Wednesday, June 25. 2008
The second Town Hall, and so much more.... Please make your comments to the original article, and the subsequent clarifications and update here.
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Bravo to Metropolitan Kyrill of Kaliningrad. It seems that there are bishops out there somewhere that have a brain in their head. Now why can't we have that here!?
#1 no name on 2008-06-25 18:41
Because when they look for bishops over there they don't look for yes men who meet the lowest common denominators.
Maybe there is SOMEWHERE in the Orthodox world, beyond our noses, where men are chosen to lead the Church because they stand for something and will stand up to evil forces. Unfortunately we must look elsewhere because we lack that here in the OCA.
Which reminds me, how's that auxiliary trojan horse looking in the DOS?
#2 Anonymous on 2008-06-25 21:02
It isn't often I quote material, but this one takes the cake.
'In speaking of the scandal, the Archbishop raised the question: were it not for Protodeacon Wheeler’s whistle- blowing concerning the financial misdeeds would the OCA have ever known of the improprieties? “It was clear to all present,” writes an attendee, “that the answer was “no.”'
Excuse me, what?
The misuse of temporarily restricted funds dating back to 2001 and cited in the 2002 compilation report released in 2003, and the abolishment of audits of discretionary funds in 1998 are all indicative of an organization that is grossly mismanaging its finances.
Gross mismanagement and the graft of a million dollars is basically excused by Archbishop Dmitri if you give everything to Wheeler and let's be very careful and clear about the timing here. Mark, when exactly did Deacon Wheeler get told to 'take it like a man' regarding his termination and when did he tell then Bishop Herman or then Metropolitan Theodosius about the concerns about financial impropriety.
Cut the crap [proper noun omitted]. There were serious issues well back into 2001. This is 2008. That is a 7 year gap. Deacon Wheeler can't get full credit because someone tried to cover things up for the last say 5-7 years.
Further, what parish is still paying Bob Kondratick?
This is beyond surreal. If any of them believe in hell, they better pack some suntan lotion.
Mark, it is important that citations like these are done correctly. It would be good to have a full transcript, lest I completely blow a gasket.
Am I completely off base?
(Editor's note: It is hoped a full transcript will be posted on OCA.org or DOSOCA.org soon. As for your question, it was 1999 when Protodeacon Wheeler revealed gross finanical misconduct to then-Archbishop Herman, who subsequently took over his job when Wheeler was fired for doing later that week. Sorry, "reorganized".
The parish in Venice FL pays Kondratick a monthly stipend as the "parish outreach coordinator". )
#3 Anonymous on 2008-06-25 22:33
It is very obvious that Herman must go. He and Kucynda plotted to scapegoat RSK and it worked - but now the people want more. I'm sure RSK wants more. No substantiating documentation has even been provided - not even to him.
In view of the Vlad Berzeansky letter, Job has also been involved - it's pretty apparent that the entire synod has been covering up. Since no one will come forward - it's time to move forward - another jurisdiction. The entire synod should resign and be reappointed or re-elected as Paul Meyendorff recommended.
#4 MP on 2008-06-26 04:24
Because nobody cares about the real issue , the church. Scandal this and scandal that , who cares. If the oca really wanted to end this , they would have. What a smoke screen , town meetings , who thought that one up. Herman and all his minions are better than benny hill.
#5 Anonymous on 2008-06-26 05:16
+ Kyrill, like + Bartholomew, believes in "UNITY." However, it's UNITY UNDER MOSCOW while + Bartholomew believes in UNITY UNDER HIMSELF.
Both Pat. of Moscow and the EP want to be the "top dog" in the Orthodox world and control all the churches. The Greeks and their sympathizers want the EP and the Russians and their sympathizers want the MP. Everyone wants to be a Pope!
This is why, all the more, the OCA is the only logical resolve for Orthodoxy in America. Each bishop in the OCA is fully responsible for their own diocese and it's only in the collective Synod of Bishops - conciliarity - where unified decisions are made.
#6 Anonymous on 2008-06-26 05:59
Oh contrare; the bishops under the MP are nothing but "yes men." They must all tote the line and really have no personal freedom in thought from the MP. They are all monkeys on a leash.
Igumen Jonah Paffhausen who will be the auxillary bishop to + Dimitri, is very bright, very respected and will make an excellent bishop.
#7 Anonymous on 2008-06-26 06:05
But Kondratick has never made any documentation available either to exonerate himself of the myriad of charges that have been levelled at him concerning theft of $137,000 and another QUESTIONABLE MILLION. With ALL that people have accused him of and said of him, nothing, nada, nil from his mouth. His one lone response is a suit against the church to pilfer more and he's doing that behind a skirt. Let's keep our eye on the ball. A lot of people have questioned Herman, et. al., but everyone is in agreement on the Kondratick situation and he's been as quiet as a church mouse hiding in the altar. He even went, with relatively little fuss, to defrockment and never put up a serious challenge to it in order to keep quiet and the facts out of the light. The Kondratick issue is far from over for a lot of people. It will be over when he's in custody and it can't come a day too early for all those wanting him to be held accountable. For once my tax dollars would be used for a GOOD purpose.
#8 Anonymous on 2008-06-26 06:18
Guess it would look a bit strange if he just lived off of the proceeds of 18 years as a chancellor. How many years of an $18,000/yr housing allowance while living in the Church provided residence? A little stipend does make it look a little bit better...
A parish outreach coordinator. If the guy was serious about what he's doing and we know he's not, it's just a cover for image purposes, he'd do what he could, say what he can so that he would help outreach to the church community and save the church from implosion due in most part to shenanigans he partook of while its chancellor. People, don't let them whitewash his image down in Venice. It's just another con after the complex of cons perputated on the church for 18 years. Remember the summary report, remember his silence, remember all he's doing for the greater good of the church. Like Peter watching as they took Jesus to crucifixion while denying him three times. THAT'S the image we have indeed. Anyone listening for the cock crowing down in Venice? Parish outreach coordinator my rear end!
#9 Anonymous on 2008-06-26 06:31
The statute would not be wrong and have to be rewritten as Archbishop Dmitri asserts if the SOB would oversee and minister to the faithful as they were called to do. I ask Archbishop Dmitri how the system he proposes would have worked in the situation in Alaska? What if you were to have a situation where one of the chief people associated with the scandal just buried himself in another diocese and administrated that diocese through one of his former henchmen behind the scenes? How would the OCA address these situations in his plan? That is if, in a perfect world, they were addressing issues at all without sweeping unpleasant problems under the carpet.
#10 anonymous on 2008-06-26 06:53
THE ONLY COVER UP WAS DONE BY BISHOP JOB? STOKOE DO YOU THINK A TAPE CONVERSATION WOULD HOLD UP IN COURT? WITHOUT BOTH PARTIES KNOWING THEY WERE BEING TAPED. SOUND LIKE A PRANK BISHOP JOB WOULD PULL OFF? BUT IN REAL LIFE IT WOULDN'T HOLD UP IN A COURT OF LAW! MAYBE kONDRATIC HAS A CASE AFTER ALL? 'IF THE TAPE DOES'T FIT! YOU CANT CONVICT!
#11 Anonymous on 2008-06-26 07:19
I think what Mark Stokoe just posted is very significant:
"Others spoke of the scandal as “a betrayal”, which “continues to cause pain”. Some 90 minutes into the meeting a priest stood up and said “Metropolitan Herman has to go.” This led to many other clergy rising to speak, all of whom reiterated the conviction that the Metropolitan must retire now."
It seems to me that the priests from the DOS had been rather quiet on this whole scandal and I believe in their current DOS assemby they were able to fnd solidarity, agreement, and comfort in numbers and opinion in finally being able to voice their concerns about the situation and asking for +Herman to retire.
I believe this is a very significant and important development within the OCA and the overall desire of many of the faithful to see +Herman retire has been gathering more and more strength and voice.
The ongoing opinion of retirement of +Herman will most likely be brought up at the AAC, if he does not retire before this.
I am awaiting the SIC report and interpretation of this from those knowledgeable about finances, but also those knowledgeable about integrity and truth, as well. They all seem to go hand in hand.
#12 Patty Schellbach on 2008-06-26 07:57
I cannot beleive that people still want Met. Herman to "retire".
Maybe Charles Manson should have just been awarded a set of golf clubs and sent off to "retire" and play golf from the life of being a criminal.
Did John Gotti get a once way ticket to Italy to live out his life and reflect upon his wrongs?
They are criminals, much to the same way as Joe and Frank (the two cappo del tutti cappos) that ran the OCA for so many years.
Is there any coincidence that when they were underbosses they we're known by secular names Joey and Frankie. Theres certainly a few good mafia references and similarities.
Maybe we should bring in Rudy Guiliani to flush this criminal filth from the midst of the good people of the OCA.
