Thursday, February 5. 2009
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A very interesting article. Given the involvement of the attorney from Las Vegas (the one who represented Brittney Spears and Martha Stewart, who developed his reputation defending reputed mobsters), it is beginning to fill the room with smoke. Will flames be too far behind?
We need to redouble our prayers for all those who have served in Syosset/Oyster Bay, that they may be led to repentance necessary for eternal life, and for all those that currently serve, that they may not be tempted by any earthly thing. May God protect us all.
Martin D. Watt, CPA
#1 Dn. Marty Watt on 2009-02-05 16:58
I'm sure for many the latest article seems like some sort of fantasy. Surely the OCA couldn't be mixed up in anything like this. My guess is that the current lawsuits and troubles within the OCA are only the tip of the iceberg.
I have many friends in the church and there are many things that still have not been examined. A complete and thorough investigation of +Herman and his associates has never been completed. There has been no investigation of St. Tikhon's monastery and seminary. There are also MANY unproven allegations of sexual improriety surrounding the two former metropolitans that has yet to see the light of day.
It ain't over till the fat lady sings ... and she hasn't even gotten on stage yet. We're only in act I.
(Editor's note: The writer is incorrect in stating that there has been no investigation into St. Tikhon's monastery. There has, and the MC is to receive a report about that investigation at its meeting in 2 weeks. )
#2 Anon on 2009-02-05 17:36
It is not an indictement of then Fr Kondratick that he did not know who attended his church. We are all sinners and seek forgiveness and healing.
It is alleged that this man did bad things. It is not too us to judge, but to forgive and welcome into an Orthodox community.
(Editor's note: I fear you have mis-read the article. The article does not say Kondratick "did not know who attended his church". On the contrary, it says he was "chummy" with the gangster, who was a "benefactor". Moreover, the gangster is not "alledged" to have done bad things - he is currently in prison. One should forgive and welcome the repentant into our Orthodox communities. The key word is "repentant", though.
Since you live in Ft. Myers FL, and are perhaps familiar with the nearby Venice parish, I am sure many would be curious to know, if Robert Kondratick has ever privately spoken and/or repented of the reasons, several of which were laid out in the SIC report, for which he was defrocked? He certainly has never done so publicly. On the contrary, he is suing the OCA for "defamation", etc. This would suggest that he is not repentant. In which case, one might argue he should be welcome to pray in a parish - but should he be paid to lead it?
#3 Judith on 2009-02-05 18:17
Rather low, even for this website's standards.
Archpriest Michael Senyo
#4 Archpriest Michael Senyo on 2009-02-05 18:42
Please excuse my ignorance, but what has this report to do with anything involving our OCA?
Whose opinion of 'chummy' is this? What does it mean?
What does Fr Robert Kondratick's position as OCA Chancellor in those days imply?
Or is this just fishing?
(Editor's note: God forgive me, but I can't resist: This seems to be the first time in 3 years of his posts to this site that James Silver has expressed ignorance about anything!
But to answer your questions: This has little to do with the OCA today; it may provide context and shed a little more light on what was going on in Syosset in the mid '90's when $5 million in the ADM monies controlled by Kondratick disappeared. It's just another peice of the great puzzle, of which you have claimed to know so much, and told so little. Maybe it is important. Maybe it is not. Time will tell.
As for whose opinion "chummy" is, that would be Michael Guss's opinion, not mine. He was present, and reported that impression to the Daily News Reporter. What does it mean? According to Dictionary.com:
(used colloquially) having the relationship of friends or pals
(used informally) associated on close terms; "a close friend"; "the bartender was chummy with the regular customers"; "the two were thick as thieves for months".
Perhaps best we stop right there.
Finally, this was not fishing. I think this is the fish caught.)
#5 Monk James on 2009-02-05 18:47
It's a stretch to take a cooperating criminal's depiction of Bor being a "benefactor and chummy with the priests", and equate that with Russian Mafia misdeeds by the priest at that church. I am no fan of Bob K, but in all fairness, this is a bit much.
Should we suspect +Dimitri because he baptized Lee Harvey Oswald's children?
You have a lot of dots to connect before this article can be used to cast aspersions on the man. Let his other clearly documented transgressions do the job.
#6 Overseas Observer on 2009-02-06 02:16
You have jumped to a lot of conclusions yourself concerning the mere reprint of a newspaper article, that indeed raises questions without answering them. Do you want the answers or do you want to move on so your piety isn't disturbed...?
Just amazing how many people want to remain in denial--truly amazing.
