Tuesday, July 22. 2008
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We have only one standard by which to judge our behavior, and that standard is Jesus Christ. Not the statute of the OCA, not New York or US law, but the person of Jesus Christ.
Not one of us, bishop, priest, or lay, can meet that standard, and when we don't meet that standard, we repent. In the Orthodox Church, we repent publicly - even if others do not hear the words, they see the confession, and witness to the confession. The priest witnesses, on behalf of all of us comprising the Church, the confession and repentance.
We modify our behavior. We soldier on. We try to do better, with God's help. We inevitably fall down again. And the cycle continues.
I have heard Archbishop JOB repent for his responsibility and inaction as this scandal unfolded. He acknowledges he was asleep at the switch, and begged forgiveness (which was given him).
Sometime back in early 2006 on this site I wrote that Met. HERMAN need not fear the people, for they stood ready to forgive him. All he needed to do was repent and ask forgiveness.
He chose not to take that step, and now the ship has sailed. I fear the other bishops have lost their opportunity as well.
The issue at hand is about one thing, and one thing only: repentance. When we see that, from the bishops, the clergy, and one another, then (and only then) will healing begin.
Martin D. Watt, CPA
#1 Marty Watt on 2008-07-22 17:10
There is one thing that has become very obvious throughout these Town Hall Meetings and the faithful seems to have a constant and similar voice. With that fact made so clear, I hope and pray that the Holy Synod, in particular, comes to the AAC with all of this in mind. The OCA will have a very important and defining moment with respect to all the issues of the financial problems as well as the overall problems with an effective central governing process, or lack there of. Given these circumstance now facing our OCA, we will either see an AAC with the Synod showing great humility, repentance, and transparent openness, or we will see nothing less than a tragic train wreck. I would ask the OCA faithful to pray hard that we see first, for we should all fear that latter.
#2 Constantin Ardeleanu on 2008-07-22 18:36
But Marty, as you say, that ship has sailed. I don't think many of us want to attend an AAC at which some mock "public repentance" takes place and then we're expected to forgive and forget and move on with the same players. I think the only repentance most of us would accept as valid at this point would be one coupled with resignation.
Just my take on the matter--and perhaps that's what you meant?
#3 Cathryn M. Tatusko on 2008-07-22 19:05
Mark, I think you could back off Fr. Jarmus a tad.
His boss is the Metropolitan last I knew, so it should be an inherent expectation that he'd do some shoe shining when he could, and let's be real. The Synod is getting beat up pretty good by all of us for its gross errors in financial management of the OCA.
The truth is we need to decide whether that structure, the administration reporting to the Metropolitan, is appropriate, not whether a sentence published by Jarmus is too kind to the Synod.
I think the administration of the OCA, at least a portion of it, should report to the Metropolitan Council and then the shoe shining is done.
Cathy T. I don't understand how you can continue to call for resignations of the Metropolitan when you don't/didn't call for resignations of others who clearly aided RSKs graft through blind complicity at least. I'll support you when you include the rest in your calls. Otherwise, it ain't rocket science to see your calls as a personal attack on the Metropolitan and to understand his defensive perspective. Where was Alice Woog all these years Cathy? How does she not get a petition?
Jarmus' OCA document states clearly the fact the people believe the church has fallen away from its mission of providing the faith for people. This is by far more important than anything. Wasting millions without building any church must be more shame than most hierarchs can bear, and he hasn't shied away from reporting that reality.
Just my 2 cents for the day..
(Editor's note: Last time a looked a shoe shine cost a few bucks, not six figures a year. If that is all we are getting, a shoe shine, then I expect to only have to pay for that. Moreover, it insulting to make such assertions about the respect people express for the Bishops at the Town Halls, when even Syosset's own transcripts show the opposite.
As for the Metropolitan's resignation: everybody else is gone from the former administration but the man in charge. Several past MC members have been replaced as well; and several others will leave ( including Dr. Woog) at the next North American Council (formerly known as the AAC) in November. New Auditors will be elected according to mandate as well.
And yes, the Bishops should resign as Fr. Meyendorff suggested. That they will not speaks more loudly than anything they do say.
