Sunday, September 7. 2008
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what a load of crap. it is not enough. the bishops have learned-nothing!
we are alone
#1 no name on 2008-09-07 13:38
Thank you, Mark,
You always let us faithful know more of the whole story and what is happening. You are always two steps ahead of the fomal oca.org releases!
I believe your services will be necessary for quite some time to help us faithful get to see the fuller picture of unfolding events!
(BTW: RSK suing for $25 million? That is peanuts compared to what type of suffering the whole lot of administrators, including RSK, put the church through... get a grip RSK!)
#2 Patty Schellbach on 2008-09-07 14:08
Given a tongue lashing? by whom?
#3 Janet Damian on 2008-09-07 14:58
With the revelations contained in the SIC's report just beginning to be absorbed by the entire OCA, a much more robust remediation will soon be demanded by the faithful.
Given that Archbishop Job is the only credible leader among the senior members of the synod, and given that he has already expressed the desire to retire in three years, he is the obvious caretaker the OCA needs at this time.
The remaining bishops of the old regime need to follow Archbishop Job's lead and commit to retirement in three years or less. This will allow adequate time to find true shepherds to fill the current and soon to be vacant episcopal positions. This will also allow adequate time to explore and debate what further changes need to be considered for implementation at the next AAC in 2011.
With a virtually new synod of bishops to choose a new Metropolitan from, and well thought out reforms to vote on, the OCA's best years may very well lay ahead.
#4 Marc Trolinger on 2008-09-07 15:12
I am relatively new to the OCA scandal. My prayers go out to the good and devout people of the OCA.
I just read the SIC report, and I can't understand why Mr Kondratick has not been arrested and put on trial by the civil authorities. And yet I read here that the man is not only free but suing the OCA for $25 million!
Can anyone explain to me why this guy isn't in jail?
#5 Catholic observer on 2008-09-07 15:48
Awesome , all of the people in the oca who spoke out of place and made up garbage should pay for it in court. Nobody get's a fair shake in oca so let's go to a real court. I hope all of this slandering doesn't bite people in the but. That includes you Mark !!! By the way RSK is not paid by the oca , better get your facts straight.
(editor's note: Thank you for the threat. The fact is I did not say that RSK is paid by the OCA,nor did the Council, I believe. The question is whether he is technically still an OCA employee, no matter who pays the salary. If he is still participating in the Pension Plan, and the pension plan is restricted to employees of the OCA, then, well..... I am sure the OCA can sort it out.
Oh, and, technically, it is not slander if it is true.)
#6 Anonymous on 2008-09-07 16:31
It appears you have access to the minutes from the meeting(s) (kudos to you) before the rest of the Church - could you please post them for us to read?
(Editor's note: Appearances can be deceptive.)
#7 Methodios on 2008-09-07 16:47
"Bishop Benjamin stated that the Council should “not expect punishment.” Our concern , the Bishop pointed out, is salvation - of these individuals, of the Church. It is difficult to depose a Bishop, the Bishop stated, as you need 12, and "we would need to rent some.""
This statement is just an incredible insult to the intelligence of every OCA member! Of course there aren't 12 bishops. Whose fault is that? Maybe the 12-rule needs to be updated to acknowledge this possibility. This is just hiding behind a rule that does not meet the times or the need. It is ridiculous to hide behind a rule that cannot be applied to a current, real situation. It's also pretty much Ben's attempt to call all of us too stupid to see through his words. I just lost any respect I may have had for him. As for Nikon, a part of the problem, to talk about souls and salvation now is also ridiculous. He should have been concerned about that years ago. He's just fighting to keep his position. Then there's Dimitri! Reward this oaf who participated in the coverup and employed RK after he was deposed!
Then there appears to be the veiled attempt to placate us by "punishing" the three priests and literally doing nothing to the bishops. They were given the greater gifts by God and they had a greater responsibility to us in return. I hold them far more accountable. Folks, if they are guilty of what they allegedly did in this whole financial mess, they are criminals! Who wants them running the OCA?
Get to the real matter. I do believe attorneys would advice us that embezzlement of millions and the subsequent coverup is against the law. I really want to see all parties prosecuted. Let them pray for their own souls in their prison cells! I hear a lot of criminals find Jesus in prison. Maybe these men can also.
#8 Send Them To Jail Now on 2008-09-07 16:59
iN ALL OF THIS, WHERE IS THE ACTUAL PROOF?
CONVERSATIONS DO NOT PROVIDE DOCUMENTATION.
THE OCA WILL BE IN COURT UNTIL THE SECOND COMING OF CHRIST!
(Editor's note: Please see the 67 page Appendices to the SIC Report for some of the hundreds of pages of documentation on hand. And let us hope your final remark is prophetic, as we are now in court, and the constant prayer of Christians is " Come, Lord Jesus!". Like all Christians I welcome the Second Coming as quickly as possible.)
#9 MP on 2008-09-07 17:29
"Postponing an election... This could lead to serious potential financial losses to the Church if the Council is underbooked; and a meaningless Council if it is held with minimal participation.... One of the major themes to emerge from the 15 Town Halls was the need for confession and repentance as a basis for reconciliation. Has this occurred - or just begun?"
If repentance and reconciliation is to be a major theme of the Council and if there is concern over participation numbers, maybe the PCC would consider dropping the $250 observer fee to encourage attendance by all interested church members?
Beyond that, I feel a profound gratitude to the Synod and the MC for finally addressing the scandal forthrightly, and to Archbishop Job, Dn. Eric Wheeler, Mark Stokoe, Mr. Kozey and all who persevered in asking for the truth. "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness for they shall be filled." May God Repay.
#10 Rachel Andreyev on 2008-09-07 17:49
I am glad to see the Council's decision regarding Alice Woog, PhD. I'm sorry she wasn't willing to participate in any internal investigation.
On to more serious matters. The idea that the Council and Synod would decide that an election is not possible seems to be a violation of all basic rules and laws of the church, albeit not Papal.
Here is an idea for the Council re Metropolitan..
I am not trying to promote any of them, but it seems like a vote might be polarized towards Abp. Job at this point. Abp. Job might be a good Metropolitan and if he still plans to retire in a year or two, if he were willing to extend out to an AAC in 2011, he could start a new trend in the church announcing his retirement and affording an election again in 2011. This would be great for the church to have an interim guy for 3 years.
I really don't believe a report of scandal and its subsequent fallout need to shock the church into nonaction.
Further: I'm going all caps.
IF WE TITHE TO THE CHURCH AND THE CHURCH TITHES TO THE CENTRAL ADMINISTRATION, 20 GRAND A YEAR ANNUAL INCOME ON AVERAGE WOULD RESULT IN A 200 DOLLAR A YEAR TITHING TO THE DIOCESE AND CCA.
IF THE CHURCH HAS BEEN SPENDING UNWISELY FOR YEARS, THEN WHY WOULDN'T WE KEEP THE BUDGET AT NO CHANGE AND USE THAT MONEY TO BUILD ORTHODOX CHURCHES?
To reduce fair share in total, unless the fair share methods are changed seems incredibly sinful to me.
#11 Daniel E. Fall on 2008-09-07 18:30
That these bishops, or what passes for bishops these days, feels that what "actions" they have taken are going to start the process of "healing" and start the money rolling back in, they are sorely, very sorely, mistaken.
And the MC, while it might be full of nice people, is incompetent for the level of job that needs to be done especially when Kondratick is getting down in the mud and will bare knuckle fight people who have no idea how to fight back. The MC's complete lack of ability to be aggressive puts Kondratick's suit for $25,000,000 on pretty good footing. You have to get the idea just from the actions of the MC, that since they did not have a warrant issued for the arrest of Kondratick that maybe he's got a point with his suit, and because of the ineptness of the MC and the complete lack of everything with the Synod, we need to lose the case and fold up shop. We have gotten rid of Kondratick, Tikhon of the West, Nikolai, now Herman, we've gotten all new officers and changed the drapes on the windows, and what do we have to show for it? The same old garbage, and calling it garbage is being charitable. Nothing has changed. The coverup continues – what is the root of the corruption? It can’t be Kondratick any more, it can’t be Nikolai, and the early days after Herman ain’t looking that good either! We’re running out of bishops and we have the entire MC to look to. Somewhere in there lies the corruption!
These bishops mean nothing, time and again they have done whatever they have felt the minimum was for placating the laity to resume how things were. This time they made feeble, comical gestures to make you think they handled the situation and its laughable, its truly laughable. Liturgical house arrest! Liturgical house arrest! Where on God’s earth did they come up with that? You gotta give it to our lawyers, they’re coming up with good ones for our Synod to perform. Maybe the lawyers who thought of it just gave it to the Synod as a joke, and when seeing the Synod, in unison, went “How creative! How very creative! I like it! Let’s go with it!” You would think we are watching Comedy Central rather than the governance bodies that are entrusted with keeping the sanctity of this Church pristine.
Do you realize, that the punishment handed out to Kucynda for his sacrilegious behavior is less than the punishment he actively enforced against a man who was telling the truth, that now the MC and the Synod apologizes to? A letter of reprimand isn’t worth the ink its printed with. Is there any impact on him at all? About as much as a spitting in the ocean is going to change sea level. And they want us to take this seriously? They want us to take THEM seriously? THIS, my friends, is the punishment that the clergy of our Church receive when they sacrilege the Body and Blood of our Lord by using, yes, USING, Christ as a weapon of retribution against a person who did no wrong but who tried to reveal sins committed against the Church. Please, take a minute, and grasp the gravity of that sentence. Take a minute and understand, that the person whom we follow, who rose from the dead, whom we joyfully each Spring proclaim to each other as Risen!, who’s Body and Blood we believe, with all our hearts, to be present at every liturgy, being used as a weapon of retribution by one of our clergy and the Holy Synod issues a letter of reprimand! If we allow this to be the punishment, we must seriously question our faith, we really have to. How can no one be beating down the doors of the Synod at this!? Brothers and sisters, we have to seriously wonder how seriously those in governance take the core of what this Church is all about. There is no greater sin, if you TRULY believe what we believe as Orthodox Christians, there is no greater sin that can be done in this Church than to use the Body and Blood of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ as a means of retribution, as a WEAPON! A weapon! And they were able to do that because they had the authority, and because they used their authority in that way, that authority should be removed, not given a letter of reprimand as the punishment. If this travesty stays as is, I don’t know what hope there is. I seriously don’t. Remember, people looked the wrong way at Nikolai and they were deposed, and this Synod went along with it. But to do this with the Body and Blood of Christ receives a reprimand. We don’t get it, we just don’t get it, we don’t get what they consider precious and sacred. This wasn’t what I learned in Sunday School when I went! Let us remember, these bishops will raise holy hell with you if you want a Saturday wedding, stating all high minded objections and making you feel like a heretic for asking, but when one of their clergy uses the sacraments to punish someone who wants to bring to light their corruption, he’s basically patted on the back more than he’s punished because he had his heart in the right place and that was protecting and hiding the inherent corruption in this organization. And they want us to believe all is well now and continue on our merry way. Baloney! Baloney! Baloney!
Oselinsky knew about this stuff, did nothing. He ALSO used the Body and Blood of Christ as a weapon against someone that disagreed with him and in front of his parish made the astonishing statement that Wheeler is at fault for all this because he brought it to light. Did they not wonder where the money was coming from for them and the Kondraticks to vacation in the islands? What did the SIC call this? I believe it was an “appearance of impropriety”. WELL, NO DUH! It was a LOT more than THAT, SIC members! And Kucynda’s complete lack of action when Kondratick moved boxes out of the Chancery could end up costing us $25,000,000 because Kondratick likely moved out evidence that the SIC could have used to tell us there were more embezzlers than Kondratick himself because it was important that it got all pinned on Kondratick. The sample charges that the church paid for, it was a sample, a subset, what else was on there that they didn’t want to show? Did Kucynda think that Kondratick moving the records out of the Chancery were protection for everyone and enabled the hiding of their secrets more.
In all seriousness, I want Archbishop JOB, whom we all truly respect, to tell us with a straight face that he believes that the punishments given out, especially to Paul Kucynda, are just given what we know and what happened? We trust JOB to tell us the truth and to tell us straight. We want to know what he thinks. SOMEONE on that Synod has to have some common sense, which is all we’re asking for.
People, you cannot, and I cannot make this more emphatic, give ANY money to this organization when it is carrying on hits shoulder a burden of $31,000,000 in lawsuits for the complete lack of competence of the governance of this Church. If you give ONE penny to this organization, you might as well just write your check out to either of the parties suing us, because that's where its going to end up. Y'all want to talk growth and all those high road and flowery things, but you got to realize that any money you give, no matter how much you plead and no matter how much people like Nikon give you happy faces to make you believe it, no money you give is going to go to growth, none of it to missions, its going to go to lawyers, and given what the MC has shown us, to settlements as well. If you think any money is going to go to works of the Church while there is still cover up, symbolic, meaningless punishments, and all these suits, you might as well believe in the tooth fairy, santa claus, and pixie dust! The rest that isn't is going to go to settlements are going to go to keeping the administration running and paying for whatever settlement Joe Swaiko made to retire. NONE OF IT IS GOING TO GO TO WORK OF THE CHURCH, unless we consider this church's work to be that of ligitation.
No more money, people, no more. Three years, changes in faces, and still no sign of Christ anywhere to be seen. Its sad and all the world is looking at the farce we have become and continue to persist in being. Rather than showing us as a place where Christ rules our lives and to show that Orthodoxy is more than just another religion, what do people see? What does America think of Orthodoxy with this going on? I cannot imagine. They see corruption, sacrilege, and no idea what the right path is. How very sad, how very sad.
#12 Anonymous on 2008-09-07 18:37
Hmmm, let me see if I get this straight!?!?! Archbishop Job wants to retire in 3 years!! The SOB's are considering postponing the election of a new Metropolitan until the next (16th) AAC in 2011, which is also in 3 years!!! Does anyone else put 2 and 2 together here, and come up with 4??
#13 David Barrett on 2008-09-07 19:13
Archbishop Seraphim was at his Cathedral this weekend, and had pre-scheduled the following events:
Saturday --3:00pm Unction Service (all 7
5:00pm Resurrectional Vigil;
Sunday --9:15am Hierarchical Liturgy with
an ordination to the diaconate.
I was at all 8 1/2 hours' worth of services, and the incredible events of the past week were not mentioned at all.