Stop kicking the envelopes filled with cash up to the syndicate. Stop kissing the ring of the boss. Force them to part with the Cadillacs and Lincolns they use to transport them from one place to another.
Starve them out.
We continue to pray for the health and salvation of the good people who remain part of the churches.
#13 Robert Holowach on 2008-06-26 09:50
For your information Mr/Mrs Coward, that parish has flourished since Fr Bob arrived. He was asked to stay even after his defrocking. If they love him and want him around, who cares. Unlike superficial cowards as yourself, those down in Florida appreciate him. Leave him be! He's causing you no heartache anymore. He's been removed from the priesthood for some time now. And, oh yeah, the same problems STILL exist. He's paid the piper, go after someone else already!!
#14 Michael Livosky on 2008-06-26 10:22
...and a choice not made by the statutes, but rather by people who pick based on whether a person is manipulatable. We heard all the same accolades given to people such as Nikolai and what happened to him? He was so smart that he was run out of town. Now, people want us to believe the same here. Surely, you, with such favorable things to say would be more than proud to write your name? Put the choice to a diocesan assembly because you can bet your bottom dollar that who gets in as auxiliary will become the ruling bishop when Dmitri can no longer fulfill his responsibilities. At that time, people of the South, you will have your choice and decision made for you, hence the trojan horse successor.
#15 Anonymous on 2008-06-26 10:23
Actually it might. When the FBI sets up a sting, like a Congressman taking a bribe, do they need to go to a judge to approve setting up a secret camera to record the action? Were the people who recorded OJ Simpson in Las Vegas doing something illegal taping him that will cause him to finally get convicted?
I think you might have a better argument with those of your ilk who say it was shoddy editing.
#16 Anonymous on 2008-06-26 10:41
The DOS website (www.dosoca.org) has posted a summary of the first day of the DOS Assembly with a summary of comments from the town hall meeting that add to what has posted here.
There is also a link to writings there (50- pages) of Abbot Jonah's that DOS members have been encouraged to read in order to "get to know" him better. For those who have commented that part of our problem is that the majority of our Bishops have no real monastic foundation, it appears Abbot Jonah will be the exception to that situation if he is approved as auxiliary bishop to the DOS.
#17 Diane P on 2008-06-26 10:55
People have to realize that the financial issues with RSK, + Theodosius and which + Herman knew about were taking place since at least 1994, not the late 1990's nor 2000 forward. We are talking of a decade (at least) of abuse. Much loose money was tossed about and as many have said, much used to "grease-palms" in Russia and keep others quiet in the U.S.
This is why + Herman, who elevated RSK at St. Tikhon's and pushed him into Syosset must go. RSK was also key in seeing that + Herman became Metropolitan. And where are those financials on St. Tikhon's and related areas of East. PA?????
#18 Anonymous on 2008-06-26 11:42
In a real way, though, we're getting snowed in Dallas. Vladika Dmitri is not in charge of his diocese. There's some very questionable guidance on his ear.
#19 John on 2008-06-26 11:43
How can they hold "town meetings" in the afternoon of a weekday? Isn't the purpose of a "town meeting" to include "the entire town"? What of an evening or Sunday afternoon? What about internet broadcasts (a simple webcam) so those outside of the Diocese can watch them as well, particularly in light that another bishop may one day / soon be Metropolitan?
What if Eric Wheeler did not whistle blow? The bishops would still be stealing. Everyone is guilty.
#20 Anonymous on 2008-06-26 14:57
I believe that Interfax is confusing two separate reports at the Bishops' Council. The comments about LiveJournals came not in an official Council document or working group report, but in the report of Metropolitan Clement of Borovsk, Chancellor of the Moscow Patriarchate.
Vladyka Clement said, in part:
"Unfortunately, the situation on hand today does not always lead to pastors’ constant and unconstrained discussion of important topics. As a result, we see the frequent discussions on the Internet in various forums and LiveJournals concerning completely confidential and internal issues of the Church, which ought not be made public. These discussions frequently take on an improper format."
The working group did not condemn all Internet activity per se. It condemned the Internet activity of Bishop Diomedes of Chukotka and his supporters.
You can follow the Council's decisions online in English on my blog, at http://typiconman.wordpress.com/
Yours in Christ,
#21 Aleksandr Andreev on 2008-06-26 18:08
We're just asking he be the man of God he presented us to all those years he was putting his hand into the cookie jar and tell us what he knows. You say the problems are still there and we agree with you 100%, we're just asking the guy who was in the middle, between Frankie and Joey, to tell us what he knows. If he's paid the piper, he's got nothing to fear, let him come forth... Let him show us that he's more than a Florida parish wonder and can make the OCA, of which he worked ENDLESSLY for, flourish by spilling the beans. What the hell is he holding back for? We know that the Holy Spirit who he said blesssed all the actions of Syosset would greatly appreciate his coming forth with what he knows that can rid of us Herman. We'd be eternally grateful, we might even give him a pass to a tanning salon!
#22 Anonymous on 2008-06-26 18:32
During Dn. Eric Wheeler's tenure in Syosset, a number of people were informed of the shinanigans going on. These issues were also confirmed by Mr. Honchok. So, many people were aware of what was happening at Syosset, but like many scandals, it takes a while for them to surface with evidence. So, in answer to would the public know what happened if it wasn't for one person? The answer is, "YES," but uncovering evidence doesn't happen overnight.
#23 Anonymous on 2008-06-26 18:36
You are right that all of the hierarchs should resign; if they do not resign voluntarily, then the All-American Council must remove them, return each and every one to the rank of simple monk, and place each under strict discipline. Each and every hierarch has more than amply proven that he is unworthy of his episcopal calling and membership in the ranks of the clergy.
#24 Mark C. Phinney on 2008-06-26 19:18
You absolutely do NOT know Fr. Bob for you to make those allegations. Those of us who truly know the man, know that he is one of the finest PRIESTS. This man didn't spend over 35 years of his life pretending to be a priest.
#25 Sorry, No Name on 2008-06-26 19:37
I think Mark does a pretty decent job of moderating this site given all that he has to cope with. Nevertheless I would like to register a very strong objection to a) the remark about a "trojan horse" being the new auxiliary bishop in the Diocese of the South and b) the failure to apply the minimal moderator discretion that would have kept such an anonymous, gratuitous and completely unsupported aspersion out of print here.
The Bible teaches us that with his words the godless man destroys his neighbor. (Pr. 11:9) St. James tells us no man can tame the tongue, it is a restless evil, full of deadly poison, a world of iniquity, set on fire by hell itself. (3:6-8) I think that zeal about the issues discussed here has created an atmosphere in which such scriptural truths tend to be forgotten or ignored.
The truth is bad enough and endangers enough souls as it is. Unsupported, anonymous aspersions such as "trojan horse" should not be allowed to pollute this site and endanger still more.
#26 Fr. George Washburn on 2008-06-26 23:14
Yes, Diane, we are told he is an "abbot". We are directed to SOME of his writings to "get to know him".I urge all my fellow DOS members to dig a little deeper. Check out what POKROV.ORG has found. Who & what is the "holy order of man"? When they are/were acepted into Orthodoxy, do/did these people leave their "baggage" at the door" ?
I think that he should be interviewed by every parish in the DOS before we vote. What's the rush?
Thomas C. Kistler
#27 THOMAS C KISTLER on 2008-06-27 05:06
Would you like to make your accusations specific? I invited you to contact the DOS directly. You did not. You prefer to write here and not contact the Archbishop directly. What advise is he getting that you find wrong? What decisions is he making that you find wrong? What direction is the DOS taking that you find wrong?
If you would have been at the DOS Assembly this week, you would have found a living icon of how the Church strives to be the church in this world. Are we perfect? No. Have we made mistakes, not followed the "Statute" to its letter? Yes, but duly noted in public by those responsible and the reasons given in public why we have not (please note the corrections and comments made by Mark.)
So once again, what exactly is your beef with the DOS and Vladika Dmitri? What is the "questionable guidance" you refer to. Please make a list and share it and be prepared to defend your comments and be willing to listen to reply.
As for another comment made by another poster, about the Auxiliary being a "Trojan Horse" who do you think is going to pop out of that horse and what do you think they are going to do?
The clergy and laity spoke freely at the Assembly, AND THEY WERE HEARD. Some even spoke that they felt matters might have been handled to quickly (review of the budget and why Fr Bob (sorry he will always be Fr Bob to me) is still getting paid in Venice.) THEY WERE HEARD. The Diocesan Council spoke freely and want to take more ownership in the diocese they love and help the bishop and his possible Auxiliary they respect and THEY WERE HEARD.
But hearing and doing are two different things. Thus, you and any other critics of the DOS (or maybe just me?), will watch closely, and you are welcome, no you are EXPECTED to do so. You are welcome to make suggestions that can better the life of the DOS.
