sell all his possessions and give to the poor (Matt.19:21)? Is every believer to renounce marriage for the sake of the Kingdom (Matt.19:12)? Yet from the beginning and down to the present moment, some were and are called to do exactly that (cf. Andre Louf, The Cistercian Way, Cistercian Publications:1983, pp.25-26), to follow Christ in exactly that way. That the Lord chooses some to follow Him in that way
a. is His business and His sovereign choice;
b. does not make them better or holier or more spiritual in se; it just means He's given them a job, a function, a calling, that differs from yours.
And whatever in the world makes you think that monastics (or clergy, for that matter) love the gift more than or other than the Giver? And whatever in the world makes you think that I or anyone else is so deluded as to believe I deserve even my next breath, much less a priestly or monastic vocation or any other gift of God? Everything is a gift of grace! Take a gander at John 7:24 before making such sweeping generalisations, OK? Besides, love for one's vocation does not preclude love for God but is a subset of it; it's an expression of love for God in His wisdom and providence, by which He has led me to the place He knows to be right (hardly comfortable, but right) for me. Does loving the spouse God has given rob God of any of the glory and/or love due to Him? If so, why does the Word of God command spouses to love each other (cf. Eph.5:21ff)?
And of course it's not the habit or the tonsure which makes the monk interiorly; but you'll note that St. Ephrem doesn't dismiss monasticism itself, does he?
Look: if this is about somebody telling you that being non-monastic is somehow second-best, then call 'em, write 'em, email 'em or carrier-pigeon 'em and tell 'em they're being very silly and need to stop it at once. They're just plain wrong. In 1 Cor.7:7 the Apostle says plainly that "each one has his own gift from God, one in this manner and another in that." Period. If they don't like it, tell 'em to take it up with Paul and/or his Lord.
If, on the other hand, you are saying to monasticism and monastics in general, not just "I" but "we the Church" "have no need of you" (cf. 1 Cor.12:21), well....the Apostle corrects that error too, does he not?
As for the rest of it, I am content simply to accept and teach what the Church accepts and teaches...largely because I've discovered that when I try to be wiser (or smarter or holier) than the collective wisdom of the Church, I'm headed over a cliff at warp speed.
#64 Igumen Philip (Speranza) on 2007-07-20 15:40
To their credit, the many people who were part of the organization I mentioned in my reflection supported each other during the hard days when everyone who left was looking for three hots and a cot. I remember a friend who brought a bed and mattress for my daughter, another who wrote a check for the rent when an employer failed to pay for a months' work. Many others formed businesses working together to make a living. Why would Orthodox people be capable of less? It may be the time for people to begin to think about how to support their priests who are truly under the gun. Or are we talking about the Gospel of Christ? It is not the anonymity per se, it is the epidemic fear which is the problem. If we are captive to fear what is our mission in the USA? Alice
#65 Alice Carter on 2007-07-20 17:27
I don't disagree with your general sentiment, but each person's circumstance is unique. If I choose, in good faith, to remain anonymous, and you choose, in good faith, to discount it. So be it. This is an open dialogue, as it should be.
#66 Anon. on 2007-07-20 19:53
Thanks Fr. Philip for all your replies. I will certainly think more about all of this. I hope my candor and thoughts have not taken too much of your time. Thanks to Mark for allowing this discussion: somehow it might be relevant to straining gnats and swallowing camels?
#67 Karen Jermyn on 2007-07-21 08:48
It may be mere "speculation" to imagine that some of the purloined funds went to pay off sexual blackmail. But it's entirely reasonable speculation.
In this day and age, sex abuse is literally everywhere. No communion is free from it. That includes the OCA.
If some of the stolen money was hush money, then it would make perfect sense that we haven't heard any of the details yet. The whole purpose of coverups is to cover up. Sometimes such coverups succeed in covering up, for months. years, decades. Then, finally, when it all comes out, it comes as a shock to the faithful, who had no clue all along.
In our area, just the other day, a highly respected retired Baptist minister (and former state senator and gubernatorial candidate) was caught with a prostitute and charged with soliciting prostitution. This fellow was 74 years old! He had been a staunch arch-conservative and a vocal opponent of gambling and alcohol. The revelation of his fall has thoroughly shocked the locals. No one had any idea of his double life.
You just never know. You really don't. Sexual sin seems to be so rampant these days, almost as if it's the defining sin of our age.
#68 anonymous also on 2007-07-22 21:54
As I read the numerous comments in this website, I cringe at the lack of restraint and outright attacks on my church.
First of all, Metropolitan Herman (MH) has not been found guilty of anything in any ecclesiastical or civil court! Yet the calls for his head are incessant. This is tantamount to vigalane justice.
For one reason or another Metropolitan Thedosious (MT), under which the current scandal started, is sparred comment. Unless we hear from MT, we will never know the origin or the extent of the financial irregularities.
From the reading of many of the comments, it seems to me that each one adds layer and layer of emotion and predjudice to another. This is tantamount to bloodthirsty mob rage.
Something seems to be missing from the discussions - The OCA is a Heirarchical Church! It is not a democracy where the layety is supreme and can vote its' priests and bishops out to thier liking. As a Heirarchical Church, its ruling body is the Synod of Bishops. If any among us does not trust the collective wisdom of the Synod of Bishops, then the honerable thing to do to leave the OCA and go to a jurisdiction more to their liking. I for one will accept and support any decision that they may make.
I fully realize that my sentiments are contrary to the prevailing comments on oacnews.org, but I felt that a different voice was necessary in OCA's time of crisis.
#69 Nickilas Antich on 2007-07-23 10:43
You are correct - we are not congregational, but hierarchical. Don't forget conciliar! The faithful locked their bishops out of their sees upon returning from a "Council" where they agreed to submission to the Pope.
+MH is facing serious concerns because of how this scandal is manifesting itself, as well as his involvement as a former treasurer of the OCA.
+MH has also stonewalled the Holy Synod in its attempt to investigate. Remember, two bishops are on the Special Commission (+JOB and +BENJAMIN). Remember, the OCA released a statement on 4/11/07 stating: "The members of the Holy Synod asked the special commission to continue its work until it is brought to a conclusion."
Ultimately you are correct - we cannot remove a metropolitan. However, that doesn't stop us from stating our opinions that he should (or should not) be removed.
Sdn. John Martin
Martin D. Watt, CPA (Inactive)
#70 Marty Watt on 2007-07-23 13:13
I think this website is the work of the devil! thank you Mark! you sank to a new low! GOSSIP MAN was right again!
#71 Anonymous on 2007-07-23 13:28
The church of Christ is pure, but within are men who are directed by the devil. The devil and his angels have been working on these men for many years. It is only now, with this website and other men, that the devils' work is brought into the light. Remember, Jesus asked,"..(Matt 5:15-16) Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a bushel, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven." I for one am happy to see this come to light. God bless you Mark and those of you who want to see this come to a just end when all Orthodox Christians will be able to emulate their honest and God-fearing and God-loving clergy in all positions in the church knowing they have the right men in positions of respect that are not in the payroll of the devil and his angels.
#72 A Fan of Mark on 2007-07-23 14:56
How very true Nickilas. The Metropolitan has not been found guilty of any financial malfeasance.
#73 Michael Geeza on 2007-07-29 16:51
Michael, everyone is entitled to the presumption of inocence until proven otherwise. However given that the Metropolitan has clearly attempted to thwart any investigation that would be broad enough to include an examination of his own actions, the suspicions expressed by many on this website are not unwarranted.
#74 Marc Trolinger on 2007-08-01 08:51
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