Monday, September 10. 2007
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Why wait till the ACC? Start organizing the agenda now and do not take no for an answer. This Metropolitan and his cronies are paper tigers. It almost seems that the Holy Spirit departed and turned out the lights... metaphorically speaking of course.
New revelations. No surprises. This whole crowd is abusively dysfunctional. A clean sweep is the only solution, including recalcitrant bishops. Those of us who worked to correct these endemic problems 10-20 years ago are finally seeing some justice served. I do hope that if the OCA survives this debacle, a concerted attempt will be made to reach out to the many victims of these crooks, thieves and liars. Probably most, like me, have moved on, but this healing is a prerequisite if anything is to be salvaged by new leadership that one can only hope will have a moral backbone.
#1 Anon. on 2007-09-10 07:22
If the Administration really belioeves that Kondratick is solely responsible, where is the civil lawsuit to recover the money?
It is time to serve a summons and start sending out subpoenas. Then we can finally get past the pedantic protests that the spiritual court did not follow appropriate procedures. Then the Church will finally get some real answers about who knew what and where the money went.
#2 Robert Vasilios Wachter, Esq. on 2007-09-10 07:46
I just hope EVERYONE is going to be held responsible for their actions and words.
It is high time that this issue is resolved. I personally feel that it can not only be one person, but hopefully we will become enlightened.
What kind of people are running this church????????????
It seems to me the same ones that have been around for the past twenty five years.
#3 Margo on 2007-09-10 08:46
If PR knew about this, then why didn't PR tell the MC ... why are certain MC members surprised by the news of the actual numbers? If PR represents the OCA as the OCA, then why is PR not communicating with the MC? Its the MC that has authority over legal and financial matters.
This makes no sense to me at all. First, PR is hired by the Met (who apparently doesn't have the authority to hire lawyers for the OCA in the first place) to investigate financial and legal misconduct. Then, the lawyers don't report to the MC even though its the MC that has the authority over legal and financial matters. And now we learn -- assuming these emails are accurate -- that PR didn't even let the MC know of what has to be one of the most important facts for the MC to know about.
Why are we (yes, we!) paying these lawyers anything? Aren't they subject to certain conduct requirements when they are working for an organization? This is nuts, people. Absolute madness. The lunatics are running the asylum. You couldn't make this stuff up! Someone's got to be writing a made-for-TV movie about this.
#4 Anonymous on 2007-09-10 09:51
I've never really felt that this crisis has the potential to destroy the OCA. But slowly and reluctantly, I've come to see that Mark's last paragraph is right and the potential is there.
This saddens me beyond measure.
As this mess stretches on and on, I find myself wondering what practical impact it really has on me if I become completely estranged from the OCA beyond my local parish. But the fact is, it does have an impact. I want to go to Ed Day and take my kids and feel that we're all part of something bigger than our individual parish. I want to go to lectures when I can at SVS and feel that there is a group of people really grappling with what it means to be Orthodox in today's world, and doing so with thoughtfulness, prayer, and sobriety. I want to go to Memorial Day and wander around the grounds at St. Tikhon's with my family and enjoy the peace and the fellowship. I want to send my kids to camp to meet their peers so they grow up with a sense of community.
Without these things, my life is impoverished.
But worse than losing these things would be to be reconciled to keeping them at the cost of not getting to the source of our problems. To keep the form for the sake of the form -- that would be spiritual death.
To allow everything that is good and visionary in the OCA to be destroyed to avoid the humiliation of a few key egos -- this is madness.
#5 Rebecca Matovic on 2007-09-10 13:36
It is my understanding that the MC is the only body that can take action, pursue this matter in a civil court and sue for recovery of money.
Maybe the layity needs to start getting on their case and ask what exactly are they going to do about this?
Why don't we give them until their very next meeting to make up their minds and see what their intentions are?
#6 Michael Geeza on 2007-09-10 15:43
Excuse me, I think the subpeona needs to go out to see the evidence. REMEMBER, everyone received an oral report - NOONE has seen the evidence. Now isn't that special!
#7 Suzanne Wilson on 2007-09-10 16:55
Yes, I have been thinking that this would be a good comedy. Peculiar language, unique settings --imagine the Andreas Center sign switch as corporate types from ADM arrive for a surprise visit?! Picture Jackie Gleason in a cassock, up on a tilting ladder.
Or, it could be written in that quasi-serious style that British TV does so well. Bumbling priests, maintaining a 'holier than thou'
outwards appearance to a visiting Babushka in need of money for her dog's Vet bill -- just as another priest lets a suitcase full of money tumble open down a flight of stairs - falling like confetti all around them. Maybe the "Borat" guy would do a cameo role as he's shaken down on hidden videotape. "I am more looking for my favorite President, you know, Ben Franklin..."
The old movie 'The Russians are Coming" had a colorful cast -- Theodore Bikel would make a great Bishop (so he's Jewish? Bishop-schmissop). Likewise Alan Arkin as the conniving Chancellor, would be just as hilarious as the day-to-day on this site. Finally there always has been a tone to Monk James that makes me think of Woody Allen.
#8 J.Murray on 2007-09-10 17:05
Rebecca, you said it right, "To allow everything that is good and visionary in the OCA to be destroyed to avoid the humiliation of a few key egos -- this is madness."
Perhaps Dr. Faith Skordinski may be of more help than she may realize; perhaps she may have been more help now into moving us to the full truth.
Is there not a way for Faith to now just GALVINIZE the MC to get this special investigation report done, "unhindered," and "unobstructed"? Dr. Skordinsky and others are sitting on A LOT of information that is becoming just too "top secret" that is just continually harming our trust and the sound foundations of our church. Short of court orders to keep it quiet, we have a right to know what happened to our hard earned contributions over the years.
There will be NO EASY way to tell us faithful! Will there be? Just let it all hang out because it seems to be coming out anyway. Just tell us so we can GET PAST THE NIGHTMARE and MOVE TO a hopeful, stable, spiritual and financial reality.
#9 Patty Schellbach on 2007-09-10 17:35
While even a cursory reading of the Statute tells us the MC is the only body that has the authority to hire PR, that is definitely not what happened.
Met. H. hired them to build a wall around himself (and seemingly around Met. Th, as well), and to pin everything on one man. And that is precisely what they did. And their report, as ordered by Met. H. is the sole source of the Special Commission report, because Met. H. would not allow them to go beyond the PR report.
The MC has only been spoon-fed what Met. H. has wanted them to know.
The whole thing stinks to high heavens.
#10 Name withheld on 2007-09-10 17:39
The image of the Russians Are Coming and of a British TV comedy are a welcomed light-hearted break ... for a moment, but the point to which they responded is heavy indeed.
What the heck is this law firm doing? The client is the OCA (if they indeed were properly hired by the OCA, which seems doubtful), and the OCA's point of contact in charge of legal and financial matters is the Met Council, so why is the MC not running the show? The lawyters work for US ... not the other way round!
So, what's the deal, here??? I just don't see how this law firm can ethically take the OCA's money when they HAVE to know that the met wasn't authorized to hire them. If there's an FBI investigation, then maybe there should be an investigation by the NYS Bar (Do they do that? How do we complain about a law firm robbing our coffers (assuming they were not properly hired, it would have to be theft it seems like)).
