Saturday, October 20. 2007
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WHAT ARE WE DOING ! ?
Are we just re-inventing the wheel ?
Didn't we just spend a half million dollars on the PROSKAUER ROSE investigation?
Why don't we just get a copy of the report that we paid for????????????
Is this some kind of a JOKE ?
STOP THE MONEY!!!
Encourage your family, relatives, and friends; to stop all donations to the OCA!
If your local parish priest is not cooperating to help fix this crime, then ALSO stop all donations to your local parish!
STOP ALL THE MONEY!!!
#1 Ande on 2007-10-20 20:32
PRAYER FOR THE
ORTHODOX CHURCH IN AMERICA
it is time for us to be honest with You and ourselves.
Grant us the grace to admit our own failings and not those of others.
You died for our sins and redeemed us.
You only ask that we acknowledge our misdeeds,
and allow the Blood that gushed forth from Your side and wounds
to cleanse us deeply and thoroughly.
show us the reason for this time of great pain and sorrow.
The wound that has inflicted our Church is Your Wound.
The lies, envy, misconceptions, rivalry and jealousy are what were said of You on the day of Your sentence by Pilate.
The division within our Church is no different than when the crowd gathered to shout for Barabbas, the murderer, instead of You, the Innocent One.
Lift this heavy burden from Your Church,
so that we may show the world
the value of acknowledge of sin,
brokenness of heart,
forgiveness for each other,
a love that does not play favorites,
and the restoration of all things in You.
Allow Your Church to once again proclaim liberty
to those enslaved by sin, un-forgiveness and hardness of heart.
May Your Holy Spirit breath life into our tired hearts, minds and souls.
Show us how to redeem this time.
When this season of cleansing is over,
in Your timing, and only then,
turn our sorrow into joy and our tears into laughter.
Lord, bring our church out of its prison
that we may give thanks to Your Name.
Then will the Christian world begin to recognize our church as self-governing,
when we who call ourselves Your disciples put into practice Your commandments.
If we have wasted our time seeking human approval,
forgive us and get us back on track
by making our only desire to please You in what we say, do and think.
Unite us together, imperfect and frail as we are, in true love around Your holy Altar,
so that partaking of Your most-pure Body and precious and life-giving Blood
we will come to experience the height, depth and width of Your love.
When we feel that these things cannot be accomplished
and that it is too far gone,
remind us of Your own words:
With God, all things are possible!
With God, all things are possible!
(Dynamis) With God, all things are possible!
grant rest to the souls of those who have died
during this struggle
and place them where all the saints repose.
so we are back to square one, again ?
it seems Mark Giesh was right:
"...... a criminal investigation is the only way to find out the truth and bring these people to justice."
thanks for the link Mark. it was easy to use.
michael j molenaur
parishioner - Saint Nicholas Orthodox Church
they don't speak for me - i don't speak for them
#3 mjmolenaur on 2007-10-20 22:20
Of course, only time will tell, but it is encouraging that the MC appears to be actually taking its responsibility seriously. Was this only because MH was not presiding, rather busy presiding at the HS meeting? I wonder... In the past, efforts by the MC were just summarily dismissed or blocked by MH. It also remains to be seen just how "independent" the SIC will be allowed to be, or whether MH will just continue his all-too-obvious little power games.
This gets us to the bigger question of whether our Church is conciliar or whether we have a little pope. This is something that must be addressed by the MC and the AAC. If it is not, there really will be very little change in the long run.
#4 A priest of the Midwest on 2007-10-21 05:18
Is anybody else amazed that all this still drags on? What possible morally acceptable reason remains to support why the synod has not replaced Metropolitan Herman, why the synod has not permanently laicized Mr. Kondratick?
At the very least the Metropolitan is guilty of gross negligence and presiding over the long term uninterrupted of wasting the efforts of, well, everyone in the church actually.
How possibly can more dithering be in the interest of what it is the bishops are supposed to love most?
Do these bishops care the smallest jot for how tough a spot they put the parish pastors in?
'I know that my boss appears to be a dithering self-absorbed complicit-in misdoing person, and through his permission we invite God to be present in our communion. And, please give generously -- and don't forget to bring the kids!'
#5 Anonymous on 2007-10-21 06:00
THE MORE THINGS CHANGE, THE MORE THEY REMAIN THE SAME
Despite the optimism expressed by some on this site, the news from Syosset is depressing, if predictable. Metropolitan Herman is still firmly in charge and has managed to redirect the efforts of the new Special Commission to more suit his agenda, despite some window dressing making the new Commission accountable to the MC and the Synod. Is this progress, or defeat and regression? For me, the latter.
Especially troubling and annoying is the appointment of Bishop Benjamin as chairman of the new Commission. His performance to date, is to put it mildly and charitably, disappointing. While others chose to resign in the face of intransigence and perfidious interference, his Grace was, by his silence and inaction, complicit in the Metropolitan's successful effort to destroy the old Commission. It is hard to imagine the Metropolitan (or his surrogate Bishop Benjamin) repeating his original mistake of appointing truly independent agents to the new Commission (based on his conceit that he could control and manipulate them), so it will begin with zero credibility and zero chance of really getting to and revealing the whole truth. Since the Metropolitan has no interest in convincing his critics or finding the truth, just maintaining the loyalty of the hopelessly credulous, this will constitute mission accomplished for him.
The Synod, once again, demonstrated either its total impotency and irrelevance, or, more likely, its fear of the Metropolitan and its complicity in the immoral acts that have brought us to this point. Either way, I too now believe that all the bishops should resign, excepting Archbishop Job, who at least has tried to do the right thing, however ineffectually. Since none of the bishops has the the decency or humility to resign, where do we go from here?
1. Stop ALL financial support of the OCA. This is obvious and repetitive advice, but essential to any future chance for change.
2. Initiate a civil lawsuit, as others are now suggesting, and appeal for financial support for same when a plan of action is ready. Someone needs to take the lead on this--a la Wayne and Cathy Tatusko.
