Thursday, June 1. 2006
Missing millions, ex post facto letters and more. What do you think?
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You just have to love voice-recognition software. In the Andreas letter: "From the very outset it was and is the intention of the ATM [sic] foundation and the Andreas foundation that specific funds donated to Your Beatitude were to be dispensed and disbursed at your sole personal discretion." Oh, Bishop Tikhon, even with Dragon Naturally Speaking, you still must speak clearly and edit carefully.
#1 Christopher Eager on 2006-06-01 14:38
The Andreas letter needs to be authenticated. It appears on its face to have been ghost written by the Bishop of the West, since it reeks of his stylistic and grammatical prose!
#2 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2006-06-01 14:50
OCA News has authenticated the letter, as we do with all the documents that people send to us to publish. The letter is indeed from Mr. Andreas, and we thank the Bishop for sharing it.
#3 Editor on 2006-06-01 15:00
I become increasingly outraged.
First, Tikhon asserts that the Beatitude's discretionary account was "a fund NOT created by the Church for His Beatitude, but a fund created for His Beatitude to use without reference to any bureaucracy or any entity whatsoever, including the Church." The Church is not "any entity whatsoever"! His Beatitude, as the Beatitude, can do NOTHING, NOTHING whatsoever, apart from the Church.
Second, Tikhon plays the propagandist by placing missing documents as the moral equivalent of Argentine and Chilean dissents. I'm sure that one of those dissents or their families would differ. The Church certainly does. How can the sufferings of God’s creations – icons of Himself – be compared with the misplacing (intentional or unintentional) of man’s creations?
Third, the Andreas letter, in my opinion, states that the monies were a gift to His Beatitude. When someone makes a GIFT, they give over any discretion to the donee. This may be difficult, and I imagine why there is so much covering up, but our former Beatitude may be personally liable for taxes due. To avoid this horrible situation, it seems to me that many in our Central Administration were willing to support the LIE that these monies were given for the charitable purposes of the OCA rather than the charitable purposes of His Beatitude.
Fourth, Tikhon has regularly assured us that, even without the proper procedures, the money was properly used for legitimate charitable purposes. This is supported in theory by the letter. But these were not the charitable purposes of the Church.
Most parish priests have, or should have, discretionary accounts. But these accounts are by nature very, very small in proportion to the overall budget of the parish. As a member of a parish, I would never think about questioning or even knowing about my priest's decision to pay for someone's utilities, groceries, etc. However, here we are talking about accounts that out of proportion to the Church's budget and used at a time when the Church was expressing certain financial needs.
Hopefully, the time for revelations will come to an end soon. Only then will we be able to proceed with the far more difficult and important work of re-establishing order within the Church.
#4 Christopher Eager on 2006-06-01 15:19
Why was ADM a "Friend of Syosset?" Because of Russia and the emerging Russian economy. Who controls vast lands in the former Soviet Union? The Russian Orthodox Church. Why would ADM be interested in that? It is good for its global agri-business. I don't fault ADM or Mr. Andreas for that. However, in bestowing ex post facto carte blanche on the donations, he may have inadvertently sunk his intermediaries. Heady stuff. That money probably paid for a lot of favors. Well meaning? Perhaps. Wrong-headed? We'll see.
#5 Name withheld on 2006-06-01 17:00
It appears that once again the plot thickens. Why in the world did it take this long to bring this letter to light? Why did His Grace wait this long to reveal this letter? Why is it that all of the other people that Bp. Tikhon has identified have such a hard time remembering this letter?
Leaving aside the selective memory issue though, the question that is the most obvious to me at this point is, "who is going to pay the federal and state taxes on this "discretionary account?" I too am a CPA and I just wouldn't be too surprised if the IRS comes knocking in the not so distant future.
If I understand the ADM letter correctly, their intention was to "give" the Metropolitan a big fat check with absolutely no strings attached. It was completely at his discretion whether he built an orphanage with the money or he chose to gamble it away. The OCA was not to be involved in the direction or control of these funds at all.