How can this law firm knowingly withhold from the MC the unbelievable gravity of the graft that is the subject of Dr S's and Kucynda's email exchanges? Who the heck are they representing?? This is SO wrong ... I guess now I understand why the Gospel never paint lawyers in a good light.
#11 Anonymous on 2007-09-10 17:48
Well, I for one have always suspected that the OCA's losses would be in the millions, but it's sad to be shown to be correct.
Melanie Jula Sakoda
I believe lawyers are usually very correct about what they can say to their clients and what they cannot say to non-clients. It appears that PR's conduct with the MC does not represent a normal counsel-client relationship.
We must necessarily conclude that it is very likely that PR has one client and that the client is MH. Therefore, it is probably extremely unwise to rely on their or MH's representations on this scandal.
MC should sue MH on behalf of OCA to recover OCA funds that have been spent only for the benefit of the MH. It would be one thing if the MH was not implicated; however, that sadly is not the case--the scandal happened partly on his watch as treasurer and metropolitan. If he had a shred of dignity and decency, MH would have recused himself years ago. By now, he is probably also guilty of covering up his culpability and of usurping and impeding the work of the Holy Synod and the MC.
If MH does not voluntarily not, he must be forced to. This is the necessary and indispensable first step to reform and healing. Sure, there are other things that must also be done but this, above all, is absolutely required.
#13 Carl on 2007-09-10 19:57
Now Michael, I have tried to be on your side almost always, but please with the silliness.
Our MC is truly powerless.
Here is the laughter.
If the Metropolitan doesn't tell the Council millions are missing, how would they MC bring a civil suit?
Really, forgive me Michael, but Robert Kondratick needs to go to jail and Metropolitan Herman needs to send him or join him, or if someone was extorting Theodosius and RSK was the bagman, the extortionist needs to go to jail.
Proskauer Rose is a cleanup crew, but the mess just started with the Diocese of the Midwest's withholding.
IT WILL NOT STOP without the simple truth.
The churches will not go for this at all. Metropolitan Herman needs to fix this mess. It is his mess, because PR didn't finish the cleanup.
#14 Daniel E. Fall on 2007-09-10 20:02
It is very obvious that PR was hired to build a firewall around Herman and Kucynda and they did that. NOW aren't we generous protecting them. If anything else be brought to light, it should be the cost of this investigation. THe plea for this information falls on deaf ears, even to the MC. Isn't that special! i'M CERTAIN that money is not flowing into Syosset.
What will they sell off next to pay for all of the lawyers and accountants? It really strikes me that Herman rehired the accountants that HE had fired years ago. Some things never cease to amaze me.
#15 Suzanne Wilson on 2007-09-11 01:11
It was a similar set of circumstances which brought me out of a protestant denomination into Orthodoxy. God's Judgment will determine what is ultimate, but as Mark says "the choice is ours." Is the Patriarch of Moscow a source of a solution? Is SCOBA? What about a mass movement the Antiochian or Greek jurisdictions? Could this be a blessing in disguise away from the sins of jurisdictionalism for the Orthodox of North America?
#16 Max Higgs on 2007-09-11 01:59
Somebody please correct me if I'm wrong, but as far as I know, they WERE TOLD twice orally during their formal meetings and even once within the confines of their (PR) office when a small MC representative group met there months ago. How can they now be in shock? This seems strange to me.
As to why a written report has not been generated, I have no clue.
I could however speculate that they want nothing in writing as to tip off the other side where it might come back to bite them in the fanny during a civil trial? And maybe they knew it would have been posted on this web site and elsewhere long before their meeting even adjourned.
Let's face it folks, there have been obvious leaks of information from somebody either within the MC or Holy Synod on several previous occassions, which to me, is a gross breach of their fiduciary responsibility. Whoever may be responsible for these types of actions should be totally ashamed of themselves. That is an afront to everyone who sits on these esteemed and supposedly trusted bodies within the church as well as the Church at large. I think this comment has been long overdue.
People contnue to demand trasparency! What happens to transparency when some individual(s) can't seem to keep certain information to themselves for even 24 hours before leaking it? That IS a problem facing our Church today and it needs to STOP.
Getting back on track, I know it's ridiculous that a written report hasn't been drafted, however, I'm not an attorney and not qualified to even venture a guess as to the rationale of that one.
(Editor's Note: No greater example of how serious is our trouble than this: more concern that the truth is being reported than concern with what the report is saying. The issue is not that there are leaks in the OCA; it is that there are things to leak. If people would just tell the truth, Mike, there would be no need of leaks.
The Church does not need rationales, Mike, it needs the truth. Rationales do not heal; the truth saves. )
#17 Michael Geeza on 2007-09-11 06:36
It appears there are many more OCA members now getting interested in the financial scandal then in the past. In as much as the amount of money missing is in the millions, there are other scenarios that have to be given a good look see.
There is no way that R. Kondratick was the only one involved. For one person to dispose of millions of tax free dollars without being obvious borders on lunacy. Lets suppose that some of the missing millions was used to buy IOU's from friendly, needy clergy, parishes's, Bishops etc.etc.. How far fetched would it be to have "blackmail" involved at the highest level? Lunacy? I don't think so. Only time will tell.
Hopefully the FBI, the IRS and the Justice Department also review this website. Just some food for thought.
Peter J. Sredich
There has to be a retainer letter between the law firm and the client (whoever that may be). In that letter it would be clear who the law firm was hired to represent.
If it was Herman as client and the law firm knowingly took OCA money for its fees, then wouldn't the firm be part of an agreement to defraud the OCA?
If it was the OCA as client, then wouldn't the law firm be responsible for going forward with their work, and for taking OCA money, even though they weren't retained by a "duly authorized" representative of the OCA? And wouldn't the lawyers have somehow violated some lawyer-client privacy issues by communicating only with Herman rather than the MC?
Someone said the MC should sue Herman. Well, we can't do that ... the Church is not allowed to sue its own members in worldly courts (St Paul said something to that effect, I believe). But ... there's no limit on the Church suing secular lawyers in secular courts. Its not Met Herman who should be sued, or even Kondratick or Kucynda ... its the lawyers for taking OCA money if they had no legal contract with the OCA.
And its even worse here if they are hiding the extent of the financial harm to the OCA from the MC. Millions of Dollars!? How the heck is the MC supposed to function if they don't have all the pertinent information needed to do their job?
#19 Anonymous on 2007-09-11 08:17
Leave now and do not look back!
This is really a sinking ship but unfortunately the captain is taking high tea in the parlor and does not have a clue.
#20 Anonymous on 2007-09-11 11:00
Your website is truly amazing. I truly don't know if these scandals would ever have been brought to light without your efforts. Nothing against to Protodeacon Wheeler, but without your assistance we would know almost nothing. Many Years to you!
I just wanted to comment on the link you posted to the OCA's website and the pictures of Metropolitan Herman and Bishop Mercurius of the Moscow Patriarchate. Being an Orthodox priest and one of slavic descent, I fully understand the history of the OCA but when is it going to be time to stop being a pseudo Russian Orthodox Church and be a truly Orthodox Church in America?
In all of the lofty expressions of congratulations to Metr. Herman, I somehow missed the congratulations from the Greek Archdiocese, the Antiochian Archdiocese, the Carpatho-Russian diocese, etc. And what about all of the other Orthodox Churches around the world?
When I see pictures like these and read the press releases from the OCA, I truly wonder if the OCA is ever going to "get it" as a true independent, self-sustained American Orthodox Church.