3. Begin contacting, again as others are now suggesting, appropriate political and law enforcement officials and demand an investigation now that any credible self examination has been thwarted by many of the chief suspects in the financial wrongdoing.
4. For those in sympathetic parishes and dioceses, liturgical life can go on as usual. For the rest of us, alternatives must be found, at least for now.
5. For those who have not already done so, begin discussing all the problems the OCA is now facing with Orthodox Christians in other jurisdictions. We all have a stake in the outcome.
This is just a start, but the time for action is now. Otherwise nothing will change and the OCA will just continue, and should sans reform continue, to decline. The passivity and fatalism that color much of our past tradition must end. We are called by our Lord to be intelligent and engaged Christians toiling in our Lord's vineyards, not chewing our cud like a bunch of contented sheep!
#6 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2007-10-21 06:10
"There is no problem too big to ignore if we really put our minds to it."
In any dysfunctional organization there is a mind set among the leadership in which (because THEY themselves are doing wrong) they believe everyone else is also doing wrong. The only way to stay in in power/control is to:
1. Get the dirt on the others and hold it over them (Everyone has something in their closet)
2. Put into position other who:
a. were previously underlings and have already co-conspired
b. already have had their dirt hidden and "owe us one".
The one who knows the most secrets, is the one who calls the shots.
#7 Guy Kogut on 2007-10-21 12:45
I believe KRT is correct.
My wife is a convert and all this mess has her head spinning.
We attempted to talk with our priest last night after Vespers and we were told that this is "not a matter for you to worry about." "Pray to God for our bishops and leave these things in the hands of the Holy Synod."
Party line: Pray, Pay and Obey. (or maybe pay comes first)
We went to Liturgy at another church this morning.
My wife and I have decided after reading this, that we will put our tithes and offerings in "escrow" in the form of a separate savings account, and notify our priest and bishop that we are doing so, in writing.
If there is a unified effort to begin some sort of civil litigation, we are willing to assist by donating to this worthy cause.
#8 Guy Kogut on 2007-10-21 12:58
guess I'm feeling Charlie Brown-ish --
As frustrating as things are, I'm not sure what the options are other than taking another run at the football (aka, SIC). The things that Bp. Benjamin is reported to have said are encouraging on the whole. The fact that the MC seems to have had an extended and honest debate about things is a huge step forward from where we were when this all started.
The NE and NYNJ/DC assemblies are coming up -- the outcomes of the past week make it clear that pressure must continue unabated.
That MH will not except a clause recusing himself from the investigation is depressing, but hardly unexpected.
The MC and the HS, perhaps to a lesser degree, both show signs of understanding that MH's intransigence is deadly for the OCA, although they neither of them seem to have the wherewithall or authority to over-rule him. So they continue the dance of trying to maneuver around him -- I don't know if it will work, but I don't see any alternative to giving it a shot, again.
#9 Rebecca Matovic on 2007-10-21 13:24
Exactly !!! This hierarchal crap has got to stop.
It didn't work for Marie Antonette, Tzar Nicholas, Adolph Hitler; today the people are not idiots. It won't work for the OCA. It may have worked in my great grandmothers day, but not anymore.
STOP THE MONEY
#10 Ande on 2007-10-21 15:43
Yes, I am amazed.
I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop. Something really has got to give.
I'm glad the Metropolitan Council is trying, I guess, harder than before.
However, I am sick of the pseudo-papacy going on in the OCA.
#11 Anonymous for now on 2007-10-21 17:17
Somedays, I too feel Charlie Brown-ish as well.
As Christians, we want to have hope. Even hope beyond hope!
My regular afternoon date with the Sunday newspaper spoke words of prophesy today.
Good for Sunday only.
#12 Anonymous on 2007-10-21 17:30
Repulsive...and coming from Alaska, I say again... Bishop Nikolai needs to pack his bags and leave, right now! This Alaska Native is not blinded or impressed by fancy robes or sparkling ecclesial baubles; and what of the seemingly non-existant "investigation" here in Alaska as he continues to axe those who won't tow the line?!?!
#13 Moses on 2007-10-21 17:59
+Herman thinks he's the Pope of the OCA...and the synod and MC allow him to act as if he is.
+Herman is a "person of interest" with a clear conflict of interest with the Special Commission. He should have NO SAY in who is the chair, who is on it, who is eligible...this is a no brainer. He wants people on the SIC who aren't savvy enough to ask the right questions or experienced enough to sort the truth from the lies. Integrity is good, but you need a Gregg Nescott to get to the bottom of the matter. Bishop Benjamin just doesn't have the will or the moxie. He doesn't want anyone on this "new" commission who's ever taken a stand on the internet...oh, gee, he wants someone who hasn't taken a stand after millions of dollars stolen, countless lies told by the Met., etc.....in other words, a milquetoast.
The ORIGINAL Special Commission is the only one that has and will have credibility.
+Nikolai thinks he's a Byzantine Emperor and lives in such a fantasy world that he just embarasses himself with his delusions.
Obviously, the incredibly competent HS "forgot" to deal with +Nikolai and his roomie, Archimandrite (and current Chancellor of Alaska) Isidore.
The OCA becomes more ridiculous day by day.
#14 anonymous on 2007-10-21 20:08
Pseudo? There nothing pseudo about it.
#15 Anonymouse on 2007-10-21 21:32
I totally agree...
The performance at the MC was apalling, Alaska's representation is not representative of anything other than a dictators plants!
I say get rid of the entire reich of the current synod - they've proved beyond any doubt worthy of that!
I dont trust one of them, nor will any climatic change brought about by laity heal that rift in a thousand years!
They all need to go - their action or worse has proven [by their lack of actions] their collective unworthiness of the office/s they falsely occupy!
Remove them now to save what is left of our church!
#16 Ted P on 2007-10-21 23:12
Well friends, this ain't any of my business, so maybe I should say nothing.