No matter how well intentioned the donors, were it seems clear that the OCA was not to be consulted and it may be that they inadvertently created a taxable event. The IRS would ask one simple question, "Would this person have received this money if it weren't for their position?" And the answer is no. They could have just as easily given the money to someone on a street corner but they gave it to the Metropolitan because he is the Metropolitan. Therefore, the money was received for a service. Even churches, let alone an archdiocese, do not have the latitude to just give large sums of money to their priests for no apparent reason.
If they had at least characterized it as some sort of pass through they could make an argument that it was a charitable contribution. Check the Internal Revenue Code, but if this money wasn't constructively received by the OCA it looks and smells a lot more like income to His Eminence.
#6 Fr. Michael Tassos on 2006-06-01 18:26
While I tend to agree with much that you have said, I have a deep problem with your third point when you say "it seems to me that many in our Central Administration were willing to support the LIE that these monies were given for the charitable purposes of the OCA rather than the charitable purposes of His Beatitude." I would say there were lies to deceive just how the monies were spent.
Let us not forget that the original grant request and subsequent requests for money were specifically for "the restoration of St. Catherine's Embassy Church and attached facilities, and the creation of the Andreas Conference and Communications Center." As required by the grant, spending reports were filed, it was agreed to have the accounts audited, but in fact, the monies were NOT spent the way it was indicated. For example, where is the Andreas Center?
Years later, after apparent misuse of the monies, a letter was solicited from Mr. Andreas to then make it appear that after all the years of following the actual grant requirements of identifying projects and reporting on the appropriate use of the monies, this was supposedly never the intent. Who is kidding whom? This isn't a case of "...our former Beatitude may be personally liable for taxes due," but rather it appears to be a convenient way to make all explanations as to just how the monies were actually spent impossible to determine by claiming it was at the Metropolitan's discretion, and we all know that discretionary accounts remain discreet. BUT, the Andreas letter never says "to be put into a discretionary account, it just says at the "Metropolitan's discretion." Nor does the letter explain why, years later, the "rules" are changed and all that reporting of the spending of the grant funds were not necessary (which would be in violation of the terms of the grant).
#7 Patricia Collins on 2006-06-01 20:01
Your comment about owing taxes is interesting. If the money was used for the Moscow Church, where are the bills, contracts, etc. for the rehab work? Documentation would keep the IRS off the scene. Of course, if the money was used for other things the documentation would probably be in the shredder basket.
This situation just keeps getting worse. Add the figures together and millions of dollars simply went poof. Now, the folks in the parishes will get hit for the new loan.
It would be very simple to account for at least one expense-the reimbursement of the funds used to fix Fr. Robert's house. The amount of money involved indicates that major work was done. This means that permits may have been needed. Permits are easy to track. Permits are also considered to be public records so somebody who lives in that area can simply go to the government office that issues building permits and take a look.
#8 Maureen Girard on 2006-06-01 22:14
Mr. Eager wrote:
Although it is counterintuitive, gift taxes are imposed on the **donor,** not the donee. If the ADM Foundation and the Andreas Foundation made a gift of money to Met. Theodosius, the foundations would be liable for any gift tax.
In any event, Mr. Stokoe has already pointed out that the funds came from these two foundations, not from Dwayne Andreas personally. He has also said that Mr. Andreas had no official position with these two foundations during the years in question. Accordingly, it is not clear whether this letter provides **any** relevant information concerning these funds.
Moreover, there is conflicting information contained in other documents which suggests that the money was given to the Church. Mr. Stokoe mentioned three in his article, that is, Deacon Eric Wheeler's written allegations, the written grant for the St. Catherine's project, and the letter from Fr. Robert Kondratick to Mrs. Cladia Madding. Of course, there is also the statement of Paul Hunchak. In addition, and perhaps most compelling, is the fact that the tax returns of the two foundations show that the money was donated to the Church.
If the money was given to the Church, and the Metropolitan had complete control over how the funds were spent, he may be liable for income taxes on the monies. This liability would be based on the IRS rule regarding "constructive receipt."
Melanie Jula Sakoda, Esq.