#7 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2009-02-06 08:30
Come on. We've all heard that some of the OCA clergy and hierarchs have questionable associations with the mob. The article is relevant. Not easy to accept or think about, but relevant. Maybe if Syosset would fully investigate and shine the light on these and other rumors and would also pull the plug on guys like Kondratick once and for all, Mark wouldn't have to keep bringing this stuff up. And before you all get your britches in a bunch, by pull the plug I mean remove Kondratick and others like him from positions, real or imagined, of authority in the Church. I do not mean to withhold ministering to him or anyone else in need.
#8 anonymous and shocked by the denial still running rampant in the OCA on 2009-02-06 08:34
HSOC in Venice,FL is currently served by three retired clergy - two OCA and one from the Greek Metropolis of Atlanta. Bob Kondratick does not lead this church but was retained by the Parish Council on the basis of his previous good work in building up this church from when it was about to close down to the present where we have 80/90 congregants every Sunday. This transformation of this church was due entirely to the ministry of Fr. Bob Kondratick(as he was then)and the members of this parish are deeply grateful for all the good, hard work that he put in to get this church up and running again. For the record Bob Kondratick has made his Confession and received forgiveness and mercy from God. Let us remember that in His earthly incarnation Our Lord Jesus Christ was a friend to tax collectors and harlots so is it not surprising that His servants are sometimes called upon to minister to those who may part of the criminal farternity! Let Christian love and forgiveness abound and let no one pass judgement lest he be also so judged!
A grateful parishioner of HSOC Venice.
#9 Parishioner HSOC Venice,FL on 2009-02-06 08:40
So you're okay with the "benefactors" that might be attached to the building up of your church, I suppose? Or I guess you don't want to think aobut that?
Kondratick confessed? Confessed what?
#10 anonymous on 2009-02-06 08:51
Just an addition to my former post. Bob Kondratick was not the only clergy at Syosset in 1996! Theodosios was there and so were a few others so let's not pick on RSK just because subsequent events made him out to be complicit in wrongdoing! Those who gave the orders and were as much, if not more so, involved have not been thorougly investigated nor truly punished for their part in this scandal. The question still remains and loom large in neon lights - WHERE DID ALL THE MONEY GO!!!!
Puzzled parishioner at HSOC
#11 Parishioner at HSOC<Venice,FL on 2009-02-06 09:00
Dear Venice Parishioner:
Good news that your parish is growing! What you have to understand is that RSK has not made his full confession. There are so many loose ends regarding missing monies from Syosset. He has refused to give an accurate account of where these monies went or how they were spent. .....
By allowing him to operate as a respectable "parish helper" interfacing with the Venice community of churches is outrageous and a mockery of Orthodoxy and your community. Let him come completely clean and then let the Church decide. So far, he has refused.
#12 Anonymous on 2009-02-06 09:45
I offered one "conclusion" not a lot. What happens in the OCA is of no impact on my "piety". I view all the events from afar, with sorrow for brothers and sisters in another country and jurisdiction, and through the lens of someone who lived there and worshiped in a few few OCA parishes. In response to your ad hominem attack, might I offer:
My first "conclusion" is that "You have a lot of dots to connect before this article can be used to cast aspersions on the man." This article cites one man's perception of one Sunday. A man who's future freedom depended upon helping convict a fellow criminal. Not what one would call an objective source.
My subsequent "observation" was "Let his other clearly documented transgressions do the job." In short, there is a laundry list of more reliable facts that do support casting aspersions upon Kondratick.
To paraphrase a response demanded in the far past, "I am not now, nor never have been a member of those groups in denial." I just would like to see a higher standard, even when looking at someone who's behavior has been contemptuous.
#13 Overseas Observer on 2009-02-06 10:04
I feel that the people who support this website are obsessed with Kondratick. They have stabbed him, hung him and now would love to run over him. Could it be because he does not get into this sewer with the rats? Or could it be because he as better things to do with his time? It seems to me that Stokoe and his "contributors" should take on another person. He does not want to associate with you.
#14 MP on 2009-02-06 10:49
Your comment seems unnecessarily defensive. I do not see in the article, nor in Mark's clarifying comment about it, any accusations of criminality by the former Chancellor.
From the article itself: "Then Houge acquired control of an existing brokerage, First National Equity, which peddled a bogus stock in a company called Legend Sports. The Securities and Exchange Commission halted trading in Legend in September 1997, and the brokerage closed that November after scamming investors out of $6.7 million."
The first question that arises from that paragraph is: was the OCA scammed, along with other investors? The very act of investing funds for the short term that are to be used in the future for some designated purpose is not a criminal violation. It may be stupid to invest with "good buddies" and "benefactors," it may show ignorance, gullibility, but not criminal intent. That's one possibility to be explored before going on to other, even worse, explanations. It would certainly account for the established fact of missing funds.