On the other hand, since I might seem to stand outside the immediate circle of this mess or a little farther from the epicenter than most commentators here (to the extent we believe the Church is one and the Body is a single organism the OCA's trouble is ours, its pain ours too) maybe I can offer a few sober comments for the more sanguine to reflect upon.
30 years ago I first began working on litigation as a law clerk. 28 years ago next month I got my license to practice. Until last fall I made my living full time in civil law, much of it litigation in the California courts. Included in that have been numerous consultations concerning religious organization employment problems, and several vigorous contests in civil courts involving Orthodox and non-Orthodox Christian organizations.
There is a lot of wooly thinking in our society about the use of the courts for the redress of grievances and the solution of problems. The myth is that the courts are where we go to get "justice," almost as if we were going to the store to get a large pepperoni with extra cheese or a pair of 38" w 30" inseam khaki Dockers.
Civil litigation vastly different from what Polyannas imagine it to be. (emphasis on the word imagine) It is very slow. It is hugely expensive. It is extremely unpleasant. It usually tends to bring out the worst in people.
Of the cases I have touched in my 30 years experience, I cannot think of a single religious organization or other non-government institution that has survived intact once civil litigation is instituted and then pursued with any vigor. The process of blame and avoidance at great rsik and great expense leaves people so estranged from one another, so intent on excusing themselves and blaming the other guy, that they have little if any desire left to maintain the ties that pre-dated the filing of the case. The scriptures say that "a brother offended is harder to win back than a city," and it seems to me to be true.
A young lawyer who is just out of law school and "feeling his Cheerios" as the old cereal commercial used to put it, talks to new litigation clients optimistically. He wants to please them and earn his fee, and he has not seen enough of the suffering and wreckage that inevitably results from many "good" cases, to say nothing of the bad.
With time he learns to spot the clients who are tempting him to take certain kinds of "bad" cases. Cases premised upon the desire to "reform" or get revenge, the intention of teaching the other guy a lesson, the determination to prevent someone from "getting away with _," etc., etc. With time he learns that these are largely poisonous motives which tend to spoil the lives of the litigants and the attorneys.
And does litigation achieve "justice?" Sometimes, depending on how you define "justice" and how willing you are to live with an incomplete version of it. Usually it results in compromises based on one side having less determination or money than the other, or more common sense or fear of adverse outcome than the other.
Was it Mr. Kogut whose priest told him he didn't need to trouble himself about this? Bravo priest! Unpopular advice in a media-driven democracy where everything is everyone's business. Of course the priest may have had bad motives of hiding the truth in so advising this man. I hope not. But we can see the devil already winning because this gentleman reacted to the advice and now separates himself from his church family. (If I have the name wrong, please excuse.)
And if this conflict continues to develop how many tens of thousands of Koguts will be caused to stumble. And will the two main camps (1) defenders of the administration and 2) its accusers escape judgment? Right now it seems to me based on the words of Met. Herman and the editor of this site that both are comfortable with the idea that the other guy's wrongness somehow guarantees one's own rightness. There is a third alternative, that both are wrong and will destroy much that is good in the utter determination to accuse and defend respectively.
St. Paul says give diligence to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Why? Because only diligent effort preserves unity. I believe both sides, or at least some of their respective leaders in attack and defense, may well have lost sight of the bigger picture and are now so determined to resist the other that they do not care if the house is pulled down so long as a) the mouse does not escape in one's side's view, or b) it does if you're on the other side.
And I am intrigued by what I think I understand of Bishop Nikolai's position, namely that some of the democratic underpinnings of the OCA polity may well be inconsistent with historic Orthodox ecclesiology to the extent that it purports to operate by checks and balances. History teaches us that unchecked power will be used corruptly sooner or later, and probably sooner. But does the historic Orthodox system really have any checks and balances other than the Imperial Guard?
#17 Fr. George Washburn on 2007-10-21 23:24
Here's the archive address so people reading after Sunday can see it:
#18 Rebecca Matovic on 2007-10-22 01:30
Now my question is, did the ipetition get any discussion at the recent meetings? Not a chance!
Herman threw Kucynda under the bus, distracted the group and away he returned to South Canaan where life is just perfect.
#19 Sue on 2007-10-22 03:04
Sad, sad, sad! It's all been said and here we sit - same old stuff. Folks, nothing will change and no truth will be uncovered until four things happen:
1) + Theodosius truly reveals what he knows, under oath.
2) RSK truly reveals what he knows, under oath.
3) + Herman reveals what he knows under oath and steps down and retires.
4) Kucynda steps down & retires.
In the mean time, money will dry up and the OCA will continue in free fall.
#20 Anonymouso on 2007-10-22 06:08
One hardly knows where to begin in responding to your absurd post! At least you got the first sentence right.
The idea that you are some kind of detached and objective observer of the travails of the OCA is laughable for anyone who has read your previous posts. You are an unabashed champion of unfettered clericalism. Obviously, the law did not give you a sufficient outlet for arrogant posturing cloaked in the the usual pious bromides.
Particularly offensive, and the primary reason I'm responding to your post, is the attack on Mr. Kogut for daring to question his parish priest and choosing to attend another parish. How dare you! The culture of silence and denial, which you apparently seek to foster, is exactly what is destroying the OCA and leading to the admittedly distasteful necessity of pursing this matter in the courts. Freed from formal state control, our unaccountable bishops now believe that they rule by "divine right" and that everyone else should, just as you suggest, SHUT UP!
Well sorry, but those days are over for the OCA and also for the jurisdiction you serve. The cultist approach to Christian practice where "father knows best" is a relic of the past when utilized in a heavy-handed authoritarian manner. I suggest you pay a little more attention to the concepts of free will, ordered liberty and the accountability of power which are basic tenants of our culture and probably the reason Orthodoxy, under its current leadership, is struggling to take root here.
Have a nice day.
#21 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2007-10-22 07:01
History teaches us that unchecked power will be used corruptly sooner or later, and probably sooner..........Very true, and those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.
