Friday, August 10. 2007
So the simple question remains, after two years: Are the Allegations True or False? Just different allegations this time. What of the other decisions? Your comments welcome....
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I truly believe the MH and his team (bishops) believe the laity to have the IQ of a five-year old. How can MH appoint Nikolai to investigate allegations against himself? Folks, there's a matter of incompetancy in Syosset which should be addressed.
#1 Anon on 2007-08-10 11:45
#2 Anon. on 2007-08-10 12:40
Looks like nothing happens with the Special Investigation Commission until the Metropolitan Council meets in October. Given the current state of affairs, meeting every 3 months is not enough. How can an emergency session of the Council be organized?
#3 Ken Kozak on 2007-08-10 13:05
I really think that, if they were able to hide behind iffy accounting to evade the law in original debacle, there will be no such protection guaranteed this time. The civil and church laws regarding the topics of mental, physical, and sexual abuse are *crystal clear*. If they are going to allow an alleged abuser to conduct an 'investigation' into abuse, that's not just stupid... it's illegal.
While the FBI or Attorney General might have stayed out of the OCA's affairs in the past, I am confident that, after being properly alerted, the appropriate civil authorities will become involved in this new situation, to rectify the mess. The questions that remain are: who will notify them, and how? Do we know of anyone with enough experience and knowledge of the situation in Alaska that can be the one(s) to alert the authorities?
(It is ironic, and somewhat troubling, that we must rely on civil authorities to come keep our church in line...)
#4 Rdr. Nilus on 2007-08-10 13:48
Recently, a number of posters have noted rhetorically or otherwise something to the effect that "the original purpose of this site was to investigate the financial scandal," in each case (that I read) in the context of taking the position that other scandals, of various natures, were not properly the subject of THIS site.
Well, so what, y'all? Should there be a separate investigative website for each scandal? That'd be more sites that we'd all care to admit, no doubt. Look, its Mark's website and, in his quest to "destroy the Church" (that should be read with the greatest of sardonic emphases) by exposing the otherwise unaddressed evils within it to light, if he wants to economically use one site for all such corruption, what's the big deal?
In any event, that there would be indignation at exposing what MUST be exposed is mind boggling. Purgation, like surgery, has temporary unpleasantries, but what other course when death is at stake?
Keep on keepin on, Se~nor Stokoe.
#5 Anonymous on 2007-08-10 14:42
"7. BEST PRACTICES POLICY. After a final review and discussion, the hierarchs endorsed the document "Best Practices, Principles, and Policies for Financial Accountability." Each hierarch signed the three documents annually required -- the "Annual Ethics Statement," the "Annual Conflict of Interest Statement," and the "Annual Whistleblowers Statement."
Welcome news indeed. I retract my previous comment on the subject.
#6 Michael Strelka on 2007-08-10 15:02
According to the report at www.oca.org, 'Each hierarch signed the three documents annually required -- the "Annual Ethics Statement," the "Annual Conflict of Interest Statement," and the "Annual Whistleblowers Statement."'
According to the Whistleblower's Statement on page 17 of this document: http://www.oca.org/PDF/finances/Best_Practices_Policy_v1.01.pdf (thanks, Michael, for the link), "No member of Governance Body who reports a violation of the Ethics Policy shall suffer harassment, retaliation or adverse employment consequences. A person who retaliates against someone who has reported a violation is subject to discipline up to and including termination of employment."
I'm having trouble reconciling this with the termination of Mr. Sidebottom. He certainly suffered adverse emloyment consequences. So who is being disciplined? And when will Mr. Sidebottom be offered his job back?
#7 Josephine on 2007-08-10 15:16
Was it reported that the hierarchs went outside with side-splitting laughter at the apparent sidetrack of the sidebottom side-show.......Besides, the the inside word is that parking ocanews at a siding led to their splitting their sides with glee, as the underside of orthodox life came into view......
#8 Siding with Mark on 2007-08-10 17:01
There have recently been comments made on this site by people who felt that the reporting and analysis of this site have been less than fair, less than wholly truthful, and not always quite accurate. This is certainly true of at least a few distortions in the analysis of the Synod meeting...(I feel a vested interest in this, seeing as how I know all parties involved and consider one-Mr. Sidebottom-a personal friend)
The posting states--"The report of the recent Synod of Bishop's meeting published today by the OCA reveals that Paul Sidebottom's letter was dismissed as 'rumour' by Bishop Nikolai...The Synod report confirms no investigation was begun, however, suggesting instead that the matter would be further 'explored' by Bishop Nikolai himself."
The report does not say that the letter was dismissed as rumor, and neither does it say that Bp. Nikolai will be in charge of further investigations. Rather, the report states. "The hierarchs discussed among themselves various rumors circulating with regard to the Diocese of Alaska. His Grace, Bishop Nikolai of Sitka, Anchorage, and Alaska addressed the matter, pointing out certain inaccuracies in some of the rumors, which will be further explored." This simply says that some rumors were discussed (not specifically mentioning the letter, but it certainly seems likely it was discussed), Bp. Nikolai disputed them (which is to be expected regardless of the veracity of the claims), and that further investigation will be conducted.