It would not account for the secrecy, evasiveness, stonewalling, and even outright lying that has surrounded the missing funds. That could be chalked up to poor character and fear of being exposed as stupid and inept and gullible, whatever.
There are lots of ways to look at this. So jumping all over Mark with intimations he attacked the former chancellor as somehow complicit with the mafia fellow is, well, not called for.
Another aspect of this whole puzzle is that while the Daily News article that came out in -- what? -- 2001 places Alexander Bor in New York state in 1996, a badly translated version of an article from a German newspaper I found through Google seems to be indicating that Bor may have been in prison in 1996 in Germany. That would further confuse the issues, but is probably due to bad translation of German into English, and my inability to read the original German.
Anyway, there are no conclusions to be made from this article nor from Mark's comments about it. It is "food for thought" at this point.
(Editor's note: The Augsburger Allegemeine newspaper in northern Bavaria stats that Bor was sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole in 2001 for a murder that took place in 1991. The article continues: " Mafia circles then set a bounty of 100,000 Euros on the prosecuting attorney and the police informant. The two were under guard by security personnel for more than a year.")
#15 cate on 2009-02-06 11:18
While your petulant postulations come across as cutesy and pseudo-spiritual, it might do you well to look at the Scriptural examples of repentance that God gives us and that you gloss over peripherally ("Let us remember that in His earthly incarnation Our Lord Jesus Christ was a friend to tax collectors and harlots"). Yes, Parishioner, Christ was a friend of tax collectors, one of whom, Zacchaeus, we commemorated last week on the first Pre-Lenten Sunday. The Gospel narrative concerning Zacchaeus does not say that Zacchaeus (like Kondratick, per your post) "made his Confession and received forgiveness and mercy from God". It DOES say that, confronted with Christ, Zacchaeus exclaimed, "Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and, if I have defrauded any one of anything, I restore it fourfold!" (Luke 19:8). In other words, Zacchaeus's repentance consisted of the action of making financial restitution!!! And it was only then that our Lord responded by saying, "Today, salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham!" (Luke 19:9). Christ didn't tell Zacchaeus that, since he defrauded people, it was okay, he was forgiven, and he didn't have to make good on his theft! When Bob Kondratick makes financial restitution fully to the OCA (not even fourfold, but just what he actually misused), then I'll believe he's following the Scriptural example of Zacchaeus, whose actions are an important enough example for the Church to give them to us at the very beginning of the Lenten cycle!!
#16 David Barrett on 2009-02-06 11:28
Is it a FACT that the church mentioned was St. Sergius Chapel in Oyster Bay Cove? Is a FACT that one of the priests mentioned is RSK? Is it POSSIBLE this mobster didn't even go to St. Sergius? Is it POSSIBLE that RSK or any of the other priests didn't know who was lighting candles in the chapel (if it even was St. Sergius in Oyster Bay Cove)? An article from 2001 filled with NOTHING but innuendo's that are remotely, at best, attached to the OCA!)
(Editor's note: If you seek clarifications, I suggest you address your questions to the author of the article, Mike Claffey, for more positive identifications.)
#17 Peter Pappas on 2009-02-06 12:55
Mark, your postings on Fr. Bob are equivalent to bashing him over the head with a baseball bat. Perhaps you should head down to Venice and "finish him off" the mobster way. Fr. Garrettson could probably supply you with the bat. All of you have the wrong focus on life right now and should be ashamed! (Fr. Bob, if you read these comments, just know that there are many who support you and love you!!)
(Editor's note: It strikes me that no one seemed outraged in 2001 when this article first appeared - and yet now, seven years later, it is the equivalent of hitting someone on the head with a baseball bat, mobster style? As always, the Bards says it best: "The lady doth protest too much, methinks."
As for your final comment, I hope people read it carefully and meditate on its meaning.)
#18 Sickened of Your Postings on 2009-02-06 13:35
Great article, pure genius! Just when I thought your organization was floundering, you pulled the rabbit out of the hat. Readership is up; postings are up; you have them eating out of your hand! Take note all you aspiring journalists: when times are slow, dig up some old news, recycle it, point out the "important parts", (otherwise known as "sping") and...tada!
Thanks for staying away from Metropolitan's article on Creativity and Tradition, a boaring, self-promoting, lame, self rightouse, article about prayer, repentance, conversion, purification and illumination, forgiveness, our "real work", repentance...yada, yada, yada, all that stuff we're not interseted in.
Your article is much more exciting!
Keep up the good work!
#19 Anonymous on 2009-02-06 14:40
You are absolutely correct in presenting us with the proper Scriptural lessons on repentance and accountability before Christ. AMEN, AMEN, AMEN!