#22 Anonymouse on 2007-10-22 07:52
Fr. George, We don't have an imperial guard. Much of what you write above is true. However, the laity do have a voice. At any ordnation of deacon, priest, bishop the people respond with the Greek term AXIOS!, AXIOS!, AXIOS! Frankly, the people/laity should be heard outside of the liturgical realm, and state that we don't believe the Metropolitan and most of the bishops are not upholding their God given authority when they aren't willing to "clear up the scandal" in a manner that the laity will believe is the truth. So the laity also have a responsibility. Liturgical worship is not one sided. Divine Liturgy, Vespers, etc cannot occur unless there are singers and celebrants. Thus, the laity is a necessity. Lawyers are expensive. Court proceedings are expensive. The Metropolitan and some of his bishops think they are above the law--God's law and civil law. The laity cannot sit back and leave it to the clergy alone. Syosset is responsing when lack of money is at hand.
#23 cshinn on 2007-10-22 08:04
As a lawyer, I agree with your sober assessment of the general nature of civil litigation.
As an Orthodox, its hard to argue against what appears to be your sympathy for a "checks and balances" concerning Orthodox leadership (more on that below).
As a lawyer and an Orthodox, I can't help but note that you begin with the caveat that this may be none of your business, but that inasmuch as it is of and concerning the One Church, then it is appropriate for you to reflect and publicly comment; while several paragraphs later you commend a parish priest for admonishing parishioners not to trouble themselves about this scandal.
As an Orthodox lawyer, I note with bit of distaste that you distinguish between the camps as "defenders" of the administration and "accusers" of the administration, rather than defenders of the administration and defenders of the OCA and the needy who have suffered from the theft and/or mismanagement of funds
As a thinker, I'm at a bit of a loss to see how another thinker can conclude the Mark Stokoe's conviction of the rightness of his position derives from his conviction of the wrongness of +Herman's actions; the two are opposite sides of the same coin. It seems plainly clear that Mark's conviction of the rightness of his position (also the position of many others) is rooted in certain basic Truths made known by God's revelations: in the Law, in the Prophets, in the Wisdom Literature, in the Gospel, in the Epistles, in the unveiling of God's way of doing things throughout the history of His People.
As to the notion that Mark and +Herman each is wrong, it was not clear in what sense it might be that Mark is wrong: by the creation of this site? By declaring evil to be evil? By calling for Herman to step down? Something else? How can one in good faith have spent time reading this site over 2 years and have concluded that Mark's determination is nothing other than to see the pillaging of the OCA stopped?
"Give diligence to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." Yeah ... but not at the cost of truth, of Godly leadership, of proper Church governance.
Only diligent effort preserves unity? Yes, but even the Soviet Union preserved unity through diligence; more is needed. Right action, transparency, the guts to openly call corruption by its name and demand a change.
You "believe both sides may well have lost sight of the bigger picture and are now so determined to resist the other that they do not care if the house is pulled down so long as a) the mouse does not escape in one's side's view, or b) it does if you're on the other side."
Quite the indictment. Whereas actions and culpable omissions of the type of which +Herman and his crew are guilty will even must by their very nature destroy the OCA (at least in its tangible dimension), the actions of those who defend the OCA against this racketeering are by their very nature designed to expose the danger.
What?!? Would we have the defenders of the OCA's coffers simply shut up, sit by idly, and hope that these deeds and omissions will somehow not be destructive? Such would do no more than regurgitate the sophistic garbage (that the Syosset Spin Doctors initiated at the outset) that the scandal is in its exposure. Wrong! The scandal consists in the actions and omissions that have been exposed and in the actions and omissions that continue. And and this is fundamental the scandal would still be scandalous, the destruction would still be destructive, even if nobody outside the perpetrators knew about it!
And after a bold indictment of Mark Stokoe for exposing corrupt and unOrthodox governance to the light of day, it would seem (its unclear to me from your last paragraph) that nonetheless Mark and you share some sort of notion that Orthodox hierarchical leadership should in fact have some "checks and balances" (by whatever name).
The argument against those who would defend the OCA against a leadership whose self will has run rampant that they are trying to instill a democracy is a red herring. Its not democracy or congregationalism that is desired. This false dichotomy between papacy and congregationalism/democracy misses the point, and tries to avoid a meaningful discussion. Its not about "rights" but about an obligation --- the same obligation that imposes on the people, from among whom the hierarchs are chosen, the charge of declaring "Axios" or "Anaxios" during a consecration service. What?! Is this just a pleasantry designed to boost the would-be hierarch's self esteem? No. And, what?! If a man is worthy on the day of his consecration, but later falls greatly and rejects all calls to get up, all attempts to help him get up, all exposure of his corruption, are the people then stuck with their original Axios? Why should it be so?
#24 Anonymous on 2007-10-22 08:06
In reply to Fr. George, in l982 when Bishop Herman took the parishes of the Eastern Pa. churches to court as , he was the Plaintiff against the people who wanted to leave the OCA. He turned families against each other, brothers against brothers, sisters against sisters. He hired lawyers, causing the people, who were put out of the church, to earn money to pay thousands of dollars for court cases. As did the OCA PAY FOR THOSE SAME CASES. In the end the defendants, won out and received ther church back, in the Pa. states higher courts. 25 years later, some families have come back to each other with love and some have not, but M.Herman is still doing the same thing to the OCA on a national scale. But the divisions were heart-wrenching but the strong love of the people , who did not want the '" YOU MUST OBEY CRIES AND DEMANDS OF A BISHOP HERMAN.", WERE TURNED TO JOY AND LOVE ON THAT, ACENSION DAY, WHEN THEY RECEIVED THEIR CHURCH BACK., and HERMAN LOST CONTROL OF THAT SMALL PARISH IN SIMPSON, PA. God Bless The OCA
#25 annonymous on 2007-10-22 08:51
Dear Fr. George,
I hadn't planned to spend much time this morning reading the "Comments" section of the OCAnews website. But your posting was something unexpected. It has given me much to think about.