We may not like what is going on, but if one is to comment, then the commentary must be forthright and entirely accurate, with no slant either right nor left. Don't interpret the posting to say what you want it to say--we must recieve it as written, and then analyze what was said. For one, I was quite happy with all the items discussed...and it certainly seems as if some movement toward resolution (i.e. full disclosure and then actually accepting and dealing with the consequences) is finally being made.
#9 Priest Matthew on 2007-08-10 17:45
Great news from the extraordinary session of the Synod. The repeal of the 1999 resolution which I consider long overdue happened at the end of the month.
This is really a positive move for our Synod and especially important for reestablishing the credibility of the Synod and administration.
Lord have mercy. Great job bringing this request forward Abp. Job. Thank you.
#10 Daniel E. Fall on 2007-08-10 20:23
This synod just does not understand how to provide moral leadership. Going through pietistic motions does not equal moral leadership gentlemen. Pretending to lead and leading are two different things. If you don't know what this means, then please resign.
#11 Anon. on 2007-08-10 21:37
I do not understand how Bishop Nikolai or the Holy Synod can characterize Mr. Sidebottom's report as "rumor". An eyewitness account is not rumor. When you testify about things you have seen and heard with your own eyes and ears, the testimony is not rumor.
The real scandal here is not what happened in Alaska. The real scandal is the Holy Synod's failure to respond.
It grieves everyone to read the sordid details of the incident, but publishing the details has one important benefit: It exposes the truth of how the hierarchs respond (or fail to respond) to carefully detailed eyewitness allegations of misconduct.
The Church has a sexual misconduct policy that says:
"The Church laments the sin of sexual misconduct, and will not tolerate it by its clergy or any layperson. " Section 3.01
"The Church will take all allegations of sexual misconduct seriously, and will promptly respond to all allegations." Section 3.02
"The Church will strive to see that justice is done. The innocent must be protected while those responsible for sexual misconduct must be held accountable." Section 3.03
Do the Bishops take the Sexual Misconduct policy seriously?
Besides the Sexual Misconduct policy, the Church recently made a big deal of the Best Practices document for financial integrity -- and the key to that document is the promise of protecting whistleblowers.
Do the Bishops take the principle of protecting whistlebowers seriously?
How can anyone in the Church have any confidence in the integrity of the leadership if the Holy Synod idly stands by as Mr. Sidebottom is summarily dismissed? How can anyone have any confidence in the Sexual Misconduct policy if the Holy Synod characterizes a meticulously detailed eyewitness account as "rumor" and does nothing?
That is the real scandal.
#12 Robert Vasilios Wachter on 2007-08-10 22:29
I'm having trouble reconciling this with the termination of Mr. Sidebottom. He certainly suffered adverse employment consequences. So who is being disciplined? And when will Mr. Sidebottom be offered his job back?
Uh, when pigs fly? Our bishops have demonstrated time and time again that they don't think themselves to be subject to mundane things like statutes, or policies. It is very easy to "sign" a document and then simply go on with business as usual.
#13 Name withheld on 2007-08-11 08:15
Yes, the real scandal is the moral and ethical problems in the central administration of the OCA. Some posters to this site just don't get it, assuming the scandal is all about financial irregularities. It is not. They are but a symptom of the real scandal. And that is why Mark is right to post things that don't seem to have much to do with financial irregularities (although Bp. Nicholai is certainly a part of the financial issues).
#14 Name withheld on 2007-08-11 08:24
These Policies are not binding on any other diocese or institution. they are only good for what goes on in syosset. no universal oca application nor inference to such can be made.
#15 Anonymous on 2007-08-11 09:22
Thank you, Robert Wachter,
Once again you provide great clarity in what the Holy Synod should do.
Will they follow their own OCA sexual misconduct policy?
#16 Patty Schellbach on 2007-08-11 09:45
Josephine, my dear: check the sequence of events:
1. +Nicolai fires Sidebottom
2. Sidebottom blows whistle
3. +Nicolai signs Best Practices
Reverse the sequence and you would have a case.
#17 Michael Strelka on 2007-08-11 12:58
Michael: Your sequence of events is wrong. Fr. Isadore was drunk at the vigil on May 16th or so. Mr. Sidebottom telephoned the metropolitan on May 24th and followed up with a letter dated May 25. Mr. Sidebottom was fired in early July. So, maybe Josephine has a case after all.
#18 nicholas skovran on 2007-08-11 20:12
Thanks to Mr. Skovran for the important clarification on Paul Sidebottom being terminated AFTER his eye witness report/appeal to Met. Herman for intervention against stated hierarchical abuse, sexual misconduct and domestic violence. This is another great loss to St. Herman's Seminary in a pattern of departures of fine, talented staff and professors, one can say driven off by larger, more powerful hierarchical egos going back to the tragic days of division under Bishop Innocent and now this. Sidebottom is fiercely dedicated to the students and goals of SHS, meticulously followed the chain of appeal for intervention considering Bishop N is primary in his report, and deserves his job back under sane, tolerable circumstances. He is much loved by the students here in Kodiak and respected by Alaskan clergy. Now the first SHS seminarian and his wife have reluctantly and painfully chosen to leave this intolerable situation to pursue his education elsewhere, only because of the blatant unaddressed dysfunctions -- how many more will leave or not come. This is devastation. How long before the Synod does what they are empowered are mandated to do under their own rules.