This isn't entirely unexpected--after all,
it's not like he ever talked about the OCA crisis to his Cathedral parish -- but it is incredibly disturbing to the faithful to whom he is accountable, that he continues to demonstrate what can only be more denial and coverup (and a complete lack of love and respect) to us.
The sermon? Mostly about how 'anything done that is special to a bishop' (i.e. the special music, choreography, and theatre at a hierarchical liturgy) isn't about the bishop, it's about Christ (represented in the bishop), and that bishops are sinners, just like the rest of us.
Now that he is the 'Adminstrator', Canada is ipso facto without a bishop. Canada, geographically, is bigger than the diocese of the South. How soon can we expect to have at least an 'administrator' for us?
Thanks, Holy Synod for another great decision (first you deny us our chosen candidate for auxiliary bishop from 2004, and now you take away the Archbishop). (Wait--on second thought maybe the latter is a good thing for us!)
A Reporter From Ottawa's Annunciation Cathedral...
BTW, did you know that +Seraphim has been the HS's secretary since he became a bishop? Usually that position passes to the most recently-consecrated bishop. He himself must be full of secrets--kept from getting out by his remaining the secretary for 21 years.
#14 A Reporter From Ottawa's Annunciation Cathedral... on 2008-09-07 19:26
You seem to quote a resolution regarding Dr. Woog... did that just fall like manna from Heaven? What more do you have that we don't?
I've found you highly accurate and on-target from the start... seeing that nothing is posted on the OCA's site, are you in-the-know about other stuff?
(Editor's note: Thanks for the compliment. I think we could all agree that it would be best if OCA.org would publish this information in a more timely manner. One does not need the full minutes of a meeting in order to publish its resolutions; nor even a summary of what took place, especially when they concern important events in the history of our local Church.)
#15 Methodios on 2008-09-07 19:56
Please, please, please let us go to court. It is obvious that we cannot settle this ourselves. This SIC report should be handed over to the civil authorities who know how to handle thievery and financial malfeasance. The oca is either too stupid or too spineless to take care of things.
#16 Anonymous on 2008-09-07 20:39
Like almost all readers of the appalling Report, I remain amazed that there are no formal current Canonical structures to effectively deal with this mess – yet another evil legacy from Constantine, and (this time, also) his successors!
For a few brief moments, let’s play the game of “what-if” with Constantine and Sylvester. And, for good measure, assume that the internet existed at that time. And assume that the local Roman Diocesan Synod had retained the authority to remove the manifestly unworthy Sylvester (unworthy throughout – he never did satisfactory penance for his apostasy under the persecutions of Diocletian).
Act 1: Constantine appoints Sylvester as Bishop of Rome.
Act 2: (a few hours later) – The local Roman Synod deposes Sylvester before he can be formally installed and enthroned as Bishop.
Act 3: (a few hours after Act 2): Constantine re-appoints Sylvester as Bishop of Rome
Act 4: - as per Act 2.
Act 5: - as per Act 3. etc.
Such an Appointment-Deposition game of endless ping-pong would render the whole process a farce, so Constantine had to engineer a system (perfected during the time of Theodosius) of making the Deposition of a “politically-correct” but wholly unworthy Bishop extraordinarily difficult, and a cumbersome, drawn-out and time-consuming process for good measure to hopefully intimidate the opponents of this Bishop into inertia.
St Vladimir’s Seminary may have to do some thorough “archaeology” in the Canon Law department to arrive at a time when the administrative processes of the Church could satisfactorily deal with this type of situation. It may also, sadly, have to pass a potentially damning judgment on all Canons subsequent to that time (and still current) which stymied and or inhibited the Deposition process. And allowed Arian Bishops to remain in office between the first and second Ecumenical Councils. And allowed Iconoclast Bishops to remain between 754 and 843. And which failed to be able to discipline the Western “filioque” Bishops in time to prevent the Western Schism of Rome from the Church.
The OCA may well have to read Fr Jurgens rather more deeply than it has heretofore:
FAQ- Must the Catholic Remnant Have Governing or Jurisdictional Bishops?
By Bro. Peter Dimond, O.S.B.
(edited and enlarged by your unworthy servant)
The answer to this question is No! During the Arian heresy in the 4th Century, only 1-3% of the Episcopal Chairs (i.e., the Bishops’ Sees) were occupied by Catholics, the rest were overtaken by the Arians, as the eminent patristic scholar Fr. Jurgens notes.
“At one point in the Church’s history, only a few years before Gregory’s [Nazianz] present preaching (+380 A.D.), perhaps the number of Catholic bishops in possession of sees, as opposed to Arian bishops in possession of sees, was no greater than something between 1% and 3% of the total. Had doctrine been determined by popularity, today we should all be deniers of Christ and opponents of the Spirit.” (W.A. Jurgens, The Faith of the Early Fathers, Vol. 2, p. 39.)
In the 4th century the Arian heresy became so widespread that the Arians (who denied the Divinity of Christ) came to occupy almost all the Catholic churches and appeared to be the legitimate hierarchy basically everywhere.
St. Ambrose (+382): “There are not enough hours in the day for me to recite even the names of all the various sects of heretics.” (The Faith of the Early Fathers, Vol. 2, p. 158)
Things were so bad that St. Gregory Nazianzus felt compelled to say what the Catholic remnant today could very well say.
St. Gregory Nazianzus (+380): “Where are they who revile us for our poverty and pride themselves in their riches? They who define the Church by numbers and scorn the little flock?” (“Against the Arians,” The Faith of the Early Fathers, Vol. 2, p. 33)
This period of Church history, therefore, proves an important point for our time: If the Church's indefectible mission of teaching, governing and sanctifying required a system of territorial Sees with a governing (i.e., jurisdictional) bishop for the Church of Christ to be present and operative in any or all Sees or dioceses, then one would have to say that the Church of Christ would have been defectible in all those territories where there was no governing Catholic bishop during the Arian heresy.
However, it is a fact that in the 4th century, where the faithful retained the true Catholic faith, even in those Sees where the Bishop defected to Arianism, the faithful Catholic remnant constituted the true Church of Christ; and therefore, in that remnant, the Catholic Church existed and endured in her mission to teach, govern, liturgize, dispense sacraments and sanctify without a governing bishop, or Episcopal “jurisdiction” thus proving that the Church of Christ's indefectibility and mission to teach, govern, liturgize, dispense sacraments and sanctify does not require the presence of a jurisdictional bishop.
What we now have in the OCA is an analogous situation: whereas in the fourth century, it was Arianism, in the early twenty-first in the OCA, it is compound dereliction of duty.
Bro. Peter Dimond Again: Just as it was during the Arian heresy in the 4th century, the Church of Jesus Christ exists today with the remnant of faithful Catholics who maintain the traditional Catholic faith, not with the apostate bishops who appear to occupy the positions of authority.
Fr. William Jurgens: “In the time of the Emperor Valens (4th century), Basil was virtually the only orthodox Bishop in all the East who succeeded in retaining charge of his see… If it has no other importance for modern man, a knowledge of the history of Arianism should demonstrate at least that the Catholic Church takes no account of popularity and numbers in shaping and maintaining doctrine: else, we should long since have had to abandon Basil and Hilary and Athanasius and Liberius and Ossius and call ourselves after Arius.” (The Faith of the Early Fathers, Vol. 2, p. 3.)
If the Arian heresy was so bad that approximately 1% of the jurisdictional bishops remained Catholic and 99% became Arian, and the Great Apostasy preceding the Second Coming of Christ is predicted to be even worse – the worst apostasy of all time – then one should not be surprised by the fact that there are barely any authentically Catholic priests in the world today and no fully Catholic jurisdictional (i.e., governing) bishops to speak of.
Perhaps in Vladyka Job, the OCA may well have its counterpart to St Basil of the fourth century (again, Vladyka, please reconsider!)
From your unworthy servant John.
(editor's note: The threat presented to the Church by the financial scandal is hardly on the level of Arianism. In defence of many of the Bishops they made very poor administrative decisions - not theological ones. Their poor management threatens the finances and admin structures of the Church, not its Faith. Sadly, the faith of many is being challenged by their continuing poor decisions, but it hardly rises to the level of Arianism. Moreover, in their most recent actions - not stopping the SIC Report ( a change from the past) and in retiring Metropolitan Herman ( a change from the past), working with, not against the MC ( a change from the past), etc. - even their most stern critics must admit they have taken real steps in a new direction. Old habits die hard, but reality is forcing them to change. One can only hope they now feel free to embrace the changes as positive because the evidence is clear: the old way is killing us.
Here's a bit of reality from the MC meeting: The OCA census is now down to less than 25,000. Unless we seize the day, open ourselves to the invigorating breath of the Spirit, and consciously work towards the changes we need, we will continue to decline. Where will we be in 3 years? 22,000? At what point do we agree we need to make serious changes? 15,000? 10,000?
Let me offer a secular analogy. Since the 19th century newspapers dominated the flow of information in society. First radio, then television challenged, but each settled into a mix that never threatened the viability of either. The internet changed all that, and so much more. Does anybody think there will be newspapers as our parents knew them in 50 years? Reality can be ignored - but it cannot be defeated. It eventually overwhelms even the most adament denials, or sweeps them aside. That is what the newspaper industry is now experiencing for having ignored the changes of the past 20 years, and the toll is terrible in lives and profit.
So, too, with Church administration. For 20 years the OCA ignored reality, clinging to past practices, such that we lost 50% of our membership and millions of dollars, such that many are asking if the "Brand" ( if you will pardon the expression) itself is now at risk. Yes, it is - the numbers don't lie - but no it does not have to be. I do not claim to have all the answers, but I do know this: sighing in relief now that the "troubles" are thought to be over, and now going back to the same old way we have always tried to do things, is killing us.)
#17 John Battye on 2008-09-07 20:55
You were truly like lone wanderer in the wilderness with a sole candle for so many long, long years. They vilified you, they trashed you, they sought to destroy and yet in the end, there IS a God.
Herman is gone...in the style and manner of Richard Nixon...Herman is gone...screaming as they dragged him out the door. In the end, he was a wimp, a first-class wimp. He destroyed Mayfield, Pennsylvania, he destroyed so many people in his own devastating rise to power but in the end, his lust for extreme power destroyed him. His life in his tatters and one fears he will finish his days as a failed person...
As for Theodosius, I remember him well from my student days in New York City. It was an open secret in Greenwich Village in those days and a shameful one.
The housecleaning, however, has just started. ...
Again, dear, dear Mark, for all of your travails and your lonely, lonely days as the sole herald of the voice of truth in this water closet of corruption, may God bless you.
Xiao Ling Tong
(editor's note: Thank you, but Xiao Ling Tong is the stage name of Zhang Jinlai, a famous Chinese actor who was known for his critically acclaimed in the 1986 Journey to the West Chinese TV series. I doubt he was ever in Greenwich Village as a student. )
I agree - $250 for observers (who, most likely, are already tithing and assessment-paying members in good standing) during such a poor economic time is outrageous. Why keep people out, especially now?
(Editor's note: Indeed, this is one question the PCC must re-examine in light of recent events.)
#19 Joel on 2008-09-07 21:30
Bishop Nikon talks about healing and reconcilation while the enablers under his omophor are ganging up on those who refused to fund the Syosett corruption. There can be no healing and reconcilation unless those who covered up criminal activity first confess and ask forgiveness of us! Dont believe for a minute all these empty words, its all a smoke screen. The culture of fear and intimidation continues to exist regardless of the SIC report. All the bishops must resign for the "good of the church", excepting +Job.
#20 In Hiding on 2008-09-07 21:34
"Maybe the 12-rule needs to be updated to acknowledge this possibility. This is just hiding behind a rule that does not meet the times or the need. It is ridiculous to hide behind a rule that cannot be applied to a current, real situation."
Actually, in a normal autocephalous Church (which the OCA is not), such a deficiency in number would be met by requesting the assistance of the sister autocephalous Churches, who would then supply the number of Bishops needed to convene the ecclesiastical court. Do not the Churches of Russia, Georgia, Poland, and the Czech Republic and Slovakia recognize the autocephaly of the OCA? Surely between them they could provide 3-5 English-speaking Bishops to sit in the court and complete the number mandated by the canons!
But no matter: it seems as though there is no real interest to bring the retired Metropolitans to a church court, properly convened or otherwise. The Bishops are hiding behind the rule, as you say, but not because the rule is inapplicable, but because it is a convenient excuse for doing nothing. That is the continued tragedy of the OCA, her disgrace.
#21 ejv on 2008-09-07 23:47
As a priest of the Washington/NY Diocese, I read Archbishop Seraphim's letter on Sunday. I also posted all recent OCA correspondence on our church bulletin board, and gave a complete report on the week's events. I encourage all of my parish family members to read all they can about the matter, certainly including what's posted here. I found Archbishop Seraphim's letter to be sadly lacking in facts, and misleading to anyone unfamiliar with this past week's events.
#22 Fr Stephen Mack on 2008-09-08 04:50
Has the question of insurance ever been addressed ?? Has anyone checked Liability Policy
to see if there is coverage for Officers and Directors ? If so some of the missing funds might be recovered. This would seem a better method than attaching someones meager wages.
#23 James Perfield on 2008-09-08 05:00
Yes it is true, Xiao Ling Tong was a famous actor as you wrote...but if I write my name in Chinese characters and his name in Chinese characters, the Chinese characters are quite different one from the other. It is one of the nuances of the Chinese language as a sinologist might tell you -- a very similar transcription in English but quite different in Chinese.
All the best,
Xiao Ling Tong
And oh, yes, we were there in those days, at least for a little while in New York when M.T. was so infamous...
OK, I am confused. I THOUGHT the Bishops were monks. How can any of them then retire to homes that they bought? Would not the logical place be to go back to a monestery? Oh yes, we are talking about OCA where logic does not exist!
#25 Ellie on 2008-09-08 07:03
The greatest heresy is the ever present HYPOCRISY.
#26 Ever and anon. on 2008-09-08 07:22
A great post and very educational and an important editorial comment, especially when you start to talk about population.
I will add just one thing to it.
Financial reporting is the first thing the church can do to become transparent, but it lacks the needed information to respond well to changes in the populations of people and the opportunities for Orthodoxy to actually grow. That requires even more and better accounting....
An open and honest church would not require a membership fee, per se. The open and honest church would report its revenues and expenses only as a necessary formality. The open and honest church would report on parishes that are growing and those that are falling in numbers. It isn't merely a check coming, its people coming and going that is important, right?