As for your point that unless they all go, no one should, I disagree. In real life just because you don't catch all the crooks, doesn't mean you should let all the ones you did, go free. You start where you can, and go forward as best you can. To do less is simply to continue enabling at best, and at worst collaborate. )
#4 Daniel E. Fall on 2008-07-23 07:21
Dear Constantin: It has been a great disappointment to me that, at the town hall meetings, when asked the question "what would you like to see from the AAC?" nobody has mentioned the many issues Fr Hopko brought forth in one of his letters that appeared in these pages two years ago. At the very least a commission could be formed to look at these issues. Until we do, we will continue to drift aimlessly.
#5 Michael Strelka on 2008-07-23 07:25
Do you remember what the deadline is for submitting resolutions to the Pre-Concilar AAC?
Is this deadline before the release of the second SIC?
If the SIC presents new information and facts, will people at the AAC be able to bring up new resolutions there?
(The current deadline is September 15th. Resolutions may be brought from the floor; but remember, all resolutions are vetted by the Resolution Committee before being brought to the floor, and even if passed, must be agreed to by the Bishops to go into effect. The only thing the Bishops cannot stop/alter are amendments to the Statute, and that deadline is 90 days before the Council, I believe, which will happen before the SIC report is released.)
#6 Patty Schellbach on 2008-07-23 07:32
Even though measures seem to have been taken to ensure that this sort of "thing" won't happen again, nobody is going to be happy or willing to just "move on" until Met. Herman resigns. Am I right? Well, its not going to happen. Read the man's biography and it's pretty obvious that this is what he has worked for his entire ecclesiastical career. He was your typical celibate/suedo-monastic priest (the oca has too many of them) who patiently awaited his turn for the mitre. As has been pointed out in other posts, he struck a deal and is now the Metropolitan. As has also been pointed out numerous times, the man is completely unfit for the job (his former diocese is perhaps the most pathetic in the OCA [I think Tikhon is a good bishop, but what can he do with Herman breathing down his neck?], and the parishes he pastored as a priest might as well be shut down, but yet he still got the promotion...) and if he had the good of the Church in mind he would step down, but he doesn't, and he won't. And let's face it, the man is a brick wall! I don't think that any other bishop in the Synod would have been able to withstand this much ill feeling toward himself and still be able to prance around like a peacock as if nothing is going on. No. He wants it too bad, and if there is no way to remove him other than wait for him to voluntarily step down, then we might as well forget about it. After that ridiculous vote by the synod in his favor we can't expect any help from them either (they can't even muster up the courage to answer questions laid before them at the town hall meetings). The point is that if we are waiting for Herman to step aside we are waiting in vain. What are we going to do when the next AAC is just another buisness as usual waste of money with Herman left saftely in the helm??? That is the reality we have to come to grips with.
#7 oca seminarian on 2008-07-23 10:57
I hope there are other seminarians who share your insights at SVS and elsewhere. How refreshing!
The answer to your last question is simple--though difficult for so many loyal, faithful and suffering OCA priests and laity. End all financial support--period! That would get their immediate attention. As our bishops and their henchmen have demonstrated repeatedly, everything else is futile and ineffective.
#8 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2008-07-23 13:11
As was the case with the Alaska situation, we can only hope and pray that SVS, as an instrumental, influential, and Spiritual force, WILL AND MUST STEP IN AND BE A VOCAL FORCE FOR THIS AAC, and the survival of the OCA.
#9 Constantin Ardeleanu on 2008-07-23 14:46
Your information was appreciated.
Just trying to understand the procedure here:
So a resolution from the floor, say, for +Herman to retire/resign must be approved by the Resolution Committee (If it was previously brought up and the RC rejected it before the AAC, can the resolution be brought up again on the floor of the AAC?)
Then the bishops would have to agree to the resolution for it to go into effect. Does that mean all the bishops?
Thanks for responding.
Editor's Note: Yes, a motion can be brought up again: but if it lost the first time, it would be hard to imagine it would pass muster the second time. But, miracles happen.
Only a majority of Bishops is required, I believe. But the Synod likes to be unanimous in everything, so I imagine if one could not get all, it would not pass.)