It is easy to make charges from afar and maybe even to assume that because someone from "Syosset" is now working in the DOS Chancery that there is some evil cabal at work to "take over the DOS." All I can say, personally to such a perception is, watch, stay informed, speak truth to power, be charitable, be patient, and speak the truth in love.
Once again, my email is email@example.com if you rather talk on the phone, send me an email with your name and number and I will call you back. No one in the DOS chancery is hiding. We are here to serve the parishes of the Diocese not for the parishes to serve us, the chancery.
John, I hope to hear from you!
#28 Archpriest Joseph Fester (still a DOS functionary!) on 2008-06-27 06:39
FYI it's time for everyone to leave him alone.
He picked up and followed orders, as always.
Now if people cannot live with that, they should begin looking in the mirror. Just remember everyone has to live with their own conscience, stop judging, until you have been in someone's shoes you have no idea where they have walked. In good Christian conscience each of us should try to improve themselves - wouldn't that make a better world?
#29 MP on 2008-06-27 13:26
With so many people posting on here without signing their names, how are we supposed to tell which "Anonymous" is whom??
(editor's note: A sad commentary on our church life, is it not? As I have said countless times, I do not encourage it, but I recognize the need in certain circumstances. Is it abused? Of course - it is a fallen world. Fortunately, I have the advantage of people's IP number to keep the anonymi, anonymouses, whatever, straight....)
#30 David Barrett on 2008-06-27 14:56
Right you ARE and this is the reason why the faithful of the DOS should be EXTRA vigilent and participate in the selection of this auxiliary bishop. Its a lot more easier to nip a problem in the bud then it is to years later demand their resignation!
#31 Anonymous on 2008-06-27 18:20
In the Internet/Information age, the Church can no longer control the truth, but it can tell the truth. And as long as that is the only thing the Church is telling, then there is no need to try to control it.
Unfortunately, though Jesus said we were to be in the world but not of the world, the Church has often entangled itself in worldly issues and worldly power struggles, losing sight of the fact that its only message is the Gospel of truth - it is not power, it is not control, it is not fund raising, it is not domination over others, nor taking anything from others.
Joseph Goebbels the German Nazi Minister of Propaganda wrote:
“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”
Church leadership would do well to remember in dealing with dissent or with opinions not of the “party line,” that in vying to maintain their positions of authority they often do not appear to those under their authority to be any different than Goebbels even if their intentions are to protect the Church from negative press.
Taken from my blog: http://frted.wordpress.com/2008/06/28/we-cannot-control-the-truth-but-we-can-tell-the-truth/
#32 Fr. Ted on 2008-06-27 18:29
I read the material on Pokrov and only ask you one question, "what is your point?" What exactly are you trying to say about Abbot Jonah? If you are so concerned why didn't you or your parish send a representative to the DOS Assembly? You certainly would have been heard and if you had some "smoking gun" evidence of something, don't you feel any responsiblity for not sharing it at the one venue that was duly announced and provided for such an airing?
I find it very odd that your parish freely absented itself from the Assembly, and you did not care enough about the DOS to make your thoughts known, even in writing prior to the Assembly, but rather chose post-facto to warn "everyone" about Abbot Jonah! Accountibility runs both ways Mr Kistler and you need to know that if you really have something important to say, you did everyone a disservice by playing only waking up today as if you were Rip Van Winkle and posting here.
#33 Anonymous on 2008-06-27 21:47
Let me spare those who have better things to do than search the pokrov site the trouble of looking there to see what pokrov has "found" (as Mr. Kistler puts it) on Fr. Jonah.
1. A picture closely resembling the man I last saw in late 2007.
2. The fact that his parents named him James, which pokrov gives itself permission to brand an "alias." (!!!)
3. His residence and job in Manton, CA as head of a monastery.
4. An article by Fr. Jonah published in Again magazine a few years ago which surveyed the history of the Holy Order of Mans, described its wanderings in "non-canonical Orthodoxy" as CSB, and the eventual move of most of its leaders and people into the canonical church.
Just why every parish in the DOS needs to interview Fr. Jonah about any or all of these four things is beyond me., but it is the sum total of what I could find on the site. Perhaps Mr. Kistler misunderstood the article to suggest that Fr. Jonah once was one of them, which he was not.
It is known to many that pokrov maintains four lists containing the names of people who have been 1) convicted, 2) sanctioned by the Church, 3) sued, or 4) subjected to public allegations of wrongdoing. Fr. Jonah does not appear on any of these lists - under that birth "alias" (!) or his ordination name.
Do I think that it is wise for a diocese not to get to know any candidate for episcopal office? No. I hope a lot of people get to know Fr. Jonah in the days ahead. But let it but under the banner of gracious, Christian love and prudence, not the pregnant whisper that pokrov has "found" something!
#34 Fr. George Washburn on 2008-06-27 23:24
Issues of the case aside, to quote the great Arlo Guthrie from his epic "Alice's Restaurant", "It takes a lotta damn gall..." to take someone to task for being anonymous while simultaneously hiding behind anonymity. How do you manage it?
#35 Scott Walker on 2008-06-28 09:02
Your rhetorical question about converts from the Holy Order of MANS leaving their baggage at the door would apply to any converts, wouldn't it? Are not all non-cradle Orthodox then automatically suspect? Sorry, Mr. Kistler, but your post is an unfortunate example of the small minded suspicion and paranoia that seems to afflict so many of us Orthodox like a lingering case of toenail fungus. I am blessed to know several former members of the Holy Order of MANS. They have all, without exception, left that Gnostic woo-woo behind. One of them is my parish priest and spiritual father. (Being my spiritual father is a dirty job, but somebody has to do it.) I have met Abbot Jonah a couple of times, and the Diocese of the South would be blessed indeed to have him as an auxiliary bishop. I would only regret that he would be leaving us on the West coast, where we know him and love him.
#36 Scott Walker on 2008-06-28 09:23
I find it interesting that yet another 'Anonymous' knows the 'facts' about a parish in the DOS and readily spews his (or her) findings. The list of possibilites regarding who this might be, however, is very short...'Anonymous' isn't that anonymous! Right or wrong, at least Mr. Kistler SIGNED his post. BTW, Anonymous person, your radar needs some repairs - Fr. was in Dallas 6/24. You obviously missed some of our correspondence too!
It might be a good idea if we stop this 'nit-picking' of each other, Brothers and Sisters IN Christ, and concentrate on the REAL problems folks are trying to bring out, get them fixed pronto and move along!!! Matushka
#37 Matushka Gvosdev on 2008-06-28 11:19
Possibly the only misunderstanding was yours, in my use of the word FOUND (past tense of find - to locate, attain or obtain by search or effort ). It was not used as a "aha! now we've got him" but, rather to state that, POKROV had posted research concerning an organization about which Fr. Jonah felt compelled to become an apologist .
You further state he was not a member of hoom.
How do you know this?
Your presumption; that your organization and classification of the information found on POKROV was interesting but, misleading:
1) Nice comment about the picture. So, you've seen him. Maybe met him. Maybe even had a conversation with him.
We'd like to see him in person before we have to greet him at the church door with bread and salt. My name IS Thomas!
2) The word alias has two meanings. As a noun: false name used to conceal one's identity; an assumed name. As an adverb: at another time; in another place; in other circumstances; otherwise. It would seem there is no sinister meaning for Prokov's use of the word; only your parentheses.
3)Yes, he resides in a monanstic community in California. My understanding is; he's the Abbot. How long has he been a monastic? An Abbot? Did he buy in? ( sorry if this might offend someone but, we've seen first hand here in Miami,Fl. how a monastic community finds the True Faith during a murder/sex scandal investigation, then moves out of state and comes under +Herman's "protection")
This is what prompted me to "wake up", as the previous anonymous gnat has so elloquently buzzed: Diane's statement that..."the majority of our Bishops have no real monastic foundation, it appears Abbot Jonah will be the exception to that
4)Your pregnant pu-pu concerning Fr.Jonah's article in AGAIN magazine once again smacks of that 'don't worry about the man behind the curtain' line, that you shouldn't concern yourselves with anything, all is well.
No, the article is not just Fr. Jonah's version of the history of hoom, its his justification, without noting any blemishes, for the organization to be acceptiple. If his article was truely balanced, the points POKROV posted from their research would be mute.
Having read Fr.Jonah's articles and what POKROV has posted; having spoken to people who have met Fr. Jonah and knew him when he was at St. Vladimir Seminary is what I only have, at this moment, to measure the man by. I would like to speak to him eye to eye. I believe there are others like me who also would like to know who this man is and what's he about.
Yes I know the Bishop can choose his auxilliary but, we've seen how this has played out in the past.
Reality is: today auxiliary, tomorrow main man.
Again I ask, why the rush? Why only one candidate to choose from?
