Wednesday, September 24. 2008
Your thoughts and comments on the AAC agenda are welcome. Since no one mentioned by name in the SIC report has ever admitted doing anything wrong, in fact, several of them are on record recently as explicitly denying they did anything wrong, can someone explain the purpose of the "Act of Repentence"; or the reading of the Psalms through the night? Did someone die? Just asking.
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"Since no one mentioned by name in the SIC report has ever admitted doing anything wrong, in fact, several of them are on record recently as explicitly denying they did anything wrong, can someone explain the purpose of the "Act of Repentence";"
Possible answer1: Maybe someone will.
Followup question1: If no one does, could this agenda item take less than 1 minute?
Followup suggestion: I guess since wife and I will be there together, I could ask her forgiveness for all she endures by being my wife.
Followup question2: No dinner Tuesday & Wednesday evening? Even on our own?
#1 Michael Strelka on 2008-09-24 13:52
Does the AAC have the ability to extend time allotment and to cancel non-legislative activities if it funds itself under time pressure? It could harm productivity if, once convened, the AAC did not have the ability to extend time it allotted itself for things it voted were of more importance than others.
True congressess must be able to control their own agenda once convened, and not be 'managed' by other than its own decisions. Otherwise, it isn't really proper to call them 'congresses' .
#2 Harry Coin on 2008-09-24 14:34
This is an excellent agenda. The Preconciliar Commission is to be commended for their very fine, and very difficult work, under such trying conditions and last minute major changes. I applaud the Commission especially for delaying the Divine Liturgy until a service of repentance is fulfilled, and more importantly for delaying the service of repentance until open discussion, Q&A, and a Townhall forum is allowed.
By far the most important offering this agenda makes is the chance to "reflect on the past" at the first plenary session. A Townhall-type format offers the best possibility to foster honest dialogue. But it is just an opportunity, perhaps the last opportunity, to corporately deal with the scandal that has plagued us for three years. It remains for us all to make sure we do not squander this divine opportunity.
I believe this first plenary session could hold the key to the resolution of our crisis. Mark Stokoe's (cynical?) editorial at the top of this page is right: "Since no one mentioned by name in the SIC report has ever admitted doing anything wrong, in fact, several of them are on record recently as explicitly denying they did anything wrong, can someone explain the purpose of the 'Act of Repentance'?"
The joint MC/HS apology of September fifth is a start, because there is no self-justification in it, but only a start, because it admits to no specifics. (A generic, non-specific and impersonal apology deserves a generic, non-specific and non-personally-applicable acceptance.) As one priest observed, “The SIC report names names, but none of them admit to having done anything wrong.” I urge that a request be sent to all involved (Bishops, Syosset officers, Administration Committee, etc.), asking them to individually address the AAC at this first plenary session, admit their involvement, and express their repentance or explain their actions (or lack of action).
Without public honesty and sincere apology, we will not move forward, as long as those involved in scandal still hold positions of leadership in the OCA. The revelation of facts in the SIC report does not constitute admittance of wrong on the part of the perpetrators. No one has personally answered His Eminences's question regarding any specific allegation, let alone them all. This remains to be done in order to restore trust.
As Mark Stokoe wrote, “Mercy without truth is just another form of collaboration... We want those who claim to be Christians, and hold high office, to admit their errors, confess them fully, and be reconciled to the Church they have wronged. Instead, we get the same minimization of the problem as we have seen for the past ten years, which in fact was not minimization, but a cover-up preying on the good will of those they victimized.”
At this AAC, we will not only deal with (or not deal with) the worst scandal the OCA has endured, but also we will set the standard for how we deal with future scandals (indeed, how the American Church should deal with scandal). At this crucial AAC, we need to see each bishop of our Holy Synod stand up and admit when they knew, and apologize for doing nothing about each instance of their receiving information. Those whom SIC evidence indicates took part in silencing or cover up activities should admit those specific sins and apologize specifically for any and all instances.
We can’t make anyone repent, but this invitation is made in the hope that there is genuine faith and repentance in the sinner, be s/he bishop, senior priest, or layman. Once confession is made, reconciliation is immediate and complete.
In essence, ecclesial discipline is nothing more than the invitation to repent. The act of requesting brethren to publicly come clean and apologize gives them this opportunity. It is a very loving gift to offer those who have so deeply offended Christ's Church (and it give the opportunity for those who have been falsely accused to explain themselves), and it is also a very healthy act for us corporately. (Acts tells us after the disciplining of members, “great fear came upon the whole church…and more than ever believers were added to the Lord.”)
And such an act of public confession could be the final, "closure" activity necessary for us as a Body to get past their abuse, at least for those who may agree to stand and tell the truth.
Father Mark Hodges
St Stephen the First Martyr Orthodox Mission
(Editor's note: There is nothing cynical about asking a real question. A cynic would not ask - assuming that no real answer can be given.)
"Followup question2: No dinner Tuesday & Wednesday evening? Even on our own?"
naughty children get sent to bed without supper....
