Thursday, April 27. 2006
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Something seems to be happening! Thank You God that things are moving!
#1 withheld on 2006-04-27 13:14
One interesting editorial comment concerning the audits of 2004/2005. My sources tell me, that both are completed and that Fr Bob was commended for his support to the audits.
Also, I'm concerned that Fr Bob still hasn't been released to search for a new parish. His two-weeks of severance pay is long overwith, how is he taking care of his family? His reward for 30+ years of service to his church is? Fired, to show the people of the church that something was being done and then, not releasing him in a timely manner to search for a new parish. Is that fair? Nope, that would be called punishment. And who else has been punished to this point? No one!!
To think that anyone could "imagine" "that keeping the former chancellor within his (+Metropolitan Herman)jurisdiction pending the resolution of all the issues in which he is involved." is ludicrous. Sounds like he’s been tried and found guilty already. Wow, that’s a fair statement from the editor.
#2 Michael Livosky on 2006-04-27 13:47
With regard to the payroll problem, your implication that this is the result of financial insolvency may not be accurate. I have been told that this resulted from the inexperience of the new financial officers with the payroll deadlines and not a lack of funds.
#3 Rick Wagner on 2006-04-27 22:09
For all of the chaos currently awash in the OCA, one can only say that if this were a corporate entity of any kind, it would be put into receivership....missed payrolls...mass departures of the senior managers...investigations...rumours of a New York State grand jury investigation...rumours of an IRS investigation...ruling bishops writing letters about their suicidal tendancies.
Is there no dignity left? Has all propriety been torn to shreds? Is the OCA determined to out-scandal the Catholic Church?
Does this or does this not look like an ecclesiastical Enron? Does this or does not look like an ecclesiastical WorldCom? The scandals of the late Archbishop Marcinkus of Chicago pale in comparison.
As I told an American friend here in Shanghai, this is not a local mess anymore. It is being played out on the world stage via the Internet, the international press and the various local media. My God, it even appeared in one Shanghai daily as an pertinent example of Marx's comments about the "opiate of the people".
We are all truly aggrieved by this situation. We pray for you daily and fervently. And we pray for all those who are travailled by this uproar, on whatever side of the uproar they be.
And we pray Almighty God and St. John of Shanghai in the sight of the Most Blessed Mother for the return of righteous conduct and proper decorum by all involved in this calamity.
This has truly degenerated into a church barroom brawl. It serves the best interests of no one, except the Devil Incarnate.
Xiao Ling Tong
of the former parish of St. John Maximovitch of Shanghai
which through the prayers of the Blessed Mother
has now been returned to the faithful as an act of grace by the Shanghai City Council
Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked.
Render unto God what is God's and unto Ceasar's what is Ceaser's.
Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.
Dear Michael, Christ is Risen!
The article expressly states the Fr. Bob turned down the offer of a parish in the Diocese of the West because he would prefer to remain in the northeast, either the New York or New England Dioces. It didn't say that Fr. Bob accepted, but that +MH refused to release him.
It would appear from the article, that Fr. Bob would stay in New York given the opportunity to do so. Who knows? We are not privy to his thoughts.
#5 John Czukkermann on 2006-04-28 11:15
Dear Friend from Shanghai,
Thank you for your thoughtful and caring posts. May I suggest an entirely different interpretation of the OCA scandal? Because organizations are run by human beings, they are not perfect. For some communist bureaucrat at a Shanghai newspaper to seize on this scandal as an opportunity to illustrate the deficiencies of religion misses the point. Boy, I haven't heard that rhetoric since my Pravda-reading days.
What those of us know in some cases, and suspect in others, is that much ill-advised thinking became institutionalized in the OCA. This organizational formation overstated certain "hierarchical" principles and understated or ignored many equally important "conciliar" principles. In so doing, the resulting practices of the organization have been unbalanced. This is a failing of men, not of Orthodox Christianity.
To the contrary, this scandal shows that the Holy Spirit dwells among us. It shows that the hierarchical AND conciliar principles upon which our faith is founded and that our theology is articulated are alive and well.