Obviously the $1.7 million loan is to speedily compensate the victims of the misappropiation of the "missing funds". This is the difference which should have gone in full to the various legitimate charitable organizations and projects that got shorted. Of course, as discerning Orthodox Christians, we know that this act is only part of "righting" the "wrong" done to the Church. The truth still needs to be known (accountability) as to where, in the past, that this leeched amount went to and why.
#10 John D. Sheposh on 2006-06-01 23:40
If the monies were for "legitimate charitable purposes" then why was it done under a veil of secrecy? Because of this "secrecy" newspapers and websites are saying these monies may have gone to blackmailers and other hush-hush recipients.
#11 John D. Sheposh on 2006-06-02 00:07
The bottom line is that any God fearing honest person would leave footprints to follow when disbursing the magnitude of funds we are talking about here.
#12 Anonymous on 2006-06-02 08:25
WHERE DID THIS BISHOP COME FROM?
UNDER THE oca.org, THIS BISHOP, PLUS SEVERAL OTHERS, DO NOT HAVE AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY.
I REALLY ENJOY READING WHAT HE WRITES BECAUSE 30% ENDS UP AS CONTRADICTIONS TO OTHER STATEMENTS HE HAS SAID PREVIOUSLY.
THIS BISHOP REALLY DIGS ANOTHER HOLE EVERY TIME HE WRITES ANYTHING.
HE IS TRYING TO REDEFINE WHAT "IS" IS.
Am I missing something? All the commentaries simply assume the IRS and government can do anything they want because of questionable handling of finances. Regardless of this fiasco, cover-up and ineptitude of the OCA in handling of finances, has anyone heard of the separation of Church and State. It always strikes me as amazing, the government is always Johnny on the spot to deny Christians their rights to express their faith in the public square, but Uncle Sam feels right at home regulating the Church's finances. Based on a clear reading of the First Amendment, the government has no business being involved in the activities of the Church. In fact, according to our Founding Fathers, our rights derive from God Almighty, not from government. Forget about tax exempt status, Lydon Johnson had no Constitutional basis for creating a need for the Church to have tax exempt status. We dont need to apply to the State for anything. It is the worst thing the Church ever did - to voluntary put themselves under the authority of the government. Is government God now? The Church should rule itself and in this scandal, lets resolve the problems internally.
#14 Rich on 2006-06-02 11:55
If I were sitting on the Board of Directors of either- or both- of these ADM foundations, I would be very nervous right now. The Board of any non-profit, 501c3 corporation has a legal, fiduciary responsibility for the dispersement of funds in accordance with IRS regulations. Dispersing millions of dollars to a single party- who by definition cannot comprise a legal non-profit 501c3 corporation- without adequet records, and under false pretenses, is both illegal and (obviously!)morally wrong. Perhaps they were hoodwinked, but they still remain responsible.
If I was sitting on the Board of Directors of the OCA, which I assume is a legally constituted, 501c3 not-for- profit corporation, I would also be very nervous right now, considering their own legal, fiduciary and oversight responsibilities in these matters.
Some one had better remind the bishops of these realities and tell them to stop the obfuscation for the sake of everyone involved- and for the whole commmunity of believers- get the truth out on the table, and start dealing with the moral and legal consequences affecting the each and every member of the OCA, both as a body of believers and as a legal entity, before the whole body sinks in the quagmire.
Also, please put away the fantasy that the OCA is going to be THE Orthodox Church in America, that was indicated in earlier posts. Christ remains the Head of His Body, the Universal Church, where there is neither Greek nor Jew....
It seems to me that it is a direct result of this hubris, and all the attendent expense of trying to 'keep up appearances' that the OCA is suffering
#15 anonymous on 2006-06-02 14:27
Of all the posts on this website, I appreciate the salience of this poster's remarks the most, vis a vis the hubris involved as we have pretended to be THE Church in America and our petty fears that this scandal will bring us down.
Whatever responsibility the Tomos perhaps gave us to bring about unity in America has been shirked over the years as we have tried to pretend to be what we are not. It is time for us to admit that the experiment has failed because we were not up to the task.