Your guidance, drawn from your experience as a civil litigation attorney, is a truly helpful antidote to the facile assumption that "sue 'em" will solve anything.
I'm not sure I would agree with your suggestion that Mr. Kogut's priest gave him good advice when he told him not to
"trouble himself about" the current situation in the OCA. It would depend on what the priest meant by his advice.
If by "trouble himself", the priest meant not to become incommensurately distressed, I would agree. But I would tend to think that every member of the OCA should be commensurately distressed about the situation.
If by "not to trouble himself", the priest meant he should not make any further attempt to keep himself informed about the situation, I would not agree.
You eloquently point out that adopting a "us good guys" versus the "those evildoers" is as stupidly non-productive as it is unChristian. But seeking to be informed need not degenerate into ultra-partisan, "cage fighting" mentality.
Anyone who hasn't learned that "spin" is ubiquitous in any information being offered today about anything is invincibly out of touch with reality. The first task of anyone who seeks to imform himself or herself on any subject today is to practice careful discernment based upon recognition of the presence of "spin" if not outright disinformation. That is the mature person's responsibility in seeking to be informed in the contemporary world at large and no less so in reading any proffered information from any source about the OCA situation. Perhaps I am wrong, but I believe the majority of the members of the OCA are capable of that objectivity.
If the priest meant Mr. Kogurt should leave the resolution of the situation to the clergy, I would not agree. This would be as lop-sided an approach to solving the current problems as would be calling for a popular vote of the laymembers to determine actions to take in response to the questions that have arisen.
Lastly, I believe the points in your final paragraph are worthy of very thoughtful reflection by all members of the OCA. I am grateful to see something that I have been pondering expressed so clearly.
If your understanding of Bishop Nicholai's position is correct, it could be an insight that clarifies the contradicting positions of an imperial and autocratic historical Orthodox eccelesiology which accepts no "checks and balances" versus "some of the democratic undepinnings of the OCA polity" who clamor to "throw the bums out!"
After two years of studying as best I can the struggles of the OCA to address and resolve its governance problems, I find I have had to conclude that the OCA operates as the "historic Orthdox system". That is without "any checks and balances other that the Imperial Guard".
The exposure of that reality has evidently surprised some, discomforted many, and enraged others. Certainly for those whose only experience of OCA governance was their local parish, whose counciliar model functioned happily for them, it has come as a shock to discover that the national church has been opperating with such different assumptions.
This perhaps inevitable "clash" of impervious autocracy with accountable democracy has been facinating to observe.
But that does not make its consequences less tragic for all involved.
Certainly the revelations of the past two years have been a blow to any idealization about the OCA institution. Recognition that the OCA has so many failibilities in common with secular institutions may be more than than those who feel a need for it to be different in ways they use words like "holy", "sacred" and "set apart" to describe can bear. So they will leave to seek that elsewhere. Others may narrow their committment to the OCA to the parish they attend on Sundays, refusing to be responsible for anything outside its community life. In either case, how could these be anything other than an impoverishment?
We are taught by St. Paul that God can bring good out of anything, any circumstance, any tradegy. He advises us to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus as we face of loss of unity, disorder and devilish defeats in our church life. That seems like a pledge and a plan worth following right now.
Thank you, Fr. George, for your words. They have done me much good.
#26 Jean Langley Sullivan on 2007-10-22 09:05
Hello Fr. George,
I believe your cautions in this whole mess are well warranted. I feel your response was coming from experience and wisdom.
That the abuse even happened in the first place is very sad. I don't think we will ever know "What happened." The most we may be able to hope for is that it does not happen again.
The story is still being written, however, and I don't know how this new Special Commission will function. I also don't know the full will of the laity... this is also being determined...
But a big realistic problem is that of maintaing any type of realistic budget with what the OCA owes to other creditors... I don't know how the OCA will keep financially afloat...
#27 Patty Schellbach on 2007-10-22 09:16
Dear Father George,
I appreciate your wise counsel and see how frustrated and passionate people may go overboard--I have been one of those.
However, you do not advance any practical alternatives. The issues remain and there seem no end to them as long as +Herman is in charge. The Metropolitan Council recognized this in it's resolution--the one that was badly underreported/censored by the central authorities and that was not blessed by the Holy Synod. So, please tell us if you have something in mind.
Regarding your point about +Nikolia's insistence on "traditional" ecclesiology , if there is a silver lining to the current crisis at all, it may be the opportunity to re-examine some of our thinking and practices. It looks like Bishop Nikolai would be right if the yardstick is the sheer weight of historical practice. But, this may be one of those small "t" and capital "T" situations,where we may have to reexamine history in light of theology. We need to look unflinchingly at what happened at our Church throughout the centuries. While I believe that the Holy Orthodox Church is the body of Christ and has preserved the fullness of His teachings, I also believe that many inconsequential elements have crept in, especially in the imperial Church era, which did not end until the Russian Revolution. Our Church is like a ship: while it is the one true Church, t has also accrued some wear and tear and many barnacles. Is it not time to spruce it up; may be update the electronics, replace the engine, and get rid of those barnacles?
Father George, how can it be that our faith that in its very core is a relationship of love between God and men--rooted in free will, has degenerated into a relationship of authority and force between the bishops and priests and laity? I think authoritative and forceful behaviour is exhibited by +Nikolai as he acts as a despot; by the Holy Synod when it did not even acknowledge the Metropolitan Council's resolution for +Herman to step aside temporarily; and by by +Herman repeatedly over the years. It seems schizophrenic that while we address a Bishop as master or despot, they, along with their priests, address us and each other as "brothers and sisters." Why are there all of these imperial titles (Eminence, Holiness, etc..), while we sing "One is Holy"? Why do we affirm that Christ is the Lord and Master while we call mere humans the same? Yes, I know the differences but I also think that words do matter and that we should refrain as much as we can from conflating the Lord with those of us who were called and ordained to their holy offices. Yes, a Bishop or a priest is as prone to sinning as any lay person. No they do not become supermen when they get consecrated; it is a great conceit to expect that they can do everything equally well. In fact, it is a great disservice to them.