I am involved in an effort at building an Orthodox church and one of the people on the building committee told us the way Protestants grow is when the church hits a certain size, the priest asks a group of them to leave and start anew. I do not know if the priest of my current church has done this or not, but the truth is our efforts at growing the church seem somewhat dismal.
We tend to be very closed community minded, if you will. This may in fact be a trickle down phenomena, I'm not sure.
An open and honest church would be reporting on parish sizes and populations and looking for those management opportunities for missions.
This isn't really simple stuff and while I am a great believer in decentralization, this type of management effort can't be allowed to only happen in one diocese and must be an effort from the top.
The OCAs financial scandal is an opportunity, not simply a crisis to unwind. The opportunity is for changing the ways we look at our churches (not as cash cows), but rather as people.
The only way we will not decline is if we work to grow. The only way that can be done is through transparency. That transparency needs to happen, even on a parish level. The Dept of Evangelism of the OCA also needs to be reexamined for what it hasn't done and what it must be doing.
We need a new formula for growth in the OCA. There is great competition in the US for people. Everything from football to racing to other religions that are less demanding, etc.
I would ask the strategic plan considers tasking one of the seminaries for putting together a comprehensive growth strategy and beyond the strategy that the seminary also continue to be tasked with reporting the results and making changes to the plan.
I will reoffer that I believe every existing OCA parish needs to foster a mission.
#27 Daniel E. Fall on 2008-09-08 07:33
I agree with part of your last sentence. All Bishops, including bishop job, should GO!
I call for the immediate resignation of Seraphim. I am from Canada and simply cannot fathom why Seraphim is not doing the right thing and resigning. Instead, he puts himself in charge and gets a promotion for his inability to act in the face of theft. He has a part in the cover up of this and needs to be disciplined. He has lost the respect of many faithful and he needs to go. It is absurd that both Seraphim and Dimitri have been promoted...does anyone see the hypocrisy of these bishops who now think they can lead us through this crisis? How can we, the laity see that our voice gets heard? I am sure if we hada vote, neither of them would be in the positions they so easily put themselves in. What can we do?
#29 Anonymous on 2008-09-08 08:30
when i think of my grandfather serving this church faithfully as a priest and after
retiring living the rest of his life as a pauper I get sick hearing of Mr. Kondratick's lawsuit.
Please someone GIVE ME HIS ADDRESS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! AND PHONE #~!~
#30 sasha reshetar on 2008-09-08 08:56
A clarification should be made regarding the OCA pension plan. A former employee within the OCA (be it the Central Administration or a parish employee) cannot have further contributions made to the Plan. However, since the Plan is a defined benefit plan, a former employee is still a participant and can draw benefits at the normal retirement age, based on years of service, unless the plan specifies reasons for termination from the plan (such as conviction of crimes).
#31 Michael Strelka, CPA on 2008-09-08 09:41
Dear “Reporter form Ottawa”,
I am very disturbed by what you are describing. Ignoring the enormity of what was revealed, going on like nothing happened does not exactly promote the restoration of trust but rather perpetuates the culture of irresponsibility and denial. It is ironic that those who bemoaned “the evils of the internet” now appear to be quite content if things just stay in the cyberspace even though what has been discussed here for almost three years is now the undeniable truth in plain view of those who’d bother to notice it.
I want this scandal to be over but it appears that the climate in the OCA will take a long time to change. I am not in favor of further punishments for those who were removed (aside from any odds of recovering at least some of the embezzled funds). It may only harden the hearts of the wrongdoers and feed into the passions of the incensed. However, in light of the past and present actions of +Seraphim, +Nikon and +Nathaniel, it is not possible for me to accept today’s state of the OCA as the end of our troubles.
Mr. Stokoe, let me use this opportunity and join those who expressed their support and gratitude for your perseverance. My early childhood was spent in the Soviet Union under Brezhnev. Until recently the official oca.org reminded me of the nightly news in the early eighties where each segment was largely predictable, unreliable and devoid of substance. For almost three years I have relied on this website for information. I hope that eventually there will be no need for it but clearly we are not there yet.
#32 Karina Ross on 2008-09-08 10:16
VI Ulyanov, and his cronies figured out that the most important position was that of Party Secretary.
Is it incorrect to use the word cronies when referring to the OCA? ...nahhh... cronies is pretty accurate.
(Editor's note: Actually, it was Stalin and his successors who used that position to his advantage. But we get the point.)
#33 Jim Murray on 2008-09-08 10:29
This latest report from Mark Stokoe shows that much remains to be done and much remains unchanged.
For a start, Fathers Lickwar and Kedala need to be removed from their current positions ... if they really threatened clergy demanding that the truth be told from the ambo. Thus the lie of Herman's "retirement" for health reasons begins to bring forth the poisoned fruit of subjection and denial. No wonder Fr. Pius on a previous thread exploded in an impious supernova when a St. Tikhon's observer dared suggest this His Malevolence relocate to a monastery far, far, away, lest His nefarious influence continue to infect the seminary and the OCA's future leaders.
I think the MC has redeemed itself and that the Synods has a long way to go. I, too, endorse the idea that all the current bishops be gone within three years and that Archbishop Job lead the OCA until then, thereby delaying his announced retirement.
Every step forward brings two steps backward in the OCA, at least up to now. With a little bit of prayerful determination, maybe we can reverse that ratio.
#34 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2008-09-08 10:31
So all the bishops must go. Interesting. So how then does a church proceed with no bishops? Without bishops, we are not a Church. So then what? We beg for bishops from another Church? Merge with another Church and then inherit their problems?
No, we will go forward with the bishops we have just like we will go forward with the priests and deacons we have and the laity we have, all imperfect, all sinful and all in need of salvation.
Until we get over this "pound of flesh" mentality we will be possessed by our history. One writer, new to this website asked the big question, "Why is RSK still free, not charged and not facing trial for his alleged crimes? If the evidence is so overwhelming why is he still free? We have heard time and again that the FBI is investigating. Fine. Have they concluded their investigation? Have they decided one way or another to proceed? The FBI investigates many things but an investigation makes not a case for prosecution.
I too am astounded that such an apparently "open and shut" case as set forth by the SIC has not been taken up by the police and civil authorities. Could it be that it isn't as obvious the these civil authorities as it is to the MC or the HS?
I don't know why RSK never fully cooperated or only wanted to cooperate on his own terms. It makes him look bad and frankly guilty, but apparently not guilty enough for the authorities.
So, now what? We continue the French Revolution and "off with all their heads" It seems to me that we have reached a point of either beginning to let go of this and move on or just keep on employing more lawyers who will bleed this Church white. And, I for one, am not interested in having my assessment money going not to support the work of the central church but rather paying for lawyers that I have no confidence in on either side. If the MC is so gung-ho about suing this guy and that, then let them personally pay for the lawsuits so the work of rebuilding the OCA can start.
(Editor's note: Surely one can a find a reasonable middle position between extremes here, with deposing all the Bishops being unworkable and doing nothing, as is currently being suggested, being insulting. I mean, removing the Metropolitan from office so the absue stops is hardly accountability. It just seems like a prudent first step. So too is a ban on further service. It is a bit disturbing that even needs to be spelled out. Is the OCA so bereft of talent that all these people can't be removed or we fall apart? We aren't doing so well with them in authority, friends, so it cannot be such a great loss.
What can be done to restore integrity in the face of at least four years of a total lack of it? What can the Synod do that does not look like co-conspirators exonerating their fellow co-conspirators? No one is going to be honorable here and resign a position, let alone a title. How sad though. Wouldn't it be a wonderful example to us all for all those named in the SIC Report ( and a few like the Audit and Admin Cmtee members who weren't by name) to voluntarily relinquish neither their parishes, priesthood, or pensions for their failures, but only their titles? Do they deserve to be have the title Metropolitan or Archbishop on their graves, or just the title, Bishop? Are they examples of Archpriests, and so deserving the title - or does the honor of remaining a simple priest say it better. No, I don't want, nor do I know anybody who seriously wants heads or even mitres. But titles? That would be a good symbolic renunciation on their part, a lesson for all of us in humility, and a means of restoring integrity where it is lacking, for symbols have great power. They could, of course, be taken from them by the Synod which gave them - but how much more ennobling for us all if they, those who are named, laid them down as an act of individual and collective penance for their failure to protect us, as was their ministry for which they were recognized with titles in the first place.
No rewarding of Protodeacon Eric, or John Kozey, or anyone else, worthy as the idea is, would be as meaningful as this - or more quickly put this scandal to rest - than to give all those mentioned the opportunity to voluntarily renounce their titles and then resume, in forgiveness, their active or retired parish ministries with integrity anew. And for those who wouldn't? Well, if even a few did this wonderful thing, how could the rest look anybody in the eye? And if they still could, the Synod may have to intervene and then do what they in their ignobility could not. (And for those who don't have extra titles to renounce, they could renounce future ones.)
Just a thought, a daydream, of how we could transform a disaster into a triumph. And be the sign for the world we are called to be...)
#35 Anonymous on 2008-09-08 10:34
I can't believe I am writing so soon. I was glad to see in the information that trying to go after pension money is being looked at. I recommended this when the former Fr. Bob was disposed.
I ask the question. If we have some information that may or may not help in a criminal trial, who do we talk to? I do not have trust in either the HS or members of the MC at this point.
We need people to think back and come forward with anything in the past that didn't make sense. I gather some are afraid to implicate themselves, (maybe for taking bribes) but didn't they learn anything from ProtoDeacon Wheeler coming forward. He is the one getting thanks now.
Mark also, were all the members of the MC at the meetings or did some not attend. What excuse could possibly be good enough to miss the most historical meeting in OCA history. It is not like they didn't have enough notice to arrange to be
there. Also were all members of MC interviewed? Just wondering.
#36 Maureen C. Skuby on 2008-09-08 12:56
A short reply to our Catholic observer:
Not arrested, prosecuted or convicted because no prosecutor with jurisdiction has chosen to invest his/her limited resources in investigating a case with so much missing evidence when the chances are very high that such an inquiry would not yield enough admissible evidence to argue guilt beyond a reasonable doubt to a jury of 12 of Kondratick's peers. And don't forget - in an hierarchical church where a very strong argument from history can be made that de facto epsicopal absolutism was the church's practice, all K probably has to do is come forward with evidence to create a reasonable doubt in the jury's minds as to whether or not his boss told him to do, or at least gave him permission to do, certain things with the money or property.
As a Roman you should be familiar with the concept of the "corporation sole" in which the absolute episcopal ruler holds essentially untrammelled title to and control over the church's assets. So how do you prosecute a guy for following the boss's orders re: money or poperty if the boss does not come forward to strongly and believably deny that the underling was so instructed?
The civil burden of proof would be much easier to meet.
#37 Fr. George Washburn on 2008-09-08 13:10
I think a good dose of modern technology could inprove communications for the OCA:
1) The All American Council should be recorded in audio format and all sessions put on the Internet as podcasts so everyone can listen to them. (Podcasts don't require an iPod -- free software like Windows Media Player or iTunes can subscribe and listen to them.)
2) The All American Council should also be video taped. Some of the newer free video sites, like Google video, will allow you to put up to 1 hour shows. They could simply break the AAC into 1 hour sequential videos.
3) The All American Council could also be broadcast live using various net meeting types of software, and/or using a shoutcast server, and/or using a teamspeak type of server.
4) Likewise the Metropolitan Council meetings (or at least parts of them) and the Holy Synod meetings (or at least parts of them) should be likewise be available using methods 1, 2, or 3.
(editor's note: At least the first three had already been suggested to them, but I doubt they can respond so quickly. But your note is a good example as to how we can move forward with innovative thinking. Thanks, Mark.)
#38 Mark Giesh on 2008-09-08 13:30
Michael, pension plans are not allowed to have 'bad boy' clauses that would sacrifice an earned pension benefit for any reason, up to and including treason, making up stories about the bride at a wedding reception or wearing evening attire to a Dixie Chicks concert.
Such clauses that used to exist disappeared with the passage of ERISA in 1974.
#39 Marty Brown on 2008-09-08 14:07
Have any of you stopped to realize that the OCA has so much on their hands that you should be happy with how quick they have been posting their info?! The last 2 postings were not posted on this website for at least 2 days (I know you work Mark), but why do you people say the OCA takes long to post when it's obvious that if Mark has other work, the OCA also has work, quite a LOT of work, trying to fix all the bad things the dishonest predecessors left behind. There's just so much you can do in one day. I, for one, am quite glad to see how much information the OCA website has been posting. This would _never_have happened over a year ago - especially in regard to the whole scandal.
(Editor's note: LOL. Let's see, I have to find, interview, check and recheck facts they already have, having been present at the meeting. I work all day, publishing in my spare time, what we are paying them six figures to do full time. And I publish a summary days before them.
Seriously, such a performance may be acceptable to you who live in Church-world; but it is hardly acceptable by the standards of the real world. Moreover, I doubt RSK or +Herman left a stash of phoney press releases behind that anyone has to rewrite, so your excuse that you have much to clean up rings a bit hollow when it comes to information. It might hold true for finances, but there, Fr. Tassos seems to be holding his own..... Yes, things are better. But that is not a very high standard given the experiences of the recent past. It is now four days since the meeting and still, nothing. Nada. )
#40 Anonymous on 2008-09-08 14:56
I'm sure Mark has the notes as to everyone that attended, he appears to have at least some of the resolutions/minutes/etc.
I can see several instances where members could not attend. A pressing job issue, family crisis, health issues, etc. could prevent any member from attending and are reasons worthy of a blessing. I would suggest a better question is "how has the attendance been of the various Metropolitan Council members over the past 15 years?" All of that information should be available on the OCA's website.
Certainly those who were absent frequently have failed in their responsibilities, have they not? How can you be an informed member and rightly lead when not frequently present or inconsistent in attendance over these 20 years? To me, that is certainly worthy of the title "negligent."
#41 Methodios on 2008-09-08 15:02
Thank you for remembering the suffering that MH put the Mayfield through 27 years ago; but, I'd like to inform you that he did not destroy St. John's in Mayfield, he helped it grow! The decision for our priest and parish to leave the OCA was the best move we ever made. .... Our late Metropolitan Laurus was truly a spiritual man who lived a very meager life in Holy Trinity Monastery. We are very blessed! We shall pray for all of you pious Orthodox Christians in the OCA who must live through this travesty because of greedy, self-indulged men.
#42 OCA Sympathizer on 2008-09-08 15:47
"We need a new formula for growth in the OCA."