Thomas C. Kistler
St. Nicholas Ft. Lauderdale,Fl.
ps. anonymous, YOUR pontificating about accountablility?
Nothing is defacto until they lay on the hands.
#38 THOMAS C KISTLER on 2008-06-28 11:30
If you would have been at the DOS Assembly this week, you would have found a living icon of how the Church strives to be the church in this world. Are we perfect? No. Have we made mistakes, not followed the "Statute" to its letter? Yes, but duly noted in public by those responsible and the reasons given in public why we have not (please note the corrections and comments made by Mark.)
Well, I can't speak for John, but I was there in Dallas. I don't recall hearing the reasons why the Statute isn't being followed. Can you restate those? And a related question: are there any other canons or Statutes that the Diocese of the South is exempt from as a long as its explained?
By the way, how did the mission planting work in Austin go for you? And whatever hapened to Protodeacon Patrick?
#39 The Dallas Observer on 2008-06-28 12:02
For all those that think the solution to our problems is going under the Antiochian banner, Fr. George is a good argument against that. Don’t like an argument, well, it needs to be banned. Sounds much like what we are battling against. Don’t like the characterization of a problem that cuts to the CORE of the problems in the OCA, well, don’t allow the characterization to see the light of day. And people want to go from the ills of the OCA to that kind of mentality? We do, however, appreciate him putting his nose under the OCA scandal tent to stir the pot. Its always nice to see fellow Orthodox reaching out fanning flames of a situation in which he has no dog in the fight… We gather that Fr. George, who has described himself as a fan of Bishop Benjamin takes personal offense at how we characterize the ascension of Benjamin to his Episcopal throne.
But, let us talk about the characterization that Fr. George proclaims needs to be hidden in a paper bag under the bed. For those not familiar with the Trojan Horse I will give a brief explanation. This is taken from http://www.webopedia.com/TERM/T/Trojan_horse.html because its nice and brief:
“The term comes from the a Greek story of the Trojan War, in which the Greeks give a giant wooden horse to their foes, the Trojans, ostensibly as a peace offering. But after the Trojans drag the horse inside their city walls, Greek soldiers sneak out of the horse's hollow belly and open the city gates, allowing their compatriots to pour in and capture Troy.”
How does this fit into the OCA bishop selection process? We have written many times here that process of giving a diocese a ruling bishop follows the steps of: an auxiliary is deemed necessary (not necessarily following the OCA Statute Article VI, section 5). The auxiliary is consecrated and assigned into the diocese. After a while, in dioceses where there is already a ruling bishop the ruling bishop retires and the diocese being familiar with, and often at the recommendation of the retiring bishop, is put up for election as ruling bishop, no other names are entered into nomination, and an unanimous vote is carried out to install the auxiliary as the ruling bishop of the diocese. In dioceses where a ruling bishop does not exist, but where there is a locum tenens, a similar process is carried out. An auxiliary is consecrated for the Metropolitan, he’s placed as administrator of the diocese without a ruling bishop. People get familiar and the excuse that, well, he knows the diocese, the people, and has formed a relationship with said diocese, let’s put him up for election at some diocesan assembly sometime in the future. Election is carried out under the watchful eye of a Syosset functionary as a facilitator (we use that word in a very liberal sense) and the auxiliary is made the ruling bishop. This second method is more insidious than the first, but still a clever way in which those in power basically pick who’s a bishop where and take it out of the hands of the laity as is spelled out very clearly in OCA Statute Article VI, Section 10. They do not even allow you to nominate a bishop and refuse them as allowed in part b of Section 10. They just take you out of the loop. Bishops Nikolai, Nikon, and Tikhon (EPA) were handled in method two, Bishops Benjamin and now the proposed Fr. Jonah are method one.
What is the problem with this? At the core of the problem in the OCA are the bishops. If the Bishops were honorable and God fearing men we would not be in the shape we are in. They have allowed all that has happened to continue and at least some of them knew what as going on. After all, Herman told Eric to take it like a man when he was fired. The Synod allowed funds to be taken off the books and never held to account. The bishops were dragged kicking and screaming to discipline Kondratick. The bishops let Nikolai go back to being Nikolai and it was only after the extraordinary voice of St. Vladimir’s that they went back and did what they needed to do for the good of the church. The bishops have been complicit in all the ills that have befallen us and as the ultimate authority have the ultimate responsibility to correct what has happened and their actions so far have been to stall, sweep under the rug, ignore, and serve as enablers. If the bishops took their responsibilities seriously, we would have a real investigative committee. We would have Herman taken to task and maybe put on leave while everything is investigated. We would have, based on the cries of the faithful for three years, some concrete action to clean up the spiritual decadence in the central administration. But no, they have done nothing, and we go on and on with the problems. During this time we have received more bishops. We received Tikhon, who’s nothing but a puppet for Herman. We received Nikon, who’s toed the party line incredibly well, basically not acknowledging the existence of the Ansonia parish in his diocesan documentation because they, well, did the STUPID thing of demanding accountability. Accountability that Nikon doesn’t want to make his voice heard for. Both of these men were auxiliaries not chosen properly by their dioceses. We ask, would they have been if the ruling bishop or locum tenens did not pick his own guy? Nikolai was made auxiliary of Baltimore and sent to administer Alaska. After a while he gained great power and its ascension to the ruling bishop throne was a fait acompli.
Let’s also look at a most interesting contradiction between the OCA Statutes and the Canons. And remember, these canons have been held as the ultimate when the bishops and administration want them to be, so we will, in this case attach the same importance to them. In Canon 23 of the Synod of Antioch states:
“It shall not be lawful for a bishop, even at the close of life, to appoint another as successor to himself; and if any such thing should be done, the appointment shall be void. But the ecclesiastical law must be observed, that a bishop must not be appointed otherwise than by a synod and with the judgment of the bishops, who have the authority to promote the man who is worthy, after the falling asleep of him who has ceased from his labours.” (http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf214.viii.vi.iv.xxiii.html)
The commentary on this is very interesting, only one line of which I will copy here:
“The history of the Church, and its present practice, is a curious commentary upon the ancient legislation, and the appointment of coadjutor bishops cum jure successionis, so common in later days, seems to be a somewhat ingenious way of escaping the force of the canon.”
It’s been a common scam upon the Church to use auxiliaries as a way to circumvent the canon. The Trojan Horse has been well known.
The OCA Statute, which we would think is secondary to the Sacred Canons are in conflict and allow the selection of a successor of a diocesan bishop. This glaring contradiction should be corrected at the next AAC.
We want to make sure we state that we have no personal aversion to Fr. Jonah and what we are commenting on here should in no way be seen as opposing his nomination through any vetting we have done. Our problem is with the process, a process which is at the core of the problems we face and a process which we feel should be corrected. We feel, that in a truly transparent administration of the Church, if an auxiliary is needed that the same process and at least two candidates be presented to the diocesan council and assembly for their approval.
If we continue in the operation we have, we are sure to see the scandals and problems we have continue into the foreseeable future because successors will always be chosen that will protect those that chose them. This is in direct violation not only of the letter of the canon, but of its spirit as well.
This choosing of an auxiliary in the South can be likened to being the Lexington of the war to clean the ills of our church. For if we don’t correct the CORE problem, we can never do more than do cosmetic changes while still have the same underlying impediment to the good operation of this church.
#40 Anonymous on 2008-06-28 13:25
Thanks for your post Scott. I was planning to reply to Fr. Fester's post, but your information has given me pause, at least concerning Abbot Jonah, who I don't know.
I am still bothered by the process of his nomination/selection however, and the support he has from Kondratick supporters in the DOS. For any episcopal position there should be a search committee composed of lay and clerical representatives who are not puppets of the current administration. Archbishop Dimitri should have retired long ago, as demonstrated by his ridiculous role in the Kondratick defrocking. The cabal that now surrounds him, making him appear a mere cipher, is part of the group responsible for our current state of affairs.
I would hope that the DOS will rise to the occasion and demand a meaningful role in the selection of their next bishop--be he auxiliary or diocesan. After all, as has been pointed out by many, the Trojan horse method has been used many times before to exclude meaningful lay participation in the selection process and to foist unqualified, or worse, candidates on the faithful.
#41 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2008-06-28 13:43
Pokrov provides information, how people view that material will no doubt depend on their individual experiences. Perhaps some will find the information collected about Archimandrite Jonah Paffhausen of no import, or even a credit to him. Others may well have a different opinion. I would suggest that people visit the link and come to their own conclusions, particularly those for whom the archimandrite is being presented as an episcopal candidate.
Visitors to our site should make sure to explore the "Related Items," which can be found on the right hand side of the page. Also, the site is still a work in progress, so be sure and check back occasionally.