As to the comparisons to Enron and Worldcom: yes, maybe so. But this is good, not bad. God help us if we lived in a country where oligarchs could perpetrate corruption with impunity. This scandal is as much about America working as it is about Orthodoxy working. We Orthodox in America are called to embrace our culture and then enliven it with the Truth of the Gospel. Thankfully, God has given us many tools with which to hold people accountable and right wrongs. That said, if we now fail to act responsibly, then, maybe that Shanghai newspaper writer has got a point...
Thank you so much for your prayers.
#6 Anonymous on 2006-04-29 07:30
Indeed He is Risen!
I read the statement and understand it the same as you. Here was my point. I can understand that Fr Bob turned down an offer from the West. That doesn't mean he hasn't been offered other positions. The website just chose to address the one offer they know of.
Regardless of all that, he still should have been released in a timely manner since he longer is on the payroll of the OCA Administration. Once again, his two-week severance package is long overwith.
Let us all keep in mind, the editor has TOTAL control over what is on this website. He picks and chooses what is put before us to read. He then adds his editorial rhetoric to get a specific reaction, then lets the faithful take care of the rest of his business.
#7 Michael Livosky on 2006-05-01 10:27
I think the editorial comments are indicative all the more as to why I don't agree that priests are necessarily the best people to hold a fiduciary role, or rather, an accounting role. They do need to hold a fiduciary role.
No one has to like my seeming disrespect for a priest, but let me make clear I have great and endearing respect for all of them, and unless Fr. Bob is guilty of criminal behavior, I still respect him as well, as a priest, mind you. These men who guide us spiritually must be highly valued, every one of them.
I know how easy it is for small entities to try to make the difficult task of accounting easy by oversimplification. i.e. Posting an entire credit card receipt to supplies simplifies the tedious burden of accounting. I've had to do it while in the public sector, full well knowing there were personal purchases even on it, and that isn't probably even the story here. The only difference between me and someone on OCA staff is I was ordered to do so [for my bread]. The client(s) wanted to save money and cheat on taxes, too. Yes, that's plural. For our own small church budget and church accounting, the savings for our staff is time.
Once entities start down the path of failing to go the extra mile, it can be a slippery slope, from what simply started out as a classification issue, now, noone can understand anything, audits become impossible or difficult, all certainty is lost.
Shoddy accounting by non-accountants shouldn't surprise a single soul, unless you have no respect for accounting.
As a younger man growing up reading the press materials from the OCA, I always wondered who this Fr. Kondratick was and was always interested enough to read and felt very lucky to be a part of this church. I thought that surely this Kondratick fellow is doing a great job getting this story to me, and he and the others were and I thank them.
Hopefully all of us can step back a bit and realize the relativity of all of this..
A good accountant is probably not a good priest, and likewise. I like to think of myself as a good accountant, but I would never make a good priest.
#8 Dan Fall on 2006-05-01 19:38
In response to Michael L's concerns about how Fr. Bob will be able to care for his family financially, I ask this. Was Fr. Bob concerned about all the priest before him who were fired unjustly, with no cause at all and with no income at all? Did Fr. Bob worry about their families? How many priests were innocent victims of Syosset's cronyism and unconsciounable self-serving mismanagement? Thank God this era is coming to an end.
#9 withheld on 2006-05-02 12:13
Why is it even reasonable to give Fr. Bob a speedy assignment? If he is guilty of the wrongdoing alleged, he will likely be defrocked. Why should a parish be forced to labor with such a lame duck priest? On the other hand, if he is cleared of the allegations, then is the time for a parish assignment. Not now. His behavior and decisions are central to much of this scandal. To place him in a parish right now makes no practical sense. To treat him as if he has been an innocent bystander here is unconscionable.
As to the editorial approach of this website, what is the problem? Every opinion site has an editor with a point of view. This one is not different. Each of us is free to put up our own website for that matter. My mother quit her daily paper recently because of its chronic left-leaning editorial bias. Another relative won't listen to certain radio hosts because of their right-leaning editorial biases. Such is the nature of a free press. We are free to listen and read... or not. The Holy Spirit moves where He wills.
#10 Annoymous on 2006-05-02 16:34
I have to agree with you Michael. Since Fr. Bob has been dismissed from theChancery, after all that he has done to put the OCA in the forefront, why has he been denied a release from Met. Herman to pursue a position ? Is he to be held captive with no housing and no place to go?