Thank you for challenging the purposeful misdirection and confused teachings by some who want to give Bob Kondratick a pass because he is a "nice guy" and he "helped one group." Never mind the mountain of alleged malfeasance and pillaging of GOD's Talents and the Church's money.
Peter, I'm with you. The article is a thing of the past. Don't look back because you cannot go there - I guess Stokoe and company want to live in the past - maybe they want to reclaim their youth!!!!
(editor's note: Reclaim? I'm still young, thank you. )
#21 MP on 2009-02-06 15:49
Dear Sickened: Whatever else he may or may not have done, MR Kondratick is no longer a priest. It is improper to refer to him as Fr. Bob. Continuing to address him as such, even in the mind, perpetuates confusion and denial prolonging the quest for understanding, truth and healing. It is unlikely that allowing him to continue in any leadership role in the Church does him or the parish any good.
#22 Michael Bauman on 2009-02-06 17:38
I find it fascinating that those who are still on the river in Egypt (denial) are those who are so cowardly that they can't sign their real names, but have to use pre-school kiddie names like "Anonymoose", "Sickened", etc.
This person posting, as Michael Bauman pointed out, erroneously refers to RSK as "Father" Bob, then says, "there are many who support you and love you." .....his dishonest, divisive, and financially mismanaged behaviors killed a lot of the spirit of the pious faithful in our Church (to say nothing of countless people who may have joined the Church but were turned away by the bad taste in their mouths resulting from this scandal in the first place)! Again, your post reminds me of what we hear from our Lord during Holy Week: "You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel!" (Matthew 23:24).
#23 David Barrett on 2009-02-06 19:04
Another person who has not the forthrightness to sign their name, but loves to use passive-aggressive sarcasm to make their point. Quite a cowardly thing to do, by the way! Also, your point is actually inaccurate: your insinuation that Mark stays away from positive statements from the Metropolitan (untrue!) and such things as prayer, repentance, conversion, purification and illumination, and forgiveness. Mark has spoken many times on these issues, and also states that real conversion and repentance includes an acknowledgement of our sins (see my comment on Zacchaeus, # 8.3, above). Oh, and by the way, our new Metropolitan whom you like to quote stated, at the All-American Council in November (in the talk that most likely resulted in his being elected Metropolitan), that "we have been raped!" In other words, he clearly, honestly, and unequivocally acknowledged, in detail (listen to the rest of that talk on Ancient Faith Radio), the specifics of the evils that were perpetrated in this crisis! So, please do not mutilate or skew the perspective of the Metropolitan, presenting him as some kind of spiritual pollyanna with rose-colored glasses, a chortki, and his head in the sand. Being a man of Christ, Who is the Truth (John 14:6), His Beatitude states the truth, all of it, even when it is unpleasant, difficult to face, and hard to swallow!
#24 David Barrett on 2009-02-06 19:16
"He does not want to associate with you." Swell. He can disengage by dropping all lawsuits against the OCA and refraining from wearing the cassock of a priest. He is not a priest. He is a disgraced priest. For some odd reason, he still has his defenders, who would benefit from considering just what makes a rat. Would stealing from Christ's Church qualify?
#25 Scott Walker on 2009-02-07 00:03
Dear David, Chris, et al.:
Do the same standards apply to your own sacramental confessions? Has your parish priest (presumably with the blessing of his Bishop) re-instituted the ancient of practice of public confession of sins before the whole assembly, then a period of years spent in very public excommunication (or, in the case of clergy for certain sins, suspension) with kneeling and standing, then absolution in front of the whole assembly?
If not, then kindly do not confuse the Mystery of Repentance as currently practiced with some sort of public admission of wrong-doing by RSK. To do so is deliberately misleading.
Moreoever, you miss an important point in the story of Zacchaeus. Note that he tells the Lord "IF I have defrauded anyone..." IF??? The guy was a publican, who had made his fortune by defrauding everyone. His was hardly what the old manuals called a complete or integral confession....sort of like I used to hear in certain parishes: "IF a person gossiped...IF maybe I lost my temper..." Yet even such timid confessions, wherein the soul almost backs into repentance, and that rather hesitantly, are enough for the all-merciful Lord.
#26 Igumen Philip (Speranza) on 2009-02-07 04:52
On January 19, 2006, I posted the following comment to this website:
"In looking at the documents, I observed that the Las Vegas attorney, David Chesnoff, has connections and clients that are reputed mob figures, as well as celebrities. My thoughts instinctively would look for a connection between Fr. Kondratik's personal finances and the clientelle served by Mr. Chesnoff. Hopefully an investigation would not uncover anything of substance in this regard, but without an investigation, can we dismiss such a possibility?"