The truly autocephalous churches have the ability to govern themselves, a sine qua non that we have arguably never possessed. OCA triumphalism is part and parcel of the lies and deceit, the smoke-screens and the pretense, the ineptness and the dysfunction.
Perhaps the result of this catastrophe will be to humble us enough to admit to that we are like the church in Sardis (Cf Rev. 3:1-3): We have (had) a name that we are alive, but we are dead. And the works that remain will die too, unless we strengthen them through repentance.
[But please "Anonymous" reveal yourself. Those who speak the truth have nothing to fear, only those who have done evil, whoever they are.]
#16 Fr John Reeves on 2006-06-02 17:31
Which planet are you living on? You say among other things -
"Based on a clear reading of the First Amendment, the government has no business being involved in the activities of the Church."
I'm sure the pedophiles in the RC Church would be more than happy to join your perception of the First Amendment.
Additionally, I would hope that we could agree that IF criminal activities occured in any religious institution, that the civil authorities (read - THE GOVERNMENT) would be obliged to step in to provide justice to any aggrieved parties.
#17 Andrew Wakuluk on 2006-06-02 20:10
Rich, the problem is that in order for gifts to the OCA to be tax-deductible, Caesar gets his input. It's not a question of the government regulating the Church's finances, it's a question of whether hierarchs or administrators behaved lawfully.
"Forget about tax exempt status". Right. If the OCA is having trouble raising money now, imagine how much worse it gets if gifts are not tax deductible. Hey, I'm okay with going back to house churches, but I wonder how many other Orthodox want to tread that road, and make no mistake, that's where we end up without tax deductibility.
The US Congress, duly elected by the citizens of the US, gets to make the rules here, and there is no way to evade legitimate enforcement action by the IRS if the IRS should determine that taxes are due. Again, house churches are okay, but do you really want to see seminaries closed and church properties sold to the highest bidder? Be careful what you wish for.
#18 Scott Walker on 2006-06-02 21:14
A biography of Bishop Tikhon is available on the website of Holy Trinity Cathedral (OCA, San Francisco CA). Go to
and click the "search" button. Type in "tikhon biography" and hit "submit." The biography should be the first item on the list that pops up.
Melanie Jula Sakoda
God bless you.
You said: "Based on a clear reading of the First Amendment, the government has no business being involved with the activities of the Church."
In my understanding, the government, as the IRS, is involved in every religious and charitable organization who INVITES the government's interaction by virtue of APPLYING for tax-exempt status as a 501c3 corporation.
In exchange for the various benefits that the 501c3 enjoys, the government requires some measure of ACCOUNTABILITY, which include:
- the submission of By-Laws which state the mission and purpose of the organization and how it will be overseen
- the elction of a Board of Directors who are the ones legally accountable for the decisons which are made relative to the receiving of tax deductable funds from donors, the dispersement of the those funds in fulfillment of the organization's stated mission and purpose, the perchase of properties and equipment which will help to fulfill that mission and purchase, the hiring and firing of officers to oversee the daily activities, as well as other staff. Additionally, for a membership organization, they establish rules of membership and accept or reject applications, according to those rules.
The Board of Directors is legally required to keep accurate finacial records, audited yearly by an certified independent agency (CPA) and to have those records readily available for review.
The Board of Directors also bears what is legally termed a 'fiduciary responsibility' which is to make decisions which are legal and considered, and to their best ability, promotes the best interest of organization which they serve. Any descison made contrary to these (and, no doubt, other more specific requirements) violates not only the trust of the membership but the legal agreements that were established with the government upon their election as a tax-exempt corporation with all of its attendent benefits.
With these things in mind, I wonder how closely the OCA has been in compliance with these and, no doubt, other regulations which apply, as they have received and dispersed millions of dollars over the years.
I pray for you all, high and low, the clarity of truth and it's promised freedom.
p.s. Fr. John Reeves, it was I who posted above, as "anonymous."
#20 Anonymous on 2006-06-03 07:07
I would like to commend Mr. Eichner for now stating his name. I would hope others would follow his courageous act, until that day, when everyone who wants to post may do so openly, without fear of intimidation, threats or reprisals for expressing their opinion. Thank you, Mr. Eichner and thank you Fr. John, for asking him.