That's a real Orthodox Christian way to go (read with sarcasm)
#11 Tina Rhodes on 2006-05-02 21:57
This is the Light of the Holy Spirit shining in on the darkness within the institutional workings of His Church. Badly needed, as we know here in the west, with clerical mental instability now obvious to anyone and everyone. Our own prayer was that the Lord would reveal - in order to heal - what had been obvious to many in our experiences in the OCA -West.
The Lord Jesus Christ will strengthen us during this difficult time - as we realize that it is HIS Church, and that His Bride must be holy, humble and compassionate. These virtues/gifts will lead to health of soul, mind and body. And please - let's have real monastic bishops, or perhaps allowing good, solid married (and sane) priests as candidates for bishoprics as in the early Church? Here in America at least, monasteries have few within their walls who could be considered as candidates. We continue to pray and thank God for this temporary discomfort leading to a healthier Orthodox Church and clergy.
#12 Julie Bantry on 2006-05-02 23:33
Are you for real?
Did you ever stop to think that perhaps no one else has been punished becaused there is no one else to punish?
I think it might be time for you to stop looking at this ex-Chancellor fiasco without wearing your rose colored glasses.
It might be possible that he really is guilty afterall.
Please do each of us a favor and stop embarassing yourself already in terms of the fierce manner in which you defend an individual who apparently could care less about the well-being of the church regardless of the years of service he provided.
#13 Anonymous on 2006-05-03 11:59
Does the Holy Synod of Bishops meet on May 23rd? How long could they be in session? Until St. Tikhon's Pilgrimage and graduation? Will an agenda be released for the faithful?
#14 Patty Schellbach on 2006-05-03 17:28
The following entry appears on the calendar of the OCA website:
Orthodox Church in America, Syosset, NY - Holy Synod of Bishops Spring Session (5/23 - 5/25)
St. Tikhon Monastery South Canaan, PA 102nd Annual Pilgrimage (5/26 - 5/29)
#15 Nina Tkachuk Dimas on 2006-05-04 06:13
Rick, Rick, Rick!
Can we stop with the nonsense already?
Back in the days when the Communists in Russia and China purged leaders, they then occasionally tried to rehabilitate those same discredited leaders, "spinning" tales of why this or that no-goodnik was now again a prince of a guy.
Remarks like yours are plainly calculated to throw dirt on the new leadership at Syosset, while attempting to rehabilitate a disgraced former Chancellor.
So allow me to analyze your comments for veracity.
Let's see. You allege that the failure to timely meet payroll at Syosset "resulted from the inexperience of the new financial officers with the payroll."
Now, Rick, which 'new and inexperienced' officers would those be?
A) Fr. Paul Kucynda, who, you may not be aware, is in his second term as OCA Treasurer, having served there in the 1990s. Protodeacon Wheeler's numerous allegations of misconduct during those times (first published on November 1, 2005) make reference to regular shouting matches back then between Fr. Kucynda and Fr. Kondratick, precipitated when the Chancellor was unwilling or unable to provide the Treasurer with documentation and receipts for large cash expenditures.
B) Or perhaps you were referring to "new" OCA Controller Fr. Stavros Strikis? Now, there might be a problem for you in supporting that theory since Fr. Strikis, who handles much of the day-to-day finances at Syosset and has earned a reputation as a no-nonsense, precise manager, has been in that role for, oh, about 30 years, to my recollection.
Please forgive the sarcasm, but I must ask who your source was for this bit of intelligence you shared with us. Because, after all, you prefaced your remarks by citing your source as "I have been told that..." Did this scoop of yours come from Fr. Kondratick?
Unfortunately, you are not alone in urging us to believe something from an unnamed source, even when the proffered information seems ludicrous on its face. In a post just above yours (#2), Michael Livosky assured us that "my sources tell me that both [audits] are completed and that Fr. Bob was commended for his support to the audits."
Yet what is of record is that Fr. Bob was fired for, among other things, disobedience and a failure to cooperate with the audits (statements by OCA spokesman Fr. Kucynda to the Washington Post, in March, and a statement at the same time from Fr. Bob's criminal defense attorney.) Would Michael Livosky have us believe that Fr. Bob is now being
"commended" for his work on the audits?