For myself, I find Archimandrite Jonah's ties to the Holy Order of MANS/Christ the Saviour Brotherhood/St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood to be troubling. I am also concerned that the archimandrite’s monastery, St. John of San Francisco, took in a priest defrocked by the GOA for sexual misconduct, while at the same time it continues to promote itself as a retreat destination for children, as well as adults. But that's my opinion, based on my own experiences.
Melanie Jula Sakoda
I have as well met several former-MANS people. They were very nice, yes, but also held occasionally bizarre theological opinions. They didn't manifest themselves very often, but when they did, oh boy. I've had quite enough of liturgical-rituals-are-magick masked as conservative pietism, thank you very much. I'm not saying Igumen Jonah is like this, I don't know him. But I would double check and make sure. That's not being suspicious, that's simply being prudent.
While someone's at that, shouldn't someone else be "nominated" as well, preferably by the actual diocese itself, so that the "choice" is actually a choice? An Auxiliary is obviously (usually) the next diocesan bishop, so shouldn't the diocese get to choose who they get, rather than simply "choosing" to accept who is given to them? I don't mean to denigrate the fitness of Igumen Jonah for the job, but I think the DOS should put their foot down and refuse to "choose" anyone until they are able to actually choose between a pool of candidates. Maybe the South can put this terrible practice to an end once and for all.
#43 Anonymous on 2008-06-28 19:07
The more I hear the less I understand.
With all of these issues why was Theodosius Lazor given a pass?
After all this entire problem began with the "Metropolitan's Discretionary Fund". Okay, Herman takes over after Wheeler the Wizard leaves. Why was Herman given a pass?
Sounds like what it is "SCAPEGOATING"!
#44 MP on 2008-06-29 05:28
The process being taken in the DOS for the selection of an Auxiliary bishop is being followed "by the book." The book is the Statute of the OCA. The Statute has been and will continued to be followed.
If Abbot Jonah becomes His Eminence's Auxiliary it will be because the Archbishop believes he is the right choice, the Diocesan Council believes he is the right choice and the members of the Diocesan Assembly believe he is the right choice.
In fact, all three of those levels of acceptance were met at the recent DOS Assembly, although it was not necessary but welcome that the Assembly itself said "AXIOS" to Abbot Jonah.
You might be interested to know that two previous candidates for the same position were rejected in the past four years. One was rejected by the Holy Synod and one was rejected by the Assembly, not by a vote but by a clear consensus of feedback from Diocesan Council members and members of the Diocese two years ago. So there is no rush. Just a continuing process that has been going on for several years.
For the record, I never suggested the name of Abbot Jonah. In fact it was Priest John Anderson of St Seraphim Cathedral that pushed for Abbot Jonah to come to Dallas last year to lead an advent retreat, which eventually was held this past Great Lent. In point of fact, the first "interview" of Abbot Jonah took place when he stood before the clergy and laity of the DOS who attended the retreat and the feedback after four days from the laity and laity confirmed to His Eminence, that Abbot Jonah should be considered.
When His Eminence presented his name to the Holy Synod at its last meeting, it was the consensus of the Holy Synod that his candidacy should be considered.
As part of that consideration he was invited to our DOS Assembly, so everyone at the Assembly could "look him in the eye" as the Archbishop likes to say.
But prior to the Assembly, all members of the DOS Diocesan Council were given a CV of Abbot Jonah, his biography, and a collection of his writings. All but one Diocesan Council member gave positive feedback, with one giving no feedback.
But to further include the Diocese, the writings of Abbot Jonah were posted on the DOS website. We have also recently posted another paper which he recently delivered at SVS.
Bishop Benjamin told me recently that he truly is sorry to lose Abbot Jonah from his diocese if he is elected Auxiliary bishop for the DOS.
The process for the selection of an Auxiliary bishop is different from that of a ruling diocesan bishop. But, I hope you will accept the fact that this Diocese is not acting in haste (please note Mr. Kistler) since the DOS has been in the process of looking for an Auxiliary bishop for several years - and please note, this process started long before I came to the DOS.
I can't stop you from thinking there is some "cabal" in the DOS with, I guess me, as the "chief calbalist!" You can think what you want. I am not here to change your mind. I am here to do the job that I have been tasked to do.
However since you have never met me, why not come down to Dallas. You can stay in my home and be a guest of my wife and me. We can break bread together we can talk and you can "look me in the eye."
Sincerely in Christ,
#45 Archpriest Joseph Fester on 2008-06-29 16:59
Dear Dallas Observer,
Not all deaneries elect their deans. Some do, some don't. That is about the only one I know of. Austin? We have Fr Ledford working in Round Rock, TX. You can email me directly about Protodeacon Patrick since I don't know who you are.
#46 The DOS Chancery Functionary on 2008-06-29 17:07
Makes you wonder, Ken, when Dmitri "asked" that Fr. Jonah be his auxiliary. In a prior item on ocanews here, it was stated that Dmitri "asked" that Fr. Jonah become his auxiliary. What was the basis of that? Reading how the poor old Vladyka has been basically guided in his actions (didnt' someone use the word "snowed") by his new advisors you wonder if HE truly made the request. And if he didn't, then who did and who has the power to chose and then see his choice pushed through to get actually placed as an auxiliary. This is a classic trojan horse. Someone gets to pick a guy who will eventually become the ruling bishop and because its an auxiliary no one but the Synod gets to approve, er, rubber stamp.
Which reminds us, we still do not know who forged that letter under Dmitri's name around the time of the controversy with the transfer and then de-transfer of Kondratick. We do not know, but we have not forgotten either.
This selection, and how it came about, needs serious investigation by those in the South who are concerned with the proper operation of their diocese now and the impacts upon the integrity of the diocese well into the future.
#47 Anonymous on 2008-06-29 20:26
Well, Frankie has a gotten a pass because Bobby isn't telling us what he knows about him!
#48 Anonymous on 2008-06-29 20:42
Well Tom, I've know Fr. Jonah over 20 years. I know he wasn't hoom because I know from Fr. Jonah and other acquaintances of mine who were with him during those years what he was doing with his life before and after his education at St. Vlad's. It was not hoom.
I've stayed at the monastery several times with and without my son and various parishioners. Fr. Jonah's ties, spiritually speaking, are with that paragon of Russian monasticism, Valaam.
I think the Again article was intended to be nothing more than a survey of the wanderings of people on - and even over - the borders of the Church, and an expression of joy at the ways in which they found their way "home."
And Tom, I wish you could stand on the outside of your message and see how totally unconvincing the contortions were to explain how pokrov was using the word "alias" in Fr. Jonah's case. Man! The whole purpose of pokrov is to be the America's Most Wanted of Orthodoxy. They have a rogue's gallery of people convicted, sanctioned etc. of crimes. In each other case they use the word alias in the overwhelmingly usual sense - a name behind which a wrongdoer hides. The misuse of the term to refer to Fr. Jonah's birth name tells us something about the users, not about him!
#49 Fr. George Washburn on 2008-06-29 23:58
Unfortunately under the OCA Statutes, the AAC cannot remove bishops, the synod of bishops has a role, but not the people. Can you imagine that happening now? I don't think so. They are elected for life and that is not bad if they truly lead and be true fathers of the church. A true father would know the heart of his children - I do not believe that these men care about what the children of God think - they only care for themselves.
#50 MP on 2008-06-30 03:06
Here we go with Melanie Sakoda trying to sound alarms where there is no need for alarm. Pokrov has done a useful service in exposing clerics who have questionable backgrounds, but to go on "witch hunts" against every bishop candidate is really over-the-top. There is a need for every bishop candidate (and probably every priest candidate) to be background checked, psychologically tested and interviewed in depth with references. However, sounding-off half-cocked with hearsay is plain irresponsible and discredits Pokrov.
#51 Anonymous on 2008-06-30 08:26
Dear Melanie Sakoda,
I agree with you that we should indeed be "wise as serpents" and be very careful before we jump to any conclusions. I did read both Father Jonah's AGAIN article and your critique of it on your excellent site, pokrov.org.
Please correct me if I am wrong, but it seems the reason why Father Jonah is listed on your site is the fact that the monastery is housing a person who has abused children. Your understandable concern seems to be that the monastery gives tours to families (and children) and that these touring children may be placed in danger. Have you looked into this matter any further? It seems to me that the offender could not be in any better place than a monastery. It may be that the monastery has taken steps to make sure that he does not re-offend with the touring children.
In your 2001 critique, you wrote "...some of the characteristics that had caused the Order to be considered a cult were unchanged. The group's elitism remained, as did the emphasis on obedience and the reverence for discredited leaders with tarnished images." I am afraid that many "regular" Orthodox are also marked by the same characteristics: elitism, blind obedience and reverence for discredited leaders. Does this make some Orthodox folks akin to cultists? Or, are these characteristics common to all folks, no matter their religion?