The ghosts have all left the building and have got their reprieves. By wanting a public forgiveness , you must be kidding , everyone is innocent. Did a prisoner ever commit the crime ?
Where is Kucynda and MH ? Will all the ghosts ever be heard from again ? I doubt it , RSK has been gone for over 3 years and not a peep. It seems that's "one" thing the oca boy's are following suit on.
#5 Anonymous on 2008-09-25 03:09
Though I have usually found Fr. Hodges' comments to be "spot-on," I must admit that I am confused by his remarks in reference to confession and reconciliation. Specifically, I am having trouble with this sentence:
"Once confession is made, reconciliation is immediate and complete."
I think we have seen many thoughtful posts on this and other sites that would contradict that statement, and I am not sure what he is suggesting. To me, this sounds more like a general amnesty than a true confession/reconciliation. It's easy to admit culpability if one knows in advance that there will be no price to pay for doing so. Is Fr. Hodges recommending some sort of "deal" whereby those men who actually stand up and publicly admit either their active or passive roles in this scandal are then immediately "reconciled" to the OCA body in such a way as to simply continue in their present duties and roles within the body?
While I certainly do understand the paramount importance of this public confession as a first step, I see it as only that. If the individuals in question are not also willing to step down from their present roles and accept the fact that it may be years before trust in them is restored to a sufficient level to allow them to serve in any leadership capacity in the OCA, then I don't think there will be true reconciliation. The reason there will not be reconciliation is that they will have demonstrated their failure to grasp the gravity of the sin. This generally means that the sin could be easily repeated.
I think the last thing that the OCA needs right now is yet another iteration of "blame the body" and its failure to forgive--this is about real sin, and real failure to comprehend the gravity of the sin. Blanket amnesty in return for a public confession will accomplish nothing in terms of turning around the OCA. People will simply be left with the impression that the pattern of behaviors that got us where we are today is likely to continue. I think that would be very detrimental to the OCA.
We have come this far in our struggle to right the proverbial ship--I hope we won't stop just short of the critical point. Father Hopko is fond of saying that we get the priest we deserve—perhaps in a broader sense it is also true that we get the church we deserve. I believe that the Holy Spirit had led us as a body in this tumultuous effort at cleansing the OCA. I pray that we will have the grace to persevere in this effort, and not stop short.
I would love to hear others' thoughts on this. I am willing to be wrong, as they say. I don't want to be unforgiving (which indeed WOULD be my own sin), but at this point I just can't accept that a public apology would lead to instantaneous reconciliation allowing people to continue in their same roles within the OCA, given the history.
#6 Cathryn M. Tatusko on 2008-09-25 05:29
Sarcastic, and appropriately so, but not cynical in my view at least. Otherwise, Fr. Hodges has it just right.
#7 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2008-09-25 06:03
Will the pastoral assistant from Venice Florida be their lay delegate to the AAC?
#8 just wondering on 2008-09-25 06:45
Dearest Father Hodges,
Thank You for your heartfelt comments, words of praise towards Mr. Mark Stokoe and for the grueling task of standing up for the Truth for the OCA faithful. I must comment on one point, that is....
Without True Repentence there is No Salvation.
What purpose is the AAC without this first and foremost straight from the heart plea? I'm afraid, I'm so deeply afraid that the ship will be sailing without the compass, and the captain guiding the crew.
Without the full Repentence, then I think I'll just grab a hold onto my life jacket for I'll be floating at sea for a long long time.
#9 Mrs. Jeanine M. Kozak on 2008-09-25 07:17
Do we not have a situation akin to the Corinthian Church with its immorality?
What does St. Paul mean when he states we are to JUDGE the immoral in the Church and Drive out the wicked person from among you. (1 Co. 5:13)
How does this fare with the concept of instant reconcialiation? Does reconciliation not involve penance in the Orthodox Church? Where is ecclesial discipline in an instant reconciliation scenario?
Thank you for your answer.
#10 Ever and anon. on 2008-09-25 07:28
Dear Brothers & Sisters,
I always remember my pastor who heard my First Confession. He would always say: "And are you TRULY sorry for your sins???---and you promise to try and not do them again, huh??? Then I would respond to these questions...and then he would say: "Good!"
It was always such a wonderful experience---Confession! But those two little questions contain a LOT of information. First, they establish TRUE GENUINE SORROW FOR SIN...and secondly, they establish a FIRM PURPOSE OF AMENDMENT---both of which are necessary to receive forgiveness (absolution)!
In our case here, there has been NO authentic honest expression of SORROW FOR SIN...nay, in fact there is just DENIAL and, like Adam (when confronted by God) pointing the finger "The woman made me do it." Hence, God ushered them OUT of the Garden! Without the first step (GENUINE SORROW)...there can be no 2nd step...so we are left in 'no man's land' here...in terms of repentance. The whole thing does NOT bode well for a resolution to this problem. Without these necessary steps to repentance...how can we start fresh? How can we begin anew? How can a new metropolitan be elected until the air is clean and refreshed??? I'm less and less positive about the whole outcome of this nightmare. But trying with great difficulty to retain hope.