Having been in and around this type of activity on a professional level, it is not my intent to implicate anyone. I've seen how easy it is for reputed organized crime elements to infiltrate the most well-meaning people's lives. I doubt seriously the "mobster" in the article passed himself off as anything other than a benevolent and faithful businessman.
I imagine one scenario in which a large cash donation is made to the church, with instructions (anonymously, of course) to please deliver the funds to a certain person or persons in the then-Soviet union. Oh, and keep a bit for yourself to ensure you cover your "travel expenses".
A few years later, when the scheme begins to be uncomfortable, it's too late for the "patsy" to get out of it. He is told that the behavior is criminal, and that he would lose everything. He then becomes the victim of extortion and blackmail.
So, rather than risk it all, our victim/patsy jumps in with both feet, albeit reluctantly.
Now, this is pure speculation on my part. However, as someone trained to find weaknesses in controls and to detect fraud, I would definitely approach clergy to try to launder money. They had relative free access to the Soviet Union, they are relatively free of government scrutiny and oversight, and it is easy to make the laundering into a "charitable" pursuit.
I say all this to say, the writing was on the wall very early on. Whether or not figures in Syosset were behaving criminally is for the state, not the Church, to decide. We have taken the actions appropriate for the Church, and in my view, have been compassionate to all involved, including the former Chancellor.
I only hope, should I be discovered with something as stupid, I would be treated with similar compassion from the Church. It is truly, in the words of Dave Ramsey, "better than I deserve."
Martin D. Watt, CPA
#27 Dn. Marty Watt on 2009-02-07 10:47
As we approach Great Lent, we can now turn all our attention to what the really important work of the day - What does "benefactor" and "chummy" REALLY mean?
Let's all just let the mind conjure up all the sundry possibilities about these mobsters and how they lit candles at a Russian Church and what THAT reallly meant.
How important it should be to all to be vigilant on this topic.
I am sure that as we connect all the dots on this one, it will confirm once again to all those who must now define themselves as guardians of the OCA, that Great Lent is only a distraction from our REAL work.
#28 Anonymous on 2009-02-07 14:12
Might I expand on my comments?
My serious reservations about this thread is that it is, in all reality, simply what one might call a "juicy tidbit", from which one can make all kinds of baseless conclusions, and can spark a feeding frenzy. Since the vast majority of visitors to this web site have no ability to responsibly determine whether or not there was any significant relationship between RSK and these criminals or their criminal activities, the door is open to pure speculation.
Mr Claffey's inclusion of the church item could very well have been to evoke visions of Mario Puzzo's scene where Michael Corleone is piously at a baptism while his lieutenants are systematically murdering his enemies. It just makes the mention of "Mafia" so much more realistic. The paradox of outward religiosity and criminality. Makes for great reading, whether the situation in the Bor case is a parallel to the fictional Corleone case or not.
I have developed significant respect for the general prudence that Mark has exercised on this site. This "tickler" departs from that pattern of prudence. If Mr Guss' single sentence in the article should be of concern, perhaps it would have been better for Mark to have addressed his concerns to the MC, of which he is a member. Hopefully, Mark was not slyly using the article to obtusely "leak" something that is of concern to the OCA.
My purpose is not to defend RSK. Again, there appears to be enough detailed, factual data to taint his reputation. To more accurately restate my paraphrase above, "I am not now, nor never have been a member of the RSK Party."
If there is more to this one liner in the Daily News that you have chosen to share, Mark, then please tell us. If not, then why not put it to rest and focus on the existing solid evidence of misdeeds. There is such an abundance of that.
(Editor's note: We are dealing with misdeeds that took place over a period of almost 15 years. I apologize if attempting to bring them to light is taking longer than you feel is appropriate. )
#29 Overseas Observer on 2009-02-08 03:11
Further, I seem unable to find the Scriptural account of Zaccheus "lawyering up" and tracking Christ down to serve Him with a complaint.
That would sure make the homily for Zaccheus Sunday a tough one to write!!
#30 Christopher on 2009-02-08 06:54
That is why ultimately there should be or will be a Federal investigation !
#31 ANON on 2009-02-08 20:04
You speak of the "Mystery of Repentance". I have heard of the Sacrament of Confession or the Rite of Reconciliation, but I have never heard of a "Rite of Repentance". Why do you refer to the ritual as one of repentance rather than confession or reconciliation? It seems to me a presumption on your part to consider what takes place as repentance; indeed, confession is a necessary first step along the path of repentance, but repentance is far more than just the confession of sin ... or what I have learned as the differences between confession or reconciliation and repentance is far off base.