#28 Anonymous on 2007-10-22 09:18
First of all: It's just more of the same, tired story. +MH sets the agenda, chairs meetings, vetoes appointments, and more time drags on. And +MH remains in office, continues to draw his salary (or salaries), and holds his various positions of chairman of this, and president of that, etc. He still has dictatorial authority over the priests in his Diocese, and will presumably chair the AAC in 2008 - despite the fact that no one wants to establish an agenda or set a 'theme' for that event. Why? It's because, the theme is obvious and no one wants to bring it up: How do we get rid of our (a) corrupt or (b) incompetent Central Church Administration and/or the entire Synod, which has at least two bishops operating totally and completely out of all bounds of decency and professionalism, namely, +MH and +Nikolai. How is anyone supposed to focus on something like, "Pastoral Caregiving for the Elderly," or "Teaching Our Children Orthodox Values," when our entire Synod stands-by and lets the Met. himself continue to operate totally outside the bounds of law, decency, professional 'best practices' and decorum?!
What this "October Capitulation" has done is to ensure that the OCA will have NO forward momentum as a Church for the next year - until the AAC, and even then, only if someone with incredible courage essentially sacrifices his or her future within the organization in order to take-over that meeting, a force a massive vote to expel +MH as the Metropolitan. It probably won't even have any legal standing as an act, but otherwise, what is it going to take to make him understand that WE DON'T WANT TO FOLLOW his leadership any longer! We're not buying the lying anymore! We don't want another Committe, or Commission, or any 24-Mule Team appointed by +MH to pull this wagon NO MORE!!
With regret, I have been unable to attend Divine Liturgy at my home Parish recently, but was able to this past weekend (Oct 21) for the first time in a couple of months. I know that there are two camps at our Parish, the "Oh, let's just move on," and the "Throw the bums out." And I could see it in the eyes of everyone that they were just shells of their former selves, going through the motions because they are devout, it's Sunday, and "Well, it's a great Parish after all." But everyone had that snake-bitten look about them, the kind of look people 'trapped' in an abusive relationship have. You know the look.
So, the recent meetings in Syosset merely gives The New Guard ("Same as the Old Guard," with apologies to The Who) and our own Personal Saddam another six-months to conceal, threaten, plead for unity - while the OCA continues to wither on the vine. The official position of the Church is, "All is the same, and all is well."
My official position is, "All is the same," also: (1) no money, (2) no contributions, (3) no response to appeals - esp. that ridiculous mailing I got from St. Herman's where apparently +Nikolai has appointed himself as Rector now, whatever that means. Fellas don't you get it: No more scratch while you foxes are guarding the hen-house. Call Gov. Sonny Perdue down in Georgia and ask him about "dwindling resources." You know, you can shut that dam at Lake Lanier, but you're still gonna run outta water if it don't rain! So, you folks in Syosset can just keep trimming that budget, but it's gonna get pretty lonely up there as fewer and fewer people send-in those tithes and offerings! As I have said before, there are plenty of Christian and even Orthodox causes and appeals to respond to that are not associated with the OCA and +MH; and as long as +MH is involved, my money is going elsewhere!
And, you really should hurry, because while y'all keep dithering with +MH, +Nikolai is gonna sell-off all of those OCA Alaska Lands right out from under your noses - and why not? Who's gonna stop him? A joint HS/MC committee? Hah!!! Whatever he does, I'm sure it will be "For the Good of St. Herman's" or some such ... in +Nikolai's SOLE OPINION as the Prince of the Church in Residence, as determined by himself!
Imagine if you will -- The Antiochian Archdiocese pulls a hostile takeover of the OCA, and tries to impose this kind of leadership and these kinds of shenanigans on us; wouldn't we find that completely unacceptable? If so, then why are we allowing it to be perpetrated upon us from the inside?
#29 C.C. on 2007-10-22 09:27
We spent it, but haven't paid for it yet. At least, not all of it.
Martin D. Watt, CPA
#30 Marty Watt on 2007-10-22 09:47
I concur with the civil litigation piece. If there is not enough interest by the appropriate law enforcement and regulatory agencies, then certainly there isn't much there for a civil suit either.
I would remind the Synod, however, that recently (last summer) the FBI arrested two Roman Catholic priests for embezzling $2 million from one parish in South Florida, spending the money "some for the poor, and some for lifestyle".
Your last statement is very salient I believe: "... other than the Imperial Guard." Has not the Emperor (i.e., state) been a check and balance against the Episcopacy throughout history? As our state is prohibited from serving in such a role, does it not make sense that the people of God would serve that role in a democratic society?
Certainly Bp. Nikolai's statements deserve investigation, and perhaps consultation within SCOBA and even with the other patriarchs. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. Archbishop JOB has wisely chosen, I believe, to place himself under the accountability of his flock - not that he has abdicated his authority as Diocesan Bishop.
Also, historically, a diocese was a governmental division, not an ecclesiastical division. More governmental/state tie-in.
Martin D. Watt, CPA
#31 Marty Watt on 2007-10-22 10:00
We've spent tens of thousands of dollars for Alice Woog's stipends for her work on the AAC's, not to mention accomodations, trips, etc., and all we got out of it was a "thank you" for being a "good audience"!?
I feel ripped off!
#32 Anonymous on 2007-10-22 10:57
The only part missing is that the press has to be contacted and pushed to publish stories about not only the money, but the complete lack of spiritual and moral leadership of the leaders of the Church all the while being enablers and continuers of the scandal and malfeasance of the Church.
Has anyone sent that summary report to the IRS? I believe they would love to review a few tax returns after seeing that!
#33 Anonymous on 2007-10-22 11:01
Was Nikolai present at this past meeting? I do not recall seeing a list of who attended and who didn't.