#21 Editor on 2006-06-03 18:00
I am wondering if anyone from Metropolitan Council or anyone at all can tell us who is controlling how the $1.7 million loan is being disbursed? I am hoping that at this point the OCA is going to be giving an on-going, continuous and thorough accounting of hos this money is being used. I think all of us need to request reports about how the loan is being sued in order to prevent it from becoming another discretionary fund! I'm guessing the Metropolitan Council representatives voted for the loan without establishing any exact guidelines for what it is to be used. As the financial crunch of the OCA unfolds, will there be new temptations to redirect the funds to what's immenent rather than what's important or vice versa? For example, I heard the other day that part of the loan is being used to repay St. Tikhon’s as Met. Herman borrowed money from the seminary in order to pay a $50,000 past due bill at the Toronto hotel where the AAC was held. Was this part of the original intention of that loan? Was the exact intention of the loan spelled out to the Metropolitan Council? Is this a new expense now being covered by the loan but not previously accounted for? Are we simply moving more money around to cover so many other expenses that WE didn’t know about? I think approving the loan without having an exact accounting of how the money is to be used and without the exact terms of the loan was a huge mistake. But now that the money apparently is had, let us demand exact accounting of it. If the OCA shows even the slightest reluctance to be transparent on this loan, we will know whether a new and better day has arrived for the OCA or whether it is business as usual.
#22 Fr. Ted Bobosh on 2006-06-03 18:21
There's one other bizarre paragraph in the letter written by Fr. Kondratick to Dwayne Andreas' personal secretary, Cladia (sic?) Madding.
Our former chancellor begins this "PRIVATE AND CONFIDENTIAL !" letter dealing with the huge ADM contributions and the OCA's "wish list" for future grants with this remarkably puzzling paragraph:
"With regard to our conversation of last Tuesday, December 30, 1997, I will need for you to measure your tabletops for the exact measurements in order to have the tablecloths that we talked about made. Don't forget to allow adequate measure for the amount of hangover -- the look that you want to create in both sizes. Also, please speak with the Andreas housekeeper and be certain that she does the same."
Let's see now.... Mrs. Madding, who I believe has served as the President of the ADM Foundation and as such was likely well-compensated, is now placing orders for custom-made tablecloths with the Chancellor of the OCA. At the same time, Fr. Bob is taking orders for tablecloths from the Andreas household.
Now you would think that a man worth millions, head of the world's largest food company ("Supermarket to the World"), would simply direct his housekeeper to go purchase the finest table linens that money can buy from the best tablecloth makers in Illinois. Why expect busy Fr. Bob to take these orders and be so concerned about the amount of "hangover"?
It's not like any of the OCA monasteries were sewing fine linens and offering them for sale. Of course, there were those liturgical table cover and vestment makers and wheeler-dealers of Las Vegas infamy, Rock and Tarbey! (Remember, Richard Rock wrote that notorious "Dear Bobby" e-mail to Fr. Bob -- reproduced elsewhere on this website -- urging Fr. Bob to stop acting nervous, so as not to draw unwanted outside attention.)
But the question remains: Why in the heck would a millionaire and his personal secretary place tablecloth orders through Fr. Bob, unless that generous soul was offering the tablecloths as "gifts" to Madding and Andreas? (Under certain circumstances, such gifts offered in a similar relationship, say, with a corrupt Congressman, might even be termed "kickbacks.")
And if the millionaire was doing his home shopping with Fr. Bob, you wonder whether Fr. Bob was paying for these expensive items out of his own wallet, or out of the millions in ADM monies that he personally controlled?