While I for one am not advocating a return to public confession, it might be appropriate, given the recent scandals in the OCA, for the Church to consider reinstituting the practice. In my case, a public confession would certainly force me to more seriously consider which is more how important, my faith or my desire not to expose my sins and faults to the members of my parish; it would force me to much more often consider beforehand what I do or don't do, and whether or not I want to confess the same types of sins on a frequent basis.
The most important question regarding R. Kondratick and his activities cited in the SIC report is whether or not he recognizes that those actions, no matter the intention, were wrong.
The next most important question is, if R. Kondratick recognizes that his actions were in fact sins, has he confessed them to a priest or hierarch? Assuming R. Kondratick has made a confession, I don't expect him or his confessor to make a public announcement of the confession or its contents.
If having made his confession, the third most important question, is whether or not R. Kondratick is truly repentant? Given the example of Zacchaeus -- a public pledge to make restitution to any and all that he may have harmed -- it seems self-evident that R. Kondratick is either unrepentant, which would make a mockery of his confession, or he does not take seriously the teaching of the Church concerning repentance and the expression of that repentance, which it seems to me would similarly call the validity of his confession into question.
A sinner in need of the prayers of all
#32 Mark C. Phinney on 2009-02-08 21:40
Mark, here I have to side with some of your detractors. You are, indeed, being delusional here.
You're not THAT young!
(editor's note: You are cruel, Father Dennis, cruel. What gave it away? My bald spot, the paunch, the sagging neck, or my class anniversary?)
#33 Fr. Dennis Buck on 2009-02-09 08:03
I feel that there has been much "speculation" published on this website - however many people take it as the gospel. I wonder if anyone ever contemplated what would happen if all of the "anonmyous" posters returned to their prayer books, volunteered at a soup kitchen or visited a shut in for an hour - would this not enrich their lives? I wonder!
(Editor's note: You err in assuming that just because people read this website, they do not do the above. I know many " anonymous" posters who do all of the above, and more. Rather than disparage those who yearn for the OCA to clean up its act, why not help MP?)
#34 MP on 2009-02-09 08:18
Once a crook, always a crook!!!
#35 Anomyous please on 2009-02-09 14:15
Metropolitan Jonah ought to step in on the matter of Venice employing RSK. He needs to do this for his own credibility as a leader of the church.
The parish in Venice has no business employing RSK unless the Metropolitan and the Synod agree to it. This goes back to our failed governance structures where one Bishop calls all his own shots until things get very ugly.
The parishoners from Venice have no business going to war for
RSK. This is not forgiveness, attacking the accuser. Mark Stokoe is well within his rights to continue to speak about RSK as long as RSK is attacking the church financially through its pension plan or other legal actions.
I would not have commented to this post because it was obvious to me due to the report of the SIC that RSK has been doing shady stuff for years, however, due to the overwhelming support for the defrocked priest, it seemed right to speak.
It is a very good article from Mark, because it really brought out the very worst in the RSK stragglers.
I would say, if Metropolitan Jonah glosses over the employment of RSK, then we can expect the Metropolitan Jonah administration to gloss over many things that are also wrong.
just my opinion
#36 Daniel E. Fall on 2009-02-09 18:56
I understand your confusion. Orthodox writers and Orthodox seminaries in North America have tended to borrow Latin terminology (which is more familiar to most English-speaking persons) rather than insisting on traditional Orthodox terminology. The one that raises my blood-pressure the highest is Orthodox references to "Canon Law," which conveys with it a Latin understanding of the Sacred Canons rather than a genuinely Orthodox understanding. We North Americans keep forgetting that words have connotations as well as denotations.
Anyway, Orthodoxy prefers the word "Mystery" to the word "sacrament." The reason is one of emphasis. "Mystery" comes from the Greek "mysterion," meaning "a secret religious rite," and carrying the sense of "a religious rite which can be understood only from the inside;" it places the accent on what God does. "Sacrament" comes from the Latin "sacramentum," meaning "the oath of loyalty a soldier takes on joining up"; it accents what we do.
Admittedly, they are two sides of the same coin; but instinctively Orthodoxy prefers to focus on God's gracious action. You will notice, for example, that our baptismal formula is in the passive voice "The servant of God N. is baptised..." Similarly, the formula at Communion (literally translated) is "The servant of God N. is communicated with...." Both focus more on God than on us, because God is the Source of the grace given and the chief Actor in the giving.