Maybe my perspective on this is all messed up (it wouldn't be the first time) but it appears that the only truly grown up Orthodox Church that recognizes the OCA is the Moscow Patriarchate. The Ecumenical Patriarchate completely ignores the OCA. And what about the rest of the Orthodox Christian world? Without the life vest of legitimacy from the Moscow Patriarchate what exactly is the OCA?
It is tragic that Metropolitan Herman and other hierarchs see the Orthodox Church solely through Russian Orthodox glasses. They perceive that the holiness that was given by God to the Russian people will be theirs if they imitate them. And this is a mistake. I believe that God wants the people of the world to know Him as they are, not, through some sort of interpreter. Just as Russia received the Holy Orthodox faith from the Greek Church and made it their own so too does America need to do the same. The examples of holiness in America are right under our noses. We don't need to fly all the way to Moscow to find it.
What relevance does this have to the current scandals? In my opinion, quite a bit. These scandals were brought about by people who were afraid to be who they are and to say what they feel. I don't know the former priest Kondratick personally but I believe that he probably felt like he was doing the right thing, always making the pomp and circumstance happen, pulling off the great show. And in return he took money from funds/sources that he shouldn't have. Wouldn't it have been better to say something like "we don't have the money to do this event right now."
These scandals have continued beyond anyone's imagination because the Metropolitan and his brother hierarchs are afraid to be who and what they really are. As an example, I have read all of the posts regarding the trial of Robert Kondratick and in fairness, it does appear that somethings weren't handled very well on the part of the spiritual court. Would it have been so terrible to have a transcript of the proceedings kept? My gosh we can't even handle a spiritual court very well.
The handling of the funds in Syosset has been bungled, the investigation has been bungled (and might I add cost the OCA many thousands of dollars), the spiritual court had some blunderings, and there is still no bonified treasurer on board. This does not appear to be a church that has its act together.
I know that I'm but one voice, but I would encourage my brother and sister Orthodox Christians to rise up in their churches and to take a stand. There is still an amazing amount of potential for the OCA and I haven't lost hope that it will one day be a true American Orthodox Church and not one that continues to whimper along as some sort of bastard step child to the Russian Orthodox Church.
And a personal appeal to Metropolitan Herman. Your Eminence, please step aside for the good of the church.
#21 Anonymous priest on 2007-09-11 13:49
Question of the Day?
I Would Think that Its More Like Question of a Lifetime?
How Could A Man Stand in the Sanctuary of A Church, Ask God to be present while the curtain is moved to the side open the Royal doors and ask God to be the equal communicator between himself and his flock of Children to Bless the Holy Blood and Body of Christ, then distribute communion to his parishioners and be something else, someone else, someone in disquise....
How could one do this with a clear mind?
A pureness of soul and a oneness of mind ...that Jesus Christ intended the Holy body and blood to be..... This My Brothers and Sisters in Christ Would be My Question of the Day..... better yet, this may be a question of a lifetime that will never be answered..... with love Irene
#22 Irene on 2007-09-11 14:06
What business of Jesus Christ can we not talk about openly?
#23 Daniel E. Fall on 2007-09-11 14:45
A question to your "Question of the Day" on the 9/11 funds. Are you saying that the funds allocated by the OCA commission for the four firehouses, three in lower Manhattan and one in Woodside, and for the "civilian victims" were never distributed; that only the $25,000 for the Pentagon was?
(Editor's Reply: Yes. There is no evidence the money designated for the four fire houses was ever distributed to them. Given that the OCA trumpeted a benefit event held by a nearby OCA parish for a firehouse which raised $5,000, the idea that it failed to mention or record donating $100,000 on its own is not credible. The only monies raised for 9/11 that were given to for relief efforts, until this year, was the $25,000 given at the Pentagon.)
#24 C. Smith on 2007-09-11 16:11
I said that the MC should sue MH. I also said a few months ago "...we should try to solve our problems internally: "If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector." Matthew 18: 15-17.
A few months ago, I was not sure where we were in the above progression. I now believe that MH refuses to listen even to the church (I am primarily thinking about the 90 senior priests, Fr. Hopko, the MC, and I suspect at least couple of the senior bishops).
So, we are to treat him as if he were a lowlife: "a pagan or a tax collector." I don't exactly how one would do that this day and age but it should be safe to assume that this passage is not entirely in consonance with Saint Paul, except when he admonishes us to respect the secular law and rulers.
To clarify: the MC would not sue as individuals but as the supreme administrative body of the OCA to try to recover the funds that MH illegally spent to protect himself as an individual (even though MH will probably claim that he did this for the good of the church).
#25 Anonymous on 2007-09-11 19:39
Please allow me to post this comment as a reply to my anonymous brother in Christ the Lord, as follow:
Charges against any Metropolitan should be / can be brought first before the Holy Synod members of any Canonical Church. In this scenario, there are two bishops as part of the Special Commission to Investigate the allegations regarding the OCA Financial Scandal ... and to find out if THE ALLEGATIONS ARE TRUE OR FALSE. Both Archbishop Job and Bishop Benjamin, together with the other members of the Special Commission can bring charges against MH, if they love the Church and have a very strong backbone ...
ALSO, take a look attentively at the OCA Statute ... Article XI ...
Church Courts and Canonical Procedures
Section 7 The Holy Synod and the Judgment of Bishops
a - Accusations against bishops are referred directly to the Holy Synod, which is the court of first instance empowered to pass judgment in such cases.
b - If the accusations are considered to have substance either by the Metropolitan or by at least three members of the Holy Synod, and after the accuser's good character, irreproachable standing in the Church, and motivation have been established, the accused shall be summoned and judged by the Holy Synod in closed session.
In cases of grave accusations involving the possibility of canonical deposition, the accused shall be called through a formal summons presented to him in person by three bishops.
c - If the accused refuses to appear after receiving three summonses, the Holy Synod shall suspend him from his duties and judge him in absentia.
d - Penalties against bishops judged guilty after trial, as well as against false accusers, are prescribed by the canons of the ecumenical and local councils and the holy fathers.
e - A judgment of deposition or defrocking of a bishop has final validity only when signed by at least 12 bishops. (If such need arises, bishops may be invited from neighboring ecclesiastical provinces to complete the quorum.)
f - The judgments of the Holy Synod are final, except for those instances which the canons reserve to the judgment of the universal Church.
What else does anybody wants to know ???
What is needed at the present time, is more that V Rev Fr RSK has in mind or in the hands of his attorney. In case RSK will present his plea before the Holy Synod at the upcoming 2007 fall session, then all charges against MH can be formally submitted to the Holy Synod, and MH should be terminated immediately. RSK does not come to the OCA Holy Synod empty handed ...
The MC and Special Commission has all the ammunition aganist MH. Let the OCA Special Commission start the process in case anyone has a good character and a strong backbone ...
There are a lot that can be brought before the OCA Holy Synod. It is recommended that charges be brought before the Holy Synod and submitted to the OCA Secretary, Bishop Seraphim. In case the Holy Synod is manipulated by the Metropolitan, and the charges are not allowed to be debated, then the same charges against the Metropolitan can be brought before secular judges ... or and also the Russian Patriarchate Holy Synod or the Constantinople Patriarchate Holy Synod can take charge over the charges against OCA Metropolitan MH...