While I agree that we should be very careful in selecting our leaders, I do think that we should also trust in the Holy Spirit to guide our deliberations. The bottom line remains: All of us are sinners and have imperfections. It really is a matter of choosing the best folks for our leaders; not a matter of choosing the perfect. That is why I have been an advocate of broadening the pool of candidates to the episcopacy, establishing checks and balances, and providing a much greater role to the laity and New Testament type deacons.
#52 Carl on 2008-06-30 08:42
What's even more interesting with is that the former Comptroller of the OCA, Steven Strikis, is now located where? You guessed it, Fr. Jonah's monastery.
Its interesting how it all just get intermingled, isn't it?
#53 Anonymous on 2008-06-30 17:25
Carl wrote in Comment #52:
“Please correct me if I am wrong, but it seems the reason why Father Jonah is listed on your site is the fact that the monastery is housing a person who has abused children.
Archimandrite Jonah has a page on Pokrov, as do I, because his name appears in articles which have been uploaded to the site. Also, another correction: the person who is housed at the monastery was defrocked for abusing a mentally ill adult, not a child.
“It seems to me that the offender could not be in any better place than a monastery.”
I do not share your belief that a monastery which offers guest facilities is an appropriate setting for someone who abused his position as a priest to prey on a vulnerable young man. If such people are going to be sent to monasteries, it is my opinion that the monasteries should be closed facilities.
“I am afraid that many ‘regular’ Orthodox are also marked by the same characteristics: elitism, blind obedience and reverence for discredited leaders.”
The Church in which I was raised was not a cult. If it has come to acquire some of the characteristics of a cult over the last 55 years, perhaps this explains in part why the OCA is in the mess that it is.
“While I agree that we should be very careful in selecting our leaders, I do think that we should also trust in the Holy Spirit to guide our deliberations.”
Yes, but the Holy Spirit does his best work when information flows freely, and all opinions and ideas have an equal chance to be heard.
Melanie Jula Sakoda
Dear Father Fester,
Thank you for your detailed reply to my comments.
On the face of it, the process you have described seems fair and reasonably open. But the "devil" is often in the details and spirit in which the process is carried out and there I do have some nagging questions or doubts. Why only one candidate for consideration? You mention there have been two others in the past that were rejected, one of whom I recall seemed imminently suitable. Was that the one rejected by the Synod?
Has the participation by the whole DOS in the process been more than proforma? It is usually very easy for those in power to manipulate a diverse and powerless ( you concede the role is purely advisory) group of lay persons. Now that questions are being raised, even if a littler late by your standards, why not jump at the chance to enthusiastically answer them publicly, not behind some facade of secrecy where you control the formate and agenda, i.e. private emails and phone calls?
I take at face value your assurances of good faith and intent. I don't normally believe in "guilt by association," but you yourself underscored your continued attachment to our former Chancellor by insisting on referring to him as "Father" Kondratick. Do you denounce the errors and misdeeds of his tenure in Syosset, during a time, I believe, when you served as the head of the Fellowship of Orthodox Stewards?
With all that said, I again appreciate your willingness to discuss this subject on this website with your name attached. Would that others would follow suit!
#55 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2008-07-01 07:27
Dear Mr Tobin,
I don’t know if any diocese has ever considered more than one candidate for Auxiliary bishop at a time. Having said that, more could have been vetted but in the previous DOS searches for a Auxiliary bishop, it has been “one-at-a-time.”
To review the previous candidates, one was suggested by His Eminence, and the Holy Synod rejected him after he was interviewed by two members of the Holy Synod. One was suggested by the Holy Synod with agreement of His Eminence - he was later turned down by the Archbishop once he and the diocese at a previous Assembly “looked him in the eye.” In short, fairly or unfairly, that candidate did not impress the clergy and faithful in the diocese, nor the Archbishop, who, to coin a phrase from football instant replay, “Upon further review....” I neglected to mention in my previous post that another name was suggested to the DOS deans, but that person had no support from the deans, so his vetting ended there.
I can’t speak for others if the process has “been more than pro-forma.” However what can be concluded is that in the past, three names were rejected so it does appear that those situations were not pro-forma.
We have tried to use the DOS website to “include” everyone in the diocese in the process. Whether people include themselves in the process is something else.
I am not sure who you are referring to when you say, “It is usually very easy for those in power to manipulate a diverse and powerless (you concede the role is purely advisory) group of lay persons.” What group is “purely advisory?” You will have to help me understand your statement.
You can also email me privately if you like.
#56 Archpriest Joseph Fester on 2008-07-01 20:43
Well obviously the Archbishop and the Synod have ultimate authority to make the choice, therefore the lay and presbyter role is advisory at best. Or does each group have right of veto? Certainly, according to you, the Archbishop and Synod do.
You have pointed out that the process is different for selecting an auxiliary v. a diocesan bishop. Since the auxiliary seems to have the inside track to succeed his predecessor and is effectively appointed by the diocesan bishop, this creates, in my view, a conflict of interest and makes breaking from the past (if warranted) even more difficult.
Let's just concede that the process has been rigged to allow the bishops to control who they want in the episcopate irrespective of the desires of everyone else. I think that is a travesty and corruption of the Apostolic practice.
#57 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2008-07-02 07:03
You are so correct - I think Wheeler. Stokoe and Herman get the award for creating the entire mess - now who will the OCA turn to? Will something good come of this? Why hasn't Job or Zaccheus come up with a plan? They are very masterful at planning - what will they plan next? When will Zaccheus release his next work of art?
#58 MP on 2008-07-02 14:50
I notice that Fr.Fester did not answer Mr.Tobins's question, i.e.
"Do you denounce the errors and misdeeds of his(Rodion Kondratick's) tenure in Syosset?. Nor did Fr.Fester offer any explanation of the Las Vegas connection and the Rose Fester Trust. In fact, he has offered no explanation whatever of his role in the mismanagement and misdirection of OCA funds while he was in the inner circle in Syosset. Nor did he explain how he was able to obtain the position he did obtain after the implosion of the Kondratick administration, of which he was a prominent member.
If he doesn't know already, there have been stories going around that the objection to one of the candidates for the vicar bishop position in the DOS came suspiciously close to when Fr.Fester came into his present position. Some think he has an innordinate amount of power in the DOS, especially for a Bobbite. In short, we are "looking at Fr.Fester in the eye" and would like Fr.Fester to come clean on what really happened during the time he was personally involved in the Kondratick administration. Tell us what went on at the Marquis Merriott and the Town House.
Frankly, to many of us, if we were to look at each of the present Synod ..."in the eye", very very few of them would cut the mustard based on their actual performance in the last three years and in some cases going back much further than that.
#59 nicholas skovran on 2008-07-02 17:55
I am not enough of a historic or historical scholar to refute your conclusion that an Auxiliary bishop more or less becomes the ruling bishop of a diocese. Maybe others can answer that question. I do know from recent OCA history that Bishop Benjamin did, but Bishop Innocent did not.
However, would it be possible to be patient enough to let the DOS process go forward, let the Holy Synod discharge their duty, one way or another related to Archimandrite Jonah, and let the Holy Spirit lead the way?
Maybe, just maybe, this will all work out for the Glory of God. That is my prayer, and I am sure that is yours too.
#60 Archpriest Joseph Fester on 2008-07-02 21:57
Bishop Innocent didn't because he had to be removed to make room for Nikolai, who did ascend from being an auxiliary. Nikon did as well, as did Tikon II (EPA). I cannot remember the last time, in fact, that a diocesan bishop was elected the proper way. So, there is precedent for all the concern as its more likely than not, given past performance, that this is what will happen. Therefore the concern on the part of so many that this amounts to nothing more than circumventing the participation of the people.
You will definitely understand that given everything that has happened, that there should extra care giving to making sure that as much transparency and participation as possible. Its easier to say that "we all screwed up on this" than to have to stand and defend against an angry mob. Especially if that angry mob turns out to have been right. But maybe that's how the Holy Spirit is going to have this play out for the Glory of God! God works in strange ways.
#61 Anonymous on 2008-07-03 08:27
Although I was Fr Kondratick’s assistant I was not his nanny. But, let me answer your questions.
Let me restate Mr Tobin’s exact question - “Do you denounce the errors and misdeeds of his tenure in Syosset, during a time, I believe, when you served as the head of the Fellowship of Orthodox Stewards?”
I denounce any errors and misdeeds when I was in Syosset. I do not know of any misdeeds I have been accused of while being the FOS executive director. No misdeed on my part was brought to my attention when I spoke with the SIC. As for my “role in the mismanagement and misdirection of OCA funds while he was in the inner circle in Syosset” I had no role in the finances of the OCA other than raising money when I was the FOS and Development Director. I wrote one grant proposal for the development of the OCA representation church in Moscow before I was full-time in Syosset. The information on the OCA representation church was given to me by Syosset staffers. The grant proposal to Mr Andreas was based on the vision of what the Moscow representation church COULD BE in the future. There was no misrepresentation on my part in writing that Grant Proposal. You may be interested in knowing that while I was OCA Development Director and FOS Director, I wrote parameters for the use of OCA endowment funds. If those parameters were not followed, it was not with my knowledge.