For all the pontificating you've done on this forum, this one takes the cake. Where have you been? The OCA has numerous programs for growth and evangelism, but they've laregely been ingored. A new program will simply be another ignored program. It's not a new program that's needed. What's needed is people in the parishes who are willing to sacrifice their agendas in order to create a loving, growing community of Christians.
#43 Anonymous on 2008-09-08 16:02
At some point, one must remember to not throw the baby out with the bathwater.
Your concern ought to be whether it is necessary to starve a starving horse.
The church has just started to behave in a conciliar manner, save for a few recent events...
The notion that we should now start to choke them is really quite preposterous and it would be nearly enough for me to want to walk from the conciliar body if this were to happen.
I only hope the MC members and one or two Bishops read my post amidst the mix of comments.
If the church has an excess of funds, now that it has stopped the pilfering, we really ought to use that money to payback the Honesdale loan and at some point to start to have a capital component.
Please, please don't lower the assessments unless the methodology changes from a membership fee.
#44 Daniel E. Fall on 2008-09-08 16:31
We need the MC to just call the cops. I can guarantee that if any one of these members had their house robbed they would see to it that the crook was prosecuted and make as much restitution as possible. Why don't they feel the same way when it's God's house?
Makes you wonder, doesn't it?
But, in the end, too, you have to feel sorry for them as well. They never thought that being on the MC was anything more than a ceremonial job of sorts. Most of them aren't qualified, but enjoy being someone by being on the council. Its tragic, that these people don't know when to step aside and let the adults take over so this can be handled expeditiously and properly. But then again, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to pick up the phone, call 911, and report that a crime has taken place. It just takes someone who takes their responsibilities seriously to do so, ya know what I mean? We have been harping on the Synod that they have let this go on for many years, but what about the MC? The MC has it in their responsibility to end it now. How? Call the cops, inform the Attorney General of NY that there was perjury and work to weed out the bad apples. Getting rid of Alice Woog was a good step, but its only one of a multitude that need to be taken. If it was a truly historic meeting last week, we'd have 3 priests on suspension, two bishops on suspension, two bishops talking retirement, and a warrant issued for a former priest and his wife in Florida. THAT would have been HISTORIC! THAT would have been a move in the right direction.
#45 Anonymous on 2008-09-08 16:46
Call the civil authorities! You mentioned things that were not brought out by this report. Well, I have a question? How many people had an OCA charge card? I can't believe the Kondratick charges on that special published list were the only ones that were made! I also can't believe that they were the only ones who had the pleasure of spending all that money by themselves! If anyone else had an OCA credit card, they should come clean and PR should publish their charges too!
#46 Wondering on 2008-09-08 17:03
+Seraphim is revealed to us all as a poseur.
His shocking letter in the Appendix of the SIC denying scandal and corruption while obsessing about imagined slights to his dignity as well as where his friends are seated at table is a picture window into His Grace's shaky understanding of Christianity.
For this letter alone, as it is unrepented and unconfessed, +Seraphim should resign and retire to a monastery. But he confesses nothing and continues to deny responsibility for anything.
I don't care if he is allowed to continue to run the OCA as administrator - that is for the Americans to decide. If I were in their shoes, I would want only +Job.
But in truth I am embarrassed to be in the man's presence at Annunciation ....
#47 another Ottawa Annunciation Cathedral parishioner on 2008-09-08 18:20
"The Archbishop of Dallas also announced that he had already appointed his newly elected Vicar, Jonah (Paffhausen), the Bishop-elect of Ft. Worth, as Chancellor of the Diocese. "
Congrats Bishop Jonah!!..will keep you in my prayers...likewise I hope...
#48 george cingolani on 2008-09-08 18:50
How is +Seraphim allowed to be selected to be OCA administrator when he was just revealed as part of the problem? If the Synod had any integrity, and if they were truly interested in repenting publicly and restoring trust, they would have concluded their apology with their resignations, Archbishop JOB excepted. I agree with the notion that he could be the proper short term Met. we need now.
#49 Zosimas on 2008-09-08 19:47
I have said this elsewhere, but I believe the election of the Metropolitan at the Pittsburgh council should proceed as contemplated by the statute. The synod may believe that the tempers are too elevated to permit a proper expression on the part of the council, but it should also be remembered that indignation can also be righteous.
#50 Edmund Unneland on 2008-09-08 20:13
I totally agree with your comments. Did anyone read Seraphim's letter in the Canadian Orthodox Messenger, Summer 2008 edition? Here he goes on talking about healing and reconcilation while making excuse after excuse regarding the reason that this was not dealt with. It is a "feel good" message which belittles the righteous anger we are all feeling in light of this scandel. No where does he admit his part in all of this or truly repent. As far as I am concerned, he just continues the cover up. As you have stated -there can be no healing and reconcilation unless those who covered up criminal activity first confess and ask forgiveness of us!
I actually thanked God that the letter Seraphim wrote to Zaccheaus was attached to the SIC report as he was finally revealed. He has used fear and intimidation for years with his priests and deacons and now it was out in the open. As you have said, they all need to resign for the "good of the church", excepting +Job.
#51 Anonymous on 2008-09-08 20:35
I agree. I call for the resignation of +Seraphim. I can tell you that, as a member of the Canadian Archdiocese his behavior and inaction is absolutely unacceptable! He has failed to show remorse, ask for forgiveness and admit wrongdoing. In a recent article in The Canadian Orthodox Messenger, +Seraphim trivialized the financial scandel as "administrative difficulties" and stated that some more experienced members of the laity have said to him "It's only money". No- it is inaction, abuse of position, misrepresentation, theft, fraud and the lot! The letter he sent to Zacchaeus in Moscow shows his true nature. Honestly, being insulted at being seated at the end of the table! I would have made them stand! Show some humility and contriteness!
We, as the faithful Orthodox laity must unite and find a solution. We, with God's help, must be strong and united in purpose. Talk in your parishes and parish councils about how we can work as the Body of Christ to hold those responsible for this scandal, either by deed or inaction, accountable.
I understand this is far from over. Sadly, the lawsuit from RSK will probably expose even more information. 35 pages of information we know about. Imagine how many more pages would be filled by the information we do not know.
Lord have mercy
#52 Unable to Provide on 2008-09-08 22:05
Concerning the possible delay in the election of a Metropolitan, Article IV,4, of The Statute requires that once a locum tenens has been appointed, an AAC must be called within three months to elect a new Metropolitan, "unless some unavoidable necessity forces a prolongment of this period."
1. whereas an AAC is already scheduled, there is no unavoidable necessity forcing a prolongment of the period allowed before calling one; and
2. whereas the HS granted +H's request for retirement, with the title "former Archbishop of Washington and New Yourk, Metropolitan of All America and Canada"; appointed +D as "locum tenens of the Metropolitan See;" and appointed +S as "administrator of The Orthodox Church in America" (the latter two being how we were instructed to commemorate them at the Great Entrance),
therefore ipso facto the HS both rendered and declared the office of Metropolitan vacant. It follows, then, that there is no statutory reason to delay the election of a Metropolitan.
However, going to 2011 with a more synodal and conciliar central administration might be very good for the OCA, as an antidote to what some have called a "papal" kind of administration, and as a way of recovering balance.
#53 Igumen Philip (Speranza) on 2008-09-09 04:11
With much work left to go, you cannot deny the progress that has finally taken place in the OCA. I can see how people are so betrayed and so bitter by how this all went down that they are still not satisfied with the outcome, nor should they be. The fact of the matter is that Herman is no longer available to continue to ruin the OCA. The beginning of the Troparion of Annunciation is appropriate for these recent actions.
"Today is the beginning of our salvation..."
I am very happy to see St. John's in Mayfield, PA mentioned a few times in these comments. That CATHEDRAL (just a church when Herman last had control over it) is a shining example of what can happen AFTER the era of Herman. Their last memory of Herman in their church was him denying children and parishoners of communion just so he could get Liturgy done as soon as possible, so he could shake the cross in the air and berate the parishoners because they refused to go along with his edict to change to the new calendar. Years of court battles later, loss after loss in courts, and a million dollar's worth of wasted OCA legal fees was the beginning of Herman's legacy.
This is not an "I told you so situtation", I attend an OCA church regularly during Lent while I am living in Philadelphia, and I love the priest and the people there.... I was baptized and raised the OCA until I was 12, so it hurts me to see what has happened.
I just wanted to throw some encouraging words to the faithful and determined OCA parishoners and clergy who have endured this trial and are continuing to do God's will. The truth is coming out. Stay tuned for more, and stay faithful.
#54 Alex Uram on 2008-09-09 04:29
Mark, you say, "Seriously, such a performance may be acceptable to you who live in Church-world; but it is hardly acceptable by the standards of the real world."
That's exactly my point. WE ARE THE ONE HOLY CATHOLIC & APOSTOLIC CHURCH! We should act like people in this Holy Church and NOT like people in the real world. We should pray instead of accuse. We should forgive instead of seek vengeance. We should be humble instead of judging the OCA! "Let him who is without sin cast the first stone!" In other words, unless you're sinless QUIT judging!!!
What is WRONG with you people?! Read the Holy Fathers; do they ever teach us to conform to the twisted teachings of real-modern day world? I don't think so!!!
(Editor's Note: You missed the point entirely, and your fundamentalist appeals to "stop judging" would reduce us to mindless automatons. We are called to pray, yes: but we are also called to act. We are called to forgive, yes, but we are also called to defend the widows and orphans. And in this case that is not mere symbolism - we really are defending the monies of widows and orphans. If the world is doing this, and not the Church, then bravo for the world, because it is like the parable Christ told: who is doing the Will of the Father; the son who said he would and didn't, or the one who balked by did? Your reduction of the manifold riches of the Christ's teachings to one thing is not helpful to acting prudently, wisely, responsibly as Christians. If you are going to reduce things, at least then follow Christ, who told us that Love was the one thing necessary - not obedience, not suffering, etc. Yes, we are to love our enemies, and not strike back at them when they strike. But Jesus was no fool:he didn't say "walk in front of their hand". He tells his Apostles that if some place rejects Him, to make a judgement, shake the dust off their sandals, leave and carry on. Wise advice. We have learned some have rejected Him. Let us make our judgement, shake the dust off our sandals and carry on.)
#55 Anonymous on 2008-09-09 06:09
+ Seraphim wasn't part of the problem. He knew of the problem, but didn't know how to act on the problem.This could be said of all the bishops. It is the same as if the President of the US and his top advisers were guilty of misdoing and as a member of his cabinet you became aware of this info. How do you act on it? Eventually, as more and more of the bishops learned more, they began to question and act. Yes, it took awhile, but when mucho evidence disappeared, the proper procedures needed to be followed.
(editor's note: Unfortunately the facts contradict your assertions. The Archbishop's letter in Appendix F makes it clear he knew exactly how to act ("these matters are solely in the competance of His Beatitude, Metropolitan Herman. Other Bishops, could, I believe, only be involved should His Beatitude choose to bring anything to their consideration."). The Archbishop did not act for four years because he did not believe it was his responsibility to do so.I would ask you - if you knew your priest was embezzling tens of thousands from your parish, would you tell your Bishop and then let it go? For a year, two , three? I doubt it. But maybe you would - clearly +Seraphim did. But God help us all if that becomes the standard of behaviour in our Church!
Likewise your opening assertion is in error. He is and was part of the problem. He did not take money - apart from all the trips paid for by diverted charity funds - but he did not stop others from looting the Church. Excusing years of dissembling, and inaction for reasons of "proper procedure" is thin tissue of an excuse at best. +Seraphim knew of the Bob's secret accounts in 1999 because I called him and told him everything as a member of the MC when John Kozey first spoke out. I begged him to help us. He did nothing. He did nothing when Fr. Zaccheus told him of Bob's attempted embezzlement in 2004. He did nothing when Eric Wheeler spoke out in 2005.
Rather, in 2005, 2006 and 2007 he published letters from the Synod, and from himself personally, dismissing, minimizing and denying the scandal. Now he tries to say he was "only following procedures?" Pardon me if I just blow my nose on that thin tissue and throw that excuse in the trash where it belongs.
He made bad decisions. He choose poorly. If he didn't know it was because he didn't want to know. But the truth is, he did know much. He failed to protect his flock. So did most of the others. But that is no excuse, so please stop trying to defend the indefensible!
Now they are exposed for what they did and didn't do, and they, and we, all have to live with the shame of it, and it burns. End of story - unless they choose to heal themselves, and us, with the balm Christ offers. This is the real question facing us now - not when and if a Metropolitan is elected. )
#56 Anonymous on 2008-09-09 06:23
You don't get it. You are very quick on the draw and don't think. + Job has told everyone, he wants to retire. Furthermore, although a good man, talk to those in your own diocese of New England. Waiting to elect the next Met at the 2011 AAC may be very prudent. Afterall, a merger with the Antiochians would be easier this way. The Antiochians become autocephalous and Bishop Basil Essey becomes Metropolitan of the AOCA/OCA.
(Editor's note: Metropolitan Phillip may not appreciate you separating his Archdiocese from its mother Church so cavaliarily, not to mention killing him off and replacing him with Bishop Basil. Ouch. Dream on.)
#57 Anonymous on 2008-09-09 06:30
Methinks you're overreacting. To call his letter "shocking" is an overstatement. Whatever the political reasons that +Benjamin put that letter in the SIC report, he simply stated that it was a matter for the Metropolitan. It was a true statement, because RSK worked at the behest of the Met.
Regarding protocol, again, you're obviously unfamiliar with Orthodox clerical protocol. He basically said, "we travelled a long way to support you, and you didn't even acknowledge our presence." What is wrong is that he had to bring it up to FrZ in the first place. I would suspect that few priest have not had their ear bent by bishops about not following protocol, whether it be liturgical or otherwise. The priesthood has ranks for a reason.
Let's not twist an appropriate letter into some kind of smoking gun. +Seraphim was totally within his episcopal rights to send it. People today are much too sensitive. 40-50 years ago, bishops would chew out priests for such matters to the point of reducing them to ashes. That letter was tame and even polite.
(Editor's note: If you think the problem people have with +Seraphim's letter is his chewing out Fr. Z., the OCA is in much deeper waters than I could have ever imagined. You are not excused from acting legally, morally and responsibily just because there exists someone of a higher rank above you. Forget that Lenten series on liturgy, people. The OCA clearly need a basic ethic classe. Are you reading this, DRE?)