Why does he not appear? Too many questions that he can't stand up to the scrutiny on?
#34 Anonymous on 2007-10-22 11:02
I heard a senior priest from another jurisdiction (connected with a historic foreign patriarchate), comment last weekend that the OCA was 'passe', that since the Church Abroad and Moscow had reconciled, that there was no need for the OCA, that it was a nice experiment that had served well in its time but that it was no longer needed. I was a bit shocked, but on reflection, perhaps he was perceptive.
(Editor's note: I would argue he was just the opposite. He has missed the point of the OCA. Our "experiment" was not to be the Moscow Patriarchate in the Americas, nor the Church in exile. It was, as the name indicates, to be the Orthodox Church in America. And that, we are doing. Not well at the moment, but many of us have not forget the vision, or goal, despite our current troubles. One could argue, and should, that our current troubles are not preventing that mission, but enabling it to be carried forth more authentically.)
#35 Anon in the DOW on 2007-10-22 11:31
When I was entering college, I took a series of tests to determine my academic strengths, weaknesses, areas of interest, personality traits, etc. The advisor told me I had qualities to make a good attorney.
I said, "I don't want to be an attorney." The advisor asked, "Why not?"
I said, "Because I read the Bible and I know what it says about lawyers. I want to go to Heaven when I die."
I don't want to support liars and cheats. Although we are all liars and cheats to some degree. But when a church asks for money to serve the poor, to help the sick, to support widows (of 9-11), to send bibles to Russia, and to spread the Word of God. But much of the money is used for expensive vacations, to basically support a life of luxury for a few leaders of the church. I don't want to support that sort of activity. When money is spent on things that the donors never intended, they have a right to complain and withhold future donations.
The donors of the church have a right, but more importantly, a duty, to ensure that their donations are spent wisely and appropriately.
When money is taken up for one thing, for instance, victims of poverty or tragedy, and that money is diverted for other things, it is a crime in this country.
I don't want to support these things for the same reason I did not want to be a lawyer. It is my duty to ensure that the charities I support are properly administered and that the intended persons actually receive the benefits that they are supposed to receive.
I want to remain in the Orthodox Church. I want to be comfortable supporting the church. I want this mess to be straighted out. I expect honest people to keep the finances straight. I expect the money to be accounted for properly. And I am sick and tired of people defending corruption.
#36 Lev on 2007-10-22 12:10
Correct me if I'm wrong on the following points:
1. Accusations of financial malfeasance are made
2. The messenger is fired
3. Accusations are put on the internet
4. The accusations are denounced as lies and the peaants are told to shut up and mind their own business
5. The messengers persist
6. PR is hired and the bishops find out that the messenger was right after all
7. The peasants are upset because #2 never should have happened and #6 wouldn't have been necessary if the MC and the audit committee had functioned as planned
8. The peasants are upset over having to pay for the cost of #6 and having to in effect pay appeals money twice thru the taking out of a large loan
Now, Father, I am the first to admit that some people's remarks have gone way, way over the line. But are you really surprised at how upset us peasants are? Some of us, as evidenced in the example you give, are still being told to shut up. Not worrying about it got us $2.2+ million in debt. How and why is this priest to be commended for telling this fellow to be quiet and not worry? He drove a parishoner to another church (and we don't know if it was even another Orthodox church).
The sad fact, again IMHO, is that the prospects are good that we won't hear anything of real substance for another year. And that, Father, is shame to all of us.
#37 Michael Strelka on 2007-10-22 12:40
As a lawyer (I'm going to have to begin sentences w/ something else soon), I feel compelled to note that there are some saintly lawyers in the history of the Church. I'm not one of them. But, there's hope!!
#38 Not John Chrysostom, but not Clarence Darrow either on 2007-10-22 14:43
Well friends, this ain't any of my business, so maybe I should say nothing.
#39 Anon on 2007-10-22 14:50
Mr. Tobin has read more than a little bit too much into my reference to an individual who was told by his parish priest it would be better for that individual not to be involved in this.
It was not a general suggestion that everyone should back off or be quiet, or even that Mr. Tobin should, although..... I only meant to say "good for that priest" for daring to suggest to his parishioner that it would be more spiritually healthy for that individual not to be involved. If the advice was offered with love and wisdom, I do not see how one can gainsay it. If it was arrogance or an attempt to control or deceive or deprive the laity of its voice, then of course it was wrong.
It seems to me that one of the unspoken, underlying premises of some of the people who post here is that the more angry and involved EVERYBODY gets, the better. That is just as bad as the monlithic clericalism of which Mr. Tobin suspects me.
In my limited experience hot disputation is not for most people and really tends to harm them. Doubtless the church needs a number of self-sacrificing souls who will do the heavy lifting and pursue this to as good a conclusion as possible, but hopefully many of the good people who don't need to be in the middle of this will figure that out and stand back a prudent distance out of the line of fire.
I respect those who are dealing with this forthrightly and with integrity. It is vey hard not to be soiled and dragged down. The people who betray trust and misuse money and power will be accountable for the souls they have damaged in the process, and to a lesser extent so will the silently complicit who had responsibility to oppose it.
But that does not translate into the beliefs that Mr. Tobin and some others may well hold, namely that a) everyone, regardless of the harm it causes or threatens to do him/her in his heart, should take up arms on this issue or b) that those who oppose what has happened are incapable of, and immune from divine accountability for, damage to the more vulnerable souls of those inadvisedly drawn into the fray. It is possible that the work begun by the original wrongdoers is actually furthered even more than it is remedied when especially vulnerable people are drawn into the middle of a fight for which they are neither called nor well-equpped?
Mr. Tobin clearly seems to believe that he and the great majority of others are made of sterner stuff. I suppose it would be nice if he were right, but in my limited experience I do not think so. I know that in at least one of the cases I was in, I thought I was much less vulnerable to harm than I turned out to be.