Let us pray for one another!
In His great mercy,
#11 Fr. Pius on 2008-09-25 08:26
When the OCA assembles as 'Church,' strictly speaking, it is not a 'congress,' that is an English word used to try and convey something close to 'SOBOR'---and it doesn't even come close. A Sobor really speaks to more of a 'spiritual meeting of minds and hearts' or, simple translation: 'Unity Meeting'...but with the HOLY SPIRIT incharge! Congress is not even close to the ideal of what we hope that the Holy Spirit can help to bring about! He calls us together and ONLY He and bring about an authentic 'Sobor!' Congress on the other hand is an American word which denotes a formal legislative body run by certain rules set in historical tradition. A Sobor is much more of an assembly where (ideally) the Spirit of the Lord overwhelms all present and moves and inspires all to a unity of mind and heart---making us, in the end, CHURCH!
In Him Who calls us,
#12 Fr. Pius on 2008-09-25 09:19
To start off the AAC, I don't see anything particularly wrong with a formal Act of Repentance. St. John the Baptist's words are immortal, "Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand."
I know our lives are continually supposed to be one of continual "repentance," to live a life in Christ. It is a process that never ends. I know I fall short of fully living a life in Christ.
This Act of Repentance can be a very inspirational and meaninful prayer at the AAC.
I would withhold judement how each will succeed at this. Repentance I think is a life time process. And if we mucked up bad, it may be good to repent of that immediate situation, but the sum of repentance I think is how we ended up living our whole life.
I am sure that Christ came "to save sinners, of whom I am first" as we say before we partake of Communion.
Our formal liturgical acts speak to all of us. I know some of the people involved in the current scandal will not be there to do this Act of Repentance. But I think there is room for all of us to repent, on one level or another, in turning more and more to Christ.
I don't think the Act of Repentance will hurt or needs to be seen as a detractor.
I don't think it is a shallow or meaningless act. I believe it can act as a an inspiration for those who attend it.
#13 Patty Schellbach on 2008-09-25 09:46
I really support what you have said here. I don't think any of the Bishops understand that is was through their own choices, through their ACTIONS (or INACTIONS), that many faithful no longer trust, respect or have faith in their leadership. This trust will have to be rebuilt over a long period of time and likely will never be fully restored. To me, the only thing left for these hierarchs to do is to humbly admit their folly and step down. This is the only way for the church to heal from this scandal. Instead, I fear they will each be trying desperatley to hang onto their postions and thus maintain power over us. Will not one of them do the right thing and step aside? Sadly, I fear they think it is their RIGHT to be respected and adored and they will not quickly relenquish that. It is so distressing that they cannot see their way to the moral and ethical high ground, these our leaders and teachers..all this teachs me is how much power corrupts....
#14 Anonymous on 2008-09-25 09:47
I believe Fr. Hodges to be correct. One must believe that someone's act of confession, especially a public one, would truly be humble and genuine. The reconciliation would and should be unquestioned. It is not surprising in this environment that one's confession, even in public, would be met by skepticism and doubt. I think of all I have read on this website, this saddens me the most. We will never move on. We will never forgive. Even the father of the prodigal rejoiced in his son's return, without question. It isn't easy being an Orthodox Christian.
#15 Sorry, must be anonymous on 2008-09-25 09:58
You misunderstand my post, or I wasn't full enough in my explanation. I'm sorry. The act of reconciliation being accomplished does not mean there are no consequences for sin. Reconciliation is not a "general amnesty" or a sweetheart "deal." Reconciliation is a mutual act beginning with the wrongdoer recognizing and admitting his/her wrongs. (Perhaps many bishops, Syosset officers, Administrative Cmte members, and others involved committed sins of "omission," or only need to repent of succumbing to passivity out of fear, but they nevertheless need to "come clean" before all, because they have directly betrayed all.)
I did not state or imply that those who address the AAC admitting their sin and apologizing can "simply continue in their present duties and roles within the body." As I have stated before, "real" repentance includes both the admission of all known wrongs, and the acceptance of the consequences of our sins. To reconcile with our brother doesn't exclude ecclesial discipline, which is both a loving and a necessary part of a healthy, properly functioning Church.
I totally agree, and have stated the same, that those involved in scandal must step down from their present roles (I would say permanently). To say "Once confession is made, reconciliation is immediate and complete" is simply to say that communion is restored, we are reunited in fellowship and love, and trust may begin to be rebuilt (earned). This, after all, is an important of goal for the salvation of souls and the restoration of unity in the Body.
And as I state, it is the initial act that will allow the past to be truly over.
Let's focus on what we do agree on, "the paramount importance of this public confession," at this first plenary "Townhall" forum. And let's together urge our leaders to request that all involved explain themselves and/or apologize to the Church.
A little off topic, but not really. Good Christians are good citizens.