It is about time to ask the above Patriarchate's Holy Synod (either Russian or Constantinopolitan) to help the OCA members (clergy and laity) resolve the Orthodox Church in America Financial Crisis Situation. It is obvious that help will come, but request MUST be FORMALY forwarded to the patriarchates mentioned above, in case the OCA Holy Synod DOES NOT WANT to charge MH under any circumstance.
Take a look at the Canonical provision from below and follow the INTERPRETATION of HEFELE very carefully ... hefele is providing the GREEN LIGHT to the secular judges, in case the Holy Synod will miscarry the first attempt at an adjustment of the controversy.
The XXX Canons of the Holy and Fourth Synods, of Chalcedon, 451 A. D.
IF any Clergyman have a matter against another clergyman, he shall not forsake his bishop and run to secular courts; but let him first lay open the matter before his own Bishop, or let the matter be submitted to any person whom each of the parties may, with the Bishop's consent, select. And if any one shall contravene these decrees, let him be subjected to canonical penalties. And if a clergyman have a complaint against his own or any other bishop, let it be decided by the synod of the province. And if a bishop or clergyman should have a difference with the metropolitan of the province, let him have recourse to the Exarch of the Diocese, or to the throne of the Imperial City of Constantinople, and there let it be tried.
Ancient Epitome of Canon IX.
Litigious clerics shall be punished according to canon, if they despise the episcopal and resort to the secular tribunal. When a cleric has a contention with a bishop let him wait till the synod sits, and if a bishop have a contention with his metropolitan let him carry the case to Constantinople.
Let the reader observe that here is a greater privilege given by a General Council to the see of Constantinople than ever was given by any council, even that of Sardica, to the bishop of Rome, viz., that any bishop or clergyman might at the first instance bring his cause before the bishop of Constantinople if the defendant were a metropolitan.
"That our canon would refer not merely the ecclesiastical, but the civil differences of the clergy, in the first case, to the bishop, is beyond a doubt. And it comes out as clearly from the word proteron (= at first) that it does not absolutely exclude a reference to the secular judges, but regards it as allowable only when the first attempt at an adjustment of the controversy by the bishop has miscarried."
This was quite clearly recognized by Justinian in his 123d Novel, c. 21: "If any one has a case against a cleric, or a monk, or a deaconess, or a nun, or an ascetic, he shall first make application to the bishop of his opponent, and he shall decide. If both parties are satisfied with his decision, it shall then be carried into effect by the imperial judge of the locality. If, however, one of the contending parties lodges an appeal against the bishop's judgment within ten days, then the imperial judge of the locality shall decide the matter. There is no doubt that the expression "Exarch" employed in our canon, and also in canon 17, means, in the first place, those superior metropolitans who have several ecclesiastical provinces under them. Whether, however, the great patriarchs, properly so called, are to be included under it, may be doubted. The Emperor Justinian, in c. 22 of his Novel just quoted (l. c.) in our text has, without further explanation, substituted the expression Patriarch for Exarch, and in the same way the commentator Aristenus has declared both terms to be identical adding that only the Patriarch of Constantinople has the privilege of having a metropolitan tried before him who does not belong to his patriarchate, but is subject to another patriarch. In the same way our canon was understood by Beveridge. Van Espen, on the contrary, thinks that the Synod had here in view only the exarchs in file narrower sense (of Ephesus, Caesarea), but not the Patriarchs, properly so called, of Rome, Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem, as it would be too great a violation of the ancient canons, particularly of the 6thof Nicaea, to have set aside the proper patriarch and have allowed an appeal to the Bishop of Constantinople (with this Zonaras also agrees in his explanation of canon 17). Least of all, however, would the Synod have made such a rule for the West, i.e., have allowed that any one should set aside the Patriarch of Rome and appeal to the Patriarch of Constantinople, since they themselves, in canon 28, assigned the first place in rank to Rome.
It appears to me that neither Beveridge, etc., nor Van Espen are fully in the right, while each is partially so. With Van Espen we must assume that our Synod, in drawing up this canon, had in view only the Greek Church, and not the Latin as well, particularly as neither the papal legates nor any Latin bishop whatever was present at the drawing up of these canons. On the other hand, Beveridge is also right in maintaining that the Synod made no distinction between the patriarchs proper and the exarchs (such a distinction must otherwise have been indicated in the text), and allowed that quarrels which should arise among the bishops of other patriarchates might be tried at Constantinople. Only that Beveridge ought to have excepted the West and Rome.The strange part of our canon may be explained in the following manner. There were always many bishops at Constantinople from the most different places, who came there to lay their contentions and the like before the Emperor. The latter frequently referred the decision to the bishop of Constantinople, who then, in union with the then present bishops from the most different provinces, held a "Home Synod" and gave the sentence required at this. Thus gradually the practice was formed of controversies being decided by bishops of other patriarchates or exarchates at Constantinople, to the setting aside of the proper superior metropolitan, an example of which we have seen in that famous Synod of Constantinople, a.d. 448, at which the case of Eutyches was the first time brought forward.
This canon is found in the Corpus Juris Canonici, Gratian's Decretum, Pars II., Causa XI., Q.I., canon xlvj.
Someone who studied the Church Canons in his Theological School. Can any OCA Theologian give a reply to all the above?
Anonymous the 3rd, 09, 11, 2007
#26 anonymous the 3rd on 2007-09-11 20:16
And the NYS Bar ....
#27 Anonymous on 2007-09-11 20:46
"What happens to transparency when some individual(s) can't seem to keep certain information to themselves for even 24 hours before leaking it? That IS a problem facing our Church today and it needs to STOP."
That strikes me as just about the same as asking: "What happens to dampness when people keep wetting things down?"
Mike, the answer to your questions in this: When people keep wetting things down, we achieve the dampness we want.
#28 Anonymous on 2007-09-11 20:55
Its not a big step from missing hundreds of thousands to missing millions. These problems need to be fixed promptly. Who is responsible for fixing these problems? +Metropolitan Herman, the chief pastor of the OCA. What should he do? Repent, seek forgiveness from the flock, and straighten the mess out with as much help as he can find and tolerate. If the +Metropolitan had a hand in the financial mismanagement of the OCA; he might want to give some thought to resigning. My experience is that faithful church members have a low thresh-hold for financial mismanagement and bad clergy behavior.
It occurs to my Lutheran nous the OCA might want to consider having other than monastics be Bishops. Bishops, after all put on their pants like the rest of us: one leg at a time, which is to say they are "simul justus et peccator," just like the rest of us.
#29 Pr. Bill Pierce on 2007-09-12 07:15
You areabsolutely correct. It needs the truth.
But you know as well as I, that certain individuals have run to you with information when they should not have.
This includes MC members as well as Synod members.
The problem is, some of these people obviously can not be trusted to keep certain information private and within the confines of their meeting while a plan of action is still in the works.
I find that action in and of itself, shameful.
You have previously been provided information while meetings have been ongoing and even before they have reached a conclusion and that is wrong Mark.
Nice try to learn my sources, but it won’t work.
As for a “plan of action still in the works”, it is a fact that nothing has been undertaken by Syosset in the past 22 months that has not been forced on them by public exposure.