My late mother’s Trust had nothing to do with the OCA finances. I believe that I was quite specific with you before on this topic and the so-called Las Vegas connection. Yes, I knew Rock and Turbay. Yes, the trust invested in a real estate deal with them. The trust lost money in the deal and I even went to court against them. This is family business not church business and again had nothing to do with OCA finances.
As to your next question, “Nor did he explain how he was able to obtain the position he did obtain after the implosion of the Kondratick administration, of which he was a prominent member.” Let me give you a step by step answer. I met with Archbishop Dmitri at a Synod meeting and told him that I had a blessing from Met. Herman to look for an assignment. The Archbishop invited me to Dallas. I knew of a couple of parishes open in the DOS, any of which I would have been blessed to pastor. It was not until I returned to New York that the present position I now hold was offered to me. It was never discussed when I was in Dallas. I accepted the position and since being here the job has changed in some ways unforeseen when I first came here.
You then go on to state, “If he doesn't know already, there have been stories going around that the objection to one of the candidates for the vicar bishop position in the DOS came suspiciously close to when Fr.Fester came into his present position.” Let me clear up the story for you. Yes, the name of Fr David Brum was floated as a possible candidate for the Auxiliary bishop post. His name, was rejected by the DOS deans and that was the end of that. I guess not a very good display of “innordinate power.”
As to your charge that “Some think he has an innordinate amount of power in the DOS, especially for a Bobbite. In short, we are "looking at Fr.Fester in the eye" and would like Fr.Fester to come clean on what really happened during the time he was personally involved in the Kondratick administration. Tell us what went on at the Marquis Merriott and the Town House.”
I am not sure what I can say to show you that I do not have 'innordinate power" in the DOS. The DOS staff in Dallas, including the Archbishop is 4 people, all who have been in the DOS for decades longer than me. We all work together and the Archbishop has the final say. And please, don't reprise the "elderly bishop" thing. We all know the Archbishop is aging. He knows he is aging. That is why he has been looking for an Auxiliary for several years. I am not the "power behind the throne" running things down here. You may be interested in knowing that I am a very strong advocate for the DOS diocesan council taking a more active role in the work of the diocese. The greater involvement of the DOS DC is now taking place and I am doing what I can to facilitate that process. I guess if I had “innordinate power” desires I would not want that to take place. We have some truly talented people on the DOS DC and empowering them to use those talents more is what I would say is more like “power sharing” and good stewardship. BTW, "power" is your word not mine.
Maybe another thing that might put down these "power rumors" is that if Archimandrite Jonah becomes the Auxiliary Bishop in the DOS, he will also be named the Chancellor of the DOS. I will be working for him in the chain of command. I think it is a great idea.
As to what “went on at the Marriott Marquis and the Town House”: I am probably never going to be able to dispel the "insider" tag for having worked in Syosset during the Kondratick years; but to these things I was not privy. I knew nothing about these rumors while I was in Syosset. Indeed, I only heard about them after leaving Syosset. Were they to prove more than rumors one day, I would categorically denounce such behavior, for in no uncertain terms I reject such things. Period.
Yours in Christ,
#62 Archpriest Joseph Fester on 2008-07-03 08:39
Thank you for having some integrity - this is rare these days!
If only the synod of bishops had some - dream on!
#63 MP on 2008-07-03 14:16
You seem to be very informed, however, Kondratick never had an administration. The Metropolitan was always in charge. They have a responsibility to the entire church, fiduciary responsibility and the priest is always obedient to the bishop. Basic information - I can't believe that you do not realize this!
#64 MP on 2008-07-03 15:24
You are very well spoken, and could almost be believed, its surprising that more wasn’t raised in FOS with your talents.
There are however, more questions, and since you’re in a very open mood maybe these can be explained as well. Archbishop Dmitri, at the Synod meeting in April 2007, agreed to de-transfer the former Fr. Kondratick and return him to being under the Metropolitan. After returning to Dallas, he had turned about and refused to the de-transfer. You were traveling with the bishop. What was discussed on the plane back to Dallas such that when he got back to Dallas the agreement became null and void. We are sure that the bishop did ask for comments being that you are an adviser to him and a member of his staff. We also understand the confidentiality that is necessary, but can you say that you were not part of the change in heart of the Archbishop and it was purely his decision to go back on his word at the Synod? Secondly, who wrote that letter to Herman about the de-transfer that it was determined wasn’t written by the Archbishop. Lastly, has anyone been disciplined for sending a letter, in the Archbishop’s name, threatening the Metropolitan with legal action? Such an action is serious enough that someone had to, at least, been suspended, if not defrocked. We would be satisfied at this point with just knowing who did it.
#65 Anonymous on 2008-07-04 07:15
The "anonymous" to whom I now reply uses ad hominem and other logical fallacies frequently, if not skillfully. He or she also mischaracterizes my comments on use of the term Trojan Horse.
We all know that, like the prototype for which it is named, the term Trojan Horse today connotes a deception employed by an enemy to infiltrate and conquer his adversary. My point was that the term is not applicable here.
First, there is no evidence to show this honorable man, Fr. Jonah, is the tool of anyone else's sinister designs, or sinister himself. And no evidence of a ruse, either. It should be perfectly obvious to all that against the day of his death or retirement, Archbishop Dimitri wants to have someone good readily available who already knows the diocese, and he thinks Fr. Jonah is the one. That is about as much of a ruse as buying an extra battery for the flashlight.
So I believe the use of the term Trojan Horse to describe Fr. Jonah's candidacy fails on both counts. There is no ruse in what is obvious, and no evidence in his conduct or writings that he represents bad influences.
Perhaps we can ask if the oh-so-human tendency to shut barn doors loudly and firmly after the horse is down the road is not somewhat in evidence here? If we agree that a) Archbishop Dimitri will not serve forever, b) his office should not sit vacant when he no longer holds it, and c) someone good should replace him, I am only suggesting, as somebody who has known this candidate for a couple of decades or so, that barn door shutters might not really want to shut it on him.
By all means dispassionately and carefully consider whatever EVIDENCE of his worthiness there is in the writings and doings of Fr. Jonah. He can and must rise or fall on that. But let's try to separate out emotion, innuendo or regret over other people's sins and mistakes, and focus on what the facts show about him.
If that is an offensive stirring of the common pot I apologize, but I think that any such honors are firmly in the hands of others, like "anonymous" himself!
#66 Fr. George Washburn on 2008-07-07 02:29
You totally ignore the process that the Trojan Horse represents and so you find no use for the term. The term is used because time and again, in the OCA, auxiliaries have been named to skirt the canon against a bishop naming his successor and/or the OCA statutes which put the selection of a diocesan bishop squarely in the hands of the diocesan governance. The trojan horse is the manner in which a pre-ordained choice for bishop is put in by the powers that be to ensure smooth operation of the group without any of the uncertainty that having a diocese actually pick its bishop can present. It is very evident that when the powers that be perform this maneuver that they are taking an adversarial eye upon the diocese. The term fits like a glove. You, Father, are very adept at turning an argument against those aspects which you do not agree with and center on those which you feel you have solid footing. We do recognize you had spent time in the field of law.
If you read our item carefully you will notice that we did not cast any question of Fr. Jonah's abilities, and stated as much, we are against the process. Surely you can see that! If Fr. Jonah has no obvious flaws and is the great man his promoters make him out to be, he should have no problem prevailing in a vote over another candidate. How much experience has this man in a parish setting?
There has been no outward evidence that any of the previous auxiliaries was a ruse at the time, but if you look at the most fervent supporters of Herman who do you have? Nikon, Tikhon, Benjamin. The guys that WERE AUXILIARIES and not chosen by their dioceses. And now these guys provide enough leverage that Herman can rest easy against any actions against his lawlessness. You want to tell me that there wasn’t some thought when these guys were chosen over Herman’s circumstances? Come on, be real! Now, Fr. George, you can blind yourself to any realities you want to, that's your choice, but when it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, and looks like a duck, its usually a duck.
#67 Anonymous on 2008-07-07 10:34
I previously said I wasn’t interested in a long term Internet discussion with Fr.Fester and I still am not. However, this memo by Fr.Fester requires an answer. Fester previously showed a tendency to argue points that were not in issue. This latest memo continues this tendency.
For example, Mr.Tobin asked Fester …”Do you denounce the errors and misdeeds of his (Fr. Robert Kondratick---my emphasis--) tenure in Syosset?”. Fester’s response ignored the question. I repeated the question in my post. Fester then responded…”I denounce any errors and misdeeds when I was in Syosset.” That is a politician’s answer. He could just as easily said…”I denounce any errors and misdeeds anywhere in the world committed by anyone at anytime.” But……that was not the question that was asked.