In our Church we have had a sad tale of "unfortunate" (to say the least), financial decisions "bailed out" without accountability. Now that story is repeating itself on a national scale with hardly imaginable amounts of money.
Section 8 of the Bailout bill
"Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency."
Brothers and Sisters, we especially know now how this is not a solution. It's like a $700 BILLION "discretionary account".
I ask all to Check the issue out, form an educated opinion, and act.
Dcn. Yousuf Rassam.
Los Angeles CA
#17 Anonymous on 2008-09-25 12:48
I think that you are absolutely correct. If I embezzled money from my parish, my repentance would not mean that I simply acknowledged publicly that I had sinned against all the members of my parish, it would involve the loss of the position which gave me access to the money, restitution of the money, and ongoing behavior which reflected a true turning around--acts of charity, perhaps, humility certainly. It is no different for those who have committed these sins against the OCA other than in scope--their souls cannot benefit from an easy, instant reconciliation any more than mine could. You are right--it would be very detrimental to the OCA and it would also be detrimental for their souls. I agree, also, that the Holy Spirit is giving us the opportunity to be cleansed and to establish in the OCA true leadership.
#18 Judith Bennett on 2008-09-25 14:02
A public apology would be words, just that. The bottom line is that even with that public apology, the funds won't come in. This is a failing church and that is probably because we haven't come to the realization that Christ's church should have a foundation of truth and honesty as well as love. It's too bad that all those virtues are missing where it counts, in people who are supposed to be our role models. Tsk Tsk when will they ever learn? As we speak, some who will be present at that conference and wear their robes and pat people on the back and give hugs and smiles are still hiding indiscretions. How sad.
#19 Sad on 2008-09-25 14:11
How could you possibly know how someone feels in their heart? Who are you to judge and know who has repented? You appear to be very comfortable with being unforgiving. Perhaps you should rethink this.
#20 MP on 2008-09-25 15:10
You have it so right. There cannot be reconciliation without true repentance. And to be truly repentent means to admit wrong doing and do what is right. The only hope is to start anew. None of these Bishops can possibly lead now. They should leave so the OCA can survive.
I feel that if only one of them had chosen to act with basic morals in mind, this could have been prevented. Please bishops, allow us to end our moral distress, and step aside so we can rebuild and start anew.
#21 Anonymous on 2008-09-25 19:47
We thank you for all your comments over the years bringing the clergy to accountability. When there are unactions from unaccountable civil authorities people come out of the woodwork to condemn it, the same people do not do the same when it involves clergy. The Feds will handle that issue, we welcome your participation to handle ours.
#22 Anonymous on 2008-09-26 07:02
If all that adds up to 'they can vote to give more time to more important things and less to lesser things without shenanigans by a minority with agenda influence' then fine.
If this event comes off feeling like a manipulation, all thirty people who remain to listen in three years will cheer further high-sounding 'I'll tell you what 'is' means, please give generously' statements.
#23 Harry Coin on 2008-09-26 07:07
I may be VERY cynical...but I don't expect ANY public confession of wrongs or sins. Any real confession. There may be some general platitudes about wrongs committed. If there is not I don't think there can or should be any service of reconciliation.
Even after all the Town Hall meetings, I don't think the bishops and the other "perps", especially the likes of Fr. Kucynda, get it. They either don't think they did anything wrong or that what they did was for the "good of the Church", or they acted innocently on the information they had at the time. What happened to "sins known and unknown, committed in knowledge or in ignorance"? I have been really burned by this scandal because I have no faith that our leadership will admit to God or US, their gullible sheep, that they did anything wrong.
The passage about "by their fruits you will know them" really bothers me now. And I mean corporately. Not the "INC" kind of corporately, but the "body" kind.
And the next time I hear someone say with pride, "Well, at least we don't ordain homosexual bishops like those folks over there", I think I will have to say something. Because we DO. And we KNOW IT. We just don't talk about it. And we don't talk about it openly even when millions of dollars have been spent on God knows what behavior or covering up same.
I regret that I won't be able to attend the AAC as an observer this year as I will be on a work related trip. I would love to see this public act of repentance. Bet you anything they want cheap forgiveness and WE will be blamed if we don't give it.
I also agree with Cathy. What Christ said to the Laodicians in Revelations will never be said of either Cathy or me, "This I have against you. You are neither hot nor cold."
Linda Elizabeth Weir
#24 Linda Weir on 2008-09-26 07:32
We are forgiving, its people like you who have steered "forgiveness" into "amnesty". We forgive to a great degree, as we all should, but we are not saying there should be no accountability. Why, how can we follow a non accountability model when God holds us accountable for our actions. There’s nothing unchristian about accountability, it’s a good thing, it means, especially when it comes to God that if you choose to do something bad that you have to answer for it and accept the consequences. How can a Church who preaches accountability from God be so lax and give amnesty to acts committed against it. And acts that were so brazen. Come on, with a straight face, you want to give us that forgiveness, I mean amnesty, plea again?