There was no attempt to correct anything, or anybody until Protodeacon Wheeler exposed the scandal. There was no attempt to deal with Fr. Kondratick until the national press made an issue of it in February 2006. There was no attempt to have a Special Commission until forced to do it by the Metropolitan Council ; and no attempt to publish its preliminary report until monies were withheld. Shall I go on? There is no “plan of action” here, only a constant reaction to increasing public exposure and humiliation. That is what is shameful Mike, that is what is shameful. Shame on the Metropolitan, Fr. Kucynda, and the whole lot for not just telling the truth, period. And if there are consequences to sin, well, that is the Orthodox teaching about life, which one should be able to expect the Metropolitan, Fr. Kucynda and the whole lot would not only to teach, but act out. That they do neither is to their shame - not mine.
You say I have reported information before a conclusion has been reached. Mike, the only answer possible, the only conclusion possible, is the truth. That they, or you, don’t know that is part of the problem; and that you would suggest less than the truth, a convenient truth, is sufficient is to your shame, not mine. The truth will out, Mike. The only question is whether you helped or hindered its revelation.)
#30 Michael Geeza on 2007-09-12 08:03
That's just it - in the minds of MH et. al., they aren't supposed to function. Remember, it was not too long ago that the mood in Syosset was to revise the Statute in such a way as to do away with the MC. Beware if that rears its ugly head again!
#31 Anonymous on 2007-09-12 09:48
Don't leave. Stay. We need you. The Eucharist of the Church is the same, regardless of the current corruption. Your integrity is needed right here, right now. Please stay and let your own integrity and courage be a witness.
#32 Anonymous on 2007-09-12 14:34
When you say it is wrong for people to go to Mark with information during meetings (assuming its true, in which case it begs the quesion ...), to what standard of right behavior are you appealing?
#33 Anonymous on 2007-09-12 15:43
To paraphrase a line from a Wall Street brokerage firm’s TV commercial years ago: “When Fr. Ted speaks, the OCA listens.” Fr. Ted in his most recent reflection has presented a powerful and succinct resume of the entire scandal and the solution in the most evangelical of prose. The penultimate paragraph, however, contains the zinger that is needed to lance this boil – the one about sexual impropriety or more accurately the use of funds either to indulge in it or to hide it. We’ve all been tiptoeing around it for more than 18 months and now it is time to get to entire ugly mess exposed to the light of day. In a previous post I opined that I did not want to know the details, just the broad brushed picture. Someone disagreed with me and now I have come to the conclusion that they were right – this scandal will not die until everything is brought to light. The faithful can take it after all we are well practiced on politicians and their idiosyncratic behaviors.
Re the fifth anniversary of the enthronement of +Herman, I particularly enjoyed the photograph of flowers being presented to the metropolitan; were they lilies interspersed with forget-me-nots? Five years constitute a tidy time, just enough to make a difference in the life of the church – quelle difference! Now it’s time to leave.
#34 Terry C. Peet on 2007-09-12 16:47
Its bad, yes, Terry, but the lechery is not the worst. The worst part of this mess is the lying. Christ is the Truth; the devil is the father of lies -- the lying is the worst. It permits all the other garbage to occur in the first place and to go unremedied and un-repented of in the second --- lying in the form of sneaking around and doing the dirty deeds, of cover ups, of scapegoating and fall guy-ing, of calling black white and white black, of silence.
Worse than the headline grabbing story of anything seedy and lurid (lets not all get carried away with that, now) is the robbery of the funds meant for orphans!! Orphans!!! That's leagues deeper in corrupt behavior than any licentious peccadillos, no matter who paid for it (no matter if it came from the orphans funds ... they go on starving no matter where the money is spent).
If for any of us the zinger is inapprpriate touching (wherever, to whatever degree) then we are missing, really, the whole and true darkness of this mess.
#35 Anonymous on 2007-09-12 19:35
It is important to remember the historical context when considering the canon. The empire had an Emperor, and there was no separation of church and state. The Emperor was a layman, and yet he also held the title of "Equal to the Apostles." Whenever there was a matter affecting the entire Church or the Empire, the Emperor had the authority to demand that the Patriarch of Constantinople appear and give an account for his actions. If there was a public scandal, the Emperor could always demand answers --even in the absence of formal charges, even in the absence of multiple witnesses, even in the absence of a Church trial, even without asking the opinion of another bishop. In some cases the results were extreme. History includes examples where the Emperor ordered a Patriarch blinded, or where the Empror ordered that the Patriarch be stripped naked and paraded around the hippodrome. All without a civil trial. All without a church trial.
The Church did not condemn this relationship. On the contrary, the Church celebrated this relationship. There was always a strong civil authority who has the duty and the right to hold the primate of the Church accountable for his actions. The role of the Emperor was considered essential for a properly governed church, -- even though this authority was frequently exercised without strict formalities. It is against this historical background that the canon was written.
My question to the canon law experts is how to factor the missing emperor into the problem of how to apply the canon.
#36 Robert Vasilios Wachter on 2007-09-12 20:33
A very learned analysis indeed. The bottom line still seems to be the Holy Canons follow the Holy Scriptures, as they must.
If we follow the steps laid out in Matthew and compare them to the canons, we see that the only difference is that the "formalities" have not been observed.
Matthew: ""If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you." FACT: Done, probably first by Protodeacon Wheeler.
Matthew:"If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses." FACT: Also done, by the 70 senior priests.
Matthew: "If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church;" FACT: Done, directly by this site and indirectly by many respected church leaders, the Special Commission, and the MC.
Matthew: "and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector." QUESTION: How do you do that when the canons insist that an accused bishop be treated differently?
Sure, the Holy Synod must depose him in accordance with the Governing Statute and applicable canons. That is because deposition is an ecclesiastical affair. (If he is deposed, MH will lose his formal authority. If not, he will not gain vindication because he has lost his personal authority. Many of his flock have rightly come to the conclusion that MH can no longer be their leader.)
In any case, I think there is a difference between trying to depose a bishop and trying to get church money back. I am aware that the canons have built a wall of protection around the clergy, particularly bishops, for good reasons; primarily to keep the Emperor, King, Tsar, or Sultan from meddling in church affairs. When the canons were written, the clergy and laity were generally uneducated and prone to "pray, pay and obey." It is not surprising that the clergy and laity did not play any role in church affairs for many centuries. They could not see themselves as part of the royal priesthood or if they did, they were treated as heretics at worst and upstarts at best.
That is not the case today. We can see the facts. We can read the Holy Scriptures. We can read any document in this age of the Internet. We are willing and eager to be led by spiritual fathers whom we respect. Conversely, we are not willing as much as our ancestors did to follow clergy who only wear the vestments and chant the liturgy but generate no respect.
Bottom Line: The Holy Scriptures trump the Holy Canons. Based on the Holy Scriptures, OCA's status as an incorporated not-for-profit organization, and tort law, the MC can and should sue MH in civil court to recover misused funds.
#37 Carl on 2007-09-12 21:09
Did I read correctly that something had been subpoenaed? Coupled with an FBI investigation does this say anything other than grand jury? Subpoenas are issued by courts. If this is the case it is probable that a person facing credible evidence of wrongdoing would cooperate by giving evidence against other suspects. The federal criminal system has powerful built-in incentives to do so. So much seems to click into place if this is the case.
#38 Timothy Capps, Esq. on 2007-09-12 22:05
You have identified something that always made me uncomfortable about the OCA. So many parishes are faux Russian. Parishes of people who are not of Slavic ancestry, yet go to great lengths to make parish life similar to their misconception of a Russian cultural community. Or individuals who take on the mantle of Slavic tradition to fit in, often denying their true ethnic heritage. And, for many members of the OCA, "playing" Russian is only while involved in Church life. The rest of the time, they try to blend in with their secular surroundings in their cultural manifestations. Sort of an Orthodox split personality.