(You know, those same ADM millions that were given to the OCA and intended, in Fr. Bob's own words, to support the "First and Highest Priority: The St. Catherine and Andreas Center in Moscow, Russia with it's (sic) outreach to the orphaned childrens' center and soup kitchens -- support and maintenance, Adoption Office, Christmas Stocking Program, clergy and clergy family care,,,,,,,")
I wonder if any record, receipt, or audit anywhere would show a dime that went to an Andreas Center that, it has been alleged here, didn't exist except for a small sign meant to be used if Dwayne Andreas came to Moscow to see his non-existent Center; if a dime actually went to support the orphaned childrens' center, or a soup kitchen at St. Catherine's; if a dime was used to support the Adoption Office (at Syosset?), or the Christmas Stocking Program supposedly funded solely by money raised by children in OCA parishes (and, sadly, later misdirected to other expenditures on the order of Metropolitan Herman, as admitted in the explanation of the $1.7 million dollar loan approved a week ago by Metropolitan Council; or even how many dimes of the Andreas millions actually went to "clergy and clergy family care"?
Well, maybe they ran out of money from ADM to fund all those items. Fine tablecloths can be very expensive!
#23 Anonymous on 2006-06-04 01:14
Great post except for the fact that you didn't sign your name.
I was wondering about those darn table cloths myself. Thank you for bringing this up.
This whole thing smells of rotten eggs.
#24 Michael Geeza on 2006-06-04 11:51
Well, it doesn't exactly auger well for change that at the Holy Synod meeting immediately after the $1.7 million loan has been taken out, the Department of External Affairs presents a report that is accepted and that includes approving a trip that +KYRILL is to take for a celebration in Bulgaria on the feast of St. Andrew.
So we're broke, we're mortgaging our real estate, contributions are down because people are disheartened, but we've still got to keep up appearances!!!
#25 Rebecca Matovic on 2006-06-04 19:03
Typically, a loan of this nature, is not considered a temporarily restricted fund and specific outflows would not be tracked against the loan under GAAP (generally accepted accounting principles). Unfortunately, GAAP itself is not always enough.
For management purposes, not financial reporting, it would be prudent to track the outflows against the loan. Further still, for an entity that has mismanaged itself for 5 years on 9/11 monies, and has less credibility than secular charities like the Red Cross, it is a necessity for the restoration of trust.
If we all do some numbers, if each member of the OCA gave the OCA a bump of an extra $50 for one year, the loan could nearly be wiped out. The people would do it, too, if the hierarchy are able to restore trust. Full financial statements reported against budgets going to the clergy would help restore that trust. Clergy involvement in the budgeting process would help the stakeholders [us] better understand the reasonable needs of the administration.
As I have said in the past, until the church is stable, reporting versus budget should be monthly, or quarterly, or worst case biannually. The idea that the church owes a clergy member 250 grand and has for years on a non-interest bearing note is simply preposterous. No matter what anyone says, there is a wrong in that, as the OCA got equity gains at no charge, or perhaps high charges via other quid pro quos for the Chancellor.
That you need to now worry about whether the central administration will manage to budget the loan properly says much.
I'd like to know if others posting on this site would be willing to pay their portion of the loan proceeds if the OCA doesn't continue business as usual.
At a minimum, I would require reporting to the clergy results against budgets, which would mean you would see the right things happening and not be concerned as you are today.
#26 Daniel E. Fall on 2006-06-04 19:20
Thank you Fr. Christopher Wojcik for your bravery and honesty in your “Reflections On the Scandal.” There are many of us that have been following this horrible scandal from the beginning…in total disbelief! It’s not just what has happened that is so unbelievable, but what I find most unbelievable and disheartening is the behavior of some of the leaders of our church! It’s time for everyone to be brave...to be honest and open...and to put our hope and trust in Jesus!!
Your sister in Christ,
#27 Helen O'Sullivan on 2006-06-05 08:42
Thanks for the good explanation of how the finances would work and what still needs to be done to make this situation work for the good of the membership of the OCA. I don't know how to put into effect the reporting or the safeguards that are needed. My guess is that those who voted for the Loan on Metropolitan Council were "sold a bill of goods" (the money is needed for this, this and this). They probably voted for the loan assuming the money would actually be used in the proposed manner. But, my concern is that the loan will simply be treated as a "cash cow" to be millked for whatever the current crisis is or whatever someone now deems is important. Metropolitan Council should establish the purpose of the loan and then enforce that it be spent for that which it was intended. Monthly reports should be mandatory! We've already seen how often all monies coming into the OCA have been treated as little pots of gold to meet whatever expenses "someone" deemed "appropriate." We need to put a stop to the process by which more funds simply enable bad practices to continue. My personal fear is this loan is simply 'additional' funding that will be spent as ''someone" pleases, but we will have a continuation of the Worst Practices for a Non-Profit.