As the good deacon said above, good Christians are good Citizens, and the fact of the matter is that some of our clergy, MH, MT, Mr. Rodion Kondratick, and Paul Kucynda have done sins against the state and as a good citizens we should make sure they should be held to account by the state. We let God judge and punish them for their crimes against the Church, although for the good order and sanctity of the Church, they should not have the privilege of handling sacred items or performing the sacraments.
So, you can sleep at night knowing that we forgive. But you and your ilk may lose a little sleep because we believe what the good deacon above said. I doubt begging the FBI and IRS to forgive, and the Attorney General of New York to forgive Kucynda's perjury is going to do much good, but hey, what do you have to lose if you're going to do time anyway?
Further, taking the good deacon's words that we should act, everyone here should be calling the IRS and letting them know of the massive amounts of missing money in our Church and the people who took it so that they can be persuaded to give the money back or pay the tax and penalties on their ill gotten gains. Maybe the IRS would likewise be interested in what happened to $900,000 in Alaskan mortgages. Are these mortgages that are we are going to bail out? Is that when the Deacon was concerned about?
#25 Anonymous on 2008-09-26 08:05
Don't forget that St. Paul ordered that they restor the offender in II Cor. 2, and warned them not to be too harsh with him.
#26 Anonymous on 2008-09-26 08:08
And to Fr. Pius, my thanks to you as well. I think all of us in the laity deeply appreciate the efforts of the many priests who have posted comments on-line to help us through this difficult time in the OCA.
I also appreciate the responses of others--you too, MP. Believe me, I do see the danger in failing to forgive, but I think Fr. Mark strikes the right balance between justice and mercy.
Let us truly keep each other and the OCA at large in our prayers.
#27 Anonymous on 2008-09-26 08:59
Dear Father Pius,
I was just reading an account of the First Ecumenical Council.
You wrote "Congress on the other hand is an American word which denotes a formal legislative body run by certain rules set in historical tradition. A Sobor is much more of an assembly where (ideally) the Spirit of the Lord overwhelms all present and moves and inspires all to a unity of mind and heart---making us, in the end, CHURCH!"
It seems to me that the First Ecumenical Council was both a congress and a "sobor." Certain rules set in historical tradition plus the Holy Spirit. I am hoping the AAC will be like that.
#28 Anonymous on 2008-09-26 09:46
Dear "ever and anon,"
I think you're right, we do have a situation akin to the "immoral man" of First Corinthians. Not just stealing, fraud, and lying to Christ's Church, but sins of an even more abominable nature.
To answer your second question ("What does St. Paul mean when he states we are to JUDGE the immoral in the Church and Drive out the wicked person from among you"), what St Paul was telling the Corinthians to do was to ostrasize the man who was fornicating with his step-mother (his father, we assume, had died). It is a "sorrowful" epistle, because the Corinthian Church had not exercised ecclesial discipline (sound familiar?), but were in effect acting as if nothing had happened (sound familiar?), which caused scandal (sound familiar?) and allowed the man to continue in his sin (sound familiar?). St Paul actually tells them to "deliver him to Satan" (5:5), which means to excommunicate him, have nothing to do with him ("Let him who has done this be removed from among you," 5:2), dissassociate or "shun" him (5:9&11), just as Jesus Himself tells us to do to those who refuse to even speak to the Church ("let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector"). The reason for such extreme ecclesial discipline is that apparently because his sin went uncorrected for a time, the man would not repent or even admit what he was doing was wrong (sound familiar?).
For those who refuse to speak to the Church (be interviewed, or explain themselves at this AAC), and for those who refuse to admit wrongdoing, I would advise excommunication, too.
However, the purpose of excommunication, as with all ecclesial discipline, is so that the sinner can "come to himself" like the Prodigal, realize his sin, admit the gravity of it, and repent. This is clearly St Paul's intent in his instructions regarding the immoral man (vs.5b). This should be our intent as well in administering ecclesial discipline. We are not interested in punishment, or retribution, or vengence, but in the salvation of their soul, which, as our liturgy states, is obtained by repentance.
Now, here's the Providential beauty of First Corinthians: Second Corinthians. In this letter, a much more joyful St Paul acknowledges the "immoral man" has admitted his sin and repented. He carries the shame of having sinned against the whole Body (2:5). St Paul tells them, "For such a one this punishment by the majority is enough; so you should rather turn to forgive and comfort him, or he may be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. So I beg you to reaffirm your love for him." This is precisely the act I urge us to at our AAC.
This doesn't mean those who sinned against our Church simply remain to their positions of leadership. As I have stated several times before, that would be foolish, and not good for us or for those who've abused their leadership (or were derelict in their duties). It doesn't exclude ecclesial discipline. It simply and profoundly means they are reconciled back into genuine communion when they publicly admit their sin and apologize.
As I wrote, we can’t make anyone repent, and we mustn't judge the hearts of those who repent. God knows the heart, and time will tell if repentance is genuine --especially as they accept the disciplinary consequences of their sin (untitlement, disallowance in leadership, monastic living, etc.). But this invitation is made in the hope that there is genuine faith and repentance in the sinner.