If the cultural manifestation of the people in the Church is based on false ethnicity, then falsehood becomes an expected and accepted part of Church life. Can the Church be healthy if falsehood is an integral part of the life of a fair number of parishes. Can the Church be healthy if its members live a form of schizophrenia that is driven by being members of the OCA?
Is it no surprise that a Church that seems to encourage faux ethnicity also stages faux pomp and circumstance around its senior bishop?
Perhaps the OCA must first come to grips with what it really is. One of several small archdioceses of Orthodox believers in a country where Orthodoxy is a minor player in the greater contest of society. The third largest archdiocese at that. In fact, I would be willing to bet that the three largest mega-churches in the Dallas area have a significantly larger number of regular attendees and contributors than the entire OCA.
Now, what needs to be changed is the minor role Orthodoxy plays in the US. Can this role be accomplished through a Church that readily incorporates FAUX into its very existence? Will people really see Christ in a Church that promotes faux behavior?
Methinks the scandals being addressed are merely visible symptoms of the problems embedded in the OCA.
#39 Overseas Observer on 2007-09-13 03:18
I seem to remember hearing from those who were at the ACC where Met. Herman became 'Met.' that he insisted he only wanted to serve five years. Was that ever documented?
#40 SymeonJekel on 2007-09-13 06:14
1. It past time for ANYONE to post without giving their name. We need truth and openess. How can you expect this from others if you are afraid to sign your name? Someone said to me recently that a certain priest was a good man but, "he wouldn't shoot himself in the foot and get himself fired." I said, "Why not?" We have to be willing to take a stand or stop telling others to "come clean", when doing so would end their careers.
2. RE the MC not knowing the money amounts and the information concerning the "millions" of dollars. They have seen the illusive PR report. Dr. Skordinski is ON the MC for heaven's sakes. The MC has NO excuse for not taking legal action, and I am not sure that is the right thing to do, mind. There are priests on the MC. Can they not bring an accusation to the Synod (I can't bring myself to say Holy)? Once again, there comes a time when if your loyality to Christ does not exceed your fear of a corrupt bishop, you need to "leave the building" yourself.
Sheesh, this group certainly wouldn't have been one of the early Martyrs who DIED for Christ, I can tell you that. See above comment about our "nameless" posters. This goes for you also.
3. What are your individual parishs doing about this? This is something WE can do. It doesn't look like our bishops are going to do anything. BTW, does anyone know how many of our bishops actually went to seminary? I know Benjamin and Seraphim did, but am not sure about the others. This needs to stop also. These men who are to "rightly define the word of truth". I ask you, do you trust anyone but +Job to do this?
4. Things may be "going on" that we don't know about. But remember to old saw about "if a tree falls in the forest and there is no one to hear it, does it make a noise?" Therefore, as far as I am concerned there IS NOTHING GOING ON, until proven otherwise. Are we to just take this? Is the only thing we can do whine on the website? I am so frustrated I could scream.
Unless someone in "authority" around here starts taking some visible action, I am going to wonder if theOCA and is even a PART of the vinyard at this point.
And finally. We ALL should withhold money. ALL of our parishes. We should ALL call for the resignation of Heman. Shoot, maybe we should organize a march on the next Synod meeting and demand action. At the very least, Herman should take a leave of absence while the investigaion goes on. Does anyone believe he will do this? If so....I have land in the Everglades...etc. For that matter, does anyone believe there IS AN ONGOING INVESTIGATION? See above about buying some land from me.
Oh, almost forgot. What is going on in Alaska?
Linda Elizabeth Weir
St. Mark, Bethesda, MD (yes, a parish with 2 people on the MC, one of which is Faith Skordinski. See above about being willing to take a stand and sign your name.)
#41 Linda Weir on 2007-09-13 07:59
There is that serious accusation in Fr. Ted's reflection about sexual impropriety. Now we are in the same situation as the Catholic Church found itself. Who is hiding information? So who in the OCA allowed the sins to continue? Who has this information?
And please let us know if you have information about Paul Sidebottom's situation. Do you know for example, if Fr. Isadore is still in his position at the seminary? Until an investigation is completed, I guess we can't say for certain that Fr. Isadore is guilty of the alleged behavior outlined in Paul Sidebottom's letter. But doesn't it seem prudent, given there is corroboration, that he not be in charge of a seminary until the investigation is completed?
And just what is happening with the Alaska investigation. I would think the investigation would take place immediately, and should be happening now. And why isn't Paul Sidebottom receiving his salary during the time of the investigation? Wasn't the church policy clear about protecting someone like Paul Sidebottom?
I put my money in the 9/11 basket, and I want to know where are the rest of the funds. Was the $90,000 paid out from the loan the church received? If so, then I consider the $90,000 still missing. Just because it was paid with loaned money does not say the original $90,000 is not still missing along with the rest of the funds. If the $90,000 paid IS part of the original funds, how did that amount miraculously reappear when it was lost? Who was the magician? The 9/11 paper trail should be easily followed. Funds were put here. Funds were removed on such and such a date by so and so. Don’t know where funds are anymore after this date, but do know the person or persons who could withdraw the funds. I mean, I’m no lawyer, but I can clearly see what questions could be asked.
If the church wants us to continue to contribute, then the church must be forthcoming with information about what they did with our donated funds. The church must also act in an appropriate manner when serious allegations about sexual behavior are made and the church must protect those people who may have been violated. To the church I say show us you are serious about this. Pay Paul Sidebottom his salary until an investigation is complete. The Alaskan Diocese seems to have retaliated against him, and I do not hear outcries from anyone within the church that has the power to see Paul Sidebottom is treated appropriately.
Mark, thank you for this web site. If you have any answers to any of the above questions, then please let us know.
Monk James, if these allegations about sexual misconduct do turn out to be true, what say ye then?
Mr. Geeza, although I understand your comments, I don’t agree at all. We are getting NO information from anyone. The church wouldn’t even tell its supporters anything, yet they have someone tell the press what to write! I do believe some people are providing information because something is telling them that releasing information is the right thing to do. If I am going to contribute funds in the OCA, I need to have answers.
#42 A sad state of affairs on 2007-09-13 09:32
Just coining in with my two cents worth...
I have not been so kind to Fr. Ted, for his overuse of the Word and taking of little action...
In his letter, now public, he makes a plea for the Metropolitan to be truthful and report the findings of the investigation and continue the work of any additional needed investigation and he uses a very strong parable that I found to be fitting for the issue times ten. Further, he comes right out and says the keepers of the vineyard have produced little fruit. To me the central administration should foster the development of priests and the development of parishes, especially new ones. I don't know how well they measure up to my standard. I'd guess not well dollar for dollar for the millions lost. A well run organization with clear goals reports against its goals, even if they don't meet them.
What is sad for me is that our Metropolitan doesn't respond to Abp. Job or the people, for that matter, when the Diocese of the Midwest announces withholding. He doesn't give us anything.. He actually gives others the opportunity to become impatient and send him letters like these.
I hope that Metropolitan Herman is wise enough to see the impatience reflected in the letter and smart enough to understand it is warranted on his inaction or failure to make a statement.