#10 Patty Schellbach on 2008-07-23 17:19
You wrote, "I think the only repentance most of us would accept as valid at this point would be one coupled with resignation". Now is this Christian like? Are you being judgmental of one's possible repentance? Obvisoulsy you do not like our Met. Herman, and that is fine. "Christs tell us to Love one another as I love you". I don't think your spreading any kinda of love I want, but you know what I'll take it! Hopefully you pray long and hard at night to root out all that evil you have build up inside? We must learn to forgive no matter how hard it hurts, this is what makes us Orthodox Christians. Life is too short to be holding grudges. God bless you. I have added you and Wayne to my daily prayer list.
#11 Anonymous on 2008-07-24 07:10
Dear Friends: Every so often I like to go back and read various items that have been posted on this site in the past. I found this posting from 8/18/06:
"I was a lay delegate to the last All American Council, and my primary interest is church growth and evangelism. At the AAC, Syosset was very up-front in stating that there was no church-wide evangelism program then and that there wouldn't be one later. [emphasis mine] Evangelism was recognized as a significant concern - Metropolitan Herman went so far as to say that evangelism is our job, but the methods were left to the local churches. The most worthwhile hour of the whole week was an informal gathering of local delegates who just batted around ideas for growth and retention. It was terrific, and the great ideas came from all over the country, not just the high-growth dioceses. Although Syosset didn't follow up by sending out the notes of the get-together as they said they would, we can have the same sort of church-wide meeting by e-mail on this site, and we can start it now.
So, we got sucker-punched, and we're wearing the result."
Keeping this post in mind, I suggest you go back and re-read these three letters from Fr. Thomas Hopko that appear in these pages.
When (and if) the financial scandal is finally resolved, we are still going to be faced with the problems posed by these letters. If we continue to spend 10 times more for external church relations than we do for missions, then what have we accomplished? Christ admonishes us not to hide our lamp under a bushel, but to put it on a stand, so that the light will shine for all in the house.
Assuming I make it through 35 miles of expressway construction in getting to the town hall meeting tonight, this is what I will speak about on the topic "what do you hope to see accomplished at the AAC?"
#12 Michael Strelka on 2008-07-24 08:26
Earlier, you posted the following:
"Cathy T. I don't understand how you can continue to call for resignations of the Metropolitan when you don't/didn't call for resignations of others who clearly aided RSKs graft through blind complicity at least. I'll support you when you include the rest in your calls. Otherwise, it ain't rocket science to see your calls as a personal attack on the Metropolitan and to understand his defensive perspective. Where was Alice Woog all these years Cathy? How does she not get a petition?"
My initial reaction to these words was that they were so obviously off the mark as to not require a reply, but I have generally read your other posts with interest and have decided not to let this mischaracterization stand unchallenged.
Indeed, Daniel, it is not "rocket science"--or any other kind of science--to see my calls as a personal attack on the Metropolitan. I have met the Met., but I have never had a real conversation with him, nor has my life in any other way intersected with his. I have no “personal” vendetta against him. As I believe I have posted previously on this site, the group at St. Mark that drafted the petition did so only after discussing whether others’ names should be added to it. While I think it’s safe to say that we ALL felt there were many others who should step down in the wake of this scandal, it would have been a logistical nightmare to craft an on-line petition covering such a multitude of names (e.g., Would someone who wanted the Metropolitan to resign but was unsure of others on the list simply not sign the petition over the confusion? Would we need to create and monitor a separate petition for each individual? What mechanism would we use to decide who else should be added to the list?).
The Metropolitan is, ostensibly, the human leader of our church, and as such is rightfully the one who should be held to account first—not only for his own possible involvement in the misappropriation of funds, but for his cover-up attempts from the time Dn. Wheeler first made him aware of what was happening. In my view, the stalling, obfuscating and manipulation that have marked the Metropolitan’s handling of this crisis are sufficient in themselves to warrant his ousting.
There is a reason for the number of signatures on the petition—1200+ members of the OCA agree with me that the Metropolitan should resign. Compare that number to the number who have attended the Town Hall meetings to date. As of the first eight meetings for which we currently have estimated numbers of attendees either on the OCA’s own site or on this site, I count 544-549 (the Bethlehem, PA meeting was placed at “80-85”). While I actually find this a fairly impressive turn-out and am grateful to the people who have taken the time to make themselves heard, I also believe that the PCC should be willing to “hear” the voices of the 1200 members of the OCA who spoke out with their signatures long before the Town Halls started. To ignore the petition in their process of “dialoguing” with the members of the OCA strongly suggests a bias on the part of the PCC.