#58 Anonymous on 2008-09-09 06:36
Currect me if I'm wrong, (and I'm sure someone will) but I don't beleive the administrator has to be a heirarch, My feeling is that Fr. Tom Hopko should be asked to take the job. Perhaps then, in 3 years, we'd be voting on a union with the Antiochians.
#59 David Wargo on 2008-09-09 06:46
"Here, here" to the writer of the above post. Enough already. It's time to move forward. Oh, wait, we don't move forward 'till Mark says so. (Insert Mark's "I wish I had that kind of power," here. OCANews.org should apply for a 501(c)3. It's become a sort-of cult.)
Mark says that he's not interested in anyone's head. You've got to be kidding! That's what's been going on for two years - the rolling of heads. And then in the same breath, he asks why they don't give up their pensions. First, it's illegal to take away anyone's pension unless the plan specifically has a clause which mentions such a possiblity (and who would participate in it then?). Second, these people still have to eat, and pay their living and funeral expenses.
And spare me the line about widows and orphans. Let law enforcement seek such restitution. If they can't prosecute, then it will speak volumes and this whole exercise will have been for naught. That will be the true test of all of this.
(Editor's note: I have never asked for anyone's head, nor their pension. You have me confused with the MC investigation into the possibility. And you totally misunderstand the legal system if you think the test of something is whether the government presecutes or not, or convicts or not. In our system ( God bless it) the jury determines whether a person is guilty or not guilty beyond a reasonable doubt - not innocence. Only God does that. Secondly, while stating the fact that the FBI does have an ongoing investigation, I have never opined as to whether anybody should be tried for anything. I personally do not believe it is possible, given that they are all implicated. Can you see Kucynda being called as a prosecution witness against Kondratick? ("Did you not lie to the court about the OCA having 2 million members? And now you are not lying...?) or +Herman? (" And so you knew in 2005 that RSK was alledged by a former Chairman of the OCA Audit Cmte, a former Treasurer, and others to have misused Church funds and yet you appointed him to be your Chancellor again? Was that because you trusted him, or because you were working with him? Which was it?) or Strikis, or Oselinsky, or Seraphim , etc. The only way a trial would work is if no one from the OCA was allowed to speak, and only reciepts were used! And of course, since RSK was allowed to walk out of the building by Fr. Kucynda with box after box of documents, who knows what he has.... So, no, I do not forsee a legal trial. A civil case however is a whole different story, for there the standards are less stringent. But that is not my decision.
Bottom line: if you object to my responses, feel free to continue the discussion and convince me by the power of your words and argument of the authority of your position. I am a rather open-minded guy. Or stop reading, and sulk. Your choice.)
#60 Anonymous on 2008-09-09 06:52
Poor controlled Bp. Seraphim. Deluded by bad teaching I reckon and suddenly he found he was a prisoner of what he thought was freedom. A man of joy, laughing it up, deluded into thinking his loyalties would protect him, his benefactors would make all well. Has he been placated by them with this newest appointment or just set up for a crucifixion, so that the real menace, the lie perpetrated in the OCA, can continue unabated?
A man who once said to me without his usual joviality I do what I'm told Shocking to me when I heard it. Who was and is controlling this man?
Tell us the truth and be free and in the process free us as well, Bp. Seraphim.
#61 Ever and anon. on 2008-09-09 07:08
And just what was illegal, immoral or irresponsible? That he didn't shout it from the rooftops? Not everyone is Robin Hood. If he informed the Metropolitan that FrZ had talked to him about it, then his responsibility ends with that. I'm sorry you don't like that answer, but that's the way it is and that's the way it should be.
We can nitpick every letter, look, or action and point fingers until we're blue in the face. It doesn't move us forward. Essentially, +Seraphim is guilty of, in your eyes, not doing enough. In his eyes, he did what was within his authority and scope of influence. In Orthodox polity, he'll win that argument every time.
What is of greater concern is a creeping sense that the OCA now has a bicameral government. That the Holy Synod and the Metropolitan Council are being considered as having equal weight in the authority of the Church should send shivers down the spine of Orthodox Christian who values the scriptures and the Tradition.
(Editor's note: In the United States it is illegal not to report a felony. Attempted - and in the case of the Russian Orphans Christmas Stocking Funds actual - embezzlement is a felony. ( I imagine you will answer that +Seraphim is a Canadian, so....) It is immoral to keep your mouth shut and to try your best to shut the mouths of others when they try to do their duty as Christians and citizens. It is irresponsible as well, given that you have a fiduciary responsibility to see that the organization you oversee is not robbed. I do not blame Archbishop Seraphim for not being "Robin Hood". I fault him for riding with the Sheriff of Nottingham. And if you think that is the way it should be, I pity you, and those around you, if such is really your moral code. You sound more like the Pharisee, lecturing me on the law, as you walk past the corpse of the Church wounded, lying on the ground, explaining to me why it is appropriate not to help. Would there was a righteous Samaritan! And that is not nit-picking. That is Scripture and Tradition. )
#62 Anonymous on 2008-09-09 07:47
“He [+Seraphim] did not take money - apart from all the trips paid for by diverted charity funds - but he did not stop others from looting the Church.”
Thanks for writing this, dear Editor, it says it all. Remembering at the homilies I have heard over the years at Annuciation/St. Nicholas where +Seraphim gave romantic descriptions of his travels to Russia and Portugal, I always wondered who was footing the bill. I always puzzled what in the world his diplomatic travels had to do with building Orthodoxy in Canada and why he would use his teaching time in our parish to discuss them in detail.
But the painful text of Appendix F of the SIC Report (+Seraphim to Fr. Zacchaeus - 2004) makes it clear that His Grace is not himself a good model of Christian behaviour. And the SIC record and your testimony indicate that Appendix F is not a one-time aberration but representative of a pattern of behaviour that extends over many years. This is a personal tragedy for +Seraphim and we should pray for his repentance and public confession but he can no longer be credibly be held up to my children as an example of what they should aspire to in life and faith. Sadly, he has been revealed to be an embarrassment to Canadian Orthodoxy.
Please Frs John and Symeon, as senior priests at Annunciation, can you carry the message of truth to +Seraphim on behalf of parishioners like me who will hold back in fear of possible retaliation? He can’t really expect to carry on as if nothing had happened.
#63 another Ottawa Annunciation Cathedral parishioner on 2008-09-09 08:15
Come on folks. How dare you question the great Mark Stokoe. That's totally against the rules. He's perfect, isn't it obvious. To those of us who view this as a half-full glass are now mindless automatons. While the conservative (haha...LOL) approach of Mark Stokoe will continue to view this as half-empty. He and his views will never be happy. Regardless of what comes of this ordeal, Mark Stokoe and those like him, will never be happy. Their goal is to ensure that the OCA disappears. And although they will challenge me on that, I've talked to many, many people are seriously considering leaving the OCA strictly because of this website. Yeah, I know, let them leave!!! Don't be surprised when they do. Then who will you complain to Mark? Maybe you and your bishop can create a brand new OCA that follows the Mark Stokoe rules of accountability. Good Luck!!!
(Editor's note: I do not wish anyone to leave the Church. I find it absurd though that someone would leave the Church, in the midst of its exposing its sin and correcting it, but would prefer to continue to be robbed as long as they were ignorant about it. That is not the Kingdom of God - that is a Fool's Paradise! As for the the glass being half empty or full, the reality is that it is both simultaneously. I insist one not ignore one or the other, but try for the fullest possible perspective. And finally, you are wrong. I am a happy guy. Not at the shame so many have brought on themselves and us, but that we - not the government, or the Tsar, or the anybody else - but we appear to be muddling through, in a way no other Orthodox Church has ever done before. We are to blame for this, as I have said before, but rejoice, for we too are responsible for helping make it right. Both parts of the glass, Mike. Both. And rejoice again, for what is in the glass half full is life-giving water from Him. I hope we shall be able to drink from it together soon.)
#64 Michael Livosky on 2008-09-09 09:01
I am quoting you, Mark: Strikis, or Oselinsky, or Seraphim , etc. The only way a trial would work is if no one from the OCA was allowed to speak, and only reciepts were used! And of course, since RSK was allowed to walk out of the building by Fr. Kucynda with box after box of documents, who knows what he has....
Liars, thieves and continued cover-up. What a disgraceful appearance to the world of our clergy! And even more disgraceful since we cannot and won't do anything to take them out of that rank! I guess it just tells the world what we are all made of.
On another matter, I can't seem to find the filing of that $25,000,000 lawsuit by Mr. Bob. Is it in the court records yet? The other lawsuits are all available on line but not this one.
I hope this isn't another way for Mr. Bob to rob us again with some sort of "settlement". Hopeless!!!!
#65 Unhappy on 2008-09-09 09:37
MP ... what law school did you attend that taught you documentation is the sine qua non of proof? or that conversations cannot rise to the level of proof? (which is presumably what you meant when you wrote "conversations do not provide documentation.") if you in fact do possess a JD, then you should take your alma mater to court for pedagogical malpractice.
p.s. is MP code for RK?
#66 Anonymous on 2008-09-09 09:52
Think what you wish and throw around accusations of Phariseeism all you want. On the one hand you condemn excess, then on the other you verbally participate in the same hyperbole. Activism and whipping people into a frenzy are not virtues listed in the Beatitudes, and they're not a substitute for humility and introspection. Don't couch such actions under scripture and Tradition, it's an insult.
(Editor's note: Once again, the facts do not support you claims. I never condemned excess, I condemned the opposite - of not doing anything. Humility and introspection are virtues; but so is "hunger and thirst after justice". That's in the Beatitudes too. As is the promise " for they shall have their fill." As for "whipping people up", I don't have to do that. The misdeeds of the past 20 years seems to have been sufficient . Blame the stuff in the SIC Report, not me. And if you are not aware of the parable of the Good Samaritan, I suggest you re-read Scripture. )
#67 Anonymous on 2008-09-09 10:29
Only those laws which specifically list certain figures such as law enforcement personnel, etc, as mandatory reporters are bound by law to report particular felonies. Misprison of felony is largely discarded as a law in most jurisdictions, according to Wikipedia. To think otherwise would seem to undermine the justice system's presumption of innocence.
(Editor's note: Thanks for the clarification. It doesn't make me feel much better though.)
#68 Anonymous on 2008-09-09 10:46
Dan, Dan, Dan...
Don’t be fooled by what happened last week. When the initial euphoria wears off, you’ll see through the haze and notice that nothing really happened. Of course, Herman leaving the scene, or at least visibly from the scene, is the only act of note, although, a truly welcome one and we might also say that we have seen the true hypocrisy and lack of regard for the sanctity of the Church as demonstrated by the Synod by giving no punishment to either of the three priests mentioned. Unfortunately we have seen that nothing changed with Herman’s departure even though all hopes were for a complete change in mentality once he was gone which we anticipated with his departure. A golden opportunity by the Synod and MC thrown away, how very sad. But they threw it away we feel because there’s a mountain of information that has not been revealed and they are working their duffs off to keep it that way. The report, when you boil it down and based on the subsequent actions that occurred, was only meant to cement the concept that Kondratick was the only thief. And expanded upon with the select credit card entries they extended that to his family as well, but there was no mention of what happened to the accounts Theodosius handled – there are important questions that are raised by Nick Skovran in an analysis available on the Orthodox Forum, which he might post here. Where did all that money go? A true investigation would have given us some idea of that – we got none of it. The more and more you read after time has passed you come away disappointed greatly. But they will have accomplished what they wanted to, at a minimum cost if you think it represents a turn around.
Giving an incomplete report, no accountability for the two metropolitans (don’t try to pass off “retirement” and “house arrest” as punishment for their YEARS and LEVEL of MALFEASANCE – although I do believe that the retirement has done a tremendous amount of damage to Herman’s ego), 2 bishops (I leave out Nathaniel), 3 priests, and two people not tossed into the clink basically means we got nowhere further other than a tremendous amount of embarrassing information about Kondratick being revealed. I mean, its kind of embarrassing to know that Mrs. Kondratick spent $4000 in one shopping spree and that they even charged stuff under $10 to the Church – not only embarrassing to know where they shop, the magnitude of that shopping, but the gall to put it on a Church credit card and to that level to boot! It does make them look VERY, VERY, VERY bad and their continual silence in the face of this massive information onslaught just makes them look all the more guilty – basically the report buried whatever credibility they did have left. Its very embarrassing for them to know they spent about $400 at Socks Galore. That’s a LOT of socks, people, unless, of course, they were of the finest quality for the Kondratick foot. People are sitting at home going through each and every entry – we’re learning a lot about them. But they earned the embarrassment, what can we say?
What I am saying is that until we have all the corruption rooted out and that our money can be used for what it should be, no more money should be sent there. There are a multitude of places we can send to, of which I would like to start a list, both within the Church, and very worthwhile external charities, where we can feel good that our money is being used for a good purpose, is making a difference, and is under good stewardship. Right now giving money, including assessments, to an organization that is mired in $31,400,000 of suits so far, people completely incompetent to handle those suits, most of this corruption not revealed (we do not believe it was all Kondratick), a desire to keep as much information hidden, NO concililarity (look at the Trojan Horse bishops), and no sign of Christ anywhere in the building with these people, you might as well burn your money because at least you'll get some use out of it when it warms you up for a little while. In addition, we are VERY uncomfortable with the actions of Seraphim and Nikon and are highly concerned about their negative impacts on the proper function and Holiness of that “Holy” Synod. Both should be honored for their contributions to this scandal and its resolution that by being given no less than retirement IMMEDIATELY.
There's a LONG ways to go, and the people who can make a difference are incompetent or corrupt to do it, so sending them money makes the least sense of anything that we can do and its not a being a good steward of our money as well. We were scandalized by the vote of confidence of Herman by the Synod, after Job had left, but what are we doing when we send money? We’re giving a vote of confidence, a vote of confidence the magnitude of which is determined by the amount sent in. If you don’t have any confidence in this bunch, why are you showing otherwise by sending in money!? The only real influence we have over them is money because it’s the only item that has any value to them and the only item that they truly appreciate. George, Abraham, Alexander, Andrew, Ulysses, and Benjamin hold their attention and guide their actions, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, do not. They don’t listen to reason, they don’t take to heart the Gospels, they don’t follow what they preach to us, they don’t live up to their vows, they don’t follow in the footsteps of Christ, but they do follow the scent of money very closely. They’re very shallow people, oh so very shallow.