As for "Mystery of Repentance," it is not I but Orthodoxy which gives that name to what we commonly call "Confession." ("Reconciliation" is a more modern Latin term, and one I've not seen used by Orthodox writers...but then, I haven't read everything there is to read, either.) Again, the point is one of emphasis. Actual confession of sin is part of the Mystery; and clearly the effect of the Mystery is intended to be reconciliation with God and with the Body of Christ. But our Orthodox emphasis tends to lie most heavily on the person's disposition of mind and heart and soul. As we heard just this past Sunday, what sends the publican home justified is his humble repentance. Such an emphasis---needed now more than ever, I think--- helps to head off at the pass the spiritual disaster of "laundry list" confessions: just rattling off the list of one's sins on the assumption that , along with the priest speaking the formula for absolution, that's enough. But without genuine repentance, such a confession is empty.
As for whether or not RSK or anyone else (most especially, the face I see in my own mirror) is genuinely repentant about anything is, ultimately, for God alone to judge (cf. I Cor.4:1-5). Be honest, now: how easy is it for you to be completely accurate and precise about how repentant you are over this or that sin in your life? Faced with some of my own besetting sins, I find the task difficult. But if we cannot judge even ourselves accurately, how can we presume to judge the depth and sincerity of another's repentance?
This does not preclude us from concluding that regardless of his/her repentance or lack of it, a given person needs to take this or that course of action in order to make right a broken relationship; certainly it does not preclude the imposition of an epitimion. But it does preclude our pretending to an omniscience or total insight into the soul of another that we simply do not possess.
#37 Igumen Philip (Speranza) on 2009-02-10 06:28
Again, the RSK issue in Venice exists because the Diocese bishop allows it to take place. This is the responsibility of + Dimitri. And again, + Dimitri has taken in most all the other post-Syosset people to serve under him. Very strange!
#38 Anonymous on 2009-02-10 07:41
#39 Fr. Dennis Buck on 2009-02-10 08:21
Sounds like we wouldn't mind a little papism here and there. Just as long as it suits our needs. Something, indeed needs to be done, but not along the lines that you are suggesting.
#40 Anonymous on 2009-02-10 09:01
Sarcasm has a long respectable history in our fine country. You may take everything Mark says as pure Gold, but even he needs a good roasting now and again. The contents of the article Mark sites does not help us in any way to move forward. He has interpreted it in a certain way and all his evidence is circumstancial. It would not last very long in a court of law, which is probably the greatest test of its usefullness/uselessness. It is, as it seems, proving to be very poplular in the court of public opinion, which is my greatest complaint. It's good for popular consumption, but does it really, in a concrete, unambiguous way shet light on this dark chapter in the OCA? No!
(Editor's note: if your think a court of law in the United States is the "greatest test of usefulness or uselessness", you misunderstand the purpose of a the law, US courts, and their proceedings. Worse, if you think that investigating dark deeds and occurances can only be done in a "concrete" "unambigious" way, you live in a fantasy world. The real world is much murkier, and alas, we must live with much ambiguity. Sometimes that is all we are going to get. )
#41 Anonymous on 2009-02-10 09:17
Following your logic, why post this article? Why seek out more evidence against the RK, why continue to investigate? Might it not be your own desire for concrete and unambiguous facts about his misdeeds? Why not leave the situation as it is with all its various hues of grey?
Our legal system is not perfect, and maybe not the best vehicle for getting to the truth of things, but at least it does employ some standard for what is admissable as evidence. What standard are you employing? Remember, you're dealing with a flesh and blood and soul human being (RSK), not some comic book super vilain. Are you certain that RSK was in cahoots (sp) with the Russian mafia? If not, why in God's green earth would you imply that he was?
(editor's note: Let's get the facts straight: Mr. Guss, a member of the Russian mafia, suggested a priest at the Russian Orthodox Church in Oyster Bay Cove had a chummy relationship with a Russian Mafia, in his interview with the Daily News about his own life in the mafia. I simply pointed out that there is only one Orthodox Church in Oyster Bay, the chancery chapel, and that RSK was the head priest there at the time. Since that story re- appeared, though, chancery workers present during the mid-1990's have confirmed that RSK bragged at the time that Russian mafia figures attended the chapel on ocassion....
If we are ever to have a fuller historical picture of what happened in the OCA during the Time of Troubles, so that we extracate ourselves for it now and may avoid such troubles in the future, such information is not irrelevant, no matter how unpleasant and distasteful it may be. The standards of historical writing and investigation are not those of the criminal courtroom, for history most often relies on the preponderance of evidence to tell its stories, for evidence 'beyond a reasonable doubt" is the exception, not the rule.)
#42 Anonymous on 2009-02-10 14:31
Thank you for taking the time to so graciously reply to my questions and supply a bit of additional catechesis.
#43 Mark C. Phinney on 2009-02-10 17:08
Okay, you got me on that one, but only to a degree of clarification.