Again, Daniel, I am all for calling others to account for their part in this scandal. If you or anyone else would like to start more petitions, I will certainly be happy to sign them. Nonetheless, I firmly believe that we must start at the top and work from there—which is why the petition I’m monitoring focuses on Metropolitan Herman.
#13 Cathryn M. Tatusko on 2008-07-24 08:33
Promised Statement from the Synod Before the SIC2 Report: I heard Bp. Tikhon's closing remarks at the Town Hall meeting in Bethlehem last Saturday, and I was interested in his promise that the Synod would issue a statement before the SIC, and before the AAC. I notice Mark included that promise of Bp. Tikhon's in the article here, and yet, it did not stand out with the emphasis it may deserve.
What was the context? The bishop spoke in relation to his own rhetorical question, "What is being communicated from the Synod?" and Bp. Tikhon followed the assertion there would be a statement by saying "We recognize our responsibilities."
It would have been good to be able to question, to ask, what sort of a statement? On what topic, exactly, and containg what sort of information? Assurances of good intention, and more platitudes, we do not need more of those.
Since the SIC2 report is to be issued the first week of September, and the Synod is not scheduled to meet again until October, I believe it is, then when, and under what circumstances, are we to expect this statement, and toward what end will it be made?
Ordinarily, I would be interested in this assertion by Bp. Tikhon, that the Synod is going to "make a statement" before the first week of September. However, since we have learned that the Synod saw fit last May to commend our misguided Metropolitan, and to thank him for "persevering" on what can only be described as an utterly perverse course of action, and then saw fit to conceal its own bizarre behaviour from the general church membership, who are asking for their leadership, anticipation of this promised statement sometime over the next month takes on new significance, IMHO.
(Editor's Note: The proposed pastoral statement, according to the unpublished Minutes of the Synod is described as follows:
" SESSION VIII
Episcopal Concerns, (continued)...
His Grace, Bishop TIKHON spoke in response to the opening address of Metropolitan HERMAN.
Bishop TIKHON remarked on various matters arising from this address, that will be required to be entertained.
Bishop TIKHON asked if the Holy Synod of Bishops could prepare a thorough Pastoral Letter, which would provide for the whole Church a clear sense of direction, and purpose. He said that the present crisis, through which we have been passing, has very much distracted all from the sense of purpose, and that such a reassurance from the Chief-Shepherds is very much needed.
His Eminence, Archbishop NATHANIEL asked from the Holy Synod an affirmation of, and confidence in the leadership of His Beatitude, Metropolitan HERMAN.
His Grace, Bishop BENJAMIN commented that there is a strong need for addressing systematically, and clearly the relationship between the Holy Synod, and the Metropolitan Council. He rehearsed some of the history of the development of the current situation, and added that this relationship needs to be clarified so that we may be able to function in the manner of an Autocephalous Church, and so that both the Holy Synod, and the Metropolitan Council will clearly understand their own responsibilities.
Bishop TIKHON noted that there has been rather little reaction to the visit of the two bishops to Alaska. He said that it is important that how important, and how effective this visit was needs to be written about, and spoken about.
Bishop TIKHON suggested that there be convened a general conference of bishops to discuss the matter of membership, and participation in the WCC, and the NCCC.
Bishop BENJAMIN responded that he would not like to have the Greek Orthodox Church, and the Russian Orthodox Church be the only voice heard on behalf of the Orthodox Church in North America.
Archbishop NATHANIEL added that the representative(s) of The Orthodox Church in America should express the mind of the bishops of the OCA. He continued that there is a need to clarify our relationship, how we are identified by virtue of association, with certain factions in these bodies, and what are the effects of this on the faithful. How things are perceived is sometimes even more important than the facts themselves.