#69 Anonymous on 2008-09-09 11:06
Yes, we wonder what the status of the suit filed against Kondratick and Kondratick mega suit against the OCA. Last we checked we cannot find the filings of any of these. If it was filed and the people about to be served it would seem logical that a case number is assigned and filed.
Are these phantom suits? If so, to what end is this being done?
#70 Anonymous on 2008-09-09 11:09
"...but so is "hunger and thirst after justice". That's in the Beatitudes too."
It is? Uh, no, it's not. The use of the term "justice" (gr. "dikaiosune") here is a horrendous mistranslation, or at least, terribly misleading, but you would certainly make the National Council of Churches proud with that rendering.
"Righteousness" is the correct translation (because God is holy, just, pure, and right), which does not carry with it the juridical connoations of the Western sledge of "justice".
See http://www.orthodoxpress.org/parish/river_of_fire.htm for the Orthodox understanding of this important concept.
(Editor's note: Most NT Lexica will include both understandings such as does the following:
"1. in a broad sense: state of him who is as he ought to be, righteousness, the condition acceptable to God
a. the doctrine concerning the way in which man may attain a state approved of God
b. integrity, virtue, purity of life, rightness, correctness of thinking feeling, and acting
2. in a narrower sense, justice or the virtue which gives each his due"
So reasonable people, including the NCC, can disagree. What is more telling is that you think the concept of justice is "sledge", and dismiss it as "Western". Well, friend last time I looked, Hellenism invented "the West".
And your discursis into translation skillfully avoided having to answer my earlier point. Well done; but like so many you are so fascinated, as in this case, with the exact word, the nuance, you have totally lost sight of what is important about the word as a whole.)
#71 Anonymous on 2008-09-09 11:53
Google..."New York Unified Court System" and type in Kondratick. you will find Index No. 022717/2007. It's in the Nassau Civil Supreme Court
#72 nicholas skovran on 2008-09-09 12:01
From Nov. 2005 to late 2007, that is for 2 years, the OCA tried less then full disclosure. It did not work. Finally the SIC was charged to have an infettered investigation, and follow the information "wherever it leads". The SIC was presented with that letter. This left the SIC with these 3 options: 1 conceal the letter, and thus fail to speak to the issue of what responsibility lay with the Synod. 2. Speak about Synodal responsibility, but do so irresponsibly by still concealing the letter, and making charges against bishops with out proof. 3. Fulfill their charge by addressing the issue of who on the Synod knew what when and backing up there assertions with the evidence found.
Thank God they chose number 3. Option 2 is rather obviously stupid. Option one would continue a policy which had already and for a long time failed badly to bring peace and good order to the Church, would have comprimised absolutely every aspect of the SIC Report, by failing to fulfill the charge given them by the Holy Synod and the Met. Council- that is as much a charge from the plenitude of our Church as is possible short of an AAC.
To me, when the SIC asked a question, it wasn't merely one hierarch and assorted priests and laity demanding that Metropolitans and hierarchs answer to them. They invesitgated with that charge from the whole Church, and we are all, from the Met. on down responsible to the Church, which we hold to be more than an "organization" but a living organism.
I am sorry if you find that political. Here is something "political", if the SIC had even considered concealing something not already public, like that letter, knowing that others outside the SIC also had access to it, they would have to consider that they would be handing anyone who had that letter a "smoking gun" showing the SIC to be concealing evidence and failing their charge.
I am someone who is quite on record as challenging certain elements and attitudes of the reporting at OCAnews, and wanting to trust, wanting to accept everything that was wholesome in Bp. Seraphim's letter this summer about reconciliation and healing, and not hating Met. Herman. Well I still believe in reconciliation and trust, and in the principles which have guided my responses so far, but now I am embaressed. So many knew so much for so long. Whatever one could say about originally deferring to the Met., surely at some point between the Sobor in 2005 and Aug 2008 it would have become apparant . . .
Through the 34 months since Nov of 2005, through the first synod meetings, through PR investigation, through the first SC, through the spiritual court, through the beginning of the second SIC and all the Synod meetings, could it still be maintained that that issue was purely the Met.s to deal with?
And as for Mark Stokoe, I have been critical. I am still, like "unindicted co-conspiritors" is over the top. But even before the SIC report, when Abp. Job apoliogized to you, I went back and read your responses to the Indianapolis town hall thread on the subject of the MC in 2000. I am afraid I had never noticed that MC report to the diocesan council in the documents section. There was so much hid "in plain sight", I thought to myself, "no wonder he is so angry". If Mark is a raging angry problem, he in part has been made such by the situation of the OCA, by years of innattention to obvious problems. It is still my hope for Mark that he gets the better of anger, and use of hyperbole.
I don't want to condemn any of the bishops. I do want us to move on, and I am not waiting for permission to do so from OCAnews. The best thing for that is get all the things out, over and done with. We all fall, we all have to get up. Today's gospel for the feast of Ss. Joachim and Anna tells us that "there is nothing hidden which will not be revealed", and that we may be counted as brethren and Kin of Christ God if we hear the Word of God and keep it.
Dcn Yousuf Rassam
Los Angeles CA
#73 Anonymous on 2008-09-09 12:06
For a start, Fathers Lickwar and Kedala need to be removed from their current positions ... if they really threatened clergy demanding that the truth be told from the ambo.
Did you really say that? What is wrong with telling the truth?
#74 Anonymouse on 2008-09-09 12:29
I'm not an attorney, however in the civil process, typically, the legal process starts with an attorney writing a "demand letter" alleging the wrong and asking for some action to remedy that wrong. Only after the response to the "demand letter" would the actual lawsuit be filed.
Demand letters typically give a period of time for response. Once that time has expired, we'll see if the intent is indeed to file the suit that is rumored.
Martin D. Watt, CPA
#75 Marty Watt on 2008-09-09 13:09
What are you talking about? The OCA was unable to find any credible - by your standards - leaders in the past 38 years and is struggling to find ANY candidates for episcopacy. This is the end of the row for the OCA. The problem is that most of the people writing here and making judgements in the OCA at all levels have little understanding of the churchly life and Church administration. Whatever you say about RBK and his administration, whatever you say about H.B.M.Herman, - they were professionals. No one - including the Moscow Patriarhate - was taking the OCA or the Metropolia before then seriously before 1980s. Whether you like it or not, it is this group of people made the OCA noticable in this country and in the world. It was a major mistake to let RBK go - if indeed you wanted him to go - the way it was done. It was the last mistake to denounce Metropolitan Herman, who in himself represented the OCA as an organized body. Now even the mutineers can't figure out who should lead them. If these latter ones are the true OCA, than they are a laughing stock to the rest of the world. It is sad that in their delusion they don't realize that. But this situation can't last forever. If you can't organize yourself - and, obviously, you are able of only destroying clergy who served before the altar for 40 years and more, - then there will be people who will do that for you: Romanians, Greeks, Ukranians, Russians, various schismatics, etc. The smartest and most courageous thing you can do know is to realize this and start taking the steps first, to make the issue of relinquishing the authocephaly THE question of the upcoming Council.
(Editor's note: Mutineers? That's a new one! But sadly, you sing the same old song. Appearance over reality, honorifics over honor, position over service. The OCA is going back to its roots now, and try again, just like the Fathers recommend: When you fall, repent and get back up. Rather than relinquishing our autocephaly at the Council, we will be gloriously affirming it, no matter what form the Council takes. )
#76 Anonymous on 2008-09-09 13:10
Mark, here is why what you constantly rave about is completely off kilter. And why you’ll never be happy with the end result. Let me quote you:
“I find it absurd though that someone would leave the Church, in the midst of its exposing its sin and correcting it, but would prefer to continue to be robbed as long as they were ignorant about it. That is not the Kingdom of God - that is a Fool's Paradise!”
Mark, are you for real “Fool’s Paradise!” This is reality and you’ve already exposed the sin and the Syosset group is trying to correct it. But, it’s not happening fast enough for you. Therefore, it’s not good enough for you.
“Not at the shame so many have brought on themselves and us, but that we - not the government, or the Tsar, or the anybody else - but we appear to be muddling through, in a way no other Orthodox Church has ever done before.”
Not a single person in Syosset has brought an ounce of shame on anyone but themselves. What went on there had absolutely no effect on any one person in the OCA. Other than making the paying members add an extra $10-$15 a year for assessments. How long did the Catholic Church sex scandal last? Oh yeah, it’s still being discussed today. This will be around for some years to come.
“We are to blame for this, as I have said before, but rejoice, for we too are responsible for helping make it right.”
No Mark, WE are not to blame for this. The folks who worked or were on a committee are to blame (oops, my apologies, you were part of that group too). SO maybe you should feel guilty. Because you too, allowed this to happen before your very own eyes.
In closing, it doesn’t really matter what most people think anymore. As long as you’re happy with how you approach your life, go for it. Just keep in mind, your garbage isn’t appealing to as many as you’d think. For those like me, I get my daily chuckle on OCANews. Have a great day!!!
(Dear Mike: Glad to find you think our "garbage" is amusing.)
#77 Michael Livosky on 2008-09-09 14:06
Thanks Nick but that’s the Martin Drive suit. I’m trying to find out about the $25,000,000 suit that’s new from August 2008.
Actually, all you lawyers out there, it is incumbent upon you to help us understand this. If you look at the case history Koumentakos, et al vs Metropolitan Herman, et all (case number 13CO8073089 filed in the circuit court for Howard country in Maryland), you can easily follow the progress of the case. The complaint was filed on 5/1/08 and the writ of summons was issued to all the defendants by 5/5/08.
Where is the information similar to that above concerning the $25,000,000 suit filed by Kondratick. My only experience in the past with court procedures has been as a juror in my local area so I really need someone to explain to me why I can’t pick up the information on line about this suit. Unless I hear otherwise, I will think that nefarious acts are being perpetrated on a lot of unsuspecting innocent members of this church.
The more we know the less we know!
#78 Looking for answers on 2008-09-09 14:47
The word justice, *as you define it*, has little to do with the virtues of the New Testament as preached by our Master. That's the point. And that's what you miss. You make such scriptures into political two-by-fours to meet your ends. The word "dikaiosune" is *righteousness*, not justice of the legalistic, juridical sense.
And it seems almost laughable that you accuse correspondents here (as you refer to as "like so many") of giving the nuance of words as you push for investigations which pour over 10,000 documents and interview dozens of potential witnesses all over the country to produce a report of essentially no new information.
(Editor's note: On the contrary, I have never reduced justice to a legalistic or juridical sense. It is you who keeps doing that. I have a much broader understanding of the word. And again, you are wrong. The SIC report contained much new information that even I was unaware of. If you knew more than they, I would suggest you reveal yourself, despite your anonymity, as part part of the problem, not its solution.)
#79 Anonymous on 2008-09-09 15:22
Here's the number of the Nassau County Police. 516-573-7000 Please call. Stop complaining about others not calling. It's such a ridiculous notion to think that the police don't know, but knock yourself out.
#80 Anonymous on 2008-09-09 15:28
I believe you have failed to take stock of the weight of all the evidence available. Clearly you have very strong opinions that fail to consider the current and historical facts.
In the light of the recently released SIC report, if you cannot see how Frank, Joe, and Bob have raped the OCA, you must be suffering from some kind of delusion.
In Archbishop Job, Bishop Benjamin, Bishop Tikhon, and yet to be consecrated Bishop Jonah, we have the seed of a new synod that can help to renew the OCA.
Given your factually disconected observations, and your desire to remain anonymous, I can't really take your rant seriously.
#81 Marc Trolinger on 2008-09-09 16:00
The Kondratick suit has been filed, but as of last Friday, it had not been served on any of the parties named.
#82 Anonymous on 2008-09-09 16:04
Trying to correct it?
You're obviously watching some other scandal because there have been no corrections. What do you term as a correction?
Is a correction that we haven't received a 2007 audit yet?
Nothing has been corrected, much has been hidden, people are still silent as anything, notably the person you defend so much on other forums. When he speaks up and tells us the truth, many of us will consider corrective measures taking place. As long as he clams up there can be no correction for all of the actions of his that we are yet to learn.
I think you should note that when you says its had no effect, this is just Kondratick spin, hoping that people will reflect on that and see there’s no reason to send him to jail, unfortunately that’s not the case. Membership is down, participation is down, money is down, ancillary organizations are down to levels never imagined, trust in bishops is eradicated, trust in many clergy non existent. I suppose that’s no effect. Yes, there is effect, we know of people who have left because of it. Others have been forced off the reservation by their own clergy, clergy that you would have us believe have had no impact. Michael, we appreciate your loyalty to Mr. Rodion Kondratick, he is lucky to have at least one defender. Blindness to the facts, Michael, after all that has been revealed, doesn’t make us laugh, it makes us sorry that there are people who still buy the schtick. While you may want to laugh at us, we are sorry that you do not see this rationally and continue with the spin and factually incorrect perceptions of the situation, but to each his own.
Michael, one man’s garbage is another man’s treasure…
You should be reminded, however, that what passes here for "garbage" has not been refuted, it has caused three of our very worst elements, Herman, Kondratick, Nikolai to be shown the door, one of them deposed, the same one who cowers in Florida, unwilling to speak, no longer willing to tell us that his actions are guided by the Holy Spirit. I would say that if that's the kind of garbage we get here, we'd like a lot of that kind of garbage proactively from Syosset. The fact is that the garbage here has cleaned up a lot, although there is a LOT to go. And revealing this garbage has revealed the true character of the people mentioned above. Herman was a lie and a cheat and had more concern for himself than his Church. Nikolai was a tyrant who again has more concern for himself than his Church. Kondratick has been shown to a thief, con man, and all the worst that you could ever see in a priest - he used his position to enrich himself and his friends and had no concern for those that were in need other than to use them as a way to defraud the faithful of their money. He, too, used the sacraments as weapons and tools of retribution. If the garbage here got rid of scoundrels like that give us more garbage! Long live garbage! For us its golden treasure indeed!
#83 Anonymous on 2008-09-09 16:15
Vacant? Like it wasn't even when they had someone in a white hat there. You watch, watch the worms wiggle out of electing a metropolitan in the near future. I really don't think the SOB'S have a clue how to proceed. All dressed up and no place to go!
OCA Holy Synod declares Metropolitan See vacant
SYOSSET, NY [OCA Communications] -- On September 4, 2008, the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America, upon granting retirment to His Beatitude, Metropolitan Herman, declared the Metropolitan See of the Orthodox Church in America vacant.
On Thursday, September 11, 2008, the Holy Synod will meet via teleconference to discuss the election of a new Metropolitan. In determining a date for the election, the hierarchs will take into consideration canonical and statutory requiements as well as pastoral and logistical considerations.