#28 Fr. Ted on 2006-06-05 09:59
I certainly agree that frequent financial reporting would be of great benefit in restoring confidence in the financial management of the OCA. Personally, I think that monthly reporting to the Metropolitan Council should be required by the Council. I have frequently been required to produce financial reports in both my work and volunteer activities, and monthly reporting was what was normally required. In today's automated age, this is certainly no undue burden on the financial administration.
However, I do not understand limiting distribution to the "clergy". I have not observed that the "clergy" have been in the forefront of demanding that the OCA be administered properly and that previous, questionable activities be investigated thoroughly by competent outside investigators. One can understand this, as their vulnerability to retaliation is much higher than that of laymen.
I would propose that the financial reports be monthly posted on the OCA web site. I understand that this is a public forum available to everyone, non-members of the OCA as well as members. But, what does the OCA have to hide? Why shouldn't the financial reports be available to the public?
Transparency in all dealings is what will restore confidence in the ability of the OCA to properly manage its financial affairs. Until, such transparency is in effect, I, for one, will not give a cent to any appeal for funds (e.g., the current Seminary appeal) that would have money going to Syosset. As we have seen with the 9/11 funds, the people in charge there cannot be trusted to use the money in accordance with the intention of the donor.
(By the bye, the diversion of the 9/11 funds may or may not have been illegal but it is certainly unconscionable and immoral. Any individual involved in this action, hierarch, clergy or layman, should be immediately removed from any position of responsibility in the church that they now hold. Any clergy or hierarch found involved should have to face charges leading to the removal of their clerical functions and positions (i.e., defrocked)!)
#29 Thomas Hamrick on 2006-06-05 10:12
Dear Mr. Fall,
I would certainly give $50 extra to the OCA, if I were assured that real, positive changes are taking place in the administration. My problem is that I do not see how this would happen under the present circumstances.
Do we fire everybody in Syosset? If not everybody, then whom? Who is to do this? The Holy Synod? As laity, there is very little we can do short of withholding our money.
Is there is some mechanism in place to take care of a such a situation? If anyone knows how we could "clean house", I would love to hear about it. My fear is that the US government will do it for us.
#30 Anonymous on 2006-06-05 11:03
I meant to add in my earlier reply that I would certainly be willing to pay an extra $50 if it could guarantee the transparency in OCA operations. By transparency, I mean full reporting of all OCA financial transactions (except for small discretionary funds that the Metropolitan might be allowed) to the entire OCA membership on a quarterly basis at a minimum, and open Metropolitan Council and Holy Synod meetings with immediate publishing on the OCA web site of synopsis minutes and prompt publishing of complete, approved minutes.
While I recognize that there are some matters that the Holy Synod would need to address in executive session (e.g. clergy discipline and assignment and other personnel matters), most of the business of their meetings should be open to the full membership of the OCA. Yes, I do mean that any member of the OCA is good standing should be able to attend all meetings of by the Metropolitan Council and the Holy Synod as observers, without a voice for the most part. This would include telephone conferences during which any official business was to be conducted, if a way can be found to added observers to the bridge without additional costs or with the costs borne by the observers. All executive sessions of the Holy Synod to be held should be announced with the reason for the need for the need for the session to be held in secrecy. The Statues of the OCA need to specify the explicit reasons that the Holy Synod can hold an executive session.
I know that the idea of open meetings is a radical one in an organization that is used to being run by a hierarchy operating in virtual secrecy. However, church governance by "princes of the church" is not a model that has served the church well during its existence. History is replete with the problems to which this model has led, including many scandals similar to that in which the OCA now finds itself. It is time for a new model. While one must acknowledge the unique role that the clergy, and particularly the bishops, are ordained to play, is it part of Orthodox theology that they have total control over all aspects of the life of the church, both spiritual and secular?