Secondly, Fr.Fester said…”I had no role in the finances of the OCA other than raising money when I was the FOS and Development Director”. Another vague politician’s answer to a non-existent question. Of course, it all depends on what Fester meant by..”a role in the finances of the OCA”. For example, which of the following would constitute …”a role in the finances of the OCA”?: persons who carried money surreptitiously to Russia not knowing where the money came from or where it was going in Russia; persons who purchased religious items in Russia; persons who transported the religious items back to the US; persons who sold the religious items in the US; persons who collected the monies from the sale of these religious items; persons who arranged for reservations, activities, meals, etc. in the Marriott Marquis or the Townhouse; persons who attended “gatherings” at the Marriott Marquis or the Townhouse and had their expenses paid by the OCA; persons who travelled or visited other places for purposes not related to OCA business and had these expenses paid for by the OCA; persons who signed for, accepted services or money from the OCA for any reason not related to OCA purposes, etc.
In short, Fester’s assertion that he did not have a “role” is meaningless. More importantly, did he KNOW or have reason to know of any suspicious handling of OCA assets during Fester’s tenure; did he know of money being spent without accounting; did he know or have reason to know what activities were being conducted at the Marriott Marquis or the Townhouse at the expense of the OCA: did he know why he was writing the grant proposal for the development of the OCA representation church in Moscow; did he know that the proposal was to obtain money from ADM etc.; did he know that the money requested in the proposal was paid to the OCA; did he know about the so-called discretionary fund; did he know that there was a dispute about the monies being spent in the discretionary fund without audits; did he know that the money for the proposal he was writing would not be entered on the OCA books; did he know that Dn.Eric Wheeler was having a controversy with Fr.Kondratick about the absence of receipts etc and other proof of spending OCA monies; did he know that Fr.Kucynda was having similar problems with Kondratick; did he know that Fr.Strikis was having similar problems with Kondratick regarding the absence of receipt for large amounts of OCA money withdrawn by Kondratick. In short, if Fr. Fester’s ears were good enough to hear clearly a discussion between PR’s attorney and Kondratick’s attorney while Fester was on top of the stairs and their discussion was on the first floor, it is very unusual to say the least that Fester would not be aware of loud discussions between Kondratick and Wheeler, Kucynda and Strikis.
To return to the question of whether Fester was an “insider” at Syosset. It appears that he was employed in Syosset from 1995 to his resignation in the spring of 2006 after the suspension of Fr.Kondratick. During this time he wore one of these hats, sometimes two at one time.
Director, Office of Development
Director of the Office of Church Growth
Director of the Office of Church, Missions and Stewardship
Executive Director of the Fellowship of Orthodox Stewards
Assistant to the Metropolitan for Programs and Planned Gifts
Secretary to the Chancellor
Assistant to the Chancellor
Secretary, Office of External Affairs and Internal Relations
It surely seems like a lot of fancy titles for a church with about 22,000 paying members. Despite all these titles, all but one of which were under the direct supervision/control of the Chancellor, Fester maintains that he was not an insider; was not a “nanny” for Kondratick. Throughout all his Internet comments, Fester states that if there were improper activities, these were not within his area of competence or job description and that he was not aware of any such activities.
Fester’s Internet comments regarding the use of the Marriott Marquis, the East Norwich Inn and the Comfort Inn in Hamlin, Pa. shows that Fester was not completely unaware of OCA activities not within his job description. His involvement in the failed discussions with the Las Vegas canonical advisors re the proposed setting up of straw corporations to provide a tax free situation for the proposed USA tour of the Moscow Patriarchate collection of icons makes it perfectly clear that he was active in areas that were not included in his job description. His affidavit in the 60 page Kondratick appeal shows him acting in a way not dreamed of by the people who wrote his job description. These are only some of the more flagrant examples that have been made public.
Sometime ago, I suggested that the 60 page appeal document being discussed at the time--- but before it was made public--- included new evidence that was not permitted in an appeal document. Well, the Kondratick quasi-legal team (consisting of james silver and Fester) jumped all over me with Fester assuring me on 10/12/07 that he knows the rules of appeal and didn’t need any education from me.
Then, advisor silver released the 60 page document and lo and behold it included some canonical mish mash re the procedures that Kondratick wanted implemented in his appeal, several letters plus affidavits by David Lucs, Fr.Michael Westerberger and Fr. Fester (executed while a member of the Diocese of the South).
No new evidence???? I thought Fester said that he knew the rules of an appeal court. I guess what he didn’t say is that he has no clue as to what constitutes evidence.
In any case, in his affidavit Fester says that he stood at the top of the stairs in the main building at Syosset and saw the attorneys for PR and Kondratick enter the library on the floor below to conduct PR’s interview of Kondratick. He said he remained at the top of the stairs for about 10 minutes until the attorneys came out of the library and had a short discussion before the PR attorneys left. He then went down and spoke to Kondratick’s attorney. So far, I’m at a loss at just how these actions come under the job description that Fester was working under at the time. In fact, I don’t know what his duties were at the time since he was Assistant to the Chancellor and the Chancellor was discharged. Was he just an ex-officio member of the Kondratick defense team while still in the employ of the Central Administration? Was he the “mole” that many of us suspected was still working in Syosset and passing out confidential OCA information to the Kondratick defense team and ultimately james silver and the various shills that operated under false names?
As Mark Stokoe said in his discussion of these events…”Fr.Fester is not an innocent eyewitness; he was a participant in the defense”.
Fester explains his late mother’s trust fund wherein Fester admits he invested in a real estate deal with Rock and Turbay, the two Las Vegas Roman Catholic, vestment makers who had several known commercial contacts with the OCA and who actually provided advice re canon law to our Synod of Bishops.
Again, Fr. Fester is either unable or unwilling to undertstand our problem with Fester’s business connection with Rock and Turbay. We have no interest whatever in what Fr.Fester or the trust did or will do with their assets. The issue,of course, is Conflict of Interest. Here we have two men, who were involved in questionable business ventures, who were selling vestments and other items to the OCA, who were advising the OCA leadership on various financial matters as well as canonical matters (the word in the underground is that the OCA paid Rock/Turbay the amount of $ 20,000 for their work in advising the OCA how to arrange the meeting place for the Divine Liturgy at the Orlando AAC) and they are engaging in personal business deals with OCA leadership. I can’t vouch for the amount or the scope of work involved.
The record shows that Kondratick was a director in Martinez and Murphey, the vestment making company owned by Rock and Turbay. Then, we find Fr.Fester, another OCA official, entering into a business relationship with Rock and Turbay.
Lesson No.1 re Conflict of Interest. You do NOT become personally involved in business transactions with persons/companies that are doing business with your employer. Simple enough for even a teenager to undertstand.
In answer to my comment ….”there are stories going around that the objection to one of the candidates for the vicar bishop position in the DOS came suspiciously close to when Fr.Fester came into his present position”. Fester responded and discussed the failed effort to nominate Fr.Brum.
My reference was NOT to Fr.Brum but to Fr. Wendling, whose name had been proposed to the Synod of Bishops at its meeting on May 23-25, 2006. I believe that Fester’s rescue from Syosset and tenure at Dallas began shortly before that date and the suspicion is that Fester had some input into the failure of the nomination.
Fester’s plea not to “reprise the elderly bishop thing” is surprising since I don’t ever remember bringing his age into the discussion with Fester. I’ve known Bishop Dmitri for over 35 years and I disagree with much of what he has done. But,
he’s not much older than I am. Why would I bring up his age?
My final comment re Fester’s memo of 07/03/08 relates to his comment…”if Archimandrite Jonah becomes Auxiliary Bishop” etc. According to some Google hits, Fester is credited with saying that the Archimandrite has “unofficially” been elected or something of the effect. Has his position changed since Fester allegedly made that announcement of the “unofficial “ election?
July 8, 2008
#68 nicholas skovran on 2008-07-08 17:50
Did the corporation that was set up with Fester and Rock and Turbay do any business with the Church?
It was mentioned that there was a lawsuit that terminated that relationship. Where was the suit filed?
#69 Anonymous on 2008-07-09 10:34
With all due respect, and I mean that, to coin your phrase, BALONEY!
Every single one of your conclusions as they relate to me is wrong. You have never spoken to me face to face, I don't even know you, yet you seem to know me, even better than I know myself!
If you are so concerned about all these points as they relate to me, please, travel to Dallas. Sit down with me and we can talk. Sit down with the Archbishop, talk with anyone here in Dallas about what concerns you. I can't change your mind about what you think of others, but I hope if you meet me, at least we might come to a better understanding of each other.
I would very much welcome your visit. Please email me personally or call the Chancery.
#70 Archpriest Joseph Fester on 2008-07-11 08:17
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