So to Michael Livosky, I must ask, who is the source of this startling revelation of yours, Fr. Bob?
People on both sides of this issue have been citing unidentified sources for months, in support of claims they make. There are two ways to deal with such claims:
1) Accept the claim without knowing who the source is because the person making the claim is otherwise credible, or because the claim has "the ring of truth" or is otherwise corroborated.
2) Reject the claim, because the person making the allegation is not particularly credible, or because the claim is unbelievable on its face or not supported by other evidence.
Monk James Silver has regaled us time and again on this list and on the Orthodox Forum with a series of wild and unsubstantiated claims, based on "inside information" he was receiving from Syosset. His inside information --- usually incredible, even ludicrous --- routinely supported the Chancellor and the status quo at Syosset, while assuring us that all was well and nothing was amiss. He never named his sources, but it is curious that since Fr. Kondratick was fired, the Monk's inside information seems to have mostly dried up.
So please folks, if you want to defend Fr. Bob and attack the Metropolitan and those supporting an investigation, be my guest. Just declare your support proudly, but please, don't continue to expect others to be convinced by arguments based on absurd claims from unnamed sources.
Gregg Nescott, Pittsburgh
#16 Gregg Nescott on 2006-05-04 07:17
Care less about the church? Do you honestly think that the church would be where it was 6 months ago (in lieu of the supposed scandal) without Fr. Kondratick? When he became chancellor the OCA consisted of 60 year old and up people with very little youth involvement. Now the church has/had younger people acitively involved in the church. When Fr. Bob took over there was not a youth director, consquently after his dismissal Met. Herman did away with this position.
If you could name someone that has done more for the OCA than Fr. Bob over the past 20 years, please give me a name!
I am reserving judgement until after this investigation is over with. I would encouraged everyone else to do the same. In my opinion if the "allegations" have any truth to them whatsover, it can't possible involve only one person.
#17 Walter K. on 2006-05-04 07:18
Wow, you sure are for real!!!!
Thank you very much for such an inspirational comment.
The only thing missing is who you really are. Therefore, it means nothing to me. Figures, you would make such a worthless, personal comment and then hide behind it too.
Have a great day!!!
#18 Michael Livosky on 2006-05-04 08:46
I'm deeply concerned about Bishop Tikhon's latest actions. Frankly, his behavior seems manic. He has already bravely and publicly admitted to his struggles with depression. (Only someone who has been through it can understand how brave this is.) Those who labor under the shame of social stigma can take heart from his example. However, what if he has sought help for only one side of the cycles he may be suffering from? Many gifted people have discovered the hard way that God often couples giftedness with disabilities of this kind. Who understands His plans for our humility? I hope and pray the Bishop has considered or even sought a full evaluation Should the 'worst' turn out to be true, perhaps God can bring some good through the Bishop's example once again.
#19 Nancy Shepherd on 2006-05-04 17:26
I think you need to check your sources.
#20 Fr. Michael on 2006-05-05 14:06
Dear Fr. Michael:
Thank you for your post. If I have reported something incorrectly please specify so I may correct it. Thanks.
#21 Editor on 2006-05-05 18:08
Well Mr Nescott, it is very apparent to me that that you have a vendetta with Fr Bob. You can’t honestly believe that he did all of this by himself. You’ve made yourself the judge and the jury. I really feel sorry for you and your view.
Now, let me analyze some of your comments.
So am I to assume the unnamed sources this website uses are OK?
As for Fr Kucynda, he also said “Finally the metropolitan came to a point where he realized, ‘I have exhausted all of my possibilities, people are beginning to say that I am incompetent, that I should be deposed,’ and so he decided to act,” Kucynda said. So which is it Mr Nescott? Disobedience and a failure to cooperate or the above quoted statement?
You answer me this, why did it wait nearly 6 years? For anyone on this website to declare that the Holy Synod of Bishops, Metropolitan Council (which you were a member of) and the Metropolitan didn’t know are flat out LYING.
Here is some proof of that from an email I received. “We wrote privately to the Holy Synod, met with Bishops, talked to the Metropolitan Council - for seven years - yet no one in Syosset wanted to deal with the issues - and so the criminality continued. $5+ million is missing, we are now $2 million in debt, and still no one wanted to deal with the misappropriation of funds.”