Although His Eminence, Archbishop JOB was absent from the session at this time (he had asked for the blessing to leave early, because of other commitments), the Holy Synod of Bishops affirmed their confidence in the leadership of Metropolitan HERMAN, and thanked him for his perseverance.
His Beatitude, Metropolitan HERMAN appointed His Eminence, Archbishop NATHANIEL, and His Grace, Bishop TIKHON to formulate a draft pastoral letter for The Orthodox Church in America. This draft should be circulated amont the other bishops of the Holy Synod as soon as possible for further contributions. It should be readied for distribution as soon as possible."
#14 cate on 2008-07-24 08:51
Asking SVS to step in is asking a little much. Although the school has it's own Board enabling it to operate very autonomously, the financial scandal is clear. It doesn't take theologians to tell the laos what they should do with those involved in THEFT. (Tar & feathers maybe?) + Theodosius, RSK and + Herman were all involved. In any corporation, they would be fired immediately and replaced. Then, the civil courts would take over. So why is + Herman still there? Why haven't charges been presented in court against + Theodosius & RSK? You don't need theologians to answer these questions, but you DO need a laos with backbone to ACT!
#15 Anonymous on 2008-07-24 16:43
So, you expect Jarmus to turn on the Metropolitan?
(Editor's note: My expectations at this point are rather low. I expect only that the truth to be told. The whole truth, and nothing but the truth.)
#16 Daniel E. Fall on 2008-07-24 17:26
Yeah, but in the end they found a way around that too. Didn't they? What happened last time? Stipends were cut, jobs were lost, but the Met. made sure that his own fat salary and the positions of his inner circle remained secure. We are talking about someone who I don't believe cares what happens to the rest of the Church so long as he keeps his money and position of power, so before you hurt him with your lack of giving you are going to hurt everyone else on the way there first. I can tell you first hand that if not for the people who are willing to give to the seminaries people like myself would not be able to make it. There are ways to make sure that your money gets directly to the right place, and please don't allow your priest or home parish to suffer over what is going on.
#17 OCA Seminarian on 2008-07-24 17:42
Marty, I think the posting you have just made is one of the best comments written on this site. I think you have hammered the sledge on that one. I've learned alot from this site and I thank Mark for all the time and effort that he faithfully executes in conveying the word for the rest of us. I was amazed and thoroughly astonished at what I heard and from whom I heard it from. Some comments were well worth their weight in gold, and others I felt were made with much ado. But, needless to say, I am still glad to have stumbled this way over such vast and profound issues. Funny thing, my original search that led me to this site was actually intended to provide me with even more pertinent Orthodox Christian literature by contemporary authors. I prefer their interpretations much more than mine in regards to the Faith of our Fathers. The remarks and sermans that I've read from clergymen and laypersons on this site have often stirred my desire further to learn more in regards to our spirituality with one another...when one door closes,two more windows open. I think this site has truly gotten my wheels rollin in hard drive. But, it wouldn't have, if I really hadn't taken to heart such contemporary works from authors such as Bishop Kallistos Ware ( The Orthodox Way) his lectures on silence, etc. I think the most important foundation for further reading began when I read the book ( The Inner Way ) by Father Joseph Allen...thank you for sharing your wealth of information for me ! Well, I could ramble on and on and on...just like the bunny advertising the ever so ready re-charged batteries.