#84 no name on 2008-09-09 16:21
Going back to its roots? What roots are you talking about? Where are they planted? In 1970? But it was the same group of people who you have destroyed who prepared and signed the authocephaly papers back than.
1917 thru 1970? Albeit there were some remarkable figures, most of them have not remained in history as oustanding spiritual teachers and Church administrators, but rather as schismatics.
1917 Council? Anyone who has been to a typical OCA parish knows that the only two things that most of the clergy and laity remember about that Council are - a) reading the Gospel facing people, and b) limiting authority of the clergy to the liturgical activities. Have you seen the Acts of this Council published in English? Have you read them all even in Russian?
Before 1917? Excuse me. Do you REALLY think that it is THIS kind of Church life that St. Herman and St. Innocent invisioned? Are you ready to follow the example set by the Russian clergy who followed St. Tikhon through all imaginable sorts of humilition, which included speculations about his moral, spiritual, administrative and other capabilities?
And like I said - it is said that you don't realize that "going back to your roots" means giving up your democratic, secular ideas about what the TRUE, distilled Church life should be like and submitting yourself to what has been lived for two thousand plus years. From this point of view - yes, I am sing "the same old song".
#85 Anonymous on 2008-09-09 17:05
What facts in this scandal have you missed? Mark made up none of them. Why do you who cannot bare to address issues honestly and forthrightly habitually succumb to this sarcasm and attempts to demean others? Address the facts and face them courageously. Thankfully, Mark started doing that in the face of your brand of sarcasm which has ruled the OCA for several decades. Hopefully that kind of oppression is at an end.
#86 Anon. on 2008-09-09 17:07
This notion that a priest can do no wrong. That a Bishop can make his decisions without the input of his council.
How many hundred of years of church history is needed for you folks?
This is more than a political campaign.
Its a campaign for honesty.
#87 Daniel E. Fall on 2008-09-09 20:44
To Mr. Kondradick and all the rest named for malfeasance in the Orthodox Church in America; please, for your own salvation, admit what you did, sell everything you have and make restitution before it is too late for Christ comes for us like a thief in the night just like He came for the fool who filled all his barns to the hilt.
I must admit that to sue for 25 million dollars, to be paid by 20,000 people who had nothing to do with this crisis, and many who scrape to pay their bills, does not sound Christlike even if you were innocent of the charges being brought against you. Do you have no fear before the Creator? If you repent like St. Peter did after he denied Christ 3 times, you will lift a heavy burden from yourselves. Then you need to sell everything you have and give it to Christ's Holy Church. Sure it is shameful and humiliating. Think how shamed and humiliated Jesus was as He went to Golgotha for our sins and He was the Only Perfect One! However, three days later He rose from the dead as King of Kings and Lord of Lords and He did it for you and me.
You are still alive and have the chance to do the right thing. Don't blow it. May God have mercy on all of us.
#88 Jane on 2008-09-09 21:09
Mark, To clear up some things about Seraphim, .
According to Canadian law, he is also obligated to report crimes, to not be found accomplice.
Canadian law allows only a small percentage of a non-profit organizations income to go out of country,. As such Archbishop Serpahim positions as Secretary and External Relations could partly be attributed to this law. The diocese of Canada's main assessment goes to paying for +Serpahims trips and costs associated with these positions including not receiving a Sysosset travel stipend. . (to keep money in coutnry) Though not the sole reason of course, this is surely seen as a way to save money and collect more money from Canada. I'm sure that this monetary restriction has contributed to +Seraphims opinion of isolation from the scandal (its not our money, we will be left alone in Canada if worst comes to worst).
Also, I have personally never seen +Seraphim stay at a fancy hotel, that his other priests did not stay at.. I think it may have be implied that he is living a lavish life, maybe, but definitely less then most bishops. Domestically, he spends most time living with parishioners/priests when traveling.
What he did was, it seems, misguided. One can get an idea of how how he could right the letter. One that back then e did not seem so harsh. This still does not forgive his actions and lack of action. He took the wrong action. I for one look forward to a letter of apology, or at least an explanation/acknowledgment, of his actions within the next month. I understand no immediate letter, but I expect one from him within 30 days.
Whether +Seraphim wanted the job, I do not know. I could think of some worse bishops. The truth is, that anyone other than +Job or perhaps +Benjamin would be deemed controversial.
I really hope that the SIC was the lowest point of our church. If not, I have some serious doubts about the health of the OCA. Only time will tell. At least more has gotten done at MC/Synod meetings in the last year and a half then the last 15.
#89 Anonymous on 2008-09-09 21:48
Why should he speak to the one's who falsely accussed him ? He will speak in court with his many lawsuits. Let the proper authorities or judges handle this. I don't believe one thing the oca said or was brought to the table. Any of those charges could have been requested by the metropolitans.
That's 2 because I'm on the same side as Livosky !!
#90 Anonymous on 2008-09-10 03:40
Is there a case #? We can't find it anywhere.
Will have more comment later.
#91 Anonymous on 2008-09-10 07:24
I'm frankly not sure you deserve a response. First of all, the name repitition thing is typically considered somewhat condescending. Second, with the anonymous, I'm not really sure you deserve a response. Are you that fearful of a lawsuit or retribution for your comment? I'm sorry, but it ain't that juicy.
Finally, if the church lowers the assessment without changing the methodology, I will find that a greater sin than blowing money foolishly. We only had a 2.7M dollar budget to start with.
Shameful. Fr. Kondratick if guilty took an estimate extra million in 5 years of 200k per year (on my fuzzy math which I'm sure will get corrections). That is only a small reduction not a 50% reduction.
I'm one of the people in a crowd for honesty, but count me out on one of the crowd of the strangle them into nothing.
At some point, you have to recognize your own failings. There can be just as much or more corruption at the Diocesan level. None of them that I know of even require a real audit.
And as for Fr. Wojcik wanting assessments dropped to 50 bucks. I also flat out disagree and find it to be shameful. We have all grown accustom to meeting a certain expectation. Now why couldn't we use the opportunity to make Orthodoxy a real shining light instead of a pair of socks as you suggest?
As bad as the complicity was and has been, reducing fair share when we owe 1.7M is really quite absurd.
#92 Daniel E. Fall on 2008-09-10 08:00
I AGREE WITH YOU! THIS WEBSITE IS NOTHING MORE THAN A "GOSSIP" AND EVIL WEBSITE! TO SOME ITS THEIR "CHURCH"! ITS AGENDA IS TO DESTROY THE CHURCH! WHATS SAD IS THAT THIS "MESS" WITH RSK SHOULD OF BEEN HANDLED BEHIND CLOSE DOORS! HOWEVER BISHOP JOB WANTED THE WORLD TO KNOW! AND HIS EVIL WEBSITE!(STOKOEYS!) PRINTED IT! TRUTH OR NOT! now this website hears confessions! ask bishop job!
#93 Anonymous on 2008-09-10 08:04
How about also dropping the requirement that an observer be an OCA member? If transparency is important, why have a bishop AND a parish priest sign off on every person coming through the door?
#94 Anonymous on 2008-09-10 11:22
2 million people owe that $1,700,000 so I'll be glad to send in my $1 for that purpose. However anything more needs to be earned by good faith before I sent it in. Put the budget and all financial records on line!!!!!!!
#95 Waiting on 2008-09-10 11:48
#96 calling the irs too on 2008-09-10 11:56
What can one say about this whole thing is that is very sad. When the OCA was first formed what was needed was a strong administrative presence, something that +MT was not. Indeed, even Fr. Hubiak as chancellor was a strong candidate and was able to live within his means at the time given the budget that he was left to deal with. When it became apparent that it was not enough that was when Kondratick was brought in. As someone who could talk to people and raise money.
Problem was that the OCA was not in a financial position to do that. As a fundraiser myself, it does take money to do that, something that we as a church were lacking at the time. What came next is obvious, accounts start being used and things start getting shifted. The issue is that this was widely known and kept secret even in the early 80's. There were treasurers who saw this and remarked as the report suggests that this was unwise. But the "mission" before Kondratick was to continue as he was, to get money, to make friends, and all of things that a fund-raiser needs to do. Combine that with a weak administrator and what came next should be of no surprise. Somewhere along the way, and this is truly only on the shoulders of Kondratick, the lines between using money for the Church and personal things got erased.
But let us not think that this was solely his fault. It wasn't. A system and attitude was in place where the Chancellor was able to do things and in effect ordered to do things with monies that were not there and to somehow make it happen. If there is no money in the one account you borrow from another one, move money from another one, move it to another one, etc, etc, etc, until you get to a point where there is no more money to be used. There is fault among many parties here and this dates back to way before this became all apparent and Dcn. Wheelers explosive letter.
As much wrong as there is, this was an institutional and cultural attitude that pervaded the Chancellory for a very long time. There are those that are mentioned in this report that have their own agendas and if we are not careful we could see another mistake in the making. Relationships that have been carefully built over the last twenty years are very close to being made undone and that could have a harmful effect on the OCA. There is more than just a few million dollars here at stake, and I would caution all to be very aware that this is the end of the beginning. There are more rats that need to be cleaned out before the church can really heal.
#97 anon on 2008-09-10 11:59
I also do not know whether Vl. Seraphim wanted the job of administrator, but I would be extremely surprised if that were the case. I believe he will find it a burdensome duty, and not at all a 'promotion' as someone else characterized it. I believe nearly all of his Archdiocese will be praying for him with special fervency in this next little while. With few exceptions I believe we pray with love and gratitude for his years of service in Canada, whatever our views on his behaviour during this crisis or our opinions of what he should do now.
Dan, the name repetition was not meant condescendingly, so don't take it as such.
Exactly what expectations do we have? Frankly, I have no expectations at all out of the central church. It exists for no apparently productive reason and takes up a ton of resources that could best be used somewhere else. If your expectations are embarrassments like in Brazil a couple years back, then maybe your expectations need to be revised. If your expectations are 5% of your money going to “works of the Church”, your expectations need to be revised. I contribute to a number of charities and organizations (more since this entire scandal broke) and the average amount of money used on administrative purposes is about 6-7%. In the OCA that number is reversed: about 93-94%. I do not want those expectations to be met, I want the expectations of charities that are good stewards of the money they are given.
We need to come up with better ways to do business. One novel approach would be to use a methodology of budgeting called Zero Based Budgeting that would be interesting to implement here. You might want to take a look at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zero_Based_Budgeting . Its an interesting concept that would do well to at least the initial budget that comes out of a post corruption administration. After each year's final budget, which is not to exceed a certain amount, the assessment would be determined based on that figure, again, not to exceed a certain amount. Because the budget would be based on complete rationalization of the entire organization, there is a good possibility that the budget could fall, rather than the normal process of yearly increases just because that’s the way normal budgeting is done. Therefore, in our case, if a department could not justify its existence or its level of funding, that would be reduced or eliminated and the assessment reduced. It not only optimizes monies spent, but it also requires something productive is done with the money or the next year that group or committee or department could cease to exist. Let’s make an organization based on performance and meeting goals rather than an organization based upon the Federal government mentality of operation. We can do better than that and we can do a LOT better than we have done for at least the past 19 years in this organization.
At present I can see no justification for any of the money, at all, that is sent in. Not only does it do notproductive good towards our mission and goals, it keeps in place a deeply corruption filled governance structure. If that is your expectation, then again, maybe your expectations need to be revised.
Let’s not try to tweak the old structures and methodologies because we have a chance here to make radical changes and sneak some innovation in as we try to recreate an organization that is can meet the expectations of its mission. But first, we must take out this corruption, and the only way to do that is to starve it.
#99 Anonymous on 2008-09-10 14:24
And further, Dan, tomorrow is Sept 11, 2008. Seven years to the day of the 9/11 tragedy. Last I heard we had still not distributed $150,000 of the money collected. And we are saying that things have changed. Are these the kind of expectations you have? I know most people don't have these expectations. Where is the money? We have the Honesdale loan so these monies should have been handed out expeditiously. Maybe it was done under the cover of darkness and we don't recall.
The only thing slower than rebuilding out in Lower Manhattan is the distribution of funds from the OCA. Neither have met the expectations of the vast majority of people.
Also, when was the last financial report sent out from the administration and when was the audit of 2007 sent out? I don't recall seeing them, does anyone recall?
Expectations... bad thing with them is the when dealing with the kind of organization we are here, we either have to lower them or be continually disappointed by having them not met!
(Editor's note: The OCA is trying to make amends, at least give them that. $25,000 has been given, and will be given every year until the full debt is paid. Agreed, it is year's late, but it is an honest effort, and for that, Fr. Reeves and the MC are to be commended for their perserverance in forcing the former administration to own up to its predecessor's criminality and its own immoral attitude that it wasn't really their debt. Let's not kick people who have repented and are trying to make amends the best they can. Save your condemnation for those who won't repent, won't confess, won't make amends, and continue to demand to sit in the high places. And do. )
#100 Anonymous on 2008-09-10 14:47
I agree with you to a point, Mark, and I have nothing but respect for Fr. Reeves completely. What I do want to know, though, is has that money been used for something else and that's why we're doing $25K a year? When you look at it, we're talking year 14 before the money is all given out? The money from the Honesdale loan was to be used for replenishing the missing monies, so I would assume at least, then, that there's $150,000 being gathering interest for future use for 9/11 charities.
(Editor's note: Sorry I wasn't clear. The monies diverted from the 9/11 Funds were not, I repeat not, included in the $1.7 million Honesdale Loan. It was the opinion of the administration at that time , led by Met. Hermand and Fr. Kucynda, that although we could not prove the monies had been given ( because as we know now, Fr. Kucynda let Kondratick walk off with all the records) we could not prove that we had not given them, and therefore, we were no longer obligated to pay it back. Shameful. Fr. Reeves and the MC then took it upon themselves to repay that obligation with the committment of $25,000 a year, which is about all the OCA could reasonably pay. So yes, it will take much time, but it is being paid back.)
#101 Anonymous on 2008-09-10 16:14
Well, since you are of the group of people who choose to leave your name unattached, I’ll refer to you as “it.” You, “it”, are another of the reasons I now laugh at this website. You comment and comment and comment and criticize and complain; yet, you don’t put your name down. Why should a leader of an organization answer anything you ask, when you don’t have the nerve to put your name to it? In essence, you’re a nobody. Yet you and others continue to complain and put forth your two cents of garbage. But, that’s you, I’ll pray that someday you get the courage and strength to put your name down. I will answer your comments in order:
“Trying to correct it? You're obviously watching some other scandal because there have been no corrections. What do you term as a correction?”