#40 Fr. George Washburn on 2007-10-22 15:00
Dear Fr. George,
You're concerned witht the money? How much is a lot of money? Are we not talking about $6 million as in ADM gifts?
Then again, money is not really the issue. I see the wounded kids and families from Beslan and 911, orphans & widows, suffering OCA missions and charities and wonder how long the faithful will allow this defilement and destruciton of Our Lord's Church to continue.
I too consider civil litigation as a last resort, but I now feel that governmental action is the only alternative. This starts with an investigation of state and federal tax evasion, whether that leads to charges of money laudering, fraud and racketeering are to be determined. Federal taxes on $6 million of unreported personal gain are roughly $2 million plus interest and penalties for a multitude of years. The State of NY would also have it's share but perhaps that only amounts to a few hundred thousand dollars. Then again, I'm only including the ADM money, what other donations are part of the scam? Yes, I believe that it is a horrible shame to call on our civil authorities to clean up OUR Church, nonetheless, are these not the same civil authorities that we pray for at Liturgy to provide civil peace and justice?
The OCA faithful continue to be stonewalled and the dancing and ducking appears to have no end. Despite the outrage and calls for an investigation of truth, there appears to be no human authority within the church that is capable of conducting an unhindered investigation. No one has even questioned MH yet. What will be his first response to interrogating questions from an unfortunately powerless committe be? "That question is out of order?; I don't recall?; I don't think that occurred?; The Metropolitan of the Orthodox Church in America would not act in any such manner?"
Again, we are not even at a stage of being allowed to ask questions, but rather dancing around trying to form an internal investigating committee. If the truth were not so painful, it could have been posted on the OCA website 18 months ago. No, it appears that the only chance that the faithful have of being provided with an accurate investigation is to call on our civil authorities. It doesn't cost anything to call the District Attorney, the IRS and the FBI and send them a copy of the information that was posted on the OCA website for 45 minutes along with information on the ADM donations.
With continuing pray for our God loving, God fearing country, the United States of America, it's President, Armed Forces and Civil Authorities,
#41 Ken Kozak on 2007-10-22 15:27
"hierarchical" does not necessarily exclude "concilar".
Our church is by Tradition hierarchical. It is not necessary to pitch that out, no matter what you might think of the men currently holding those positions.
We are not Protestants. We have real authoritative leadership positions. We have hierarchy and that is how it must remain.
What we do not have is Emperor-clerics, Bishop-Kings, or infallible Popes.
Our bishops have to remember that they need the "axios" of their people and their peoples' voices should be heard.
Now that doesn't mean bishops have to play "majority rules". If I may borrow from a famous member of the British parliament, Edmund Burke, (paraphrased) " a Bishop owes the People not only his industry, but his judgment, and he betrays them if he sacrifices it to their opinion." The bishop needs to listen, though, and respectfully consider what his people tell him, even if in the end he makes a decision contrary to what they may have wanted, ideally because the leading of the Holy Spirit indicates the path that he must choose for his diocese and his people.
We are a hierarchical church. We are a conciliar church. We do not have to dispense with one to be the other--and I have 2,000 years of Christian history to offer as evidence.
#42 Anonymous on 2007-10-22 16:09
I agree with Mark. If anything; doesn't the reconcilliation make the "Russian Orthodox Church outside Russia" passe, even irrelevant? The next logical step would be for ROCOR parishes in North America to join the OCA. Would that we were in good enough shape for that to be even remotely appealing to them.
#43 AnonPriest on 2007-10-22 17:27
You forgot 1a - accusation of sexual misconduct by the former Met and others and the paying of blackmail to cover it up were made.
When the leadership of the OCA is morally bankrupt, should the laity just "move on", let the bishops continue to hide it and sweep everything under the rug, and punish those who dare to speak out against such sin?
I beg to differ with you!
#44 Name withheld on 2007-10-22 18:54
this coming weekend M-H, M THED. & Bishop Job will be in Garfield, Heights, Ohio to consecrate a new altar table at ST. Andrews...
As much as I had planned on going I most definitely will not go after hearing that both Metropolitans will be there...
Why 3 bishops is all I can ask...More money goes to Herman, & Thed. for a visit that no doubt will be uncomfortable for the parish...
#45 Anoymous on 2007-10-23 05:56
Your advice is seductive, but wrong. It is not too much involvement, but too little, that bedevils the OCA and its faithful. Of course, you are right that there is a danger in involving oneself in all this and perhaps the fainthearted should sit on the sidelines as you suggest. But what really seems to drive your concern is the "appropriateness" of the laity having the timidity to question and criticize those ordained to "manage" all of this for us.
Actually, to my shame and regret, I followed your advice for 17 or so years after converting to Orthodoxy. My parish seemed healthy, most of the time, and Metropolitan Theodosius kindly and concerned, if not terribly dynamic or effective. I was especially concerned as a convert not to be too forward or vocal.
Of course, now I see that even life-long Orthodox lay persons and clergy were guilty of not standing up and being counted when the going got tough. Never again!
If you see hubris and arrogance in this, so be it. We will all answer for our actions or inactions at the Last Judgment.
#46 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2007-10-23 09:55
I think I heard on the radio that a huge outbreak of the flu was going to prevent many people from attending their church in Garfield Heights, Ohio, this coming weekend. Wink, wink, nod, nod.
Would be a great opportunity for +Job to have a little heart-to-heart with the Mets, esp. if the church was sans parishioners ... such a quite place for thoughtful meditation on one's future.
#47 C.C. on 2007-10-23 13:06
I agree with the above,plus is the writer not aware that Tsar-Martyr Nicholas II is a Saint of the Church?Like it or not,he is a martyr, and to put him in the same category with Hitler is sickening.
#48 Old Priest on 2007-10-23 16:05
Fr. George's comments had me curious enough, so I googled him. Here's his bio from his parish's website.
His previous parish was Ss. Peter & Paul, Ben Lomand, CA.
#49 Michele Hagerman on 2007-10-23 17:16
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