I disagree most ardently with anyone who believes that the whole story can never be told. That's silly, at least in my vantage. I've heard it said that the past is continuously reinterpreted from the vantage point of the present. If anyone feels that they are unable to regain one's belief in the true faith of our present Fathers: ( Metropolitan Theodosius, Metropolitan Herman, Very Rev. Father Bob Kondratick, Bishop Job, etc, etc, etc, )...well then, something is wrong with us, not them. If you show your humbleness to your superiors (not the other way around)...you will find that the impossible explanation is able to be understood (without hearing vocally in the physical sense )and the mud you see will cease to exist (in your own mind )on the faces of the HOLY SYNOD. This is not a satirical statement by no means. I hold them in high esteem and regard. Apparently they each continue to wear Christ's thorn for those who just don't understand what's really happening here...yes, they have my confidence ( for all it's worth ) in my own human heart. The fact of the matter is PURE and simple. There is no need for the Holy Synod to explain their actions to anyone who cannot comprehend the reading of the inner way. Who the hell am I to say such a thing? Everyone who has faith has the ability to learn the truth. YOU HAVE TO HAVE FAITH...no matter what. We all follow a certain timetable, we just need our place in order. I found my order through them not them through me. The facts and figures written with the ink pen in BLACK and WHITE do not tell the whole story. You'd run out of ink... 0. When I have a problem ( or sin ) that needs to be revealed, I turn to my parish priest. If I think it's important enough, I reveal my problem ( or sin, if it may be ) to my bishop, and then if I really am concerned, to my metropolitan. I've done that before, albeit through pen and paper with the aid of the US postal service. I'm sooo glad I did, because it would have prevented me from understanding the "unexplainable truth " by means of the human mouth. This revelation ( whatever one reveals to one's Spiritual Father ) from that point in time still continues to exist at the present time...it leads to further revelations...no one could explain it in such a way as God himself. I'm not crazy...I just read the books when I can. I've read all the facts and figures (finances)...I'm not blind. If you've read this much thus far, you must be a very patient person...patience is an amazing virtue to acquire. Too many people complain about people not signing their names, so I'll comply with those folks' wishes. I really don't see the point in my case because only a handful of people ( if even that ) know who I am. What's the big issue here anyways? I must confess that I have written a couple of other comments. One was short and sweet, and the other was so boring and wordy that I almost felt "STUPID" submitting it. For that I apologize, that is, for not signing my name ! On that particular one I used an alias, an African-American 'catholic' saint. She aroused my interest, believe it or not.
I should mention one more thing, ( again, pointless to say )...I'm not one of those 'insiders' . I really haven't met (socially speaking), any of the clergymen accused of such and such...maybe just some small talk now and then to a rather nice bishop when we lived in the Mid-West.
Sincerely and with love in Christ.
#18 Patty Kusnir on 2008-07-25 00:02
Since this was the Bethlehem town hall, which is part of the Diocese of Eastern PA, was anything questioned or said about Met. Herman still residing in South Canaan? Or were things pretty much kept to Syosset/OCA news?
#19 Concerned OCA member on 2008-07-25 06:45
Thank you, "Action Jackson"! We will add you to our prayer list as well, that God might grant you greater wisdom and insight--and the courage to sign your name.
God bless you,
#20 Cthryn M. Tatusko on 2008-07-25 09:05
I have commented extensively on this subject before, with the qualifications you mentioned included. Recently, I even suggested that the time had come to consider resuming contributions to SVS.
But the fact remains that too many members of the laity are continuing to give donations that can flow in some manner to the central administration. Let me be crystal clear--if any portion of your contribution is going to support diocesan or national entities, then STOP giving. On the other hand, if one can find ways to target their giving to worthy activities, parishes and individuals--fine and good.
While I'm on this topic, let me also say, what few if any have previously said, that the single greatest setback to reform these past 3 years was the resumption of the diocesan contribution to the central administration by the Diocese of the Midwest. I, of course, was not in the "hot seat" or subject to the pressures of many, even in the Midwest, calling for its resumption. But I like to think I could have looked the devil (s) in the eye and told him/them to get behind me. Oh yes, I know, I'm being judgmental--well tough!
That is why I have so little regard for the financial consequences that will ensue if giving drys up or at least is reduced to a trickle. Let's see if the bishops can "eat cake" for very long on their own dime.
#21 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2008-07-25 09:59
-How is this different?-
Jul 25, 11:32 AM EDT
NY accountant admits stealing $1.16 million
MINEOLA, N.Y. (AP) -- An accountant faces up to nine years in prison after admitting he stole $1.16 million from a Long Island business to finance cocaine and gambling.
Nassau County prosecutors say Steven Rubenoff of Nyack, N.Y., pleaded guilty late Thursday to first-degree grand larceny. He admitted making unauthorized transfers, ranging from $50,000 to $90,000, from a Lake Success investment company where he worked.
Prosecutors say Rubenoff made false entries to the business ledger to account for the withdrawals. Then he used the money for what he admitted was an extensive drug and gambling problem.
He is scheduled to be sentenced on Aug. 27.
#22 Anonymous on 2008-07-25 10:05
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