Let’s see, the staff at the chancery has been cut in half, at least. Saving $$$. Travel is happening less and less. Saving $$$. No one is taking money without being strictly controlled. Saving $$$.
“Is a correction that we haven't received a 2007 audit yet?
Nothing has been corrected, much has been hidden, people are still silent as anything, notably the person you defend so much on other forums. When he speaks up and tells us the truth, many of us will consider corrective measures taking place. As long as he clams up there can be no correction for all of the actions of his that we are yet to learn.”
With a staff that is much smaller that previous years. And more work to complete…let me see, oh yeah, it’s not going to happen over night. Once again, as I commented with Mark Stokoe and his spin. You expect this to be completed and fixed and on paper over night. Not gonna happen “it.” There is way to much to fix in the OCA for it to happen as quickly as you’d like. BUT, they’re working on righting the ship.
“I think you should note that when you says its had no effect, this is just Kondratick spin, hoping that people will reflect on that and see there’s no reason to send him to jail, unfortunately that’s not the case. Membership is down, participation is down, money is down, ancillary organizations are down to levels never imagined, trust in bishops is eradicated, trust in many clergy non existent. I suppose that’s no effect.”
My comment has nothing to do with Fr Kondratick or his spin. What happens to him will ultimately take its course some day I assume. Membership has been down for years now. It didn’t start while he was in charge nor did it start when all of this hit the streets. If membership is down, then duh, money is going to be down. And it also helps that there are/were churches that weren’t sending in their share. Which, I don’t have a problem with, but, it was their choice.
“Yes, there is effect, we know of people who have left because of it. Others have been forced off the reservation by their own clergy, clergy that you would have us believe have had no impact. Michael, we appreciate your loyalty to Mr. Rodion Kondratick, he is lucky to have at least one defender. Blindness to the facts, Michael, after all that has been revealed, doesn’t make us laugh, it makes us sorry that there are people who still buy the schtick. While you may want to laugh at us, we are sorry that you do not see this rationally and continue with the spin and factually incorrect perceptions of the situation, but to each his own.”
My loyalty and love to Fr Bob goes far beyond the reaches of the OCA. And he has many more defenders that you or anyone could ever imagine. I’ve never defended his actions throughout this whole mess. I simply said, that I don’t feel he did this by himself nor should he have had to pay the ultimate price for it, when others will be allowed to retire. And to this day, regardless of whatever report comes out, I still don’t believe it. Was he involved; sure, I’m not a total idiot. But, he wasn’t the leader of the pack.
#102 Michael Livosky on 2008-09-10 16:20
Calling +Seraphim a poseur and for his retirement to a monastery was far too harsh. I was genuinely shocked, scandalized, by his letter in the SIC Appendix F. I always believed that Bishops were to lead by Christian example - blessed are the meek - not by elbowing their way to the front of the dinner line. More importantly, I assumed that Bishops would do all they could warn their flock about thieves and not actively hide the theft from view. I still do think that +Seraphim needs to publically confess and repent and then step back from active leadership for a time to recover his spiritual balance. But on prayerful reflection I am truly sorry for the tone and language of my original post - please forgive me Your Grace and dear readers.
#103 another Ottawa Annunciation Cathedral parishioner on 2008-09-10 16:32
Knowing Kondratick, wouldn't the photo ops have been sufficient records?
#104 Anonymous on 2008-09-10 18:22
Well, while I agree there needs to be a serious strategic plan, I don't understand how you can honestly in your heart compare the central church administration to the federal government.
But for a moment, let's go with that premise. There are many people that suggest we have no need for a federal government and that taxes are unneeded and we could debate all day about that subject. Let's just agree the federal government is needed for security only and taxes must be set at a meager one half of one percent to pay for protection (not aggression).
I've said before the hundred bucks or so to cca is one half of 1% of 20 grand. Last nite we went out for dinner to Applebees and it cost us 80 bucks for 4 people with one beer on the ticket (mine). One tankful of gasoline for my Chevy costs over that hundo and I'm rewarded with a whopping 300 miles in travel which isn't enough to get me to Syosset, or Tikhons, or even Chicago. I'm spending 4000+ dollars a year for gas. Should I short the church 50 to cover the 4 grand? I'm sure their costs must be shrinking for travel..
Zero based budgeting has its drawbacks and usually occurs in nonprofits quite a bit. It isn't the financial python you dream about either because departments generally always push their dollars when they understand the money will disappear otherwise.
Still further, I don't believe that evanglizing the church happens consistently at the Diocesan level. There aren't the resources available there for full time dedication and hopefully Abp. Dmitri will forgive me, but I can imagine an 86 year old fellow might not have the energy or goals of a younger man when it comes to this sort of thing. I don't know that the cca gets any high grades from me on what they have done because they haven't been compelled to report much in the past years in a fashion other than newsbites.
I'm all for modifying the way assessments are levied. I think it should be 10% of each churches non capital total revenues (net of building funds). That way the poorest of church communities isn't strapped with impossible burdens and forced to lie about its membership. When a church must lie, something seems lost.
Finally, you do bring up a good question about financial statements and audits. All this is available on the OCA website in a form I am not a fan of.. It is all embedded in news releases. For your convenience, here goes... On March 14, the church released a 2007 unaudited compilation report, then on 5/24, a first quarter report and a mention of finding a new auditor with hopes that field work would begin in June and a staff reduction of one. Then on 7/18 the search for a comptroller. The second quarter report delivered on my expectation schedule would have been delivered end of July, however, it might be possible and even likely that the Treasurer wants the audit completed before he releases the second quarter report. Further, in the absence of a comptroller and supporting auditors, my expectations drop by a good 30 days. Overall, my expectations are being met. I don't recall the audit firm change reasons, but a new auditor also takes more time on a first pass.
And, I don't know who responded with the 2 million response. Fr. Paul has been removed from his position and reprimanded. To think you'd refer back to his statement is really childish. It has been stated by the MC they expect a headcount of about 25k. Honesdale is about 50 bucks per person. If you reduced the OCA budget by 10 dollars and serviced Honesdale, the fair share method wouldn't change for 5 years.
The 2008 budget was perhaps the first real budget the OCA ever had in 20 years. I can't believe you or others in the OCA would think now would be a good time to starve a horse that is just starting to get healthy and I truly hope that resolution gets struck down as quickly as it was drafted.
#105 Daniel E. Fall on 2008-09-11 06:12
Can anyone really tell me how many parishoners or members we've added and lost in the last 10 years? How about parishes? I'd love to know and this isn't sarcasm. I'm truly being genuine.
The nuts and bolts of open and honest accounting goes a step beyond financial accounting into the honest and open accounting of the things that really matter more than the dollar bill. The critical measures decided upon by the organization like growth, for example.
I don't really know whether those programs you've cited have been successful because there hasn't been any openness about the successes of the programs, but it seems like our church population is in decline to me. I'd like to be wrong as well. I have pontificated against reducing the assessments and continuing what is in place as well, so I'm not against the current programs. I would say that I'm for an even greater effort is all. If RSK was giving himself 200 grand a year in bonuses, which is sort of an implied amount, it would seem that rather than reducing the assessments on 25k people by 8 bucks, the 8 bucks would go towards building churches, for example. This could be part of the "new formula" I cited earlier.
And I have gone well beyond pontificating to putting my money where my mouth is in personal efforts although even those efforts haven't been good enough.
It is quite painful when I meet a person from an evangelical church that says Orthodoxy is a dead works mentality church. I heard someone tell me this years ago and it has bothered me ever since.
Strangely, I would tend to believe you and I are on the same side, and the only thing missing is an honest assessment of how well the church has done ito population and parishes in the last 10 years and especially a strategic plan for growth (or whatever is decided is more important, you know my stand).
If you knew me better, you'd know that for many years of my life, I traveled a long distance to get to any Orthodox church and it is a personal goal of mine in this life to make Orthodox churches accessable to more people.
Forgive me if I offended you or any of the existing programs, this was not the intent.
#106 Daniel E. Fall on 2008-09-11 10:00
Thank you for showing grace and humility and making an apology for the harsh expression, while still maintaining a commitment to the truth. I hope this will be an example to all of us in the OCA in the weeks and months to come, beginning with the Holy Synod and including all of us. I don't know who you are, but am glad we are in the same Archdiocese.
The idea of tithing parishes to the central administration has been bantered about for a while now, at least the last couple of All-American Councils and always met with resistance from Syosset.
You may or may not be aware that the budget processes in Syosset were always backward. They budgeted the expenses, then assessed the revenue they needed to cover the expenses. The question becomes: what do we need the Central Administration to do?
It has always been telling to me that we don't have a name for the "Central Administration". The lack of a name tells me that a "Central Administration" hasn't existed in Orthodoxy polity before. We are, historically, a church administered at the diocese level - we have no pope. The Bishop is the fullness (totality) of the Church - everything the Church needs exists at the diocese/parish level.
I'm of the opinion that the historical role of Bishops is now the function of a priest, who only acts in the stead of the Bishop. There was no historical equivalent to what we now know as a "Bishop" because the Bishops of history were local - originally, they presided over a single gathering.
What does this have to do with budgets? Well, it is important that our polity and economic structure reflect the organism it is to support. What are the appropriate functions of the Office of Metropolitan Primate? I would suggest the answer is very little.
On a practical level, they can cooperate on retirement, health, and similar benefit plans. The synod needs staff to support liturgics - here I'm opposite - I think liturgics belongs at the Synod level, so we have no inconsistencies from Diocese to Diocese like we have now.
Education (another function that requires an element of consistency) is an appropriate Synodal/Central function. Since all of our Seminaries are self-supporting, only oversight is needed. Perhaps we could tap that expertise in curriculum development and publishing to supply educational materials for our children?
As far as I can determine, those are the only functions that require ongoing maintenance. Like healthcare and politics, everything else is local.
Interestingly enough, as a non-profit, most of the administrative expenses we support go to raise money. Precious little is (supposed to have been) distributed to seminarians or widows and orphans. By far the single largest expense is payroll, and that of the fundraising staff.
Even now - what do we (as a Church) get for our $2.7 million? We don't have a full-time missions department, we don't have a full-time evangelism department. We don't have a full-time Religious Education department. Money isn't used for charity (we have separate appeals for that), nor All-American Councils (we have assessments for that, separately). We don't match the retirement funds of priests.
We do have archivists, fundraisers, clerks and administrators. And, of course, the Metropolitan, who also draws compensation as the Bishop of the Diocese of NY and NJ. I'm amazed our Bishops don't get into more trouble than they do! We give the Metropolitan (literally) hundreds of thousands of dollars in spending money, and then take care of all his needs - food, clothing, shelter, travel, entertainment, staff, retirement. In most cases they have no children to support (some widowed Bishops do have children, and I'm sure some have some illegitimate children as well). Then, on top of everything else, we don't give him much to do. He has a lot of time on his hands.
To take the cake, we ask them to be an administrator and give them no preparation for that ministry!
Our diocese of the Midwest provides over $600,000 of the national budget annually. Don't you think that money would be better spent in our diocese, supplementing the salaries of priests whose congregations cannot support them above a poverty level? What about planting 10 missions at $60,000 a pop? Could we afford $100,000 to develop a church school and adult education curriculum?
I would challenge you, my brother, to consider what it is that Syosset/Central Administration/Office of the Metropolitan should be doing, before continuing to support maintaining current funding. It is an important discussion, and one that the next Metropolitan and next AAC needs to consider thoughtfully.
Martin D. Watt, CPA
#108 Marty Watt on 2008-09-11 19:50
I do think that the OCA should shut down their website and defer to this one. They really are wasting money. But then again, it would not be the first time!
(Editor's Note: I would prefer the opposite. Let us hope that day comes soon.)
#109 MP on 2008-09-12 10:27
OK. Not trying to just ask a rhetorical question, I really want to know. Can you say who you think was the "leader of the pack"?
Dcn Yousuf Rassam
Los Angeles CA
#110 Anonymous on 2008-09-12 20:06
too late! people are leaving the oca! thanks to your website! i bet you bishop job wishes he would of handled this mess behind close doors now! and not on this website!
(Editor's note: Quite the opposite. Archbishop Job did try to "handle" this mess quietly in 2005, and was stopped by RSK and +Herman. Go back and check the facts.
Moreover, he did not create this website: Orthodox Christians for Accountability did, of which he is not, and never has been a member.
Finally, I seriously doubt people are leaving because the mess is being cleaned up at last - but rather, are ashamed it was not for 18 years and what that says about the lack of integrity, honesty and courage of our leadership. No one ever left a Church because it had integrity; but because it the alternative is hypocrisy.
#111 Anonymous on 2008-09-13 06:06
I think the metropolitan(s) were the leaders. And yes, I know, one was not an administrative leader and the other was a micro manager. Either way, they both knew what they were doing and what was going on. Additionally, all the other bishops were well aware of what was happening. I don't believe any of them deserve any less than what Fr Bob got. The "enablers" are just as guilty as those who actually did the dirty deed and that includes everyone from the SOB to the MC to the employees (yes, including Eric Wheeler).
Did Fr Bob make some horribly bad decisions? Absolutely!!! But I don't think he did it of his own fruition. And that's not on any one of the rumors that have circulated (blackmail, sex scandal, paying people off, and anything you would like to add).
#112 Michael Livosky on 2008-09-14 09:44
IF THE TRUTH WAS KNOWN! MARK GOT HIS INFORMATION FROM BISHOP JOB! PLEASE DONT SAY BISHOP JOB WAS TRYING TO KEEP THIS MESS BEHIND CLOSE DOORS! WHAT ARE YOU SMOKING? COME ON STOKOE TELL THE TRUTH! WHY DO YOU THINK JOB SAID HE WAS SORRY FOR BEING THE PROBLEM! AND HE WAS NOT THE SOLUTION TO THE PROBLEM? WHY? BECAUSE HE CANT SLEEP AT NIGHT? MR. CORNING HAD THE SOLUTION! PLEASE REPRINT IT! WATCH TO OCA "CRUMBLE" THANKS TO BISHOP JOB!
#113 Anonymous on 2008-09-15 09:01
Mr. Corning? what am I losing track of? Anyone want to compile cliff's notes?
Dcn. Yousuf Rassam
#114 Anonymous on 2008-09-15 19:47
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