Extreme transparency will hold no fear for those who have nothing to hide. It cannot be hidden from God in any event.
Give me transparency and I will pay not only $50 for myself but for at least 4 other members who might not be able to spare even that small amount!
#31 Thomas Hamrick on 2006-06-05 17:59
I am sure it is difficult for clergy members of the Metropolitan Council to speak openly or disagree with the Metropolitan. These are married men with families to support and their very livelihoods could be on the line. Also, they are so indoctrinated to say, "How high?" when a bishop says, "Jump."
I believe all clergy (and lay) members of the Metropolitan Council should examine their conscience. Only they know if they are able or willing to speak up against unethical or illegal practices, or by their silence to allow these practices to go unchallanged. If they know in their heart that they cannot or will not do so, they should resign immediately....for the good of the Church. If not for the good of their immortal souls. "For what shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world and loose his own soul?"
The time for "pussy footing" around, business as usual and misplaced loyality is over. The good name and credibility of Christ's Holy Church is at stake here. And it is His Church. Not the Synod's (I refuse to say Holy Synod). Not the Metropolitan Council's. This scandal is worse than anything Christ accused the Pharasees of. He overturned the tables of men for changing money in the temple for goodness sakes.
His Church will continue until His return. The OCA may not.
And yes, we should institute "best practices" (the current buzz word everywhere) but it it God's practices that we really should be concernied with. The Church is Christ's mystical Body. Did these people think God would allow Himself to be mocked forever?
Also, from this point on, even new members of the council should be careful not to be silent in the face of unethical or illegal practices. And this is because of the government if they have no concern for God.
And as for God, I wouldn't be surprised to see a plague of locusts or the Potomac River turn to blood.
Finally, so those who know me won't be disappointed: Has it struck anyone else as ironic (or maybe God having a sense of humor) that both the lawyers retained by Met. Herman are WOMEN? Well, as long as they don't go in the sanctuary, where these holy men go, we should be OK.
"Put not your trust in princes, in sons of men". And amen to the person who said this is the result of hubris and pride.
A deeply saddened and disappointed daughter of God,
Linda Elizabeth Weir
#32 Linda Elizabeth Weir on 2006-06-08 15:20
Many are treating the loan as if it has been given or effected. It has NOT. Approval has only been given to proceed with obtaining the loan.
It is the meeting of the Metropolitan Council on Tuesday that will determine whether or not the loan is signed, put into effect, whatever.
I'd like to remark to any lawyers who are just dying to be consulted, that His Beatitude doesn't need your expertise, so your comments may be perceived as just showing off. Metropolitan Heman has stated that the lawyers were engaged to protect the Church. They specialize in criminal defense.
I believe that the correct nomenclature for The Orthodox Church in America (in that it is registered with the State of New York as a "Non-profit ASSOCIATION,' and that it is not registered as a "Non-profit CORPORATION") is: "non-profit Association." At least that is what Judge Kalina told the Metropolitan Council a few years ago, according to what the minutes show.
By the way, I have posted REAL documents, not created them. Most of the rest of the contributions to this entity (by the way, the Church is an entity, the Theotokos is an entiry. There's nothing diminishing about the terminology, "entity" or "instance."
Entity is another word for "being."
C.B. Radio is something else, no?
I think that some are not all that worried about paying back the loan: those wouldn't mind if we lost that huge property, Syosset. It would make it much easier to move the admininistration (ETC.) out of sight to Pennsylvania. If it were congress such a move might be called "pork." Some feel it's a real irritant having that residence for the Metropolitan where it has been. Forget the intent of the donor who gave it to the Church: We, who decide obviously need money to plug other holes, more than we need to honor the giver.
Has anyone heard of anyone reporting or complaining that he or she or they have not received funds collected for them?
Now that Republican senators failed to wipe out the estate tax, that means that the very rich will have to keep giving to charities to get a tax write-off. Once the estate tax would go, it's estimated that giving of large amounts to charities (private initiative, so much more Christian than taxes!) will drop off dramatically.
#33 Bishop Tikhon on 2006-06-08 18:43
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