That millions could have been misused while he was an Acting Treasurer and Metropolitan deserves a lot of statements. The absence of statements from him is disconcerting. He should not wonder why he is receiving such a letter. The one problem I see with the intertwining of the Word is that our hierarchs have a good way themselves of answering in parables, which for most of us is just a crafty way to avoid the truth.
We don't need parables, we just need the truth. I pray that the answers we get are far less cryptic than the Christian parables we need to have interpreted for us in Sunday sermons.
No disrespect is intended for Fr. Ted. I'd actually like to hear back from him on what the measure of success of a central administration should be... I don't know that our current leadership is up to being challenged on goals, they can't seem to manage history itself.
If history were simply history, without regard for twists, tangles, misinterpretations, leaks, and reports adjusted for the common man, maybe the central church could focus on goals and report on their success against such goals like the development of priests and parishes.
What greater report card for the OCA than simply reporting quarterly financial results on the back page and reporting how many priests were ordained against plans on the first page. No report at all speaks volumes.
History cannot become an anchor. Report history, Reap the results of the seeds sown and sow new seeds.
Distribute the Proskauer Rose report. Get on with the future of the OCA. If you are stuck in the middle of those two statements, get out [of the OCA].
#43 Daniel E. Fall on 2007-09-13 10:36
Yes, Fr Bobosh,
The zinger about sexual impropriety............are you ready to prove that in a court of law? Indeed when you spoke this time, lawyers are listening.
(editor's note: I cannot speak for Fr. Bobosh, but the first thing that comes to my mind when anonymous people threaten others, especially with lawsuits, is Oscar Wilde's case. Remember, if someone is sued, no one gets to remain anonymous. Both sides also get to depose the other. And while I am sure Fr. Ted would be happy to answer all the questions regarding his reflection put to him under oath, I doubt you, anonymous poster, or the powers you threaten on behalf of, would be so pleased to have to answer all the questions he could put to you, or them, under oath. In short, your threats are not helpful to our ongoing discussion, and have no place here. Crawl back under the rock you came from.)
#44 Anonymous on 2007-09-13 11:24
And so anonymous, if that IS proven, what will you be saying then?
#45 A sad state of affairs on 2007-09-13 13:23
Does that mean I have to stop making paska and kulich at Easter since I'm not at all Russian?
[kidding -- I agree with your point, and am particularly disturbed when I see people play-acting their way into Orthodoxy. Although it's a delicate pastoral matter because a certain amount of self-consicious affectation of new behaviors automatically goes along with conversion -- it's all a matter of degree and balance.]
#46 Rebecca Matovic on 2007-09-13 13:45
(Mark, you are free to publish or not to publish this, but I hope you will, as a respite from our current afflictions)
Dear Friends: Holy Trinity OCA Cathedral in Chicago, home of our beloved Archbishop Job, has applied, along with many other Chicago-area institutions, for a grant to make extensive repairs to its copper roof. Whether or not they receive a full grant is dependent on people voting online for this project:
You can vote online (after registering) once a day through October 10.
Holy Trinity Cathedral is a Chicago Historic Landmark. It was designed by famous architect Louis Sullivan. It was consecrated by St Tikhon, and its first priest was St John Kochurov. The iconostasis was a gift from Czar Nicholas II. Having grown up in the parish, served as altar boy, boy soprano and guest choir director, I can personally attest to the beauty of the church and the worthiness of the cause.
So in the best of Chicago traditions, I humbly ask you to vote early and vote often. We have moved from 13th, to 10th, to 7th place in the voting. What a wonderful feast day October 31, the feast of St John of Chicago, will be if we can get our grant funded.
#47 Michael Strelka on 2007-09-13 14:40
I don't think so. Since the Scriptures trump all, we are subject to St Paul's proscription, I should think. If the purpose is to recover money, especially, it wold appear.
#48 Anonymous on 2007-09-13 14:52
Outdated references in the canons are sifted for their relevance to modern ecclesial concerns in modern venues by the careful application of two classic principles of canonical interpretation: analogy and extrapolation.
Any mention of civil authorities (including the Basileus) in the canons must be analyzed to determine modern equivalencies. Depending on the nature of the situation under consideration, some functions once thought to be best referred to the Basileus (or Tsar, etc.) will now be referred to synods of bishops or to the civil courts -- the latter especially when matters of civil law are involved.
The interpretation and application of canons is within the purview of the bishops alone, and it's a rare bishop indeed who doesn't need to consult scholars of the Church's canons and history in forming his responses to the questions brought before him.
Incidentally: Precedent or case law is NOT an operative concept in the interpretation and application of the canons.
Each situation is judged independently of all others, and is treated with lenient adjustments of the canons (oikonomia), or with a stricter and more exact application of their principles (akribeia).
#49 Monk James on 2007-09-13 16:07
LOL. Too many poster think lawyers have some special powers. They do not. They put on their trousers and skirts just like the rest of us. No one should be intimidated by threats of lawsuits. Threats are easy. Doing them is hard. Most people who threaten such things don't intend to ever do them. They're too lazy. These are just cheap shots intended to intimidated. Truth must prevail and the facts can be painful. The sexual misconduct is widely known; so stating the obvious is no surprise to anyone except those who think they have been successful in hiding this dark reality for so long. The jig is up.
#50 Anon. on 2007-09-13 16:29
Dear Pastor Pierce,
It occurs to my formerly Lutheran nous that the best reason for having monastics as Bishops lies an aphorism from Pope Shenouda to the effect that our focus should be more on the Lord of the House than on the House of the Lord.
Now, if a council should decide to restore the former approach and open up the episcopate to non-monastics, I would not be opposed. I can certainly see many benefits from the expansion of the number of candidates.
The one benefit from electing bishops from the ranks of the monks is that a monk should more likely to be able to keep the things of this world in their proper relation to the things of the Eternal and Everliving. It would seem that a bishop whose formation was in the context of a living monastic community would be able to more fully remind the people of his diocese that there is a reality that is greater than one's purchase of the next over-hyped gadget or toy. Similarly, such a bishop would also be in a position to gently remind the people who handle the funds and property of the diocese that they are not owners, but rather are fiduciaries of the things of God. Now the extent to which this has actually worked in church life as it is actually lived is an open question.
We have had a number of examples of bishops-designate who have received a quick monastic tonsure in order to make their subsequent election canonical. Some might consider such as monks in name only. Also, some have remarked on the names given to them upon being tonsured. One person said to me, "What's wrong with Matthew, Mark, Luke and John," after an election in the mid-80s.
Where am I going with all this? I can see in my mind's eye the original reasons for having monastics as bishops. The question is whether it has actually worked. I just hope that were the church to change its mind on the subject, that something valuable is not lost.
#51 Edmund Unneland on 2007-09-13 18:29
I agree with you, BUT what is impeding the telling of the truth is the natural human response to hide the sexual misconduct, hence the lying and the misuse of funds. Sexual misconduct is not the worst in this scandal, but it is what is preventing a total telling of what happened.
#52 Terry C. Peet on 2007-09-13 21:25
Sir, your desire for righteousness is good. But what you are saying sounds a lot like Donatism. THe bishops are bishops. We have no authority to make a clean sweep of them. I am not excusing their behavior. In fact, I am disgusted by the behavior of all of them. (But, I should note that I regularly get disgusted by my own behavior. So me getting disgusted at someone elses behavior isn't any big deal.) And I wish they were better men. But they aren't better men. I have a feeling some of them are pretty bad men. But that doesn't mean the Holy Spirit has left them.