#19 Anonymous on 2007-08-12 09:41
If a Bishop fires someone, how is it that same Bishop leads the investigation?
Come on... the Synod can't allow the claims of abuse to go unanswered or answered by the accused. There is a lot less "lean" in the reporting and a lot more absence of heart on the part of the Synod, at least by what was reported on the OCA website. The OCA/Synod's reporting makes it appear that Bishop Nikolai will handle everything which is preposterous based on Sidebottom's letter.
Our Synod needs to take a collective stand on this matter and it can't be led by Nikolai.
We can't allow people to be fired for honesty, which is the current appearance. Even worthless chatter now discrediting Sidebottom as incompetant or other things would be meaningless.
Prayers for all involved that it be more properly resolved.
#20 Daniel E. Fall on 2007-08-12 10:03
The Metropolitan unfortunately once again, turned the attention OFF himself and the state of the church. He is the most skilled person I have ever seen. HIS CORRUPTION DOES NOT END!
#21 Anonymous on 2007-08-13 07:17
It looks like NONE of Archbishop Job's requests were addressed.
THEY ALL STICK TOGETHER AND COVER EACH OTHER . . . . ISN'T THAT THE TRUTH.
HERMAN SEEMS TO ALWAYS GET HIS WAY!!!!!!!!!
THE POOR PEOPLE!
#22 Anonymous on 2007-08-13 07:56
At this pace the Orthodox Church of
America will go down in history as the most corrupt church in our country. How sad that we have chosen do nothing people to lead our beloved church. We only lend credence to ther faiths. How sad.
#23 Anonymous on 2007-08-13 09:04
Based on the latest information, you are partly right. #2 should be #1 and #1 should be #2, but #3 still stays #3. His Grace signed the BP after the whole sequence of events.
However, that does not remove the fact that the investigator is investigating the investigatee, etc etc etc.
#24 Michael Strelka on 2007-08-13 09:08
NOW YOU KNOW THE CHURCH PAID MORE THAN ONE HALF MILLION DOLLARS FOR AN INVESTIGATION FOR HERMAN TO INVESTIGATE HIMSELF AND HIS CRONIES. If this was not so tragic, it would be funny. Unfortunately the OCA saying APPLIES , "pay and obey"!
#25 Former OCA Member on 2007-08-13 11:33
I read the Holy Synod report of the last meeting (July 31- August 1, 2007) as published on the OCA web site. This is the meeting that everyone was hoping would result in some positive action by their bishops. Sad to say, it was a disappointment to many of us. The bishops said one thing but when they got together it was a different matter. Here is the current status as I see it:
- The investigation committee continues to be suspended indefinitely.
- Reports continue to be locked up.
- Metropolitan Herman still refuses to resign or retire.
- The bishops are concerned about the lack of mutual communication, fostered by +MH poor leadership.
- The gift of priesthood is taken away from an individual due to “spiritual” accusations that we cannot be told about. I recall one senior bishop calling this act “unthinkable”.
- “Rumors” concerning recent issues within the Diocese of Alaska continue without a clear answer.
- Each bishop signed the “best practice” documents which were already approved by the MC. Will they implement it?
It is ironic that our bishops are asking us to support them while they allow Metropolitan Herman to manipulate the Holy Synod and the MC to his end. They are offering us leadership in words, not in actions.
It is time to stop this nonsense. I call upon the members of the OCA, individuals as well parishes, to stop supporting the central administration until we have a new leader to restore our confidence and lift us out of our deepening crisis.
Holy Annunciation Church
#26 Michel Michail on 2007-08-13 12:22
I totally agree. What on earth do we get for our money.
More of the same. Obey and pay. I think all churches should take a vote to keep the current administration or not. Why should we put up with these people who cannot tell the truth?
It's like George Bush and the war, it's time to change course!
#27 Cathy Bergen on 2007-08-13 15:34
As I mentioned in a previous post, the Church is often likened to a hospital in which we receive treatment for our fallen sinful condition. We understand that the great Physician of our souls, Jesus Christ, has called bishops, priests, and deacons to be his special assistance to help administer the healing therapies (Mysteries) even though they too are patients in need of healing.
Clearly there is a continuing failure by the synod of bishops of the OCA to understand that they are still fallen sinful patients in need of repentence like the rest of us. If they don't carry out the responsibilities that came with their ordination to the episcopacy to ensure that they, as well as the priests and deacons who answer to them "First, do no harm," how can they truly be the Physicians assistants?
May the Lord deliver us from the harmful malpractice of those who serve themselves rather that the true Physician and His Church.
#28 Marc Trolinger on 2007-08-14 05:56
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