I hope this answers all your questions about my perspective.
Oh, and by the way, that section 8 was from the original proposal by the President. The other side closed down that possible provision immediately.
#30 Anonymous on 2008-09-26 10:31
As I think about your item more its starting to steam me. Look at this, the possibility that the Secretary of the Treasury might be able to perform actions without accountability (no judiciary or governmental agency being to stop an action), especially when it involves $700 billion of our money gets people steamed themselves. But how is this different from what we have now in our beloved OCA?? We have a Synod that DEMANDS and has done ALL in its power to stay unaccountable without ANY oversight and people like the good deacon don’t have a word to say. Now, people might say, well this is our tax money, and that’s true, but, people, what is your assessment to the OCA? If you think about it, it’s a tax to be a member. And while your taxes being used on something that you don’t like makes you angry, what would you say if you gave money, of your own free will, to the government to put to good use and they used it to bail out the rich on Wall Street or used it for their own personal well being and enrichment? Man, the cries of fraud, etc. would be defeaning!
People are going to say that its all a part of the Wall Street greedy culture and how those executives walk around in their Brooks Brothers suits and limousines and how… wait a minute! Wait a damn minute! Let’s back up for a second. We feel that the government should not bail out people who wear what? Brooks Brothers? I seem to recall that in the SIC report as an expenditure! And driving around in limousines? Reminds me of a few bishops! And the government should hold these people accountable? Well, I’m sure the good deacon seeing the similarities would raise his voice for the accountabilities of our own centers of greed and immorality who have lowered themselves to the same level that we are sickened when it involve Wall Street executives.
I find it remarkable, truly remarkable, that we hold government and Wall Street executives to higher standards than we hold our clergy and bishops. Mighty telling. Yeah, people are going to say “Its only money”, but its YOUR money too, and unlike the government and Wall Street executives, we entrust the bishops with much more, we entrust them with our spiritual well being and the sacraments, surely Dick Fuld or Alan Schwartz weren’t entrusted with THAT, but we’re madder at them than we are at our own bishops. Hey, let’s face it, you meet with these guys in social situations and they’re nice guys, truly nice guys. They like to do the things we all do and they give us a good impression when we see them or watch them in interviews. But, just like our bishops who are the same way, when they get behind closed doors the greed and corruption goes full steam. Would a riassa and klobuk on these guys make them more acceptable? Would you trust Secretary Paulson more if he had a cassock on? Would we behold what we have with our own bishops if they wore simple suits?
Let’s not be hypocritical and maintain double standards, let alone higher standards for members of the secular society because we don’t like people in expensive suits who make a lot of money and defraud us of ours being driven by greed. That’s their job! We can find those Brooks Brothers suits in our own Church, on our own Clergy, spent with YOUR money who’s job is humility! We should be angry at both and should rid our selves of the remaining bad elements in BOTH and hold BOTH accountable and make sure that we have in place measures that do not allow this to happen again in BOTH cases. BOTH! Did you get that?
#31 Anonymous on 2008-09-26 10:53
Ha! He's more likely to hold his own AAC in protest to the one being held in Pittsburgh!
#32 Anonymous on 2008-09-26 10:55
A point that I feel is extremely important that no one has said anything about is this election. People, after Herman was elected in Florida, can we have any faith that this will be carried out properly? After this agenda that they are proposing, can we take them seriously to have the proper motivations and will to do the right thing? Of course not! This election should be carried out by an outside firm operating under the procedures defined in the statutes. They should handle the voting, the counting, and provide the ballot material. I’m sure that we can put our beloved OCA logo on any ballot they would provide well before hand so we feel good about what we’re doing. For those that remember in Florida, the counting of ballots took an extremely long period of time, during which, Fr. Benjamin, now Bishop Benjamin, led the hall singing in what was, I think, a 90 minute count and we know how important they think THAT is. I’m sure it didn’t take them that long to count the money from the collections there. In order for people to feel confident that the election is open, honest, and done correctly none of the people in authority should be handling it and for safe measure, it should be done by an outside firm. We do not want a three hour charade if the outcome is already known. We don’t’ want to spend the time and money to act through an election if the result is already known. We want to have confidence in the result and we can’t trust people who come up with this kind of an agenda. When we proclaim him as “most blessed” we want to make sure that it was the Holy Spirit that guided the vote and not the people who have an agenda to keep this scandal at bay. We cannot stress enough how important it is that this election is done by a disinterested party.
#33 Anonymous on 2008-09-26 11:02
I'm sure you are probably correct. My point was/is that the "agenda" at a Sobor or whatever is controlled by the Holy Spirit (we believe)...and that in the case of, say, an America congress...there is a rather different theology at work. At best in the later, we have a disinterested 'God' Who has created and left the world to its own designs...ala Jefferson. Our Orthodox theology has a very definite belief about Sobors and gatherings, when we come together as Church---and that is that God is VERY much present (and filling all things) and that He is in charge in a VERY special manner at such gatherings. His presence in the gathered assembly is almost palpable because of the Lord's promise ..."to be with the Church until the end of time..." Therefore when we gather as Church, together with all the ranks of membership (bishops, priests, deacons, monastics, and the laios) we are very much under the power and presence of the Holy Spirit and have nothing to fear!