You tell me what does Syosset have to do with that? If the Synod of Bishops and Metropolitan Council were aware of it, why did they need Syosset’s approval to do something? In 1999, +Metropolitan Herman was assigned as the acting treasurer and he became Metropolitan in 2002. Why did he wait until now to address this so-called problem, he did know about it. Now, I read he ASKED Fr Bob to resign “a number of times” in 2005. HELLO, the Metropolitan is the boss. If there was an issue, why didn’t he fire him last year or the prior year or the year before that?
Here is another quote from the same email “The Church, like the military, rests on honor - and ours is leeching out every day the Bishops refuse to deal with the problem because it will be "uncomfortable" or "difficult" for them. Well, it just got more difficult and uncomfortable as we told them in 1999 it would.” Once again, the Bishops were aware of it. Not one Bishop, not two Bishops, THE Bishops. And please note the vindictiveness in the last sentence.
Here are some words from a letter I received from a priest. “The excuse I would offer to you as to why we have gotten to our current sad state of affairs is that many in the church are people of good will. We all assumed that those working in the central administration were also people of good will, and so we stayed silent as we saw things going astray. We hoped what was happening was also well intentioned or was for the food. We didn’t want to rock the boat, question authority, create dissension. So we sat silently watching things go from bad to worse. Some of us did try to work within the system to question what was happening, to try to change some very questionable practices, but often times these good efforts we squashed by these same leaders.” A former Metropolitan Council member. My parents taught me that wrong is wrong. It things were going astray, why stay silent? Didn’t want to rock the boat, question authority, create dissension? Are you kidding me!! I don’t want to hear about being bullied or forced to doing something against one’s will. If you or anyone who served the church at any point in this debacle, it was YOUR job to address the issue. You chose not to Mr Nescott!! You’re just as guilty.
Let me end with one final quote, “We did nothing but expose the crooks, who were stealing from you, from every parishioner, and from every church in the OCA.” I read every day; people bitching and complaining about how Bishops are accusing Bishops and Bishops are accusing the Metropolitan and people like me are taking personal shots at others. Don’t talk to me about my opinion on this matter. My opinion is based on the people whose intent it is to drag this Church down. And I don’t appreciate that.
#22 Michael Livosky on 2006-05-05 19:21
Fr. Bob cleaned up a hell of a mess when he came into his poisition : we all know that! try to remember!
#23 Anonymous on 2006-05-05 21:31
Let me reply to your questions in order:
1.The use of unnamed sources in investigative situations is pefectly valid. There are perfectly valid reasons why someone would want to remain unidentified. The better question is: Are the sources accurate in what they reveal? And here, the proof is in the pudding. You may not agree with the information contained in the documents I publish; You may disagree with my decision to publish them; but it does not challenge their veracity. No one has ever challenged their authenticity....
2. The documents are beginning to show that there was not "one" reason Fr. Kondratick was dismissed, but several. This is not arithmetic: there are often several correct answers to any given question in life.
3. The continued failure of the Synod & Council to deal with the problems now being uncovered is very hard to fathom. +Job claims the Synod was intentionally misled, such that he dismissed the allegations as did many others. He has publicly repented of that. No one else has been as forthcoming as to what they knew and when. That is something I think we both can look forward to as the current investigation unfolds.
2. I agree with you that the Metropolitan's actions from 1999-2005 raise further questions. You raised several. I sincerely hope he will address them forthrightly in the weeks to come.
3. You wrongly infer that when I wrote "the Bishops" I was referring to "all the Bishops". In fact, in 1999 I spoke to four Bishops, not all of them. As I said, I cannot know what the others knew and when they knew it. You must ask it of them.
Moreover, there is nothing "vindictive" in my last remark. The remark that things would get "uncomfortable" was publicly given at a Metropolitan Council meeting in 1999 when I warned, as a public relations professional, that transparency in these matters and situations was always better than to ignore them or cover them up. The situation inevitably comes back to bite you years later. It did. This not "vindictiveness"; but common sense.