I hope that you will take a few minutes as I did today to study the OCA's latest and greatest financial report. Here are a few interesting observations:
Cash - While it appears that there is cash in the bank, the vast majority of this money is related to what was left from the Honesdale National bank. Assuming that there are no further bailouts, cash is going to get very tight next year.
Investments - The majority of the investments are restricted funds, i.e. endowment funds. A normal test of company's financial position is to take the ratio of the assets vs. liabilities. A strong company has assets that are greater than its liabilities. In this case, take out the investments that are actually restricted funds and do the ratio. If you exclude the assets related to endowments and other restrictions, you will see that the OCA's financial postion is horrible.
Operations. Take a look at the $470,000 of funds that moved from temporarily restricted to unrestricted. The footnote explains that these are funds where the restricted purpose was either fulfilled or the restricted purpose expired. It's interesting to note that the auditors never explained what exactly happened. Given the prior administration's "borrowing from Peter to pay Paul" approach to accounting, it is reasonable to ask for a further explanation. Or to put this another way, congratulations to the OCA administration because it was able to spend an additional $470,000 on operations for items where the intended purpose simply expired.
This is not a minor point. Without this $470,000 that got moved, the OCA would have been operating (assuming that all of the expenses stayed the same) at a very serious loss.
Deferred compensation plan. Did you know there was a deferred compensation plan? Neither did I. It's interesting to note that the auditors did not state who has the deferred compensation plan nor did they state the exact liability of the plan. Deferred compensation plans are obligations to pay a certain amount of compensation in the future. I'm surprised that the auditor's report did not give a fuller explanation.
Pension plan. Like a deferred compensation plan, a pension plan is an obligation to pay future benefits. The auditor's note is very poor. It doesn't even state if the plan is fully funded or not. If it isn't, the OCA is liable for future benefits. Normally the footnote for pension plans is around a page by itself because you have to explain, how much you have in assets, what amount has been funded for the current year and what amounts remain to be funded. The auditor's note here is, I hate to say, not acceptable.
Statement of Cash Flows. Judging from the approx. $360,000 in net cash used for operations, next year's financial statements are going to have a comment about the going concern of the OCA not just about problems with temporarily and permanently restricted net assets. These types of cash outflows are not sustainable.
These are just one CPA's take on the financials. I encourage you to read them yourselves.
#54 Anon. on 2007-09-14 10:08
So, it appears that the use of designated or "restricted" funds for operations continues unabated. It is quite a trick to simply say that the restriction has "expired". That is just another way of saying they have no intention of ever using the restricted appeals money for their intended purposes. They did just enough to make it appear they were making things right, but, in fact, they are still defrauding the donors.
To solicit donations for one purpose and then to use them for another purpose, even years later, is FRAUD, a form of theft. The theft continues, but it is better hidden.
#55 Anonymous on 2007-09-14 12:04
Let's continue your argument. I believe your point is that if the Holy Scriptures trump the Holy Canons, then Saint Paul's prescriptions are definitive,
Would you agree to consider the totality of Saint Paul's sayings regarding church discipline? I think you will find that, although the majority of Paul's sayings favor a healing approach, there are times where he says, in effect, "enough is enough, throw the bum out." I'll give just one example: ""Drive out the wicked person from among you" (1 Cor. 5:13).
Would you agree that the Lord Jesus trumps Saint Paul? If so, let me point out that the scriptures I quoted from Matthew are the words of the Lord Jesus.
My first point is that the situation is probably beyond "seventy times seven." Indeed, the canons on church discipline also acknowledge that the healing/evangelical approach cannot continue indefinitely. Also, it seem that the greater the offense, the faster and more severely is discipline imposed.
My second point is that one could approach this as correcting an error; that is, MH erred in using the church money in hiring the lawyers as he thought he was doing it for the good of the Church but the lawyers work concentrated only on one person--the MH. So, we are not talking about church discipline here, we are talking about correcting an error, with a little nudge from civil litigation.
Now, it may be true that, as Sun King said "l'etat c'est moi." the Metropolitan may think that the Church is him. In that case, we are truly talking about a problem covered by church discipline. We may be talking about an offense that would be far more serious than any that has surfaced to date. What is the problem with people who arrogate to themselves the power and authority of the Lord Jesus? Is it similar to the problem that brought down the most best and brightest angel, Lucifer? And, if so why are the church leaders hesitating to start canonical procedures?
With respect, Carl
#56 Carl on 2007-09-14 14:35
It's funny, I was talking to a friend recently about joining the church and I got reminded of this card someone sent me once:
This ship isn't sinking, it's already sunk. And I can still hear the band playing.
#57 Anon on 2007-09-14 16:39
Are you an attorney? Am I an attorney? The answer to both questions is obviously no.
Do either of us have any clue as to whether or not it is in the Church's best interest to start printing certain items such as allegations while an appeal procedure is still a work in progress?
As a Federal Prosecuter, perhaps Mr. Gregg Nescott would be the best one to pose this question to.
Would an attorney out there please answer this simple question for me.
If their answer(s) are no, it is not in the best interest of the Church to post any information until the entire process is complete, (which assumingly will be very soon), will we finally get off the bandwagon and accept the fact that information is forthcoming when it is permissible to print it without placing the church in a potentially uncomfortable legal position?
We certainly don't need any further negative ramifications.
(Editor's Reply: Now the excuse is the "appeal process". That makes the four different ones and counting just this year. When do the excuses end, and the truth begin? The day after the OCA appeal is finished, or Kondratick's EP appeal? This is a potentially endless game: pardon me if we decline participating.
As for further negative ramifications, what is worse than the spiritual destruction being wrought among our priests and parishes by this shameless temporizing? What cost in money is greater than the loss of faith and spirit that is draining from our parishes when faced with month after month of lies, obfuscation, evasion, diversion, and the like? Only the truth can heal us Mike, not "what is permissible" according to the lawyers. Feel free to disagree. But look around you - you may save the mansion at Syosset, but you are only hastening the decline of the vision of the OCA. To paraphrase our Lord: What good is it to save the OCA, if in so doing, we lose our souls? And if you don't think the temporizing of Syosset is not destroying souls, you are not paying attention.
#58 Michael Geeza on 2007-09-14 18:48
1. Where did you find a copy of the OCA's latest financial report? I was unable to find it on the OCA web site checking a variety of areas and using the website search tool.
2. While I remain concerned that restricted funds continue to be misused, I did stumble across a document that included a description of what types of donations are included in the "Temporarily Restricted" account. It includes "unitrusts," which are beneficial trusts that provide income to someone during that person's lifetime and bequeath any residual funds to the OCA after that person's death. The question is how much of the $470,000 transferred from the Temporarily Restricted account were those types of donations?
Mark C. Phinney
St. Mark Orthodox Church
#59 Mark C. Phinney on 2007-09-17 17:48
Dear Mr. Unneland,
Grace and peace to you.
Thanks for your thoughtful response to the ramblings of an OCA outsider.
This is a terrible situation your church is in and I include the OCA in my daily prayers.
I think you know the point I was making; enlarge the pool of candidates to include those who have financial and management experience. Your point is well taken. Its more than possible that there are some "management smart monastics" who understand sound financial management practices.
Hopefully this mess will be worked out in a timely manner.
Pr. Bill Pierce
#60 Pr. Bill Pierce on 2007-09-20 07:19
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