Metropolitan Jonah, it would seem, as the leader of the church, could say to the Synod, let's discuss this issue and remedy it. I'm not suggesting he take a unilateral action.
We know the inter-diocesan (if you will) governance of the church is loosely and poorly structured, to the degree that one bishop can allow the employ of a defrocked priest that is suing the national church. And his brother Bishops (en masse) are seemingly powerless.
Why can't someone file an ethical complaint to the OCA against the Venice parish and the DOS? The obvious answer to a received complaint will be, how is it affecting you personally Dan Fall or Archbishop Job or Metroplitan Jonah? And it isn't affecting me personally, but that sure as hell doesn't make the situation right. Perhaps Metropolitan Jonah as the leader of the group, can recognize the problem and try to remedy it.
If nothing else, how about a proposal to modify the statute to the degree that defrocked priests cannot be employed by parishes of the OCA? That ain't Papal, its just reasonable it seems.
#44 Daniel E. Fall on 2009-02-10 19:41
All, please understand that Mark Stokoe has it out for Fr Bob. He'll continue to say he's not, that he's trying to find the truth, but come on...enough is enough. Every single time that Fr Bob seems to get dropped from the thread for whatever specified amount of time, inevitably, Mark will dig deeper to find more. His goal is to bury Fr Bob as deep as he can. Not one person in the whole debacle has felt the wrath of Mark Stokoe more than Fr Bob.
He's opened the eyes of the OCA for some time now as to what happened during those years. He's proven it time and time again that Fr Bob was involved in the debacle. Yet, he continues to dig up stuff to continue his witch hunt.
All in the name of....doing what's best for the church. The same phrase he mocks when the OCA administration has used it.
Mark Stokoe will never give up on his road to destroy the OCA. But, it will be done eventually, for the GOOD of the church.
(editor's note: Sorry, I am not Ahab, and RSK is not a great white whale. If RSK's misdeeds couldn't destroy the OCA, I think you are overstatin my ability to do so as well.
The fact is that I have do not "have it out" for RSK. It is RSK who continues to bring himself into the spotlight, through his actions dressing in cassocks and referring to himself in public as a priest, not to mention his multiple lawsuits against the OCA. Drop the lawsuits, stop pretending, and RSK becomes simply a black mark in the history of the OCA, where, like all names, it will be eventually be forgotten as time marches on, and memory fades.)
#45 Michael Livosky on 2009-02-11 07:58
Very simply Sir, if the OCA can not embrace and face the truth, no matter how unpleasant, repent, and make amends where possible, it can not witness to Christ and should be destroyed, i.e. the withered branch cursed by our Lord. Your attitude, typical of many, is not fertilizing the branch or helping us move forward cleansed of out past sins.
#46 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2009-02-11 09:59
You've already annointed him as a simple, black mark in the history of the OCA. Except it will never be simple, cause you continue to throw his name out there when you deem it necessary to. Whether there are lawsuits or not, you've ensured that he'll always be a black mark for you and those like you.
Who cares what he's doing in Florida. Does it affect your life in Dayton? NO. Does it affect anyone's life in the midwest or New England or the West or hell for that matter? NO. He's doing what the people of Florida hired him to do. If they don't have a problem with it, then move onto something else already. Tend to your flock in Dayton Mark. And make sure your priest is leading them in the right direction.
As for your quote, "it will be eventually be forgotten as time marches on, and memory fades." In actuality Mark, it will be forgotten when Mark Stokoe allows it to be forgotten. Until then, you will surely drag him back in at some time after this thread has worked its magic for you. Just to remind the people that he played a role in it.
Man up already Mark. There is a new administration for you to pick on. You've successfully removed its predecessor(s)!!!!!!
(editor's note: Nice try. RSK did not "play a role" in it. He along with two Metropoltian orchestrated it. Nor is RSK a "simple" black mark. He is a very large one in the history of the OCA.
Finally, you reveal yourself as totally bankrupt in your argument that " what does it matter it to you in Dayton?" This one does not even require the Gospel to refute. Plato did it sufficiently and for all time,300 years earlier, in the "Gorgias". I suggest you read it. Its opening words, " War and battle ..." reveal that in the spiritual realm one must always be on guard against those who would argue as you....
#47 Anonymous on 2009-02-11 10:30
Well, we have RSK parading around SW Florida as a priest with all of his ill-gotten monies ...We have + Herman parading around St. Tikhon's, living in his new house and still teaching. We have + Theodosius laying-low, but unscathed. And we have + Nicolai making law suits and traveling around the world.
What is wrong with all of these pictures? .....
#48 Anonymous on 2009-02-11 13:44
Alright. That, I can live with. Thanks for the clarification.
#49 Anonymous on 2009-02-11 14:41
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