In His precious name,
#34 Fr. Pius on 2008-09-26 11:53
For some reason, this post cut off my first paragraph, which was directed toward Father Hodges. It should have read as follows:
Dear Father Mark--
Thank you so much for taking the time to respond and to clarify your earlier post. I found your clarification very helpful, and I see that we are in agreement on most (if not all) points.
And to Fr. Pius, my thanks to you as well. I think all of us in the laity deeply appreciate the efforts of the many priests who have posted comments on-line to help us through this difficult time in the OCA.
I also appreciate the responses of others--you too, MP. Believe me, I do see the danger in failing to forgive, but I think Fr. Mark strikes the right balance between justice and mercy. Let us truly keep each other and the OCA at large in our prayers.
#35 Cathryn Tatusko on 2008-09-26 13:31
Dear Anonymous, (and friends, if there are more than one),
Your posts seem to be predicated on assuming that I hold positions that I don't in fact hold.
I can only ask that you re-read what I actually wrote above.
What part of "sad tale, unfortunate to say the least" as a description of our recent past did you not comprehend?
Where have I ever once suggested approval of the events now documented in the SIC report?
Just so you understand, my post was predicated on "if you don't like this in the Church, you might find this in the secular realm objectionable as well." And asked others to check it out for themselves and act. I do not intend to pursue that subject any further in this forum.
Again how on earth do you transform this logical progression"If A is bad B might be bad also, check it out" into this illogicality: "He disapproves of B but thinks A is ok because it is religious, and now I am going to get steamed up"?
My very first post here, as I recall, cautioned against jumping to conclusions about people, (in that case, Fr David Brum) without sufficient evidence. Especially I was and am concerned about mentally dividing the Church into sides. But I realized that by posting some would assume things about me, and assign positions to me.
I was recently quite surprised to hear from Kenneth Tobin that I hold opinions that I in fact do not hold at all, and have never expressed.
One effect of this blog for me has been to focus as clearly as I can on what I know and what I don't and to try to address individuals on specific points. I have tried to avoid, I don't know with how much success, posting to "vent my own steam".
There is so much that troubles the Church, so much that understandably might "steam one up". To get steamed up at what one imagines others are thinking, is waste of time and energy. One runs the risk of expending real anger over make believe.
Dcn Yousuf Rassam
Los Angeles, CA
#36 Anonymous on 2008-09-26 14:43
I ususally try to keep to myself in my quiet hermitage at St. Tikhon's Monastery but it is impossible for me not to hear of the questioning of the loan of $152,000 taken out in July by my monastery and signed for by our former abbot Metropolitan HERMAN. Since our administration has procrastinated in making a statement concerning this I have decided to relate some facts I have learned.
This loan was a refinancing in order to consolidate a number of smaller loans so as to say money on interest and I believe that a detailed account is being prepared. But let us consider a question: How did it happen that the information of a loan by St. Tikhon's Monastery was sent to your web site and presented as something improper?
I had the wrong conclusion that someone working in the New York office was responsible and so I sent a letter of complaint to the proper authorities, that is, Our Locum Tenes, Aministrator, Chancellor and a copy to the Deputy Abbot of St. Tikhon's. I recieved two kind responses. In one I was assured that the information did not come from our New York office and in the other I was told that an anonymous person gave this information to some members of the Metropolitan council. But how was this information acquired? Well, I'm sure it is common knowledge that when one takes out a loan this will become posted on the web site of the particular bank.
Now let me end by posing another question: What was the purpose of the individual who sent the information to your web site?
Sincerely in Christ,
Igumen Gregory (Zaiens)
(editor's note: in answer to your questions, Father:
1) Property Titles, and all liens on them, such as mortgages, are of public record. In the case of Wayne Co. PA, these are now on-line through the Country Treasurer's office. All one need do is type in a name, or a parcel number, etc., and all such information is available. One need not be a spy - one just needs to know what, and where, to ask. New York, as they attested, had nothing to do with it.
2) The purpose of the individual who sent it to me was to raise the question as to whether the former Abbot had the authority to mortgage the property of the monastery on his own, without approval, knowledge or authorization of the Metropolitan Council (MC), which has sole authority, by Statute, for mortgaging Church , i.e. OCA properties. This then raised the question: who owns St. Tikhon's monastery? According to one former treasurer of the OCA, the OCA did indeed own it, at least until 1988. Ah, then come the Kondratick years, and as we have come to learn, much took place that was not legal. Was ownership of the monastery transferred to trustees? If so, is there record of that being approved by the MC? Was title given to an individual? Once again, is there is no record of that?