4. The quote from a priest is one of the best descriptions of our sad situation I have ever read. Thank you for sharing it. I agree with it fully, much to our common shame. That he, and I, and others, failed in the 1990's is not to our shame - for there is no shame in trying. Rather, rejoice that God gave us another chance to address the issues.
That being acknowledged, there is no reason for all of us not now to participate in the rebuilding of the OCA together to make sure that culture of passivity never regains a foothold. That people like you and me are speaking out, even in disagreement, and that thousands of others are reading this, is a sign of renewal in itself, however painful it may be. The overcoming of sin and the renewal of trust, openess and love in the OCA is not my job, nor Gregg's job, nor the Metropolitan's job. It is the "job" of all of us, together.
Once again, I regret that you can only see this endeavor for accountability as an attempt " to drag down the church" or vindictivness aimed at certain individuals. Nothing could be further from the truth.
#24 Editor on 2006-05-06 08:08
Why are you so angry in your posts? I've just returned to viewing this site after a 3 1/2 week break to see if there were any updates posted and I see that you haven't calmed down one bit. Relax. The truth will come forth.
You may not like what you hear, but the truth will come forth.
#25 Michael Geeza on 2006-05-06 13:32
Mr Geeza, I'm surely not angry. And if you knew me or know of someone who knows me, ask them. They'll tell you that I'm not angry. I'm frustrated and deeply saddened in what the organizers of this website are doing to "our" church.
And you're partially right in your ending. Except for one thing, will it be the WHOLE truth? I doubt it. The whole truth will never come out, our Metropolitan is making decisions solely based on the people's reactions now (as well as this website). He's begun to cover his own rear end or at least it seems that way to me. Now, keep one thing in mind here. I'm not bashing the Metropolitan for his current decisions. He has to live with what he's deciding on now. I just don't believe he's making thoughtful decisions at this time. Too much outside interference for him.
#26 Michael Livosky on 2006-05-07 15:13
I don't think it is fair to blame this website in terms of what "they" are doing to the church.
Individual(s) have harmed the church! Not this website.
What I think all of us should be asking is, how could any individual(s) place our church into such a financial mess?
Unfortunately, sometimes in life egos get in the way of doing the right thing, giving a sense of infallability and power which leads to no semblance of accountability to anyone.
Like you, I sincerely hope that the whole truth will be told. Anything less would be a shame.
I do think the Metropolitan has taken the bull by the horns and at least made a valliant effort at doing the right thing.
Was this effort made too late? Perhaps. However, something IS being done and I for one feel it is the proper and responsible way to go at this point.
I'm sure none of us can imagine the strain this "situation" has caused our Metropolitan.
I believe in my heart that he is the man for the job. We all need to rally around him now so that nothing impedes the work being done to find out the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
I'm confident things will work out. Yes it will take time, but I optomistically feel our Church will become stronger because of this experience.
#27 Michael Geeza on 2006-05-09 11:52
I can't agree with you more on your comments. Living in the Diocese of the West has been quite a "suffering" for me and my husband who is an OCA priest. When I asked one of our administrative clerics out West here some years ago, that Bishops should undergo a medical and mental health checkup at least once a year, he replied, "How can you say such a thing?" and made the sign of the cross.
When I then said, "Out of all due respect, I feel Bishop Tikhon would be better suited to serve in a monastery," this same cleric responded the same way: "How can you say such a thing?" and made the sign of the cross again.
It took a website, it took a bishop that continued to write his mentally unstable opinions by letter and email, who was breaking apparent obedience with the synod, who is now having his diocese withhold funding from the OCA, to capture any one's attention. We DO NEED accountability. I am sorry it has taken so long, but it seems to be finally happening.
#28 Patty Schellbach on 2006-05-09 17:44
To consider Fr. Kondratick a "lame duck" is not only offensive, but premature. You have already, from your remarks chosen yourself judge and jury and have condemned a man. I assure you, that you do not have all the facts. You are having a knee jerk reaction to what is posted on this site. Let all of thefacts come to the surface before you judge a person.
As for your calls for him to be defrocked, be careful what you wish for. Given the possibilities, there are many more who would need to be defrocked if truth ever came out; now and in past administrations.
"Let he who is without sin, cast the first stone"
#29 Anonymous on 2006-05-12 19:48
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