So, as you can guess, the questions are many and serious, and need answers; for St. Tikhon's is a valuable property, and if it belongs to the Church, should be run with accountability and good stewardship. The fact that such a mortgage was taken, and no one knew about it, or even knows who really owns or controls the property, gives the appearance otherwise, doesn't it?
In the end, these are all questions for the MC now, and one hopes they will get to the bottom of this and clear it all up.
3) The further question is why did I feel it necessary to publish this information on the website? Well, as the history of the last 20 years has shown quite clearly, if it is not made public, there is little indication any action would be taken to resolve the issue. It is sad, in some way, this is the case, but on the other hand, what fear is there, if all is legal, for light to shine?
4) Finally, one has to ask - what were these smaller loans, and why was no account prepared sooner, such as when they were taken out?
For what purpose where they made, and who authorized them? I sincerely hope this will be made known so that all these questions can be put to rest. )
#37 Igumen Gregory on 2008-09-26 18:33
"Thou dost protest too much!" It really is amazing how many people misunderstand what you are saying. Perhaps you should be clearer?
#38 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2008-09-27 05:29
Glory to IC XC!
The procedures for electing, and the prayer service regarding the newly elected, Metropolitan have been published (http://www.oca.org/news/1653). Something worth noting is that there is a dialog which -- a number of times -- includes the instructions that the assembled Council is required to say Axios. It even states that, upon the Synod's "announcement, the Council shall respond by singing three times: “Axios”..."
Considering the God-given free conscience of the Council members and also particularly considering previous elections, it is dubious to make a requirement for anybody to grant their assent and approval. (Acceptance is one thing, declaration of "axios" is quite another.)
I will not be at the Council -- not in protest or anything like that, just the practical constraints of life -- so I do not have to deal with it personally. Good Lord willing, everybody who is there will be able to freely offer their "Axios!" for the newly elected. But, either way, it cannot be an imposed mandate.
Rev. Bartholomew Wojcik
St. Nicholas Mission Church
#39 Rev. Bartholomew Wojcik on 2008-09-27 13:00
Dear in Christ Kenneth,
I don't think the problem is lack of clarity about what I actually say. I think it is unwarranted assumption.
There is nothing in what I wrote in that post, nor an any other thing I have ever written here to say that criminality in the Church is OK. If I have, I will be glad to renounce it as publicly as possible.
Please Kenneth, tell me what in the post I wrote would say that something is OK in Church or by clergy but not OK in government?
If i were to say the prosecution messed up the OJ trial, it should not be assumed that I think OJ is innocent.
If I have criticized certain approaches taken here it does not mean that I think everything was OK before.
PLEASE, I invite both Kenneth and the Anonymous respondent(s)to the above to look me up on the OCA website and either email me or call me this coming week. You can ask me what you like. I will endeavor to answer as clearly, honestly and peacefully as I possibly can.
I suspect that I will feel unable to go very far with Anonymous(s) without a name, but who knows.
God keep you all.
Deacon Yousuf Rassam
Los Angeles CA
#40 Anonymous on 2008-09-27 16:55
I am seeing a thread here - it looks like one person has written four times #1.2.1 ; #1.2.2 ; and #1.2.3 ; and then again #4.5.1.
I am sorry to have so bothered you.
PLEASE take up my offer in response to Kenneth Tobin at #126.96.36.199.1 It is offered in good faith.
I look forward to hearing from you both.
Dcn Yousuf Rassam
Los Angeles, CA
#41 Anonymous on 2008-09-27 17:02
Fr. Bartholomew and others,
If I remember correctly from my reading, isn't the selected candidate presented to the assembly for their "approval" before the consecration and/or elevation, at which point they proclaim him worthy "Axios) or
unworhty (Anaxios)? Isn't the proper procedure, if anyone responds with "Anaxios",
(a) the proceedings come to an immediate stop,
(b) the person(s) proclaiming the candidate unworthy are called before the Synod to present their evidence of the unworthiness of the candidate,
(c) the Synod evaluates the evidence, and
(d) determines whether or not there is any impediment to proceeding with the consecration and/or elevation?
#42 Mark C. Phinney on 2008-09-28 17:24
I am glad for the editor's remarks to address Igumen Gregory's questions. But now I am confused, as we are told that all property titles for Wayne County, PA, are available online, but we still do not know who owns St. Tikhon's Monastery. Does the property title not specify the owner of the monastery property? (Sorry, I have not taken the time to look for myself.)
#43 cate on 2008-09-28 19:11
What you recall is not in the article nor in the Statute (but the Statute doesn't command anybody to affirm an "Axios"). It must be from something else that you've read.
#44 Rev. Bartholomew Wojcik on 2008-09-29 15:37
Writing "Axios" in service books is as old as hierarchical service books. We write the people's answer in various situations throughout service books, e.g., "Amen", "Alleluia", "And to your spirit." It is a stretch to read any nefarious in printing an appropriate liturgical response to a situation like this.
#45 Anonymous on 2008-09-29 19:15
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